A Fragment of Life is short novel by Welsh horror writer Arthur Machen.
A young couple repudiate the banalities of material life in favour of the spiritual.
A Fragment of Life tells of a newlywed couple, the Darnells, living in a London suburb. Machen piles on an enormous amount of fine detail to illustrate the Darnells' life; thus, we learn of their plans to redecorate a bedroom, how much they pay for groceries, the social life of their maid, the problems that Mrs. Darnell's aunt is having, and on and on.
It only gradually dawns on the reader, and on Mr. Darnell, that this is, literally, just a fragment of life, indeed; that all this mundane nonsense is just a masklike covering that hides a greater reality.
Like many of the characters of Algernon Blackwood and, much later, P. K. Dick, Mr. Darnell seeks to pierce the illusion of our so-called reality, and this initially prosaic story winds up being quite an eerie and mystical ride as a result.
A Fragment of Life was written in 1899, but first published in 1904. E-Book: ePUB, 36,000 words, average reading time 3 hours. Unabridged full version.
Arthur Machen (1863-1947) was a Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella "The Great God Pan" (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror (Stephen King has called it "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language"). He is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.