Julius Le Vallon was written at the same time as The Centaur and most of the stories in Pans Garden: A Volume of Nature Stories (1912), Blackwood’s most important collection. It shows Blackwood writing at the peak of his ability. Financial freedom had allowed him to live in Switzerland and to travel unhindered around Europe. He sought the more remote places where, under his own mental and psychic control, he was able to commune with the world beyond the normal compre-hension of human senses. Le Vallon was modeled on a student Blackwood knew at Edinburgh. Blackwood, like Le Vallon, had undergone spiritual and mystical training. This initially had been through his studies of Eastern philosophies, followed by ten years as a student of theosophy and then as a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. He became well acquainted with occult practices. Unlike his contemporary Aleister Crowley, Blackwood moved from the occult toward nature mysticism, but he brought both aspects to bear in Julius Le Vallon, which is clearly a book written not only from the heart but also from a firm basis of occult understanding. His belief in reincarnation and the elemental forces of nature gives the novel an intensity of conviction unequaled in occult literature. Writing to artist Graham Robertson within hours of completing the novel, Blackwood said: “To most it must seem drivel, but to me it is very real.”
Blackwood’s intention had been to create a study of a child of the elements. He believed that he himself could be a vessel for elemental forces, and earlier stories had strived to explore the possibility of earthly creatures being controlled by the powers...
(The entire section is 690 words.)