The Angels of Mons: The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War
The Angels of Mons: The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War is a book by Arthur Machen,
published in 1915. The book is a collection of stories and legends inspired by the First World War, and is notable for its inclusion of the famous story of the “Angels of Mons”, which tells the tale of supernatural intervention in the battle of Mons.
The book is divided into three sections. The first section contains Machen’s account of the origins of the “Angels of Mons” legend, which had become widely circulated in the British press following the battle of Mons in August 1914. According to the legend, a host of angels had appeared in the skies above the British soldiers, helping to turn the tide of the battle in their favor.
Machen’s account of the legend explores its possible origins in folk tales and myths, and suggests that it may have been inspired by a dream or vision experienced by a soldier on the battlefield. He also argues that the legend is a powerful example of the way in which myths and legends can be used to give meaning to traumatic events and provide comfort to those who have experienced them.
The second section of the book contains a series of short stories inspired by the First World War, including “The Bowmen”, which tells the story of a group of English archers who appear to save the British soldiers at Mons. This story is often cited as the source of the “Angels of Mons” legend, as it features supernatural intervention on behalf of the British soldiers.
Other stories in this section explore themes of war, death, and the supernatural, and are notable for their evocative and haunting imagery. Machen’s writing is often poetic and lyrical, and he has a keen eye for the emotional and psychological impact of war on those who experience it.
The third section of the book contains Machen’s reflections on the meaning and significance of the First World War, and its impact on British society and culture. He argues that the war has shaken the foundations of British society, and that it has revealed the limitations of the British Empire and the British way of life.
He also suggests that the war has opened up new possibilities for the future, and that it has created a sense of shared experience and solidarity among those who have lived through it. He argues that the war has given rise to a new kind of spirituality, one that is focused on the inner life and the search for meaning in the face of profound suffering and loss.
In conclusion, The Angels of Mons: The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War is a powerful and evocative collection of stories and reflections on the First World War. Machen’s writing is lyrical and haunting, and he has a keen eye for the emotional and psychological impact of war on those who experience it. The book is notable for its inclusion of the “Angels of Mons” legend, which has become one of the most enduring and intriguing myths of the First World War. It remains a fascinating and thought-provoking read for anyone interested in the cultural and literary history of the war.