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A very interesting work of literary theory from a writer very influential to H.P. Lovecraft. Machen distinguishes literature from "reading-matter" by the presence or absence of "ecstasy" in a work, that is, a quest or a desire for the unknown, something which draws the reader outside of normal life. He differentiates between artifice (the skill of written expression) and the true art of a work (the ecstasy that lies within). In the end, Machen's goal is to make "ecstasy" the objective criterion for evaluating a work as literature, in contrast to the many subjective criteria (such as enjoyment in reading, feelings generated by a work, or connection to the characters). Hieroglyphics is not without its flaws, but I would still highly encourage the reading of it, in order to be introduced to this fascinating theory.