The Eldritch Dark

The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961), perhaps best known today for his association with H.P Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, is in his own right a unique master of fantasy, horror and science-fiction. Highly imaginative, his genre-spanning visions of worlds beyond, combined with his profound understanding of the English language, have inspired an ever -increasing legion of fans and admirers.

For most of his life, he lived in physical and intellectual isolation in Auburn, California (USA). Predominantly self-educated with no formal education after grammar school, Smith wore out his local library and delved so deeply into the dictionary that his richly embellished, yet precise, prose leaves one with the sense that they are in the company of a true master of language.

Though Smith primarily considered himself a poet, having turned to prose for the meager financial sum it rewarded, his prose might best be appreciated as a "fleshed" out poetry. In this light, plot and characters are subservient to the milieu of work: a setting of cold quiet reality, which, mixed with the erotic and the exotic, places his work within its own unique, phantasmagoric genre. While he also experimented in painting, sculpture, and translation, it is in his written work that his legacy persists.

During his lifetime, Smith's work appeared commonly in the pulps alongside other masters such H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, and E. Hoffmann Price and like many great artists, recognition and appreciation have come posthumously. In recent decades though, a resurgence of interest in his works has lead to numerous reprintings as well as scholarly critiques.

The Eldritch Dark is a site to facilitate both scholars and fans in their appreciation and study of Clark Ashton Smith and his works.

Last 5 Eldritch Words Discussion Forum posts:

4 Jun, 2020 3:52PM by Platypus

“Cathbad Wrote:
> Ovid's Metamorphosis describes a great flood very
> similar to the biblical version, and instigated by
> the gods for the same reasons. Only with no ark.
> In the flood's aftermath, man is recreated - the
> new, improved version - but everything else
> evolves out of the mud and slime left in the
> flood's wake,… ”

4 Jun, 2020 1:30PM by Hespire

“I never heard of that story, but I'm eager to read it already. I've always been fascinated by older literature's perspective on the prehistoric world, in which all kinds of scaly, shapeless things crawled about in the pools of slime and chaos.

You must be right about the reptilian slime in weird fiction, because I recall… ”

4 Jun, 2020 1:19PM by Hespire

“There is an interesting line from CAS's story "The Light from Beyond", in the scene when the narrator is experiencing ultradimensional sensations:

"I peered down upon the utmost heavens, and the hells that lie contiguous to the heavens; and I saw the perennial process of their fiery transmutation and interchange."

This line reminded me of his other… ”

4 Jun, 2020 12:49PM by Minicthulhu

“The reptilian slime seems to have been very popular in the prime of pulp and weird magazines because I can remember coming across it in several writings. The other day I happened to read the short story "Medusa" (1939) by Royal W. Jimmerson in which one of the characters speculates:

"Was there then a race,… ”

4 Jun, 2020 11:55AM by Hespire

“Thank you all for those varied and thoughtful responses. I'm more than certain CAS had a mixture of all these thoughts in mind. He was clearly infatuated with the primordial age of slimy swamps and giant reptiles (he mentions it in a few stories, such as "Ubbo-Sathla"), he was clearly evoking some kind of underworldly… ”

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