The Eldritch Dark

The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith wearing beret.

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:

11 Feb, 2019 12:06PM by Pharpetron

“Excellent points about genre categories. I’ve sort of made my peace with the concept.

The short version of my viewpoint might be stated as: Genre categories are useful… right up to the point that they aren’t.

Some years ago (reading books on physics) I found myself struggling with light sometimes being referred to as a… ”

8 Feb, 2019 11:30AM by GreenFedora

“Pharpetron Wrote:
> ... I don't think I
> could quite call it sci-fi myself. I would think
> there would need to be more of a technological, or
> mechanical aspect to it--like if the illusions had
> been created by some kind of projector or
> holograph. The kind of illusions depicted in the
> story seem… ”

1 Feb, 2019 11:34AM by Pharpetron

“Sawfish Wrote:
> ...or LSD... ;^)

Ha! Good one.

Though I see some possible other explanations, I still think that something got overlooked on this tale. Magic seems the most ready and plausible explanation for these events.… ”

30 Jan, 2019 6:35PM by Sawfish

“GreenFedora Wrote:
> Pharpetron Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > And yet the main event the story turns on
> depicts
> > a powder being ignited that unleashes a horde
> of
> > illusions in the form of ghosts, ghouls,
> goblins,
> > and other stranger monsters...
> I think the key word here is "illusions." CAS
> called the… ”

30 Jan, 2019 2:19PM by Pharpetron

“GreenFedora Wrote:
> I think the key word here is "illusions." CAS
> called the concoction the "Powder of Fetid
> Apparitions" and referred to its effects as
> "phantoms" that had no "material impact" on
> people. If the ghosts and monsters are nothing
> more than illusions produced by "natural" means,
> then it isn't truly a fantasy, or… ”

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