The Eldritch Dark

The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith Painting by Natalae Bixby Carter, 1946.

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:

5 Dec, 2019 9:29PM by Minicthulhu

“Judging by the five or six stories I have read by Derleth, he must be one of the worst contributors to the genre ...… ”

5 Dec, 2019 7:24PM by Sawfish

“Bluntly, I feel that Derleth is tone-deaf as an author.… ”

5 Dec, 2019 7:12PM by Sawfish

“Dale Nelson Wrote:
> Sawfish, I'll give Dunsany another try, I'm sure,
> but a few years ago I thought I'd reread what had
> been one of my most favorite books -- the first
> Ballantine collection of Dunsany, At the Edge of
> the World; and it just wasn't holding my interest.
> By the way, it was… ”

5 Dec, 2019 6:03PM by Dale Nelson

“"...his feet pained him. Since he was not given to trouble in his pedal extremities, he bent curiously...."

Of course, the bizarre construction "pedal extremities" draws more attention to the diction than a mere repetition of "feet" would have. Uff da!… ”

5 Dec, 2019 1:44PM by Dale Nelson

“I read The Lurker at the Threshold back in the mid-1970s and am reading it again, but -- uff da, as people in my part of the country used to say -- it sure is vulnerable to criticism.

It's really repetitive. I'm halfway through, which puts me in the second section, in which… ”

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