Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto:  Message ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Goto Page: Previous12All
Current Page: 2 of 2
Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 7 May, 2014 03:11PM
Truth is never extreme or absurd. Happily, to counter the critics who shew perverse prejudice or grotesque ignorance, we now have some really superb studies of Lovecraft from scholars who understand Lovecraft's brilliance of imagination, the perfection of his prose, the depths and layers of genius in his fiction. What a joy it was to finally meet Robert H. Waugh at NecronomiCon and thank him for his outstanding books on Lovecraft, and then to shake hands with Steven J. Mariconda and thank him for the excellent H. P. LOVECRAFT--ART, ARTIFICE, AND REALITY. And it is fantastic to see J. D. come into his own as an extremely perceptive critic of Lovecraft's poetry and prose. And we have much to look forward to, as future scholars study both Lovecraft and CAS with keen insight.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 7 May 14 | 03:12PM by wilum pugmire.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 June, 2014 05:45AM
Excellent photo of a young CAS, that I have not seen before:

[www.ebay.com]

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 2 June, 2014 07:19PM
It sure is strange how such an individual, from unremarkable, isolated, poor conditions, could develope intuitively a so colorful and refined artistic sense of planets, stars, and the cosmos, and also call forth atmospheric scenes from long gone distant ages. It is uncanny. I wonder where it germinated from.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 2 August, 2016 12:24PM
I don't think that Lovecraft "agonized" over the vocabulary to the extent that Smith did. A comparison of Joshi's edition with Thomas Olive Mabbott's 2-volume edition of Poe's Tales And Sketches shows that Poe revised his diction far more carefully than did Lovecraft. HPL's inconsistency with "shew" vrs. "show" for example-- there are over 20 examples of "show" appearing in both the auto-manuscript and typescript copies. He has 4 characters using both forms in "Pickman's Model" and "The Whisperer in Darkness". The premise that he always preferred "shew" is not a strong one. Although the only real mistakes in this regard would be in "From Beyond", and "Pickman's Model," where HPL clearly chose to use "show" when the central character is actually speaking-- Crawford Tillinghast and Richard Upton Pickman respectively. But it remains an open question since the typescripts all use "show". It is also easier to form the letter e after the letter h than to form an o after h, a consideration favoring the premise that his conversions to "show" in his typescripts were not just "to accommodate his publishers". Inconclusive, and in any case one can easily change those verbs from shew to show, showed, shown, and so on with a pencil. To get back to the subject of the primacy of vocabulary in Smith's works as mentioned by Rockhill, I agree that many readers find this an impediment to their enjoyment of his stories, but Smith's use of esoteric diction is designed to service the plot development as well. The psychology of terror and disorientation to environment is a key element as it was in Poe (see Michael Duda's preface to A Vintage From Atlantis in this regard), and certain words, while unfamiliar to most readers, can be seen as furthering this artistic goal.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 2 August, 2016 02:52PM
I keep hoping that we will see more Clark Ashton Smith books publish'd and in bookstores, but it doesn't seem to happen. I no longer go to bookstores, since driving is difficult and Amazon makes buying books at home so simple; so I have no clue if there are any editions of CAS available in bookstores these days. There's a wonderful bloke in our University Book Store who is into HPL and CAS &c, and he usually makes certain there are titles stocked. Perhaps once the volumes from Night Sahde are reprinted in soft cover there will be a resurgence of interest.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 5 August, 2016 12:24PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It sure is strange how such an individual, from
> unremarkable, isolated, poor conditions, could
> develope intuitively a so colorful and refined
> artistic sense of planets, stars, and the cosmos,
> and also call forth atmospheric scenes from long
> gone distant ages. It is uncanny. I wonder where
> it germinated from.


The conditions he grew up in might be described as isolated and unremarkable, but were actually quite the opposite. Jack Koblas once said that he thought Lovecraft was more the natural storyteller than Smith, which I suppose was in reference to the longer stories of the Lovecraft mythos, but I wouldn't say so.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 24 August, 2016 09:58AM
This was a very well considered comparison, in my opinion. I would like to add three minor points:

1) Smith's quality ranged wildly; if he wrote perhaps 100 stories, of 20 were brilliant--inspired, truly--the Muse was upon him; 20 were quite good; and another 20 (at least) were clearly attempts to get a paycheck. Off the top of my head, I'd say that the Zothique/Hyperborea stories were examples of the first third, while the "spaceman" stories, in which two 1930s pulp adventures, complete with tinny, hard-boiled dialog and are on Mars or Venus, were of the last third.

Lovecraft, on the other hand, seems to be more consistent, more studied, in his approach. He seems to be more deliberate, while Smith, when good, was more inspired--or perhaps more spontaneously inspired. I enjoyed even Lovecraft's ghostwritten tales, like those for Zealia Bishop, they were that consistent.

2) This is trivial, but I think it has some minor validity. There's that name, "Lovecraft". Near-Freudian in implication, it is easily recognizable--and combined with Lovecraft's consistency of output, established what amounts to an easily recognizable "brand".

3) There's the Mythos. It is well-developed and extensive. It created a sort of Dungeon and Dragons cosmos for the reader to occupy. Others did this as well, but perhaps Lovecraft's was the most pervasive and convincing--in part because it was conceptual, intangible, and hinted at still more arcane depths.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2017 11:08AM
Here I am, late to the party, and writing something that perhaps no one will ever read...

Your mention of Smith's <i>A Vintage from Atlantis</i> displays one of Smith's greatest strengths: the selection of a narrative point of view, and the development of its character traits.

The story of a drunken pirate debauch, much like, and anticipating, a Hell's Angels beach party, is told as seen thru the eyes of a tea-totaling, self-described Puritan and "staunch Rechabite". The fact that he is a voluntary member of the crew, having participated in multiple instances of looting and blood-letting adds a further bit of ironic tension. "What in the world is a religious man, a Puritan, doing sailing with one of the most rapacious and bloodthirsty pirates of the era? How can this be?" runs thru the reader's mind.

In using this device, Smith establishes a sort of narrative objectivity that would be much less believable had the story been told by a stock pirate character. There is artistic room for Smith to introduce diction and erudition that would plainly be unbelievable were it to be spoken by a common seaman.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2017 11:36AM
Well, cf. Bartholomew Roberts. Teetotaling pirates might not have been the norm, but not unheard of.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Zabdamar (IP Logged)
Date: 14 December, 2017 11:16PM
Pulchrum est paucorum hominem.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: bibliotudinous (IP Logged)
Date: 27 December, 2017 10:44PM
I don't know, but if you're comparing his popularity to Lovecraft's, I can guess why Lovecraft's work is more popular than CAS's. Lovecraft always encouraged others to propagate his Cthulhu mythos, and they did, and continue to do so. Some of those writers who wrote Cthulhu tales were already popular themselves, so HPL's mythos was early on widely dispersed into the literary ether. Add to that numerous role-playing games, movies, pop culture references, stuffed animals, Cthulhu mugs, t-shirts, etc., and it all takes on a life of its own. The fact that so many people think Cthulhu is evil is proof they haven't even read Lovecraft; instead, they know him from a video game or an episode of South Park. Nike shoes aren't necessarily popular for what they are, but for who wears them. The same thing could happen to CAS, if enough Lovecraft fans discover CAS's work and do to him what they did to Lovecraft. Remember how popular Einstein was in the '80s? His face was everywhere. And now look--he's been replaced by Tesla. If I see one more Tesla bumper sticker...

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Chipougne (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2017 07:19AM
True. But Lovecraft was also already popular almost as a "character" himself among Weird Tales readers in his lifetime. Pausing as Grandpa Theobald eventually made him legendary as a father figure among his young correspondents. There was a well known phenomenon of "chain reaction", so to speak, among fans who felt compelled to follow the « cult ».

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Chipougne (IP Logged)
Date: 28 December, 2017 07:30AM
Also, consider this picture of a young CAS and a photograph of Lovecraft at the same age. Lovecraft was often exceedingly ill at ease in front of a camera, except when taken by surprise. My guess is that he looks much more like the average introvert young adults who appreciate him as a symbol, as a character. CAS seem to convey the following message: I do write poems, yes, and you might want to try and read them, but honestly I doubt your ability to understand their full meaning. He wrote pulp fiction for the money. So did HPL, but with much more enthusiasm, with a genuine love for the popular culture of this younger days (dime novels, etc).

[www.ebay.com]

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 29 December, 2017 05:08PM
What is it that Clark Ashton Smith understands, that the rest of us, mediocre souls, cannot grasp?

I remember clearly my thought, several years ago, when reading through Selected Poems: "Here is an intellect that stands far and away above my own, enigmatic beyond my reach."
I may study advanced books on astronomy, and on spirituality, but still only vainly grasp at what he is talking about.

Re: Why isn't CAS more popular?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 31 December, 2017 08:26AM
Anyway, in my humble opinion, I think H. P. Lovecraft was a greater poet than Clark Ashton Smith. Perhaps not technically (what does it matter?), but in the exaltation, warmth and existential comfort he brings.
I just now read "A Winter Wish". What more could one ask for out of poetry, on a cold wet day like this?

As a fantastic, cosmic, and horror artist, Smith excels in his prose. The poetry is, for the most part highbrow.

Goto Page: Previous12All
Current Page: 2 of 2


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
Top of Page