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Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2017 05:31PM
Greetings from vanishing rural America.

I've read Lovecraft and Smith since Lin Carter's anthology The Young Magicians (1969) came out, or right around that time. I'm much more knowledgeable about HPL's fiction, but have a good sense, I think, of CAS's most characteristic work, such as "The Dark Eidolon," etc.

I'm working on an essay exploring affinities and even connections between the Lovecraft circle (by which I mean primarily HPL, CAS, REH, and Donald Wandrei) and the Inklings (J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams especially). While I don't think there is evidence of much awareness between the two groups, I am able to argue that there was more than is commonly supposed. I'm hoping that the essay, when polished, will appear in a revived issue of the venerable Tolkien fanzine Orcrist.

Now to my query. The Inklings shared drafts of works-in-progress (e.g. by reading aloud from mss.) during their pub sessions. I know that HPL, CAS, and REH never met. But I'm interested in learning about whether there are particular stories (ideally) or at least generalized remarks about their writing that would justify one in saying that significant contributions were made between them, as they conducted their exchanges by mail. In my draft, I said they evidently did not have such interactions, but I'm informed by a reader who knows the work of HPL and CAS much better than I that there was some such interaction. I was referred to this list for help -- which I will appreciate, if it is forthcoming; if not, no problem.

By the way, I was earlier referred to this list for confirmation that Smith read some Tolkien late in his life. That was very interesting.

Dale Nelson extollager@gmail.com 4 July 2017

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2017 06:32PM
Lovecraft would regularly shop copies of his stories (published and unpublished) around to his correspondents, including REH and CAS, and their comments on the stories are included in the surviving letters. I've got abstracts on a number of the letters up on wikithulhu, if you want to search or browse: [www.wikithulhu.com]

Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith's correspondence was much less than their respective letters with Lovecraft, but I wrote an article on it a while back which might be helpful: [web.archive.org]

Besides circulating stories between them, of course, the various figures also discussed many things which eventually found expression in their work - Lovecraft is responsible for the German title of Howard's Black Book (Unaussprechlichen Kulten) for example (through a curious argument between August Derleth, E. Hoffmann Price, and Farnsworth Wright that was finally decided by WEIRD TALES artist C. C. Senf); and Lovecraft and Howard's discussion of the "Little People" found expression in stories like "The People of the Dark."

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2017 08:14PM
Thank you, Ancient History, for your comments and links. I appreciate the former and look forward to poking around in the latter.

In the case of the Inklings, we have an award-winning book focusing on the group as a writers' circle (Diana Pavlac Glyer's The Company They Keep; my understanding is that a later book, Bandersnatch, is a less scholarly version). Tolkien is on record as crediting C. S. Lewis with the encouragement that kept him going till The Lord of the Rings was published (notably Letter #282 dated 18 Dec. 1965, in the collection edited by Humphrey Carpenter). I take it that no one remembers anything like -that- in the remarks of Lovecraft, Smith, or Howard. If we shouldn't go to the other extreme, and say that these men enjoyed sharing their work but there's no reason to think it would be significantly different if that sharing hadn't happened -- then what can we say with reasonable certainty? I'd like to get hold of that. At present it seems that the contribution wasn't very significant. (The item about Lovecraft and Howard's Black Book is interesting but I'm looking for something more substantive, if possible.) If it was pretty significant, I hope to learn about that!

None of the Lovecraft circle writers ever dedicated a story to another member, except for HPL dedicating "The Haunter of the Dark" to Bloch -- ?

Dale Nelson
extollager@gmail.com

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2017 08:48PM
Quote:
I take it that no one remembers anything like -that- in the remarks of Lovecraft, Smith, or Howard.
They all shared encouragement, praise, and criticism with one another in their letters - I wouldn't say there was a specific instance where one of them would have stopped writing without that praise, but there is the instance where August Derleth submitted Lovecraft's "The Shadow over Innsmouth" to Weird Tales because Lovecraft was afraid of rejection - and it was accepted.

Quote:
If we shouldn't go to the other extreme, and say that these men enjoyed sharing their work but there's no reason to think it would be significantly different if that sharing hadn't happened -- then what can we say with reasonable certainty?
Without their correspondence, at the minimum you would not have any references to one another's work - so, no "The Black Stone" from Howard, probably no Book of Eibon or Tsathoggua from Smith, and a profoundly smaller mythos for Lovecraft to draw upon in works like "The Mound" and "The Whisperer in Darkness." Howard's "Little People" stories were directly inspired from his correspondence with HPL, and of course without REH's intervention Lovecraft would never have met E. Hoffmann Price in New Orleans, and there would be no "Through the Gates of the Silver Key."

Quote:
None of the Lovecraft circle writers ever dedicated a story to another member, except for HPL dedicating "The Haunter of the Dark" to Bloch -- ?
Lovecraft dedicated some poems to CAS and others, and would put nods into his stories - CAS is mentioned by name in "The Horror in the Museum," "The Call of Cthulhu," "At the Mountains of Madness," "Medusa's Coil," and his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature."

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2017 09:07PM
Good points, A.H., thanks. My article certainly needs editing to reflect these sorts of facts.

DN

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2017 12:08PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> None of the Lovecraft circle writers ever
> dedicated a story to another member, except for
> HPL dedicating "The Haunter of the Dark" to Bloch
> -- ?

There was a sort of game of killing each other off in each other's stories. The earliest example is OLD BUGS, in which HPL kills off his friend Alfred Galpin. THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK features HPL killing off a stand-in for Robert Bloch. This, I'm told, was repayment for Bloch killing of an HPL-inspried character in THE SHAMBLER FROM THE STARS (which I have not read). HPL also gets killed off by Frank Belknap Long in THE SPACE-EATERS.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2017 12:22PM
Thank you for pointing that out, Platypus.

Members of the Inklings never went so far as to kill one another off in stories, but they did write characters who have been seen as based, in part at least, on one or other of the friends. Thus in Owen Barfield's Worlds Apart one of the characters (I think his name was Hunter) was evidently based on C. S. Lewis. Lewis's character Ransom, in Out of the Silent Planet, is a philologist like Tolkien. In Tolkien's Notion Club Papers, the character Ramer is, I think I have seen it argued, indebted to the personality of Lewis, etc. (The Notion Club Papers was a weird fantasy/sf novel that Tolkien didn't finish, but that I think may owe something to Lovecraft's "Shadow Out of Time" -- yes, it is quite possible that Tolkien had read Astounding SF magazine with that HPL story. You may find The Notion Club Papers in the volume of The History of Middle-earth called Sauron Defeated. It is a fascinating bit of work, well over a hundred pages.)

Dale Nelson
extollager@gmail.com

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2017 08:03PM
There seems to be very little evidence that Tolkien read the folks in HPL's circle. L Sprague De Camp claims that Tolkien told him he rather enjoyed REH's Conan stories.

De Camp, in '67, gave Tolkien a copy of his 1964 SWORDS & SORCERY, anthology, which, in addition to one REH Conan tale, also had CAS's "Testament of Athammaus" and HPL's "Sarnath".

Later, a 1 page Ms was found in Tolkien's copy, in which he seems to make mostly-unflattering comments about some of the stories in it. He apparently found the monster in "Athammaus" unbelievable. He does not seem to comment on the Conan story (which may suggest he was already familiar with Conan).

He also complained that "Thangobrind the Jeweler" was Dunsany at his worst, which suggests a previous familiarity with Dunsany. He seemed to both praise and criticize CL Moore's "Hellsgarde".

But in any event, 1967 is a bit late for any of these stories to have any effect on Tolkien's main work.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 7 Jul 17 | 08:04PM by Platypus.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2017 06:17AM
Someone else commented years ago on this forum, that Tolkien's early writings in The Book of Lost Tales and The Lays of Beleriand were similar in style to Clark Ashton Smith.

I am rather surprized, or disappointed, that Tolkien was not impressed by "The Testament of Athammaus". It is such a powerful story. But I believe it can be explained by the two authors's very different outlooks. Smith's imagination was weird, outlandish, esthetically indulgent, rebellious, bizarre, almost surrealistic. Tolkien's imagination was not at all like that, it had more of traditional mythological purpose, in finely developed and precise symbols for the elements of Nature.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2017 07:09PM
More random thoughts.

Lord Dunsany is definitely a common influence. Tolkien's most obvious parallel is his poem "The Mewlips", which is reminiscent of "The Hoard of the Gibbelins". "Gibbelins" and other Dunsany tales read like the prototype for many a CAS story. Dunsany is an influence on many of HPL's early tales (as acknowledged by HPL), and I cannot but think that Dunsany was an influence on CAS as well.

Chesterton was an influence on the Inklings, but I have never heard him to have influenced HPL's circle. HPL scoffed at Chesterton in his letters, but I imagine was probably thinking of him as an essayist -- I have no idea what Chestertonian fiction he read. I cannot help notice curious parallels between the climax of Chesterton's THE BALL AND THE CROSS and HPL's DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH. Both feature protagonists who leap off a flying creature/object, under the control of a satanic entity, that is drawing the protagonist into the hellish abyss of space, and in both cases the choice to leap is symbolic of choosing allegiance to The External World, and a rejection of solipsism. But I don't think this curious coincidence results from any direct influence.

ne of Chesterton's Father Brown stories, "The Blast of the Book" (1933), cannot help igniting the suspicion he may have read some of HPL's stuff, and is poking fun at such tomes as "The Necronomicon". But I suppose it's unlikely.

I have never read any Charles Williams.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2017 08:08PM
G. K. Chesterton was a substantial influence on Robert E. Howard.

I would also suggest Arthur Machen as a shared influence on Tolkien and the Lovecraft circle.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2017 09:31PM
Platypus -- Yes indeed to the connection of Dunsany's "Hoard of the Gibbelins" and Tolkien's poem "The Mewlips" (in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil). I wrote up something on that in the 2004 volume (the first) of Tolkien Studies, where I also suggested that the flying, screeching Nazgul may owe something to the Wendigo in Blackwood's story. Other than that, I'm doubtful of discernible Dunsanian traces in the Inklings. He flaunted the insubstantiality of his "dream-worlds." That was the opposite of the direction that Tolkien, Lewis, Williams, and Lovecraft in his mature work wanted to go.

Ancient History, I'd agree about the great importance of Chesterton's verse as an influence on Robert E. Howard's. Reread Chesterton's Man Who Was Thursday and then pick up Charles Williams's The Place of the Lion. The latter is highly original -- I think one of the most original fantastic novels of the century -- but the kinship with Chesterton's "Nightmare" (as he subtitled it) will be evident.

Lovecraft was impressed by George MacDonald's Lilith and went so far as to read two versions of it. MacDonald's goblins are there in The Hobbit, and Lewis even made MacDonald a character in The Great Divorce.

Machen's influence on Howard and Lovecraft will need no proof for people here, I suppose. I've often wondered about whether Tolkien or Lewis read Machen. I remember rereading Machen's "Little People" stories (there are about eight of them), with the idea that they might have contributed to the imagining of Tolkien's Orcs, and concluded that they didn't, or very little at most. Machen's "The Great Return" is akin to some passages in Williams. They both responded deeply to the mystical elemnt in the Arthurian legends. There's plenty of room for exploration since Machen and Williams were affiliated with the same esoteric organization at one time, or were affiliated with related groups anyway. For William's activity, see Grevel Lindop's The Third Inkling, which patiently and in some detail explores the matter. My feeling is that they both largely outgrew their involvement, Machen more than Williams. I doubt that Machen was nearly as deep into that area as CW was at one time. There was a copy of Machen's novel The Secret Glory in Lewis's library as catalogued in 1969, but my hunch is that it was Lewis's wife's copy and that Lewis never read it.

If there is any as-yet-unknown actual meeting of two of the authors we have been discussing, I'd guess it was Charles Williams and Arthur Machen. Of course Williams, Lewis, and Tolkien often met. They were all together on one occasion with E. R. Eddison, author of The Worm Ouroboros -- unless maybe Williams was absent; I'd have to check to make sure.

If we want to discuss authors read by some or all of these authors, there'd be, of course, "canonical" authors like Dickens, also John Buchan, W. H. Hodgson, walter de la Mare, and others as authors whom some at least would have read.

Dale Nelson

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2017 10:21PM
Machen's "The Great God Pan" also inspired Clark Ashton Smith's "The Nameless Offspring."

Whether or not Tolkien ever read Machen, they had one interest in common: [www.lotrplaza.com]

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 July, 2017 04:16PM
Specifically regarding whether they shared drafts:

The typescript of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS at the John Hay Library is a non-final draft. It has on its front page a short circulation list by HPL. It uses nicknames (made up by HPL), but the persons referred to are: first to August Derleth; then to Donald Wandrei; then to Clark Ashton Smith; then to Bernard Austin Dwyer; then finally back to HPL.

I believe there are other examples of this sort of thing.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 July, 2017 06:33PM
"The History of the Necronomicon" is an text by HPL that was probably not intended for direct publication. It was, however, shared with a number of other authors, presumably so they could use it as background for their stories. HPL's handwritten copy is addressed to "The Curator of the Vaults of Yoh-Vombis", which of course refers to CAS.

HPL, in turn, mentioned in his stories various fictional elements created by CAS, REH & no doubt others.

Frank Belknap Long's THE SPACE EATERS, published July 1928, opens with a quote from "John Dee's Necronomicon"; meanwhile HPL's THE DUNWICH HORROR, written around June through July 1928, also refers to a John Dee translation of The Necronomicon. Obviously they were sharing information.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 July, 2017 10:02PM
Ancient History Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> G. K. Chesterton was a substantial influence on
> Robert E. Howard.

Do you mean "The Ballad of the White Horse"? I just read it. Yeah, I can see the echoes. I find Chesterton to be a clumsy poet. But for our purposes, I guess it's the ideas that count.

I also saw echoes of Lovecraftian ideas, such as "the gods behind the gods", who "are best unsung", who "would rend all gods and men" and are "weary to make an end". Also, the prophesy that modernity will be a destructive force.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 12 July, 2017 10:08PM
Platypus Wrote:
>
> Do you mean "The Ballad of the White Horse"?

Yes, REH was very fond of it.

> I also saw echoes of Lovecraftian ideas, such as
> "the gods behind the gods", who "are best unsung",
> who "would rend all gods and men" and are "weary
> to make an end". Also, the prophesy that
> modernity will be a destructive force.

That's something else again. Tolkien, Machen, Dunsany, William Morris, and to a lesser extant Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were part of a general movement in fantasy fiction that saw modernity as a not entirely positive development, and who held or portrayed a somewhat idealized vision of the past - specifically rural or gentry lifestyle: Machen's wild hills of Wales contrasted with London; Dunsany warned of the development of atomic power and lamented the spread of cities; Lovecraft idealized the British Colonialist "gentleman farmer"; Robert E. Howard the American frontier; Tolkien of course had his Shire as an echo of the idealized British agricultural community, etc. It was part of a trend of such thoughts in American and British thought and fiction.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2017 11:49AM
I'm not sure Lovecraft held such pessimistic ideas to a lesser extent. I think the distinction would be this: Lovecraft believed modern nihilism, the overturning of traditions, and the resulting societal degradation, to be inevitable, because he believed modern nihilism (etc.) was true and scientific. Chesterton and/or the Inklings would not have seen nihilistic ideas, nor the rejection of traditional moral/religious views, as true or scientific, and so, if anything, would have been less committed to the inevitability of the victory of these ideas, and of the dire results.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2017 03:28PM
Lovecraft was stuck between thinking civilization was superior to barbarism (re: his argument-in-letters with Robert E. Howard) and his many arguments about the coming "Machine Age" would would result in a Brave New World style shift in government; his happy middle ground was the aforementioned Colonial planter class. HPL's dire ruminations on the mechanized future of humanity doesn't come through in his fiction, pretty much only his letters.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 14 July, 2017 05:23PM
HPL's horror of modernity and the effects of modern science does come through in his fiction. See specifically, "Nyarlathotep", "Arthur Jermyn" (opening lines especially), "Herbert West -- Reanimator". More generally, any reference to the idea of "cosmic" horror, forbidden knowledge, and things man was not meant to know, etc.

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 17 July, 2017 06:10PM
Thanks for further thoughts on HPL-CAS-REH as a sort of writers' group. I've been vacationing and wasn't able to acknowledge several posts; but thanks!

DN

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 23 July, 2017 10:27PM
Here's a nice article on Cosmic Horror in Tolkien's work

[phuulishfellow.wordpress.com]

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2017 11:28AM
Thanks, Platypus. I have left a comment there.

DN

Re: Lovecraft and Smith sharing drafts
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2017 11:49AM
On mention of these ideas surfacing in HPL's fiction, I would also cite such examples as portions of "The Mound" and "At the Mountains of Madness" as well; but I think that, in a less obvious way, this is a common thread throughout much of his fiction, and indeed one of the prime reasons for its creation. "Celephais", for instance (not to mention "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"), as well as the fragment "Azathoth", would likely either not exist or be quite different were it not for the idea that modernity, with all its attendant ills, is sterile and destructive of fulfilling human emotional needs. (By "Kadath", of course, he had learned a method of compromise by having traditional attachments be the center of one's life, but it was a tenuous thing nonetheless, easily disturbed or damaged.) And, of course, the entire thrust of the opening paragraph of "The Call of Cthulhu" is wholly on the idea of how advancing knowledge is likely to be the destroyer of our species, or at least of our sanity and any feeling of security or place in the universe: "The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but someday the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

Thematically, this idea can be seen as emerging in at least nascent form as early as "Dagon", and it would last throughout his career.



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