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The Kingdom of Antchar
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 1 December, 2019 01:22AM
I've been re-reading various stories out of Night Shade's Collected Fantasies of CAS, and one tale that has always struck me as one of his most fascinating (even if nowhere near his best) is "The Tale of Sir John Maundeville", or "The Kingdom of the Worm" as it's titled in Volume 2.

Smith says in a letter: "The Kingdom of Antchar, which I have invented for this tale, is more unwholesome, if possible, than Averoigne!" And with an enthusiastic response Lovecraft writes: "Antchar surely surpasses Averoigne in potency of terror, & ought to be good for a whole series of tales."

It's kind of clear why he never wrote more tales about the one-use Antchar, and perhaps Lovecraft was just overdoing the praise as he often does whenever something excites his imagination, but this got me wondering what a whole series, or just another story or two, would be like.

I acknowledge, rather sheepishly, that this speculation is useless and verges a little too close to "fanfic" territory (which I've never been a fan of, not even in the Cthulhu Mythos), but then again, one could say that Smith's story was a "fanfic" in a way, albeit of a higher, intellectual, and artistic caliber that would outright reject such an ugly pedestrian term. Just for the fun of it, what further ideas could be derived from this land of benighted death? It sounds about as weird as Yondo, with much more specific themes. At the very least, I can say Sir John won't be returning as the protagonist, and perhaps Antchar would be occasionally referenced among Smith's other lost lands in some other tales. I know this won't get much response, for good reason, but it's late and my fancy has been tickled about as much as Lovecraft's.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 1 Dec 19 | 02:00AM by kojootti.

Re: The Kingdom of Antchar
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2020 01:29PM
Quote:
kojootti
It's kind of clear why he never wrote more tales about the one-use Antchar
At a guess, because Smith was personally more conversant in French than in Circassian, Abkhaz, Mingrelian, or Svan. (Or Hurrian, Hattic . . .)

If we could get some (literal) west Caucasians hooked on Smith, we might see more stories in these ancient and alien valleys.

Re: The Kingdom of Antchar
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2020 04:30PM
kojootti Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've been re-reading various stories out of Night
> Shade's Collected Fantasies of CAS, and one tale
> that has always struck me as one of his most
> fascinating (even if nowhere near his best) is
> "The Tale of Sir John Maundeville", or "The
> Kingdom of the Worm" as it's titled in Volume 2.
>
> Smith says in a letter: "The Kingdom of Antchar,
> which I have invented for this tale, is more
> unwholesome, if possible, than Averoigne!" And
> with an enthusiastic response Lovecraft writes:
> "Antchar surely surpasses Averoigne in potency of
> terror, & ought to be good for a whole series of
> tales."
>
> It's kind of clear why he never wrote more tales
> about the one-use Antchar, and perhaps Lovecraft
> was just overdoing the praise as he often does
> whenever something excites his imagination, but
> this got me wondering what a whole series, or just
> another story or two, would be like.
>
> I acknowledge, rather sheepishly, that this
> speculation is useless and verges a little too
> close to "fanfic" territory (which I've never been
> a fan of, not even in the Cthulhu Mythos), but
> then again, one could say that Smith's story was a
> "fanfic" in a way, albeit of a higher,
> intellectual, and artistic caliber that would
> outright reject such an ugly pedestrian term. Just
> for the fun of it, what further ideas could be
> derived from this land of benighted death? It
> sounds about as weird as Yondo, with much more
> specific themes. At the very least, I can say Sir
> John won't be returning as the protagonist, and
> perhaps Antchar would be occasionally referenced
> among Smith's other lost lands in some other
> tales. I know this won't get much response, for
> good reason, but it's late and my fancy has been
> tickled about as much as Lovecraft's.

This was well-worth reading, and I felt that Smith effectively kept raising the ante, so to speak, as Sir John rode on into the interdicted land.

Yep, it was a lot like Yondo. Physically, there wee hints of the white worm from Hyperborea.

Overall, the tale is something like what the Ancient Mariner experienced: a sort of punishment for an inappropriate and willful act--going into the forbidden realm, by Sir John, and shooting the albatross, by the mariner.

The main functional result was that while the ancient mariner couldn't stop talking about what had happened to him, Sir John went completely silent on the topic.

I agree with you: he won't be going back again soon, without doubt!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: The Kingdom of Antchar
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2020 09:13PM
Zimriel's thoughts are probably spot-on. Smith seemed to enjoy researching distant lands and cultures, judging by his personal library and revisited themes in his writings, but he was clearly most at home in romantic, necromantic France. It would be nice to learn of some native author, or a foreign author well-acquainted with any of those lands, writing weird or supernatural or fantastic fiction about them, let alone the Kingdom of the Worm.

And I made that same connection, Sawfish. I couldn't help but see an early form of Rlim-Shaikorth in the eponymous Worm! He's also probably a descendent of the imperial Worm mentioned in "The Hashish-Eater", and perhaps distantly related to the Conqueror Worm of Poe.

Interesting comparison, too. I now realize that in both cases, disregarding the wild animals brought the weirdest imaginable dooms upon the travelers!

Sir John certainly won't be heading back there any time soon, except maybe symbolically since it seems to be a land literally ruled by Death. I suppose most people can't come up with any other sort of narrative set in this land, as everything about this story feels complete in itself, but I can only imagine how wild Smith's imagination would have run if he did return to this land with some other protagonist.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10 Mar 20 | 09:15PM by kojootti.



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