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CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2019 07:09PM
CAS was a great admirer of HPL's "The Silver Key" and seemed enthusiastic about its sequel, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key." He was at least enamored enough to want to illustrate "any of the ultramundane scenes."

I'm not a fan of the story, though I find its many suggestions worthy of deeper and individual exploration. Out of curiosity, does anyone here know Smith's exact thoughts on this sequel? He enthused about "The Silver Key" in several letters, mentioning how it's Lovecraft's best fantasy story (with "The White Ship" at a close second), but aside from his eagerness to illustrate the sequel it seems none of the letters here reveal his thoughts on it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Dec 19 | 07:11PM by kojootti.

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 11:38AM
"The Silver Key" ... Is this the story where one comes to know where all the cats get to at night? If so, than it is one of the worst tales by Mr. Lovecraft.

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 12:28PM
No, there are no cats in "Silver Key." The only cat stories from Lovecraft I'm aware of are "The Cats of Ulthar" and his "Dream-Quest." The former is rather boring and the latter is a random mess of half-formed ideas.

"Silver Key" is the story of how Randolph Carter wanders drearily through his life until he discovers a key which will allow him to transcend the time-space continuum and return to the world of his nostalgic dreams and memories.

Given your prejudice against fantasy as a genre, I have a feeling this isn't a story you would like, but I consider it one of Lovecraft's most beautiful works of literature, unusual and uneven as it is.

"Through the Gates of the Silver Key" is the sequel which he reluctantly wrote with E. Hoffmann Price, and it concerns Carter's weird travels through time and space and how he ends up trapped in the body of a being on another planet. A weak and uneven story with lots of wasted potential. It seems CAS may have been enamored by the weird and wonderous scenes, but I was curious to know his opinion on the work as a whole, whether he saw it as a weak composition as I do or if he saw something more in it.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 21 Dec 19 | 12:51PM by kojootti.

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 12:58PM
Well, I would not call it a prejudice. I have read a lot of fantasy stuff and it has not appealed to me somehow. I simply prefer horror and weird fiction to fantasy or sci-fi or mystery tales or whatever genre. I am dearly fond of some Howard´s horror stories, but Conan or Solomon Kane leave me absolutely cold (or at least most of the stories). On the other hand, I consider "The Other Side" (1909) by Alfred Kubin to be a very good weird, macabre fantasy novel; I really enjoyed its bizzare and crazy and decadent visions.


P.S. I have read all the stories by Lovecraft you mentioned but for the life of me I cannot remember what they were about. And you are right, the cats appear in "The Dream Quest."

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 01:37PM
Huh, maybe my mind made this up, but I thought you said "prejudice" once in an older post (from years ago) when I was scanning the old threads of this forum some weeks ago! Well, sorry for that mistake. Whether my mind made it up or not, I think it's rude of me to talk to someone today as if they were someone from several years back. I'm a bit awkward when it comes to online social interaction (even though people my age are expected to be 90% absorbed in it!).

Most fantasy leaves me cold, so I understand perfectly. I think most authors are incapable of making anything that can reach viscerally into a reader, perhaps because fantasy is often accepted as unreal fluff or egotistical escapism. I agree that Howard can write a really gripping horror story. Even his less impressive horrors just somehow reach out for you forcefully like an old but violent corpse grinning into your soul. Conan and Solomon Kane leave me cold these days as well, though I admire their enchanting elements, as Howard often imbued his work with. When it comes to fantasy I often look for something that can really make me feel the surrounding elements, which is why CAS is one of my favorites.

I had no clue Kubin wrote anything! Wow! If this novel is in any way as strange and eerie as his artwork then I'm in for a feast!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 21 Dec 19 | 01:39PM by kojootti.

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 02:23PM
“Through the arched windows I could see the city far below me. There was a deathly hush all round, broken only by my echoing footsteps. I was so entirely taken up with my own thoughts that I was not conscious of my strange situation. I felt unusually carefree, I can still remember that today. I pushed open some huge white double doors and passed through a suite of large rooms.Each time I opened a door I was met by another rush of cold air. ‘I’m sure no one lives here’, I kept on whispering to myself, as if I were caught up in a dream. Each of the rooms contained some capacious carved wardrobes and upholstered chairs shrouded in dust-sheets. Once I saw a slim, upright figure coming towards me but it was an illusion, a mirror on one of the walls throwing back my own reflection.“



“Behind me”- it made me feel uncomfortable–the miller was sitting by the river studying a huge sheet of newspaper. After he had read it and eaten it up, smoke came pouring out of his ears. He turned the colour of copper, stood up and clutched his sagging paunch with both hands, all the time tearing up and down the bank, sending fierce looks in all directions and emitting shrill whistles. Finally he fell in a heap on the ground, turned pale, his body growing light and transparent so that one could clearly see two little railway trains whizzing round his entrails. Each seemed to be trying to catch the other as they shot like lightning round one loop of his gut after another.“



“In them I lost my identity. They often went back to historical periods, almost every night brought far-off events. It is my opinion that these dream images were closely tied to things that had affected my ancestors; their traumatic experiences may perhaps have imprinted themselves on the organism and been passed on to future generations. Even deeper levels of dream opened up when I was absorbed into an animal’s lifestream or let my mind wander in some primal element. These dreams were abysses I was powerless to resist. They stopped when the weather improved and we had fine, clear nights“.



“Patera and the American grappled each other, forming a shapeless hulk, the American completely fused with Patera. A monstrous body, too huge to distinguish its various parts, rolled and writhed all over the earth, the shapeless being taking on protean characteristics. Millions of tiny, ever-changing faces formed on its surface, all prattling, singing, shouting at the same time, until they were sucked back in again. Then suddenly a calm came over the monster and it rolled itself up into a gigantic ball, Patera’s head. Its eyes, as large as whole continents, had the look of an eagle with second sight. Now it took on the appearance of one of the Fates and aged a million years before me. Its jungle of hair dropped off, revealing the smooth, bony dome. Suddenly the head burst into a cloud of dust and I was looking into a blinding, undefined void…“



Yes, it is one the most bizarre books I have ever read, his only novel and a direct influence on “The Castle“ (1926) by Franz Kafka. A must-have for any weird fiction fan. :-)



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 21 Dec 19 | 02:25PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 04:44PM
kojootti Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> Most fantasy leaves me cold, so I understand
> perfectly. I think most authors are incapable of
> making anything that can reach viscerally into a
> reader, perhaps because fantasy is often accepted
> as unreal fluff or egotistical escapism.

I suspect that there’s often a problem in that writers can be defective on one side or the other — like the famous drunkard who falls from the donkey on hand me side, then the other next time. Either the writer bogs down in (ugh!) “world-building” or writes in a way that suggests slapdash improvisation.

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: kojootti (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 07:29PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, it is one the most bizarre books I have ever
> read, his only novel and a direct influence on
> “The Castle“ (1926) by Franz Kafka. A
> must-have for any weird fiction fan. :-)

That was grand! This is truly a mixture of Kafka's dreary symbolic strangeness and the primal horror and wonderment of good weird fiction. It's satisfying how his visual art and written art feel like expressions from the same soul, looking in on this world from another. Thank you very much for these passages, I was already eager to try it just learning Kubin wrote a novel.


Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I suspect that there’s often a problem in that
> writers can be defective on one side or the other
> — like the famous drunkard who falls from the
> donkey on hand me side, then the other next time.
> Either the writer bogs down in (ugh!)
> “world-building” or writes in a way that
> suggests slapdash improvisation.

I know what you mean. The "world-building" gets so obnoxious and stale. And in most aspiring writers the world-building often keeps them from beginning to write anything. Other times it's like nothing matters at all as long as it's "entertaining," as in lesbian space-women riding on mutant dinosaurs while cracking one-liners.

Smith, Lovecraft, and Howard still impress me as fantasy authors with their greater focus on immersive art and storytelling over the usual conventions.

Re: CAS and "Through the Gates"
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2019 07:41PM
Yikes! The wrath of Autocorrect. I meant “falls from the donkey on the one side.”



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