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Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Geoffrey (IP Logged)
Date: 31 October, 2020 12:35PM
Where can I find copies of the original magazine versions of "The Face In the Abyss" and "The Snake Mother"?

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 31 October, 2020 02:02PM
Geoffrey Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Where can I find copies of the original magazine
> versions of "The Face In the Abyss" and "The Snake
> Mother"?

Most likely on ABE-books or Ebay.

Or download them as pdf files:
The Face in the Abyss in Famous Fantastic Mysteries, October 1940
The Snake Mother in Fantastic Novels Magazine, November 1940

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Geoffrey (IP Logged)
Date: 31 October, 2020 04:42PM
Thank you for the links! I look forward to comparing them to my paperback copy of The Face in the Abyss.

Even considering only my Merritt paperbacks, he is definitely one of my favorites.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Geoffrey (IP Logged)
Date: 3 November, 2020 11:01AM
Do we know what Merritt's involvement was in the altering of his originally-published texts? Did he himself do the alterations? If so, did he consider them improvements, or did he grudgingly make alterations at the behest of the book publishers?

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 17 December, 2020 03:26AM
Yesterday I finished "The Metal Monster". Most of it is nothing but a mad orgy of descriptions of colours and shapes and movements, with all the cubes and pyramids and balls arranging and rearranging themselves, and all the cones and discs sucking their energy from our sun, and all the crazy atmospheric phenomena. I enjoyed the book though it has its weak points (like many other books, of course). Personally, I would do without Norhala, Yuruk or Cherkis and his City; they were disturbing elements for me and the story would be much better without them. A bunch of explorers discovering something beyond human knowledge, a metal entity of unknown oirigin, without any fantasy twists with an enigmatic woman and medieval armored warriors with their catapults and bows, that would be an ideal scenario for me. But like I said, I enjoyed it, it has its cosmic moments and it is plainly seen why Lovecraft loved it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17 Dec 20 | 03:27AM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2021 08:57PM
Knygatin Wrote (lifted from the thread The golden Age of Modern Fantasy):
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have begun reading Merritt's The Ship of Ishtar,
> and immediately hear the tinkle of invisible elfin
> bells. Therefore I think Merritt is ultimately a
> greater fantasist.


I must say, I like the beginning with the model ship. But with the transfer into the fantasy world, this book turns into some awfully stilted purple prose, which I have a hard time digesting. Like that of the ship being divided sharply right at the middle into a black half and a light half, representing the struggle aboard between evil and good. A very silly and unconvincing metaphor device. I hope things get better. I normally like Merritt's purple prose in The Moon Pool, The Metal Monster, and The Face in the Abyss / The Snake Mother novella magazine versions.

The Ship of Ishtar has actually been published in different versions. I am lucky to have a reprint (Collier) of the hardcover Memorial Edition that uses the original longer magazine text. (It is my experience that Merritt's original texts are better and more fulfilling than the cut versions.)

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2021 11:27AM
Geoffrey Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Do we know what Merritt's involvement was in the
> altering of his originally-published texts? Did he
> himself do the alterations? If so, did he consider
> them improvements, ....

I picked up the following conversation from sffchronicles.

JDWorth: "[The Metal Monster] is without a doubt Merritt's most difficult book. Magnificent stuff in there, but often bogged down by too much information. Oddly, the compressed version (which is the one usually seen) is even worse with this than the full magazine version, which is considerably longer. That one actually has more, but the flow of the prose is much better (though still extremely dense), has a higher level of poetry and simply staggering concepts and tableaux. Even so, reading it can lead to sensory burnout if you're not careful....
-- Merritt was never satisfied with that one, either; over the years he kept tinkering with it, trying to get it exactly the way he wanted it, but never succeeded...."

Dask: "I didn't know the magazine version was longer than the book. I would have preferred to have read that if I had the option. Compressed, edited, censored, they all ring similar bells and emit similar smells."

JDWorth: "Well, in this case, it was Merritt's own decision to attempt compressing the novel; he felt it meandered far too much, and was attempting to remove that aspect (among some other faults he perceived). Unfortunately, what he ended up doing was removing much of the music of the prose, often turning what was a fine turn of phrase into choppy, telegraphic barrages of statements.

Incidentally, you can find the original version here:
The Metal Monster By A. Merritt - Hippocampus Press

I'd definitely suggest going for the Hippocampus Press edition of The Metal Monster, as it is -- despite being a bit of a slog now and again -- far superior to the standard edition...."

Dask: "But if all you have is the standard edition --- mine is the 1972 Avon paperback --- it's still worth it. :)"

Lobolover: "No. It's humongously condensed and edited."

Clovis-man: "I`m reading the Kindle version of The Metal Monster. I assume it`s the revision. A little hard to wade through some of the descriptive narrative. I'll slog on through, I guess. But so far it`s my least favorite of his works."

JDWorth: "Yes, there are lengthy descriptive passages which can act as a roadblock at times; the best thing to do with these is simply to change gears and let the imagery flow; doing this can actually make a fair amount of this rather impressive on a different level...."



Well, for me The Metal Monster (full magazine version) is simply one of the most impressive supernatural books I ever read, along with Hodgson's The Night Land. It is beyond criticism, because criticism will only come up with complaints about the mundane superficially literary aspects, never have authority to touch upon the supernatural components (unless you are a genius as great as Merritt himself). That is why I read supernatural fiction - to be ASTOUNDED. I never pretend, or fool myself, that I can outwit and analyze the great SF & F Masters. I can only be AMAZED, STUNNED, and respectfully admire. They are the great magicians and kings. And I humbly bow down.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2021 12:08PM
Quote:
K:
That is why I read supernatural fiction - to be ASTOUNDED. I never pretend, or fool myself, that I can outwit and analyze the great SF & F Masters. I can only be AMAZED, STUNNED, and respectfully admire. They are the great magicians and kings. And I humbly bow down.

That's a very perceptive rationale for reading supernatural fiction; I hadn't actually considered my reasons in this light, but in my case it's certainly the desired goal--to be amazed, astounded.

This seldom happens, however, at east not anymore...

I'll add that I finished Lindsay's "The Haunted Woman" and was very, very impressed with the pacing, character development of the principal character, Isbel (a woman I'd make it a point to stay well away from), and of the supporting cast.

The story, itself, seemed to delve into the ideas of socially repressed sexual desire, "liberated" in the ultra-dimensional rooms/passages of Runhill. In this sense, many passages were electric...

Good recommendation, K!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2021 04:14PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> I'll add that I finished Lindsay's "The Haunted
> Woman" and was very, very impressed with the
> pacing, character development of the principal
> character, Isbel (a woman I'd make it a point to
> stay well away from), and of the supporting cast.
>
> The story, itself, seemed to delve into the ideas
> of socially repressed sexual desire, "liberated"
> in the ultra-dimensional rooms/passages of
> Runhill. In this sense, many passages were
> electric...
>
> Good recommendation, K!


Wow, that is gratifying. I am very happy it was worthwhile for you. It is a sad state of affair when we read books we don't enjoy. Did you find the fiddle player seen from the window creepy? I think there was some very good reason we were not allowed to see his face, but only his back. His long hair gave me the jitters. Not quite fully human.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2021 05:20PM
WOW, The Ship of Ishtar has much improved!

Nearly as good as the classic ecstatic remark from The Metal Monster,

"In this great crucible of life we call the world--in the
vaster one we call the universe--the mysteries lie close
packed, uncountable as grains of sand on ocean's shores.
They thread gigantic, the star-flung spaces; they creep,
atomic, beneath the microscope's peering eye. They walk
beside us, unseen and unheard, calling out to us, asking
why we are deaf to their crying, blind to their wonder."


Well actually, it is just as good!

I was afraid I had become jaded over the last few years, but I can't possibly be indifferent to this text. This book is like old times, when I felt much more romantic. And it really rewards slow and reflective reading. And I also discovered here that I find Merritt at his best when he uses physics, atoms, and such applications, to make a convincing fantastic philosophical argument for parallel dimensions and worlds coexisting. I had feared the basic concept of this book would be too naive and clumsy, and never could convince my demands and cravings. But no worries now.

Also, I have been forewarned of "embarrassing, silly and antiquated" romantic elements, so I will not let such bother me. But so far I find it very appealing; women are feminine, and men are masculine, as it should be. But many today will not tolerate that (especially those writing book reviews at goodreads and similar places), since they have been brainwashed that women should act as men, and men should act as women. Well, it's their loss.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2021 05:54PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> >
> > I'll add that I finished Lindsay's "The Haunted
> > Woman" and was very, very impressed with the
> > pacing, character development of the principal
> > character, Isbel (a woman I'd make it a point
> to
> > stay well away from), and of the supporting
> cast.
> >
> > The story, itself, seemed to delve into the
> ideas
> > of socially repressed sexual desire,
> "liberated"
> > in the ultra-dimensional rooms/passages of
> > Runhill. In this sense, many passages were
> > electric...
> >
> > Good recommendation, K!
>
>
> Wow, that is gratifying. I am very happy it was
> worthwhile for you. It is a sad state of affair
> when we read books we don't enjoy. Did you find
> the fiddle player seen from the window creepy? I
> think there was some very good reason we were not
> allowed to see his face, but only his back. His
> long hair gave me the jitters. Not quite fully
> human.

Yes, it was creepy. A tall, broadly built *something* that had yellow hair and an inexplicable costume...and the instrument he played was similarly ambiguous.

I expected that we *would* see his face, and it seems like Judge saw it, and died, and earlier there was another person who saw it (Mrs. B.?) and died also.

Very, very effective book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

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