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Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 10:34AM
Yes, I wonder if A. Merritt was the ruling king of romantic fantasy. And other top writers, such as Burroughs, Lovecraft, Smith, Vance, Tolkien, have to settle as princes, standing at the side and below Merritt's inaccessible throne.

I base this assumption not on rational thought, and not from an analysis of Merritt's technical proficiencies compared to the others. But on my hunches, intangible hunches. Merritt seemed to have the most dreaming and essentially romantic imagination of all fantasists. Without cynical planning of the intellect. He seemed to be completely abandoned to fantasy, having turned his soul and body over. He had the kernel of fantasy in his hand. Therefore he may have been the greatest. Others have had more original, technically developed ideas, but to some extent used a rational calculating intellect and cynical planning to reach that level. He did not. He WAS his imagination. And, at the height of his creativity, wrote it down in a purified, uncorrupted, faery trance, tuned in to its very most inner and subtle qualities.

So, in all fairness, perhaps it should have been Merritt who have a rabid following, whose works are famous, and inevitably are turned into movies and merchandize? Why is it not so? Perhaps because of the natural stupidity of mankind, their coarse mentality, and inability to see the forest for all the trees, their inability to appreciate genuine qualities.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 02:17PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, I wonder if A. Merritt was the ruling king of
> romantic fantasy. And other top writers, such as
> Burroughs, Lovecraft, Smith, Vance, Tolkien, have
> to settle as princes, standing at the side and
> below Merritt's inaccessible throne.
>
> I base this assumption not on rational thought,
> and not from an analysis of Merritt's technical
> proficiencies compared to the others. But on my
> hunches, intangible hunches. Merritt seemed to
> have the most dreaming and essentially romantic
> imagination of all fantasists. Without cynical
> planning of the intellect. He seemed to be
> completely abandoned to fantasy, having turned his
> soul and body over. He had the kernel of fantasy
> in his hand. Therefore he may have been the
> greatest. Others have had more original,
> technically developed ideas, but to some extent
> used a rational calculating intellect and cynical
> planning to reach that level. He did not. He WAS
> his imagination. And, at the height of his
> creativity, wrote it down in a purified,
> uncorrupted, faery trance, tuned in to its very
> most inner and subtle qualities.
>
> So, in all fairness, perhaps it should have been
> Merritt who have a rabid following, whose works
> are famous, and inevitably are turned into movies
> and merchandize? Why is it not so? Perhaps because
> of the natural stupidity of mankind, their coarse
> mentality, and inability to see the forest for all
> the trees, their inability to appreciate genuine
> qualities.

That would be one possible explanation.

Another possible explanation that springs readily to mind is that he was not as good at conveying these ideas with the clarity and artistry that some of the others achieved, and hence developed a smaller following.

A third explanation involves the Illuminati, and the fine hand of the Pope, as he sits on his throne in The Vatican; this is the explanation that I favor, personally.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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: 16 October, 2020 03:47PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Another possible explanation that springs readily
> to mind is that he was not as good at conveying
> these ideas with the clarity and artistry that
> some of the others achieved, and hence developed a
> smaller following.

Yes, that is a sad factor. Some of his prose could be better, or more distilled. Again, this was what I meant by people's inability to see the forest for all the trees.


> A third explanation involves the Illuminati, and
> the fine hand of the Pope, as he sits on his
> throne in The Vatican; this is the explanation
> that I favor, personally.

Hmm, this sounds a bit ..., I don't know what. Off topic perhaps. If you would care to elaborate more on what you mean in the general Super thread, I am willing to contemplate it.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 04:53PM
.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 16 Oct 20 | 05:26PM by Knygatin.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 05:20PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... Some of his prose could
> be better, or more distilled.

But on the other hand, the book versions of some of the novels he is famous for were heavily cut. At least The Metal Monster and The Face in the Abyss/The Snake Mother were, I don't know about the others. Which made them choppy and much inferior to the original texts, to an extent even incomprehensible.

I am trying to find a quote by Brian Stableford about The Face In the Abyss, in which he said that the book version is awful and lacking, while the original magazine version is a very fine work. I couldn't agree more. Merritt needed the prose to flesh out his atmospheric ideas; but apparently the editors thought not.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 08:12PM
I really only know Abraham Merritt for two works - The Dragon Glass which features in The Young Magicians (an anthology already mentioned here) and which is a pulp classic, imo. The second work is Burn Witch Burn which I never read but which formed the basis for a favourite film of mine - The Devil Doll, also a classic of its kind.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2020 12:39PM
I have read only his short stories (almost all of them) and though I enjoyed most of them I do not think thery are any better than what Mr. Merritt‘s colleagues of the genre (Hodgson, Blackwood, Lovecraft, Machen, Doyle, Smith, Howard and many others) wrote. Some years ago I started to read "The Face In The Abyss" but never finished the book; it did not appealed to me too much. Nevertheless, one of these days I am going to read (at last) "The Metal Monster" I have been reading so many good reviews about over the years.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2020 05:58PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nevertheless, one of these days I am going to read
> (at last) "The Metal Monster" I have been reading
> so many good reviews about over the years.

Good luck with that. And as always, try avoid having pre-expectations.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2020 11:26PM
In a long reading life, I've read Dwellers in the Mirage, The Ship of Ishtar, "The Woman of the Wood," his bit of "The Challenge from Beyond," and "Through the Dragon Glass" (yep, in The Young Magicians) at least, and perhaps one or both versions of The Moon Pool. I wouldn't mind reading or rereading something by him, but he has never been one of my indispensables. I've preferred Rider Haggard for adventure fiction.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 07:14AM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Burn Witch Burn which I never read but which
> formed the basis for a favourite film of mine -
> The Devil Doll, also a classic of its kind.

I have seen that film, but don't remember much from it other than it being quite creepy and having some fine settings. The miniature aspect is similar to the film Dr. Cyclops. Dr. Cyclops is a film I enjoy foremost for its lush colours.

I have not read Burn Witch Burn! either (nor its sequel Creep Shadow!), from his later period. And I have not read Seven Footprints to Satan. I have focused on the books that have clear fantasy settings.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 07:23AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've preferred Rider Haggard for adventure fiction.

I have not read H. Rider Haggard. But I will try to set aside time to read She and The People of the Mist.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 09:26AM
I have never heard of H. Rider Haggard. Did he write any short horror or weird fiction?

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 12:28PM
It is easy, by way of rational argument, to say that other fantasy writers are better than Merritt. And smash him down. But my suggestion that he may be the greatest, rests on more subtle reasons, that go beyond literature, and which it is very difficult for me to put my finger on. It concerns the particular quality of Merritt's soul and attitude and the wholesome purity of his dreamy rich imagination. Perhaps someone else has been better able to describe it in words.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 October, 2020 08:24PM
Here are a few quotes from Brian Stableford's essay about A. Merritt in St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers (which can be borrowed from archive.org):

"[...] "The Moon Pool" (1918), a definite study of the teasing allure of the exotic. In the novel-length sequel he explains what lay beyond the magic doorway described in the story. Although the plot of the novel is pure pulp cliché the lush setting is crowded with the gaudy imagery which was to become Merritt's hallmark."

"The book version of The Face In the Abyss combines abridged versions of two novellas, [...] "The Face In the Abyss" (1923) and "The Snake Mother" (1930). The book version is highly unsatisfactory, the impact of the earlier story being entirely lost (as, to some extent, the impact of "The Moon Pool" was when it was combined with its sequel). The original serials, however, display some of Merritt's finest work, deploying science-fictional imagery [...] without losing any of the emotional impact o Merritt's passion for the exotic. Here the passion is fully revealed, in quasi-allegorical fashion, as a critique of the awful mundanity of human nature, ruled by the twin principles of Greed and Folly."

"It is easy enough to make fun of Merritt's idiosyncratic prose style, but there was a purpose and a philosophy behind it; like Clark Ashton Smith, Merritt used exotic language in order to convey a sense of the alien, to make every effort possible to distance the reader from mundanity. Merritt is by no means the only fantasy writer to have attempted to make escapism both a vocation and an artform, but he did so with an intensity which few others could match, and it is not surprising that readers who can attune themselves to his strategies still think of him as the best of all such writers."

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 22 October, 2020 11:21PM
So is excellence in fantasy to be understood as outstanding performance in a particular variety of escapism? I’d like a little more on that.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 October, 2020 01:03AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So is excellence in fantasy to be understood as
> outstanding performance in a particular variety of
> escapism? I’d like a little more on that.

In Merritt it was an escapism from mundanity, not from life. It was an exhilarated celebration of life.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 23 October, 2020 11:06AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dale Nelson Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > So is excellence in fantasy to be understood as
> > outstanding performance in a particular variety
> of
> > escapism? I’d like a little more on that.
>
> In Merritt it was an escapism from mundanity, not
> from life. It was an exhilarated celebration of
> life.

You're not in any way related to the Merritt family, by blood or marriage, are you, 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: 23 October, 2020 03:21PM
A. Merritt worked as leading editor for an American newspaper, and on occasion he would dress in kilt and play for the other employees on some of the instruments he kept in a closet at work. Another of his wonderful expressions to alleviate dullness and mundanity.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 October, 2020 07:07PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dale Nelson Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> > So is excellence in fantasy to be understood as
> > outstanding performance in a particular variety
> > of escapism? I’d like a little more on that.
>
> In Merritt the escapism was a celebration of
> life beyond mundanity.


From the opening paragraphs of Merritt's 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.

Sometimes the veils drop from a man's eyes, and he sees
--and speaks of his vision. Then those who have not seen
pass him by with the lifted brows of disbelief, or they
mock him, or if his vision has been great enough they
fall upon and destroy him.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 02:00PM
Knygatin, I don’t expect to love Merritt as you do, but this thread has encouraged me to take up The Moon Poolagain before long.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 03:43PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin, I don’t expect to love Merritt as you
> do, but this thread has encouraged me to take up
> The Moon Pool again before long.

Rather than reading the book version, I would suggest reading the original short-story "The Moon Pool" first (it is a rather finely written weird tale, which was shortly afterwards stripped into simpler pulp when joined with its longer sequel; I have compared them). And then reading the sequel novel The Conquest of the Moon Pool (I don't know if this one was also pared down for the book publication. I have not compared them yet. Perhaps someone else can answer that?). These original versions are both available online.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 24 October, 2020 10:59PM
"Sometimes the veils drop from a man's eyes, and he sees
--and speaks of his vision. Then those who have not seen
pass him by with the lifted brows of disbelief, or they
mock him, or if his vision has been great enough they
fall upon and destroy him."

This reminds me of Kubla Khan (the final verse):

To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 26 October, 2020 06:11PM
I've read all of Merritt except for "Burn, Witch, Burn", and "The Snake Mother". The novelette version of "The Moon Pool" and "The Ship of Ishtar" are the best, "Creep, Shadow", and "Seven Footprints to Satan" are also excellent. Many are drawn to "The Metal Monster" for a cosmicism that is more alleged than authentic. It is a failure stylistically, with repetitive diction and overbaked sentimentality. Yet on the level of sheer fantasy, like all his fiction, it is impressive. Some fantasy novels of the Golden Age are overhyped and likely to disappoint; Jack Williamson's "Darker Than You Think" and "Golden Blood" for example. Merritt was massively popular before Weird Tales came along, and his popularity, if faded now, was deserved.

jkh

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 26 October, 2020 09:44PM
Williamson obviously wrote those two novels with a sense of homage to Merritt. Smith referenced succumbing to "the pervasive charm" of Merritt, but that letter was written well into Smith's own career in fiction. I think Merritt, Smith, Lovecraft, Machen, and William Hope Hodgson were the five greatest for imaginative genius, poetical, intense descriptive power, and macabre, fantastical atmosphere in weird fiction. Hodgson and Lovecraft were a bit more flawed or florid. Smith may have barely matched Merritt in the escape from "mundanity", but I think he surpasses him as a great prose stylist.
Merritt had a vast collection of occult literature, and was reputed to be somewhat of a hypochondriac, fairly or not. Enough of my useless maunderings.

jkh

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 03:00AM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've read all of Merritt except for "Burn, Witch,
> Burn", and "The Snake Mother". The novelette
> version of "The Moon Pool" and "The Ship of
> Ishtar" are the best, "Creep, Shadow", and "Seven
> Footprints to Satan" are also excellent.

I tried The Face In the Abyss (a book merging two novellas), but could not read very far for it didn't make much sense to me (that is because it was so heavily edited). Later on I read both the original magazine versions of "The Face In the Abyss" and "The Snake Mother", and enjoyed them very much. A blend of pulpish and fine writing, wildly spiring imagination, and has a strong perspective against dullness and mundanity.

I must read The Ship of Ishtar! I tried when younger, but could not get into it. Since then I have been lucky to find a paperback edition (Collier) that reproduces the 1949 Memorial edition with Virgil Finlay's illustrations. This version follows the original magazine serial text, and appears to be much longer than other paperback editions.


Thanks for putting Merritt into context alongside the other great writers. Encouraging that someone other than me is willing to give him credit.

I have also read Darker Than You Think, but don't remember much from it. What drew me were Edd Cartier's illustrations.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 11:18AM
here's a biography of Merritt by Sam Moskowitz:

[benny-drinnon.blogspot.com]

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: The Sojourner of Worlds (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 11:28AM
Not sure what criteria we're using but if it's the dreaminess, it's Dunsany, and if it's the sheer volume, productivity, quantity, it's Howard.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 12:03PM
Cartier was indeed a fine illustrator. Gerry de la Ree should have included more of his work in his 1978 volume The Art of the Fantastic, which has only two Cartier works, so I haven't seen those illos you like for Darker Than You Think. I just recall that novel as an example of an author's conception not being matched by his execution of the plot. The Ship of Ishtar is a novel that works on multiple levels to express Merritt's world view.

jkh

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 05:03PM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Cartier was indeed a fine illustrator. Gerry de la
> Ree should have included more of his work in his
> 1978 volume The Art of the Fantastic, which has
> only two Cartier works, so I haven't seen those
> illos you like for Darker Than You Think. I just
> recall that novel as an example of an author's
> conception not being matched by his execution of
> the plot. The Ship of Ishtar is a novel that works
> on multiple levels to express Merritt's world
> view.

I had the paperback Dell edition of Darker Than You Think, with the beautiful Rowena cover, but regrettably, because it was a very nice paperback, when younger and less wise I got rid of it. It had several small black & white illustrations by Cartier interspersed in the text. When I saw them, I decided that this story cannot be anything less than a classic. They are excellent, and were originally published in UNKNOWN, December 1940, which can be downloaded from luminist.org. It has a shorter novella version of the story, which was later expanded.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 October, 2020 05:16PM
The Sojourner of Worlds Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Not sure what criteria we're using but if it's the
> dreaminess, it's Dunsany, and if it's the sheer
> volume, productivity, quantity, it's Howard.

If so, agreed. However, my criteria was the quality of imaginatively rich, romantic, sparkling fantasy vision.

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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