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CAS to L. Sprague de Camp Letter
Posted by: DrWho42 (IP Logged)
Date: 3 January, 2021 03:15PM
hi! i'm trying to find the right reference to cite for this letter from 3 November 1953:

"Zothique, vaguely suggested by Theosophic theories about past and future continents, is the last inhabited continent of earth. The continents of our present cycle have sunken, perhaps several times. Some have remained submerged; others have re-risen, partially, and re-arranged themselves. Zothique, as I conceive it, comprises Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, parts of northern and eastern Africa, and much of the Indonesian archipelago. A new Australia exists somewhere to the south. To the west, there are only a few known islands, such as Naat, in which the black cannibals survive. To the north, are immense unexplored deserts; to the east, an immense unvoyaged sea. The peoples are mainly of Aryan or Semitic descent; but there is a negro kingdom (Ilcar) in the north-west; and scattered blacks are found throughout the other countries, mainly in palace-harems. In the southern islands survive vestiges of Indonesian or Malayan races. The science and machinery of our present civilization have long been forgotten, together with our present religions. But many gods are worshipped; and sorcery and demonism prevail again as in ancient days. Oars and sails alone are used by mariners. There are no fire-arms—only the bows, arrows, swords, javelins, etc. of antiquity. The chief language spoken (of which I have provided examples in an unpublished drama) is based on Indo-European roots and is highly inflected, like Sanskrit, Greek and Latin."

Re: CAS to L. Sprague de Camp Letter
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 3 January, 2021 05:29PM
That letter is included in the Selected Letters volume that Scott Connors edited for Arkham House (pages 374-375):

[www.goodreads.com]

Re: CAS to L. Sprague de Camp Letter
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 4 January, 2021 09:47AM
I wonder if CAS similarly described the concept and base assumptions for Hyperborea?

What would these be, does anyone suppose?

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"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my Grandpa, not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car."

--Sawfish
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Re: CAS to L. Sprague de Camp Letter
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 4 January, 2021 11:17AM
I'm not sure if CAS ever described Hyperborea outside of the stories themselves. In a letter praising "Satampra Zeiros", Lovecraft mentions how Commoriom must lie somewhere near Plathoë and Lomar, but that was an eager fit of enthusiasm, and CAS never mentions such details in his work.

As a series the Hyperborean stories are a bit more varied in tone and imagery than Zothique or Averoigne. One story takes place in a jungle, another in a cave, another on Saturn, and another on an iceberg. Some of them indulge in a form of humor that goes far beyond black humor (like "Testament of Athammaus", which seemed to disturb Tolkien!), and others are slow and mournful (like "White Sybil" and "White Worm"). In terms of geography, history, and tone this was a dynamic land! I wouldn't be surprised if Line Carter attempted his own description in one of his books however.

Re: CAS to L. Sprague de Camp Letter
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 4 January, 2021 01:50PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm not sure if CAS ever described Hyperborea
> outside of the stories themselves. In a letter
> praising "Satampra Zeiros", Lovecraft mentions how
> Commoriom must lie somewhere near Plathoë and
> Lomar, but that was an eager fit of enthusiasm,
> and CAS never mentions such details in his work.
>
> As a series the Hyperborean stories are a bit more
> varied in tone and imagery than Zothique or
> Averoigne. One story takes place in a jungle,
> another in a cave, another on Saturn, and another
> on an iceberg. Some of them indulge in a form of
> humor that goes far beyond black humor (like
> "Testament of Athammaus", which seemed to disturb
> Tolkien!), and others are slow and mournful (like
> "White Sybil" and "White Worm"). In terms of
> geography, history, and tone this was a dynamic
> land! I wouldn't be surprised if Line Carter
> attempted his own description in one of his books
> however.

I've mentioned this before, and apologize for the redundancy, but somehow CAS conveys--to me, at least--an underlying cultural vigor. Hyperborea is not immediately concerned with a "founding myth", but one gets the feeling that such a time was not far in its cultural past.

Feels like parts may be a sort of frontier, not just with the advancing ice, but also in establishing civilization for the first time. Recall the foul, stinking, filthy Voorhis; no such race exists in Zothique, so far as I recall.

In a sense, it feels like Britain as it might have been in the 5th C, but minus the external influence of an advanced culture, like Rome.

It also seems that the geography bears a bit more than a passing resemblance to Britain, and in reading CAS' letter about his conception of Zothique, being based partly on some currently existing landmasses, I wonder if he used the same approach for Hyperborea.

Too, as you mention, Hespire, the stories *feel* different. It think that Zothique is hyper-saturated with imagery of decrepitude, decay, and dissolution, but Hyperborea seems painted with more subtle brush-strokes--you *see* that the land and the people are vigorous (peopled by hunters, as opposed to herdsmen, for example), unsophisticated, and relatively vital and vigorous. In Zothique, however, CAS very often simply tells you about its decrepitude as a part of establishing the initial setting, following up with imagery and practices commonly associated with decadence.

E.g., love philters--does it seem likely to you that any self-respecting Hyperborean might ever resort to this? Not to me: they don't *need* to! My impression is that when not hunting mastadons for sport and meat, they are indoors, rutting like wild minks!

And imported harems? Huh! The Hyperborean women should be enough for any real man!!!

:^)

Your thoughts?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my Grandpa, not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car."

--Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: CAS to L. Sprague de Camp Letter
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 4 January, 2021 03:02PM
"Quanga the huntsman, with Hoom Feethos and Eibur Tsanth, two of the most enterprising jewelers of Iqqua, had crossed the borders of a region into which men went but seldom — and wherefrom they returned even more rarely. Travelling north from Iqqua, they had passed into desolate Mhu Thulan, where the great glacier of Polarion had rolled like a frozen sea upon wealthy and far-famed cities, covering the broad isthmus from shore to shore beneath fathoms of perpetual ice."
-From "The Ice Demon"

I can sense that bold and youthful vigor in almost every Hyperborean protagonist. It's fitting of a dawning civilization that just clawed its way out of the primal ooze and wilderness! Even aristocrats like Ralibar Vooz will go hunting for tigers and Voormis, and even priests and sorcerers like Morghi and Eibon can plunge themselves into a strange planet, the greatest frontier imaginable! It interests me that Morghi, though described as somewhat unfit, can still venture into the unknown to pursue his goal and singlehandedly capture his enemy, and not once does he bemoan his fate.

I also see this tendency to describe shapeless, primal, amoebic entities. Ubbo-Sathla, Abhoth, Knygathin, the guardian of Tsathoggua, the monster that delivered Avoosl's karma, etc. It's fitting that there exists this recurring tension between these early mythical men and the elemental monsters threatening to return them to the ooze they evolved from.

I know very little of Britain, as I mentioned in the folklore thread, but if you can make that connection I'm intrigued! What of its geography reminds you of Britain? Your mention of western Europe also reminded me that CAS was using Celtic geases and Anglo-saxon weirds, or "wyrd", in this setting.

I don't doubt that same strength in Hyperborean women either! Women rarely appear in these stories, surprisingly, but Vixeela stands out among female characters across all of CAS' fiction:

"Often I think of Vixeela, my one true love and the most adroit and courageous of my companions in burglary. She has long since gone to the bourn of all good thieves and comrades"

"She would tell me little of her life in the temple; and I surmised that she had found small pleasure in the religious prostitution and had chafed at the confinement entailed by it. After her flight she had suffered many hardships in the cities of the south."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 4 Jan 21 | 03:05PM by Hespire.



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