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Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 31 July, 2011 05:41PM
I have lately been reading a bit more about Benjamin de Casseres, and I find him to be a fascinating character. As many here know, CAS corresponded with de Casseres, and he chose de Casseres to introduce his Selected Poems.

Two questions:

1. Is the CAS-de Casseres correspondence extensive, extant, and potentially publishable?

2. Has anyone closely studied or examined the relationship between the two writers? In particular, has anyone explored possible influences of de Casseres upon CAS's thought? Note the following passage from de Casseres' essay "The Brain and the World", and ask yourself whether the thoughts sound familiar:

Quote:
We never come into contact with things, but only with their images. We never know the real--only effigies of the real. We do not pursue objects; we pursue the reflection of objects. [...] Imagination and its elements are not the effigies of matter, but what we term matter is the effigy of our images.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Dexterward (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2011 05:47AM
Absquatch,

I've never heard of de Casseres before, but based on your link he does look like a rather fascinating fellow! I looked his name up on "Amazon.com," and see that they have a number of his works. But have your ever read any of them, or just "stuff about" de Casseres? Just wondering, because it's often hard to know where to begin when it's someone you've no familiarity with.

Anyhow, thanks for bringing these curiosities to light! (Speaking of which, I am really enjoying Thomas Beddoes, so thanks for that recommendation as well. - I've already memorized his "Ballad of Human Life"!)

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2011 09:26AM
First, beware the stuff of de Casseres' that's listed on Amazon; it's mostly print-on-demand garbage. You'd be better off searching Google Books and freely downloading the out of copyright works there, instead, as that's also likely the source for the POD junk.

I've not read much de Casseres: Just the Selected Poems introduction, the reviews posted here, an essay in Chameleon, a few poems in The Shadow-Eater, and a fine critical piece on Hawthorne.

I am glad that you found the piece on de Casseres that I linked to interesting, but it's mostly of value for the quotations from de Casseres' journal. The author of the piece takes, I think, a snotty and condescending attitude toward his subject. Of course, this isn't surprising, as the PoMo hipster mind is about as capable of understanding the likes of a de Casseres (or a CAS, for that matter) as Paleolithic man would be capable of grasping quantum physics.

As to my question about the CAS-de Casseres correspondence, I am guessing that, as usual, Scott Connors will have the answer. I am pessimistic, though, as I imagine that if many letters from CAS to de Casseres survived, then there'd likely be a larger sample of them in the Selected Letters.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 1 August, 2011 10:42AM
Update:

Having had the brilliant idea (duh!) to re-read the introduction to the Selected Letters, I see that Scott Connors and David E. Schultz inform us that the whereabouts of CAS's correspondence with de Casseres is unknown. It does make me wonder where they found letter #78, which is from CAS to de Casseres, though.

At any rate, perhaps the location of the correspondence has come to light since the date of the book's publication, but I am assuming not. It appears that the correspondence with Lilith Lorraine is lost, too. It's a pity, as I'll bet that it was a hoot.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 1 Aug 11 | 10:52AM by Absquatch.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 2 August, 2011 04:10PM
Absquatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Update:
>
> Having had the brilliant idea (duh!) to re-read
> the introduction to the Selected Letters, I see
> that Scott Connors and David E. Schultz inform us
> that the whereabouts of CAS's correspondence with
> de Casseres is unknown. It does make me wonder
> where they found letter #78, which is from CAS to
> de Casseres, though.
>
> At any rate, perhaps the location of the
> correspondence has come to light since the date of
> the book's publication, but I am assuming not. It
> appears that the correspondence with Lilith
> Lorraine is lost, too. It's a pity, as I'll bet
> that it was a hoot.


De Casseres' papers are at the MY Public Library Special Collections, but there is only the one letter from CAS there. Gerry de la Ree quotes a letter to De Casseres dated June 12, 1926 in GROTESQUES AND FANTASTIQUES, which leads me to believe that De Casseres' letters from Smith may have ended up on the market at some point. Most of Gerry's Smith material was sold to Fantasy Archives, and this ended up with Lloyd Currey, but he informs me that there is no correspondence with De Casseres. (Brown University has letters from Ben and his wife, Bio.)

Scott

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 3 August, 2011 02:59PM
Thanks very much for the additional information, Scott.

Any thoughts on the possible influence of de Casseres on CAS? For those of you still in school, or who are otherwise in academia, I sense a potential thesis or article topic here!

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2011 08:43PM
Here is a superb quotation from de Casseres that I re-read recently. I am sure that CAS must have appreciated it.

Quote:
My studies in Speculative philosophy, metaphysics, and science are all summed up in the image of a mouse called man running in and out of every hole in the Cosmos hunting for the Absolute Cheese.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2012 10:11PM
By the way, the piece by de Casseres on Hawthorne that I mention, above (which was first published in 1904), has a very amusing title: "Hawthorne: Emperor of Shadows".

Ben clearly liked this title, as he recycled it for his preface to CAS's Selected Poems, where CAS took the scepter in succession from the Master of the Old Manse.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 8 August, 2012 08:40PM
Now that the little children have, one hopes, gone home for good and cried themselves to sleep, I'd like to return to the interesting case of CAS's friend Benjamin de Casseres.

This thread will be a useful repository for information about the elusive de Casseres, and I'll try to post things here as I discover them.

Here is a link to an article I just discovered online by de Casseres which has a double link to CAS: Not only is it by de Casseres, but it is on the subject of dogmatic scientism's Public Enemy Number One, Charles Fort (scroll down a bit).

Here is a link to a PDF guide to de Casseres's papers as conserved at the New York Public Library, which Scott mentioned, above.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 8 Aug 12 | 08:40PM by Absquatch.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Boyd (IP Logged)
Date: 8 August, 2012 10:59PM
Absquatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Now that the little children have, one hopes, gone
> home for good and cried themselves to sleep,

Stop insulting other or I'm going to ban you, again. You were one of the children of the closed thread.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 9 August, 2012 06:31PM
Quote:
You were one of the children of the closed thread.

If you really believe that, then you neither read nor understood my comments--which is neither surprising, nor unprecedented. And I suppose if you are a moderator, it's all right if you insult others? Your ability to remain above the fray is most impressive.

Oh, and after you delete this comment, don't bother to ban the account. I won't be posting here again, under any account. You have my word. I am as sick of you as you are of me, believe me.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Aug 12 | 06:35PM by Absquatch.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 9 August, 2012 11:09PM
I have never read De Casseres, but I wonder what CAS made of his comment, "I never read women writers...because I think in the arts women 'do not belong.' Sex is their art; let them stick to it." I just found this in Wikipedia. This makes me wonder, do we know what Clark thought of women in the arts? Didn't CAS champion some women poets? Lovecraft has been charged with sexism in regards to women writers, and yet he assisted many of them through revision. How I ache for a definitive Clark Ashton Smith biography; when Hippocampus publishes the joint HPL/CAS correspondence later this year, we will learn so much more.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 August, 2012 10:35AM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How I ache for a
> definitive Clark Ashton Smith biography; when
> Hippocampus publishes the joint HPL/CAS
> correspondence later this year, we will learn so
> much more.

While I have eagerly been awaiting this publication, is it still not a bit too early? I understand that they have been having major problems getting access to the contents of several letters being held by dealers and collectors. Has this been solved already?

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 10 August, 2012 10:45AM
S. T. hasn't mentioned it in his last few blogs, but he did mention it in my newest video interview with him on YouTube as hopefully coming out this year. I don't think it has been announced yet on ye Hippocampus site. I, too, am looking forward to these two volumes.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 10 August, 2012 02:26PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> While I have eagerly been awaiting this publication, is it still not a bit too early? I understand that they have been having major
> problems getting access to the contents of several letters being held by dealers and collectors. Has this been solved already?

John Hay Library has had xerox copies of the majority of the letters for some years (as well as few actual letters). Together with the Arkham House transcripts and other sources, the majority of the correspondence has been recovered and transcribed -- the last I heard from David, he and S.T. were merely rounding up a few stray items from certain library collections to augment the texts. (HPL did not save all of Smith's letters, though, so part of that side is lost forever.) So even if the book or books cannot be squeezed into this year's Hippocampus schedule, it certainly shouldn't be too long now. So in a word, it's not too early.

Juha-Matti

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 August, 2012 04:27PM
walrus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> John Hay Library has had xerox copies of the
> majority of the letters for some years (as well as
> few actual letters). . .
> the last I heard from David, he and
> S.T. were merely rounding up a few stray items
> from certain library collections to augment the
> texts. . . .
>
> Juha-Matti


Here is an example of a stray item, or already among the xerox copies at John Hay Library:

http://www.lwcurrey.com/pages/books/114496/howard-phillips-lovecraft/autograph-letter-signed-als-to-dear-klarkash-ton-clark-ashton-smith-written-on-both-sides-of-a

$4,250.00 if you want to read both sides.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10 Aug 12 | 04:30PM by Knygatin.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2012 05:26AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Here is an example of a stray item, or already among the xerox copies at John Hay Library:
> $4,250.00 if you want to read both sides.

I have better scans of both sides of the letter, and JHL probably has a xerox of it. No worries, they have the text.

But for sure, if someone reading this owns a letter from HPL to CAS, or especially a postcard, please contact Joshi or David Schultz, as they might want to have a look at it. The postcards weren't photocopied, so probably something like half of them are unaccounted for. (I have scans or photos of about a dozen or so cards collected over the years, but I think HPL may have mailed Smith as many as 70.) Now's the time to make them available!

JM

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 15 August, 2012 02:58PM
I wonder if the HPL/CAS correspondence from Hippocampus will be a potential best-seller compared to their other correspondence volumes, so they may print a larger edition and perhaps press down the price somewhat. $100 is really quite painful. Over at Arkham House they sell CAS's letters in hardbound for $35.95.

($100 is too even, to sound like a calculated measured price, but seems more to be refractory and arbitrary price-setting. I think in recent years, there has developed an eagerness in publishers to present new items as "collector's items", whereas collector's values is something that normally changes or increases over time for out of print titles, depending on demand and popularity, and impossible to set definite beforehand. At the same time, if it's possible to sell fewer copies expensive and make a larger profit that way, then why not. It may also be true, that only those willing to pay the price, are motivated enough to deserve the access of reading these letters.)


Book cover design may matter less from a selling-point, for a title like this, but maybe still has a minor effect. I say, make it black and poison-green! he hehe....

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 15 August, 2012 03:10PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> $100 is too even

It is really $99.99; they are just rounding it up for you.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2012 01:02AM
It's $50 a volume, not bad at all. I'm saving for the new hardcover Oxford editions of Wilde, which sell for something like $225@. I think if Hippocampus had a best seller it wou'd have been the HPL/REH letters, Robert E. Howard is far more popular than CAS, or so I wou'd imagine.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2012 04:41AM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's $50 a volume, not bad at all.

A single volume then. Lovecraft's and CAS's correspondence was clearly less voluminous, than say, Lovecraft's and Derleth's, wasn't it?


> I think if Hippocampus had a best seller it wou'd have been
> the HPL/REH letters, Robert E. Howard is far more
> popular than CAS, or so I wou'd imagine.

Yes, I agree and think that's probably right - provided enough of Howard's adventure-tumbling readers have patience to sit down and read letters.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 16 Aug 12 | 04:47AM by Knygatin.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2012 09:03AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A single volume then. Lovecraft's and CAS's correspondence was clearly less voluminous, than
> say, Lovecraft's and Derleth's, wasn't it?

I'm not entirely sure, but I think there may be too much material to fit into a single volume. There are probably something like 180 - 200 letters and postcards from HPL to CAS for which the text is available. Also consider that the letters to Derleth are mostly short, and his replies don't survive as well Smith's side to Lovecraft -- I seem to have about 60 CAS items in my inventory of photocopies. So perhaps something like 250 letters and cards all considered. Add to that the annotation + front and back matter, and I think we get to more than 600 pages, at least. But we shall see.

> wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think if Hippocampus had a best seller it wou'd have been the HPL/REH letters,
> Robert E. Howard is far more popular than CAS, or so I wou'd imagine.

There might be enough demand, though, to make a paperback version viable as well. I don't know how many copies Hippocampus usually issues of the hardcovers, but it can't be that many.

Re: Benjamin De Casseres & Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2012 12:05PM
Sorry, I wasn't clear. The HPL/CAS letters will be in two volumes, probably selling for $100 per set, which is what I meant about it being $50 per volume. I suppose y'all know that the trade pb editions of the Clark Ashton Smith COMPLETE POETRY is now available for pre-order and Derrick expects to have it out in a few weeks. Corrections to ye hardcover texts have been made, and additional poems have been included. It's going to be a very popular item, I feel, so one would be wise to order nigh.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.



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