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Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: Geoffrey (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2011 02:55AM
H. P. Lovecraft held in the highest esteem the weird works of Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, and M. R. James. Lovecraft even noted that what he considered his two best stories ("The Colour out of Space" and "The Music of Erich Zann") were only as good as the poorer stories of these writers.

What were Clark Ashton Smith's evaluations of these four writers?

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: Noivilbo (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2011 12:19PM
Geoffrey, You can find a list of his favourite authors in the Writings: Nonfiction section on this site. All four authors are mentioned in the short list of his favourite stories, as well as Lovecraft. I think this list also can be found in Planets & Dimensions. N.

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2011 02:43PM
Yes, Smith read all of them, and greatly appreciated their work--for good reason. If by chance you haven't read these authors yet, and are trying to figure out if you should--well, you should. All fans of weird fiction should. Personally, I esteem Dunsany less than the other three--but that's just me. He's really just not in the same category.

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 5 November, 2011 05:03PM
Planets and Dimensions (much, if not all, of whose content is available on this site) and the Arkham House Selected Letters are the best sources I know for CAS's literary opinions, in general, and for his views of the writers Geoffrey mentions, in particular.

In brief, and largely from memory:

--M.R. James: The only one of the four whose work CAS formally reviewed. CAS views James very highly, which is interesting, since their literary styles are at antipodes to one another.

--Arthur Machen: His classic early work CAS much admired, but not uncritically. Lovecraft had to talk CAS out of his excessive early admiration for The Great God Pan, and into a greater appreciation of the much subtler "White People".

--Lord Dunsany: CAS stated that his admiration for A Dreamer's Tales and The Book of Wonder was second to none, but that he did not care so much for The Gods of Pegana. This is interesting, as some seem to think that Pegana formed a template of sorts for CAS's fantasy. CAS, I think, disliked being thought of as an epigone of Dunsany's.

--Algernon Blackwood: Of the four authors, CAS seems to have liked his work the least. Of course, CAS appreciated Blackwood at his best, but he seems lukewarm about him, overall, and he makes more critical remarks about him than he does about the other writers.


K_A_ Opperman writes:

Quote:
Personally, I esteem Dunsany less than the other three--but that's just me.

No, it's definitely not just you. ;-)

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2017 09:26PM
I agree. I'd have considered Dunsany one of my favorite authors back when the Ballantine Adult Fantasy releases were appearing, but his work hasn't worn well with me; it seems to fall into the category of things I would like to like. James and Machen I keep (re)reading. With the hospitality of the Wormwoodiana blog, I've posted a few pieces on Machen. James seems to me to be to the ghost story roughly what Tolkien and Lewis were to fantasy: genuine scholars who wrote with great creativity -from- their world of learning and also from their love of England. Tolkien's love of England is something everybody knows about, but it's deep in Lewis too, and it seems to me that James writes often from an deep affection for the English countryside. Of course he wrote those marvelous Scandinavian tales too ("Count Magnus," "Number 13") -- but then there are echoes of Tolkien's Swiss tour in his own fantasy. If Tolkien wanted to write, as if often said, a "mythology for England," one could make an argument that Lovecraft concocted a sort of "mythology for New England" -- though what are perhaps his best stories (At the Mountains of Madness and "The Shadow Out of Time") don't have much of a New England element. In my reading in CAS I don't get the sense that he paid much attention to his region; he seems pretty severely dependent on the books he's read. Agreed?

Dale Nelson

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: pegana (IP Logged)
Date: 20 September, 2017 11:45AM
Dunsany's work has a breadth of vision and style throughout his career that wasn't defined by one genre. HPL never moved past two dimensional characters and his ability to instill real belief in menace and horror was spotty at best. Clark's prose has amazing music and interest to me and he could and did execute well crafted believable stories, but really, Dunsany could say more in a two paragraph story than most writers could in a lifetime.

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 September, 2017 09:47PM
For those who haven't read the Jorkens stories, you have a treat in store.

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 September, 2017 05:02AM
pegana Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... Dunsany could say more in a
> two paragraph story than most writers could in a
> lifetime.

What story collection(s) are you thinking of in particular?

Re: Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany, and M. R. James?
Posted by: pegana (IP Logged)
Date: 23 September, 2017 12:44PM
The collection entitled "51 Tales" reprinted by Newcastle as "The Food of Death" The stories are extremely short and filled with many layers of meaning if one cares to look for them. The story "Charon" is particularly powerful I think. But again, for those looking for stories without hidden depths Dunsany may not be their cup of tea.



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