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CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Geoffrey (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2011 03:26PM
Did Clark Ashton Smith ever read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings? If so, what were his thoughts on these works?

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2011 03:56PM
I am probably speaking out of turn here, and may get my wrist slapped for it, but what the heck....

I don't believe he did... at least, don't recall ever coming across any mention of it; and Tolkien's popularity didn't really begin until after Smith was dead. He was, of course, read before then, but not all that well known.

I think (he says with some trepidation) that he probably wouldn't have cared for them very much; The Hobbit probably not at all, and likely only certain portions of LotR would have had any chance of impressing him, though he might well have appreciated Tolkien's love of natural beauty and sense of place. I think, though, the philosophy underlying Tolkien's work would have tried his patience a bit; and the earlier portions, especially, of the latter novel would have annoyed him with its child-like hobbits.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2011 11:02PM
I've never come across any mention of Tolkien in Smith's letters, but that doesn't mean he never read them; after all, Tolkien was only becoming known in this country in the 1950s, a decade for which we have few letters. Maybe George Haas lent it to him. Dr. Farmer? Care to chime in?

Scott

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 28 November, 2011 02:46PM
Actually, do we have a list (complete or partial) of Smith's library as we do Lovecraft's? What was Smith reading in the last couple of decades of his life? What was his opinion of his successors, such as Bradbury, Leiber, Matheson, Beaumont, etc... Or had he largely given up on fiction by this point? And did he dabble with many realistic texts? Did he make any concessions to Modernism as he grew older?

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 28 November, 2011 04:56PM
Smith made a partial catalog of his library in the early 1940s, at a time when he was being hounded by a bill collector about his parents' funerals, but it is not very detailed (titles and author's last names in many cases). In addition, many of his genre titles are described in Roy Squires' various catalogs. I believe that Ron Hilger is working on a catalog of his library, but again, no Tolkien.

Scott

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 30 November, 2011 05:19PM
Scott Connors Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've never come across any mention of Tolkien in
> Smith's letters, but that doesn't mean he never
> read them; after all, Tolkien was only becoming
> known in this country in the 1950s, a decade for
> which we have few letters. Maybe George Haas lent
> it to him. Dr. Farmer? Care to chime in?
>
> Scott
Regr'ettably i am in Oregon, and rarely have access to a computer - but this deserves a response - Clark's habit of voracious reading begun in his youth never abated. Even as you will not find mention of John MacDonald's "Lilith" et al, so you will not find mention of Tolkien in his correspondence - mainly because those with whom he corresponded did not read as widely as he, and he was very well aware of their tastes and passions so would not bring up matters that might embarass his friend or colleague by revealing a lack of wareness. Very near the time of his death, Tolkien was becoming the "in" thing in an underground sort of way on College Campuses -- you would overhear students discussing who was a "hobbit" or an "orc" among their friends and faculty members -- I cannot say that Clark had read the whole Ring trilogy, and I don't recall the books being available in Paper-back at that time, so I know he didn't own any - I know that he had read "The Hobbit", and at least some of the "Fellowship..." He liked the Hobbit, and admired the inventiveness, particularly in the variation in names and language as relates to species - (cf difference between Dwarf names and Elf names). As I recall, he also expressed admiration for the consistency of the images and "leit motif" over such extended narrative - a gift he admired, but had never attempted. The single quote I recall is his having said that Tolkien appeared to be a true master of language. I was not myself at that time equipped to engage much farther in the discussion as my own knowledge of the books was limited.llllkl Clark rarely in my memory paid much attention to matters of characterization, but rather was interested in whether the thing "worked" aas literature, and had clarity in its over all expression - In his later years which I know well, Clark was very slow to be adversly critical of anything except politicians and literary critics. I could add more on this subject as it comes back to me, but the time is up on this machine. My deep affection to you all, and Merry Xmas!

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 30 November, 2011 10:35PM
Along with many other people, I've wondered about this for a long time! So glad to know the answer at last! Of course CAS liked The Hobbit--it's a damn good book! (certainly a personal favorite of mine) I wonder if CAS sailed across the sea with the elves like Bilbo did? That's how I plan to leave this world.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 1 December, 2011 06:45AM
calonlan Wrote:

> and I don't recall
> the books being available in Paper-back at that
> time, so I know he didn't own any

Correct -- the first paperback ed. was the pirated Ace edition, which appeared in 1965, IIRC.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 3 December, 2011 10:25AM
Quote:
Even as you will not find mention of John MacDonald's "Lilith"

Not to be captious here, but just to avoid confusion, it's George MacDonald, and not "John"--though I have to admit that the idea of John MacDonald's authoring a similar book makes me smile.

Here is a good reseource for those who are interested in or curious about George MacDonald and his work, by the way. (And don't let his Tennysonian beard put you off. ;-) )

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 3 December, 2011 10:36AM
I know I have read two of MacDonald's novels, as they appeared in Ballantine's Adult Fantasy series, but I remember exactly nothing about either of them, except possibly that the title of the one that was not LILITH was PHANTASTES.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 3 December, 2011 12:28PM
Yes, both MacDonald books appeared in the Ballantine series (I, being a little young at the time for that, got the later Wm. B. Eerdmans editions). Phantastes was MacDonald's first, and much earlier, "adult" fantasy novel.

It's interesting, by the way, that MacDonald's two adult fantasies essentially book-ended his life and writing career: Phantastes was published in 1858 and Lilith was published in 1895.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 3 December, 2011 04:06PM
The only problem with the Ballanting edition of Phantastes is that it is abridged. I forget precisely what was removed, but I do recall that being the case. I've got both the Ballantine edition and the full text about here someplace, but it may be quite a while before I get around to looking at them again... however, should that change, if anyone is interested, I could give a brief description of the differences....

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2011 03:19PM
Absquatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Even as you will not find mention of John
> MacDonald's "Lilith"
>
> Not to be captious here, but just to avoid
> confusion, it's George MacDonald, and not
> "John"--though I have to admit that the idea of
> John MacDonald's authoring a similar book makes me
> smile.
>
> Here is a good reseource for those who are
> interested in or curious about George MacDonald
> and his work, by the way. (And don't let his
> Tennysonian beard put you off. ;-) )

thanks, of course it is George - I forgot to take my Aricept that morning.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2011 03:21PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I know I have read two of MacDonald's novels, as
> they appeared in Ballantine's Adult Fantasy
> series, but I remember exactly nothing about
> either of them, except possibly that the title of
> the one that was not LILITH was PHANTASTES.


Surprised you don't remember them - those are the two best known works - you will recall that C.S.Lewis considered him a major influence, and he shows up in "The Great Divorce" - MacDonald is uneven, but has moments of radiant fantasy -

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: walrus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2011 05:21PM
It makes sense that CAS would have liked Tolkien -- both writers being so concerned with the nuances of language. The raison d'ĂȘtre of LR of course primarily is linguistic invention, so that Tolkien would doubtless have been delighted with Smith's approbation.

Juha-Matti

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Geoffrey (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2013 01:49AM
This has some further insights into Clark Ashton Smith's estimation of Tolkien's works:

[www.eldritchdark.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24 May 13 | 01:50AM by Geoffrey.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: phillipAellis (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2013 02:20AM
I wonder what CAS would have thought of the recent publication of Tolkien's narrative poems. I am thinking this, particularly since The Fall of Arthur has just been published (and, yes, I already have a copy reserved for me at the local bookshop).

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 24 May, 2013 04:36PM
Coincidence: I was just recently reading about the Inklings, and C. S. Lewis' poetic works, such as his long narrative poem,Dymer. Lewis' views on poetry sound very much like those of CAS. Both Lewis and CAS deplored the lifeless abstractions of Eliot, etc.

Re: CAS's opinion of J. R. R. Tolkien?
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 May, 2013 01:13PM
Geoffrey Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This has some further insights into Clark Ashton
> Smith's estimation of Tolkien's works:
>
> [www.eldritchdark.com]
> /master-cas%3A-clark-ashton-smith-remembered

Interesting interview with Dr F... not entirely convinced by the interpretation of Harry Potter, but I've not read them and each to their own...



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