Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[18] [c. mid-December 1930]

From the sacrificial altar
of the Nameless Gods that
were and are and shall be,
in the space beyond space
and the time beyond time.

Dear E'ch-Pi-El:

My obeisances to the eidolon, whether it be Tsathoggua, Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth — or the eikonistic manifestation of the whole dreadful trilogy, Be wary and guarded in all thy divinations, for It hath lore and lordship of those dimensions of time and space, thereof it is not well for man to have remembrance or vision. But name me also in thy prayers, for the power of It, if the placation be ample, is a power that maketh the might of Satan and Ahriman and Asmodi as a vanished vapour of yestereve. . .

I have caught my second cold of the season, and am still laid up with it. I can sympathize with your reaction to the New England winter — our chill nights, though they haven't gone below 35º, are about my idea of hell. Only a bunch of sadistic demons would want to pass — and enforce — a Prohibition law in a climate like that of the U.S.

[. . .]

Odd that the idea of time-travelling stories should have been so much in my mind of late. Not long ago I received a letter from the Wonder Stories editor, suggesting that I write for him a yarn of this type dealing with the future. I cooked up a synopsis which was approved; and I am now going ahead with the junk as fast as my cold will permit. [. . .] I am depicting an earth modified by interplanetary commerce and immigration, with the problem of "unassimilable aliens" from Mars and Venus. [1]

[. . .]

My cold has turned out to be that absurd and atrocious malady, whooping-cough, which somehow I escaped during my childhood. The worst paroxysms must be almost equal to asthma!

[. . .]

I am glad you liked "The Ghoul" and "Sir John". These tales pleased me for their archaism — which is a quality that will not please magazine editors . . . Someone should write an essay on the betise of commercial magazines. The subject, however, is like the bottomless pit.

[. . .]

I think your idea for an Antarctic story would be excellent, in spite of "Pym" and subsequent tales. I've never seen any that were good. That idea of a crevasse going down, down . . . or of something that was melting the ice — either would be superb.

[. . .]

Yes, indeed, one could write numerous reams on the subject of style. The style — or lack of it — required by nearly all magazine editors, would call for a separate treatise. The idea seems to be that everything should be phrased in a manner that will obviate mental effort on the part of the a lowest grade moron. I was told the other day that my "Door to Saturn" could be read only with a dictionary. [. . .]

[. . .]

Let me hear from you soon. This is a poor letter — but I don't know when I have been so ill as I am at present. It is hard to write anything a satisfactory in such a state.

As ever,


  1. The story Smith refers to is "An Adventure in Futurity" (Other Dimension (1970)).

From: Clark Ashton Smith: LETTERS TO H. P. LOVECRAFT, edited by and footnotes by Steve Behrends (July 1987) Necronomicon Press.

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