Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[35] [c. mid-October 1933]

From the room embossed and
paved with demon faces, in
the subterrene palace of

Dear E'ch-Pi-El:

I return the Ullman-Knopf communication herewith. Knopf should remove the Borzoi from his imprint, and substitute either the Golden Calf or a jackass with brazen posteriors. I wish Herr Hitler had him, along with Gernsback. If I were a practising wizard, like Namirrha or Malygris or Nathaire, [1] I'd devise a behemothian Sending and dispatch it to his office. The Sending would include a brace of penanggalans, and about a dozen rokurokubis with jaws elastic as their necks, and a regiment of poltergeists equipped with sledge-hammers. Callicantzaris and vrykolakes and barguests and Himalayan Snow-Men and Eskimo tupileks and the more unpleasant Aztec gods would form the main body; and a mass formation of shoggoths would bring up the rearguard. After their passing, the Knopf headquarters would be one with the middens of Nineveh. [2]

In return, here is the epistle from Pharnabozus anent "The White Worm". Please do not lose it. Of course, I realize that he has to sell the magazine; and readers who would appreciate Eibon are not to be found in every Methodist chapel, synagogue, packing-house or retail grocery. In fact, I fear that they would form a mathematically insignificant portion of the census-list. [. . .]

[. . .] Here, by the way, is a recent portrait-sketch of our Lord Tsathoggua, which I made for you the other day. My Indian wood-cutter saw it (as I think I mentioned on a card) and said instantly: "That's one of the Old Boys". He then proceeded to narrate a tribal legend about a young squaw who was carried away by some prehuman entity into a cavern. Nearly a year later, the squaw emerged to the light, bringing with her an infant that was half human and half something else.

[. . .]

The dream you relate was certainly extraordinary, and it will be interesting to see the story that young Bloch makes of it. With a preliminary notion about the depredations of the rubbery bat-thing, and the uncommon zeal shown by the young horseman at all times in trying to hunt it down, the dream really needs no alteration or addition to form the skeleton of a weird short. My own recent dreams have been pretty tame; but in the past I have had some that were memorable. One that comes to mind was fraught with all the supernatural horror of antique myth: I was standing somewhere on a bleak, terrible plain, while past me and over me, with appalling demonic speed and paces and voices of thunder, there swept a vast array of cloudy, titanic Shapes. One of these, as it went by, pealed out the sonorous words "Eiton euclarion", which I somehow took to be the name of the cloudy entity or one of its fellows.[3]

One of my most diabolic dreams, however, was of being somewhere in a high tower room with sloping small-paned windows, above a weird exotic city. At first I was alone in this room — and then, with frightful instantaneousness, it was full of malformed children with bloated and distorted faces, who swam upward around me in the air, beating me over the head with the large, curious brazen pans which they carried. Another dream, repeated many times at one period, was that of being breathed upon by a cold wind which swept me before it with all the irresistible force of a solid body, pressing me dawn into gulfs of ineffably deranged and confused sensation and entity. Still another, much more recent, was of wandering through a strange city together with other people, under a sense of urgent haste and portentous compulsion. It seemed that we must reach a certain goal before an unnamed doom should overtake us in the open streets. But as I went on, I became aware that the atmosphere was thickening slowly but steadily and was taking on the character of a liquid.

[. . .]

No, you hadn't told me about Lumley's travels. Perhaps he is an adept and does it via the fourth dimension. Rocket-ships and stratosphere traffic will never improve on that mode for getting you somewhere and back without waste time or motion. Seriously, I am tremendously interested and prepossessed in his favor. I hope he will write me at length when he is through with the Eibon Chapter. The two letters I have had from him certainly contained some fascinating hints. I too would be the last person to make fun of any of his ideas. Anyway, the bare truth about the nature of things may be more fantastic than anything that any of us have yet cooked up. I, for one, find it as hard to swallow the dogmas of the physicists as it is to down those of the ecclesiasts. Mind, for all that I know, may exist as readily without matter as matter seems to exist without mind; or the two may exist together in a million undetected forms. Five Senses and three dimensions hardly scratch the hither surface of infinitude. Which doesn't mean that one should emulate the gullibility of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

[. . .]

I hope F. Lee Baldwin will carry out his plan of printing "The Colour out of Space" as a pamphlet. If he does, put me down for at least four copies. [. . .] The net cost of the D.S. was $125.00 for a thousand copies, linotyping being the heaviest item of expense on a small edition. [. . .]

Wright has accepted "The Tomb-Spawn", and has sprung a genuine surprise on me by suggesting that I do an illustration for "The Weaver in the Vault", which is scheduled for the Jan. issue! Well, I can try at any rate. Someone has evidently been extolling my drawings around the W.T. office.

Plus Tard. This letter was interrupted the other day by a damnable accident that happened to my mother: the overturning of a pot of hot tea, which scalded her left foot badly. I fear she will be laid up for weeks or months. It is most unfortunate and provoking, though I hope less serious than the effects of your aunt's fall.

[. . .]

Yrs for the exaltation of the gods of


  1. Namirrha appears in Smith's "The Dark Eidolon" (Out of Space and Time (1942)), Malygris in "The Death of Malygris" (Lost Worlds (1944)), Nathaire in "The Colossus of Ylourgne" (Genius Loci (1948))
  2. This paragraph refers to the rejection by Alfred Knopf of a collection of Lovecraft's short stories.
  3. Smith fictionalized this dream in "The Clouds", later retitled "The Primal City" (Genius Loci (1948)).

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

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