Letter to Robert Barlow

From Clark Ashton Smith

Auburn, Calif.
Sept. 10th, 1934.

Dear Ar-Éch-Bei:

I fear you have thought me damnably remiss In regard to the letter which I promised you so long ago. But the Truth that my energy has been below par this summer, and the demands upon it have been increased sevenfold. I wrote practically no letters during August, and am now just beginning to resume the neglected epistolatory threads.

In a day or two, I shall return by express the muchly appreciated Argosy excerpts of "The Metal Monster" and "The Blind Spot", and shall enclose with them a few mss. and autograph items for your collection. I thought the M. M. a tremendous thing, but did not care half so much for the Hall-Flint opus. For one thing, there was too little differentiation of the people beyond The Blind Spot from humanity. However, as tales go, it is far from negligible. The mystery was admirably worked up in the first part.

As my card informed you, your offering for the drawings was quite comme il faut. I shall, needless to say, be very glad indeed to receive photos of the items retained. I was interested to note that you had decided on two- "The Witch's Tower" and "Lemurian Landscape" Which were particularly admired some years ago by F. B. Long, Jr Malanoth, concerning whom you inquire, is a master wizard from the world Pnidleethon, which revolves about Yamil Zacra, central sun of evil, and its dark companion, Yuzh. 1

Your portraits of Cthulhu and Chaugnar certainly grow upon me with a baleful and archean potency! Great stuff, and I hope that you'll do others, since it would seem that the bas-relief Is particularly adapted to your talents. Thanks for the photo of C. L. Moore's remarkable drawing of Shambleau. I have been so doubtful of my ability toward bettering this from any angle, that I have not yet tried the pencil sketch that you suggested. Perhaps I'II have it to send in my next. C. L. Moore certainly must be a genius-I liked her "Dust of Gods" almost better than any of the tales so far published. My one objection is the omnipresent ray-gun, whose use seemed particularly unnecessary in this tale, since the dust could better have been ignited by some secret device installed aeons ago to protect it from desecration. Thanks too for giving me her address-I'd like to write her, but hesitate to do so at present because of my accumulated Ossa and Pelion of correspondence, to which I can hardly do justice. 2

I'll now try to answer your questions, some of which have necessitated research into archives even darker and more obscure than those of the learned Pnom. Chushax, or Zishaik, of whose lineage I can learn only the most meager and dubious details, was the wife of Tsathoggua. Their offspring, Zvilpogglua, was more male than anything else. The Immediate parent of Cthulhu and his race (child of Nug) was Ptmâk. The parent of Yhoundeh or Y'houndeh was the androgyne animal Archetype Zyhumé, which still abides in that cavern of the Archetypes which was visited by the ill- starred Ralibar Vooz on his compulsive itinerations through the Hyperborean underworld. Zyhumé a sort of nebulous and more or less spheroid elk. As to the marriage of Y'houndeh and the flute-player Nyarlathotep, I am inclined to suspect that something of the sort is hinted or adumbrated by Pnom. I quote the reference: "Houndeh in the 3rd cycle of her divinity was covered by that spawn which pipes perennial the dire music of chaos and corruption." If this doesn't refer to the Azathothian flute-player, I'll undertake to drink a straight gallon of the next segur-whiskey that is imported from Mars.

As to the people of your Annals,3 think that Yaksh is too bleak and boreal for them. I am inclined to believe that they must have lived on Antanôk, the lost, disrupted planet of which the asteroids are the remnants. This would account for their likeness to humanity, since, in earlier times, there seems to have been a little intercourse between Earth and Antanôk. In fact, there are certain forgotten authorities who claim that mankind as we now know It is descended from Antanôkan colonists4 Ulthar, as you have surmised, is indeed conterminous with both Averoigne and polctesme, the latter lying somewhat to the northeast and the former to the southwest. As to Yondo, I have told that the country is situated many hundred leagues to the south of Dunsany's lands of Wonder.5 Thus, you will readily perceive, that it lies beyond all chartable regions of Earth without belonging to an alien planet.

My poetry column only ran for a year or two in the Auburn Journal and most of the items were reprinted In Sandalwood. I'll dig up some old clippings for you presently. The drama, The Fugitives, concerning which you inquire, was never written aside from a tentative beginning. I did write several songs for it, all of which were included In Sandalwood6.

Re the ownership of my sold paintings. I don't know just how many Bender has or did have, and imagine he has given them al to Mills College, a "high-toned" girls' seminary which he seems to favour. I doubt, though, if the number is more than 6 or seven. Bio DeCasseres and the Russian Jew, Sapanoff, might loan their pictures for photographing, and I'II try to find the present address of the DeCasseres so that you can write them about the matter. They have moved from their old address, 19 E. 31st St.. N.Y. Wandrei has three or four paintings, and doubtless a few pencil sketches. Sterling didn't care greatly for my pictorial work but I once gave him an illustration in coloured inks which I had made for "A Wine of Wizardry". The picture took its text from the lines: "Silent ghouls Whose king hath digged a somber carcanet And necklaces with fevered opals wet." I have no idea what has happened to it.

I'd like to see the H. E. [Hashish Eater] when you finish binding It. Ye gods of Pegana, Mhu Thulan, Ulthar and Pnidleethon! What an idea! And I certainly look forward to the completion of The Shunned House.

Yrs for the finding of the Black Seal.


  1. A reference to the setting employed in Smith's "The Infernal Star" (1933), an unfinished novelette collected in Strange Shadows (Greenwood Press, 1989).
  2. It may have been Moore who initiated a correspondence several years later (see the one surviving letter from Moore to Smith, dated 27 October 1937, John Hay Library, Brown University).
  3. Barlow's fictional series, Annals of the Jinns (Necronomicon Press, 1978).
  4. Here Smith is referring to the setting of his projected novelette. "The Master of Destruction" (1931) (see Strange Shadows for synopsis).
  5. References here are to Lovecraft's "The Cats of Ulthar". James Branch Cabell's Poictesme novels, Smith's "The Abominations of Yondo", and Lord Dunsany's brief "Edge of the World" tales.
  6. Fragmentary draft of this play is collected in Strange Shadows.

From: The Dark Eidolon: The Journal of Smith Studies #2, 1989, Necronomicon Press.

Top of Page