The Eldritch Dark

The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith 1915

Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961), perhaps best known today for his association with H.P Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, is in his own right a unique master of fantasy, horror and science-fiction. Highly imaginative, his genre-spanning visions of worlds beyond, combined with his profound understanding of the English language, have inspired an ever -increasing legion of fans and admirers.

For most of his life, he lived in physical and intellectual isolation in Auburn, California (USA). Predominantly self-educated with no formal education after grammar school, Smith wore out his local library and delved so deeply into the dictionary that his richly embellished, yet precise, prose leaves one with the sense that they are in the company of a true master of language.

Though Smith primarily considered himself a poet, having turned to prose for the meager financial sum it rewarded, his prose might best be appreciated as a "fleshed" out poetry. In this light, plot and characters are subservient to the milieu of work: a setting of cold quiet reality, which, mixed with the erotic and the exotic, places his work within its own unique, phantasmagoric genre. While he also experimented in painting, sculpture, and translation, it is in his written work that his legacy persists.

During his lifetime, Smith's work appeared commonly in the pulps alongside other masters such H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, and E. Hoffmann Price and like many great artists, recognition and appreciation have come posthumously. In recent decades though, a resurgence of interest in his works has lead to numerous reprintings as well as scholarly critiques.

The Eldritch Dark is a site to facilitate both scholars and fans in their appreciation and study of Clark Ashton Smith and his works.

Last 5 Eldritch Words Discussion Forum posts:

23 Aug, 2019 7:41AM by Dale Nelson

“That sounds interesting & perhaps some interesting nominations will be forthcoming. My first would be Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." Then there's the eerie valley in Alan Garner's novel The Owl Service. Garner is thought of as an author of fantasy for children + an author of difficult… ”

23 Aug, 2019 6:56AM by Minicthulhu

“Thanks, but by using the term "topographic horror" I mean stories where there is something wrong with the landscape. In "Bad Lands", a parallel reality is superimposed on the hilly terrain, in "The Dead Valley", something strange and deadly, inherent in the valley itself, draws the unfortunate to their death. I am looking for for… ”

22 Aug, 2019 9:58AM by Dale Nelson

“May I encourage the use of the term "topographic romance" -- if it seems like it would sometimes be useful in the context of weird fiction?


There is also "cartographic romance":


My guess is that much weird fiction really doesn't qualify as either of these, because the setting is not worked out in those terms. The… ”

22 Aug, 2019 9:26AM by Minicthulhu


Does anybody know about some classic "topographic" horror tale, something like "The Bad Lands" by John Metcalfe, or "The Dead Valley" by R. A. Cram?… ”

17 Aug, 2019 2:36PM by Minicthulhu


Has anybody read something by the author L.A. Lewis (1899-1961)? I had never heard of him till I found a mention of him in an article today. He wrote some weird stuff that seems to be something worth reading, namely "Tales of the Grotesque: A Collection of Uneasy Tales" and "The Tower of Moab".… ”

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