Editorial (Klarkash-Ton: The Journal of Smith Studies #1)

Steve Behrends

The prose and poetry of Clark Ashton Smith, while it has known periods of relative notoriety and even popularity, has heretofore never received substantial critical attention. It is with the hope of rectifying this situation that we welcome you to the first issue of Klarkash-Ton: The Journal of Smith Studies.

The work of Clark Ashton Smich appeared as a rich and unexpected flowering of Romanticism in the heyday of realism. His productions in both verse and prose are the reflection of a carefully conceived literary aesthetic; his style of writing is unique and instantly recognizable, his fantastic fiction demonstrates a striking and vivid imagination. For these reasons, and for many others, Clark Ashton Smith is well deserving of critical appraisal. In this and future is- sues of Klarkash-Ton we hope to present essays both new and old that will enable us to understand better the works of this complex and subtle artist; and we also in- tend to use this journal to bring previously unknown Smith material to light.

This first issue of Klarkash-Ton presents a major new piece of Smith scholarship, Douglas A. Anderson's "On the Authorship of As It Is Written" , which argues convincingly (to these ears, at least) that the latest "Smith" hardcover to be published has nothing whatsoever to do with Smith. Anderson's article was originally written for the upcoming Starmont Reader's Guide to Clark Ashton Smith, at that time a collaboration between Anderson and myself, but was cut because of length. It has never been published (though a short summary of Anderson's conclusions has appeared in the recent Soft Books Smith bibliography) , and was retrieved from one of Anderson's many drawers at the editor's request.

Amongst the reprinted material in this issue is the exquisite appreciation of Smith by the late Donald Wandrei, published before only in The Overland Monthly for December 1926. Wandrei's piece is a beautiful tribute to Smith and reads almost as if it were a prose-poem itself. Pioneering Smith scholar Donald Sidney-Fryer is represented here by one of his finest essays, "On the Alleged Influence of Lord Dunsany on Clark Ashton Smith", which besides addressing the central topic also makes many other insightful comments on Smith and his work. Fryer's essay first appeared in Amra #23 (January 1963). Richard Stockton's "An Appreciation of the Prose Works of Clark Ashton Smith", from The Acolyte, Spring 1946, is a good example of the early, enthusiastic articles written in praise of Smith and published in the "fan" press in the 1940-50s. In addition, the article is interesting in that we know Smith's re- action to it: he felt that Stockton "really showed some understanding of my work" (letter to S. J. Sackett, 11 July 1950, published in this issue).

Smith himself is represented in this issue by a group of letters to Robert H. Barlow, Samuel J. Sackett, and L. Sprague de Camp, and by the first publication of his original ending to "The Return of the Sorcerer", one of Smith's few works bearing some connection to the "Cthulhu Mythos". For their help in making this first issue of Klarkash-Ton a reality, I give my thanks to Robert M. Price, Rah Hoffman, and David E. Schultz.

Klarkash-Ton: The Journal of Smith Studies #1

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