On the Authorship of 'As It Is Written'

Douglas A. Anderson

In 1982 Donald M. Grant published a novelette entitled As It Is Written, with its authorship credited to Clark Ashton Smith. Found in the files for the never—published December 1, 1919 issue of The Thrill Book (a magazine which had previously published a Smith poem), the story was bylined "De Lysle Ferree Cass". The attribution of authorship to Smith was based on stylistic similarities and circumstantial evidence.

But since 1982 further evidence has cone to light that would suggest otherwise. For it has been discovered that this De Lysle Ferree Cass also authored other works, some highly unlike Smith's. These include one full—length, book and six additional stories (some very long); and it has furthermore been discovered that Cass wrote (or planned to write) two other items, for which copyright was filed at the Copyright Office in Washington. D.C.

Cass's book was part of a juvenile series, on the "Airship Boys", and was entitled The Airship Boys in the Great War; or. The Rescue of Bob Russell. Published in 1915, by the Chicago firm Reilly & Brirton, it was the last title in a multi—volume series. Most of the series had been written by H. L. Sayler. under his own name and under pseudonyms. (Interestingly. Sayler wrote another series on the "Aeroplane Boys" for the same publisher, under the name Ashton Lamar.) But Sayler died in 1913; a few further of his "Airship Boys" books cane out, followed by the Cass book, and with it the series ended.

"As It Is Written" aside, all six of the other known Cass stories were published in All—Story, in 1913 or 1914. The magazine was then undergoing a series of title changes, and to avoid bibliographical confusion, the full references to these stories are given below: [I must acknowledge here my indebtedness to Will Murray for some of the specifics of the reference, and to Donn P. Stephan for his persistence in getting me copies the stories.]

"Oahula the Carnivorous", All—Story Magazine, March 1913. pp. 609--19.

"Pilgrims in Love", All—Story Magazine, part 1 in September 1913 .pp. 94--106; part 2 in October 1913 pp. 442--59.

"The Love Caprice", All—Story Magazine, November 1913. pp. 606--21.

"Love Goes Blindly", All—Story Magazine, December 1913, pp. 833--45[?]

"The Man Who Could Not Die", part 1. All—Story Magazine, March 1914 pp. 624--34; part 2. All—Story Weekly , 7 March 1914, pp. 161--69.

"The White Spot". All—Story Cavalier Weekly, part 1. 24 October 1914, pp. 707--41; part 2. 31 October 1914 pp. 137--52.

In the Copyright Office it has been discovered that three works by Cass were registered for copyright. The first was his book, discussed above. The other to items were of small import, being mere references, but they add some information to our knowledge about Cass. First, in June 1912. the Selig Polyscope Company of Chicago applied for Copyright for Higher Education and the Motion Picture, by Cass. Second, in April 1915, W. D. Boyce. also of Chicago, applied for copyright on Cass's behalf for three chapters of something called Change in Erica; or. A Love Story of Finland. It remains to be determined if these last two items were ever published. either in periodicals or otherwise.

Clearly the most important and substantial body of work by Cass is his seven original stories, the juvenile series book being undistinguished. It is worthwhile to look at each story singly, before commenting on them as a whole.

"Oahula the Carnivorous" is set on an island in the South Pacific. Oahuls, the favourite daughter of Kahiki-ku the King. is to be married against her wishes, and the tall white castaway recently discovered is to be the main course at her wedding feast. But Oahula falls in love with him, and together they escape to the demon-- haunted portion of the island, where they believe they will not be pursued. Many weeks pass. And when the white man sees a ship, he scorns Oahula, and madly tries to reach the ship as a hurricane descends upon the island. He is washed ashore again, but Oshula is disheartened, and sends her father's servants to capture him. The white man will indeed be a part of her wedding feast.

In "Pilgrims in Love", Mirglep, a beautiful slave—girl, is bought by Hossein Ags, a son of the Shah of Persia. Hitherto blind to women's charms, the young man succumbs, and marries her. The couple moves to Vienna, where Hossein Aga is an ambassador. There, Mirgiep finds that she fears the Occidentals, and she remains secluded in their home, giving rise to odd rumours about her amongst the local gentry. They coax Hossen Aga into hosting a party, and when he is drunk they persuade him to call for Mirglep and unveil her. Mirglep obeys, but then flees in horror and embarrassment, resenting Hossein Aga for what he has made her do. She finds refuge with one of the local gentry, and the affairs of state become greatly agitated. Hossein Aga must depart Vienna, and learning this Mirglep forgives him and returns to him, finding him miserable over what he had done to her. They depart Vienna.

In "The Love Caprice", the court of Prince Jozef rides Out on tour of their dominion. Pan Lucats, a gentleman of the court, sees the beuatiful peasant—girl Marys, daughter of old Izak the scavenger, in the crowd of supporters, and he tosses her a gold—piece. Later Pan Lucats purchases the girl from her greedy parents, to be a servant to his own mother. Pan Lucats comes to love her, and eventually tries to force her. Marya resists, and pushes him down forcibly. Then he lays still, with blood trickling from his forehead; and believing she has killed him, Marys flees. She meets her old lover Trouvor the goatherd, and they flee into the mountains. Pan Lucats recovers. and forgives her, even sending his own servant to find her and give her his jewelled ring, which she is instructed to sell so that she may live in comfort.

"Love Goes Blindly", like "The Love Caprice", is set in Eastern Europe. Here Nikolai Iaroslav, a great nobleman, is in love with Vera, a common woman betrothed to Tomascz. Late in the night before the wedding she is to meet Nikolai, but she oversleeps the appointed tryst. Hurrying there she is followed by Tomascz's boarhound. It fights with Nikolai and is shot; Nikolai and Vera flee with great fear of pursuit. But they are caught by Vera's father and Tomascz, who kills Nikolai and gouges out his eyes. Vera then truly awakes-- it is her wedding morn, and she has had a nightmare.

The title character of "The Man Who Could Not Die" is the Count Florenz Von Regenstein. a young Viennese reprobate who, when shout to kill himself, sees someone he despises treat a woman roughly, and he kills him instead. The Count is sentenced not to death, which he still desires, hut to life imprisonment. Even in prison he is thwarted from taking his own life. And in the prison's gardens he meets Hildegarde, the daughter of the prison's head turnkey, whom the Count decides he will pretend to love in order to gain her help in escaping. After escaping. Hildegarde's mother confronts him and accuses him of using Hildegarde. She asks him to tell her of one good deed in his life, and he is dumbfounded until Hildegarde's sister enters the room. The Count sees her and realises that she is the woman who had been saved by the bullet with which he had killed the despised man. This he tells to Hildegarde's mother, as repentance for his past life fills him. and he vows to marry Hildegarde. He will give up his title and position, and take her to America.

"The White Spot" tells the story of the beautiful slave—girl Ferukhanz, whose only fault is the white spot on her forehead, which indicates leprosy. She is first desired by the Vizier Tahmuras, who casts her away upon discovering the white spot, but she is rescued by the bandit—chieftain Firouz, who at first is also horrified by her and her white spot, but who later comes to realize that he still loves her. And since at last a man cares more for her than for life itself, she reveals that she is clean: the white spot had been placed on her forehead as a protection against violence, and it has preserved her undefiled for her lover Firoux.

"As It Is Written" is the story of a fugitive, Datu Buang. who incurred the wrath of a powerful prince and who was forced to flee into the jungles of Malaysia to save his life. Eventually he stumbles into the zenana of Swu Pnom, Rajah of Selangor. There he encounters the Rajsh's pet ape, of near—human intelligence, called Malu-udong, and slays the creature. Then he finds Cisuhara, a beautiful woman bought by the Rajah to be his head—wife; she and Datu Buang fall in love. When they are discovered by the Raish, Dstu Buang kills him. The lovers escape and marry, changing their names to Tantalam and Kala. Their son they name Datu Buang.

The seven Cass stories show a distinct unity of style, frequent recurrences of images and ideas between the stories themselves, and a fixation upon romance, often between members of conflicting social castes. Clearly they are the work of one writer. Thus if "As It Is Written" were indeed by Smith. then the rest of the Case canon would, by implication, need be added to Smith's bibliography. Therein many problems arise, for most of the Cass canon does not at all resemble any of Smith's writings nor reflect any of Smith's attitudes. "As It Is Written" seems a special case, both in circumstance and in style; but in close analysis it certainly shares more affinities with the other Cass stories than with anything by Smith.

If one looks at Smith's and at Cass's stories solely on a stylistic level, dissimilarities abound. Unlike in Smith, none of the Cass stories are particularly fantastic. None of Case's settings resemble those used by Smith. Certainly Easten Europe, Persia, Malaysia, and the South Pacific hardly compare with Averoigne, Hyperborsa, Zothique, or even Smith's own version of Auburn, California. Even in use of plot (as well as the plot-lines themselves) the Smith and Cass stories differ greatly. Smith wrote mainly for atmosphere, viewing plot and characterization as a encumbrances. Smith wrote episodically, with a fluidity from one a episode to the next, but with little thought about how some minor happening in an early episode might be tied into the story later for greater effect. In only a few of Smith's stories are such plot elements combined. the story tied up into a whole, the denouement so fulfilling; whereas in the Cass stories the plotting is more precise, and the direction of the story is more interwoven between the beginning and the end than in Smith's tales. Smith often overcame his failing with plot by his fluidity in style, together with his remarkable use of metaphor and imagery. Little such usage of metaphor is found in Cass's tales.

On top of the stylistic arguments against a Cass—Smith connection, there is a lack of any concrete evidence for making a connection between the two. Smith has clearly stated that, other than his juvenilia and his four early stories published in 1910--1912, he wrote no further fiction before the 1920s. And there is no real reason to disbelieve him. There is no hint in Smith's correspondence of any other writing than what is usually credited to him. Nor is there even the slightest scrap of evidence amongst the vast collection of Smith's papers and manuscripts (which includes his juvenilia), held in the John Hay Library at Brown University. to support a claim of authorship by Smith for any of the Cass material. [I must thank Steve Behrends for checking on this.] It is absurd to assume that Smith could completely conceal such authorship, and one would really wonder why he might even wish to conceal it.

On the Cass side of the matter, it is interesting to note that all of the Cass works date from 1912-- 1915, save for "As It Is Written", and that the three Cass items registered for copyright were all sponsored by Chicago firms. This, all taken together, suggests the separate existence of De Lysle Ferree Cass, perhaps in the vicinity of Chicago. Little else can be safely opined, save that it may be suggested that Cass's apparent silence in writing from 1915 to 1919 may have been in some way due to World War I.

It seems clear, then, that none of the De Lysle Ferree Cams material is by Clark Ashton Smith. "As It Is Written" should henceforth be excised from Smith's bibliography. And Da Lysle Ferree Cass. whoever he was, will pass into history not for any qualities in his writings but rather as a figure who, with one story, fooled the critics.

From: Klarkash-Ton: The Journal of Smith Studies, #1, 1988, Cryptic Publications.

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