Review: The Books of Clark Ashton Smith, Joseph Bell, ed.

Stefan Dziemianowicz

Soft Books (89 Marion St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6R 1E6), 1987, $8.95

You wouldn't think Clark Ashton Smith had generated enough bibliographic material to fill 28 812 x 11 pages but here it is: 67 editions of stories, poems, essays, letters and biographic material-everything from The Star-Treader and Other Poems (1912) to Letters to H. P. Lovecraft (1987)-annotated chronologically, with an alphabetical cross-index and index to the short fiction that appears in the books.

The major value of this bibliography is that it brings together under one cover not only Smith's professionally published hardcovers and the numberous paperback recombinations, but also the small and amateur press titles put out by Roy Squires (who assisted in the compilation), Gerry de la Ree, Mirage Press and Cryptic Publications in the quarter-century since Smith's death. Annotation is kept to a minimum for each book, with only a little more information than you might find in a card catalogue (assuming you could find something of Smith's in the library). The one exception is Douglas A. Anderson's note on the Donald Grant book As It is Written. Found in the unused manuscript pile from The Thrill Book under the name De Lysle Ferree Cass, this short novel was attributed to Smith based on some very convincing circumstantial evidence. Recent evidence now suggests a writer named Cass really did exist, highlighting the problems any researcher faces when put in the position of having to rely on subjective analysis of a piece of work, to verify its authorship.

This book is not a must. It might have had more value if it included materials written about Smith, as well as by him, and it is already in need of an update thanks to the "Unexpurgated Clark Ashton Smith" series being published by Necronomicon Press. Still, with the care devoted to its contents and appearance, it is a worthy endeavor, recommended for the Smith fan.

From: Klarkash-Ton: The Journal of Smith Studies, Nunmber 1

Top of Page