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Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 10:34AM
Yes, I wonder if A. Merritt was the ruling king of romantic fantasy. And other top writers, such as Burroughs, Lovecraft, Smith, Vance, Tolkien, have to settle as princes, standing at the side and below Merritt's inaccessible throne.

I base this assumption not on rational thought, and not from an analysis of Merritt's technical proficiencies compared to the others. But on my hunches, intangible hunches. Merritt seemed to have the most dreaming and essentially romantic imagination of all fantasists. Without cynical planning of the intellect. He seemed to be completely abandoned to fantasy, having turned his soul and body over. He had the kernel of fantasy in his hand. Therefore he may have been the greatest. Others have had more original, technically developed ideas, but to some extent used a rational calculating intellect and cynical planning to reach that level. He did not. He WAS his imagination. And, at the height of his creativity, wrote it down in a purified, uncorrupted, faery trance, tuned in to its very most inner and subtle qualities.

So, in all fairness, perhaps it should have been Merritt who have a rabid following, whose works are famous, and inevitably are turned into movies and merchandize? Why is it not so? Perhaps because of the natural stupidity of mankind, their coarse mentality, and inability to see the forest for all the trees, their inability to appreciate genuine qualities.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 02:17PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, I wonder if A. Merritt was the ruling king of
> romantic fantasy. And other top writers, such as
> Burroughs, Lovecraft, Smith, Vance, Tolkien, have
> to settle as princes, standing at the side and
> below Merritt's inaccessible throne.
>
> I base this assumption not on rational thought,
> and not from an analysis of Merritt's technical
> proficiencies compared to the others. But on my
> hunches, intangible hunches. Merritt seemed to
> have the most dreaming and essentially romantic
> imagination of all fantasists. Without cynical
> planning of the intellect. He seemed to be
> completely abandoned to fantasy, having turned his
> soul and body over. He had the kernel of fantasy
> in his hand. Therefore he may have been the
> greatest. Others have had more original,
> technically developed ideas, but to some extent
> used a rational calculating intellect and cynical
> planning to reach that level. He did not. He WAS
> his imagination. And, at the height of his
> creativity, wrote it down in a purified,
> uncorrupted, faery trance, tuned in to its very
> most inner and subtle qualities.
>
> So, in all fairness, perhaps it should have been
> Merritt who have a rabid following, whose works
> are famous, and inevitably are turned into movies
> and merchandize? Why is it not so? Perhaps because
> of the natural stupidity of mankind, their coarse
> mentality, and inability to see the forest for all
> the trees, their inability to appreciate genuine
> qualities.

That would be one possible explanation.

Another possible explanation that springs readily to mind is that he was not as good at conveying these ideas with the clarity and artistry that some of the others achieved, and hence developed a smaller following.

A third explanation involves the Illuminati, and the fine hand of the Pope, as he sits on his throne in The Vatican; this is the explanation that I favor, personally.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 03:47PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Another possible explanation that springs readily
> to mind is that he was not as good at conveying
> these ideas with the clarity and artistry that
> some of the others achieved, and hence developed a
> smaller following.

Yes, that is a sad factor. Some of his prose could be better, or more distilled. Again, this was what I meant by people's inability to see the forest for all the trees.


> A third explanation involves the Illuminati, and
> the fine hand of the Pope, as he sits on his
> throne in The Vatican; this is the explanation
> that I favor, personally.

Hmm, this sounds a bit ..., I don't know what. Off topic perhaps. If you would care to elaborate more on what you mean in the general Super thread, I am willing to contemplate it.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 04:53PM
.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 16 Oct 20 | 05:26PM by Knygatin.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 05:20PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... Some of his prose could
> be better, or more distilled.

But on the other hand, the book versions of some of the novels he is famous for were heavily cut. At least The Metal Monster and The Face in the Abyss/The Snake Mother were, I don't know about the others. Which made them choppy and much inferior to the original texts, to an extent even incomprehensible.

I am trying to find a quote by Brian Stableford about The Face In the Abyss, in which he said that the book version is awful and lacking, while the original magazine version is a very fine work. I couldn't agree more. Merritt needed the prose to flesh out his atmospheric ideas; but apparently the editors thought not.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 16 October, 2020 08:12PM
I really only know Abraham Merritt for two works - The Dragon Glass which features in The Young Magicians (an anthology already mentioned here) and which is a pulp classic, imo. The second work is Burn Witch Burn which I never read but which formed the basis for a favourite film of mine - The Devil Doll, also a classic of its kind.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2020 12:39PM
I have read only his short stories (almost all of them) and though I enjoyed most of them I do not think thery are any better than what Mr. Merritt‘s colleagues of the genre (Hodgson, Blackwood, Lovecraft, Machen, Doyle, Smith, Howard and many others) wrote. Some years ago I started to read "The Face In The Abyss" but never finished the book; it did not appealed to me too much. Nevertheless, one of these days I am going to read (at last) "The Metal Monster" I have been reading so many good reviews about over the years.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2020 05:58PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
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> Nevertheless, one of these days I am going to read
> (at last) "The Metal Monster" I have been reading
> so many good reviews about over the years.

Good luck with that. And as always, try avoid having pre-expectations.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 17 October, 2020 11:26PM
In a long reading life, I've read Dwellers in the Mirage, The Ship of Ishtar, "The Woman of the Wood," his bit of "The Challenge from Beyond," and "Through the Dragon Glass" (yep, in The Young Magicians) at least, and perhaps one or both versions of The Moon Pool. I wouldn't mind reading or rereading something by him, but he has never been one of my indispensables. I've preferred Rider Haggard for adventure fiction.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 07:14AM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Burn Witch Burn which I never read but which
> formed the basis for a favourite film of mine -
> The Devil Doll, also a classic of its kind.

I have seen that film, but don't remember much from it other than it being quite creepy and having some fine settings. The miniature aspect is similar to the film Dr. Cyclops. Dr. Cyclops is a film I enjoy foremost for its lush colours.

I have not read Burn Witch Burn! either (nor its sequel Creep Shadow!), from his later period. And I have not read Seven Footprints to Satan. I have focused on the books that have clear fantasy settings.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 07:23AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
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> I've preferred Rider Haggard for adventure fiction.

I have not read H. Rider Haggard. But I will try to set aside time to read She and The People of the Mist.

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 09:26AM
I have never heard of H. Rider Haggard. Did he write any short horror or weird fiction?

Re: Was A. Merritt the greatest fantasist of all time?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 October, 2020 12:28PM
It is easy, by way of rational argument, to say that other fantasy writers are better than Merritt. And smash him down. But my suggestion that he may be the greatest, rests on more subtle reasons, that go beyond literature, and which it is very difficult for me to put my finger on. It concerns the particular quality of Merritt's soul and attitude and the wholesome purity of his dreamy rich imagination. Perhaps someone else has been better able to describe it in words.



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