Letter to Clark Ashton Smith

From H. P. Lovecraft

10 Barnes St.

Oct. 1, 1927

Dear CAS:-

Your letter arrived very opportunely, amidst the carnival of fantastic enjoyment caused by the paintings which Wandrei forwarded to me. How can I do these marvels justice in mere words, without running into the unclassical realms of the effusive & the ecstatic ? Truly, I have never before seen such profoundly soul-moving glimpses of alien worlds with haunted skies & jungles of prismatic madness! It is such a series of forbidden revelations as one might spy through some magic window of the sort described in Dunsany's Book of Wonder . . . . . . & how one shivers with apprehension on approaching that brooding Saturnian coast-dim & grey & pink with one knows not what petrifying mysteries? At this early stage of appreciative contemplation I can't pick favourites. The Satumine triumph in oil may be the most ambitious, but the fine & delicate water-colours hold insidious implications of cosmic strangeness which grow upon one as one looks. The cloth panels are magnificent- there is a half-Japanese exoticism about the black ones. Altogether, this is a marvellous riot of wonder & half-concealed terror, & I shall be reluctant to pass the collection on. I shall faithfully do so, however, - either to Long or to Dwyer, so that all may ultimately have a glimpse. Needless to say, I shall caution the gang in N.Y. to be very careful in handling these precious articles. I am enclosing Wandrei's rhapsody on the paintings-which may or may not be identical with that which he penned to you. I agree with you that the capacity for such ecstasy is an attribute of youth which those of maturer years may well envy

Your own ability to produce creative work in the face of obstacles is really much greater than mine -I haven't done a thing since last spring, whilst you always have a sizeable array of poems or paintings to your credit. I haven't very much energy or perseverance-the uselessness of everything, including even aesthetic effort, overshadows my consciousness coƶperates with my native indolence in defeating all progressive or constructive developments.

As to my recent reading-above all else I'd recommend The Worm Ouroboros, by E. R. Eddison, which combines some gloriously imaginative phantasy with an exguisitely lyrical prose style. Next to that in literary worth I'd place the new drama Goat Song, by Franz Werfel, in which the element of brooding & imminent terror is magnificently handled. Atlantideer by Pierre Benoit, has excellent style but is more adventurous than fantastic. In The Three Eyes Maurice Leblanc ruins a splendid interplanetary theme by puerile popular treatment. Robert W. Chambers' Slayer of Souls was a vast disappointment-he can't get back to the King in Yellow mood after a quarter-century of best-sellerism! I also skimmed over Charles Fort's New Lands, but didn't find it as interesting as The Book of the Damned. Now-if I can get the leisure-I mean to read The World's Desire by Haggard & Long. I gave Long a birthday present of de Gourmont's Virgin Heart two years ago, but didn't read it myself. I haven't written any stories since The Colour Out of Space, but hope to get around to a hell-raiser or two in the later autumn.

With all best wishes-
Yr most obt

Selected Letters (Arkham House) 298

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