Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[6] [27 January 1930]

Dear H.P.L.:

"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is even better than I had remembered it as being — which is saying a good deal. The atmosphere and suggested horror are simply tremendous; and I certainly can't find any trace of immaturity in the style. [. . .] I was looking over "The Picture in the House" not long ago, and thought it a most consummate masterpiece of its kind, Ugh! ! ! I can see that horrible old man, and the spreading blood-stain!

[. . .]

[. . .] I have abbreviated the opening of "The Monster", and have resubmitted it [to Weird Tales][1]. Perhaps I'm doing well to "put over" a novelette on any terms at this early stage. I couldn't altogether grasp Wright's objection, though. The full text can be restored, if the tale is ever brought out in book-form.

I finished "The Metamorphosis of the World", and am trying it out on the "scientifiction" magazines. I don't think that you would care for it: probably the best element is the satire. I think that you would like my latest, "The Epiphany of Death", which was inspired by "Randolph Carter" and was written in about three hours, the day after my re-reading of your story. You are to keep the copy enclosed; but you can return "The Resurrection of the Rattle-Snake" sometime. This latter is pretty punk, except for the touch of genuine horror at the end — which by the way, I owe to the friend who liked "Randolph Carter" so much. It was she who suggested the finding of the bloody rattles in Godfrey's clenched hand. Apart from this the tale owes something to Bierce.

Glad you liked the prose-poems — I'll send you some others later on. I await "Fungi from Yuggoth" with vast interest.

Probably I shouldn't have said that I am indifferent to places, since I am very sensitive to the charm of wild and uninhabited spots at any rate. Ever since childhood, I have been subject to an odd mental phenomenon: often, in conjunction with an emotional mood, an idea or a train of ideas, the image of some particular landscape will arise before me and persist, without any obvious relation to my trend of thought. Probably I would feel the historic charm of places like New England, where there is a multitude of accumulative associations. But here, everything is too raw and recent in that sense. Also, I became disenchanted about gold-mining, the pioneer industry of these parts, by growing up on a ranch that had several alleged gold-mines scattered over it.

I am beginning "Marooned in Andromeda", which will be a wild tale about some mutineers on a space-flier who are put off without weapons or provisions on an alien world. The idea will form an excellent peg for a lot of fantasy, horror, grotesquery, and satire. I have so many ideas for stories that I find it impossible to catch up with a tenth of them. Here are some titles I have noted down — each of which represents a more or less definite conception: "The Satanist", "The Ghoul from Mercury", "The Moon Spectre", "The Lord of Lunacy", "The Transformation of Athanor", "The Trilithon", and "Hecate". "The Transformation of Athanor" will, I think, be about a million times more hideous than Mr. Stevenson's well-known Jekyll and Hyde. [. . .] "The Ghoul from Mercury" is an extraplanetary entity like a globe of fire, which hides in caverns by day and breaks into morgues and graveyards by night, where it devours corpses. Finally it develops a predilection for mummies, and breaks open all the cases in museums. It grows bigger and bigger with all the bodies it devours, and is finally seen to fly away, just after sunset, in the direction of Mercury. I hope you will loan me "Hypnos" sometime.

As ever, your friend,


  1. 1. Smith deleted a Foreword to "The Monster of the Prophecy" (Out of Space and Time (1942)) and removed several descriptive passages from the first third of the story; the 1500 words he excised were never restored to the text.

From: Clark Ashton Smith: LETTERS TO H. P. LOVECRAFT, edited by and footnotes by Steve Behrends (July 1987) Necronomicon Press.

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