Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[10] [30 July 1930]

Dear E'ch-Pi-El:

I received the stories some time back, and have re-read both of them several times with revived appreciation. I think "Cthulhu" is my favorite — it makes the super-terrestrial and the monstrous so terrifyingly credible; and after reading about the dreams of the sculptor Wilcox, I begin to wonder what unholy arcanic significance some of my own nightmares may have had! [. . .]

Thanks for your suggestion about "The Necromantic Tale"! I think so highly of it that I am re-typing a page of the story with an additional sentence or two about the mysterious footnote at the very end of the old record, saying that they saw Sir Roderick disappear when the flames leaped high; and that this, "if true, was the moste damnable proof of hys compact and hys commerce with the Evill One". This emendation I shall submit to Wright, who has already accepted the tale. Wright out to approve — the change almost "makes" the story. [1]

[. . .]

I hope to see "The Whisperer in Darkness", when your program admits of the proposed changes. In the meanwhile, you might re-loan me "The Horror at Red Hook" if you have an extra copy available. Your tales are almost all that I have read lately: the great welter of current books and magazines simply overwhelm me with boredom. The way in which the well-known human sewage is blithely hashed-up for the seventy-millionth time is really beyond my comprehension.

I trust you will get around to a novel sometime — it ought to be worth-while from the financial angle anyway. I haven't made a start on anything myself — the idea of spinning anything out to book length rather appalls me. But I suppose I could do it if I tried. I've thought vaguely of a yarn to be called "The Interstellar Changelings", dealing with some entities from an alien universe who substitute one of their own offspring for a human child, and take the human to their own world. It would involve a two-part narrative, detailing the respective fates of the substituted infants; and I don't feel energetic enough at present.

[. . .]

In the name of Cthulhu, "who waits
dreaming in his house at R'yleh" [sic],
Yr friend,


  1. Smith's letter of 30 July 1930 was in reply to Lovecraft's of 18 July, portions of which have been reprinted in Roy A. Squires' Catalog #19. In particular, Lovecraft is quoted as saying: "I wonder how it would have been to have the ancient wizard disappear at the stake, before the eyes of all spectators, just as the flames flare up?" (p.25). Smith worked this suggestion into "The Necromantic Tale" (Other Dimension (1970)) in conjunction with a quiet in-joke; see "CAS & Divers Hands".

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

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