Letter to Robert Barlow

From Clark Ashton Smith

Auburn, Calif.
Jun 16th, 1934

Dear Ar-Éch-Bei:

I have made up a package of drawings to loan you and will mail it the first of the week. I might have done this before - in fact, I should have sent you a number so that you could make your own choice. Perhaps you would have preferred something else to "Beyond Cathay". If you wish, you can make another selection. I am not setting prices any of the drawings, since, in one sense, they are priceless; and, in selling them to a connoisseur, the tariff must be determined by that the aforesaid c. feels able to pay.

Your praise of "The Colossus of Ylourgne" is heartening. Others have commended the tale, so I begin to think that perhaps I under-estimated it. So far, I haven't found any ms. of this story and I am inclined to think that I burned the preliminary scraps and notes from which I worked it up on the machine. I have, however, the first carbon of "The Passing of Aphrodite" (a prose-poem) and shall send it on shortly. Also, I have located an item which you will like to have - the holograph of my continuation of the "3rd Episode of Vathek". I'll take another look for the H. E. [Hashish Eater] holograph. As to "The Disinterment of Venus", the copy held by Wright is the third or fourth revision of that pesky little opus. The cabin is littered with discarded versions of the damned thing. I'll see if I can find the original one. If there is an express office at De Land, I'll ship you a huge consignment of typescripts and holographs. First-rate postage is too much of an extortion, in my opinion. I resent such robbery more, if possible, than the U.S. tax on liquors! Express rates, on the other hand, are reasonable enough.

No, I haven't any proof-sheets of the 2nd Recluse, and doubt if any were made. Too bad Cook was unable to continue the venture.

Wright hasn't returned any of the originals of my W. T. drawings. I may or may not have mentioned that he recently presented me with about a dozen originals of illustrations done for my earlier stories by Senf, Neison, Coolin and Wilcox. Some them are better than the published reproductions: evidently the pulp paper is a chancy or mischancy medium for prints.

Hornig, it would seem, is possessed of various and versatile talents, especially in the journalistic line. I am no altogether surprised that he was able to furnish you with a hand-me-down pseudonym.

Re my drawings: Loveman, I would say, has by far the largest collection of them. God knows how many I gave him. He used to present me with whole shelves of books, and the drawings were the only return I could make. Wanderi purchased three or four of my landscapes. I don't believe that Long has anything, except, perhaps, a few of the grotesques. George Kirk, another of the "gang," bought 2 or 3 pictures when he visited me in 1920. Other purchasers include Bio De Casseres and a New York Russian Jew (friend of De Casseres) whose name temporarily eludes me. This Jew has several of the best landscapes, done about the same time as "Beyond Cathay".

Yes, I hope to continue The Book of Eibon. I am returning the "style-sheet" with such details regarding Tsathoggua as I am at present able to furnish. Some of these have required much delving into the Parchments of Pnom (Pnom was the chief Hyperborean genealogist as well as a noted prophet); and I am well aware that certain of my phonetic renderings from the Elder Script are debatable. You raise some interesting points with your questions. Azathoth, the primal nuclear chaos, reproduced of course only by fission; but its progeny, entering various outer systems, often took on attributes of androgynism or bi-sexuality. The andorogynes, curiously, required no coadjutancy in the production of offspring; but their children were commonly, though not always, either male or female. Thus you will note a progressive trend toward biological complexity. Hziulquoigmnzhah, uncle of Tsathoggua, and Ghizghuth, T.'s father, were the male progeny of Cxaxukluth, the androgynous spawn of Azathoth. It is worthy of record, however, that Knygathin Zhaum, the half-breed Voormi, reverted to the most primitive ancestral characteristics following the stress of his numerous decapitations. I have yet to translate the dire and abominable legend telling how a certain doughty denizen of Commoriom (not Athammaus) returned to the city after its public evacuation, and found that it was peopled most execrably and innumerably by the fissional spawn of Knygathin Zhaum, which retained no vestige of anything earthly.

Ech-Pi-Ei, I am sure, can furnish much fuller data concerning the genesis of Tulu. It would seem from the rather oblique references of Pnom, that Tulu was a cousin of Hziulquoigmnzhah but was somewhat closer to the Azathothian archetype than Hz. The latter god, together with Ghisghuth, was born of Cxaxukluth in a dark distant system. Cx. then came en famille to Yuggoth, the family already including Ghisguth's wife, Zstylzhemgni, and the infant Tsathoggua (Cx., I may add, has most mercifully continued to sojourn in the glacial night of Yuggoth). Hz., who found his parent slightly uncongenial owing to its cannibalistic habits, emigrated to Yaksh (Neptune) at an early age; but, wearying of the highly devout Yakshians, went on to Cykranosh, in which he preceded his nephew Tsathoggua. Ts. and his parents lingered in Yuggoth, having penetrated certain deep caverns beyond the incursions of Cxaxukluth; but eventually Ts., leaving his parents behind, followed in the steps of Hz. Hz., a rather philosophic deity, was long worshipped by the quaint peoples of Cykranosh, but grew tired of their ex-votos even as of the Yakshians; and he had permanently retired from active life at the time of his encounter with Eibon as told in "The Door to Saturn". No doubt he still resides in the columned cavern, and still quenches his thirst at the lake of liquid metal. A confirmed bachelor, and sans offspring.

I have filed out your sketch of Ts.; and am returning it. My account of Ts.'s terrene advent can be reconciled with the references in "The Mound". Ts., through another dimension than the known three, first entered the Earth by means of the lightless inner gulf of N'kai and he lingered there for cycles. Later he established himself in caves nearer to the surface; and his cult thrived; but after the coming of the ice he returned to N'kai. Much of his legend was forgotten or misunderstood; and thus, through a mythopoetic variation, Gll'-Hathaa-Ynn came to tell the Spaniard Zamarcona that only the images of Tsathoggua, and not the god himself, had emerged from the inner world.1

Well, I hope all this will clear up a few obscure points and prevent future contradictions. Of course, owing to the infernal difficulty of reading and transliterating the Eider Script, it may be that I am in error regarding some of the references; and I shall willingly submit myself to the correction of a superior scholar, such as Éch-Pi-Ei.

Yrs, in the faith of Hziulquoigmnzhah,


  1. This discussion of Smith and Lovecraft's invented mythology was prompted in part by Lovecraft's use of Smith's god Tsathoggua in his revision work, "The Mound". Portions of his discussion were printed in the summer 1944 issue of The Acolyte, latter reprinted in Planets and other Dimensions (Mirage Press, 1973)
  2. From: The Dark Eidolon: The Journal of Smith Studies #2, 1989, Necronomicon Press.