Letter to August Derleth

From Clark Ashton Smith


Auburn, Calif.
March 23rd, 1937

Dear August:

The news of Lovecraft's death seems incredible and nightmarish, and I cannot adjust myself to it. The few meager details in my possession I owe to Harry Brobst, H.P.L.'s Providence friend, who can be addressed at the Charles V. Chaplin Hospital, Providence. Late in February, I had mailed Lovecraft some photographs and other matters. These he was too ill to acknowledge directly; but asked Brobst to write me and explain the circumstances. Brobst's letter, written March 1st, said that Lovecraft appeared to be suffering from some gastro-intestinal condition of long standing. He could not lie down, slept very little because of the pain, and could eat very little. He was still at 66 College St. had not been removed to the hospital. All this sounded pretty serious and depressing, since Brobst did not hesitate to characterize his condition as "grave." However, I kept hoping that amelioration and improvement would occur. Then, on the 20th, came a brief note from Brobst, dated the 15th, saying that Lovecraft had died at 7,30 that morning and would be buried on the 18th. This is all that I know, It saddens me as nothing has done since my mother's death; and, somehow, I can't help feeling that it should have been unnecessary.

In my last letter from H.P.L. (postmarked Feb. 5th) he spoke of feeling "rather on the bum," with a combination of indigestion and general weakness, and some sort of foot-swelling caused by exposure to cold. The letter (12 closely written pages) was, however, full of his usual enthusiasm, erudition, delight in scenic walks, etc., and gave little hint of a coming breakdown of health. It is all too melancholy; and it would be no less futile than needless to expatiate on the loss to us who are left. Perhaps it may hasten the awakening of publishers to the loss incurred by American literature — and also to the Poe-like bequest that it has gained.

I've been meaning to write for ages — will promise to be a better and more frequent correspondent in future. Tell me something about yourself when you write again. There is no special news here. I have definitely settled down to a program of story-writing and have finished a couple of new shorts.

My best, as ever,
Clark Ashton

P.S. If you'd care for these, I can send you casts (plaster, hand-tinted) of one or more of my small sculptures.

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

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