Letter to Clark Ashton Smith

From H. P. Lovecraft

598 Angell St.
Jany. 11, 1923

My dear Smith:--

I am indeed glad the California press is cordial toward the book—even if the critics have to resort to stock comparisons & indulge in occasional stupidities. It is something if they know poetry even remotely when they see it! They are like trained animals, picking out certain blocks at certain signals, but indifferent to precisions & nuances. Given a weird tale, they all cry Poe! Or perhaps a few of them-- on the coast—have heard of Ambrose Bierce. Given a bit of versified Satanism, if they can repress the automatic Poe yelp, they never miss good ol' Charles Pierre! What will be really significant, & important for your ultimate recognition, is the notice which Galpin is getting the real magazines to take. If he succeeds as well as I think likely, the world will have the good fortune of discovering a new immortal! Then your books will appear with standard imprints, & no more worry about rural typography & limited circulation! I'd like to see an adequate edition of your complete verse, illustrated by yourself.

I am glad your friend likes Dagon—which was written in 1917, & is the second story I wrote that year, after a nine years' silence. In 1908, when I was 18, I was disgusted by my lack of technical experience; & burned all my stories (of which the number was infinite) but two; resolving (amusing thought!) to turn to verse in the future. Then, years later, I published these yarns in an amateur paper; where they were so well received that I began to consider resumption. Finally an amateur editor & critic named W. Paul Cook (Loveman can tell you about him) egged me on to the point of actual production, & The Tomb-- with all its stiffness—was the result. Next came Dagon--& it chagrins me to admit that I've hardly been able to equal it since. My favourite three tales are Dagon, Randolph Carter, & The Cats of Ulthar. I only wish the hyperbole of your friend—touching on Poe & Beirce—were true; but realistic observation hath given me abounding humility. If ever the things reach Sterling's eye, let my pray for more leniency than they deserve! The worst drawback to my writing is haste. I do best when I have unlimited time ahead, & can live wholly in the pictures I am imagining.

I am glad you like Dunsany—whose merits I have never been able to point out either to Loveman of Galpin. I certainly was under his influence in the winter of 1919-20—I never had greatest joy that in discovering him one day in September 1919! Celephais, Sarnath, Iranon, White Ship,--& The Other Gods, which you have not yet seen, are my most Dunsanian things. I may yet have occasional returns to that mood, for the charm of Dunsany is endless—as I tried to "put across" in a lecture to one of the amateur journalist clubs in Boston last month. I have read everything of Dunsany's except his new novel—which I have just bought & mean to digest as soon as I get a second to do it in. Of Dunsany I like best of all the Dreamer's Tales. Plays hold me less than stories, & Dunsany's newer work has less appeal because of the increasing note of visible irony, humour, & sophistication. I hope that Don Rodriguez represents a return to the earlier mood. I saw Dunsany in 1919, when he lectured in Boston. He is the most wholesome & delightful person imaginable.

Most cordially & sincerely yours,
H P Lovecraft

Selected Letters (Arkham House) 116

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