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Old 10-26-2013   #21
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

It's a decent table of contents. Joel is right, the selection will no doubt be contentious as CAS has a large amount of decent stories and there would have been limited room in this overview collection. One of my favourites, A Voyage to Sfanomoë, isn't there. I also love The Planet of the Dead and Abominations of Yondo. But the stories that are there are still excellent!

I'd be interested to know if he was an influence on Ligotti. Certainly he is infused with cosmic fatalism - not just individuals, but whole peoples, worlds and ages are doomed. His dislike for organised religion is shown in a number of satires - usually something difficult to pull off, but I think he is successful. But what I find most pleasing is the rich, florid, ornate language - he shows us wonders and fantastic places, but then usually shows their ultimate doom.

Regarding the poetry, I'd separate the prose poetry from the poetry proper. Many of CAS stories are borderline prose poetry anyway. What prose poetry of his I've read is outstanding and amongst his best work.

Whether people find the poetry proper enjoyable is going to depend on personal tastes. Some of the poetry is less interesting, but there's a fair amount that is weird and cosmic. Those who prefer modernism/realism probably won't like it. I see Smith as taking Symbolist and Romantic traditions, and infusing them with his own cosmic touch. The Hashish Eater is one of his finest pieces of work in any format, and I was sure I read that it was going to be included in this Penguin edition.
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Old 10-26-2013   #22
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

Thanks for the contents list and for these observations, Masonwire and Draugen. There's some wonderful stuff in the line-up but also a few stories I'm less sure about – 'The Seven Geases' and 'Sadastor' are both pretty weak, I feel. One the other hand 'The Last Hieroglyph' and 'The Treader of the Dust' could easily have made it into my list of personal favourites. Shocked at the omission of 'A Night in Malneant' but what can you do?

Draugen, I think 'realism' and 'modernism' are poles apart, and the problem with Smith's poetry isn't that it doesn't belong to either camp (though in terms of its acceptance in the 1930s that probably didn't help). Eliot wrote mystical and profoundly imaginative poems, Frost wrote naturalistic poems informed by verse-writing tradition – Smith was nothing like either. The problem with Smith's poetry is his conscious imitation of a poetic idiom from the early nineteenth century, which renders his poetry something of a static technical exercise rather than part of a living tradition. 'The Hashish Eater' is impressive, certainly, and benefits from being blank verse rather than formal verse – blank verse remains a potent approach within modern poetry, as the late Seamus Heaney demonstrated many times.
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Old 10-26-2013   #23
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

Couple of further points – when looking at Eliot, people rather fixate on 'The Waste Land' as defining modernism, which it may have done for many readers but it's quite atypical of Eliot – 'Four Quartets' is his creative centre of gravity, I think, and when you put that together with Rilke's astonishing 'Duino Elegies' you get a very different sense of 'modernism' than anything fragmented, hyper-realist or random. I just don't feel Smith is in their league.

Also, I wondered: how enthusiastic are TLO folk about 'Xeethra'? It holds up well technically, but it feels to me like a regrettable detour into sentimentality. It lacks the sardonic edge of Smith at his best.
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Old 10-26-2013   #24
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

Joel, thanks for the comments and interesting discussion! I haven't read Four Quartets, I'll check it out, sounds good. I'm with you on Smith's adhering to old styles and structures, but I personally didn't find it just static exercise. Maybe some of his poems do get tied up in their own formalities, and other bits didn't do it for me, but much of his poetry I think is excellent and visionary. For me at least, anyway.

But what I really am enthusiastic about is the prose poetry.. one of my most prized books is the old necronomicon press edition Nostalgia of the Unknown, and I'm really looking forward to the centipede collection.

Xeethra I haven't read in a long time and can't accurately remember, but I think I liked it (the Zothique tale of the shepherd boy who thinks he's a king?).
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Old 03-18-2014   #25
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

as ye can see from my new profile image, ye Penguin Classics edition of CAS is mine! I have ye book on pre-order at Amazon, but once I knew that its editor already had copies, I felt this curious itch, this overwhelming lust, to have ye book NIGH!!! I sent S. T. an email, & then I rang him, imploring to let me dash to his pad and get a copy now, this instant! Gawd, such burning fever of desire! I drove like a lunatic thing to far-off North Seattle, cursing the freeway traffic where we crept at twenty miles per hour. Bah! Argh!

My friends invited me to stay and visit, but I cou'd not! I had S. T. sign ye book and then, honey, I dashed like lightning, avoiding ye freeway and getting home faster by so doing, I think. I've already made a wee YouTube vlog shewing ye book and singing its praises. The big-ass Introduction is sublime. The Annotations section seems rather wee compar'd to yem whut are found in S. T.'s Lovecraft editions from Penguin. I am nigh going to spend ye rest of this enchanted evening reading Cas -- in PENGUIN CLASSICS! Ia!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"We work in the dark -- we do what we can -- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
--Henry James (1843-1916)
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Old 03-29-2014   #26
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

S. T. will be coming to my pad to-morrow and we will record a promotional video for the Penguin CAS book. S. T. plans on reading two or three poems from the book, including Smith's moving tribute written in memory of E'ch-Pi-El. He gets very emotional reading that poem, does S. T., so I shall fortify myself by applying ye strongest of waterproof mascaras....

"We work in the dark -- we do what we can -- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
--Henry James (1843-1916)

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Old 03-29-2014   #27
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

I have repeatedly tried to really really like Clark Ashton Smith's poetry, but his stories are much better

“The real reason why so few men believe in God is that they have ceased to believe that even a God can love them.”
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Old 03-29-2014   #28
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

I love Smith's prose poems, stuff like "Ennui", far more than his poetry. As far as his stories, I love his dark fantasy worlds; those stories are exquisite, untouchable. His 'contemporary' horror stories were less impressive though still enjoyable. Bob Howard's 'straight' horror stories ("Pigeons From Hell," "Black Canaan," "The Cairn on the Headland") strike me as markedly superior.
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Old 03-29-2014   #29
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
I love Smith's prose poems, stuff like "Ennui", far more than his poetry. As far as his stories, I love his dark fantasy worlds; those stories are exquisite, untouchable. His 'contemporary' horror stories were less impressive though still enjoyable. Bob Howard's 'straight' horror stories ("Pigeons From Hell," "Black Canaan," "The Cairn on the Headland") strike me as markedly superior.
Regarding CAS, I always thought he had a zone of optimal performance. Longer poems and short stories being the zone. Like I love Hashish Eater as a poem and his short stories have few peers who could match him when he was on. It always seemed to me that CAS was more like one of those 1 mile runners rather than a sprinter or a marathon runner. He needs some warm up but doubt that he could have handled novel as a format successfully. Not a knock. Both Poe and Lovecraft had problems with the longer form and they are more than established.
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Old 10-05-2014   #30
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Re: Clark Ashton Smith

I asked Jerad about the Centipede Press editions of CAS that he is working on. Here they be:

CLARK ASHTON SMITH
The Averoinge Stories
edited by Ron Hilger, Introduction by Gahan Wilson
art by David Ho
probably late 2015

CLARK ASHTON SMITH ART BOOK
edited by Scott Connors
artwork, prose poems, and various memoirs
hopefully publish'd June 2015

CLARK ASHTON SMITH
MASTERS OF THE WEIRD TALE
illustrated by a ton of people [old and new artwork, I imagine]
with mayhaps an Introduction by S. T. Joshi
early 2016

CLARK ASHTON SMITH
Library of Weird Fiction
edited and with Introduction by S. T. Joshi
after the Master of the Weird Tale book is published.

start saving up yr silver coins, me ducks.....

"We work in the dark -- we do what we can -- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
--Henry James (1843-1916)

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