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Clark Ashton Smith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Not to be confused with Clark S. Smith.

Clark Ashton Smith

Smith in 1912


January 13, 1893

Long Valley, California


August 14, 1961 (aged 68)

Pacific Grove, California


Short-story writer, poet




Horror, fantasy, science fiction

Clark Ashton Smith (January 13, 1893 August 14, 1961) was a self-educated American
poet, sculptor, painter and author offantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. He
achieved early local recognition, largely through the enthusiasm of George Sterling, for
traditional verse in the vein of Swinburne. As a poet, Smith is grouped with the West Coast
Romantics alongsideAmbrose Bierce, Joaquin Miller, Sterling, Nora May French, and
remembered as "The Last of the Great Romantics" and "The Bard of Auburn".
Smith was one of "the big three of Weird Tales, along with Robert E. Howard and H. P.
Lovecraft", where some readers objected to his morbidness and violation of pulp
traditions. It has been said of him that "nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted
corpse." He was a member of the Lovecraft circle, and Smith's literary friendship with
Lovecraft lasted from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937. His work is marked chiefly by an
extraordinarily wide and ornate vocabulary, a cosmic perspective and a vein of sardonic
and sometimes ribald humor.


Of his writing style, Smith stated that: "My own conscious ideal has been to delude the
reader into accepting an impossibility, or series of impossibilities, by means of a sort of
verbal black magic, in the achievement of which I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor,
simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation."




1.1Early life and education

1.2Early writing

1.3Health breakdown period

1.4Prolific fiction-writing period

1.5Mid-late career: return to poetry and sculpture

1.6Later life, marriage and death

2Artistic periods

2.1Poetry: until 1925

2.2Weird fiction: 19261935

2.3Visual art: 19351961


3.1Books published in Smith's lifetime

3.2Books published posthumously

3.3Night Shade Books

3.4Hippocampus Press

3.5Arkham House

3.5.1Spearman (reprinted from Arkham House)

3.5.2Panther (reprinted from Arkham House)

3.6Ballantine Adult Fantasy series

3.7Wildside Press

3.8Timescape Books

3.9HIH Art Studios

3.10Penguin Books


4Media adaptations and Audio Recordings

5See also



8Further reading

9External links

Early life and education[edit]
Smith was born January 13, 1893, in Long Valley, California, of English and New England
parentage. He spent most of his life in the small town of Auburn, California, living in a small
cabin built by his parents, Fanny and Timeus Smith. His formal education was limited: he
suffered from psychological disorders including a fear of crowds, and although admitted to
high school after attending eight years of grammar school (Long Valley School, whence
dates the earliest known photo of him), he never went to high school. His parents decided it
was better for him to be educated at home.
However, he was an insatiable reader, and continued to teach himself after he left school.
His education began with the reading of Robinson Crusoe (unabridged), Gulliver's Travels,
the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and Madame d'Aulnoy, the Arabian Nights and
(at the age of 13) the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. He read an unabridged dictionary (the
13th edition of Webster's) through, word for word, studying not only the definitions of the
words but also their derivations from ancient languages. Having an extraordinary eidetic
memory, he seems to have retained most or all of it.

The other main course in Smith's self-education was to read the 11th edition of
the Encyclopdia Britannica through at least twice. Smith later taught himself French and
Spanish in order to translate verse out of those languages. Smith professed to hate the
provinciality of the small town of Auburn but rarely left it until he married late in life.

Early writing[edit]

Smith as depicted in Wonder Storiesin 1930

His first literary efforts, at the age of 11, took the form of fairy tales and imitations of the
Arabian Nights. Later, he wrote long adventure novels dealing with Oriental life. By 14 he
had already written a short adventure novel called The Black Diamonds which was lost for
years until published in 2002. Another juvenile novel was written in his teenaged years
The Sword of Zagan (unpublished until 2004). Like The Black Diamonds, it uses
a medieval, Arabian Nights-like setting, and the Arabian Nights, like the fairy tales of
the Brothers Grimm and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, are known to have strongly
influenced Smith's early writing, as did William Beckford's Vathek.
At age 17, he sold several tales to The Black Cat, a magazine which specialized in unusual
tales. He also published some tales in theOverland Monthly in this brief foray into fiction
which preceded his poetic career.
However, it was primarily poetry that motivated the young Smith and he confined his efforts
to poetry for more than a decade. In his later youth, Smith made the acquaintance of the
San Francisco poet George Sterling through a member of the local Auburn Monday Night
Club, where he read several of his poems with considerable success. On a month-long visit
to Sterling in Carmel, California, Smith was introduced by Sterling to the poetry
of Baudelaire.

He became Sterling's protg and Sterling helped him to publish his first volume of
poems, The Star-Treader and Other Poems, at the age of 19. Smith received international
acclaim for the collection. The Star-Treader was received very favorably by American
critics, one of whom named Smith "the Keats of the Pacific". Smith briefly moved among
the circle that included Ambrose Bierce and Jack London, but his early fame soon faded

Health breakdown period[edit]

A little later, Smith's health broke down and for eight years his literary production was
intermittent, though he produced his best poetry during this period. A small volume, Odes
and Sonnets, was brought out in 1918. Smith came into contact with literary figures who
would later form part of H.P. Lovecraft's circle of correspondents; Smith knew them far
earlier than Lovecraft. These figures include poet Samuel Loveman and bookman George
Kirk. It was Smith who in fact later introduced Donald Wandrei to Lovecraft. For this reason,
it has been suggested that Lovecraft might as well be referred to as a member of a "Smith"
circle as Smith was a member of a Lovecraft one.

In 1920 Smith composed a celebrated long poem in blank verse, The Hashish Eater, or
The Apocalypse of Evil which was published in Ebony and Crystal (1922). This was
followed by a fan letter from H. P. Lovecraft, which was the beginning of 15 years of
friendship and correspondence. With studied playfulness, Smith and Lovecraft borrowed
each other's coinages of place names and the names of strange gods for their stories,
though so different is Smith's treatment of the Lovecraft theme that it has been dubbed the
"Clark Ashton Smythos."


In 1925 Smith published Sandalwood. He wrote little fiction in this period with the exception
of some imaginative vignettes or prose poems. Smith was poor for most of his life and often
did hard manual jobs such as fruit picking and woodcutting in order to support himself and
his parents. He was an able cook and made many kinds of wine. He also did well digging,
typing and journalism, as well as contributing a column to The Auburn Journal and
sometimes worked as its night editor.

One of Smith's artistic patrons and frequent correspondents was San Francisco
businessman Albert M. Bender.

Prolific fiction-writing period[edit]

Smith's novelette "Marooned in Andromeda", the first entry in his "Captain Volmar" sequence, was the cover story in the October
1930 issue ofWonder Stories. illustrated by Frank R. Paul

Another "Captain Volmar" story, "The Amazing Planet", took the cover of the Summer 1931 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly

Smith's "The City of Singing Flame" was the cover story in the July 1931 issue of Wonder Stories

Smith's "The Invisible City" was the cover story in the June 1932 issue ofWonder Stories

At the beginning of the Depression in 1929, with his aged parents' health weakening, Smith
resumed fiction writing and turned out more than a hundred short stories between 1929 and
1934, nearly all of which can be classed as weird horror or science fiction. Like Lovecraft,
he drew upon the nightmares that had plagued him during youthful spells of sickness. Brian
Stableford has written that the stories written during this brief phase of hectic productivity
"constitute one of the most remarkable oeuvres in imaginative literature".

He published at his own expense a volume containing six of his best stories, The Double
Shadow and Other Fantasies, in an edition of 1000 copies printed by the Auburn Journal.
The theme of much of his work is egotism and its supernatural punishment; his weird fiction
is generally macabre in subject matter, gloatingly preoccupied with images of death, decay
and abnormality.
Most of Smith's weird fiction falls into four series set variously
in Hyperborea, Poseidonis, Averoigne and Zothique. Hyperborea, which is a lost continent
of the Miocene period, and Poseidonis, which is a remnant of Atlantis, are much the same,
with a magical culture characterized by bizarreness, cruelty, death and postmortem horrors.

Averoigne is Smith's version of pre-modern France, comparable toJames Branch Cabell's

Poictesme. Zothique exists millions of years in the future. It is "the last continent of earth,
when the sun is dim and tarnished". These tales have been compared to the Dying
Earth sequence of Jack Vance.
In 1933 Smith began corresponding with Robert E. Howard, the Texan creator of Conan the
Barbarian. From 1933 to 1936, Smith, Howard and Lovecraft were the leaders of the Weird
Tales school of fiction and corresponded frequently, although they never met. The writer of
oriental fantasies E. Hoffmann Price is the only man known to have met all three in the
Critic Steve Behrends has suggested that the frequent theme of 'loss' in Smith's fiction
(many of his characters attempt to recapture a long-vanished youth, early love, or
picturesque past) may reflect Smith's own feeling that his career had suffered a "fall from
Smith's late teens and early twenties had certainly been a heady period: he'd been taken
under the wing of a personal, idol, the poet George Sterling, and his first book of poetry had
brought him comparisons to Keats and Shelley. This notoriety must surely have raised his
standing in his small hometown. And yet the depression found Smith without a job or viable
occupation, unable to eke out a living as a poet, with girlfriends berating him for his lack of
ambition. And while his turn to writing fiction did put bread on the table, he found it a very
distasteful business at timeshe had once said to Sterling that writing prose was "a hateful
task, for a poet, and [one which] wouldn't be necessary in any true civilisation." In short, it
may be that Smith experienced that variety of "let-down" or loss peculiar to the child

Mid-late career: return to poetry and sculpture[edit]

In September 1935, Smith's mother Fanny died. Smith spent the next two months nursing
his father through his last illness. Timeus died in December 1937. Aged 44, Smith now
virtually ceased writing fiction. He had been severely affected by several tragedies
occurring in a short period of time: Robert E. Howard's death by suicide (1936), Lovecraft's
death from cancer (1937) and the deaths of his parents, which left him exhausted. As a
result, he withdrew from the scene, marking the end of Weird Tales' Golden Age. He began
sculpting and resumed the writing of poetry. However, Smith was visited by many writers at
his cabin, including Fritz Leiber, Rah Hoffman, Francis T. Laney and others.
In 1942, three years after August Derleth founded Arkham House for the purpose of
preserving the work of H.P. Lovecraft, Derleth published the first of several major
collections of Smith's fiction, Out of Space and Time (1942). This was followed by Lost
Worlds (1944). The books sold slowly, went out of print and became costly rarities. Derleth
published five more volumes of Smith's prose and two of his verse, and at his death in
1971 had a large volume of Smith's poems in press.

Later life, marriage and death[edit]

In 1953 Smith suffered a coronary attack. Aged 61, he married Carol(yn) Jones Dorman on
November 10, 1954. Dorman had much experience in Hollywood and radio public relations.
After honeymooning at the Smith cabin, they moved to Pacific Grove, California, where he
set up a household with their children. (Carol had been married before and had three
children). For several years he alternated between the house on Indian Ridge and his
wife's house in Pacific Grove. Having sold most of his father's tract, in 1957 the old house
burnedthe Smiths believed by arson, others said by accident.
Smith now reluctantly did gardening for other residents at Pacific Grove, and grew a
goatee. He spent much time shopping and walking near the seafront but despite Derleth's
badgering, resisted the writing of more fiction. In 1961 he suffered strokes. In August 1961
he quietly died in his sleep, aged 68. After Smith's death Carol remarried (becoming
Carolyn Wakefield) and subsequently died of cancer.

The poet's ashes were buried beside, or beneath, a boulder to the immediate west of
where his childhood home (destroyed by fire in 1957) stood; some were also scattered in a
stand of blue oaks near the boulder. There was no marker. In more recent times a plaque
to his memory has been erected at the Auburn, California Placer County Library.


Bookseller Roy A. Squires was appointed Smith's "west coast executor", with Jack L.
Chalker as his "east coast executor". Squires published many letterpress editions of
individual Smith poems.

Smith's literary estate is represented by his stepson, Prof William Dorman, director of
CASiana Literary Enterprises. Arkham House owns the copyright to many Smith stories,
though some are now in the public domain.
For 'posthumous collaborations' of Smith (stories completed by Lin Carter), see the entry
on Lin Carter.

Artistic periods[edit]
While Smith was always an artist who worked in several very different media, it is possible
to identify three distinct periods in which one form of art had precedence over the others.

Poetry: until 1925[edit]

Smith published most of his volumes of poetry in this period, including the
aforementioned The Star-Treader and Other Poems, as well asOdes and
Sonnets (1918), Ebony and Crystal (1922) and Sandalwood (1925). His long poem The
Hashish-Eater; Or, the Apocalypse of Evil was written in 1920.

Weird fiction: 19261935[edit]

"The Hunters from Beyond", one of Clark Ashton Smith's best-known stories, was first published in the October 1932 issue
of Strange Tales.

Smith wrote most of his weird fiction and Cthulhu Mythos stories, partially inspired by H. P.
Lovecraft. Creatures of his invention includeAforgomon, RlimShaikorth, Mordiggian, Tsathoggua, the wizard Eibon, and various others. In an homage to
his friend, Lovecraft referred in "The Whisperer in Darkness" and "The Battle That Ended
the Century" (written in collaboration with R. H. Barlow) to an Atlantean high-priest,
Smith's weird stories form several cycles, called after the lands in which they are
set: Averoigne, Hyperborea, Mars, Poseidonis,Zothique. To some extent Smith was

influenced in his vision of such lost worlds by the teachings of Theosophy and the writings
ofHelena Blavatsky. Stories set in Zothique belong to the Dying Earth subgenre. Amongst
Smith's science fiction tales are stories set onMars and the invented planet of Xiccarph.
His short stories originally appeared in the magazines Weird Tales, Strange
Tales, Astounding Stories, Stirring Science Stories andWonder Stories.
Clark Ashton Smith was the third member of the great triumvirate of Weird Tales, with
Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.
Many of Smith's stories were published in six hardcover volumes by August Derleth under
his Arkham House imprint. For a full bibliography to 1978, see Sidney-Fryer, Emperor of
Dreams (cited below). S.T. Joshi is working with other scholars to produce an updated
bibliography of Smith's work.
A selection of Smith's best-known tales includes:

"The Last Incantation" Weird Tales, June 1930 LW2

"A Voyage to Sfanomoe" Weird Tales, August 1931 LW2

"The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" Weird Tales November 1931 LW2

"The Door to Saturn" Strange Tales, January 1932 LW2

"The Planet of the Dead" Weird Tales, March 1932 LW2

"The Gorgon" Weird Tales, April 1932 LW2

"The Letter from Mohaun Los" (under the title of "Flight into Super-Time")
Wonder Stories, August 1932 LW1

"The Empire of the Necromancers" Weird Tales, September 1932 LW1

"The Hunters from Beyond" Strange Tales, October 1932 LW1

"The Isle of the Torturers" Weird Tales, March 1933 LW1

"The Light from Beyond" Wonder Stories, April 1933 LW1

"The Beast of Averoigne" Weird Tales, May 1933 LW1

"The Holiness of Azedarac" Weird Tales, November 1933 LW1

"The Demon of the Flower" Astounding Stories, December 1933 LW2

"The Death of Malygris" Weird Tales, April 1934 LW2

"The Plutonium Drug" Amazing Stories, September 1934 LW2

"The Seven Geases" Weird Tales, October 1934 LW2

"Xeethra" Weird Tales, December 1934 LW1

"The Flower-Women" Weird Tales, May 1935 LW2

"The Treader of the Dust" Weird Tales, August 1935 LW1

"Necromancy in Naat" Weird Tales, July 1936 LW1

"The Maze of Maal Dweb" Weird Tales, October 1938 LW2

"The Coming of the White Worm" Stirring Science Stories, April 1941 LW2

Visual art: 19351961[edit]

By this time his interest in writing fiction began to lessen and he turned to creating
sculptures from soft rock such as soapstone. Smith also made hundreds of fantastic
paintings and drawings.


Books published in Smith's lifetime[edit]

First edition

First edition

1912: The Star-Treader and Other Poems. San Francisco: A.M. Robertson, Nov
1912. 100 pages. 2000 copies. Some copies have a frontispiece photo by Bianca
Conti; others lack it.

1918: Odes and Sonnets. San Francisco: The Book Club of California, June 1918.
28 pages. 300 copies.

1922: Ebony and Crystal: Poems in Verse and Prose. Auburn CA: The Auburn
Journal Press, Oct 1925. 43 pages. Limited to 500 copies signed by Smith. Some
copies are found with corrections in Smith's hand to typos in the text.

1925: Sandalwood. Auburn CA: The Auburn Journal Press, Oct 1925. Verse. 43
pages. Limited to 250 (i.e. 225)numbered copies signed by Smith. Some copies are
found with corrections in Smith's hand to typos in the text.

1933: The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies. Auburn, CA: The Auburn Journal
Press, 1933. Short stories. Limited to 1000 copies in grey paper wrappers.

1937: Nero and Other Poems. Lakeport CA: The Futile Press, May 1937. 24 pages.
c.250 copies. Complete copies have laid in the three page essay "The Price of Poetry",
on Smith's verse, by David Warren Ryder, which was printed to accompany the book.

1951: The Dark Chateau and Other Poems. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, Dec
1951. 63 pages. 563 copies.

1958: Spells and Philtres. Sauk City: Arkham House, March 1958. Verse. 54 pages.
519 copies.

Books published posthumously[edit]

1962: The Hill of Dionysus A Selection. Pacific Grove, CA: Roy A. Squires and
Clyde Beck. Verse. This volume was prepared while Smith was still living but he died
before it could see print. It was published 'In memoriam'.

1971: Selected Poems. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, Nov 1971. This volume was
delivered by the author to Arkham House in December 1949 but remained unpublished
until 1971.

Night Shade Books[edit]

The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith 5-volume work

Miscellaneous Writings. Originally announced as Tales of India and Irony (a
collection of non-fantasy/science fiction/horror tales, planned to be available only to
subscribers of above collection). Now commercially available.
Red World of Polaris (complete tales of Captain Volmar)

Hippocampus Press[edit]

The Complete Poetry and Translations of Clark Ashton Smith (3 vols)

The Black Diamonds. A juvenile Oriental fantasy.

The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poems of Clark Ashton Smith

The Sword of Zagan and Other Writings. Juvenile Oriental fantasy.

The Shadow of the Unattained: Letters of George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith

The Freedom of Fantastic Things: Selected Criticism on Clark Ashton Smith

Arkham House[edit]

Out of Space and Time

Lost Worlds

Genius Loci and Other Tales

The Dark Chateau

Spells and Philtres

The Abominations of Yondo

Tales of Science and Sorcery

Poems in Prose

Other Dimensions (o.o.p.)

Selected Poems

The Black Book of Clark Ashton Smith

A Rendezvous in Averoigne

Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith

Spearman (reprinted from Arkham House)[edit]

Lost Worlds hardcover 1971 ISBN 0-85435-111-6

Out of Space and Time 1971 ISBN 0-85435-101-9

Genius Loci hardcover 1971 ISBN 0-85435-381-X

Abominations of Yondo 1972 ISBN 0-85435-371-2

Panther (reprinted from Arkham House)[edit]

Lost Worlds (published in 2 volumes, ISBN 0-586-03964-3, ISBN 0-586-040862)

Genius Loci ISBN 0-586-03965-1

The Abominations of Yondo ISBN 0-586-03956-2

Other Dimensions (published in 2 volumes, ISBN 0-586-04350-0, ISBN 0-58604351-9)

Out of Space and Time (published in 2 volumes, ISBN 0-586-03966-X, ISBN 0586-04110-9)

Tales of Science and Sorcery ISBN 0-586-04352-7

Ballantine Adult Fantasy series[edit]

Zothique 1970 ISBN 0-345-01938-5

Hyperborea 1971 ISBN 0-345-02206-8

Xiccarph 1972 ISBN 0-345-02501-6

Poseidonis 1973 ISBN 0-345-03353-1

Averoigne (reportedly compiled by series editor Lin Carter, but never released)

Wildside Press[edit]

The Double Shadow

The Maker of Gargoyles and Other Stories

The White Sybil and Other Stories

Timescape Books[edit]

The City of the Singing Flame 1981 ISBN 0-671-83415-0

The Last Incantation 1982 ISBN 0-671-83543-2

The Monster of the Prophecy 1983 ISBN 0-671-83544-0

HIH Art Studios[edit]

Shadows Seen and Unseen: Poetry from the Shadows. San Jose, CA: Hih Art
Studios, 2007. Edited by Raymond L. Johnson and Ardath W. Winterowd and
signed by both editors. Limited to 540 copies. Hardcover in slipcase. Includes
reproductions of poetry mansuscripts by Smith, and color plates of several
Smith paintings.

Penguin Books[edit]

The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies. Ed, S. T. Joshi. 2014.


Smith, Clark Ashton. Planets and Dimensions: Collected Essays. Edited by

Charles K. Wolfe. Baltimore MD: Mirage Press, 1973.

Emperor of Dreams. Ed, Stephen Jones. Gollancz, 2002. An omnibus edition

in paperback of Smith's best tales.

In the Line of the Grotesque and Monstrous. Introduction by D.S. Black.

Berkely: The Bancroft Library, 2004. Prints the text of three letters by Smith
to Samuel Loveman. 50 copies only printed, in burnt orange wrappers. Printed
on the Bancroft library's 1856 Albion handpress.

The Black Abbot of Puthuum. Glendale, CA: The RAS Press, Oct 2007.
Limited to 250 numbered copies.

Roy A. Squires, bookman and letterpress printer, issued many limited edition
pamphlets consisting of individual Smith poems and prose poems.

Media adaptations and Audio Recordings[edit]

Clark Ashton Smith: Live from Auburn: The Elder Tapes. In the late 1950s
Smith recorded a number of his poems on the taperecorder of his friend Robert
B. Elder. Elder chose the 11 poems at random from Smith's books The Dark
Chateau and "Spells and Philtres". (Elder had first met Smith when reporting
on his 1954 wedding to the former Carol Dorman for The Auburn Courier and
they became friends when Smith praised Elder's novel Whom the Gods
Destroy.) In 1995 Necronomicon Press released the audiocassette Clark
Ashton Smith: Live from Auburn: The Elder Tapes, which includes an
introduction by Elder and then Smith reading his poems. The recording was
produced by Wayne Haigh. The cassette was accompanied by a booklet
feasturing a c.1960 photo of Smith and reprints all 11 poems. Gahan
Wilson provided the cover art for cassette and booklet. The recording has not
been released on CD.

"The Double Shadow" was filmed by Azathoth Productions on Super 8 film in

1975 with a script by Leigh Blackmore.

"The Return of the Sorcerer" was adapted for an episode of the television
series Night Gallery, starring Vincent Price and Bill Bixby.

"The Seed from the Sepulcher", "The Vaults of Yoh Vombis" and "The Return
of the Sorcerer" were adapted as ten-page comics by Richard Corben,
published in DenSaga 1, 2 and 3 respectively (Fantagor Press 19921993).

See also[edit]
Wikimedia Commons has
media related to Clark
Ashton Smith.
Poetry portal
Biography portal

List of works by Clark Ashton Smith

1. Jump up^ Thomas, G. W. "A Reader's Guide to Sword & Sorcery S-V". RetrievedSeptember
27, 2012.
2. Jump up^ de Camp 1976, p. 206
3. Jump up^
4. Jump up^ de Camp 1976, p. 197-98
5. Jump up^ Behrends 1990, p. 5
6. Jump up^ de Camp 1976, p. 200
7. Jump up^ Schultz & Connors 2003, p. xix
8. Jump up^ Smith, Clark Ashton (1922). Ebony and Crystal: Poems in Verse and Prose.Auburn,
9. Jump up^ Murray 1990
10. Jump up^ de Camp 1976, p. 203
11. Jump up^ Brian Stableford, "Clark Ashton Smith" in David Pringle (ed), St James Guide to Fantasy
Writers, Detroit MI: St James Press, 1996, pp.529-30
12. Jump up^ Steve Behrends. "The Song of the Necromancer: 'Loss' in Clark Ashton Smith's
Fiction". Studies in Weird Fiction 1, No 1 (Summer 1986), 312.
13. Jump up^ Haefele 2010, p.170
14. Jump up^ Clark Ashton Smith at Find a Grave
15. Jump up^ "Clark Ashton Smith (18931961) Photos". Find a Grave. RetrievedSeptember
16, 2013.
16. Jump up^ Haefele 2010, p.172

17. Jump up^ Harvey, Ryan (April 9, 2008). "The Fantasy Cycles of Clark Ashton Smith PART III:
Tales of Zothique". Black Gate. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
18. Jump up^ Many examples are reproduced in Dennis Rickard (1973). The Fantastic Art of Clark
Ashton Smith. Baltimore: The Mirage Press.
19. Jump up^ "Gallery of Art by Clark Ashton Smith". December 30, 2009. RetrievedOctober 29, 2012.
20. Jump up^ Blackmore, Leigh. "Past Projects". Retrieved September 18, 2013. There is mention
here of Azathoth productions, a filmmaking group within the [Horror Fantasy Society]. This group
produced the unfinished short film "The Double Shadow" (based on the Clark Ashton Smith


De Camp, L. Sprague (1976). "Sierran Shaman: Clark Ashton Smith". Literary

Swordsmen and Sorcerers: the Makers of Heroic Fantasy. Arkham
House. ISBN 0-87054-076-9.

Herron, Don. "Collecting Clark Ashton Smith". Firsts (October 2000).

Joshi, S. T. (2008). "Clark Ashton Smith: Beauty Is for the Few," chapter 2
in Emperors of Dreams: Some Notes on Weird Poetry. Sydney: Prea
Press. ISBN 978-0-9804625-3-1 (pbk) and ISBN 978-0-9804625-4-8 (hbk).

Murray, Will. "The Clark Ashton Smythos" in Price, Robert M. (ed). The Horror
of it All: Encrusted gems from the Crypt of Cthulhu. Mercer Island WA:
Starmont House, 1990.ISBN 1-55742-122-6.

Further reading[edit]

Behrends, Steve. Clark Ashton Smith. Starmont Reader's Guide 49. Mercer
Island, WA: Starmont House, 1990.

Cockcroft, Thomas G.L. The Tales of Clark Ashton Smith: A Bibliography.

Lower Hutt, New Zealand: Cockcroft, Nov 1961 (500 copies). The first
published bibliography on Smith; superseded by Donald SidneyFryer's Emperor of Dreams (1978) see below.

Connors, Scott. The Freedom of Fantastic Things: Selected Criticism on Clark

Ashton Smith. NY: Hippocampus Press, 2006.

de Camp, L. Sprague. "Sierra Shaman: Clark Ashton Smith," in Literary

Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy. Sauk City,. WI:
Arkham House, 1976, 211-12.

Fait, Eleanor. "Auburn Artist-Poet Utilizes Native Rock in

Sculptures.". Sacramento Union (21 Dec 1941), 4C.

Haefele, John D. "Far from Time: Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth, and
Arkham House." Weird Fiction Review No 1 (Fall 2010), 154189.

Hilger, Ronald. One Hundred Years of Klarkash-Ton. Averon Press, 1996.

Klarkash-Ton: The Journal of Smith Studies No 1 (June 1988), Cryptic

Publications. Edited by Steve Behrends. This journal was continued under a
new title but with the numbering continued from No 1, thus the first issue
of The Dark Eidolon: The Journal of Smith Studies, (Necronomicon Press) is
numbered "2" (it appeared June 1989). There were only 3 issues in total. No 3
appeared in Dec 2002.

Lost Worlds: The Journal of Clark Ashton Smith Studies, Seele Brennt
Publications. Edited by Smith's biographer Scott Connors and Ronald S.
Hilger. Issued annually, five numbers 20032008.

Morris, Harry O. (ed). Nyctalops magazine. Special Clark Ashton Smith issue,
96 pp. (1973)

Schultz, David E. and Scott Connors (ed). Selected Letters of Clark Ashton
Smith. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 2003.

Schultz, David E and S.T. Joshi. The Shadow of the Unattained: The Letters of
George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith. NY: Hippocampus Press, 2005.

Sidney-Fryer, Donald. Emperor of Dreams: A Clark Ashton Smith Bibliography.

West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant Publishers, 1978. A substantial work of
scholarship but now over thirty years out of date. A quantity of more recent
bibliographical information can be found at the Bibliography section of the
Eldritch Dark site online (see External Links).

Sidney-Fryer, Donald. The Last of the Great Romantic Poets. Albuquerque

NM: Silver Scarab Press, 1973.

Sidney-Fryer, Donald. Clark Ashton Smith: The Sorcerer Departs. West Hills,
CA: Tsathoggua Press, Jan 1997. Dole: Silver Key Press, 2007.
Updated/revised version of his essay in the Special CAS Issue
of Nyctalops (see above under Morris).

External links[edit]
Wikisource has original
works written by or about:
Clark Ashton Smith

The Eldritch Dark This website contains almost all of Clark Ashton Smith's
written work, as well as a comprehensive selection of his art, biographies, a
bibliography, a discussion board, readings, fiction tributes and more.

Smith's poem "A Chant to Sirius" read by Leigh Blackmore

Works by Clark Ashton Smith at Project Gutenberg

Works by or about Clark Ashton Smith at Internet Archive

Works by Clark Ashton Smith at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)

Works by Clark Ashton Smith at Open Library

Clark Ashton Smith at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database

Clark Ashton Smith: Poems A collection of Clark Ashton Smith's early poetry.

LibraryThing author profile

Clark Ashton Smith essays various critical essays on Smith, including

discussion of his links with H. Rider Haggard, A.E.
Housman, Huysmans and Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond

A Fico de Clark Ashton Smith

Jos Geraldo Gouva
1 de maio de 2013
ashton-smith, fantasia, favoritos, tradues

H momentos na histria da literatura em que os veculos mais inusitados do

vazo ao talento de autores competentes, resultando em obras de insuspeita
qualidade que, infelizmente, tardam em receber o devido reconhecimento
devido ao preconceito motivado justamente pelos veculos em que foram publicadas. Um desses momentos foi o perodo entre-guerras nos Estados Unidos,
quando floresceram revistas mensais de folhetim conhecidas como "pulp fictions". Impressas em papel barato e vendidas a preo baixo, destinadas
classe operria, no deixaram, por isso, de contar com autores de primeira
grandeza porque ofereciam um veculo para a profissionalizao de quem
desejasse comear na literatura.
Grandes nomes da literatura mainstream em algum momento de sua carreira
escreveram "pulp fictions": Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein,
William S. Burroughs, Upton Sinclair, Tennessee Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Joseph Conrad, Sax Rohmer, Agatha Christie, Phillip K. Dick e Arthur C. Clarke.
Alguns autores no chegaram ao mesmo reconhecimento, mas se tornaram,
pelo menos, referncia nos nichos de literatura policial ou de fico cientfica e
fantasia : Jack Vance, Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson, Robert Bloch,
Raymond Chandler, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dashiell Hammett, Frank Herbet,
L. Ron Hubbard, Robert E. Howard, E. Hoffman Price, H. P. Lovecraft e Louis
L'Amour. Autores de qualidade, pertencentes a uma poca imediatamente anterior, foram republicados e chegaram a novas geraes de leitores graas a
estas revistas : Johnston McCulley, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, Jack London,
Lord Dunsany, Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard e Mark Twain. Alguns
destes autores criaram personagens maiores do que eles prprios, como
Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs), Cthulhu (H. P. Lovecraft) e Conan (Howard).
Tudo isto nos d a dimenso da quantidade de talentos que costumavam frequentar as despretensiosas pginas destas revistas, explicando porque muitos

autores de qualidade passaram despercebidos. No fcil se sobressair

quando na pgina ao lado est um texto de Ray Bradbury e na outra, um de
Tennessee Williams. Clark Ashton-Smith padeceu com isso durante toda a sua
vida, nunca obtendo o reconhecimento ou o estmulo que o seu talento teriam

Ashton-Smith, aos 19 anos.

Em vida, H. P. Lovecraft foi um dos poucos a elogiar seu trabalhoe o prprio

Lovecraft nunca obteve em vida o reconhecimento que a sua prpria obra
merecia. Isto teve impacto no somente sobre a vida pessoal de Ashton-Smith,
que viveu e morreu na pobreza, mas sobre a qualidade de sua obra, que, por
consequncia da falta de estmulo, foi pouco volumosa e de qualidade irregular.
No absurdo dizer que o desafortunado californiano foi um talento desperdiado.
Clark Ashton-Smith ( 13/01/1893 14/08/1961) nasceu e viveu at a morte
em um pequeno trecho da costa da Califrnia, no muito distante da Baa de
So Francisco. Filho de pais muito pobres (me inglesa e pai originrio da
Nova Inglaterra, ambos refugiados econmicos), no pde estudar alm do primrio, devido sua personalidade tmida e fragilidade de sua compleio
fsica. Ao longo da vida desenvolveu uma fobia de multides, que o levou a se
isolar com seus pais at a morte destes, quando ento se casou com a viva
Carolyn Jones Dorman, sua amiga de muitos anos, que dele cuidou no final da
vida. Embora tenha sempre se dedicado arte, como poeta e ficcionista, mas
principalmente como escultor e desenhista, sempre teve de trabalhar para se
sustentar, pois jamais ganhou o suficiente para se dedicar integralmente produo artstica. Sem curso superior, Smith trabalhava braalmente, colhendo
laranjas, cortando lenha ou, no final da vida, fazendo jardinagem.

"Jovem Demnio"Escultura de AshtonSmith.

A biografia do autor em pouco confere com o padro normalmente associado a

autores e artistas. Com uma educao rudimentar e dedicado a servios braais, Ashton-Smith foi um autodidata e um vido missivista, que se correspondeu com autores e artistas de todo o mundo. Sua arte atravessa trs
perodos :
Perodo Potico : at 1925
Nesta fase Ashton-Smith praticamente s escreveu versos (mas na adolescncia escrevera seus primeiros contos fantsticos), ainda no fazia escultura e se
dedicava ao estudo da pintura e da culinria. Suas primeiras publicaes foram
bem recebidas pela crtica, que chegou a cham-lo "Keats do Pacfico". Foi
nessa poca que fez a maior parte de suas amizades literrias, chegando a
corresponder-se com Ambrose Bierce e Jack London. Esta fase foi caracterizada pela sua pssima sade.
Perodo de Fico Fantstica : 19291937
Com a sade dos pais declinando, e cada vez mais forado a trabalhar para
sustentar a casa, Ashton-Smith comeou a escrever contos do gnero fantstico, visando vend-los para as revistas. No se sabe se ele tomou esta
deciso aconselhado por algum ou se recorreu a este expediente por se lembrar de quando, ainda adolescente, vendera contos para revistas. Neste
perodo Smith chegou a terminar mais de cem contos, muitos dos quais se perderam por no terem sido preservados em seus arquivos pessoais e nem
terem sobrevivido os exemplares das revistas onde foram publicados.
Perodo de Artes Plsticas : a partir de 1937
A doena de H. P. Lovecraft (manifestada em 1935) coincide com o incio do
desinteresse de Ashton-Smith pela fico fantstica, ao perceber que no conseguiria obter atravs dela o sonhado acesso ao mundo da literatura profissi-

onal. A partir de 1937, o autor escreve cada vez menos prosa, retorna poesia
(mas sem a qualidade de sua produo inicial) e mergulha fundo na escultura,
que pode ser considerada a sua maior paixo em vida, e a arte na qual foi mais
completamente artista.

A fico fantstica de Clark Ashton-Smith apresenta vrias caractersticas que

a diferem da maioria do gnero. No s pelo passado do autor como poeta,
mas tambm por seu interesse nas artes plsticas. No s ele desenvolveu um
gosto pelas descries detalhadas dos personagens como conseguiu, em
certos momentos, torn-las concretas e inteligveis. Em certos casos, os personagens haviam sido antes criados como peas de escultura. Foi de seus
sonhos e pesadelos, bem como dos delrios de sua doena, que extraiu as imagens que compuseram os personagens e enredos, os segundos to importantes quanto os primeiros para a maioria delas. Entre os cenrios fantsticos
concebidos pelo autor, alguns so particularmente interessantes :
Cenrio e

Obras ambientadas


O planeta
Marte, na
lngua de
seus habitantes

Vulthoom, O
Habitante do
Habismo, As Criptas
de Yoh-Vombis

Planeta morto ou
decadente, com
muitas runas e
grandes abismos.
Os nomes tendem
a usar muito as
letras V e Y.

Regio no
da Frana

O Fazedor de
Grgulas, A Fera de
Averoigne, A Me dos
Sapos, A Exumao
de Vnus, A
Encantadora de
Sylaire, O Colosso de
Ylourgne, Um
Encontro em
Averoigne, O Fim da
Histria, As
Mandrgoras, A
Santidade de
Azdarac, O Stiro

Regio fictcia de
uma Frana medieval que supostamente foi removida do mundo
real por um
grande trabalho
de magia branca
em certo ponto no
fim da Idade
Mdia, para banir
do mundo fsico o
mal sobrenatural
que l se havia

antes do
avano da

A Chegada do Verme
Branco, A Porta Para
Saturno, UbboSathla, A Histria de
Satampra Zeiros, O
Demnio do Gelo, Os
Sete Gansos, O

Uma regio j fria,

porm ainda habitada por vrias
civilizaes, que
se dedicavam
pesca e ao

calota polar.

Roubo das Trinta e

Nove Cintas, A Sibila
Branca, A Casa de
Haon-Dor, O
Testamento de
Athammaus, A
Estranheza de Avoosl

comrcio martimo.

A "ltima
massa de
terra que
restava da

A Viagem Para
Sfanomo, A Morte
de Malygris, O ltimo
Encantamento, A
Sombra Dupla
Tambm mencionada
em Uma Vindima da

Uma inverossmil
civilizao de tecnologia muito
avanada, mas
presa a uma
massa de terra
que afundava lentamente.

O ltimo
da Terra

O Imprio dos
Necromantes, A Ilha
dos Torturadores, O
Deus Carniceiro, O
dolo Negro, A
Viagem do Rei
Euvoran, O Tecelo
na Cripta, A Bruxaria
de Ulua, Xeethra, O
ltimo Hieroglifo,
Necromancia em
Naat, O Abade Negro
de Puthuum, A Morte
de Ilalotha, O Jardim
de Adompha, O
Senhor dos
Morthylla e A Prole da

Em um futuro
muito distante
(milhes de anos),
os continentes
voltaram a se
reunir em uma
massa nica e
descendentes dos
seres humanos
ainda existem.
Estas histrias
permanecem ao
gnero "terra

Alm dos cenrios acima citados, que foram utilizados em vrias histrias,
Ashton-Smith ainda concebeu outros mundos fantsticos, que no chegou a
aproveitar em mais do que uma histria : Malnant, a terra onrica onde as pessoas expurgam culpas reais ou imaginrias, Yondo, um deserto localizado "
borda" de um mundo e sujeito queda de rochas e seres espaciais, Lophai, o
planeta onde a forma de vida dominante a vegetal, Ydmos, a cidade da
chama cantante, e um mundo rabe baseado nas Mil e Uma Noites, no qual
ambientou sua melhor histria : O Terceiro Episdio de Vathek, desenvolvido a
partir de um fragmento deixado por um autor do sculo XVIII.

Os principais temas da fico fantstica de Ashton-Smith so os comuns a

Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft e alguns outros autores que so comumente
considerados como parte do "Mito de Cthulhu": o conceito de antigas civilizaes terrestres, inclusive algumas anteriores ao ser humano, em contato com
malignas civilizaes aliengenas. Tal mito comeou a se formar a partir de
1926, quando H. P. Lovecraft publicou O Chamado de Cthulhu e incluiu, da
parte de Ashton-Smith, a criao de personagens como o mago Eibon (ou
Evian) e seu Livro de feitiarias e do "deus" Zatthoqqua (ou Tsathoggua). Mas
no podemos reduzir sua obra a este nico aspecto, de fato, a maior parte da
obra de Ashton-Smith quase no tem relao com as de Lovecraft ou Howard.
Isso porque, ao contrrio da maioria dos autores das revistas "pulp", tinha um
grande interesse por sexo.
So vrias as obras de Smith nas quais o sexo, se no aparece de forma explcita (devido ao puritanismo da poca), pelo menos fica subentendido sem possibilidade de outra interpretao. Ao contrrio dos heris masculinos misginos
ou assexuados que frequentam os trabalhos de autores como H. P. Lovecraft,
os personagens de Ashton-Smith se interessam bastante por sexo, sejam eles
protagonistas, como o poeta que se apaixona pela vampiraMorthylla, ou antagonistas, como A Me dos Sapos. As relaes podem ser consumadas, como a
do arquelogo de A Vnus dos Azombeii, que se torna amante de uma rainha
africana, ou idealizadas (O Fazedor de Grgulas), podem ser fruto do amor (Os
Caadores do Alm) ou da violncia (O Beijo de Zorada), pode ser um amor
pecaminoso, como o dos prncipes dO Terceiro Episdio de Vathek, ou pode
ser uma ao deliberada para destruir o amor alheio (O Labirinto de MalDweb). O fato que o sexo ; desejado, consumado ou evitado ; parte significativa dos temas de Ashton-Smith.

Ashton-Smith, j idoso, praticando


Alm do sexo, outro tema muito presente na obra de Ashton-Smith o conceito

da viagem no tempo-espao, que est de acordo com o tipo de ao que
nelas encontrado. Talvez para compensar nunca ter tido ele mesmo a oportuni-

dade de viajar, o autor fez de seus personagens grandes viajantes. Rara a

histria em que o protagonista permanece imvel : em regra ele viaja, e geralmente por meios incomuns (naves espaciais, mquinas do tempo, mquinas
voadoras mgicas) ou por cenrios incomuns (trnsito interdimensional). Seus
contos se caracterizam, em sua maioria, pela ao e pela violncia. Para alm
das mortes de natureza sobrenatural ou de outra forma extraordinria, so inmeras as mortes ocasionadas por acidentes ou pela mo material do homem.
Mas Ashton-Smith no se detm a descrever muito os detalhes desta violncia : interessa-lhe mais o meio pelo qual ela executada do que as peculiaridades do ato em si.
Sobre Clark Ashton-Smith se pode, porm, fazer a mesma crtica do que a direcionada a Lovecraft : a de que seus protagonistas frequentemente so alter
egos do autor. Se em Lovecraft, um amante dos livros e das antiguidades, os
personagens vasculham bibliotecas ou runas arqueolgicas, em Ashton-Smith,
um artista plstico, os personagens so em geral artistas plsticos ou possuem
um temperamento fortemente artstico. Se Lovecraft estava interessado em
palavras poderosas e abstratas para expressar o "inominvel", Ashton-Smith
estava interessado em adjetivos precisos, em um contexto sinestsico, para
transmitir a impresso fragmentria de uma realidade incompreensvel.
Lovecraft parece um fillogo que escreve, Ashton-Smith um pintor que desenha
com vocbulos.
Apesar de toda a amizade que uniu, distncia, os dois autores, a verdade
que existem algumas diferenas de temperamento entre os dois que so muito
pronunciadas. Alm da j mencionada diversidade de abordagem do sexo
(Lovecraft, um puritano que mal tomava conhecimento da figura da mulher em
suas histrias, e Ashton-Smith, um ingnuo que tinha fantasias de todo tipo
com o sexo feminino), os dois autores divergem tambm em sua opinio das
raas estrangeiras. Enquanto Lovecraft temia o contato com o estranho, a
ponto de supor que a simples presena do estrangeiro era uma fonte de corrupo, Smith via no contato com a diversidade uma oportunidade de romper
com a mesmice de sua vida chata e era receptivo, atravs de seus protagonistas, a todo tipo de contato com o aliengena, mesmo quando isso era obviamente perigoso. O protagonista dA Vnus dos Azombeii se torna amante (no
sentido sexual) de uma rainha africana e deseja fugir com ela, em Mudana de
Estrela o protagonista aceita, embevecido, um convite para mudar-se para
outro planeta, o astrlogo Nushaim, dO ltimo Hierglifo, tem por melhor amigo
um velho negro, que por piedade comprou de um mercador de escravos, os
astronautas punidos com o exlio, de Abandonados em Andrmeda, no
hesitam em comer das plantas e animais de um planeta estranho, da mesma
forma que o infeliz explorador terrqueo que tenta fugir dOs Imortais de
Mercrio. Diante de uma trgica mudana para outro planeta, como em A Porta
Para Saturno, os personagens no enlouquecem, mas tentam se adaptar. Se
verdade que a escravido aparece como tema em vrias de suas histrias, ela
sempre vista como um sinal de decadncia do povo que a pratica, geralmente trazendo o seu fim ou causando grandes sofrimentos.
Infelizmente, apesar de toda a originalidade de sua concepo e da qualidade,
embora irregular, de sua prosa, o Clark Ashton-Smith, infelizmente nunca teve

o reconhecimento que o seu talento merecia, e ainda no o tem. Talvez por ter
sido contemporneo de tantos monstros sagrados da literatura de fico cientfica e fantasia em sua era dourada, talvez por seu perfil discreto, ou o seu isolamento no interior da Califrnia, alguma coisa sempre lhe impediu de chegar a
ter o renome dos companheiros que com ele dividiam as pginas das revistas.
Pretendo traduzir algumas de suas obras mais significativas a fim de trazer ao
conhecimento do pblico brasileiro um trabalho que, pelo que sei, no foi at
agora disponibilizado em portugus. Esta pgina ficar como permanente introduo e ndice a esse trabalho sem pressa, que manter um ritmo de pelo
menos uma traduo por ms daqui para a frente.

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