It seems to be a time of wrapping up reading projects. With this, I’ve read – if not reviewed – all of Clark Ashton Smith’s fiction except for his juvenile novel The Black Diamonds.
Review: The Miscellaneous Writings of Clark Ashton Smith, eds. Scott Connors and Ron Hilger, 2011.
Obviously, with a title like that, you’re not going to get a lot of top of the line Clark Ashton Smith fiction here. For that, you need to get Night Shade Books’ five volume set of his stories. (I’ve reviewed volumes 1, 2, 4, and 5.) But, if you’re a Smith completist or even just a fan like me, you will want this book. Not only does it have reprints of rare Smith items, but it also prints, for the first time, several of his works.
Editors Scott Connors and Ron Hilger’s able “Foreword” has several surprises. It seems “The Abominations of Yondo” in 1925 was not Smith’s first published fiction or even his first fantastic fiction. It also gives a reason why Smith stopped submitting stories to Weird Tales magazine. It changed ownership in 1938, and, in an interview, the new owner, William J. Delaney, said he didn’t want “nasty” stories that left a “sickish feeling in the reader”, and no more stories where characters spent a lot of time talking in “French, German, Latin, etc”. Now, he may have been thinking of Smith for the “nasty” stories (the interviewer thinks Delaney was thinking of Smith’s “The Coming of the White Worm”), but I’m pretty sure it was Smith he was thinking of in the third banned category: “stories wherein the reader must constantly consult an unabridged dictionary”.
It seems that Smith eventually entered into a partnership with E. Hoffman Price. Smith would provide one of his unpublished manuscripts, and Price would modify it, and they would split the sales proceeds with Price taking two-thirds.
Donald Sidney-Fryer is the closest thing we have to a literary biographer of Smith as well as compiling bibliographies on Smith. He actually met Smith in 1958 and remained Smith’s friend until his death in 1961. His “Introduction: The Sorcerer Departs” was written in 1963 since Sidney-Fryer was worried Smith would be forgotten. This is the third reprinting of it since then.Continue reading