Thursday, March 19, 2020

Clark Ashton Smith and Middle-earth

So, recently Doug Anderson's TOLKIEN AND FANTASY blog  had an interesting piece up that explored the question of whether Clark Ashton Smith, the best writer of Lovecraft's WEIRD TALES circle, ever read Tolkien.*

Certainly the timing makes this possible, since THE LORD OF THE RINGS was published in 1954 to 1956 and Smith died in 1961. And now Doug has dug up an interview from 2005 in which a friend of Smith's affirms that Smith did indeed read at least some Tolkien (THE HOBBIT and part of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING). The problem is that the witness (now deceased) may be conflating his own opinions with Smith's.

So, an interesting bit of evidence we shd be glad to have, so long as we treat it with due caution. Here's the post:

Reading this makes me think now is a good time to read Dale Nelson's piece on the Lovecraft circle and the Inklings, which I had mislaid but recently rediscovered my copy of last week. It being a topic I've long been interested in but have never turned up much information about, there'll probably be another blog post here once I've had time to give DN's piece the careful reading it deserves.

--John R


*At one time I tried to find out whether Fletcher Pratt (d.1956), Lord Dunsany (d.1957), or James Branch Cabell (d.1958) ever read Tolkien and came up with mixed results: almost certainly not in the case of Pratt, unknown but I think not for Dunsany, and possible but very unlikely in the case of Cabell (despite Edmund Wilson's attempts to interest him in the book).


Paul W said...

Can you give us information on where to find this? "Dale Nelson's piece on the Lovecraft circle and the Inklings" I've also always been interested in that topic!

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Paul W.

I haven't had a chance to put up my post yet, but Dale Nelson's article can be found in MALLORN issue 59 (Winter 2018), pages 18 through 32, making it quite a substantial piece. The full title is 'The Lovecraft Circle and the Inklings: They "Mythopoeic Gift" of H. P. Lovecraft'

--John R.

Paul W said...

Many thanks!

Paul W said...

While doing more research on this I came across an interesting discussion on The Eldritch Dark started by the articles author, if you haven't seen it i tohught you might like to look it over.,11749

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Paul

Thanks for the link.

In answer to the question poses in that forum, I have to say any listing of core Lovecraft stories about the Mythos that excludes THE CALL OF CTHULHU is severely flawed by the exclusion.

It may not be Lovecraft's best story but it is the quintessential Mythos tale and the most representative of Lovecraft's stories.