Sunday, October 23, 2011

CAS illos for "The Lurking Fear"


I don't think I have posted these illustrations that Clark Ashton Smith composed for the Home Brew appearance of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear."  These are some nasty (i.e. sexual) looking trees.  Their trunks seem to me quite like some of the line work of Aubrey Beardsley.  I find them rather wonderful.

Some have claimed that Lovecraft was not a "sexual" writer, as opposed to Smith (who was so sexual that editors demanded toning down of many of his tales, some of which were later published by Necronomicon Press in their The Unexpurgated Clark Ashton Smith series of chapbooks).  There are, of course, extremely blatant sexual touches in Lovecraft's fiction, wherein mortal souls cross ye rim and copulate with the Outside.  These sexual situations in Lovecraft seem tied to his abhorrent racism, but they make for potent horror.

Can we assess Lovecraft's sexuality from his fiction?  I don't think so.  Some have suggested that HPL's tales reveal his latent homosexuality, for we find close male bonding, one man describing another's masculine beauty, and (in "The Lurking Fear") husky dudes sharing the same bed.  Lovecraft was homophobic, detesting queens such as myself, effeminate men, while admiring male beauty if he found it noble, intellectual, and masculine.   I don't know.  What do Shakespeare's sonnets tell us of the poet's sexuality, if anything?  The very erotic portions of the sonnets are clearly heterosexual.  I don't think, if one didn't know I was queer, that one could guess my sexuality from my last book, Some Unknown Gulf of Night, because its most explicit eroticism is mostly heterosexual. 

I was really back to reading CAS when I thought I was going to write a book inspired by his work.  But then I realised that I didn't have what it takes, as an artist, to write such a book--not yet, anyway, so I set Smith aside and worked on other things.  Now I have a hankering to return to Smith and relish his eroticism.


3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for posting these, Wilum. I've been looking for these particular illustrations for years.

    "I was really back to reading CAS when I thought I was going to write a book inspired by his work. But then I realised that I didn't have what it takes, as an artist, to write such a book--not yet, anyway, so I set Smith aside and worked on other things."

    Understandable that you would feel that way; Smith's a tough act to follow.

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  3. Wow. Those are fantastic. I've read Smith and Lovecraft's correspondence, including discussion of Smith's art (and Lovecraft's amusing assertion that of _course_ Loveman would see phallic imagery), but I'd never seen that particular illustration before. Thanks for posting it.

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