Algernon Blackwood and Clark Ashton Smith

Fried Egg

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It isn't only that; it is that -- Silence's exposition aside -- , the protagonist was always fated to be a part of this; it is the inevitability of it all, his being a reincarnated spirit of one of the celebrants.
I guess I preferred the way a similar theme was handled in Jack Williamson's "Darker than you think".

Anyway, my criticism is only very minor. Overall it was an excellent story.
 

Fried Egg

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In honour of the original idea behind this thread, I am about to embark upon a similar exercise; I shall read two collections in parellel, one by Blackwood and one by Smith.

From Blackwood I am going to read "The Lost Valley and other stories". It includes one story I've read before, "The Wendigo", and right now, I'm unsure whether I will re-read it on this occaision. I probably will to see if I enjoy it as much as I did the first time and I hope that the other stories of of the same high standard that I have come to expect from this author.

From Smith I am going to read "Genius Loci". A reprint of the third Arkham House collection of his stories following after "Out of Space and Time" and "Lost Worlds". It's been a while since I've read any Smith but the two previous collections were outstanding so I hope this lives up to my expectations.

All in all, I should be in for a treat or two over the next couple of weeks.
 

neuroticdog

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I recently finished Blackwoods "Incredible Adventures" and enjoyed it immensly! It consists of 3 short stories and 2 novellas and all of them were quite memorable in their own way. His writing, while extremely descriptive and quite "purple" seemed to flow in a rapid and comfortable way. In other words, after realizing that I've just read several pages of psychedlic/halucineginic over the top descriptive prose...I really didn't get that bogged down feeling you get sometimes after reading stuff like that.

Lots of interesting metaphysical, psychological and philosophical themes thoughout about the soul and finding ones-self provided copious food for thought and the subtle horror of "The Damned" where nothing happens, but EVERYTHING is implied was a unique take on a ghost story.
 

blacknorth

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Really loved Blackwood's The Woman's Ghost Story.

I have several of his volumes and dip in and out of them as the mood takes me.
 

Fried Egg

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I recently finished Blackwoods "Incredible Adventures" and enjoyed it immensly! It consists of 3 short stories and 2 novellas and all of them were quite memorable in their own way. His writing, while extremely descriptive and quite "purple" seemed to flow in a rapid and comfortable way. In other words, after realizing that I've just read several pages of psychedlic/halucineginic over the top descriptive prose...I really didn't get that bogged down feeling you get sometimes after reading stuff like that.
You're not the first person I've heard refer to his writing as "purple" but I must admit that it never struck me in that way. I was suprised at how clear and easy to read his writing was.

However, you enjoyed it so that's the main thing. The reason you didn't get bogged down in his descriptive passages is because, unlike in the writing of some other authors, they don't actually get in the way of the narrative. Indeed, they are an important part of the way the narrative works in Blackwood's stories. He uses such passages to skillfully build up the mood and atmosphere as well as paint the most vivid pictures.

This is exactly what I'm experiencing in "The Lost Valley" that I'm reading at the moment.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Compared to Lovecraft, Dunsany, and Smith, Blackwood's language is very simple and readable, so it never struck me, either, that his prose was purple. For some readers it might give that impression because it can be so descriptive and the way sentence after sentence builds up and up to some emotional effect ... which is not something to which modern readers are much accustomed. It is, however, one of the reasons why I love his writing so much.

I think that the stories in Incredible Adventures are some of his best. It is a wonderful collection. I am very glad I have it, even though, as I've stated before (perhaps in this very thread), the edition I have is a cheap and badly printed one.
 

Fried Egg

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I think that the stories in Incredible Adventures are some of his best. It is a wonderful collection. I am very glad I have it, even though, as I've stated before (perhaps in this very thread), the edition I have is a cheap and badly printed one.
Ah, thanks for clearing that up for me. I had got the impression that you weren't fond of that collection but re-reading what you said originally, it seems that I mis-read you somewhat and it was quality problems with your particular edition that you were talking about, not the stories themselves.

I am tempted to make that the next collection I obtain from Blackwood's back catalogue.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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My problem with the book is that it looks like someone took advantage of the fact that it's in the public domain and printed up copies in their garage.

I don't mind as much as I might, because I'm not a collector. A Descent Into Egypt is, to my mind, one of Blackwood's best, far better than some of his stories that get all of the attention. I had read it, but I didn't have it. I had never even seen The Regeneration of Lord Ernie anywhere else. So for those two stories alone it was worth the money. And it's not that I don't like the other stories; they just don't happen to be among my favorites. (Although there are some moments in The Damned that are among my favorite passages, I find the ending disappointing.)
 

Fried Egg

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I've finished "The Lost Valley" and was again very impressed with another fine tale from Blackwood.

Now re-reading "The Wendigo" and am realyl enjoying it once again. I just love the way the mingling of beauty, awe and fear is achieved here. Blackwood really transports you to the wilderness and helps you share the character's feelings towards it.
 

neuroticdog

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Being fairly new to all this early 20th century literature, it seems like my perception of "purple" might be skewed. I've never read a word of Lovecraft so...that should be telling. :)

Anyway, Fried Egg...I think you hit the nail right on the head. The highly descriptive passages read very easily and, as Teresa said the writing is very "readable. In contrast, right now I'm nearing the end of A. Merritt's "Metal Monster". I mentioned this in another thread but, I'll say it here as well...his descriptive prose is very over the top and extremely difficult for me to, not only visualize but to even comprehend in parts. So, compared to the Blackwood i've read, this might be considered purple...maybe even ultraviolet. :)
 

J Riff

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Merritt was part of the round robin story - with Lovecraft, Howard, Moore and Long- The Challenge from Beyond.
 

Fried Egg

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It is an interesting excercise, reading collection from these two authors in parallel. It focuses the mind on the contrast between their respective styles.

Smith's wordplay is amazing. His imagery is powerful and evocative. He's concerned with painting scenes with words of that defy description. Far off worlds inhabited by beings so alien that we can barely comprehend them. Alternate dimensions that our senses are ill equiped for sensing. Unimaginable horrors that torture our souls merely to behold them. Smith wants to challange our imaginations to their utmost limits and with his astounding use of words does a great job of it.

Blackwood's style is far more grounded in there here and now of reality and instead seeks to show how terrorfying and overpowering a mere hint of the supernatural can be. To people's everyday and mundane lives he adds just a drop of the paranormal because that is all he needs to embue the story with wonder and awe. His prose is far less dense than Smtihs, almost sparce in comarison. His pace is far more measured, more leisurely. He enjoys gradually and subtly building layers of strangeness so that it creeps up on us almost without our being awares.

Reading them now I am left with the impression that Blackwood's works are of a more consistantly high standard. Well constructed pieces that he seems to have taken great pains to get just how he wanted them. Smith's stories can sometimes feel a little rushed and thrown together, with little time taken to develop the story or characters. But when he gets it right, his stories are truly glorious.

If I only had one word to describe each author?

Clark Ahston Smith: Opalescent.

Algernon Blackwood: Sublime.
 

Fried Egg

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I've just started on "Incredible Adventures" and I must say that it's a pleasure to be once again immersed in his wonderful writing. I shall report back soon when I have read some more...
 

Lobolover

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I've finished "The Lost Valley" and was again very impressed with another fine tale from Blackwood.

Now re-reading "The Wendigo" and am realyl enjoying it once again. I just love the way the mingling of beauty, awe and fear is achieved here. Blackwood really transports you to the wilderness and helps you share the character's feelings towards it.

Sorry for the late response here but as far as Valley is concerned I remember liking it on a literaly level, even in the stories that weren't that weird per se, and was actualy realy fond of the whole thing, though I remember not finding a terrible lot of opinions on it online back in the day.
 

BAYLOR

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The Willows Suggestive and atmospheric and land unsettling and as good just about any kind of horror that Smith could write.
 

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