The highly regarded Penguin Classics line — which scholars and teachers love to rely on when drawing up things like course reading lists — has been slow to embrace pulp writers, and especially pulp fantasy writers. But in the last decade or so they’ve been correcting that oversight, starting with Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, Oct. 1999, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, Oct. 2001, and more.) They’ve done a little better with other fantasy writers, including Lord Dunsany (In the Land of Time: And Other Fantasy Tales, February 2004), Arthur Machen, Shirley Jackson, M. R. James, and others.
Much of this has been the result of the efforts of editor S.T. Joshi, who now brings Penguin Classics their very first pulp sword & sorcery collection, gathering together the best work of the great Clark Ashton Smith.
Called “unexcelled by any other writer, dead or living” by H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, a prolific poet, amateur philosopher, bizarre sculptor, and unmatched storyteller, simply wrote like no one else. Now, The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies, the much-awaited collection of poetry and prose from Clark Ashton Smith, introduces him into the Classics as a cosmic master artist who saw horror and wonder in all things, and in whose pen note a single sentence was safe.
This collection of his very best tales and poems, selected and introduced by supernatural literature scholar S.T. Joshi, allows readers to encounter Smith’s visionary brand of fantastical, phtantasmagorical worlds, each one filled with invention, terror, and a superlative sense of metaphysical wonder. The volume’s title story — a revenge tale that ends with macrocosmic stallions returning to trample a house they had formerly spared — is set in Smith’s Zothique story circle, in which the last inhabited continent on Earth watches humanity at the end-time regress to a pre-modern state.
The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies was published by Penguin Books on March 25. It is 370 pages — including 32 pages of Explanatory Notes on the stories by Joshi — and priced at $16 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition.