Some days ago I finished reading the collected stories of Clark Ashton Smith. I had already fallen under the spell of his fantasies when I was a teenager, and eagerly devoured the few paperback anthologies of his work I could get. The sorcerous and exquisite prose, the dark and poetical atmosphere of his tales, have never left me. But getting to read at last this complete ouvre has been a profoundly disturbing and beautiful exprerience. When I conceived the visuals of the sinister and, hopefully, captivating world of the Maralha, the dear shade of Klarkash-Ton (as his friend Howard Phillips Lovecraft playfully dubbed him) was looking over my shoulder. Or so I would love to believe.
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