The Return of the Sorcerer

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"The Return of the Sorcerer" is a horror short story by Clark Ashton Smith, first published in Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror in September 1931.[1] The story ties in to H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos due to its references to Lovecraft's invented book of occult lore the Necronomicon. It tells of one Mr. Ogden being hired by scholarly recluse John Carnby to translate passages from the Necronomicon.[2]

According to The Complete H.P. Lovecraft Filmography, "The Return of the Sorcerer" is the first published story by a writer other than Lovecraft to adopt the Cthulhu cosmology.[3] (This is incorrect, however, since Frank Belknap Long included a quote from the Necronomicon in his The Space-Eaters in 1928.) It is the title story of Robert Weinberg's anthology of Smith's short fiction, The Return of the Sorcerer: The Best of Clark Ashton Smith. In a review of the August Derleth anthology Sleep No More, New York Times reviewer Orvile Prescott commented that the story "skates perilously close to parody of its own genre" but "should upset even hardened stomachs."[4] A New York Times review of Out of Space and Time praised "The Return of the Sorcerer" as one of the best stories in the volume, "partly because it is one of the least overwritten".[5] Jason Colavito singled it out in his horror genre study Knowing Fear as a standout amongst Smith's horror stories.[6]

"The Return of the Sorcerer" was adapted as an episode of the television series Night Gallery starring Vincent Price (as John Carnby) and Bill Bixby (as Noel Evans in Mr. Ogden's role). It was also adapted for radio in an episode starring Tucker Smallwood and Ron Bottitta produced for the revival of the classic radio series Suspense, which premiered on Sirius XM Radio in November 2012.

In August 2010, Finnish progressive rock band Orne and Rochester-based doom metal band Blizaro released a split 7" record based on the Night Gallery episode.


  1. ^ Smith, Don G. (2006). H.P. Lovecraft in Popular Culture. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-7864-2091-9. 
  2. ^ Steve Behrends. Clark Ashton Smith (Starmont Reader's Guide 49). Mercer Is, WA: Starmont House, 1990, pp 67-68.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Charles P. (2001). The Complete H.P. Lovecraft Filmography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 6. ISBN 0-313-31641-4. 
  4. ^ Prescott, Orville (31 January 1945). "Books of the Times". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Field, Louise Maunsell (9 August 1942). "Tales of Horror: Out of Space and Time". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Colavito, Jason (2008). Knowing Fear: Science, Knowledge and the Development of the Horror Genre. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 193. ISBN 0-7864-3273-X. 

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