All of the foregoing is but a set-up for what follows, which, as a story, is quite lacking. It was for this reason that the editor of Weird Tales, Farnsworth Wright, rejected "The Last Hieroglyph" not once but twice before finally accepting it. In his second rejection letter, he explained that
Beautiful though many of its passages are, yet there is so little plot, and the motivation seems so inadequate, that I am afraid it would disappoint many of our readers who expect almost perfection itself from you.Wright was a common target of Smith's ire (as he was of Lovecraft's) for being frustratingly critical of his work, but, in truth, Wright's criticisms were often fair ones, as I think they were in this case. That said, even with its weaknesses, "The Last Hieroglyph" is nevertheless an intriguing bit of fiction, since it advances a metaphysical theory of creation wherein all reality is but a reflection of the writing held within the book of the hidden god Vergama.
"In my book," said the cowled figure, "the characters of all things are written and preserved. All visible forms, in the beginning, were but symbols written by me; and at last they shall exist only as the writing of my book. For a season, they issue forth, taking to themselves that which is known as substance ..."Reading this, it's not difficult to imagine that Smith saw himself as Vergama, for surely all the characters and worlds that he created have their origins in symbols written by him and exist only as the writing of his book. If so, it's a feeling that I suspect anyone who's ever created anything of lasting value understands well. It's this, I think, that makes "The Last Hieroglyph" such an interesting and memorable story, despite its technical deficiencies.