Sunday, May 3, 2009

10 Books A Day: #14

Boxing Stories...Robert E. Howard...Bison Books/University Of Nebraska Press

The Best Of Robert E. Howard Volume I: Crimson Shadows...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

The Best Of Robert E. Howard Volume II: Grim Lands...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

The Conquering Sword Of Conan...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

The Bloody Crown Of Conan...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

Kull: Exile Of Atlantis...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

Bran Mak Morn: The Last King...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

The Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard...Robert E. Howard...Del Rey

I didn't realize until I came to make this list that I had ten other trade paperback copies of Howard's work. The "Best Of" volumes contain short stories of various kinds; the three volumes on Conan contain all Howard's work on his barbarian creation; Kull is Conan's precursor both in Howard's Hyborian World and in creation; Bran Mak Morn is the last Pictish king in the time of the Roman invasion of Britain; and Solomon Kane is the Puritan adventurer who gets to have one of the greatest operatic lines Howard ever wrote: "Some fires may be hotter than others, but all flames-save those of Hell-may be quenched in blood!" The Del Rey volumes are all illustrated throughout by modern artists, but in the pulp style.

Howard is a fascinating study of contradictory characteristics. As a writer in a small town in the "wilderness" of Texas, he had neither the resources of a "civilized" city to draw on or the unlimited free frontier of which he dreamed. He admired "urbane" writers like H. P. Lovecraft and James Branch Cabell, but struggled to create his own flexible, snappy, modern style. A man who lived by his own romantic code of honor, and believed that in the end if it could not be defended by less "sophisticated" minds it must still be upheld by brawn and blood if felt in the heart. This is, I believe, a peculiarly acute Texan characteristic, and does not always endear us to the rest of the world; it can be seen today, I think, in the attitudes of Hank Hill on King of the Hill.


AlanDP said...

I've always liked that photo. He looks like some kind of small-time gangster who still gets called "Bubba" by the people in his home town.

Good observation regarding Texas and Hank Hill.

John said...

Wasn't there a movie based on his romantic life? I think it starred Vincent D'Nofrio.

Brer said...

"The Whole Wide World", 1996, D'Nofrio and Renee Zellweger.