Today, birthday 107 for Robert E. Howard, had he lived so long. Gone, not forgotten.
I was reminded when payment rolled in a couple of hours ago for a reprint of my essay “The Dark Barbarian” — but this time it’ll be in German, for some upcoming anthology of Howard stories from Festa Press. A nice coincidence, even better if they timed the payment to show up today.
Twenty-nine years after first hitting print, that essay rides on. Cool.
Which also reminds me, I should update some previous REH bits on the blog. The race to see which book on REH by academics — hence my standard donkey race imagery, to conjure the appropriate mood — has been won!!!
In November last year the book Conan Meets the Academy announced that copies were for sale, and some people have reported having the book in hand. End of story. Maybe other books by academics will appear (though if I were you, I would not hold my breath while waiting for them), maybe not.
I suppose the question remains about whether the new book is particularly good, other than just being academic — which suggests it won’t be a hot read. I’m not racing to buy a copy, and the general plan is to let Howard fan Brian Leno get one and report back whether it’s worth having. At one time Brian was a Howard completist and had to get any new book about Howard, but recent dud litcrit anthologies have made him wary, so it may take him awhile. If he does get a copy, he’s welcome to review it here or over in his regular blogging gig at Two-Gun Raconteur, let us know what is what.
Also, one of the professors who shows up in Conan Meets the Academy — Frank Coffman — has sort of written the essay “The Bright Barbarian” — or the first part of a massive series detailing every “bright” description in every Conan story. Or something. This effort is meant to counterpoint “The Dark Barbarian” (Frank apparently did a simplistic reading of my essay, so he thinks that any “bright” image contradicts my theme — but since he doesn’t use footnotes after he has said time after time that any good academic essay must have footnotes, I’m not sure if he’s serious or not).
But if you have any interest, check it out. Howard fans might find it somewhat amusing, regular people surfing in looking for Willeford or Jim Tully or Tom Kakonis or other literary stuff probably shouldn’t bother. Needless to say, I don’t think “The Bright Barbarian” will be showing up in German translation in thirty years, but as a fannish exercise, what the hell.
(I will say that if you get to the poem by Frank titled “The Bright Barbarian” at the very end, you’ll find the most un-Howardian sentiments from a supposed Howard fan I’ve ever seen — Howard was and is The Dark Barbarian That Towers Over All, now at a century and counting.)