Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Robert E. Howard Did More Than Just Create Conan

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A worthy read…

Read at Joe's

rehfence REH in a pensive mood

Today marks the 107th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Howard, the quintessential American pulp author best-known for creating Conan the Barbarian.

REH, as he known to fans, had an incredibly prolific and all-too-short career lasting from roughly 1929-’36. His powerful, evocative writing has always been an influence on my own writing, almost as much as H.P. Lovecraft. Like Lovecraft, Howard had a talent for painting lush, detailed scenes in only a few evocative words — although literary critics like S.T. Joshi dismissed REH’s prose as “subliterary hackwork that does not even begin to approach genuine literature.”

But, hey, Howard did much more than unleash a barbarian on pop culture. He helped shape modern pop culture by fathering the “sword and sorcery” subgenre of fantasy and contributing to Lovecraft’s horror mythos. Howard came up with a number of other vivid characters…

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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Robert E. Howard Did More Than Just Create Conan

  1. I did not have a very high opinion of Joshi’s literary criticism even before seeing that quote of his above. “Subliterary hackwork,” eh?
    The very definition of a hack is that he writes without passion, puts none of himself into his work, takes the money and runs. None of this applies to REH. I’m a lot more inclined to take my own evaluation of REH’s work. And H.P. Lovecraft’s, come to that. Lovecraft called Howard a genuine artist, and said it was a crying shame he died so young when so many sorry third-raters continued to flourish.

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    • Joshi’s opinions are, sometimes, baffling.
      And I agree about your definition of hack – and it does not apply to REH. He certainly wrote to pay the bills, but that’s not a sin in itself.

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