Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Aquisitions

Over the last 4 or 5 months I have collected a few new REH items of interest.



From the top left . . .

From the Memories of Men by Tevis Clyde Smith (autographed)
This book is a self-published book from Smith, the book is about Brown and other Central Texas Counties, from the frontier days to the time of publication.. It also deals a bit with the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic people who built that part of the country (according to Smith).

Frontier's Generation by Tevis Clyde Smith. This book is, as the subtitle suggests, The Pioneer History of Brown County with Sidelights on the Surrounding Territory. There is a nice section in the back devoted solely to Robert E. Howard. This work is a very detailed history of the Brown County area with some excellent pictures.

The top right . . .

The Cimmerian Vol. 5 Nos. 1-6
It's unfortunate that this journal is no longer being published. There are some great articles/essays from both Howard fans and scholars alike.

Bottom left . . .

The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard: Index and Addenda edited by Bobbie Derie. If you own the Three Volume set of the Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, then you will not want to be without this added volume. It is a fairly exhaustive subject index to those letters with new letters added. This book was a godsend for my research in the collected letters. It certainly made finding things way easier!

Bottom right . . .

So Far the Poet & Other Writings By Tevis Clyde Smith (edited by Rob Roehm) According to the REH Foundation, "This collection contains all of the known pieces that Smith wrote about Howard, contributed to Howard fan publications, or co-authored with Howard. It also contains many of the pieces Smith wrote while Howard was still alive, items from The Tattler, Daniel Baker Collegian, The Junto, Dallas Morning News (one including a reference to Howard), contributions to Truett Vinson’s Lone Scout publication, The Toreador, and the few surviving letters from Smith to Howard, several presented here for the first time. Snippets from Howard’s correspondence and quotes from Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, Howard’s semi-autobiographical novel,are provided to give context."

Most of these items were purchased over the last 5 or 6 months of research I've been doing for an upcoming article for REHupa. All these items are well worth tracking down if you are a Robert E. Howard reader or fan.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Heroes in the Wind: From Kull to Conan Part 1

This is an article I wrote for REHupa #250. The article takes John Clute's introduction from the book Robert E. Howard: Heroes in the Wind, From Kull to Conan and dissects the problems I think arise and also takes Clute to task for his assessment of Howard and his work in an otherwise excellent primary anthology of Robert E. Howard's works. 

Over-all I do not disagree with much of what Clute says about Howard in this introduction, but I do take issue with the way in which he says it. My article examines why Clute uses such stilted verbiage in his introduction but also examines and assesses why Clute has so many confusing analogies/metaphors along with what I think is an underlying pejorative tone about Howard and his work. I'll admit my assessment is a little on the critical side but in my opinion quite warranted.

As an aside, this article was never intended to be a warning to anyone against buying Heroes in the Wind. The works of Howard that Clute included seem to be well thought out and I do think he made some great choices. My intent is to simply point out where I think Clute dropped the ball in introducing Robert E. Howard to the general public. With that in mind . . . 

________________


Albert Einstein once said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Those words have a strong ring of truth to them. My not-as-famous step-father , who was a teacher for 47 years, once told me, “It’s easy to take something simple and make it difficult.” Indeed, it is. Couple these quotes and you’ve got a nice simple summation of John Clute’s introduction to the European Penguin Modern Classic volume titled Robert E. Howard: Heroes in the Wind: From Kull to Conan.
In various literary respects the Europeans often times seem to be a few steps ahead of the U.S.. This volume is a prime example of this. There has yet to be an academic publisher like Penguin Classics or Library of America publish a compilation of Robert E. Howard’s primary works in the U.S.. So when I spotted this volume in my local independent bookstore I was beside myself. Naturally, I snatch the book off the shelf. As I thumbed through the contents I knew right away I already had every story between the book’s covers. However, the author of the introduction caught my eye—John Clute.
John Clute is a Canadian born author and New York University graduate who has made a strong name for himself in the critical arena of science fiction. He is widely known in science fiction and fantasy circles for co-editing the Hugo Awarding winning titles The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. He is also the author of the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Clute has garnered both praise and criticism within his chosen genre. Both with equal tenacity from fans and scholars.
There is no question that John Clute is an expert of science fiction and fantasy. His critical works and the breadth of his knowledge in these genres have been widely recognized. For these reasons I can understand why the editors at Penguin allowed him to put this volume together and write its introduction. However, John Clute is not a Robert E. Howard scholar. A fan perhaps, his introduction bears as much, but certainly not an REH scholar. Even though I had other copies of the stories from Howard in this volume, it was Clute’s introduction that compelled me to buy the book. And it is this same introduction that has compelled me to write this response.


The first few lines of Clute’s introduction are as follows: “In the end it may boil down to a question of trust. How could anyone in this seared and wary day and age ever trust Robert E. Howard enough to read him?” (Clute, i) This, of course, is a simple ploy to catch the reader’s attention. In this same vein Clute continues, “He [Howard] was ignorant: a Texas boy who hadn’t seen much more of the world than the handscrabble plains surrounding the early twentieth-century small towns he lived in all his life.” (Clute i). Anyone who has even the remotest inkling of knowledge about the history of REH publications and their introductions will slowly begin to see who this smacks of: L. Sprague de Camp. However, despite the similarities Clute moves forward in his literary ploy. I’ll not argue whether the literary ploy works or not. Personally I think it is effective, though wrong-headed. Regardless, after the ploy Clute launches into a whirlwind of confusing allegories and metaphors to detail the impact of Robert E. Howard’s works not only on Clute’s experience of Howard but what Clute seems to think will also impact other Howard readers. This is where the trouble begins.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Jim & Ruth Keegan's Two-Gun Blog: The Mystery of the Lincoln Stones [UPDATED]

Jim & Ruth Keegan's Two-Gun Blog: The Mystery of the Lincoln Stones [UPDATED]

Here's a very interesting article on Jim and Ruth Keegan's blog about a trip that Robert E. Howard and Truett Vinson took to Lincoln, NM. If you read their article you'll see that it pivot's around their recreating that trip in their The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob. Stone markers were never mentioned in Robert E. Howard's accounts of that visit. If you're interested in reading REH's account there are two places you can currently read it: The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard and/or A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.

The account is relayed by Robert E. Howard to H.P. Lovecraft. I'll be discussing that account in some detail in an upcoming article I'm writing for REHupa. 


On that trip Howard mailed a postcard of the famous Billy the Kid picture to August Derleth and wrote on the postcard: "This card was purchased in Lincoln, N.M. from a descendant of a participant in the Bloody Lincoln County War."

Robert and Truett pretty much walked the entire area of the twon of Lincoln, NM. Had those stones from the Keegan article been there, I'm quite convinced Howard would have mentioned them in his correspondence.

Anyway, if you have the time, click on the link above and read the Keegan article. It's quite fascinating.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Argosy


For the last three months I've been doing a tremendous amount of research on Billy the Kid and Robert E. Howard. Some of this research involves where REH possibly obtained a particular book. While pouring through the The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, I discovered that REH would frequently order books from a bookstore in New York City called Argosy. (Pictured above)

As it turns out, that bookstore is still in business today. According to a brief history from their website, 
"Argosy Book Store, founded in 1925, is now in its third generation of family ownership. Our enormous stock of antiquarian and out-of-print items fills a six-floor building in midtown Manhattan and a large warehouse in Brooklyn. We specialize in Americana, modern first editions, autographs, art, antique maps & prints, and the history of science & medicine. We also have thousands of books in all other fields of interest. We are founding members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, and we belong to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers and the Appraisers Association of America."
My guess is that REH began ordering from their catalog around mid to late 1928, or early 1929. Howard mentions the bookstore in a letter to his friend Tevis Clyde Smith. In the letter Howard is a bit disgruntled at Argosy for not sending him their latest catalog. He talks about them as if he has been doing regular business with them for some time. 
"I don't suppose you've seen anything of the Junto. I haven't. The Argosy pipple [sic - intentional as REH is playfully joking through this entire letter] enrage me highly by their damned discriminating attitude. I haven't gotten their latest catalogue no more as nothing. They always send their other customers theirs before they send me one." (The Collected Letters, Vol. 2, 30)
This weekend kicks off World Book Day, which technically begins today and lasts until March 6th, I thought it quite appropriate to mention Argosy, an independent bookstore that has survived for over 90 years, and other independent bookstores across the U.S. and in the world. Considering that Howard was located in the middle of "nowhere, TX" having access to a New York bookstore through mail order was huge in his day. 

It's nice to know that there is a bookstore that Robert E. Howard shopped at via snail mail that still exists today.