Tuesday, July 24, 2012

L. Sprague de Camp: Looking Beyond the Hyperbole and Amateur Psychoanalysis to Find the Real Robert E. Howard , Part 3

Despite the fact that L. Sprague de Camp may have made a mess of Howard's reputation as a writer and person, over the past few decades the tides have turned in Howardom research. New fans to Howard's work are certainly blessed to have this new research to begin their journey with REH. In time (and I think it has already made serious strides) the new material will heavily overshadow the de Camp debauchery. I'll list a few of these works a little later in this post. And believe me, they are important works to read.

It must be noted, though, that even though de Camp's works on Howard are no longer in print, they can still be readily found in second-hand bookstores and on the internet. I see them in Half-Price bookstores all the time. This being the case, to dismiss the de Camp legacy merely because one thinks it's "outdated" or "already dealt with" is perhaps to fall prey to the past by forgetting it. I think it's still important that we nourish and present a proper view of Robert E. Howard and if that means continuing to respond to de Camp, then so be it. This is especially true since new works crop up here and there that still maintain de Camp's stain. 

Will the real Robert E. Howard please stand up? As for the new material available, here are some works of paramount importance that provide a fair and honest look into Howard's life:

Blood & Thunder: The Life & Art of Robert E. Howard by Mark Finn 
Mark Finn has written a far better biography of REH than de Camp could ever hope to. I highly recommend it. A new edition of this work (updated, corrected, and contains an additional 32k or so words) is now available at the REH Foundation website.
The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert E. Howard by Glenn Lord 
While this work is currently out of print, it can still be found on the internet. The best place to search for it is Here.
One Who Walked Alone: Robert E. Howard, The Final Years by Novalyne Price Ellis.
This is a good first-hand account of Howard in the latter few years of his life. The film The Whole Wide World is based on this work.
The Man From Cross Plains: A Celebration of Two-Gun Bob Howard edited by Dennis McHaney
This work is a compilation of various REH scholars (including chapters from Patrice Louinet, Glenn Lord, Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Rob Roem, Mark Finn, Chris Gruber, Damon C. Sasser, et al). It can be purchased through Project Pride and the Howard Museum.
Above is simply a few recommendations. There are others out there. If you are reading this post and can recommend works I have not listed, please do so in the comments section of this blog. All of these works, and others, are important in carrying a genuine and honest Howard legacy into the future for upcoming generations.

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