Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dead Man’s Hate by Robert E. Howard

They hanged John Farrel in the dawn amid the marketplace;
At dusk came Adam Brand to him and spat upon his face.
"Ho neighbors all," spake Adam Brand, "see ye John Farrel's fate! 
"Tis proven here a hempen noose is stronger than man's hate!

For heard ye not John Farrel's vow to be avenged upon me
Come life or death? See how he hangs high on the gallows tree!"
Yet never a word the people spoke, in fear and wild surprise-
For the grisly corpse raised up its head and stared with sightless eyes,
And with strange motions, slow and stiff, pointed at Adam Brand
And clambered down the gibbet tree, the noose within its hand.
With gaping mouth stood Adam Brand like a statue carved of stone,
Till the dead man laid a clammy hand hard on his shoulder bone.
Then Adam shrieked like a soul in hell; the red blood left his face
And he reeled away in a drunken run through the screaming market place;
And close behind, the dead man came with a face like a mummy's mask,
And the dead joints cracked and the stiff legs creaked with their unwonted task.
Men fled before the flying twain or shrank with bated breath,
And they saw on the face of Adam Brand the seal set there by death.
He reeled on buckling legs that failed, yet on and on he fled;
So through the shuddering market-place, the dying fled the dead.
At the riverside fell Adam Brand with a scream that rent the skies;
Across him fell John Farrel's corpse, nor ever the twain did rise.
There was no wound on Adam Brand but his brow was cold and damp,
For the fear of death had blown out his life as a witch blows out a lamp.
His lips were writhed in a horrid grin like a fiend's on Satan's coals,
And the men that looked on his face that day, his stare still haunts their souls.
Such was the fate of Adam Brand, a strange, unearthly fate;
For stronger than death or hempen noose are the fires of a dead man's hate.
[Happy Halloween All]

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Good Deed for Howard Fans, Howard Days, and Project Pride

Tom Reinhart; Writer, Nice Guy, Loyal Friend, Troublemaker, has announced, "From now until next June when I leave for Howard Days, 100% of the proceeds from HEGEMONIAN sales will go to Project Pride and the REH Foundation for the upkeep of Robert’s home. I will gladly turn over those financial statements to Project Pride for verification. It’s not Harry Potter money, but it’s what I have, and would be honored to give."

By buying Tom's book, you not only get a nice Conan (Sword & Sorcery) pastiche, but you also help support the Robert E. Howard House & Museum and Project Pride. If you'd like to help out and purchase Tom's book feel free to go here to get a copy . . .

Thanks, Tom. 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Advocating the Need for Critical Research: Robert E. Howard in Academia by Todd B. Vick

When I first read Tower of the Elephant back in 1981[1], I never imagined that 34 years later I'd be reading that work again with a critical mind and, using it as resource material for an upcoming article about Conan the Cimmerian for the 2016 PCA/ACA (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association) conference in Seattle, Washington. But over the last 34 years, that is exactly where Robert E. Howard’s stories have migrated—to critical academic studies. In too many ways, this trend has been slower than a snail traveling through peanut butter. Additionally, many Howard fans have resisted the transition of their favorite author being placed under the academic microscope; sometimes with ardent vituperation against such a thing.

But, studying Howard and his works is, perhaps, not the ruination many have claimed it might be. In fact, I’m fairly confident the opposite will occur. REH criticism and studies will only elevate Howard to 1) a larger and broader audience, and 2) to greater opportunities for more material being published about Howard and his works, thus making the man and his work more important. More important than what, you might ask? The hard and fast answer: more important than being merely delegated to a hack pulp fiction writer. Robert E. Howard is anything but a hack writer. Of course, not all of Howard’s material is actually worthy of academic consideration, but a lot of it is. Additionally, there is a long history of pulp (popular) writers who have transitioned from being called “hacks” to being studied: Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, and many others.

Marquette University
When I entered Marquette University back in August of 2001 to work on a Ph.D in philosophy, the graduate school had one professor who was in the process of getting a book published titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale.[2] At the time I thought that was rather strange. Here I had just wrapped up my Master’s degree, was entering into a prestigious university to complete my education on what I considered a serious field of study and one of my professors was working on the philosophical aspects of a comic book character/television show. At the time I honestly thought this was crazy, but when he later told me that there was a whole branch of popular culture studies doing that very thing (PCA/ACA), and it was gaining in popularity, I stopped to ponder the possibilities. Years later, in 2012, when I attended my first Robert E. Howard Days and Jeff Shanks discussed his recent trek to the latest PCA/ACA conference, my ears immediately perked up. I remembered what my former professor told me back at Marquette. I got excited. Here was a great way to dig my heals into something I had been interested in since back in 1981 when I first encountered The Tower of the Elephant. I must admit, it has been an uphill climb ever since.

Here’s what I mean by uphill climb. I went home from that 2012 REH Days and began to try and dig up academic material on/about Robert E. Howard. At the time, there was scant material available. What was previous published several decades ago was difficult to find. When I did manage to find it, the sellers asked for enormous amounts of money. Bottom line: it was very frustrating. So, I did what any hardcore fan would do, I kept searching. I hoped that eventually I would encounter a listing for one of the half dozen academic books that had actually been published since 1984. Sure enough, I ran into an inexpensive copy of The Dark Barbarian edited by Don Herron. When the book arrived, it was not what the seller had advertized, so I quickly complained and ended up getting the book for free. That was a nice break. The book that was sent to me was an ex-library copy. Let me stress this: An EX-LIBRARY copy. The library was getting rid of it probably because it had not been checked out in a decade or longer. While I was happy to get a copy of the book, the fact that the Tacoma Public Library was getting rid of it was a good sign that it was 1) outdated, and 2) no longer being checked out or used. I say all that to say this.

From 1984 to 2012 when I first began searching for academic material on Howard, only a handful of material had been “published.” I put published in quotation marks because much of that material was published independently and not widely available. In 2012 when I began looking, here’s what was available[3]:

  1. The Dark Barbarian edited by Don Herron. This book is the granddaddy of REH criticism. I’m using the term granddaddy in the sense that it is the first and oldest academic work out there (published in 1984). Many libraries are now selling their copies off. Since 2012, I’ve seen dozens of other ex-library copies at various online book seller’s sites. While this book is very important, it is also old for an academic book. Since 1984 there has been so much more information uncovered and written about Robert E. Howard (especially from 2012 to the time of this article in 2015). This means that this book is 1) becoming more and more outdated and thus in several ways obsolete, and is 2) in need of a revision or an updated version with newly written material.
  2. Cromlech: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Criticism edited by Marc A. Cersini & Charles Hoffman. This series (which only includes 3 volumes over a three year period) was first published in 1985. It was, however, published independently and is extremely difficult to find today. The first volume of this series actually contains what is considered to be the first academic essay[4] ever written[5] on/about one of Robert E. Howard’s characters—Conan the Cimmerian. This series ended after volume three was published in 1988.
  3. The Dark Man Journal: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies edited by Rusty Burke. This academic journal was the brainchild of Rusty Burke with the help of Marc Michaud. Unfortunately, the journal was not well received by fans when it was first released back in 1990. That’s correct, REH fandom lamented that this type of academic journal would be the ruin of Robert E. Howard. Fortunately (no surprise at all) that never happened and the Journal, under the editorial work of Mark Hall, is still alive and kicking today. Also, back issues are fairly easy to find, and you can usually get them for about $5.00 to $10.00.
All the above, along with a few intentionally unmentionable works prior to 1984, were what fans and would-be-scholars of REH had to work with from 1984 to 1990 (and pretty much into the early 2000s). Each of these works are important in their own way but are scarce (or very expensive) and a bit dated for academic works. Moreover, if you go to a university library or public library you’ll be out of luck.[6] As for biographies about Howard, only three existed from 1976 to 1986 that could actually be called biographies: The Last Celt edited by Glenn Lord, Dark Valley Destiny by L. Sprague de Camp, and One Who Walked Alone by Novalyne Price Ellis. From 1986 until 2006 no other biographies existed (except for a brief biography by Rusty Burke). Then, in 2006 (20 years after Novalyne Price Ellis’ One Who Walked Alone) Mark Finn published Blood & Thunder: The Life & Art of Robert E. Howard. The biographical arena for REH Studies is still very much wide open and in great need of additional attention.

Additionally, about a decade or so ago, as everyone should know, Del Rey published eleven volumes of Robert E. Howard’s work. All of these works were published in their original publication format and each edition included nice introductions and appendices with academic essays. Moreover, the Del Rey series in itself was an academic achievement and to that end are crucial in furthering REH studies[7].  So, getting Howard’s primary works is quite easy. But, secondary works, which is what many scholars also use when doing research, are hard to come by. Fortunately, this scarcity and difficulty is slowly changing. Since my first visit to REH Days in 2012, several academic collections that include works on/about Robert E. Howard have been published. All of these are readily available at any university or public library (esp. through interlibrary loan).

Since 2012, these are the academic collections that have included works on/about Robert E. Howard:
  1. Pulp Fiction of the 1920s and 1930s (Critical Insights) edited by Gary Hoppenstand. This work actually contains a wide variety of essays (chapters) on various pulp fiction writers and a wide variety of topics. Jeff Shanks has an article in this collection titled History, Horror, and Heroic Fantasy: Robert E. Howard and the Creation of the Sword-and-Sorcery Subgenre. I recently managed to find a copy for a meager $13.95 from an online seller. However, you don’t even have to buy this book since it is fairly easy to get a reading copy (bound or ebook) through interlibrary loan.
  2. Undead in the West I & Undead in the West II edited by Cynthia J. Miller & A. Bowden Van Riper. Both these volumes cover all kinds of weird western works from the pulps and otherwise. Jefferey Shanks and Mark Finn have a collaborated essay (chapter) in volume two titled Vaqueros and Vampires in the Pulps: Robert E. Howard and the Dawn of the Undead West. Once again, I managed to find both these volumes for just under $30.00 each. But both are available in university and public libraries.
  3. Conan Meets The Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian edited by Jonan Pridas. This edition is one of the first academic works to solely focus on Howard’s character, Conan the Cimmerian. Jeff Shanks & Frank Coffman (mainstays in REH studies) have chapters in this volume. The book covers a wide variety of topics from Hyborian Age archaeology to Statistics in the Hyborian Age (Stylometry in REH’s stories) to issues of masculinity and video gaming.
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and the Birth of Modern Fantasy by Deke Parsons.  This work is a part of the “Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy” series (47) and takes a look at the birth of modern fantasy via Tolkien and Howard.
  5. Race and Popular Fantasy Literature by Helen Young. I have only read the first chapter of this work, but it is available at the University of Texas at Arlington library (and other university libraries as well), so I’ll be reading the full book soon. Young deals with the issue of race in the works of Howard and Tolkien.
  6. The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales: The Evolution of Modern Fantasy and Horror edited by Justin Everett and Jeffrey H. Shanks. This is a newly published collection of academic essays on the history of Weird Tales (the pulp magazine) and its authors (e.g. H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith). Topics range from the first decade of Weird Tales, the Lovecraft circle, to Lovecraft and postmodernism and world building and gender studies in Weird Tales. 

The above are six (actually #2 counts as two, so seven) good examples of newly published academic works in REH (and Weird Tales) studies that have been published since 2012.[8] I am sure I have missed a few. The good news is, this list will only continue to grow. Even so, the crucial element in academic works is their easy availability. Do university and public libraries have them on their shelves, or at least have the ability to get them? The broader a works availability, the more often it will be accessed and used (cited from).

Moreover, as all the above six (actually seven) volumes have been published, the Dark Man Journal also continues to be published. But, as with any good peer reviewed academic journal, The Dark Man Journal needs to be listed on JSTOR (short for Journal Storage). The last time I checked on their site, it was not present. Why is this important? For two reasons: first, all university libraries access this site, and second, the public also has access to the site now. Back when I was at Marquette, JSTOR could only be accessed by universities, that has changed since then. This is also one of the go to places for academic research using journals, and there are millions of academic journals out there. Once The Dark Man Journal is on JSTOR, that will help open a larger door for a solid academic reference for REH Studies.[9]

A few months back several other things happened in the arena of REH Studies that is a plus. First, The Dark Barbarian & The Barbaric Triumph were put in eBook format.[10] While this will make it much more affordable for interested parties to obtain a copy, it still does not help those two works presence in university or public libraries. Most university students doing research will track a book through their library first. Plus, Don Herron did not update or improve either of the two volumes. Second, Brian Leno, who used to post regularly on the Two-GunRaconteur (TGR) website,[11] also released an eBook of some of his best material[12] titled Lovecraft’s Southern Vacation: A Robert E. Howard LitCrit Triple Punch Pack. I recently ordered a copy and look forward to reading its contents.[13]

So, all in all, REH studies & criticism is on the rise. A lot of first rate material is being released, and I know there will be even more in the future. And, despite the naysayers, these kinds of work will only increase Howard’s popularity amongst readers who may have never heard of him nor read any of his works. But more importantly, REH Studies will also help insure that future readers and researchers will be established to help carry the works of the Texas tale-spinner into the future.


[1] I first read Tower of the Elephant from an Ace paperback edition titled Conan with Frank Frazetta's cover art for the story Rogues in the House. Howard, Robert E., De Camp L. Sprague, and Lin Carter. Conan. New York: Ace, 1967. Print.
[2] South, James B., ed. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Chicago: Open Court, 2003.
[3] I use “available” loosely here, since most of this material was next to impossible to find.
[4] Conan the Existential by Charles Hoffman. An interesting fact, Charles Hoffman was the guest speaker at my first REH Days back in 2012. He discussed this work in detail in one of his panels. This led me to track down the Cromlech 3 volume set. It took me 2 years to actually find a copy of the set.
[5] It could be debated that the first real academic essay ever to be written on/about Robert E. Howard (or one of his characters) belongs to P. Schuyler Miller and John D. Clark, Ph.D. titled A Probable Outline of Conan’s Career published in 1938. A copy of that essay can be obtained through Jeffrey Shanks’ Skelos Press (
[6] With the exception of The Dark Barbarian. However, several libraries told me they no longer had a copy (I’m sure they sold theirs) and they were not able to get it via interlibrary loan due to it becoming scarcer.
[7] Easily accessible primary materials are crucial in any academic endeavor. The Del Rey collection did a fine job of replacing the older Lancer/Ace works and pastiches (and the various textual interpolations).
[8] I should note here that back in 2008, S.T. Joshi published a work titled Barbarism vs. Civilization: Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft in Their Correspondence. This article first appeared in the journal Studies in the Fantastic No. 1, Summer 2008.
[9] From my understanding, or at least I’ve heard it through the grapevine, Mark Hall is in the process of getting The Dark Man Journal on JSTOR.
[10] These two works can be purchased together strictly on Kindle eReaders.
[11] From my understanding, Brian has recently requested his material be removed from TGR. This is quite unfortunate, especially since he seemed to have a fairly solid following on that site. I used to read his material faithfully at TGR.
[12] You can get this latest release only on Kindle eReaders.
[13] I cannot speak of its academic prowess, but all the previous essays I’ve read from Brian Leno have been first rate and well worth reading.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Underwood No. 5 has a New Facebook Page & Other News in REH Fandom . . .

On An Underwood No. 5 has a Facebook page! Yes, I broke down and decided to start a Facebook page for the social media connection. The post already have a Facebook "like" button at the end of each, so why not just get a full-blown Facebook page for this site?

The Robert E. Howard Foundation (REHF) is announcing upcoming big changes! They have not revealed what these changes are but apparently they have revamped their membership to account for some new things coming down the pike. REHF has also added a free membership level, and they also offer three types of premium levels.

Membership Levels for the REHF

Now on sale! THE HYBORIAN GAZETTE # 1. The first official fanzine from The International Robert E. Howard Fan Association!

94 pages of stories, articles, poetry and illustrations.

$18.00 (U.S./ Canada)

£10.00 (U.K.)

The Hyborian Gazette is now on sale. This is a fanzine that came out of the Facebook group, The International Robert E. Howard Fan Association. This is a Facebook group that currently has 5,819 members as of this post. 

Included in this first issue - works from Tim Marion, the founder of The Robert E. Howard United Press Association (REHupa), REH scholar Jeffrey Shanks, Lin Carter, Glen Usher, and more! Orders for the Hyborian Gazette can be ordered through Steve at the Carnelian Press Facebook Page.

I have already ordered mine and will provide more information about this fanzine when it arrives.

In the arena of Academia, Justin Everett and Jeffrey Shanks recently edited a very nice volume titled The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales.  Here is a peak at the Table of Contents:

Introduction: Weird Tales—Discourse Community and Genre Nexus (Justin Everett and Jeffrey Shanks)


Chapter 1: "Something that swayed as if in unison": The Artistic Authenticity of Weird Tales in the Interwar Periodical Culture of Modernism - Jason Ray Carney
Chapter 2: Weird Modernism: Literary Modernism in the First Decade of Weird Tales - Jonas Prida
Chapter 3: “Against the Complacency of an Orthodox Sun-Dweller”: The Lovecraft Circle and the “Weird Class” - Daniel Nyikos
Chapter 4: Strange Collaborations: Shared Authorship and Weird Tales - Nicole Emmelhainz
Chapter 5: Gothic to Cosmic: Sword and Sorcery Fiction in Weird Tales - Morgan Holmes


Chapter 6: A Nameless Horror: Madness and Metamorphosis in H.P. Lovecraft and Post-modernism - Clancy Smith
Chapter 7: Great Phallic Monoliths: Lovecraft and Sexuality - Bobby Derie
Chapter 8: Evolutionary Otherness: Anthropological Anxiety in Robert E. Howard’s “Worms of the Earth” - Jeffrey Shanks
Chapter 9: Eugenic Thought in the Works of Robert E. Howard - Justin Everett
Chapter 10: Pegasus Unbridled: Clark Ashton Smith and the Ghettoization of the Fantastic - Scott Connors
Chapter 11: “A Round Cipher”: Word-Building and World-Building in the Weird Works of Clark Ashton Smith - Geoffrey Reiter
Chapter 12: C. L. Moore and M. Brundage: Competing Femininities in the October, 1934 Issue of Weird Tales - Jonathan Helland
Chapter 13: Psycho-ology 101: Incipient Madness in the Weird Tales of Robert Bloch - Paul Shovlin
Chapter 14: “To Hell and Gone”: Harold Lawlor’s Self-Effacing Pulp Metafiction - Sidney Sondergard


About the Editors and Contributors

The book has a fairly steep price tag, but then again most academic books do. The publisher—Rowan & Littlefield—have sent me a review copy of the book, so  I will be reviewing the book here at Underwood as soon as I finish reading it.

That's everything for now. Cheers!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Barbarism and Civilization in the Letters of REH and HPL (Part 4), by David Piske

Three years into their written correspondence, and nearly one year into their debate on barbarism and civilization, the proportions of the "controversy" between Robert E. Howard (REH) and H.P. Lovecraft (HPL) expands with each exchange of letters. As the controversy advances, and at times intensifies, secondary topics that began without any intended connection to the debate become more and more directed toward this one issue, to the point that sometimes in discussing them, either the criticism or the defense of civilization is explicitly mentioned by one or the other. This is especially the case in their conversations about the relative value of the mind vs. the body, of art and intellect vs. other human endeavors (especially contrasting creativity and commerce), and the extent of human freedom and the degree to which different types of societies allow for it.

Letter 82: REH to HPL (June 15, 1933)

REH opens the current letter expressing happiness that they have come to terms with their apparently merely semantic argument about the value of the mental and the physic. Though with regard to the value of art, REH yet has much to argue, taking a decidedly commercial stand. He claims that the reason he writes as a profession is not out of a desire to create, but because of the money, and the freedom writing affords him. He respects that the joy of creativity can be "the breath of life" for artists, but denies a special status for creativity for its own sake, or to recognize special privileges for those engaged in it. Further, while he denies being an anti-intellectual, he refuses to "indiscriminately worship" intellectuals (592). And he admits to resenting the "sneers of the sophisticated" and hating anything that reflects a "supercilious viewpoint" (594). He denies special privilege and judges men on their merits alone:
"A man is only a man, regardless of how many books he has read, or written. Neither wealth nor erudition gives him any more fundamental rights than is due any man. That’s why I love the memory of the frontier; there a man was not judged by what he had or what he knew, but by what he was" (594).
Here, perhaps, REH demonstrates some vulnerability. The detestation and hatred which he admits to feeling seems to be born out of the sting of some slight, whether real or perceived. As he says, "I’ll be damned if I can see any reason why they should be loved and worshiped by the people they flay as boobs, morons and fools" (592). It seems only natural, then, that REH would long to return to a state in which his qualities would be recognized and valued, rather than criticized and depreciated.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Swift Prose, Stunning Narrative, and A Twist Ending: A Clever Weird Western from Robert E. Howard by Todd Vick

Illustration by Greg Staples from The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard

 All three of the most prominent Weird Tales authors appeared in the July 1933 Weird Tales, cover art by Margaret Brundage. That particular issue contained two H.P. Lovecraft stories: The Horror in the Museum (with Hazel Heald) and The Dreams in the Witch-House (cover story), along with Clark Ashton Smith’s Ubbo-Sathla. Needless to say, Lovecraft’s The Dreams in the Witch-House garnered all the attention from this issue. In The Eyrie (the reader's discussion forum at the back of each issue) of subsequent issues this particular Lovecraft story was the most discussed and complimented from that July issue. However, sitting indiscriminately and internally unillustrated was a short story by Robert E. Howard titled The Man on the Ground.

Even though Robert E. Howard is most widely known for his action packed heroic adventure stories, he wrote some extremely interesting weird westerns and horror stories. Some of these weird westerns and horror stories are, in my estimation, the best stories Howard ever wrote. The Man on the Ground (MotG) is one such story.

MotG is a brief short story set in Texas about two men (Cal Reynolds & Esau Brill) who have been feuding so long no one really knows how their feud began. At just under 2200 words the story is one of Howard’s shortest, but also one of his best narratives. It contains precise descriptive detail, wastes no words, and flows smoothly with a powerful prose. The reader, during the first paragraph, is immediately drawn into the action. This is how the story begins:
Cal Reynolds shifted his tobacco quid to the other side of his mouth as he squinted down the dull blue barrel of his Winchester. His jaws worked methodically, their movement ceasing as he found his bead. He froze into rigid immobility; then his finger hooked on the trigger. The crack of the shot sent the echoes rattling among the hills, and like a louder echo came an answering shot. Reynolds flinched down, flattening his rangy body against the earth, swearing softly. A gray flake jumped from one of the rocks near his head, the ricocheting bullet whining off into space. Reynolds involuntarily shivered. The sound was as deadly as the singing of an unseen rattler. (Howard, The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard  360)
July 1933
One of the key ingredients of the first paragraph is that even though it’s highly descriptive, it raises a number of questions in the mind of its reader. Who or what is Reynolds shooting at? Who is shooting back? Why is Reynolds shooting? Is this a battle? Did Reynolds hit his target and there are others surrounding him? All these questions and the descriptive way in which Howard paints the beginning scene clearly indicates that Howard has deeply hooked his reader. 

The story contains much of the things Howard loves from the old west. There are also actual elements from historical feuds, like the Lincoln County War. In fact, in this story Howard mentions that both his two main characters rustled cattle from the other’s boss, all part of the ongoing feud. This was one of the very things that started the Lincoln County Wars and Howard incorporates that into this story. In addition, Howard seems to mimic a style of writing he had been recently reading from Walter Noble Burns’ book titled The Saga of Billy the Kid (SBK). The narrative in MotG is similar to SBK in that the sentences are shorter and direct, much akin to Burns’ style. A style that Howard had not typically used in his other stories until reading Burns. The story also contains gunfighters who were always of strong interest to Howard. And, interestingly enough, Howard inserts a jab against civilization, something he was often prone to do in his Conan yarns. That jab can be seen here:
“They had fought to a bloody gasping deadlock, and neither had felt any desire to 'shake hands and make up.' That is a hypocrisy developed in civilization, where men have no stomach for fighting to the death.”
Robert E. Howard
It should also be pointed out that during the writing and publication of MotG, Howard was knee deep in a debate with Lovecraft regarding the issue of Barbarism versus Civilization. A discussion which frequently made its way into Howard’s stories. Add all these elements together and you get a fast paced, direct and stunningly narrated short story that pulls no punches. Additionally, due to this recently attempted swifter prose, Howard was able to tell a brief story in a strongly captivating way. 

Howard, in a letter to August Derleth, before the story was published, declares that he likes the story because of its strong elements of realism (The Collected Letters Vols. 1-3, 3.93). Apparently, Howard had sent the story to Derleth in order to get his opinion about it. Derleth loved the story and complimented it, perhaps compelling Howard to submit it to Weird Tales.

 At first, the narrative seems like a standard western story, but as the story develops, and the action strengthens, Howard uses a clever twist ending quickly turning this otherwise standard western into a weird western. This story would certainly work well in a high school literature class due to its style, historical setting/elements, sharp narrative, driving prose, and literary devices. If you have not read the story, then I highly recommend it as one of Howard’s best short stories.