Sunday, February 24, 2019

Conan and Jirel: Robert E. Howard and C. L. Moore Part Two by Bobby Derie

Dec. '34 WT
Jirel’s first adventure was quickly followed up by a second; “Black God’s Shadow” appeared in the Dec 1934 Weird Tales. The cover, and vote for most popular story of the issue, however both went to Robert E. Howard for the Conan story “A Witch Shall Be Born.” Lovecraft considered it a “good second.” (LRS 41, ES 2.671, cf. LFB 248) Clark Ashton Smith, too, was tiring of her a little. (CAS 262) Praise for Moore, and comparisons with Howard and his creations, continued in the “Eyrie”:
Now about this latest bombshell to burst so suddenly and astoundingly in our horror-seeking midst: C. L. Moore. More power to you! You have introduced a refreshing, vitally alive, human character whose actions are presented to us in a very capable, wholly artistic way. With Smith, Williamson, Howard and Merritt, you now hold a much-deserved place of honor at the ladder's top rung.—Louis C. Smith, WT Dec 1934
Of all the different characters I have read in numerous magazines, there are none that appeal to me as do Northwest Smith and Conan.—Bert Felsburg, WT Dec 1934
Conan vile, C. L. Moore splendid.—Robert Bloch, WT Dec 1934
'Tis with unholy glee that I read your announcement about the new serial; to wit, The People of the Black Circle, by Robert E. Howard. I always thought that the Conan stories were all too short, so you can imagine what a treat in store that is. Perhaps, some day, my other bosom pal, Northwest Smith, will appear in a book-length novel too.
—D. de Woronin, WT Dec 1934
I (and I'm sure many others) want to hear a great deal more of Jirel. She's the kind of person I'd like to be myself. A sort of feminine version of Conan the Cimmerian. He, too, is one of my favorites.
—Mary A. Conklin, WT Dec 1934
The character of Jirel may become as famous to us as Conan. I vote her first place.—Claude H. Cameron, WT Jan 1935
The praise was not unanimous however; one reader in particular wrote in:
The Black God's Kiss was by far the poorest C. L. Moore story yet. The first three of C. L. Moore's tales were excellent, but the last two were rather pediculous.—Fred Anger, WT Dec 1934
William Frederick Anger was one of the correspondents of H. P. Lovecraft, who felt the need to reply in private:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Conan and Jirel: Robert E. Howard and C. L. Moore Part One by Bobby Derie

The peak was reached in 1933, when he handed me something by one C. L. Moore. 
“Read this!” he commanded, the moment I stepped into the new editorial rooms at 840 North Michigan Avenue, in Chicago. 
I obeyed. The story commanded my attention. There was no escape. I forgot that I needed food and drink—I’d driven a long way. [...] The stranger’s narrative prevailed until, finally, I drew a deep breath, exhaled, flipped the last sheet to the back of the pack, and looked again at the by-line. Never heard of it before. 
“For Christ’s sweet sake, who and what is this C. L. Moore?” 
He wagged his head, gave me an I-told-you-so-grimace. 
We declared C. L. Moore day. I’d met Northwest Smith, and Shambleau. (BOD 16, cf.261)
C.L. Moore
Catherine Lucille Moore (1911-1987) was an employee at the Fletcher Trust Company in her native Indianapolis, Indiana, and engaged to be married. Shortly after entering first grade, illness forced her to return home, and she did not re-enter school until the fifth grade. (Shroyer 162) Taught at home, Moore absorbed the Oz books of L. Frank Baum, Alice in Wonderland, and the Mars and Tarzan novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. (Ross 326, Elliot 46, Roark 27) As she later put it:
I was reared on a diet of Greek mythology, Oz books and Edgar Rice Burroughs, so you can see I never had a chance. (EV2 36)
Along with reading, the young woman also began to write:
What happened was that I had a cousin with whom I was very close, and we used to make up romantic tales of mythical kingdoms. We would take long, long walks in the neighborhood under the trees—it was a lovely time in the world to be alive—and we each worked out our own fantasy kingdom with dashing young heroes and lots of swashbuckling adventure. Then we began separately to write it out. It was not anything that either of us considered offering for publication; it never occurred to us. (Ross 326) 
Ever since we were about nine a friend and I have been evolving a romantic island kingdom and populating it with a race which, inevitably, is a remnant of Atlanteans. We've a very detailed theology and mythology, maps all water-colored and scroll-bordered and everything, a ruling house whose geneology and family tree and so forth has been worked out in tables and charts from the year minus—oh, just about everything that two imaginative girls could think of over the space of fifteen years. [...] We have songs and long sagas of heroes, and a literature full of tradition and legends, and we even made and colored a series of paper dolls to illustrate the different types and their costumes, and then there were wars and plans of battle, and we have the maps of all our favorite cities, and we've written a good deal of history. And that history is what I take seriously. 
We centered on a favorite period, around 1200-1250, and the history gradually became the biography of the outstanding man of that generation, and for the past ten years at least I have been writing, off and on, about this rather picaresque hero and his adventures. [...] And of course a lot of it is romantically school-girlish, and a lot full of undergraduate tragic, because it's grown up with me and has a long way to grow up yet. [...] The hero's name was Dalmar j'Penyra, and he had red hair and black eyes and was a pirate and a duke and a mighty lover and quite invincibile in anything he chose to undertake. How we used to thrill over his escapades. he died in 1256, at the age of 35 (that seemed to us the absolute ultimate at which a man might remain even remotely interesting) and almost wept whenever we thought about it.
—C. L. Moore to R. H. Barlow, 10 Sep-9 Oct 1934 (cf. LCM 89-94)
After high school, Moore entered Indiana University, “with art school and business college filling in summer vacations,” but was forced by the Great Depression to quit school after three semesters and find work. (Roark 26, EV2 36) It was then in 1931 that she found her first pulp magazine, Amazing Stories “whose cover portrayed six-armed men battling to the death”—the September issue—at a newsstand across from where she worked. (Elliot 45, cf. EV2 37)
From that moment on, I was a convert. A whole new field of literature opened up before my eyes. (EV2 37)
C. L. Moore began reading pulps on the sly: