Through him mortal men are famed or unfamed, sung or unsung alike, as great Zeus wills.
This book, and the excellent essays within, were the first to take Robert E. Howard and his work seriously and to consider Robert E.
Howard a major literary figure. Don Herron sprung upon the REH scene with his article, "Conan vs Conantics" -- known as being the first knock-down, drag-out round in the battle against the imitations.
In he published the seminal book, The Dark Barbarian. Herron have also appeared in The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E.
Howard Studies, numerous Robert E. Recently, he wrote Willeforda biography of crime writer Charles Willeford.
In addition to authoring numerous books, he has been written up in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and hundreds of other publications.
Howard fans and scholars will be happy to know that The Dark Barbarian is now back in print as a trade paperback and The Barbaric Triumph, a sequel to the The Dark Barbarian, has just been published -- both from Wildside Press. I am the Dark Barbarian That towers over all.
Howard of Cross Plains, Texas, created one of the great mythic figures in modern popular culture, the Dark Barbarian. The inherent appeal of this character has generated a major sub-genre of the fantastic, the Sword-and-Sorcery or heroic fantasy tale, and put Howard in the select ranks of the literary legend-makers: Tolkien, and Ian Fleming.
The characters and set pieces these writers created persist in the public imagination -- not only persist, in memory, in print and on the screen, but have assumed truly legendary stature in our culture. Shelley in Frankenstein and Stoker in Dracula each embodied Horror forever in a name; while Lovecraft in his tales of Cthulhu, Arkham, and the Necronomicon later gave supernatural terror a knowing mythological authority that invoked all earlier horror fiction even as he looked aeons ahead to unimaginable terrors awaiting humankind in cosmic space.
Burroughs presented the definitive Jungle Hero, Tarzan. When Lord Greystoke sheds the trappings of civilization to roam Africa in loincloth and knife as Tarzan of the Apes, a more barbaric image would be difficult to create. The fact that he usurped the swordplay from Dumas and a good measure of supernatural horror from Lovecraft added to the distinction.
Yet the overriding difference is in mood and philosophy. The famous lines at the end of the Conan story "Beyond the Black River" epigrammatize this philosophy: Barbarism is the natural state of mankind.
It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph. Beyond the Black River the barbarians wait their chance to rush in. His artistic leanings toward the poetic and the romantic, his compulsion for violence, his interests in history, myth and adventure all fell easily into this shadow of barbarism.
As Howard wrote to Lovecraft early in I have lived in the Southwest all my life, yet most of my dreams are laid in cold, giant lands of icy wastes and gloomy skies, and of wild, windswept fens and wilderness over which sweep great sea-winds, and which are inhabited by shock-headed savages with light fierce eyes.
With the exception of one dream, I am never, in these dreams of ancient times, a civilized man. Always I am the barbarian, the skin-clad, tousle-haired, light-eyed wild man, armed with a rude axe or sword, fighting the elements and wild beasts, or grappling with armored hosts marching with the tread of civilized discipline, from fallow fruitful lands and walled cities.
This is reflected in my writings, too, for when I begin a tale of old times, I always find myself instinctively arrayed on the side of the barbarian, against the powers of organized civilization. The entrenched Romans hold their own, but realize they will succumb eventually to exhaustion in the face of the day-and-night assault.
The officers of the legion decide to counterattack, storming with all troops out the sally ports and slaughtering one third of the barbarians. The remaining barbarians, Price observes, prove their superiority to the Romans by outrunning them and escaping with their lives.
Conans all, they were not. Incomparably drilled and disciplined, the Roman legionary almost always made hash of his foes, until the society which had produced him rotted away.
In medieval England, every yeoman of military age was required by law to have a longbow and spend a set number of hours per week practicing with it.
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