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deuce

"Thurian Age" CoC Adventures: Kull and beyond

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deuce
I've just been looking on Amazon, and I've seen a book called Kull: Exile of Atlantis. Has anyone read this,and is it worth getting a copy ?

 

(I have to ask this - as my 'research' budget is strictly limited :evil: )

 

Hey 'Dame! I suppose it depends on what Kull editions (if any) you have. The worst edition, by far, is the REH/Lin Carter "posthumous collaboration" King Kull (Lancer, 1967). The map is terrible, the "collaborations" are mediocre at best, and you don't know what parts Howard actually wrote. The Bantam Kull is pretty good text-wise, but the map is wildly inaccurate. The Baen edition is also pretty good. However, for fidelity to what REH actually wrote (ie, no editorial interpolations/excisions etc...) Kull: Exile of Atlantis (Del Rey) can't be beat. It also provides previous drafts and some excellent essays. I spoke for several hours with the man who edited the Kull manuscripts, REH scholar Patrice Louinet, down at the WFC in Austin. I was highly impressed by his intelligence and dedication.

 

All that said, while I think that the Del Rey edition is the best overall, the Bantam and Baen editions might be cheaper and are accurate enough for "research" purposes.

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deuce

Though I haven't followed REH fandom in a loooong time (since at

least the mid 80's), the general view is that the 'first generation' of

REH's 'cowriters' (IE, Lin Carter and L. Sprague DeCamp) have

canonaical status as they were working to complete stories that

REH had at least left notes and outlines for, if not whole fragments.

 

Hey MikeC! It's always good to hear from a fellow REH fan (even a "lapsed" one :wink: ). The views on deCamp/Carter (especially deCamp, thanks to his REH bio) have changed drastically in the last 20 yrs. In the mid-80s, deCamp still presided as a kind of self-interested "benevolent" despot over REH fandom, thanks to his editorship of Amra and the fact that he had wrested a "slice" of the REH legal "pie" for himself. However, there were already the rumblings of discontent and revolt in the late 70s. In his "Foreword" and "Afterword" essays for the Berkley Conan editions, Karl Edward Wagner took deCamp to task, pointing out the numerous changes made in the Conan stories (REH's "The Black Stranger" was totally rewritten and its obvious place in the Conan chronology changed, for instance). Don Herron's The Dark Barbarian, containing essays by himself and others, was published in 1984. The first book of REH literary criticism ever published, "TDB" contained Herron's essay, "Conan vs Conantics", which eviscerated deCamp's "contributions" and attitudes regarding Howard's work. Rusty Burke's "An REH Purist Maifesto" essay was finally published in book form in 1997. Y'all can view it for free on the REHupa website. Today, there is only one member of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association (REHupa) that still tries to defend deCamp and his treatment of REH's work.

 

 

Opinions varied as to the quality of these first generation 'completions'

(ISTR that CONAN THE BUCANNEER was particularly noteworthy in

that LSD, a competition fencer, had Conan doing all sorts of very

anachronistic motions during fights), but by and large they hewed

to REH's vision by virtue of working directly from said notes and

outlines. Later contributors, I don't know from, but Robert Jordan's

three Conan novels are being re-released by TOR in an all in one

trade paperback called "THE CONAN CHRONICLES", which I happen

to have on my desk as I type this. Since they seem to be much

leaner than his later WHEEL OF TIME work, I'll probably give them

a read soon and can better judge then, but I remember that my

general impression was that the only Conan stories that ever felt

"right" were REH's originals (...)

 

The sword-style that deCamp gave Conan wasn't so much "anachronistic" (since you basically had Reconqista-era Spaniards in Zingara) as it was unlike the style REH ascribed to Conan. Fencing with a saber is not the same as fighting with a broadsword in hand. Many medieval re-enactors who are also Conan fans have praised the style described by REH. Jordan was deCamp's favorite Conan pasticheur, which I think says something. That said, I enjoyed several of his pastiches. Karl Edward Wagner's Conan pastiche,The Road of Kings, is the best, IMO. John Maddox Roberts' Conan efforts are better than Jordan's also, IMO. The thing with nearly all the Conan pastiches is that they contradict what Howard had to say about Hyborian Age chronology, politics, geography, ethnography, religion etc... I whole-heartedly agree that most of the pastiches utterly fail to capture the "feel" of the REH Conans. KEW and Roberts come the closest. The stuff by Perry, using any sort of yardstick, might as well be happening in another universe with a hero coincidentally having the same name.

 

both Lin Carter was a decent edit and

LSD a great fantasiste in his own right, but they just never seemed

to be able to completely capture the spirit of earnest fun that REH

had.

 

After all I've said above, I'd like to point out that I own substantial collections of both deCamp's and Carter's works. Carter's efforts for The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series would by themselves make him one of the great editors in the history of fantasy publishing. IMO, deCamp was an excellent writer of sci-fi, fantasy and historical fiction/non-fiction. However, my opinion only holds in regard to the fiction deCamp wrote dealing with his own creations. IMO, deCamp was congenitally/constitutionally incapable of wrapping his brain around REH's conceptions of Conan and the Hyborian Age.

 

Even from the very first Conan story, TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT, it

is plain that Conan's world is no mere place of wizards and faeries,

but is deeply steeped in a very Lovecraftian mood of nihilism and

elder survivals.

 

Actually, "TotE" isn't the first Conan yarn. Writing-wise, "Phoenix on the Sword" was the first written. As regards Conan's chronology, it's been shown by Dale Rippke and other REH scholars that "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" was Conan's first adventure after he left Cimmeria. I definitely agree about the "very Lovecraftian mood of nihilism and elder survivals" that pervades most of the REH Conan yarns. :D

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justadame

I shall see if I can find a copy of Kull......

So, are the original unedited, unre-written REH Conan tales published anywhere ? (Other than old copies of Weird Tales of course)

I'm not by nature a purist, but it would be interesting to compare the different versions.

I think anyone running a Thurian/Hyborian scenario or campaign is going to have their own approach, and their own style, (which is a good thing) so flexibility and blank areas the Keeper can fill in for themselves are valuable........

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MikeC

Wow, deuce, you sure know your stuff.

 

But, I have to say that for all his faults WRT REH, DeCamp's

DARK VALLEY DESTINY, for me, forgives quite a lot, as unlike

his biography of Lovecraft, he seemed to be more interested

in the man himself, as opposed to offbase literary criticism.

 

But, I haven't read it in a loong time, and maybe I should

dig it out of my tomb of books along with the REH volumes.

 

MikeC

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Kragarsdad
I shall see if I can find a copy of Kull......

So, are the original unedited, unre-written REH Conan tales published anywhere ? (Other than old copies of Weird Tales of course)

 

Oh, hells yes. Del Rey has been releasing a lot of REH's stories in new collections, including Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, Kull and three volumes of Conan. The releases were started to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his birth a couple of years ago, and they include notes and things at the end. Very nice, and all REH, no pastiche.

 

I picked up the first Conan collection and I was amazed to find out how much REH's writing style seems to be like Lovecraft's. I think the feel of those stories is definitely similar.

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justadame

Just had a look on Del Rey's website, I guess that'll be another half dozen books to get hold of !

This may take some time......

Have to see if Waterstones has them.

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justadame

Ooops ! Just seen the price Waterstones has on them £15 each. Over my budget for the time being. (Funny on the Del Rey site they were $15 each - thats economics for you...)

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cynick
Ooops ! Just seen the price Waterstones has on them £15 each. Over my budget for the time being. (Funny on the Del Rey site they were $15 each - thats economics for you...)

They're all around £7 - £8 from Amazon UK.

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deuce

I'm not by nature a purist, but it would be interesting to compare the different versions.

I think anyone running a Thurian/Hyborian scenario or campaign is going to have their own approach, and their own style, (which is a good thing) so flexibility and blank areas the Keeper can fill in for themselves are valuable........

 

 

Hey 'Dame. I'm not a "purist" either, if that means turning up my nose at all pastiches. Far from it. I own about ten REH pastiche novels and most of Chaosium's "Lovecraft Library" volumes (lots of HPL pastiches in those). On top of that, I own several volumes of HPL pastiches from other publishers. CAS pastiches are rare, but I own a few of those as well.

My attitude regarding "purity" and "pastiches" closely resembles that of Rusty Burke. I'm not going to reiterate his entire "An REH Purist Manifesto" (though it is quite succinct). It's easy enough to find: just google burke + "purist manifesto" :) . To put it very simply, REH, HPL and CAS are dead. Any changes (ie, contradictions to what they indicated their vision of their shared universe was) made after their deaths by anybody, don't count. If Derleth contradicts HPL, that change doesn't "count". There was no flaming Elder Sign in the sky on the road to Milwaukee. There was/is no "new dispensation". If Derleth sites R'lyeh in a different spot than HPL (which he did), R'lyeh stays where HPL put it. If Derleth screwed with something that unambiguous, what else did he screw with? LS deCamp pulled similar shenanigans. That's why Mr. Burke, a long-time REH scholar, felt compelled to pen his manifesto. Mr. deCamp was attempting to have his Conan chronology (shown to be flat-out wrong by REH scholars) and his textual changes to the Conan stories made "official". In effect, he was trying to have Howard's own unaltered writings declared "non-canonical".

 

'Dame, I have no problem with individual approaches when dealing with the Thurian Age or whatever. I'm just saying that a lot of unwarranted changes/innovations have been made that are now considered "gospel". Actually, as far as "flexibility" and "blank areas" are concerned, a "purist" approach provides a lot more opportunities. There has been a lot of ill-considered trash stuck in a lot of "blank areas". Here's your chance to be a pioneer. :)

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justadame

It's a difficult area.

 

I just read on the AMRA site that the original Hawks over Shem story was actually titled by REH as Hawks over Egypt, which I suppose from an original standpoint would mean that that story was not a Conan tale (ie not set in the Hyborian lands).

 

There's a couple of other stories I think which weren't originally written as Conan tales, but which were later edited/written in to the Conan saga.

 

Of course, REH isn't here to say how he feels about it,(nor is LSDC?), so I guess the best course is to enjoy the stories for what they are and adopt the elements which you feel happy with when using them as background for scenarios, etc.

 

Thats the good thing with not having too much detail, like listening to a story on radio or reading a book, you can let your imagination, fill in the blanks, and give you something you like !

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Brother12

How do you feel about Andrew J. Offutt's trilogy

* Conan and the Sorcerer

* The Sword of Skelos

* Conan the Mercenary

I thought it was a worthy addition and didn't do too much harm to REH's vision.

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justadame

I have read the Sword of Skelos, and I enjoyed it, the writing style was okay and the story was plausible to me in the Conan timeline. Whether I would use any of it's ideas in a game, I'm not sure.

But I'm sure like most keepers/gm's I would just use these stories for background colour.

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deuce
There is quite an interesting Thurian era map on the Amra the Lion website, link below:

 

http://www.amrathelion.com/hyborian_map/default.html

 

Interesting, but highly inaccurate. Tim Kirk is a great map artist, but he didn't do his homework. I discuss all the points where Tim contradicted REH here:

 

http://www.conan.com/invboard/index.php?showtopic=3713

 

Amra the Lion used to frequent the REH forum (I suspect mainly to promote his site). A big part of AtL's site is the mongering of "Conan the Barbarian" (the movie) merchandise. I think that says a lot. If anyone thinks that CtB is "accurate/valid", let alone "canonical", I think we've got a lot more discussing to do (though shouldn't all this Conan talk be on the "Hyborean" thread?).

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deuce
The GURPS Conan states the Thurian Continent was the home of several peoples- Kamelia, Valusia, Verulia, Grondar, Thule and Commoria. They had a common language and arose from a common tribe. The Atlantians had a colony on the shores of the Western Ocean and the Picts had a small bit too. The whole area was surrounded by thick jungles inhabited by snake people. The main hero was King Kull of Valusia. Its great age ended with the Cataclysm which sank both Atlantis and the Lemurian Islands and raised a great mountain range in the West of Thuria. all this was about half millenium before the Hyborian Age

B..

 

Hey Gladiator! I haven't owned GURPS Conan in over 10 years, so I'm going to have to assume that your summary is accurate. If so, it demonstrates the pitfalls of relying on second/third/fourth-hand information. As they say,"garbage in, garbage out". Whoever it was at GURPS is obviously paraphrasing REH's The Hyborian Age and doing a poor job of it. There appears to be little or no research into the actual Kull stories.

The nations named (Kamelia, Valusia etc...) are only the Thurian nations, nations after whom the "Thurian Age" is named. That summary doesn't even mention the important non-Thurian states like Zarfhaana, Farsun and Thurania. Those kingdoms play important parts in numerous Kull tales. "Jungles" in no way "surrounded" the Thurian Continent. In fact, jungles are only mentioned in one Kull tale (more or less). The serpent-folk are also only mentioned in one tale. If "in the West of Thuria" means "in the western part of the Thurian Continent", then that also is inaccurate. The mountains heaved up to form a new continent (North America) were the Rocky Mts. That's far, far away from the Eurasia/Africa-centric Thurian/Hyborian landmasses.

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deuce
I shall see if I can find a copy of Kull......

So, are the original unedited, unre-written REH Conan tales published anywhere ? (Other than old copies of Weird Tales of course)

 

Oh, hells yes. Del Rey has been releasing a lot of REH's stories in new collections, including Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, Kull and three volumes of Conan. The releases were started to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his birth a couple of years ago, and they include notes and things at the end. Very nice, and all REH, no pastiche.

 

I picked up the first Conan collection and I was amazed to find out how much REH's writing style seems to be like Lovecraft's. I think the feel of those stories is definitely similar.

 

Thanks for the run-down, Kragarsdad! I thought y'all might like to know that Del Rey is going to release two "Best of REH" volumes and a "Horror" collection. They will be edited by the estimable Mr. Rusty Burke (who has been series editor for all of the Del Rey REH editions).

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Brother12
Whoever it was at GURPS

That would be Curtis M Scott (I stand corrected. Bill Armintrout wrote the follow-up GURPS Conan adventure)

I actually think GURPS CONAN is just about the best Conan reference ever. Maybe we don't care for most of the non REH work (or GURPS) but it would be wrong to make a complete reference works and not refer to them.

 

Anybody read Roy Thomas big Conan book?

 

There is a new series of non-Conan Hyborean age adventure novels....

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deuce

That would be Bill Armintrout the esteemed and respected editor of The Miniatures Page.

I actually think GURPS CONAN is just about the best Conan reference ever. Maybe we don't care for most of the non REH work (or GURPS) but it would be wrong to make a complete reference works and not refer to them.

 

I wasn't aware that Mr. Armintrout wrote that piece. I attended the Capitol Distributors Conference in May, 1990. That was when the big "GURPS Cyberpunk/FBI seizure" uproar was going on. I'd been interested in GURPS for a couple of years at that time (though not Cyberpunk). I was outraged and very sympathetic to the plight of the company. I expressed my support to several people connected to GURPS; Mr. Armintrout may have been one of them (almost 17 yrs ago). Just recently I purchased GURPS' Celtic supplement. Just one of many in the last 15-20 years. So, yes, I do "care for" GURPS and I've recommended it to many people over the years.

 

I also think that GURPS Conan is the best Conan RPG so far, but that is a relative thing. It's understandable why some things were done considering deCamp's position within CPI at that time. However, that "Thurian Age" piece, as given, is inaccurate and its inaccuracy has nothing to with previous pastiche material (though the version of The Hyborian Age that Armintrout consulted was almost undoubtedly the one that deCamp/Carter tampered with/corrupted).

 

Anybody read Roy Thomas big Conan book?

 

I have, and I liked it. Roy Thomas provided my first introduction to REH (CtB#38 ). Roy is a true fan of REH (and HPL and CAS) and a fine comic writer. I spoke to him several times down at Howard Days in Cross Plains last year (he signed my copy of CtB#38 ). A decent, gifted human being.

 

There is a new series of non-Conan Hyborean age adventure novels....

 

Yeah. The "Age of Conan" series from Ace. The Kern novels are wildly inaccurate (poncho-wearing Cimmerian archers) and written in sentence fragments. The Anok novels have magic strewn around like candy and the author feels compelled to spend a chapter recapping what transpired in the chapter before. The "Nermesa" books by Richard Knaak are the best ones by far.

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justadame

Curtis M Scott wrote GURPS Conan.

One of the better GURPS sourcebooks, in my opinion.

I've just dug out my old copy of Thongor and the Wizard of Lemuria, to refresh my memory (yes, I know its a Lin Carter novel).

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deuce
Wow, deuce, you sure know your stuff.

 

But, I have to say that for all his faults WRT REH, DeCamp's

DARK VALLEY DESTINY, for me, forgives quite a lot, as unlike

his biography of Lovecraft, he seemed to be more interested

in the man himself, as opposed to offbase literary criticism.

 

But, I haven't read it in a loong time, and maybe I should

dig it out of my tomb of books along with the REH volumes.

 

MikeC

 

Hey MikeC! Novalyne Price Ellis was Robert's girlfriend. She later went on to teach forensics at the University of Louisiana (she's in the National Forensics Hall of Fame). Novalyne was beloved by her students and when one of them found out she had written a memoir about her and REH (One Who Walked Alone), he wrote a screenplay based on it. That man was Michael Scott Myers, whom I met at Howard Days in June. His screenplay was made into the film, The Whole Wide World. Novalyne said she had written the memoir to set the record straight about REH, since so many (deCamp chief among them) were saying such outlandish things about him. Mrs. Ellis was personally contacted by deCamp. She had nothing good to say about him.

 

Glenn Lord is a legend in REH fandom. Back in the early 50s, through his own substantial efforts and financial outlay, Mr. Lord saved the vast majority of original Howard manuscripts in existence today. I've met Glenn Lord twice, and I can say that he is the finest example of a Texan gentleman. He's never had a good thing to say about Lyon Sprague deCamp.

 

Mark Finn (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Finn ) has written a new REH biography, Blood & Thunder (which is up for a Locus award, amongst others). His bio was written in response to deCamp. He shows pretty conclusively, IMO, how deCamp "filtered" all the data he gathered to support the central thesis of his book. There are also some things that are just flat-out inaccurate/wrong/lies in Dark Valley Destiny. If anyone has an interest in how Robert E. Howard actually lived his life, I highly recommend Mr. Finn's book. I already have my signed copy. :)

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MikeC

Hey MikeC! Novalyne Price Ellis was Robert's girlfriend. She later went on to teach forensics at the University of Louisiana (she's in the National Forensics Hall of Fame). Novalyne was beloved by her students and when one of them found out she had written a memoir about her and REH (One Who Walked Alone), he wrote a screenplay based on it. That man was Michael Scott Myers, whom I met at Howard Days in June. His screenplay was made into the film, The Whole Wide World.

 

Required viewing, to be sure, not just for a fan of REH and WEIRD TALES,

but for anyone who is or was a geek trying to deal with the real world.

Vincent DiNofrio was utterly uncanny as Bob.

 

That said, I don't recall that the REH depicted in TWWW and DVD was

all that inconsistant. As to which one was the 'real' REH, that's pretty

simple:

 

Neither.

 

Novalyne's impression is, doubtless, closer than DeCamp's to

how Bob really was because she was there, and though I don't

want to seem like I'm a fan of DeCamp I feel even his misguided

efforts were of great value in keeping REH's memory alive in the

minds of people who weren't first- or second-generation fans of

the WT ouvre. I did like DARK VALLEY DESTINY, which was for

any faults it may have (and I don't disbelieve you when you say

that), it gave a good overall sense of REH as a misunderstood

and troubled man just as Ms. Price-Ellis' work did.

 

[snip re Glenn Lord and other stuff]

 

Mark Finn (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Finn ) has written a new REH biography, Blood & Thunder (which is up for a Locus award, amongst others). His bio was written in response to deCamp. He shows pretty conclusively, IMO, how deCamp "filtered" all the data he gathered to support the central thesis of his book. There are also some things that are just flat-out inaccurate/wrong/lies in Dark Valley Destiny. If anyone has an interest in how Robert E. Howard actually lived his life, I highly recommend Mr. Finn's book. I already have my signed copy. :)

 

I'll have to pick it up, then, and read it then re-read DARK VALLEY

DESTINY again (Lord, it's got to be 20+ years since I've read it

now that I remember it).

 

And get THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD on DVD while I'm at it.

 

MikeC

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deuce

I definitely agree that Novalyne's isn't the "definitive" word on the subject of REH's life. As you said, that goal is basically not achievable. However, she did actually know him and she had no high opinion of deCamp or his conduct vis a vis REH. Hers isn't the only negative appraisal of deCamp during his "REH bio"-period. Several people he interviewed in the Cross Plains area said the same thing. Some even refused to give another interview, citing LSdC as the reason. It is important to remember that while deCamp was promoting REH he had a definite commercial incentive to do so. By rewriting Howard's Conan yarns he had made himself legally part of the "Conan property". Being "firstest with the mostest" had enabled him to call the shots. Having read thousands of pages of text by and about Sprague, it seems that he was generally a charming, urbane man. He seems to have been a good husband and father. However, when it came to Howard he always seemed to have some sort of underlying condescension/pity/contempt for that "crazy hick writer from the sticks that killed himself" (not a quote). One definitely gets the impression that he thought he had helped REH more than REH had helped him.

 

I bought WWW as soon as it came out. Definitely worth the money. D'Onofrio was absolutely phenomenal. Some nice commentary tracks.

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MikeC

Having read thousands of pages of text by and about Sprague, it seems that he was generally a charming, urbane man. He seems to have been a good husband and father. However, when it came to Howard he always seemed to have some sort of underlying condescension/pity/contempt for that "crazy hick writer from the sticks that killed himself" (not a quote). One definitely gets the impression that he thought he had helped REH more than REH had helped him.

 

Sounds like you nailed DeCamp on the head: he was not an evil

man by any stretch, but he was the epitome of urbane. I had the

pleasure of meeting him socially at Philcon (the Philadelphia SF

Society's annual convention) a couple of times (he lived near

Philadelphia, as I recall), though I never got the chance to talk

with him at any length. I don't doubt that he could be condescending

(or at least come off as seeming so, regardless of how he meant

to be interpreted). We also had a couple of mutual friends, so

perhaps I could be thought of as biased on his behalf, but even

if I am, it is inarguable given what you've said and other things

I've seen and read that his treatment of REH wasn't even-handed.

 

Myself, I feel that if REH had lived, he would have become the

fantasy genre's equivalent to Ernest Hemingway, his prose had

so much power and raw vitality. His obstensibly provincial

upbringing didn't impede his desire to learn of the world in the

best ways available to him, and he had drive enough to be able

to support himself at the depths of the Great Depression solely

by writing. I am still floored by the sheer volume of stuff he

wrote in his all-too-short career, and how much of it was damn

good literature even if it wasn't consciously 'literary', and how

he could put so much thought into certain of his creations

(Like Conan, Kull and Kane) while still being able to turn out

enteratining potboilers almost at the same time in any genre

that would sell.

 

If a writer could have the conceptualization skills of HPL, the vitality

and energy of REH and the wit of CAS, (and Fritz Leiber's skill at

characterization, though CAS was no slouch) they would be the

perfect weird writer in my book.

 

MikeC

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justadame

Do you think perhaps that Novalyne Price Ellis might have felt that REH's penfriends/colleagues could have been more supportive of him during his depression before his death?

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MikeC
Do you think perhaps that Novalyne Price Ellis might have felt that REH's penfriends/colleagues could have been more supportive of him during his depression before his death?

 

Though I'll defer to deuce, to judge from how she was portrayed

in THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD (and let me say that I am no fan of

Renee Zellweger, she was every bit as excellent in her portrayal

as Vincent DiNofrio was), I don't think she or anyone who REH knew

was aware of just what was going on inside his head during his

mother's illness. Then again, I also recall that TWWW telescoped

the later parts of REH's life a bit, and perhaps more details came

out in her book.

 

The movie, as I recall, gives the impression that REH's mother was

an outsized influence on his life & decisions, but that he wasn't

the massive Freudian Complex that earlier scholars like the

previously-argued-over L. Sprague DeCamp claimed.

 

Damn, I REALLY have to re-watch that movie.....

 

MikeC

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