The question isn't about whether REH portrayed racism in his stories, but whether he was racist himself. I think that we know enough about him from his private letters to know that he was.
I think this probably came from his background and the people he spoke to, but also from his reading - there were a lot of 'scientific' (now discredited) racial theories around in those days and these clearly attracted his attention and affected the way he saw history and the world around him. This in turn will have affected some of his writing. If a certain type of viewpoint is 'common sense' in your circle and you read scientific stuff which seems to support it, that view gets reinforced in your mind.
I think that the racism gets in the way of the stories at times: the portrayal of black people just doesn't ring true in some of them. At the end of the day we're just stuck with that, I guess. Noone's perfect.
I think that the "Vale of Lost Women" is a very powerful story, but also a disturbing one as we get to see Conan and his world from the point of view of someone with 'civilised' values. Also, I wonder why Conan couldn't have struck some kind of deal with Bajujh to rescue Livia out rather than wiping the whole village out. I mean, in Speelie's comparison, this would be a war crime, wouldn't it?
A difficult issue, really, as I can't stand racism, but it's not going to stop me reading Robert E Howard and H P Lovecraft! As long as you know what you're reading, I don't think there's a problem: it's when people say they can't see it that I get a little bothered.
Edited by Mikey_C, 28 September 2005 - 04:53 PM.