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Queen Of The Black Coast


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#21 PainBrush

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 07:44 AM

The greed , betrayal , the race issues etc. that you both mentioned , that's some of those hundred other issues I meant that become apparent . I don't hate this story - even the worst Howards still better than the best pastiche or the hundreds of cheesy fantasy/S.&S. books that seem to flood the market every couple years & usually involve metrosexual heroes , dragons & listless women in/or causing trouble . I was just analyzing why this one is one of my less liked Howard stories . Most of his fiction establishes the characters , their motivations & their environments in a very solid realistic way that allows you the leeway to accept well enough when the really weird or supernatural stuff happens . This story didn't seem to establish anyones character well except Conan , & even then he seems to be only half himself from what we know of him in other stories , like Howards still trying to figure the guy out himself - or stretch who he is beyond who he has been . Conans not the driving force in this story , he's along for the ride - fair & different enough , but nobody else incl. Belit drives the story anywhere worthwhile either , or seems like the type of character who we would let drive . Then it's almost like I anticipate the story to get to the weird rollercoaster ups & downs part so I can forget all that nonsense . I do have to agree , Thomas's Belit in the marvel Conans was a longer running character & did end up seeming more human & not so shady as the original . Even if he did have Conan get a little 'too' involved . If Howard hadn't killed her off in her one story , & if that story was longer also maybe she would have been a more accessible character there too . So all that makes me wonder ( like I always do with his fiction) - if he wrote it all purposely to feel like it does , like some exercise in futility , or indictment against love/passion in that kind of a world ? & did he intend for readers to get some kind of incomplete feeling from it ? It's not possible to completely remove the artist out of the paint , the musician out of the notes or the writer out of the words , maybe it would be interesting to compare things he was dealing with in his own life during the time he wrote this one .

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#22 Mike_The_Barbarian

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 03:34 PM

Most of his fiction establishes the characters , their motivations & their environments in a very solid realistic way that allows you the leeway to accept well enough when the really weird or supernatural stuff happens

.

I actually found the way Conan seems to not ha ve specific aim in this story and the way he jumps ship very strange.

he wrote it all purposely to feel like it does , like some exercise in futility , or indictment against love/passion in that kind of a world ? & did he intend for readers to get some kind of incomplete feeling from it ? It's not possible to completely remove the artist out of the paint , the musician out of the notes or the writer out of the words , maybe it would be interesting to compare things he was dealing with in his own life during the time he wrote this one .


That's actually a very good suggestion. I too felt slightly empty after the end of this story, but perhaps that is what the aim was. Perhaps Howard was trying to relive some kind of funeral or death, in which the end result always leaves emptyness.

Perhaps there was a death of a friend or a particularly rough time with Miss Price at the point in which he wrote this...Not sure. You'd have to get one of the more scolor-like people to check this. :P
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#23 deuce

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 08:38 AM

Well, surgery and funerals interrrupted...
Queen of the Black Coast, Chapter III:

black lotus "trip": In this case, it seems to begin in utter blackness and then moves through Space and Time. (p.138) Did Conan's powerful mind somehow direct the course of his "trip" or was it guided by the necromantic hand of the Winged One?

The Winged Ones: were "cast in the mold of humanity", though they were "not men". "They were winged and of heroic proportions". They were "the ripe blossom on an alien tree" of evolution. The Winged Ones sound a lot like Hunwulf's foe in The Garden of Fear. The tower of the "Winged Gardener" was also built of "green-stone". They built "a huge city of dark green stone" eons before mankind arose. (p.138) This green-stone city is the oldest, by far, that REH ever mentioned. "After uncounted millions of years" there was a pole shift (see below). Once-vast plains became forests and jungle. The coastline seems to have changed somewhat. "Spouting volcanoes...fringed the dark horizons". (p.139) Was there a range of volcanic mountains to the east in Conan's time? The Winged Ones clung to their green-stone city for "reasons inexplicable to humanity".

"The Change": began with the pole shift. After a great earthquake, the Zarkheba ran black. The Winged Ones already "had sunk far below their original level", but the toxic waters of the river began to cause a rapid die-off and mutation amongst the once god-like Winged Ones. After bloody internecine feuds and cannibalism, only One remained. (p.139) From the sound of it, the entire collapse could have taken place in the early Hyborian Age.
"pole shift" (p.139): In 1958, Dr. Charles Hapgood published a book called The Path of the Pole, which expounded his theory on "crustal displacement" (also called "pole shift"). The man who wrote the "Foreword" was none other than Dr. Albert Einstein, who endorsed the theory. Einstein and REH in the same boat...

humans: The first humans to ever "appear" at the city of the Winged Ones were 50 Stygians, not Ku$hites. The Stygians were "pre-historic" archers in copper and leather harness. They were "dark-skinned, hawk-faced men". Just how far had the Stygians declined, technology-wise, on their long trek from eastern "Asia"? The Ku$hites came "up the river" in boats. (p.140) Did the Ku$hites originate in the east, beyond the mountains and then reach the coast north/south of the Winged One's domain? Did they originate in the south and work their way northward? Hints in The Valley of the Worm suggest that the Ku$hites arose in a jungle environment.
"red blossoms": evidently only "bloom but once a century". (p.139) The blooms seem to be integral to the Winged One's necromantic ritual. (p.140) Then again, maybe not. :)
The Winged One: casts "a bat-like shadow", just like Hunwulf's foe. (p.140)
N'Gora: a "giant" sub-chief of the corsairs. (p.141)

Chapter IV:

Belit: is "wrapped in Conan's scarlet cloak" on The Tigress. (p.143) Did Conan have a spare?
The "marble pyramid": of the Winged Ones "was spired by a slim column". (p.134) It "was four-sided" and "carved in broad steps". (p.143) This would appear to be the oldest pyramid on the planet.
"Shemite bow": Belit "taught her pirates to use" this powerful bow (more powerful than the Bossonian bow). (p.143) She seems to be an archer, but not a swordswoman. Quite a few cultures taught their noblewomen archery.
The Well of Skelos: It seems to be "black" and maybe "diabolical". (p.144) I vote for "diabolical". :)

Belit: "shimmering like ivory", stiff-arms the Winged One. (p.146)
the Winged One: died silently. (p.147) Hunwulf's "ebon" foe and the wingless Black Ones also seem to be (basically) "speechless".
The Tigress: had a "silken sail", as befits the funeral ship of a "queen" of corsairs. (p.149)

There's more to this yarn than one might think...

Edited by deuce, 07 April 2008 - 10:56 PM.

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#24 Axerules

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 11:04 AM

About B?lit, the "wildest she-devil unhanged" and her relation with Conan, some of the comments here are insightful. I understand why the story and her character don't work for some of you. I also think the "race issue", the "white goddess" thing and Conan's "passivity" are obvious. I still like this tale. Look at Deuce's notes: there is an incredible amount of background information about the setting in this story. And B?lit remains for me one of REH's most interesting characters, far more than some passive scantily-clad girls.

P.Louinet outlined in Genesis the "undercurrent of sadism", even stronger in the drafts: "Take me and crush me and bruise me with your fierce love !" and: "he felt an impulse to lock his iron fingers in his companion's black locks and subject her person to moderate violence."
Look at the end of the exchange about the gods and afterlife : Conan talked about "the hot embrace of white arms", "I love, I slay, and am content." She then claims loving him. Conan DIDN'T say she loved HER. SHE mentioned HIS "fierce love" for her. Conan seems to have a hard time to express any kind of feelings for the treacherous ruthless "bit?h" with words.

I guess it's difficult for some fans to envision Conan as a sadistic bastard, someone who doesn't abide to an ironclad code of honor or to see a woman leading him by the nose. But come on, man or woman, who among us can say: I never did something stupid and was NEVER, in my whole life, blinded by passion ? Not me.
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#25 amster

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:12 PM

Agreed. It is possible the "race issue" has a lot to do with this. A White godess with her childish black corsairs. If I remember she "let" Conan live and take a leading role only because he was white. Conan became their new master and they just take orders and obey and give their lives to the masters. Maybe I'm a little confused as I've read the original version and the Marvel's one. I think the Marvel version explored the relationship between Belit and the Corsairs in a way we can assume she was seen as a godess, although there were important black characters like M'gora and the old Nyala...if I'm not mistaken. In my opinion this story leaves many questions. Yet it gives us a good insite to Conan's life philosophy. If the story was longer maybe it could be much much better. Maybe one of the most exoctic Conan's stories for the readers of the 30's: a white naked woman, leading black corsairs. She isn't even a warrior. well the nakedness isn't that irrealist. she uses only a girdle so it is possible she is dressed like any african tribal woman of that age. But...what does she know? How does she became her leader? Because they think she is a godess?


How did Belit actually become the captain of the Tigris? Well, there's one possibility that no one on the forum has yet explored. Although she is not seen in combat in the actual story (except for the very end where she comes back), that doesn't necessarily mean that she was not a formidable swordswoman. My theory is that she became leader of the black corsairs in the same fashion that Conan usually became captain of a pirate crew: by challenging the previous captain to a duel and slaying him. Her skill with the sword, combined with her keen intellect and leadership skills, was sufficient for the crew to give her their loyalty. The Black Corsairs had never seen one with her combat skills before, so this gave her the aspect of a "goddess" in their eyes, and she milked it for all its worth.

Maybe this seems implausible, but no more so than the story itself. In reality, a pirate crew would have chewed her up and spit her out. But this is fantasy, not reality.
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#26 Fernando

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 01:38 AM

How did Belit actually become the captain of the Tigris? Well, there's one possibility that no one on the forum has yet explored. Although she is not seen in combat in the actual story (except for the very end where she comes back), that doesn't necessarily mean that she was not a formidable swordswoman. My theory is that she became leader of the black corsairs in the same fashion that Conan usually became captain of a pirate crew: by challenging the previous captain to a duel and slaying him. Her skill with the sword, combined with her keen intellect and leadership skills, was sufficient for the crew to give her their loyalty. The Black Corsairs had never seen one with her combat skills before, so this gave her the aspect of a "goddess" in their eyes, and she milked it for all its worth.


Very well said, amsterdamaged! :D The good things in the gap left by REH about B?lit are the many possibilities for her former history (how a Shemite princess became a pirate). I also enjoyed the Dale Rippke's version. :)

#27 Fernando

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 02:28 AM

Belit: says to Conan,"What of your own gods? I have never heard you call on them." (p.133) :blink: What's going on here? Conan never swore by Crom (or the rest of his dark brood) for two to three years?


This was indeed the most strange thing of the whole tale...

#28 Fernando

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 02:40 AM

The yarn REH referred to, "The Garden of Fear", has Hunwulf the Aesir explicitly mention the "horse-hide tents" of his people. The tale is actually "post-Hyborian", occurring after the fall of the Hyborian civilization.


I don't understand why couldn't Garden of Fear had happened before Conan's Era! Hunwulf's tribe uses flint blades in instead of metal's ones. All "pre-Viking" Aesir's culture lacks in that yarn - helmets, mails, swords... So, how could Aesir's descendants recover their ancestors' culture, if, agreeing with you, it disappeared into a Stone Age millenia before Viking Age and centuries after Conan's one??

Edited by Fernando, 11 April 2008 - 02:42 AM.


#29 amster

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 05:05 AM

Belit: says to Conan,"What of your own gods? I have never heard you call on them." (p.133) :blink: What's going on here? Conan never swore by Crom (or the rest of his dark brood) for two to three years?


This was indeed the most strange thing of the whole tale...


Maybe by "calling on them", she meant actually praying to them. Praying a swearing are two different things, after all.
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#30 Fernando

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 02:18 PM

Maybe by "calling on them", she meant actually praying to them. Praying a swearing are two different things, after all.


Very well explained, amsterdamaged. Thank you very much! :D

#31 Kortoso

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 05:58 PM

That's how swearing started. To "swear" an "oath" by calling on a deity to witness it.
See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath
Profanity, as in taking the name of a deity without swearing an oath, as we see Conan doing, is really an affliction of an overly civilized people.

#32 amster

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 06:25 PM

Profanity, as in taking the name of a deity without swearing an oath, as we see Conan doing, is really an affliction of an overly civilized people.


That's not how my mom saw it!
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#33 deuce

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 04:05 AM

I take it you'd be perfectly okay with a black Belit or an Asian Solomon Kane, too?.


SK being tall gaunt and pale disallows an Asian portrayal, but a mixed race actor could be cast to get the right look. Being a religious fanatic requires a tie to Puritan ideology, so an Asian SK conflicts with actual reality. Maybe there's a model in Chinese or Japanese folklore. (Somehow, I can see you frothing that the Picts in Howard's pseudo-history conflict with the African Picts. Get a grip you're arguing about a fantasy).

Belit being worshipped by and ruling over tribes of black corsairs and tribesmen is the most unbelievable episode Howard manufactured. I just couldn't accept her as a white woman being held in such high esteem. Obviously you see the admiration of Caucasian beauty standards here. I could certainly accept a mixed-race Belit, but a white woman in that position is the biggest joke of all. Alas, Howard would never have envisioned an inter-racial romance with Conan as a true equal. Howard is very much of the era of lynchmob justice for miscegnation.


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#34 deuce

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 04:17 AM

I can think of many reasons for Belit to be the Queen of the Corsairs that are pretty believable, none of which are to do with "caucasian beauty standards": royal ancestry, natural command ability, religious reverence, knowledge of where to get the best loot, simple abundance of cash & clout. Frankly, I don't see what her appearance would even have to do with her being held in such high esteem.


Toss out the royal ancestry angle. That would be based on some idiotic divine right b/s that wouldn't be apparent among the buccaneers and corsairs. Certainly the leadership going to the best booty (ha nice pun ) makes sense. Natural command ability also makes sense, but, pardon my male chauvanism here, I find it absolutely ridiculous that no one besides Conan could best her. That's like putting the best WNBA player on an NBA squad. Sure Lisa Leslie might best a guy off the bench, but she's just not going to get over on someone like Kobe or Duncan. I guess it made for good fiction, but I never bought into it.

Finally, if appearances don't matter in the character of Belit, then, if QotBC went to screen, I'm all for casting someone with Beyonce's look (fair-skinned or mixed race) in that role.


This exchange has made me aware I probably need to re-read my Howard. I just don't have as much of the details at hand.


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#35 deuce

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 04:19 AM

First I'd like to applaude Taranaich! You summed it all, man. :D

Natural command ability also makes sense, but, pardon my male chauvanism here, I find it absolutely ridiculous that no one besides Conan could best her. That's like putting the best WNBA player on an NBA squad. Sure Lisa Leslie might best a guy off the bench, but she's just not going to get over on someone like Kobe or Duncan. I guess it made for good fiction, but I never bought into it.

This is off-topic, but I have to answer to that: PFunkJAzz, perhaps would you be interested to know that in the real world, the largest fleet of pirates ever seen was led by a Chinese WOMAN, Ching Shih/Cheng I Sao.
Her Red Flag fleet was supposedly strong of 1500 ships and 80000 sailors.


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#36 deuce

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 04:20 AM

This is off-topic, but I have to answer to that: PFunkJAzz, perhaps would you be interested to know that in the real world, the largest fleet of pirates ever seen was led by a Chinese WOMAN, Ching Shih/Cheng I Sao.
Her Red Flag fleet was supposedly strong of 1500 ships and 80000 sailors.


I'll try to remember that during Chinese History Week. ;)


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#37 amster

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 06:12 AM

[quote name='PFunkJAzz' post='108725']Belit being worshipped by and ruling over tribes of black corsairs and tribesmen is the most unbelievable episode Howard manufactured.[/quote]

Get a grip. You're arguing about a fantasy.

[quote]I just couldn't accept her as a white woman being held in such high esteem. Obviously you see the admiration of Caucasian beauty standards here. I could certainly accept a mixed-race Belit, but a white woman in that position is the biggest joke of all.[/quote]

On the surface, I find that remark to be incredibly racist and offensive. To illustrate my point, I've repeated your remark below, replacing the word black for white:

[quote]I just couldn't accept her as a black woman being held in such high esteem. I could certainly accept a mixed-race Belit, but a black woman in that position is the biggest joke of all.[/quote]

...but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you'd like to clarify your remarks.

[quote]Alas, Howard would never have envisioned an inter-racial romance with Conan as a true equal.[/quote]

I'll just respond to this comment with your own words: "This exchange has made me aware I probably need to re-read my Howard. I just don't have as much of the details at hand."

So I suppose that Conan didn't hook up with any women from different races in Vendya, huh? How about Khitai? Hykania? Zamora? Didn't Conan spoend a considerable amount of time South of Stygia as well? I suppose he just remained celebate during that time, seeing as there were no white women around. <_<

Btw, Conan and Belit are an interracial couple. Belit is the Hyborian Age equivalent of a Semite. She's not Caucasion. You could even interpret her as a Jew.

[quote]Howard is very much of the era of lynchmob justice for miscegnation.[/quote]

A textbook example of "guilt by association".

[quote]Toss out the royal ancestry angle. That would be based on some idiotic divine right b/s that wouldn't be apparent among the buccaneers and corsairs.[/quote]

Yes, because apparently it would be impossible for buccaneers or corsairs to be either religious or superstitious. Get a grip. You're arguing about a fantasy.

[quote name='PFunkJAzz' post='108886' date='Dec 15 2008, 12:10 AM'][quote name='Axerules' post='108883' date='Dec 14 2008, 02:51 PM']This is off-topic, but I have to answer to that: PFunkJAzz, perhaps would you be interested to know that in the real world, the largest fleet of pirates ever seen was led by a Chinese WOMAN, Ching Shih/Cheng I Sao.
Her Red Flag fleet was supposedly strong of 1500 ships and 80000 sailors.[/quote]

I'll try to remember that during Chinese History Week. ;)
[/quote]

...yes, do try to remember...that Axerules destroyed the entire premise of your argument with a real historical example.

Edited by amsterdamaged, 15 December 2008 - 07:01 AM.

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Money and muscle, that's what I want; to be able to do any damned thing I want and get away with it. Money won't do that altogether, because if a man is a weakling, all the money in the world won't enable him to soak an enemy himself; on the other hand, unless he has money he may not be able to get away with it.
--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#38 PFunkJAzz

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 08:12 PM

HA! Good job deuce! You've c&p my remarks into this thread and bumped it to the fore. Much appreciated.

later...

Hit the wrong button. Didn't need to quote deuce.

Edited by PFunkJAzz, 15 December 2008 - 08:14 PM.


#39 PFunkJAzz

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 09:36 PM

[quote name='amsterdamaged' post='108927' date='Dec 14 2008, 09:12 PM']...but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you'd like to clarify your remarks.[/quote]

Was that really offensive? I doubt your indignation was any greater than mine upon reading QotBC. Howard's frequent denigrating of Negroes or portrayal of them as evil or childlike obedient stooges is at the heart of my complaint against him. I don't dodge my statement had a racial and sexist intent. I'm only reflecting what I've found objectionable in the the genre. It's par for the course in fantasy and SF of that period.


[quote][quote]Alas, Howard would never have envisioned an inter-racial romance with Conan as a true equal.[/quote]

I'll just respond to this comment with your own words: "This exchange has made me aware I probably need to re-read my Howard. I just don't have as much of the details at hand."
[/quote]

Yeah. I haven't re-read in the Del Rey reissues and the only LSdC/LC-free Conans I have are the KEW edited tales and QotBC wasn't included. Unfortunately, my most recent reading was the Marvel adaptation and that was strung out and padded with filler.


[quote]So I suppose that Conan didn't hook up with any women from different races in Vendya, huh? How about Khitai? Hykania? Zamora? Didn't Conan spoend a considerable amount of time South of Stygia as well? I suppose he just remained celebate during that time, seeing as there were no white women around. <_<[/quote]

As a partner and true equal? Most were tavern wenches, slave girls and sluts; not powerful strong women. Some of the exceptions being the Devi Yasmina and maybe Queen Taramis and Valeria, but the first two were really damsels-in-distress.

No way would I dig a celibate Conan. His freewheeling association with female characters is a big part of what attracts me to the tales. At least, Howard knew Conan had to get paid and laid. ;)



[quote]Btw, Conan and Belit are an interracial couple. Belit is the Hyborian Age equivalent of a Semite. She's not Caucasion. You could even interpret her as a Jew.[/quote]

If you insist, though I'm of the opinion that Jewishnees is a matter of religion; not race.

[quote][quote]Howard is very much of the era of lynchmob justice for miscegnation.[/quote]

A textbook example of "guilt by association".
[/quote]

A common excuse for Howard's attitudes is he was a white southern male in the 30s and that's how they thought. Go search the forum. :blink:



[quote][quote]Toss out the royal ancestry angle. That would be based on some idiotic divine right b/s that wouldn't be apparent among the buccaneers and corsairs.[/quote]

Yes, because apparently it would be impossible for buccaneers or corsairs to be either religious or superstitious. Get a grip. You're arguing about a fantasy.
[/quote]


This harkens back to Howard portraying Negroes as childlike and superstitious. IMO worshipping Belit and swearing allegiance because she's an " ivory goddes" is hack writing. I'm all for the her leading them because she knew sources of riches to plunder. That's cool.


[quote]Axerules destroyed the entire premise of your argument with a real historical example.[/quote]


I'm not sure I agree. Is he saying she rose to supremacy on physical prowess, worship of her beauty, her political skills or knowledge of ships to plunder? Either of the last two are perfectly logical. It's the supplanting of blind worship of beauty over physical prowess that I find so unbelievable.

#40 amster

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 11:34 PM

Was that really offensive? I doubt your indignation was any greater than mine upon reading QotBC.


I understand where you're coming from. When an author who's been dead for 60 years writes a story that you find racially offensive about black people, its an unforgivable sin which justifies changing his text to make it more 21st century PC. But when you say something racially offensive against whites, its perfectly okay because you're just evening out the playing field. Always the double standard. How about taking some personal responsibility for your own words?

Btw, Conan and Belit are an interracial couple. Belit is the Hyborian Age equivalent of a Semite. She's not Caucasion. You could even interpret her as a Jew.


If you insist, though I'm of the opinion that Jewishnees is a matter of religion; not race.


That doesn't surprise me, as you seem to have a tendacy to confuse your own opinion with objective facts.

As a partner and true equal? Most were tavern wenches, slave girls and sluts; not powerful strong women. Some of the exceptions being the Devi Yasmina and maybe Queen Taramis and Valeria, but the first two were really damsels-in-distress.



Doesn't matter. As you say, Conan has lots of women, from lots of different races, but he only had one "love of his life", and REH didn't make her caucasion. So what? Does she only count in you mind as "a different race" if she's African? Is everything just a matter of black or white to you? It seems that it is.

A common excuse for Howard's attitudes is he was a white southern male in the 30s and that's how they thought. Go search the forum. :blink:


Really? And what were white Southern males in the 30s attitudes towards Jews? A matter of religion, or a matter of race? It seems like a lot of people, not just in the U.S., considered them to be a different race, and still do today. There was even a World War about it, if I recall correctly. How did the typical white Southern male feel about mixing with Asians? With East Indians? It seems to me that REH's pulp fiction was prety progressive, coming from a "typical" white Southern male.
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Money and muscle, that's what I want; to be able to do any damned thing I want and get away with it. Money won't do that altogether, because if a man is a weakling, all the money in the world won't enable him to soak an enemy himself; on the other hand, unless he has money he may not be able to get away with it.
--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--