Didn't know where else to put this, but it seems to fit the topic so here goes nothing.
Upon reading Patrice Louinet's "Hyborian Genesis" (excellent, informative essay) I was struck by his observation that Howard began writing THE HYBORIAN AGE
after THE GOD IN THE BOWL
. He proceeds to talk about Howard's "ambiguous phrasing" on the subject of writing the essays leading people to the conclusion that Howard wrote the essay before the stories (THE COMING OF CONAN THE CIMMERIAN
, pp 440). He then writes: "While there is no denying that Howard had some ideas as to what his Hyborian world was to become, there was no attempt at systemization until after the first three stories were written
I believe that Patrice is wrong about this. I really think that Howard conceived THE HYBORIAN AGE
essay concurrently with the first three stories. I realize that I'm going to need proof to back up my assertion.
Patrice claims (on pp 437) that the term Hyborean
is used in the Conan story THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD. He claims that the word Hyborian
wasn't introduced by Howard until the last draft of his essay. I have no reason to doubt this.
The problem with his theory, to my way of thinking, lies with the first, two page draft of the essay. In this draft, Howard plainly states: "Ten thousand years after the sinking of Atlantis, this northern race is found to have spread in successive waves all over the known world, they are a hardy race, of mixed complection, though the original type was blond. Living for centuries in other climates has changed the complection of some, resulting in mixed colors. The people are in many different tribes, but are designated by the general name of Hyperboreans
." Later on he writes: "The Picts, through contact with the Hyperboreans - here used in the sense of the whole race - have begun another slow climb of progress; they are somewhere between the state of savages, and that of barbarians.
" So Hyperborean
is the first choice for the term that eventually becomes Hyborian
. Also, Howard states in this first draft that five thousand years pass between the founding of the earliest kingdom of Hyperborea and the world as it appears at the height of their civilization. Chronologically, this is quite different than how this data is presented in THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD
In THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD
, Howard relates a bit of the timeline; fifteen hundred years between the life of Epemitreus the Sage and the reign of King Conan. Epemitreus lived at a time ?when the world was young and men were weak
?? His life was dedicated to fighting the influence of his god?s arch-nemesis; Set. From the context, it seems clear that he lived at a time when the Hyborean
world was young and its men were weak (the time when the tribes began to build the earliest nations). Conan, on the other hand, lives at the height of the Hyborean civilization. So the dates given in the story are not the same as the first draft of the essay.
These two clues show that the first draft of THE HYBORIAN AGE
essay was almost certainly written PRIOR
to Howard?s first Conan tale.
The second draft of the essay spells the name Hyborean
, just like THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD
. Howard also changes the timeline laying it out in much the same way that it appeared in the first story; the first kingdoms being formed fifteen hundred years before the Hyborian world is swept away at its height.
Patrice mentions that the genesis of Howard?s second Conan tale, THE FROST-GIANT?S DAUGHTER
, was probably created during the writing of the first story; Conan relates a bit about the Nordheimer race. Interestingly enough, the second draft of the essay also expands upon the role of the Nordheimer race in his world?s history. Howard appears to be experiencing creative synergy between his stories and his historical essay.
I cannot absolutely place when Howard wrote the second draft; certainly after PHOENIX
and maybe after TFGD
, as well. While it?s possible that he could have drafted it before PHOENIX
and used the facts from the draft in his story, I tend to discount this. It makes more sense, from a world-builders point of view, that Howard wrote his very basic first draft, and then wrote PHOENIX
, and finally wrote the second draft, revising it to use the facts laid down in the first story.
The third draft and the finalized essay were written pretty much when Patrice believes; between the third story, THE GOD IN THE BOWL
and the fourth, THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT
. There really aren?t many differences between the two; the final essay is just a considerably fleshed out version of the third draft. The name of the tribe becomes ?Hyborian
? as of the third draft, and the fifteen hundred year timeline doesn?t change in either the third draft or the finished essay.
The way I see it, Howard wasn?t being ambiguous at all, this essay existed in some form from the very beginning.
My two bits, at any rate?
Edited by Darkstorm Dale, 06 February 2008 - 04:57 AM.