I do agree, 100%.
I find de Camp a very mixed author. I've read Herron's article, and I'm not entirely convinced by his arguments. Or to be more exact, I think he takes them too far. (...) he takes the anti-deity thing a little far. while certainly the good aligned glowy things in hand of Nergal and Conan of the Isles are very un-Howard, it is very difficult to explain the oracle to Yasmela in Black Colossus as anything other than genuine. The alternative explanation is a coincidence so wild as to be absurd.
The oracle, even with the short sentence Herron quoted saying that it could be "the trick of a priest" can hardly be spurious: Yasmela found afterward the only man able to protect her and to win the battle against Natohk, Conan.
In Queen of the Black Coast, when B?lit asked to Conan if he feared the gods, his answer was: "I would not tread on their shadow". He seems to firmly believe in their existence. Later: "I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them to deeply" and B?lit :"But the gods are real".
Don't misunderstand my post, the first time I've read Herron's essay, a few years ago, I thought : this man is SO right ! How could I have not seen all those things in L. Sprague DC's writings ? And he explained very well how the character and setting were altered by Sprague or L. Carter.
But something did bother me: Sprague's bigotry and manicheism are IMO "un-howardian", but Herron's "anti-deism" ? When Sprague (with B. Nyberg) showed two bull sacrifices to Crom and his direct help to Conan in "the Avenger", it's totally inadequate with the setting. Crom should be "grim and loveless" and would probably doom the Cimmerian weakling who dared to do that : Conan in Queen believes that Crom COULD do it (and only a REAL god can send a curse), he told so to B?lit.
Are the gods of civilized people, like Mitra, not different from Crom ? Patrice Louinet in his Hyborian Genesis talked about the Grail-type quest in Hour of the Dragon : was it not Zelata (whose lips are "opened and closed by the gods") who sent Conan on this quest ? Outer-void and Cthuloid things worshipped as gods do exist in REH's cosmology, it's certain. And other gods ? Even if Howard kept most of their interferences mysterious, in his first published Conan yarn, the one that would present his hyborian Age to the public, The Phoenix on the Sword, Epemitreus, a Mitran priest dead for centuries came to save Conan from certain death: is it not clear that REH meant gods of the Hyborian Age (not only "monsters-whorshipped-as-gods") to be able to act, at least indirectly through oracles or saints ? And be real in his Hyborian age ?
Edited by Axerules, 14 November 2007 - 01:37 AM.