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Robert E. Howard: A New Manifesto


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#1 deuce

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:56 PM

Here is the manifesto as just presented by our own Mark Finn. He'd like one and all to repost it around the Net. Hopefully, doing so will slow down many of the self-crowned (and poorly-informed) "critics" and "commentators" who have sprung up lately.

A New Robert E. Howard Manifesto

I am a fan of Robert E. Howard, the Texas author who created a multitude of unique characters, wrote original and inventive fiction, defined the genre of epic fantasy as we understand it, and inspired me to become a professional writer. There are tens of thousands of other fans just like myself. As fans of Robert E. Howard and his works, we are interested in reading more about our favorite author. We are interested in sharing and exchanging new ideas about his life and work, and we actively seek out these new ideas online, in print, and elsewhere.

What we do not want to see are semi-uninformed retreads of the same discussions that were in vogue circa 1984. The field of Howard Studies is alive and well, with new discoveries and voices appearing all the time. Interest in the author is high and remains so. If you have a thought or an opinion, even a controversial or untested one, and want to share it with the world at large, we encourage that you do so.

We expect responsibility and accountability on your part. We are not interested in your grand pronouncement on a subject which has yet to be settled by people who have spent decades studying the issue at hand. We expect you to do your homework. There are a number of websites and literally stacks of new books that likely cover or answer most of your questions regarding Robert E. Howard. To not utilize those sources when doing your research smacks of willful ignorance and will not be tolerated by the fans of Robert E. Howard.

If you want to write a review about how much you didn't like Kull: Exile of Atlantis, have at it. Take it apart for any and all textual reasons you choose to invoke. We may not agree because Howard's work isn't for everyone, and we understand that. But the minute you start bringing Robert E. Howard's life story into your Kull review, it will garner a much more careful reading, and if you don't have your facts straight, or your opinions backed up by same, then we will call you on it.

The online Robert E. Howard fanbase calls itself the "Shield Wall." Some writers who have been on the business end of the Shield Wall's attacks have accused us of being bullies and overly-obsessed for the protective stance we take.

While it is not our intention to bully anyone, and while we may get a little carried away on occasion, let me be very clear here as to why this is so: Robert E. Howard has not had a voice for 75 years now. For four decades after his death, he had very few advocates who would defend him against the libel and slander of those who stood to profit from his work. He has been misunderstood and misrepresented for years. The Shield Wall's goal has been to stop in its entirety the kind of character assassination employed by L. Sprague de Camp and others who would adopt his methodology.

Consider this a challenge to survey the amount of work that has been done in Howard Studies in the last ten years alone and then try to come up with your own take on a topic or angle of discussion that has not been beaten to death. Do not make the mistake that so many others have made; just because Robert E. Howard isn't considered a "classic" author by the literary establishment that you can beat his literary reputation (or his personal life) like a rented mule and you will not get kicked for your efforts.

We expect you to accord Robert E. Howard the same respect as any other 20th century American author with continued and perennial popularity. No more back handed compliments. No more snide insinuations. No more rampant and irresponsible speculation with no basis of fact or evidence to bolster it. And for God's Sake, no more "oedipal complex" crap, either. Those theories are thirty years out of date, and we are sick and tired of seeing it. Give us something new, or keep your parochial and backwards thinking to yourself.

Mark Finn
Author of Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
And Commander of the Texas Shield Wall


Taranaich has posted a lengthy and insightful addendum here:

http://theblogthatti...festo.html#more

Edited by deuce, 18 October 2010 - 05:58 PM.

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#2 Black Coast Press

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 07:46 PM

Here is the manifesto as just presented by our own Mark Finn. He'd like one and all to repost it around the Net. Hopefully, doing so will slow down many of the self-crowned (and poorly-informed) "critics" and "commentators" who have sprung up lately.


A New Robert E. Howard Manifesto

I am a fan of Robert E. Howard, the Texas author who created a multitude of unique characters, wrote original and inventive fiction, defined the genre of epic fantasy as we understand it, and inspired me to become a professional writer. There are tens of thousands of other fans just like myself. As fans of Robert E. Howard and his works, we are interested in reading more about our favorite author. We are interested in sharing and exchanging new ideas about his life and work, and we actively seek out these new ideas online, in print, and elsewhere.

What we do not want to see are semi-uninformed retreads of the same discussions that were in vogue circa 1984. The field of Howard Studies is alive and well, with new discoveries and voices appearing all the time. Interest in the author is high and remains so. If you have a thought or an opinion, even a controversial or untested one, and want to share it with the world at large, we encourage that you do so.

We expect responsibility and accountability on your part. We are not interested in your grand pronouncement on a subject which has yet to be settled by people who have spent decades studying the issue at hand. We expect you to do your homework. There are a number of websites and literally stacks of new books that likely cover or answer most of your questions regarding Robert E. Howard. To not utilize those sources when doing your research smacks of willful ignorance and will not be tolerated by the fans of Robert E. Howard.

If you want to write a review about how much you didn't like Kull: Exile of Atlantis, have at it. Take it apart for any and all textual reasons you choose to invoke. We may not agree because Howard's work isn't for everyone, and we understand that. But the minute you start bringing Robert E. Howard's life story into your Kull review, it will garner a much more careful reading, and if you don't have your facts straight, or your opinions backed up by same, then we will call you on it.

The online Robert E. Howard fanbase calls itself the "Shield Wall." Some writers who have been on the business end of the Shield Wall's attacks have accused us of being bullies and overly-obsessed for the protective stance we take.

While it is not our intention to bully anyone, and while we may get a little carried away on occasion, let me be very clear here as to why this is so: Robert E. Howard has not had a voice for 75 years now. For four decades after his death, he had very few advocates who would defend him against the libel and slander of those who stood to profit from his work. He has been misunderstood and misrepresented for years. The Shield Wall's goal has been to stop in its entirety the kind of character assassination employed by L. Sprague de Camp and others who would adopt his methodology.

Consider this a challenge to survey the amount of work that has been done in Howard Studies in the last ten years alone and then try to come up with your own take on a topic or angle of discussion that has not been beaten to death. Do not make the mistake that so many others have made; just because Robert E. Howard isn't considered a "classic" author by the literary establishment that you can beat his literary reputation (or his personal life) like a rented mule and you will not get kicked for your efforts.

We expect you to accord Robert E. Howard the same respect as any other 20th century American author with continued and perennial popularity. No more back handed compliments. No more snide insinuations. No more rampant and irresponsible speculation with no basis of fact or evidence to bolster it. And for God's Sake, no more "oedipal complex" crap, either. Those theories are thirty years out of date, and we are sick and tired of seeing it. Give us something new, or keep your parochial and backwards thinking to yourself.

Mark Finn
Author of Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
And Commander of the Texas Shield Wall


Taranaich has posted a lengthy and insightful addendum here:

http://theblogthatti...festo.html#more



Also posted at the TGR website: http://rehtwogunraconteur.com/?p=6706
And it will also be posted at the REHupa website soon.

#3 amster

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 08:09 PM

Awesome!
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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--

#4 Crom

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:47 PM

Pinned.

This is an excellent and highly recommended read.

#5 THE KID

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:14 PM

:) I like it! Thank you Mark! v/r Richard - A REH fan, too!
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#6 Axerules

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:48 PM

Great! :)
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#7 Dave the Rage

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 12:46 AM

Adding to my own website, even the one or two readers passing my way can be updated on fans adoration of a great writer.

Chears Finn

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#8 Black Indy

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 04:52 AM

Yep. Up at the REHupa site now.

#9 Mark Finn

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 05:20 AM

Thank you, folks, for the support. If you'd like to post it on your blog, you have my permission to do so. Or link to it in your signatures. The idea is to spread it around, and in fact, I'd like to manipulate the Google stats to make sure it gets onto the first page of linkage whenever anyone types "Robert E. Howard" into a search engine.

Will it curtail the nonsense? Who knows. But as long as it's out there, and easy to get to, and readily available for anyone to access it, it can't hurt. And if it keeps just one chucklehead from spewing uninformed bile, then it's worth the electons.

Fight the Good Fight,
Mark Finn
Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Second Edition now available from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press

Finn's Home Away From Home, REDUX!

#10 Taranaich

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 07:03 AM

Taranaich has posted a lengthy and insightful addendum here:

http://theblogthatti...festo.html#more


The addendum isn't actually mine, but Mark's own. Sorry if I didn't make that clear in the post.

That said, I am working on stuff related to this too. Watch this space...

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#11 Mark Finn

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:07 PM

Al,

Good to know, re: working on new stuff. I would encourage you and anyone else to give some concrete examples of both good and bad writing, for example, from recent and not-so-recent bloggers and articles. There will doubtless be folks who read the manifesto and think I'm just blowing hot air, but to me, there are numerous instances where we didn't blow enough.
Mark Finn
Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Second Edition now available from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press

Finn's Home Away From Home, REDUX!

#12 deuce

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 03:07 PM


Taranaich has posted a lengthy and insightful addendum here:

http://theblogthatti...festo.html#more


The addendum isn't actually mine, but Mark's own. Sorry if I didn't make that clear in the post.


DOH! Posted Image Posted Image I was in a bit of a hurry to get things posted here, I guess.


That said, I am working on stuff related to this too. Watch this space...


Cool.

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#13 Tex

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 06:01 PM

...I am working on stuff related to this too. Watch this space...


>laces fingers together ? la Mr. Burns<

Excellent!

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#14 Mikey_C

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 09:34 PM

Great stuff; let's hope all LSDC wannabees get to see it. I've posted it on my blog, beneath the sunken grave mould of which a few zombie-like scratchings may be detected in these cold, dark October evenings. ;)
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#15 ollonois

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 11:44 PM

it's a very interesting and informative manifesto and useful if you see some recent misinformation in some bloggers, I don't know if the idea is to take this manifesto to other countries but I can post it in some spanish forums related to Howard and fantasy
Although I have been reading Howard for a long time I'm more or less a newbie in terms of Howard studies, the key for me was the cimmerian blog and the spanish edition of the Del Rey, things change a lot when you read the Lancers, or its translations, and when you read the stories by Howard in its original form
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#16 johnnypt

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 12:37 AM

Thanks Mark. This is exactly what needs to be done, enough with the amateur psychiatrists after all these years. If you're not going to do the research, spare us the conclusions.

#17 Tex

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 04:31 PM

>a copy of what I submitted to the reply section of the REH:T-GR version of the Manifesto<

Well said, Mr. Finn!

Rather like using a torch to cauterize a wound (the Willie Nelson School of Medicine,) this is painful, but necessary.

Now, whenever I get to do my bit for the Shield Wall, I can always include somewhere in the reply, "Oh, and while we're at it, you need to read this >link to the Manifesto<."

Tex
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Edited by Tex, 20 October 2010 - 04:33 PM.


#18 Hawkbrother

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:02 PM

All I can say is "Mark, BRAVO!
However, the sad fact of the matter is that false information so often gets repeated and passed on that it gets accepted as truth. I think that is what is happening when we see people presenting the DeCamp body of arguments as truth even today, when it has long been disproven and discredited. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some "researchers" are just plain lazy, never botherin to learn the facts that refute the falsehoods and misconceptions that have been presented about Howard.

Edited by Hawkbrother, 22 October 2010 - 07:04 PM.


#19 Ho there Semiramis!

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 12:13 PM

Unnecessary, however well intentioned it will only add to the idea that Howard fans can?t take criticism of their hero. And the people it is aimed at are unlikely to bother reading it anyway.
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#20 Taranaich

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 01:03 PM

Unnecessary, however well intentioned it will only add to the idea that Howard fans can?t take criticism of their hero. And the people it is aimed at are unlikely to bother reading it anyway.


You mean like these bozos?

I'm reminded of something de Camp said in relation to Howard fans who "can't take criticism":

?We have had visitors, one of whom, Dr. Lynne Hazard, is a first-cousin-once-removed-in-law. A consulting psychologist, she looks as lady scientists do in stories but rarely in real life: tall, blond, and gorgeous.

I asked her about a psychological curiosum I have often met in my biographical work on Lovecraft and Howard. Why should a grown man form so intense an emotional tie to another, whom he never knew personally and who in fact died before he was born, that if anyone says anything about his idol that does not present his hero in a wholly saintly and heroic light, the admirer is furiously resentful, takes the statement as a personal affront that he is duty bound to avenge, and spends years trying to ?get even? with the author of the statement? Since the resentful one never knew his idol, his infatuation is not with the real man but only with his mental image he has built up from what he has heard or read.

Dr. Hazard said yes, she had met such obsessions. She said the worshipful follower was usually conscious of a ?void? within himself. This might be a lack of some quality he desired, or an egregious failure in business, trade, profession, or personal relationships. So the follower identifies himself with his adoree and cannot admit that his hero has any flaws, like those of other human beings, whatever, since that means confessing his own short-comings.

I won?t apply this diagnose to any present or former fellow REHUPANs, but others may if they wish.?


De Camp is saying that Howard's fans attempt to challenge de Camp's baseless ideas of Howard being an Oedipal, paranoid, crazy shut-in are in fact trying to paint Howard in a "wholly saintly and heroic light." It's a classic straw man: misrepresent your opponent's argument, and then "refute" it.

There is quite clearly a difference between people wanting to whitewash and lionize Howard, and people who want to get rid of the myths and misconceptions. And frankly, I'm a bit sick of having to say that, since you'd think any right minded person could tell the difference between arguing for Howard to be treated like a saint, and Howard to be treated like a human being.

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