When Mark Finn released his New Manifesto, it was borne of a mounting frustration with how Howard is considered in the popular consciousness. No doubt a large part felt it was preaching to the choir, others felt it would set Howard studied back years. Nonetheless, I feel it had an important point to make.
Someone asks you what you're reading. You say, it's a collection of Robert E. Howard stories. They draw a blank. You attempt to clarify, but usually, it's only the mention of Conan that elicits the little flash of recognition you're looking for. Then they respond in any number of ways: a few happy, joyous times, they'll engage in conversation about the author with a sense of familiarity. But more often, it'll be some variation of "why are you reading that dumb teenage junk," "why are you reading that racist filth," "I didn't know they novelized Conan the Barbarian," "I thought that was Robert Jordan," "crush yah enemies blah blah blah blah blah." Sometimes they'll bring up some old hoary myth or nonsense, like how Howard had an Oedipal complex, or that he never left his home town, or that he sympathized with the Nazis, or how he hallucinated the ghost of Conan who told him his tales at axe-edge, or that he boarded up his windows at night and loaded rifles for a coming onslaught that never came. And all you can do is sigh a little.
You've had those moments. We've all had those moments. Well I say, enough is enough!
I decided a while ago - about the same time, as it ended up, as Mark's New Manifesto - that the only way to dispel the myths and misconceptions is to replace them with facts and reasonable hypothesis. Split the rocks of ignorance that obscure the light of knowledge and truth. And so, I started The Newcomer's Guide to Robert E. Howard.
The purpose of the guide is to be simultaneously simple and comprehensive, sparse and detailed, informal and formal. My goal is for it to be a source to deconstruct the most common myths and misconceptions, and have a source online for it. For more complex or involved issues, such as the matter of racial tension and sexual politics, it'll be mostly a series of links to other sources.
This is where you fine folk come in. I don't have access to even a fraction of all the Howard scholarship out there, but given the quality I've read, I've no doubt it would be of considerable use to everyone. Thus, I would be most grateful if everyone could take a look at my guide, and give me hints and pointers. In particular, there are many issues that even Howard fans and scholars disagree on. Rather than attempt to answer them, I'd like to use the entries as a jumping-off point to other sources, just to show that there isn't some monolithic "party line" every Howardist, scholar or fan adheres to. Then the reader can make up their own mind.
Right now I'm still working out the kinks. It's very Spartan and difficult to navigate - Wordpress is harder than I remember - and no doubt I might have mistakes here and there. The best way to access the entries is to just go through the categories on the right hand side. I hope to have a "contents" page set up soon.
(If I've left out any publications/links in the right hand side, don't be offended: I'm still adding and organizing)
Edited by Taranaich, 27 December 2010 - 01:39 AM.