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Southwestern Discomfit By Mark Finn


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#1 amster

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 05:12 PM

This has just been posted on REHUPA:

http://www.rehupa.co...rnDiscomfit.htm

Southwestern Discomfit: An Analysis of Gary Romeo's Controversial Article on Robert E. Howard and Racism
by Mark Finn

I haven't even started reading it myself. It should be very interesting...
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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--

#2 theagenes

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 06:40 PM

It does a great job of placing Gary's article back into the context from which it originated; that is, an ongoing discussion on REH and racism in REHupa at the time.
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#3 amster

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 08:32 PM

Thanks for the great essay, Mark! I must admit that I've been somewhat ambivalent about the whole "was REH a racist" question for quite some time, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't uncomfortable with some of the attitudes REH expressed in his letters to Lovecraft. I appreciate your efforts to put things into their proper perspective. I have no doubt that this will be an invaluable SHEILD WALL resource.
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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 docpod

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 08:39 PM

Mark made a point that I did not think of- that Gary's straw dog argument of comparing Erskine Caldwell to Robert E. Howard. Chalk to cheese.
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#5 Mark Finn

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 04:39 AM

Thanks for the great essay, Mark! I must admit that I've been somewhat ambivalent about the whole "was REH a racist" question for quite some time, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't uncomfortable with some of the attitudes REH expressed in his letters to Lovecraft. I appreciate your efforts to put things into their proper perspective. I have no doubt that this will be an invaluable SHEILD WALL resource.


Thanks, man. That was the idea, in essence--Every time someone says, "Oh, REH was a horrible racist," and then links to Gary's article, I want the next post to be "Are you so sure about that?" and a link to my article.

My goal is not to state that Howard held no racist beliefs, but rather to temper what we might currently bring to any reading of his works with a broader understanding of the situation in which Howard thought and wrote. In a perfect world, mine and Gary's articles would cancel each other out, and then people would have no choice but to deal with the texts on a one-on-one level.

The bombshell in this article was Barbara's findings regarding the poetry. I hope she'll clean up that paper and post it somewhere. It's a corker.
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Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Second Edition now available from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press

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#6 Libaax

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 09:47 AM

Its a non-issue really but well written Mark.

I never understood why its so hard for some fans,people who write about to accept he was a man of his times. Why is only REH called out for being a man of his times. Its like you read articles about Heinlein is sexist in his SF writing, like he was the only man like that in 50s,60s.

When i read scholar works about Hammett a contemporary genre legend to REH, its never he was a racist because he lived in 20s,30s. I have seen as much prejudice in Hammetts works.

Edited by Libaax, 28 November 2011 - 09:48 AM.


#7 Taranaich

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 03:56 PM

I never understood why its so hard for some fans,people who write about to accept he was a man of his times. Why is only REH called out for being a man of his times. Its like you read articles about Heinlein is sexist in his SF writing, like he was the only man like that in 50s,60s.

When i read scholar works about Hammett a contemporary genre legend to REH, its never he was a racist because he lived in 20s,30s. I have seen as much prejudice in Hammetts works.


Exactly. I can't count the number of times I've come across "unfortunate implications" in early 20th Century writing (Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, P.D. James, Fleming, Fitzgerald, Buchan, you name it), yet if you type "Robert E. Howard" into Google, there's a strong chance one of the autocompletes will be "Robert E. Howard racist." It's somewhat perplexing.

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#8 Libaax

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 07:05 PM

I never understood why its so hard for some fans,people who write about to accept he was a man of his times. Why is only REH called out for being a man of his times. Its like you read articles about Heinlein is sexist in his SF writing, like he was the only man like that in 50s,60s.

When i read scholar works about Hammett a contemporary genre legend to REH, its never he was a racist because he lived in 20s,30s. I have seen as much prejudice in Hammetts works.


Exactly. I can't count the number of times I've come across "unfortunate implications" in early 20th Century writing (Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, P.D. James, Fleming, Fitzgerald, Buchan, you name it), yet if you type "Robert E. Howard" into Google, there's a strong chance one of the autocompletes will be "Robert E. Howard racist." It's somewhat perplexing.


I could never read that Agatha Christie novel as a school kid with the old title.Ten Little ******s. But as an adult i know the term was common usage and not meant to be for racist sake the title.

REH thing is more like ignorance that somehow being from Southern parts of US makes him white racist sterotype people know so well from american films.

Its not like we are making excuses for him, it would be clear in his writings.

Edited by Libaax, 28 November 2011 - 07:06 PM.


#9 Mark Finn

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:50 AM

I think the main reason why Howard takes it on the chin so much for his perceived beliefs is because so much of what he wrote is tied to national identity of one kind or another. Conan is a Cimmerian, and that point is made in nearly all of the stories, emphatically. He hates the Picts because Cimmeria has always hated the Picts. Race and culture play a big part of characterization in Conan's stories. So, too, do his Historical Oriental stories. El Borak. Many of the horror stories. Howard didn't shy away from race and culture, and he always used those inherent biases in his fiction to add dramatic tension. And for Howard, so much of his stories were about that very conflict, that clash of cultures. So, unfortunately, it comes up.

But again, you have to consider: sure, his natives in "darkest Africa" (itself a cliche) are all stereotypically portrayed, but N'Longa is a positive agent of change in the Solomon Kane stories. So, it's in there. Contrast this with Jack London, who wrote about white guys in the snow and emphatically wrote against Jack Johnson in newspapers published across America. It doesn't quite seem fair to throw Howard under the bus for using the term "wooly headed" when London campaigned against a superior boxer, merely BECAUSE he was black. Howard, at least, admired black boxers for their abilities, something London was incapable of doing as long as those abilities were turned against a white man. Talk about frustrating. I like London too, but I can't read his articles about Johnson. They just infuriate me.
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Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Second Edition now available from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press

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#10 Libaax

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 01:33 PM

Thats why i think more about national identity,culture and not think its racially insensitive issues when i read REH. Sure he writes stereotypical about blacks Africa, west indies, voodoo but he does the same about black irish, celtic heroes. We know what he writes often about. Most fans who claim he is racist thing are people who have read maybe 1-2 Conan stories with big black villain and assume the rest. I have seen in comics forum. Its the casual, other medium fans.

I have actually read London Klondike stories where he wrote clearly native people was inferior to powerful white men in in the snow. Thats far more dated, off putting than anything i have ever read by REH. Its about perception, Jack London is famous for wolf, sea stories that are children classics. Most people dont know he was for yellow fear, the way he wrote against Jack Johnson. Most people who know his work casually hasnt read some un PC Klondike stories.

I still think people in this part of the world, in this country think too much where american authors are from culturally. Jack London is from the more urban culture of San Francisco, California. We have to imprint in new fans to look more balanced at REH works.

Edited by Libaax, 04 December 2011 - 01:35 PM.


#11 deuce

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 01:49 PM



I still think people in this part of the world, in this country think too much where american authors are from culturally. Jack London is from the more urban culture of San Francisco, California. We have to imprint in new fans to look more balanced at REH works.


Right on, Libaax. B)

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#12 BarB

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:25 PM

Sorry, I don't know how to use the quote function on this Forum so here goes my version of that.

Amsterdamaged: Like you, I'm uncomfortable with REH's racial remarks and cringe whenever I read them. There are actually five poems out of over eight hundred that use racially offensive references for African-Americans. In the other twenty-seven or so poems that he wrote in this area, he described Africa and Africans with great respect. These are beautifully written and in two or three of them he sees himself as an African warrior in past lives.

QUOTE: Mark said: "The bombshell in this article was Barbara's findings regarding the poetry. I hope she'll clean up that paper and post it somewhere. It's a corker."

Mark, thanks for the compliment! I've finished revising "Robert E. Howard: The African and African-American Poems and the Issue of Racism." The first draft is done and hopefully it'll be ready to give to Damon for his REH: Two-Gun Raconteur website at the end of this week. It's a detailed analysis so it's very long and will be in several parts. To say that it was a tough article to write is an understatement. Reading and writing about what was done to people of color during the heyday of the Jim Crow laws was like being caught in the middle of a horror nightmare.
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#13 Taranaich

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 12:29 AM

Can't wait for your essay, Barbara: I'm sure it'll be a hit.

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#14 John Maddox Roberts

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 04:20 AM

For those Americans who don't understand Libaax's reference above, The original title of Agatha Christie's novel was not "Ten Little Indians" as we remember the children's rhyme and as it was published here. It was (let's see if I can get this past the Forum censors) "Ten Little N-words." That's how the rhyme went in Britain and I remember being set aback when I found an old British copy from the '20s. The film version (excellent, with Barry Fitzgerald,) dodged the whole issue and was called "And Then There Were None." I believe that was also the title of the stage play, at least when performed in the US.

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 05:29 AM

Maybe Im weird but I don't think its anybody's business what you are...thought police suck
I read a lot of science fiction about futuristic societies and the various techniques used to mold people's way of thinking
That stuff is truly fascinating but in my humble opinion, the true mark of intelligence is having the power to mold your
own perspective and let the opinions of others be damned...but in a polite way of course

Edited by TheMIrrorThief, 08 December 2011 - 03:52 PM.


#16 Libaax

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 12:22 PM

For those Americans who don't understand Libaax's reference above, The original title of Agatha Christie's novel was not "Ten Little Indians" as we remember the children's rhyme and as it was published here. It was (let's see if I can get this past the Forum censors) "Ten Little N-words." That's how the rhyme went in Britain and I remember being set aback when I found an old British copy from the '20s. The film version (excellent, with Barry Fitzgerald,) dodged the whole issue and was called "And Then There Were None." I believe that was also the title of the stage play, at least when performed in the US.


The british version of the book used the N-Word title until 1980s thats why i remember from middle school as a kid in mid 1990s. They had the british version. Swedish english classes are very british.

Heh i never knew there were other titles, american readers of the book was lucky.

Edited by Libaax, 05 December 2011 - 12:23 PM.


#17 BarB

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 05:26 PM

Mark, Al and All,

"Robert E. Howard and the Issue of Racism: The African and African-American Poems" was posted this morning on TGR website,. Here is the link for Part 1 (of 5) http://rehtwogunraconteur.com/

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#18 Libaax

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 01:42 AM

Interesting article and the history of racism of those days is pretty......

How many parts with the article be Barb ? The poetry of REH you mentioned sounds very different.

#19 BarB

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 02:58 AM

Libaax
The photos that Damon inserted into the article are well chosen. The images are much more graphic and tell the story better than those I used when I published it in my REHupa zine.

There are a total of five parts. I'm not sure when the next one will be posted but it starts the poetry analyses.
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#20 amster

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 03:08 AM

I think the main reason why Howard takes it on the chin so much for his perceived beliefs is because so much of what he wrote is tied to national identity of one kind or another. Conan is a Cimmerian, and that point is made in nearly all of the stories, emphatically. He hates the Picts because Cimmeria has always hated the Picts. Race and culture play a big part of characterization in Conan's stories. So, too, do his Historical Oriental stories. El Borak. Many of the horror stories. Howard didn't shy away from race and culture, and he always used those inherent biases in his fiction to add dramatic tension. And for Howard, so much of his stories were about that very conflict, that clash of cultures. So, unfortunately, it comes up.


That's probably the biggest reason that I t think that Arvid Nelson's African Picts was an incredibly ill advised and bone headed idea. When we're talking about one fictional with white skinned race having a deep seated racial hatred against another fictional white skinned race, no harm no foul. But the minute you make one of the fictional races black, it adds an entirely new dimension that makes REH seem even more racist than the original stories suggest.
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--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--