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December 8, 2008 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Why Conan the barbarian isn't just some big dumb-dumb.
posted by Artw (89 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
...we witness Conan killing, drinking, wenching, and generally carousing. These are fairly mindless activities, whether you’re a barbarian or not.

So, to paraphrase, even civilized people don't put a great deal of thought into killing, drinking, wenching, and generally carousing.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2008


for those who care, the original conan stories discussed here are the obvious inspiration for Dave Sim's Cerebus character, not simply as a parody, but also as a straight-up tribute to Howard's writing style and Conan's character. Further, another of Howard's characters, Bran Mak Morn (last king of the Picts) also inspires a recurring character in the Cerebus books: Bran Mak Muffin (last king of the Pigts).
posted by shmegegge at 8:55 AM on December 8, 2008


The Crom tag is disappointingly underused.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:59 AM on December 8, 2008 [12 favorites]


Robert E Howard on kitties.
posted by Artw at 9:00 AM on December 8, 2008 [18 favorites]


By Crom, The Crom tag is disappointingly underused.

FTFY.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:01 AM on December 8, 2008 [12 favorites]


Hmmm. Much as I'm interested in all things Conan, this can be summed up as "people who have never read a Conan story have false ideas about how Conan is portrayed". Didn't strike me as all that insightful. But still a fun read, and I definitely second his recommendation of the Del Rey editions.

One could argue, in line with the "barbarian vs. civilized", one can still see Conan as a particular outgrowth of the American anti-intellectual tradition, insofar as he represents the idea that "book learning" and theorizing are inherently inferior to practical knowledge and gut instinct.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:05 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, he definitely wasn't. I started reading those stories back when I was 11 or 12 (perfect age for it) and one thing that was apparent right away was that for an uneducated man, Conan was pretty sharp. He used his wits fairly often, though not as often as his sword and indeed, by the time he was king his battlefield knowledge was superior.

REH definitely had racist and misogynist tendencies. But I cut him a little slack - he's a product of his time and place. He could flat out write a compelling tale. Several years ago my wife bought new bookshelves so everything had to be moved. I read the opening page of all my old teenage faves to see how they held up (Tolkien notwithstanding) and lord, what a lot of bad writing. Then I picked up a Conan book. Half an hour later I looked up to see my wife asking why I was reading instead of moving books. I was a couple chapters in, the Picts were coming across the river, and I could not put the damn thing down even though I had read that story a good fifty times back in my youth. REH had a gift.
posted by Ber at 9:06 AM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


How can you write an article where your central premise is "a lot of people have the mistaken impression that Conan the Barbarian is just a big, dumb brute, which isn't the case if you look at the original source material" and not mention a certain movie? It's like complaining that "people have the mistaken impression that Batman is just a cartoony do-gooder with lots of fancy gizmos and everyone around him makes wisecracks with funny sound effects" without mentioning the TV show.
posted by yhbc at 9:16 AM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Over the years, I've tried a few times to write a Conan story and could never get the mix right. REH's original works have this blend of violence and plotting all gussied up with his descriptions that I'm just not able to match. I blame movies, not just the Arnold the Barbarian flicks (which is where most current perceptions of Conan come from), but the action movie in general. There's not enough space for thought between the punching and the one-liner. That's not to say it can't be done - there are plenty of latter-day Conans out there (in comics, at least) with Mignola's Hellboy and Powell's Goon being at the top of the list.

If you have not picked up the recent Dark Horse series (Busiek), you should do so. Wonderful adaptation. Plus, you can pick up the reprints of the Marvel years and some archive editions of Savage Sword as well.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dark Horse's Kull that just came out (Issues 1 and 2) is good, too.
posted by HopperFan at 9:22 AM on December 8, 2008


That cat essay is heads and tails(Har) over the lead link, thank you!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 AM on December 8, 2008


So, to paraphrase, even civilized people don't put a great deal of thought into killing, drinking, wenching, and generally carousing.

I cringe at the term wenching, but I put a great deal of thought into these things on a pretty constant basis. However, it wouldn't be the first time I was called uncivilized.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:25 AM on December 8, 2008


In other news, Groo the Wanderer really is as stupid as people think. Man, that guy's dumb.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:27 AM on December 8, 2008 [9 favorites]


It’s been far too long since I’ve quaffed from a flagon, given a big belly laugh and then fallen over.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


As I usually do whenever REH or Lovecraft are mentioned, you can read all of the authors' work on Wikisource. Unfortunately, the sites search function is unusable, so use Google if you're looking for something.

The Conan tales can be found here. I read all of them in the weeks leading up to the release of Funcom's Age of Conan, and while they nailed the look and feel of game dead-on, they released a buggy game that drove away half of the initial audience within 3 months.
posted by daHIFI at 9:33 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Conan! Conan is the damnedest bastard there ever were. He's got a long black mane of hair, crystal blue eyes. He's a fighter, born on a battle field. To him, combat's a way of life. It's all he's ever known. All he ever wants to know! He's no solider who was taught to fight. To him fighting is an instinct, it's part of him! Like his legs, his arms, his chest, his bull neck! Believe me he don't take it from nobody. He'll fight man, beast, the devil or god. And when those women feel those tree-trunk firm arms around their waist, they melt like butter on a hot skillet.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:34 AM on December 8, 2008


I am reposting the last graf of REH's cat essay here just because it is awesome:
The life of a cat is not numbered by nine. Usually it is short, violent and tragic. He suffers, and makes others suffer if he can. He is primitive, bestially selfish. He is, in short, a creature of awful and terrible potentialities, a crystalization of primordial self-love, a materialization of the blackness and squalor of the abyss. He is a green-eyed, steel-thewed, fur-clad block of darkness hewed from the Pits which know not light, nor sympathy, nor dreams, nor hope, nor beauty, nor anything except hunger and the satiating of hunger. But he has dwelt with man since the beginning, and when the last man lies down and dies, a cat will watch his throes, and likelier than not, will gorge its abysmal hunger on his cooling flesh.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:35 AM on December 8, 2008 [21 favorites]


I've always disliked cats.
posted by oddman at 9:43 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have such a weird relationship with Conan. I bought that collection pictured at the top of the article a couple years back, and have yet to finish it. I don't dislike them, though. I like them quite a lot, in fact.

What will happen is that I will be bored without a book to read, and browse through my books until I see that volume. Then I'll say, "Hey, Conan! I should finish that!" I'll grab it, go settle down, and read the next story I haven't read. I'll say, "That was awesome!" and then put it down for another nine to twelve months.

Don't fucking know what my problem is. For perspective, I love HPL and CAS, and have read everything I've been able to get my hands on from them. I have the same problem, however, with the Michael Moorcock Elric collection I picked up recently, only my reaction to finishing one of those stories tends to be "Wait, what?"

I guess my tastes have been shaped too much by more modern, developed sword and sorcery? I don't know.
posted by Caduceus at 9:46 AM on December 8, 2008


BOP, an interesting paragraph, especially as it sits above the link to the past story: "Animals Save The Planet." In my mind, cats eating their masters is how they save the planet.

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.


This has been my notion of Conan for quite a while. I've never read stories of Conan, which seems to be a disservice to the character. Interestingly, when searching for the simple phrase "what is best in life," the first link not from YouTube was a list of quotes, where he is cast in a more eloquent light (not sure how light is eloquent, but you get the idea).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:50 AM on December 8, 2008


Mongol General: CONAN, WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE???
Conan: PEACE, LOVE, UNITY AND RESPECT
posted by boo_radley at 10:05 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait... didn't the author of Conan kill himself when his mother was dying? Pretty interesting guy. Man would his life story make a great movie.
posted by flipyourwig at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2008


Since someone mentioned both HPL and REH above, it's worth noting that the two were actually close friends by way of correspondence, and Howard's own Mythos stories are as compelling, and in many ways superior to, Lovecraft's.
posted by absalom at 10:13 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


flipyourwig: After she died he plugged himself in his car in the parking lot. I assume you are being sarcastic about the need for a howard biopic?
posted by absalom at 10:15 AM on December 8, 2008


Wait, WTF, Goren as Robert E Howard?
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on December 8, 2008


The Cimmerian is fun reading about Howard, for example:
I sometimes wonder whether Esteban Maroto contributed to the muddying of the waters here; his illustrations for the 1980 Ace standalone The Treasure of Tranicos leer at Tina through a vaseline-smeared lens as a pillowy, pouty houri on the brink of several Sapphic interludes with Belesa
Also any article about Conan misconceptions should mention L. Sprague de Camp's attempts to appropriate Howard's legacy while doing him backhanded compliments after his death. This review of one of de Camp's Conan books is fun as well.

Conan is not about stupid drunken swaggering, he's about virtue in the classical sense of masculine excellence, which can seem very antique when you read it. Less Groo, more John Galt with a broadsword.
posted by fleacircus at 10:20 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


We'll get another crack at Conan in 2010, it seems.
posted by adamms222 at 10:25 AM on December 8, 2008


I was really hoping this would be more "and this is how the Conan stories SAVED THE WORLD!" and less "well, you were WRONG about him being stupid, that's for sure!"

I had no opinions either way, and am probably the only person who can say that who also grew up with a framed comic page from Conan the Barbarian on my family's mantle.
posted by aliceinreality at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2008


>>> Goren as Robert E Howard?

There was less of D'Onofrio back then, as he was nowhere near possessed of the Welles-ian bulk that has become Goren.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:35 AM on December 8, 2008


We'll get another crack at Conan in 2010, it seems.

Entitled Conan goest to Camelot", apparently.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:40 AM on December 8, 2008


Conan The Leering Pointing Jerkass
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:58 AM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


THere's also an animated version, Conan: Red Nails voiced by Ron Perlman in the works.
posted by Tenuki at 10:58 AM on December 8, 2008


Also, thanks for the link to REHupa, fleacircus. I haven't read my Conan books in over a decade, but their stuff on de Camp and his influence explains why I never filled the gaps in my collection.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:04 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


i *cough* happen to have a reasonable collection seeing as how they were prolly out of print years before I was born

and Asterix too

*if you have to ask*
posted by infini at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2008


honestly, though, Alvy, Buccaneer wasn't too bad, try it and see
posted by infini at 11:07 AM on December 8, 2008


Ah, yes, good ol' Unausspreclichen Kulten and von Junzt. I always forget that they came from Howard originally.
posted by Caduceus at 11:07 AM on December 8, 2008


This, my friends, is Conan. Frank Frazetta -- 'nuff said.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:08 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


We'll get another crack at Conan in 2010, it seems.

I hope Bruce Campbell gets the role.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 AM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah, perhaps they’re confusing Conan with Groo.
Conan speaks (by my count) 18 languages at least in part and is a tactical and strategic genius (as well as gifted nautical engineer.) He’s also brilliant manipulator and principled leader.
(Only a few people I can think of come anywhere close - Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Lincoln...
Given his bad-ass rep in wrestling tho, I’d give to Lincoln as closest.)

Groo, by contrast, smells like cheese dip.

The - “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.” quote was swiped from Genghis Khan, presumably to make the movie Conan sound tougher.

Conan was pretty much only about telling an interesting story. Whatever problems REH had were his own.
All the guy does, really, is what he has to do to survive. Unless he’s cornered, about 3/4 of the time it’s fight to where he can run like hell. I mean “holy crap! giant slug! holy crap! alien god! holy crap! otherworldly gizmo! holy crap! pirate hunters!”
Typically he’s the last man standing. So he leaves. He's not doing it because he wants to save the world. Or, really, even be involved. At most he's just looking for treasure, but he's often willing to just cut bait and split.

But circumstances - and there are hints that he’s a cat’s paw for some other kind of force in opposition to the elder gods. But it’s a very human-centered force if that’s true.

“one can still see Conan as a particular outgrowth of the American anti-intellectual tradition, insofar as he represents the idea that "book learning" and theorizing are inherently inferior to practical knowledge and gut instinct.”

One could see that if one didn’t read the books.
And I disagree with the premise in Douglas Cohen’s piece - Conan was indeed a man of deep thoughts.
It was simply very very dangerous to think too deeply upon some things in the books (Chthulu mythos are slightly interwoven).
He did read a great deal. He deciphered runes and maps and such. In terms of human learning he was very much an intellectual. Magic, especially in that world, not so much.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


flipyourwig: After she died he plugged himself in his car in the parking lot. I assume you are being sarcastic about the need for a howard biopic?

Nope not sarcasm, just ignorance. But thanks for telling me about the film. It's going up on my netflix queue today.
posted by flipyourwig at 11:32 AM on December 8, 2008


Conan was also multi-lingual, which is a feat I've never pulled off. Granted, in much of the rest of the world it's not so uncommon, but here in the US it's not something to sneeze at.

And yes, Groo is dumb. I understand many have called him a complete mendicant.


Interesting connection here for you Lovecraft fans:

*Howard and Lovecraft have references to one another's works in their own stories.

*Conan is incorporated into mainstream Marvel comics' history. Though the current state of copyrights and stuff may make this sticky, the fact is that Conan is a historical figure in Earth - 616.

*Lovecraft mythos ---> Conan ---> Marvel.

I wonder how Lovecraft would take that?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:33 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've read it, infini - I had a teacher in the seventh grade who lent me his collection, along with Burroughs' Barsoom books1. While it probably wasn't bad - I remember enjoying The Best of L. Sprague de Camp when I was younger2 - the fact that I only bought the Conan books with the least amount of de Camp and Carter tells me that I noticed something hinky about their contributions.

1In the eighth grade a teacher loaned me the first few books in the Gor series, which weren't nearly as, uh, adventurous as the series' reputation and fan base may lead some to believe. Several years later I picked up this book on a nostalgic whim at a used bookshop, and felt slightly violated.

2 I do remember the sensitive nerd in me really digging Judgment Day, though for a long time I attributed to de Camp stories that were actually from a CM Kornbluth collection, so there may be some misplaced affection for him.

Kornbluth's stuff, on the other hand, still stands up after all these years and kicks ass.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:35 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


For a movie about the life and short romance of REH, check out The Whole Wide World starring Vincent D'Dnofrio, based on the memoir by schoolteacher Novalyne Price.

The infamous quote about crushing your enemies did not orginate from the 1982 movie or one of REH's stories. Screenwriter and director John Milius likely got the quote from Genghis Khan The Emperor Of All Men" by Harold Lamb (pub 1952). Search full text for the quote.

It's not worth reading any Conan stories by any author other than Robert E. Howard. Those who've come after are diluted attempts, with meek voices.
posted by asfuller at 11:40 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would pay good money for an animated Frank Frazetta Conan. No one does Conan like Frazetta, quite frankly.

And the movie which is in production is going to be directed by Brett Ratner of X-Men III fame.
posted by ooga_booga at 11:43 AM on December 8, 2008


For truly non-dumb barbarian tales, see Samuel Delany's Nevèrÿon books.
posted by aught at 11:43 AM on December 8, 2008


I think some of Conan's reputation has suffered from being called a barbarian, which a lot of people associate nowadays with someone who has bad table manners. Originally, it simply meant someone who didn't speak Greek (the "bar bar" sound in it was meant to imitate incomprehensible speech), and was used to describe just about anyone whow asn't Greek, including Egyptians, Persians, Indians, Celts, Germans, Phoenicians, Etruscans, and Carthaginians.

"Barbarian" in Conan's case comes from this earlier definition -- someone who came from distant lands and wasn't part of a central empire.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on December 8, 2008


sonja the red wasn't too bad, but my ultimate was modesty blaise (urgh, feels an FPP coming over her but its 4am so how about tomorrow huh?)
posted by infini at 12:00 PM on December 8, 2008


Crom laughs at this post. Laughs from his mountain.
posted by electroboy at 12:10 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Conan! The adventurer!
Conan! Warrior without fear!
He's more powerful than any man,
His legend spreads across the land and sea!
Conan! The mightiest warrior ever!
His quest: To undo the spell of living stone cast upon his family by driving the evil Serpent Men back into another dimension and vanquishing their leader, the cruel wizard Rathomon!
Conan! The adventurer!
Conan! Man of bravery!
With his magic sword protecting,
The mightiest of warriors is he!

...

CONAN!
posted by shmegegge at 12:10 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Crom laughs at this post. Laughs from his mountain.
posted by electroboy at 12:10 PM on December 8"


Crom never laughs. He's gloomy.
posted by HopperFan at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


"It's not worth reading any Conan stories by any author other than Robert E. Howard. Those who've come after are diluted attempts, with meek voices.
posted by asfuller at 11:40 AM on December 8"


Have to politely disagree with this - er, or slash at you with my broadsword, either one - I have almost all of these books (er, *cough*, for research) - and many are quite good. For example, Conan the Invincible. (Robert Jordan)
posted by HopperFan at 12:36 PM on December 8, 2008


“And yes, Groo is dumb. I understand many have called him a complete mendicant.”

Well, he who laughs at Groo's brains will find there is nothing to laugh about.

But mendicant?
Isn’t that a process of inbred fertilization which employs certain decomposed organic materials-- including, but not limited to animal sediment-- to blanket an area in which vegetation is desired and the procedure enriches the soil for stimulated plant development while, at the same time, preventing erosion and decreasing the evaporation of moisture from the ground?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk: How could you not fall in love with a creature like that?
I blame the toxoplasmosis for my complete and utter surrender.
posted by sandraregina at 12:58 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


The most interesting thing about this article was the parenthetic mention of letters between Howard and Lovecraft discussing barbarism versus civilization. I bet that makes for an entertaining read. I'm going to scrounge around and try to find these.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:05 PM on December 8, 2008


Bret Ratner doing the new Conan movie? So killing the X-Men franchise wasn't good enough for him, now he wants to take a steaming dump on another sacred cow. This man really needs to be stopped, preferably with a broadsword.
posted by Ber at 1:14 PM on December 8, 2008


yhbc Yeah, I kept expecting him to mention the movie, but specifically I kept expecting not the first, but the *second* movie. While the didn't exactly portray Conan as a smart guy in the first movie neither did they go out of their way to make him look like a moron. Hell, they even included that narration line about "Language and writing were also made available, the poetry of Khitai, the philosophy of Sung".

The second movie, OTOH, was the one where Conan tried counting to six and said "One... two... three... I think you're right." Thus setting a new level in "Conan is a moron" contests.

Still, quibbles about which movie cemented the public perception of Conan as a moron is beside the point, it was the movies that did it and for the article not to mention that is bizarre. I figure the author can't have been ignorant of the movies, so not discussing them must have been a deliberate choice, but why would he chose to ignore them?
posted by sotonohito at 1:15 PM on December 8, 2008


Astro Zombie: I'm not sure about that, actually. Since the Hyborian age was something like 10,000 years ago, I really don't think the "non-Greek" meaning is the one that Howard was going for. (As the very concept of "greek" did not exist in Hyboria.)

Rather, I see "barbarian" as referring to someone who is "uncivilized" and lives by force of arms. Of course, it should be noted that by "uncivilized" I mean lacking in cities and complex societies, not being stupid or uneducated. After all, Cimmeria is located in the faaaar north, well away from the urbanized "civilized" kingdoms of Aquila.

In fact, if memory serves, the very first Conan story (chronologically) features Conan as King of Aqulonia. He complains about being hectored and mistrusted by his subject for his origins. (ie: for being a "barbarian.")
posted by absalom at 1:15 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seconding the huge drop-off in quality of Conan films. The first is a masterpiece (and that line might not be Howard, but it’s a damn fine line), the second is abysmal.

Is honestly-not-Conan from Red Sonya a thicky? I don’t recall.
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on December 8, 2008


I always preferred Conan the Librarian, myself.
posted by inigo2 at 1:35 PM on December 8, 2008


Just found this. I'll deposit it here for safekeeping. Be sure you use it wisely.
posted by nosila at 1:36 PM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


give me my broadsword...
posted by infini at 2:14 PM on December 8, 2008


bar bar bar barra bar bar buh bar bar buhr bahr bar bb-b-b-bb-b-b-b-BAR!
posted by exlotuseater at 2:15 PM on December 8, 2008


Damn, them Rogues in the House sure can dance!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:23 PM on December 8, 2008


the parenthetic mention of letters between Howard and Lovecraft

There are already collections of Howard's and Lovecraft's letters, but coming next year is The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Ain't cheap, though.

There's also Shadow's Bend in which HPL and Howard take a road trip to find Clark Ashton Smith and save the world from supernatural horror. (Heck, I just talked myself into ordering it.)

D'Onofrio was amazing in "The Whole Wide World." Recommended.

likely got the quote from Genghis Khan The Emperor Of All Men"

Thanks for the attribution, Smedlyman & asfuller!
posted by Zed_Lopez at 2:30 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank you, BitterOldPunk!

The life of a cat is not numbered by nine. Usually it is short, violent and tragic. He suffers, and makes others suffer if he can. He is primitive, bestially selfish. He is, in short, a creature of awful and terrible potentialities, a crystalization of primordial self-love, a materialization of the blackness and squalor of the abyss. He is a green-eyed, steel-thewed, fur-clad block of darkness hewed from the Pits which know not light, nor sympathy, nor dreams, nor hope, nor beauty, nor anything except hunger and the satiating of hunger. But he has dwelt with man since the beginning, and when the last man lies down and dies, a cat will watch his throes, and likelier than not, will gorge its abysmal hunger on his cooling flesh.

If you had not excerpted that, how could I ever have known that Conan was never a human being in the first place?

Conan is a cat.

A cat that Howard gave human form to and the ability to use language, but who retains a cat's ungodly strength and perfect self-sufficiency, a cat's deadly ferocity and demonic courage, and a cat's unending lustfulness (not to mention a cat's way with women-- including the mother Howard was so attached to, I'd bet).

And the fact that Howard's cat has green eyes, instead of Conan's blue, tells me Howard knew this consciously and was laughing at us all-- and yet I don't think he could have anticipated the degree to which he would identify with his transmogrified rival.
posted by jamjam at 2:32 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I always preferred Conan the Librarian, myself.

... and his asthmatic sidekick, Vlad the Inhaler.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:58 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


i do like fafhrd and the gray mouser too
posted by infini at 3:01 PM on December 8, 2008


Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That's what's important! Valor pleases you, Crom... so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!
posted by bwg at 3:22 PM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


(Only a few people I can think of come anywhere close - Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Lincoln... Given his bad-ass rep in wrestling tho, I’d give to Lincoln as closest.)

And he was handy with a broadsword.
posted by homunculus at 3:28 PM on December 8, 2008


I've been on a Conan kick lately. (In my possession right now is the volume pictured in the link, and I'm thinking on writing a paper on it.)

I recently picked up a couple of compilations of trade paperback Marvel Conan collections, which collect a lot of adaptations Howard's stories. They are so awesome that somehow the copious T&A seems like a distraction.
posted by JHarris at 4:37 PM on December 8, 2008


I used to read those books when I was a kid. I remember talk of sinews. Too much talk of sinews.
posted by juiceCake at 4:39 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, the application Stanza by Lexcycle will let you download all the Conan books fairly painlessly.
posted by ooga_booga at 5:06 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


damn, I will have to read every one of these stories since they will never make anymore of the Conan movies. If you've ever seen the director's cut you know there are scenes that point to a very insightful Conan at the end of "The Barbarian." It doesn't come off too well, though.
posted by jwakawaka at 5:25 PM on December 8, 2008


From the FPP "...he (Howard) and H.P. Lovecraft actually exchanged a series of renowned letters that debated the virtues of barbarism vs. civilization."

Renowned? Me thinks this would be interesting reading, anyone got links for me because I am too tired to google-fu it?
posted by Vindaloo at 5:37 PM on December 8, 2008


In the eighth grade a teacher loaned me the first few books in the Gor series...

I LOL'ed. Hard.
posted by codswallop at 7:09 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Arius, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to bear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!
posted by electroboy at 7:18 PM on December 8, 2008


the oodles of pleasure that this thread has given me more than justifies any 5 bucks I may have paid up over three years ago. what mental masturbation, what orgiastic debates, tbh, what a difference from violence, mayhem, politics, bloodshed and terrorism

can I top up my MeFi card please?
posted by infini at 3:35 AM on December 9, 2008


they will never make anymore of the Conan movies

I'm ahh, not optimistic, but positive that they will indeed make more of the Conan movies.
posted by juiceCake at 3:32 PM on December 9, 2008


Hey, I'd watch the Ron Perlman one.
posted by Artw at 6:19 PM on December 9, 2008


But Conan O'Brian is?
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:43 AM on December 10, 2008


Before Conan - Kull!
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on December 10, 2008


I thought you'd miss-typed Krull there for a second...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:50 PM on December 10, 2008


Well, Krull *is* awesome, but a different kind of awesome.
posted by Artw at 3:03 PM on December 10, 2008


And then theres a certain other movie with a "elfin mind sword", no one will convince me is any good, even ironically.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on December 10, 2008


Solomon Kane - another Tor.com post. I'm guessing there will be one on Bran Mak Morn too.
posted by Artw at 9:48 AM on December 11, 2008


Solomon Kane has a movie coming out as well, with James Purefoy in the lead.
posted by Tenuki at 11:34 AM on December 11, 2008


Bran Mak Morn
posted by Artw at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2008


I looks like the guy has now moved off of blogging REH and on to Clarke Ashton Smith, whose worlds I've heard described as an inverse of REH's, so EVERYONE is a crazed necromancer.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on December 21, 2008


More Conan on Tor.com
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on December 29, 2008


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