Archive for the 'Herbet Klatt' Category

satan-n-est-pas-celui-qu-on-pense

But hear me Satan, no man ever made me admit defeat — I’ve reeled beneath a bloody moon, on buckling legs, with blood pouring from my battered mouth and mingling with the sweat on my chest and a scarlet haze shimmering before my eyes — and I’ve been smashed from gong to gong, but I never admitted defeat even when I could scarcely stand. Anybody and any condition can batter me to pieces, but I’ll never admit I’m defeated.

– Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, Aug 1928 (CL1.220-221)

Robert E. Howard’s “Satanic” output—those stories and poems which have Satan, the devil, or devil-worship as a major element or theme—are comparatively few. However, if taken as a whole with his letters and other materials, readers can get a sense of the development of Howard’s ideas of Satan and devil-worship in his creative output over the last decade or so of his life.

References to the devil, under varied names and forms, punctuate the letters of Robert E. Howard since at least 1926, when in a letter to Tevis Clyde Smith he wrote “By Baal I am joyed that you wrote.” (CL1.75) Very likely, there were earlier usages in letters now lost to us; Smith’s own contributions to The Tattler from 1923 on contain exclamations like “Diavolo” (SFTP 15) and “Diable” (SFTP 17) and Herbert C. Klatt liked to use “Shades of Hades!” (LSOS 101, 110), so it seems probable on the face of it that such mild infernal oaths formed a not-too-uncommon part of the discourse in Howard’s circle.

In Howard’s letters and poetry, his approach to Satan and Christian religion in general is often ambivalent (“My ancestors were all Catholic and not very far back. And I have reason to hate the church.” CL1.237), and while he never quite transitioned to the purely secular materialism of H. P. Lovecraft, his views were in part informed by the anthropological views of the day, which cast a different light on the development of the Devil in Christian theology and folklore:

I feel a curious kinship, though, with the Middle Ages. I have been more successful in selling tales laid in that period of time, than in any other. Truth; it was an epoch for strange writers. Witches and werewolves, alchemists and necromancers, haunted the brains of those strange savage people, barbaric children that they were, and the only thing which was never believed was the truth. Those sons of the old pagan tribes were wrought upon by priest and monk, and they brought all their demons from their mythology and accepted all the demons of the new creed also, turning their old gods into devils. The slight knowledge which filtered through the monasteries from the ancient sources of decayed Greece and fallen Rome, was so distorted and perverted that by the time it reached the people, it resembled some monstrous legend. And these vague minded savages further garbed it in heathen garments. Oh, a brave time, by Satan! (CL1.238)

The ambivalence regarding the Biblical figure of Satan is evident in Howard’s early poetry, where we first find Satan (or the devil, Lucifer, etc.) named in several of his verses, particularly “Lilith” (1927, CL1.145), “The Chant Demoniac” (1928, CL1.161), “To an Earthbound Soul” (CL4.16-17), and the untitled verse “The iron harp that Adam christened Life” (1929, CL1.357) and “The men that walk with Satan” (CL4.9-10); Barbara Barrett in The Wordbook: An Index Guide to the Poetry of Robert E. Howard lists a couple dozen other poems that use some variation of the name (WB 146-147), though these usages are often incidental. The use of Satan in these poems is typically in the popular Christian context, as lord of Hell and understood to be a veritable personification of evil, although in “The Chant Demoniac” he is portrayed more as John Milton did in Paradise Lost:

I am Satan; I am weary,
For my road is long and hard
And it lies through regions dreary
Since the Golden Gates were barred.
(CL1.161)

Just as Milton famously included old gods such as Mammon and Moloch as demons in his epic, so too did Howard in his verse, though Howard skews closer to the image of fallen idols cast as devils than fallen angels masquerading as idols. Baal (or Baal-peor), for example, appears in Howard’s poems “Astarte’s Idol Stands Alone,” “Baal,” “Baal-Pteor,” “The Mysteries” (1929, CL1.145-146), “The Riders of Babylon”, “Serpent” (1926, CL1.99-100), “The Worshippers,” “The Gods Remember” (1927, CL1.145-146), and “Swings and Swings.” The idea of Satan as synonymous with these old gods appears most prominent in “Black Dawn” (1929), where Satan is listed among non-Christian figures of worship (“Mohammed, Buddha, Moses, Satan, Thor! I lifted fanes to each of you betimes,” CL1.323)

-conan_boris_vallejo02Satan and related matters in Howard’s fiction is a bit more complicated matter. The bulk of stories that feature “devil-worship” or demons do not involve the Christian concept of Satan as such; rather Howard followed the tendency of many other pulp writers in casting foreign, pagan, or exotic worship as “devil-worship,” such as the synopsis “The House of Om” which features a Mongolian “devil-worshipping” cult perhaps loosely based on Robert W. Chambers’ The Slayer of Souls; or various supernatural entities or objects of worship as “devils”—a good example might be the Conan story “The Devil in Iron” (1934), whose Khosatral Khel was an alien being who set itself up as a living god, with dark rites of worship. Other uses of Satan are only incidental, such as in the Solomon Kane story “Skulls in the Stars” (1929), (as “Ahriman”) “Sons of the Hawk” (1936), and (as “Shaitan”) “Black Wind Blowing” (1936) and “The Brand of Satan.” Once those usages are weeded out, the remainder comprises a handful stories, the bulk of which never saw print until after Howard’s death.

Of these, “Casonetto’s Last Song” (1973) is the only Howard story to focus on the Black Mass, a practice of a Satanic cult which meets either in a cavern or “sombre chapel” and involves human sacrifice and a sung invocation. (HSREH 73) The details are perhaps intentionally vague in this short piece, and the typical details supplied by Joris-Karl Huysmans in Là-Bas (1891) or Montague Summers in The History of Witchcraft and Demonology (1926) on the desecration of the host or the specificity of infant sacrifice are omitted. The Texan was at least aware of Huysmans and his reputation, as he was named in “The Children of the Night” (1931).

“Dig Me No Grave” (1937) is essentially a Faustian tale of a sorcerer “had ignored the white side of the occult and delved into the darker, grimmer phases of it – into devil-worship, and voodoo and Shintoism.” (HSREH 132-133) Part of the interest of the tale lies in how Howard crams so many different references and mythologies into it, as if trying to capture in one story all the names of the Devil—“There is but one Black Master though men calle hym Sathanas & Beelzebub & Apolleon & Ahriman & Malik Tous.” (HSREH 140) “Sathanas” being a medieval Latin construction of “Satan,” “Beelzebub” (Ba’al Zebub) and “Apolleon” (Apollyon, Abbadon) corruptions or translations of Biblical names typically taken for demons or fallen angels, “Ahriman” the dark spirit of Zoroastrianism, and “Malik Tous” (Melek Taus) the principle figure in the Yazidi religion.

The Yazidis and the myths surrounding their “devil-worship” form the basis of the bulk of Robert E. Howard’s remaining “Satanic” material.

 

Works Cited

CL              Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (3 vols. + Index & Addenda, REH Foundation, 2007 – 2015)

DB               The Dark Barbarian (Greenwood Press, 1984)

HSREH        The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard (Del Rey, 2008)

SFTP            So Far The Poet & Other Writings (REH Foundation, 2010)

WB            The Wordbook: AN Index Guide to the Poetry of Robert E. Howard (REH Foundation, 2009)

“The Devil in Iron” illustration by Boris

Read Part 1, Part 3

1927 08-20 TV to HP 1a

After I put up the first of my posts on The Junto, I realized that most people have never seen the postcard that preceded the formation of that group: Truett Vinson to Harold Preece, postmarked August 20, 1927. The text has been published, but never the picture (I think). The card is part of the Glenn Lord Collection.

1927 08-20 TV to HP 2

The card is important because it shows exactly when Howard and Vinson were in San Antonio together, and about when they met Preece fact to face. The “Monday” referred to would have been August 22, 1927. This contradicts Preece’s memory of the meeting as recorded in his essay, “The Last Celt,” where he says the meeting took place in July.

Preece’s meeting with Vinson and Howard would have been fresh in his mind that weekend, August 27-28, when he met with a large group of Lone Scouts in Dallas’ Lake Cliff Park. A photo of the boys at the event has been online for a while (scroll down for a picture with two more Junto members, Herbert Klatt and Hildon Collins), but the original poster has the wrong date attached. Because of Preece’s mention of the meeting in “Robert’s Lady Cousin” (from an issue of Simba) I knew what newspaper the photo came from, and the Vinson postcard provides a window of dates. So, with an assist from Paul Herman, who lives near enough to a Dallas library with a collection of the Times-Herald to go digging, I was able to get another copy of the photo showing several soon-to-be Junto members, as well as a short article I didn’t know about before:

1927 08-27_0002a

The article is from the Times-Herald for August 27, 1927; the photo appeared in the edition for August 28.

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Back when I was preparing the Collected Letters volumes for the REH Foundation, I was in fairly regular contact with Glenn Lord. Besides pestering him for copies of Howard’s letters, I was also after issues of The Junto, the amateur press/Lone Scout paper that Howard contributed to from 1928 to 1930. In one of his letters, Glenn told me that he had complete copies of all the Juntoes listed in The Last Celt, minus two, and over the course of several years I received photocopies of them all. Lenore Preece never sent Glenn the missing two issues, only the Howard content/mentions.

Glenn wrote the definitive article about The Junto (which I’m pretty sure was titled by someone else), “The Junto: Being a Brief Look at the A.P.A. REH Partook In as a Youth,” which appeared in 2006’s Two-Gun Bob: A Centennial Study of Robert E. Howard. But while that article tells the reader everything they need to know about the group, it doesn’t delve much into the content of the actual mailings. That will be the focus of this series of posts. And before you start hunting for issues on eBay, there was only one copy of each mailing prepared. That one issue was then circulated to the members on the mailing list. Lenore Preece is the last person to have them in her possession; we don’t know what happened to them upon her 1998 death.

The first issue of The Junto that we have copies of is Volume 1, Number 6, for September 1928 (which probably came out mid- to late-August), but some of the previous issues are mentioned in the surviving letters to Tevis Clyde Smith written by Robert E. Howard, Booth Mooney, and Harold Preece. We’ll begin there.

The first issue of The Junto was probably dated April 1928 and came out in March. Upon receiving it, Robert Howard wrote to Clyde Smith:

I’m going to give your name to Booth Mooney as a possible subscriber to The Junto; a pretty good paper for that type. He seems to be a kindred soul, lacking the touch of idealistic optimism I find cropping out in Preece and Klatt ever and anon. They are the true reformers, the men who will do real good in the world. You, I and I think Mooney will do the world good — we will do it so good that likely we will all have plenty of money before we take the count.

Howard was true to his word and Mooney wrote to Smith late in the month:

Bob says that he considers you the coming poet of the age. He further informs me that you have the true fire. Also, he says that you wish to receive THE JUNTO. You will. NOW: I want you to contribute. Can you get me some material for the next issue? It must be in by the tenth of April. If you will send me some of your poems, the more the better, by that date, my appreciation will know no bounds. Really, I do want you to contribute, and I hope that you will do so.

Mooney also mentioned one of his own projects: “I am at present engaged in writing (in vers libre) a book, Voices From the Tombs. Extracts from this will appear in the next issue of THE JUNTO.”

Smith apparently met the deadline, for in a circa April 1928 letter Mooney responded, “Thanks muchly for the article and poem. They’ll both appear in the next issue of THE JUNTO.” Around the same time, Robert Howard was telling Harold Preece, “Glad you liked the stuff I had in The Junto. I had thought it would contain something by you and was disappointed when I found it did not.” Since these early issues of the travelogue were later destroyed in a fire at the Mooney home, we have no way of knowing what Howard “stuff” was included therein.

In early May 1928, Clyde Smith sent Mooney a few contributions. Mooney responded:

Thanks for the article and poem for THE JUNTO. Right worthy are they. I hope you continue to send such within your letters. Especially good is “Collegiate,” for I happen to have knowledge that the events depicted therein happen as everyday occurrences on the campus. Which, probably, is one reason why I have never and shall never honor any college by my attendance.

The same letter mentions the May 10, 1928 death of original Juntoite (to use REH’s terminology) Herbert Klatt (photo below). There was a flurry of activity amongst his friends and correspondents, with plans for publishing a memorial collection of Klatt’s writing being discussed. Mooney offered to send the compiler “an article by Klatt [that] appeared in the first issue of THE JUNTO.” The collection never materialized, but Mooney also told Smith that the “July issue of THE JUNTO will be the Klatt Memorial Edition. It will be typed as are regular issues, but it will contain only material by and regarding Klatt.” [This episode is discussed in greater detail here.]

HCK hat 300

As the plans for honoring Klatt went their course, the June 1928 mailing of The Junto began circulation. While the mailing itself does not survive, we know that it contained Smith’s “Collegiate”; Booth Mooney wrote to Smith about the comments that had been written on the Mailing List: Bob Howard—“Let’s have more by Smith; the rougher, the better; every man for himself and Hell for all.” Below this, Harold Preece wrote: “One doesn’t have to go to college for that.” Katherine Preece—“Why ‘Collegiate’? It is not restricted to college life.” Myron Flechtner—“As for Clyde Smith’s ‘Collegiate,’ I have no quarrel with it; the ‘type’ he describes exists, altho they are hardly numerous, and, too, he has laid it on a bit too thickly. There is nothing ‘raw’ about it, as Preece says; I suppose he alludes to the language used by these young jackasses.”

Howard also wrote Smith about the issue:

Having just read the Junto I get une grande kicke out of it especially your poems and article. I instantly sit me down and indict, following “comments” on the address sheet: “Let’s have more by Smith and the rougher the better; every man for himself and Hell for all.” Seeing that Truett has forgotten to comment, I considerately add for him: “Anybody who don’t like what I said about Will Hays will kindly go to Hell, you bastards.”

Smith’s article appears to have caused a bit of a ruckus. In an August letter to Smith, Mooney mentions “a new feature” to appear in The Junto, “a discussion page. If you wish to defend your article, ‘Collegiate,’ in this department, you are at liberty to do so.” He also says, “Personally, I agree with you regarding the article. It is certainly true to life. Though, I have never attended college, I have a brother who has, and I can judge by him.” Juntite Hildon Collins appears to have had a different reaction to Clyde’s work. On August 30, 1928, Truett Vinson wrote to Robert Howard: “Collins writes there are only two objectionable features to The Junto—Clyde’s ‘college article’ and your opinion of it.”

Vinson was about to create a bit of a stir, himself. Whether or not the July 1928 issue was the Klatt Memorial issue, we’ll probably never know, but it did contain a piece by Vinson called “Hell Bent” which we will see the reaction to in the next installment.

[Go to Part 2]

PT

While researching Robert E. Howard’s involvement with The Lone Scouts of America and preparing the collection of material by Herbert Klatt, I’m sure there were items that went undiscovered, but the only frustrating thing was an item that I knew existed but that I couldn’t find copies of. In his December 21, 1925 letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, Herbert Klatt says the following in his discussion of a Los Angeles “tribe paper,” The Pueblo Totem: “it isn’t so bad, even if it did use some of your poetry. ’Twas a long time ago that, eh?”

The Pueblo Totem was edited by Dean Wiley, who had a short piece published in Smith’s The All-Around Magazine in 1923. After reading Klatt’s comment, I figured Clyde’s poem must have appeared in PT in 1923, as well. Of course, figuring it was in a 1923 issue didn’t stop me from purchasing a stack of 1924-26 issues; they were the only ones I could find—anywhere.

Luckily, not long after his last issue of TGR appeared, Damon Sasser was contacted by V. P. “Pat” Crain, a son of one of the big names from the old Lone Scouts organization, O. L. Crain. Damon forwarded his message to me, and we’ve been trading things ever since. Now, thanks to his collection, I’ve finally got the items that Klatt referred to in his letter. If I ever update the REH Foundation edition of “So Far the Poet,” I’ll include the following two items.

First, from the June 1923 issue of Pueblo Totem:

“The Three Musketeers”
By Clyde Smith [15]

“O carry me to the France of old,
When blood was young and hearts were bold;
When sword crossed sword for honor then,
When life was life and men were men.”

Though these lines grace only the immortal pictorialization of Dumas’ greatest romance, they, in themselves, describe fully The Three Musketeers. They carry us back to the days when real blood coursed through the veins of men.

The Three Musketeers is my favorite book, and D’Artagnan, Porthos, Athos and Aramis are my favorite fiction characters. Their brushes with the Cardinal’s Guards, their race to save the honor of the Queen, the capture and trial of Milady, and their numerous minor duels are only small parts of this great book.

Besides relating all the thrilling adventures which the heroes go through, this book is of great value historically. It presents to us in an interesting manner the life of that period. It shows us the customs and reveals the court life of the time of King Louis XIII.

I would advise everybody to read The Three Musketeers, if they have not already done so. It is as great a work as a book as “Doug’s” presentation of it was a movie show.

And this, from the September 1923 issue:

September 1923

Pat Crain is always interested in sharing and/or obtaining Lone Scouts of America info, memorabilia or anything related. If you’d like to contact Mr. Crain, shoot me or Damon an email.

This entry filed under Herbet Klatt, Tevis Clyde Smith.

Well, this year I’m sitting at home on my healing fractured hip instead of attending the Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards Ceremony in Cross Plains this evening. Since my social calendar is clear, I’m posting the winners; giving Brian a break this year. TGR contributor and guest blogger Jeff Shanks graciously agreed to e-mail the winners to me right after the ceremony, so without further ado, here are your winners of the 2012 Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards:

The Atlantean—Outstanding Achievement, Book

Winner: Ann Beeler for Footsteps of Approaching Thousands

The Valusian—Outstanding Achievement, Anthology

Winner: Dennis McHaney for Anniversary: Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector

The Hyrkanian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay

First Place: Winner: Rob Roehm for “The Vinson Papers,” Parts 1 through 10 plus Addendum, from the REH: Two-Gun Raconteur blog, posted July 2 through July 25, 2011

Second Place: Winner: Mark Finn for “Southwestern Discomfort” from the REHupa website, posted December 22, 2011

Third Place: Winner: Brian Leno for “Atali, the Lady of Frozen Death” in REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #15

The Aquilonian—Outstanding Achievement, Periodical

Winner: Glenn Lord for The Howard Collector #19

The Stygian—Outstanding Achievement, Website

Winner: Brian Leno, Rob Roehm, Damon Sasser, Keith Taylor for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur

The Cimmerian—Outstanding Achievement, Blog Posts

First Place: Winner: Rob Roehm for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur

Second Place: Winner: Damon Sasser for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur and REHupa Blog

Third Place: Winner: Brian Leno for REH: Two-Gun Raconteur

The Venarium Award—Emerging Scholar

Winner: Jeffrey Shanks — A former blogger on the defunct Cimmerian Blog, in 2011 Jeff was one of the more active posters on the REHupa Blog, had two articles published, and presented at the Popular Culture Association’s conference.

The Black River Award—Special Achievement

Winner: Rob Roehm for his work in tracking down information, photos and documents for Lone Scout of Letters, School Days in the Post Oaks and The Collected Letters of Doctor Isaac M. Howard.

The Rankin Award—Artistic Achievement in the depiction of REH’s life and/or work

Winner: Jim and Ruth Keegan for “Adventures of Two-Gun Bob” comic strip and covers for Spicy Adventures, Tales of Weird Menace and Steve Harrison’s Casebook.

The Black Circle Award—Lifetime Achievement

Winner: Dennis McHaney

The Black Circle Award—Nominees for next year’s Award

 To be announced.

The Crom Award—Board of Directors’ choice

No award given this year.

Now, how about a big round of applause for the talented winners of this year’s awards.

Editor’s Note: First, special thanks go to Jeff Shanks for the photo and awards results, plus kudos for winning the Emerging Scholar Award. Congratulations go to Brian and Rob who both made out like bandits at the Awards ceremony. And special thanks go to Brian, Rob and Keith, and guest bloggers Barbara and Patrice for their outstanding contributions to this blog and website. As for me, I am deeply humbled receiving The Stygian Award for Outstanding Achievement, Website and The Cimmerian Award for Outstanding Achievement – Blog Posts. It is an understatement to say I am eternally gratefully for all the support given to this website by you, the fans. Your continued support is greatly appreciated by all of us here on the blog.

This is the first post for 2012 of the online version of Nemedian Dispatches. This feature previously appeared in the print journal and is now on the blog. On a quarterly basis, Nemedian Dispatches will highlight new and upcoming appearances of Howard’s fiction in print, as well as Howard in other types of media.

In Print:

Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
In this revised and expanded second edition of  author Mark Finn’s Howard biography, many of those old, outdated myths that have grown up around Howard and his fictional creations. Armed with twenty-five years of research and a wealth of historical documents, Finn paints a very different picture from the one that millions of fans of Conan have been sold throughout the years. This item is nearly sold out.

Lone Scout of Letters
Now available from Roehm’s Room Press, Lone Scout of Letters, a volume that  collects a wide variety of material written by REH”s friend, Herbert Klatt. This includes 12 letters to Tevis Clyde Smith and 1 to Howard. Also included is a sampling of Klatt’s work from various tribe and farm papers, letters outlining the planned memorial collection, and an extensive appendix containing all of the known material written by Truett Vinson, including Lone Scout items, letters, and articles from The Junto.

Days of High Adventure
Subtitled “A Selection of the Works of Robert E. Howard,” this book’s webpage states it is not yet ready for publication, but it is available for the Kindle. This collection presents a nice sampling of Howard’s fantasy, adventure and weird menace yarns. El Borak, Black Vulmea, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn and King Kull are all represented in this volume. Edited by Gavin Chappel, with a cover by Margaret Brundage.

Sword & Fantasy #10
This new issue from publisher James Van Hise features an article on Virgil Finlay by Sam Moskowitz, a portfolio of the 1953 Kelly Freas art from the Tops in Science Fiction reprint of “Lorelei Of The Red Mist” (just the art, not the story), a five page reprint of the James Blish anti-A. Merritt reviews from the 1957 Fantasy Times, a facsimile reprint of Donald A. Wandrei’s 1926 Overland Monthly article on Clark Ashton Smith “The Emperor of Dreams,” a 2 page article written by H.P. Lovecraft in 1929 discussing his own horror stories “In The Vault,” “The Hound” and “The Colour Out of Space,” reprints of the 1933 and 1934 letters by Forrest Ackerman and others regarding whether the fantasy stories of Clark Ashton Smith belong in the science fiction mag, Wonder Stories (even H.P. Lovecraft weighed in on the debate), a tribute to artist James Cawthorn (1929-2008), and more. Full color front and back covers by Mahlon Fawcett.

Audio Books:

El Borak and Other Desert Adventures
This is an audio version of the Del Rey book of the same name that collects Howard’s adventure stories set in the Middle East and featuring Francis Xavier Gordon, known as “El Borak,” Kirby O’Donnell and Steve Clarney. This trio of hard-fighting Americans, civilized men with more than a touch of the primordial in their veins, are heroes on a grand scale and their stories are a hallmark of great adventure. This audio book from Audible.com is narrated by Michael McConnohie; running time: 25 hours and 17 minutes.

Coming Soon:

Marvel Tales
Lance Thingmaker, the publisher of the complete collection of The Fantasy Fan, is back with a hardback book that collects the five issue run of William Crawford’s Marvel Tales. Each issue was chock full of fantasy from a who’s who of Weird Tales writers, with REH’s “The Garden of Fear” appearing in the second issue. A website for Lance’s books is coming soon, in the meantime, to order, contact the publisher. The price of the book is $50.00 (includes US postage), but if you mention the TGR Blog, you can save $10.00 and pay only $40.00 (includes US postage). The book is scheduled for shipping mid-May, with pre-orders shipping earlier.

Adventures in Science Fantasy
Pre-orders are now being accepted for the REH Foundation Press’ collection of Howard’s science fiction stories, which should ship around the first of May. The hardcover book will have a color cover by Mark Schultz and an introduction by Mike Stackpole who penned the Conan the Barbarian movie novelization.

Skullcrusher: Selected Weird Fiction, Volume One
Slated for September publication, Skullcrusher is the first volume of a two-volume collection of classic fantasy stories by REH. The stories in this collection feature all of Howard’s most famous creations — Conan, King Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn — alongside others such as Cormac Mac Art, James Allison, Red Sonya, and Cormac Fitzgeoffrey — in a definitive anthology of sword and sorcery, weird adventure, and occult horror in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

The Sword & Sorcery Anthology
Coming in June, a big collection of sword & sorcery stories from the world’s best  fantasy authors. In addition to Howard’s “Tower of the Elephant,” Jack Vance, C.L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Charles Saunders, Karl Edward Wagner, David Drake and more writers are represented with some of their best yarns. An original story from Michael Shea rounds out this essential anthology. Edited by David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman.

Kamose the Magician – New Tales from Keith Taylor
Keith has just written three “Kamose the Magician” short stories  and is now working on a couple of novels. One is about Kamose and one is a “murder-at-a-tournament” medieval whodunnit set in Salisbury, England, in the year 1352. Looks like he is poised for a big comeback.

Judging from a handful of references in his letters, Christmas was a low-key event in the Howard household. Howard mentions in one letter he usually received a book for Christmas. This quote from letter to August Derleth, written on or about December 29, 1932 is a pretty typical example:

… I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas. It was pretty quiet in these parts, nothing out of the ordinary occurring. Personally, I did about as usual — ate too much rich food, drank a good deal of whiskey, and shot a few holes in the air, by way of celebration. But it was all mighty tame. I can remember Christmases when liquor flowed and gunpowder was burnt in appropriate quantities — but that’s neither here nor there.

Other the firing of a barrage of gunfire in honor of the Baby Jesus, that does sound like a pretty tame Christmas — the type most Americans celebrate then and now.  Of course, during The Depression in rural Texas, it was likely a simple celebration — indeed nothing like the commercialization of the holiday we see today.

But there were a few exceptions. In a letter to August Derleth in February 1935, he mentions some post-Christmas shenanigans he indulged in, which may or may not be a true account of events — Howard was known to wildly exaggerate some of his day to day encounters with people:

I had a very mild Christmas. Not even a nip of whiskey. Though a few weeks later I did liquor up, for the first time in eleven months. Wandered into the county-seat of an adjoining county, got to boozing with some friends, and got a lot drunker than I ever intended. One of them — a 220 pound giant — went on a real tear — high, wide and handsome. He revived the old Western custom of shooting up the joint, and mixing whiskey with gun-smoke and flying lead is no combination for a peaceable man. Things are so very hazy in my memory I don’t know whether I objected to the noise, or if he took a shot at me for a joke, but I do remember coming to hand-grips with him, and one of my knees is still a bit lame from the knock it got as we hit the floor together. If I’d hit on my head it probably wouldn’t have hurt me as much.

Of course, there is that famous night of debauchery in 1925 Howard parcipated in with his friends, Herbert Klatt, Tevis Clyde Smith and Truitt Vinson. The party occurred a day or two after Christmas on a ranch belonging to Smith’s uncle. Howard relates the tale to H.P. Lovecraft in a letter, ca. June 1931:

I remember a wild night I passed on an isolated ranch in mid-winter, several years ago; one of the party was wild drunk on beer and another was stark crazy on raw Jamaica ginger, with the obsession that he was a werewolf. One of the bunch was a young German who didn’t drink, and wasn’t used to the violent drunks common to Americans; he backed up against a wall and I couldn’t help laughing at his expression when the Jamaica victim began to smash the furniture, gallop about on all-fours and howl like a mad-dog. About midnight a howling blizzard came up to add to the general lunacy. Gad, it makes me laugh to think about it now.

Of course, the young German was Klatt, the subject of Rob Roehm’s just-published book, Lone Scout of Letters. Klatt also makes an appearance in Howard’s semi-autobiographical novel Post Oaks and Sand Roughs as “Hubert Grotz.”

So, it appears Howard could either have a mild Christmas or a wild one, depending on his mood and company. No matter how you celebrate Christmas, please do so safely and relatively soberly — we want you around to read our posts next year. And here’s wishing you, from all of us here on the blog, a Very Merry Christmas!

 

Over at Lulu Press, they’re having a “Cyber Monday” sale. Shoppers will receive a 30% discount by entering the coupon code CYBERMONDAY, from now until 11:59 (Pacific time) tomorrow night. This is good for Howard fans. Besides the items shown above, a search for Howard-related titles at Lulu revealed the following (most in both paper and hard back editions):

The Robert E. Howard Reader by “Albert Schweitzer”
The Robert E. Howard Reader Volume One is a collection of some of Robert E. Howard’s greatest adventures. None of the stories appearing in The Robert E. Howard Reader are found in the two Del Rey “best of” collections, making it a wonderful companion piece to those volumes. This is the one and only ORIGINAL Robert E. Howard Reader, first published in 2007. It consists of content by ROBERT E. HOWARD.

Robert E. Howard: World’s Greatest Pulpster by Dennis McHaney
This book details the writing career of Robert E. Howard, the author who created Conan the Barbarian. It is a unique look at the pulp magazines that gave him his creative playground, told in letters from the readers of those magazines, and in letters and remembrances from his closest friends. The book is lavishly illustrated with color cover reproductions of many of the magazines in which his stories originally appeared. Winner of the 2006 Cimmerian Award, which is currently the highest achievement in Robert E. Howard studies.

Robert E. Howard: Selected Poems
A large and representative selection of the poetic work of Robert E. Howard, with a general introductory essay, 30 chapter introductions, and commentary by Prof. Frank Coffman, one of the foremost authorities on Howard’s verse and “ways with words.” Three indexes add to the value of this ample selection: by title, by first lines, and a “Form Finder” index to allow quick access to Howard’s work with the ballad, the sonnet, blank verse, free verse and other forms and techniques. Well over half of Howard’s more than 700 poems are included in this text, set in a text size and format for presentation that enhances readability and enjoyment. For those who are familiar with Howard’s prose fictional works, but who remain uninitiated in the many qualities and nuances of Howard’s verse, this compilation and commentary will offer insights into the complexity, quality and breadth of his work. For those who believe they know Howard’s poetic work, some new perspectives will broaden their appreciation.

A Gent from Bear Creek by Robert E. Howard
Saddle up, pards, and ride the range with one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest characters, Breckinridge Elkins. This is the novel version of A GENT FROM BEAR CREEK, first published in 1937 in London, and the rarest and most valuable Howard book ever published. It was reprinted in facsimile form by Donald M. Grant in the sixties, but every reprinting of it since then has been edited. This version restores the original Jenkins text. The original dust jacket is reproduced on this edition. There are only a handful of original dust jackets in existence, most of them in libraries in England.

And a whole lot more, including all of the Foundation’s Lulu books. A 30% discount is even bigger than our members receive.

 

All of my Roehm’s Room Press books are available, too, including Howard’s Haunts and the brand new Lone Scout of Letters:

Herbert C. Klatt was a primary figure of the Lone Scouts of America movement in Texas. Not only did he contribute to Lone Scout, the organization’s official organ, he also wrote articles for a plethora of “tribe papers” and edited Lone Scout columns for regional and community newspapers. Despite all this, Klatt is probably best known as a friend and correspondent of Texas author Robert E. Howard. Klatt’s importance in Howard’s biography has not been fully explored, but he was instrumental in the introduction of his more famous friend to the group of writers that eventually produced The Junto, including Harold Preece and Booth Mooney. Upon his death in 1928, Klatt’s friends attempted to garner support for a memorial collection of his writings. Plans were made and printers contacted, but the attempt was never realized—-until today. This anthology collects Klatt’s letters to Tevis Clyde Smith and a sampling of his Lone Scout material. It also includes material by Robert E. Howard, Truett Vinson, and Smith.

Plus a pile of other items. Happy shopping.

Born and raised in the farm communities of Texas, Herbert C. Klatt became a primary figure of the Lone Scouts of America movement in Texas. Not only did he contribute to Lone Scout, the organization’s official organ, he also wrote articles for a plethora of “tribe papers” and edited Lone Scout columns for regional and community newspapers. Despite all this, Klatt is probably best known as a friend and correspondent of Texas author Robert E. Howard. Klatt’s importance in Howard’s biography has not been fully explored, but he was instrumental in the introduction of his more famous friend to the group of writers that eventually produced The Junto, including Harold Preece and Booth Mooney. Upon his death in 1928, Klatt’s friends attempted to garner support for a memorial collection of his writings. Plans were made and printers contacted, but the attempt was never realized—until today.

Now available from Roehm’s Room Press, Lone Scout of Letters collects all of the known surviving letters written by Klatt to Tevis Clyde Smith (12) and Robert E. Howard (1). It also includes a sampling of Klatt’s work from various tribe and farm papers, letters outlining the planned memorial collection, and an extensive appendix containing all of the known material written by Truett Vinson, including Lone Scout items, letters, and articles from The Junto.

The material is presented in chronological order, with articles from various publications interspersed between Klatt’s letters and excerpts from other correspondents, including Robert E. Howard and Truett Vinson. The complete text of Howard’s single surviving letter to Klatt is included, as is his letter to Smith eulogizing Klatt, the section from Post Oaks and Sand Roughs that describes Klatt’s visit to Brownwood, and other excerpts from his novel and correspondence.

The collection also features all of the known surviving photographs of Klatt (9 of them), a recently found article by Tevis Clyde Smith from The Junto that mentions Howard, and title and subject indexes, all with introduction and notes by yours truly.

While primarily a collection of material by and about Herbert C. Klatt, Lone Scout of Letters also serves as a resource for the Howard fan and scholar. Besides Klatt’s mentions of Howard in his letters to Smith, the volume provides information about The Junto and its members, as well as the Lone Scouts of America, an organization whose members had an influence on Howard.

This anthology is available in two editions via lulu.com: hardcover for $25 and paperback for $16. See the preview on the Lulu page for a list of contents.

While waiting for proof copies of the forthcoming Lone Scout of Letters to arrive, I’ve been adding notes here and there where appropriate. While doing this, I came upon the following, from Herbert Klatt’s March 9, 1926 letter to Clyde Smith:

I read all the Collegian except some of the news proper—athletics—so I have not missed anything by Robert Arselle and Kerry Maynell. Of material in the Collegian, I like “White Haired Shadows” best, though that is not poetry proper. “Reincarnation” is not so bad. I can imagine Bob reciting it.

That sparked my interest, so I went looking through the Smith-edited issues of the Daniel Baker Collegian (copies acquired from the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M University). I found what I was looking for in the February 12, 1926 issue:

Re-Incarnation
By Robert Arselle

I have drank from the cup
And seen the flares of dawn;
I have lived in hell
And known the devil’s spawn.
Down through the ages long,
I have danced on the brinks of death;
Fate has had its fling
With the scars of the mammon breath.
From out of the distant past,
When time and God began,
I have crawled in the muck of the devil’s deeds
And felt the evil hand
That leads us on to a reckless end
And guards the lonely tombs of men.
If you will come with me to delve
Far back in the hidden past,
I will show you life since Time began
To play with the sands of chance.
For I have known a million kings
Who have lived with greed and lust,
And billions of others who have clutched
At vile perdition’s dust.
Since the age, when years ago,
I called the trees my home,
Down through the years when progress loomed
And we lashed the ocean’s foam.
Far happier in the primitive
Than in the years ahead,
When life changed to nothing
Else but the devil’s tread.
Numb we were in a modern sense,
And life and love were strange,
But down to the depths of our brutish hearts
Until the years of change
We had gained the heights of Paradise;
And we knew more of God
Than in the bloody years when chance
Forced us to rule the sod.
Since those mad years when first we groped
In a land else than our birth,
We have ever known the evil hiss
That has rocked the world in mirth.
Laughter harsh as the sibilant wind
That slashes the frozen waste
And carries us down to the pits of death
That we may know the taste
That follows on the sharpened tart
Bitterness brings to the human heart.
So for years I have fought and died
Only to live again.
I have seen the blades of blood mad hordes
Crash in the battle din.
I have known all the fields of carnage
From Troy and Ancient Gaul;
Concord, Waterloo, St. Michael,
I have seen through the blazing maul.
Here with broadsword and armor,
Hacking my way through the fight,
There on a foaming charger,
Riding like hell through the night.
Thus I have wooed destruction,
And insidious havoc wrought;
I have gazed on the beds of slaughter
That the crowns of kings have brought.
I have dared the golden harems
Of the ancient Persian line,
I have known the suns of Carthage
And I’ve drank the Aztec wine.
I have lived with keen enjoyment
In the company of sheiks,
And I’ve scaled with dissoluteness
Debauchery’s highest peak.
I’ve known the whole world in my time,
Its sordidness and shame;
In the years that I have lived,
I’ve snatched my lot of fame.
Under the banners of Tamerlane
I’ve met defeat and death,
So life will always be for me
Until the final breath
Dies in the throat of father time,
Who, with glazing eyes,
Cast up to crimson heavens,
Gasps, struggles, and dies.

I’ll have to agree with Klatt.