More than Human: The Evolutionary Heroes of Robert E. Howard
Saturday, May 8, 2010
posted by Miguel Martins
Many thanks to Howardian scholar Paul Herman, who posted about this book on The Official Robert E. Howard Forum.
He noted that the two co-authors of the upcoming critical work More Than Human: The Evolutionary Heroes of Robert E. Howard, Justin Everett, Ph.D. and Deirdre Pettipiece, Ph.D. were “very serious REH fans, and serious academics, they have been promoting REH out there on the academic circuit” and has corresponded with both several times. They also will be presenting a panel at Howard Days next June.
Known best for the sword and sorcery stories he produced for the pulp fiction magazines of the 1930s, Robert E. Howard created a huge body of work that consisted of “around 3.5 million words” (Robert E. Howard Foundation, The Last of the Trunk), most of which focused on the creation of fantastic heroes of a depth and breadth unmatched by any writer before or since. Conan, King Kull, Solomon Kane and other complex characters populate civilizations Howard constructed and reconstructed in a wide-array of alternative worlds governed by competing principles of combat, survival, loyalty, and revenge. Tracing these heroes and the texts they occupy over the course of Howard’s interactions with evolutionary theories of human origin and behavior, Everett and Pettipiece reveal his dynamic and often conflicted engagement with ideas that changed the world. Howard’s interaction with the ideas of Darwin, Spencer, Freud and others who articulated fundamental principles of human behavior and social organization can be seen not only in the developing identities of his heroes, but also in the critical discussions he undertook with H.P. Lovecraft and other contemporaries. His intellectual engagement with some of the most important theories and philosophies of the 19th and 20th centuries demonstrates that Howard and his body of work are sufficiently representative of important themes and tropes to recognize him as part of the American canon. This volume therefore addresses the gap in the critical discussion of American literary production of the first half of the 20th century by presenting Howard and his heroes and the evolution they both undertook over the course of his active career.
Brief table of contents:
2. Forward by Terence McVicker
3. Introduction: Why American Literary Studies Need Robert E. Howard
4. Chapter one: Early Influences and the Little Blue Books
5. Chapter two: Engaging with Ideas: What Howard Read and Its Impact on Howard’s Emerging Philosophy
6. Chapter three: Sex and Sinews: Sexual Selection, Secondary Sex Characteristics and Howard
7. Chapter four: Howard’s Men and Women and Their Potential Sources in Literature and Life
8. Chapter five: Isolation and Community, Civilization and Barbarism: Binary Forces in Howard’s fiction
9. Chapter seven: Conclusions and Continuing Questions
This book’s theme seems interesting, so it might be worth its — expensive — price. One can’t have enough serious literary criticism concerning Robert E. Howard’s œuvre.