I just finished reading The Phoenix on the Sword by Robert E. Howard. It reminded that he is a very entertaining writer. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
However, I have a love/hate relationship with Howard. And it really isn’t his fault. When I was a teenager I had two favorite writers: Howard and H. Beam Piper. (Of course my little teenaged mind thought it was of great significance that they both died by their own hands.) They are no longer my two favorite writers but they are in my top ten list. Then I started reading opinions and analyses of Howard and his works. My problem defenders and apologists of Robert E. Howard’s reputation and legacy. The vociferous levels of rhetoric that sometimes accompany discussions about his works is off-putting. If seems that Conan can’t be mentioned without someone excoriating L. Sprague de Camp, analyzing Howard’s psychological state at the time of his suicide or generally arguing that Howard was the best writer EV-AR.
I was letting these things get in the way of my enjoyment of the stories. And this is really too bad because not only do I enjoy the stories but I really like to game in the type of milieu that Howard created with Hyboria. I think I am over this now. I realized that people have taken these adventure stories and their author much to seriously. I just need to enjoy the stories and ignore the rest. And I need to find a sword & sorcery game to play in.
(I will make one comment, however, and this is more a reflection on me than anything else.. I grew up reading the de Camp edited stories and, frankly, if you set them down in front of me side by side I don’t think I would be able to tell the difference. Anyways, my two cents.)