Kevin Fitzsimmons's Reviews > The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard
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Feb 13, 13

Read from January 29 to February 13, 2013

I picked up a copy of volume one of the Conan stories (nonsensically titled The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian) that Robert E. Howard wrote back in the 1930’s. I grew up reading the Conan stories and thought it might be fun to check them out again after all this time. The current Howard anthologies are very well presented. There is an informative introduction to the stories (always appreciated), very nice illustrations and some appendices I haven’t gotten around to yet. I learned, that the early Conan anthologies (the one I grew up reading) where very unfaithful to the original work. Apparently the editor took it upon himself to make some drastic editorial changes (including adding scenes to connect stories with one another) and in the process essentially dumbed down the Conan stories.

Makes me think of the twat who thought it was a good idea to change the punctuation in Emily Dickenson's poems. The result? Most of her stuff read like it was written by a twelve-year with a penis obsession.

Howard has been wronged in the same way Dickenson was. As a result of these earlier anthologies (not to mention the Marvel comics and the movies) most people have an incomplete idea of what the Conan stories are like. Perhaps even sadder, Robert E. Howard (who is a fine writer) is under appreciated. His prose is snappy, interesting and the themes that he plays with (civilization vs. barbarism; law vs. anarchy) are intriguing even after all these many years. Yes, the stories are sword and sorcery and there is lots of silliness, but Howard pulls off a lot of good tricks and keeps things energetic and believable. I hope that the current anthologies can go at least some ways to encouraging readers to take Howard seriously as a writer and world builder.
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