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The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard Volume Two: 1930-1932
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Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I just started reading volume II of REH's collected letters (The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard Volume Two: 1930-1932 from the REH Foundation). This volume has the beginning of his correspondence with HP Lovecraft. I'm impressed with REH's linguistic knowledge.


message 2: by Charles (new)

Charles (kainja) | 115 comments Definitely good stuff.


message 3: by Vincent (last edited Nov 13, 2013 04:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments This section fascinated me, on REH's thoughts on organized sports in schools:

"Organized athletics are having an effect on the schools which I do not believe is good. When I was a country schoolboy there was little systematic and competitive athletics, but all engaged in some playground form of amusement - baseball, snap-the-whip, wolf-over-the-river, wrestling, all hard strenuous games inclined to toughen and strengthen the participants. Now, certain groups of pupils play football and basketball and compete in race track events, and the great majority stand about and watch them. It seems to me that organized sport is tending to create a powerful and athletic minority and a soft-bellied and sluggish majority. Take the average high school. Ten, or perhaps fifteen percent of the pupils go for the grinding grill of competitive athletics; the rest do nothing in the way of building their bodies, or dissipating their natural animal spirits in wholesome ways. No wonder drunkenness and immorality are so prevalent among students. To the average boy or girl the accumulation of knowledge isn't enough to spend their energy on.... they must have a physical outlet, and since systematic sports denies this to all but a chosen few, the rest naturally turn to amusements less wholesome. This seems to be the trend of modern life, to me." ~ REH to H.P.Lovecraft, ca. January, 1931

Thoughts? Was he right?


message 4: by John (new)

John Karr (karr) | 117 comments Vincent wrote: "This section fascinated me, on REH's thoughts on organized sports in schools:

"Organized athletics are having an effect on the schools which I do not believe is good. When I was a country schoolb..."

Thoughts? Was he right?


It's like REH had a crystal ball. With rampant obesity in the USA and the glorification of athletics to the nth degree, he couldn't be more right.

Thanks for the info. Maybe I'll grab his letters.


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments I think he has a good point. Sports should be fun, not obsessions. It hasn't helped that our sue-everyone, safety first society has ruined even recess in elementary school. Getting the occasional bloody nose in a game of dodge ball used to be part of the day.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I recommend his letters. He has a lot of interesting thoughts nestled in among them. I think he was right on this point. Jim, you make a great point about how society today has ruined even basic recess. John, great point about obesity today. It is like he had a crystal ball.


message 7: by Ó Ruairc (new)

Ó Ruairc | 169 comments Howard's letters are fascinating. In many ways, I enjoy his personal letters more than I do his fiction. Upon reading R.E.H's letters, one really gets to know the man. You begin to understand his character, his interests, his likes and dislikes, where the ideas for his stories come from, etc, etc, etc...


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Yes. I've learned a lot of interesting things by reading through those. Today, I read one that revealed that "The Sign of the Snake" wasn't a Steve Costigan story (and that REH was pretty disappointed the editors turned it into one) and that he sometimes really disliked it when editors changed the titles of his stories ("The TNT Punch" instead of "Waterfront Law" for example).


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I had a curious bit of serendipity today. I finished reading a letter REH wrote to Lovecraft, in which he listed some lines from various songs and ballads to show how many dealt with sudden death (Aug. 1931, p. 242) ... and then I picked up Western Tales and re-read "Drums of the Sunset," which began with a verse mentioned in that letter!

I thought that was kind of neat. If I hadn't just read that letter, I wouldn't have known that the ballad already existed.


message 10: by Ó Ruairc (new)

Ó Ruairc | 169 comments Vincent wrote: "I had a curious bit of serendipity today. I finished reading a letter REH wrote to Lovecraft, in which he listed some lines from various songs and ballads to show how many dealt with sudden death ..."

Aaah, that's the beauty of reading, Vincent. Not that this has anything to do with R.E.H., but it does illustrate the serendipitous facts a reader sometimes has the pleasure of experiencing: Some years ago, I was reading this book called "Wilderness War on the Ohio." It was a history of the savage battle for British and Indian control of the Ohio country during the American Revolution.

Anyway, toward the end of the book, one of the key British commanders of the Great Lakes area went down with his ship in a storm on Lake Ontario. The ship, the HMS Ontario, had about 130 troops aboard her - everyone perished. But here is where the serendipity comes in... a few weeks later, while reading the daily news, I read a headline that mentioned the discovery of an 80 foot-long British warship in Lake Ontario. Sure enough, it was the HMS Ontario - the very same ship I had just read about!

But to get back to Howard's letters, it is interesting to discover all of the information and facts that provide the background for many of his stories. As I mentioned before, sometimes I love reading Howard's letters more than I do his stories (even though a lot of his letters are stories, albeit personal ones).

By the by, have you read any letter that reveals Howard's stance on religion? I know he didn't care for Catholics, nor did he care for priests. For the matter of that, I think Howard was an atheist; or, at the very least, an agnostic. I find this interesting because, if you read Solomon Kane and some of his other tales, Howard writes lines like:
"For man's only weapon is faith that flinches not from the gates of Hell itself, and against such not even the legions of hell can stand."
Or...."But the powers of good and light were on my side, which are mightier than the powers of hell."


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments You illustrate an excellent and powerful point about reading, Ó Ruairc. Neat serendipity there; I love it when things like that happen.

No, no clarity on his religion other than a general disdain for Catholics. I suspect the same as you, and that he (like any other writer) is good at writing characters, even if they believed differently or more strongly than he believed.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I had another serendipitous moment regarding The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard Volume Two: 1930-1932 and Western Tales. I read a couple of westerns and decided to stop at "Wild Water." I then read a letter REH wrote to HP Lovecraft (letter 192, July 13, 1932, pp. 372-390). In this letter, REH relates the flooding that happened on July 3rd and the sudden filling of Brown County Lake (estimated to take two years to fill, but filled in one night of torrential rain)... which was the inspiration for "Wild Water"!
Now I am ready to reread "Wild Water."

I thought it was neat that I stopped before that tale, then read the very letter which detailed the real life experiences that inspired the story.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Ó Ruairc wrote: "By the by, have you read any letter that reveals Howard's stance on religion? I know he didn't care for Catholics, nor did he care for priests. For the matter of that, I think Howard was an atheist; or, at the very least, an agnostic."

I came upon a letter that addressed more of his religious beliefs: "Concerning beings from Outside, I don't think I said that I assumed the positive existence of such things. My mind is open; I refuse either to deny or affirm. This is precisely my attitude toward questions mystical and theological. I have read a little in science.... and I've listened to endless discussions by professors and men who were supposed to be scientists. I've never heard a theological argument which convinced me beyond the shadow of a doubt in the existence of a Supreme Being; nor have I ever heard a scientific argument that convinced me that such a Being did not exist. The most I've heard on both sides have been unprovable theories." (Letter 193, To H.P. Lovecraft, August 9, 1932).

He goes to say that he feels the same way toward a traditional Heaven or Hell, or toward Reincarnation - none of it is proven or provable, so he is open to it all as possibilities or as nonsense.


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments Interesting. Thanks for posting the excerpts. I especially like the basis for 'Wild Water'. Nature is pretty amazing. We had winds last night out of nightmares. Still dark out so I can't assess the damage, but they did knock over a big wooden locker I have on the back porch that weighs several hundred pounds. No satellite or landline phone. Electric was out most of the night. I'm sure the fence line is going to need trees cut off it today.


message 15: by James (new)

James | 1 comments My dad grew up in Brown County, just south of Callahan County where REH lived, and he remembered that same storm. I heard him talk about it many times. It was a really big deal in that part of the world.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments That's awesome! Wow, he lived in the same neck of the woods as REH at the same time... that is too cool. Neat that you got to hear the stories of that storm from someone who remembers it first-hand.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Another comment about REH's religious beliefs: "I never gave a name to my views - or lack of views - but I guess an Agnostic is what I am, if that means skepticism regarding all human gropings." (Letter to HP Lovecraft, Sept. 22, 1932).

There you have it - by his own words, an agnostic.


message 18: by Ó Ruairc (new)

Ó Ruairc | 169 comments Vincent wrote: "Another comment about REH's religious beliefs: "I never gave a name to my views - or lack of views - but I guess an Agnostic is what I am, if that means skepticism regarding all human gropings." (..."

Thanks, Vincent. I thought I read somewhere that Howard referred to himself as an agnostic; you have confirmed it. Over the years, I have discovered R.E.H. and I share a lot of the same interests and philosophies (that is why he is my favorite writer), but I'm afraid I don't share his stance on religion.

By the way, just how many "Collected Letters" of Robert E. Howard are out there? Do you know? I have the two volumes of "Selected Letters" that were published by Necronomicon Press and edited by Glenn Lord, and I also have "A Means to Freedom," a two volume set which consists of correspondences between Lovecraft and Howard, but I do not have the volume of collected letters which you are referencing. Are there more? I should like to purchase the book you are reading, but if the letters in them are the same letters found in, say, the Necronomicon Press volumes, I reckon such a purchase would be to no purpose.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments There are three volumes, containing all of his extant letters (but not the related ones written TO him, just the ones written BY him). They are published by The Robert E. Howard Foundation. It includes letters written to his friends, publishers, magazines, and other authors, and include a lot of his philosophies.


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