Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cimmerian sighting: Celebrating a pair of milestones in Howard studies

In studying Howard’s philosophy, one thing becomes abundantly clear: if there is a single overriding reason for critically analyzing Howard outside of the pulp ghetto, it’s that he so often managed to write himself out of it. In Howard’s best work one sees fantasy clichés bowled over like ten-pins in his pulsing rush to portray hate and vengeance. In doing so Howard forces the stories, at sword-point, out of the clichéd trappings of genre and into a different realm altogether: the realm of real literature.

–Leo Grin, “The Reign of Blood,” from
The Barbaric Triumph

This year marks a milestone for two classic anthologies of Robert E. Howard criticism: The Dark Barbarian (1984) and its sequel, The Barbaric Triumph (2004) turn 25 and five years old, respectively. If you don’t already own these volumes, now is the time to go hunting on Ebay: According to editor Don Herron’s Web site, the two books have recently gone out of print, and prices are likely to climb:

The five-year contract with Wildside Press just ran out on Don’s two critical anthologies about Robert E. Howard, The Dark Barbarian and The Barbaric Triumph, and he’s decided to let them lapse out-of-print and see where the prices go on the collectors market. The Dark Barbarian has been in-print for twenty-five years, originally in a 1250 copy hardback edition from Greenwood Press — looks like the trade paperback reprint from Wildside moved out approximately 275 more copies. The Barbaric Triumph is going to be tougher to land someday, since it was only available in print-on-demand for that five-year window and critical anthologies don’t tend to sell fast — the Wildside hardback seems to have sold approximately 150 copies while the trade paperback state edged close to 300 copies sold. Hardcore collectors have a perverse love for those low numbers, since they make the game all that much tougher and correspondingly more fun — and good hunting to the folk who didn’t get their copies while they were easy to order new.

To read the rest of this post, visit The Cimmerian Web site.

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