Found an inexpensive copy of Conquering Sword of Conan - third book of the tales, as published by Ballantine/Del Rey.
Took it up at bed last night, chose to re-read "Black Stranger".
I feel a little clunkiness in the writing, but only a little. In general once again, Howard evokes, engages, focuses, realizes his characters so very well. And all the way through I mused on my youthful fascination with these manifestos of the manly, the muscular, the violent - these testosterone-driven ideals.
"Ideals" is the wrong word; "Mores Maiorum" would be better, or perhaps "Struggles". It's the whole idea of struggle against death, against murderers, against the deceivers and manipulators. But no, "ideals" IS the right word - Conan's selfish life is a fantasy of a powerful, healthy, independent, endangered, irresistably strong being. It is the Fascist/Nietschean fantasy of The Will, which inevitably appeals to young men - at least, young men like me. The more so since I'm none of that. If Plato had been right, I'd be built on a Type like that.
But, back to the book tonight - we've got Picts to worry about....
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