Two-Gun Bob: Lightin’ Al

I’m getting the distinct impression that good old Al Harron, over in the World of Robert E. Howard Studies, isn’t the fastest blade out of the scabbard. Back on February 11 I addressed some concerns he had raised about where I stood in the Howardian action, and I see that on October 17 he suddenly discovered that he had been answered.

If this had been a debate, people would have died of boredom in the interval.

But in answer to a couple of Al’s “points” — the idea that we couldn’t possibly be related in any way because our last names are spelled Herron vs. Harron indicates someone who isn’t familiar with names or how inconsistent they have been historically. While I don’t have the time or interest to explore the issue today, within my own family my father was one of eight siblings — half of those brothers and sisters spelled the last name “Herron” and the rest spelled it “Herren,” and I met some cousins once who spelled it “Herrin.” I have some Scots roots (Al is over in Scotland), so don’t regard his statement as in any way definitive. Al’s only 27 years of age at this point, so he hasn’t been around the block much as yet (though by that age I had written “Conan vs. Conantics” already and duked it out with L. Sprague de Camp in the letter column of Two-Gun Raconteur, so I probably expect more out of potential Howard critics than most people).

Then there’s the idea that Al doesn’t get that I get it. It might be the American vernacular throwing him, but who in Western Civilization doesn’t understand the concept of What Have You Done For Me Lately???

I guess we can put Al on that list. . . .

And somewhere in those long months I do recall Al taking the side of Professor Frank Coffman in a little dust-up I had with him — my only advice, Al, is that no one who really knows Howard Studies would ever side with Frank over me about anything. Honest.

But I must compliment Al on another recent post he did — very funny, and spot on — concerning the upcoming book of essays Conan Meets the Academy, where the initial blurb says flat-out that it is the first scholarly investigation of Conan. The only way you could suggest that it is “first” would be if you consider the idea that the essays are written by academics (including Professor Frank) and that only professors can do litcrit (some people apparently believe that — the poor saps, the poor deluded saps). To me, it just looks as if the profs are cribbing the pattern that L. Sprague de Camp used in books such as The Conan Reader, The Blade of Conan, and The Sword of Conan — sorry, academics, but it’s been done, decades ago.

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