Monday, December 8, 2008

Conan Ain't No Dummy!

Hail, Fellow Conan Fans!

It's been a while since I last posted. Sorry about that. I've been busy over at my other blog, Geek Orthodox, and slammed with work, so I don't always get a chance to sit down and write about my favorite Cimmerian warrior.

But a good friend of mine hipped me to this great article from Tor.com, written by Douglas Cohen about the fact that over the years, people have tended to regard the Conan character as an oafish, stupid thug. We all know that he's one smart cookie, (I mean, he functionally speaks like, seven different languages!) but it's nice to read an article that brings the point home.

Here's some of my favorite points from the article:

Those unfamiliar with the original tales came to think of Conan as a stupid barbarian. While there’s no debating the barbarian aspect, Conan is far from stupid. Those who consider him as such clearly haven’t read Howard’s original tales. Instead, they’re believing in an unconscious public perception that is straining the character down to its simplest inaccurate depiction.

The first time we meet Conan, he is a king and still a powerful man. But this supposedly mindless barbarian isn’t chopping off heads, making war, drinking himself into a stupor, or pleasuring himself upon every wench available. Instead, he’s filling in the missing spaces on a map. The mapmakers aren’t nearly as well traveled as he is, and so Conan is bringing his vast knowledge to improve upon their faulty geography.

Before Conan led the revolt that allowed him to wrest the jeweled crown of Aquilonia from the mad king Numedides, he was general of this country’s armies, the greatest fighting force in the world. Generals are not stupid men. Quite the opposite, in fact. Consider also that during his lifetime Conan was adaptive enough to rule among a wide variety of men and cultures, from desert outlaws, to both inland sea & ocean pirates, to jungle savages. Each scenario requires a different set of survival skills. In the original stories we witness Conan fall in love, too, meaning he is capable of more than wenching. But he is a man who believes in living life to its fullest, and given the sort of world he lives in and his background, this is how he does it. All these various experiences made him ready to assume the throne of Aquilonia.

That's right, by Crom!

Anyway, you can read the full article HERE. Enjoy!

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1 comment:

Badelaire said...

Some REALLY good points made here. Way too many of the cliches attributed to Conan are either because of the movie (and I'll be the first to say, CtB is my #1 favorite movie of all time. Seriously - I've probably seen it 40 times or more.), or because of the pastiche/clone treatment the character has endured over the last few decades.

And while I do have some good things to say about Carter's Thongor and Gardner F. Fox's Kothar, they aren't nearly as sophisticated or cosmopolitan as Conan.