Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Pulp Writer

Who is the subject of my latest nerd-crush?
Solomon KaneSolomon Kane!

I've been boring the Lovely Wife catatonic, trying explain why this character is so engaging. Here's the breakdown: Before Robert Howard defined the Sword and Sorcery genre with Conan the Barbarian, he first completely subverted it by telling very similar pulp adventure stories starring a prudish, indignant, and completely bad-ass Puritan.

This seems simultaneously ridiculous and perfect. Consider:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.

If Jonathan Edwards didn't ever actually travel the world tearing into brigands and werewolves and whatnot with all the Righteous Fury of a Vengeful God, then it is an accident of history, and we should all be grateful to Mr. Howard for setting it right.

6 comments:

Shobo Coker said...

Funny excerpt. Been a big fan of Howard's work on Conan for a few years but I've never read any Solomon Kane.

I should probably track a book down. I've done so little reading this year, it's horrible really..

Joel Priddy said...

Thanks, Shobo!

In case it's not clear from the post, the quote is not from Howard, but Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was a Calvinist preacher who was to fire and brimstone what Howard was to swords and sorcery. His sermon, "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" is still taught in American High Schools as part of the "Scare the bejeezuz out of the kids" curriculum.

Also, if you pick up some Solomon Kane, prepare to be, uhm... amused? by his depictions of Africa. Not exactly documentary in nature.

Shobo Coker said...

Thanks for the clarification regarding the quote. Sort of disappointed it's not a Kane excerpt, it read like Howard gone mad.

Not really worried about the depictions of Africa I might encounter in Solomon Kane, having read Lovecraft, Burroughs and some Howard I've come to expect a healthy dose of awkward xenophobia in my pulp fiction.

Also, don't mean to keep bringing up the word verification but it's "cryng", which is a little creepy since I just got done bawling after watching "The Body" from Buffy season 5 for the first time.

Joel Priddy said...

The Internet knows you, Shobo.

carol said...

had to delurk to say--oh, i love the insanity of solomon kane! i've always thought his flashy sash seems suspiciously papist, though.

BradyDale said...

Holy crimeny, Mr. Priddy! I want to read this guy SO BADLY. A superhero self-righteous puritan? WOW WOW WOW!

Do comix about this guy! Do comix! Do comix!