Saturday 22 January 2022

Swording With Shadows: The Long Shadow of Robert E. Howard on his 116th

So the 22nd of January once again comes around. Currently I'm researching for a post on Ossian and the Celtic Revival in Scotland (watch this space), and I'm looking into the mythologisation of Scottish historical figures. Macbeth, the Red King, is perhaps the most myth-shrouded of all, famed as he is from Shakespeare's tragedy. For one of Scotland's greatest and most successful kings to be so traduced in the convening centuries - first by his own people, and then by one of the greatest authors in the history of the planet - is a tragedy a thousandfold that of the thrilling fiction.

Blame cannot truly be placed on Shakespeare: he was faithfully adapting the centuries-past recollection of Holinshed's Chronicles, itself based upon the black propaganda first recorded in Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland. The notion of Macbeth the murderous usurping tyrant did not begin with Shakespeare. What Shakespeare did contribute, however, is a captivating study into power and humanity, ambition and destiny, with some spooky goings-on for good measure.

And yet, even as I'm deep in Scottish history, I think of Howard.