Hyperborea and the Hyperboreans (according to REH) Sept 22, 2016 23:33:51 GMT -5
Post by deuce on Sept 22, 2016 23:33:51 GMT -5
I started this thread awhile back and titled it "Hyperborea and the Hyperboreans (according to REH)". That "according to REH" is important to keep in mind.
This thread is intended to provide data from REH about the Hyperboreans. It is here to discuss what all of the data indicates in regard to Hyperborea's people, culture and relationship to other peoples of the Hyborian Age. It is also here, since such threads always tend that way, to discuss that information and try to determine if, perhaps, Robert E. Howard had a historical model in mind when he envisioned Hyperborea.
This thread is "according to Robert E. Howard". It is not "according just to the Lancer/Ace Conans" or "according to what I cherry-pick, and to hell with what REH thought otherwise". Robert E. Howard did not write his tales of the Hyborian Age in a vacuum. As has been noted by many, many people, Howard drew upon his extensive knowledge of, and interest in, history when creating the Hyborian Age. It should be noted that REH's interests and knowledge were not equal across the board. He preferred some regions and periods in history far more than others. Thus, what REH thought about various cultures and what he knew about various cultures and how he wrote about various cultures can come into play on this thread.
If what Robert E. Howard thought about a certain culture is "wrong" according to "accepted history" or someone else's "understanding of history", then Robert E. Howard's views supersede them on this thread. That simple. It is right in the title of this thread.
Doing a straight reading of the facts, according to Robert E. Howard, the Finns are utterly disqualified from being a possible model for the Hyperboreans of the Hyborian Age. Here is what REH thought about the Finns:
These quotes are from two letters to Lovecraft:
"Speaking of Mongol stocks, I notice the Finns seem to be somewhat divided among themselves, even to the point of violence. But as you say, they and the Hungarians have adapted themselves to western civilization surprizingly well for Mongolians."
"If we justify Italy's grabbing of Ethiopia, how can we condemn Japan's seizing of Manchuria, China, Australia and India? What objection could we offer against Germany's grabbing Austria, Finland, Poland, Scandinavia? Or Russia's grabbing all the weaker countries about her?" (Feb., 1936)
Here is a quote from "The Shadow of the Hun" (written in 1931), wherein Turlogh, the Gaelic hero, talks about being ship-wrecked in Finland (circa 1016 AD) after fighting Vikings:
"I awaked in the hut of a strange people. (...) Well, these folks were Finns -- kindly people who treated me well."
The first quote establishes, beyond doubt, that REH considered the Finns to be of "Mongolian stock". The second quote establishes that Howard viewed Finland as a country in danger from its more powerful neighbors. Not a hint of imperialism or "frontier traditions". The third establishes that, according to REH, the medieval Finns lived in huts and were "kindly people" who treated helpless strangers well.
Here is what REH said about Hyperborea:
Gunderland existed for several generations in its former state as a separate principality. (...) They were, next to the Hyperboreans, the tallest of the Hyborian races. (p348, TCoCoC)
Here, REH definitively states that the Hyperboreans are a "Hyborian race", right alongside the pure-blooded Gundermen. In case someone hasn't realized it, Howard always portrayed the Hyborians as being of the Caucasoid/Europoid phenotype. Not as "Mongoloid". The Hyperboreans are part of a vast macro-ethnic group encompassing nations from Aquilonia to Koth, just as Western nations now speak related tongues, except for outliers like the Finns.
Aquilonia, as the western-most of the Hyborian kingdoms, retained frontier traditions equalled only by the more ancient kingdom of Hyperborea and the Border Kingdom. (p348, TCoCoC)
Hyperborea has "frontier traditions", which in this context can only be understood as pushing into non-Hyperborean territory. This is imperialism, essentially. Hyperborea was a powerful nation, a "shining kingdom" (according to REH). Hyperborea was capable of marching outside its borders, taking on Imperial Aquilonia at its height, and still walking away with its territory and sovereignty intact. According to REH, Hyperborea was a civilized, "shining" kingdom with with several cities.
Why or how, I am not certain, but he [Conan] spent some months among a tribe of the Æsir, fighting with the Vanir and the Hyperboreans, and developing a hate for the latter which lasted all his life and later affected his policies as king of Aquilonia. Captured by them, he escaped southward and came into Zamora in time to make his debut in print. (p344, TCSoC)
The Hyperboreans are not kind to strangers, apparently. Howard wrote that in a letter mailed in 1936, so these are his final thoughts on Hyperborea. REH never noted an especial hatred by Conan for the Stygians or Turanians. Just the Hyperboreans. The Hyperboreans do not appear to be a kindly people to strangers.
So, let's A/B the Finns and Hyperboreans, according to REH:
A. REH Finns: Of "Mongolian stock". They would be of "Hyrkanian stock" in the Hyborian Age.
B. REH Hyperboreans: A "Hyborian" people. They would, in broad Howardian terms, be of "European" or "Aryan stock".
A. REH Finns: Not imperialist, not pushing their frontiers beyond their borders. Not a powerful nation capable of extending its military might beyond itself.
B. REH Hyperboreans: Imperialist, with frontier traditions. Fought Imperial Aquilonia in the Border Kingdom. Walked away to fight another day. An international player and "shining kingdom", it kept diplomatic ties with far-off nations like Koth.
A. REH Finns: A kind people who treated helpless strangers well.
B. REH Hyperboreans: An "aloof" nation who treated Conan so badly, he held a special hatred for them the rest of his life.
Thus, on numerous fundamental grounds, the Finns (as REH saw them) could not be a model for REH's Hyborian Age Hyperboreans during the time of Conan. Therefore, in this thread, which is "According to REH", posting about "Finns = Hyperboreans" is off-topic.
While weight of scholarly opinion doesn't necessarily decide a matter, Rusty Burke, Morgan Holmes, Jeffrey Shanks and Al Harron all agree that Howard couldn't have been using the Finns (as he saw them) as a model for his Hyperboreans. They are all winners of various Cimmerian or REH Foundation awards (google them).
Even our own estimable Bront, whom Buxom Sorceress called "a fan who knows the reh research very well," agrees that the "Finnoborean" hypothesis doesn't agree with what REH wrote.
Venaala sees things differently, which is totally her right. An agreement has been reached. All future comments about Finland and Hyperborea will be directed to the "Venaala's Finnish Hyborian Speculations" thread here:
Despite the original title ("Armies of the Hyborian Age by Morgan Holmes"), Venaala powerfully shifted that thread to a "Finnoborean" stance on just the third post, making it a vibrant venue for thoughts and feelings about Finland and Hyperborea. In all honesty, Venaala created the first "Hyperborean" thread on the forum right there. Everyone wanting to join in the fun and excitement is encouraged to frequent that noteworthy thread. To get things jump-started, several of Venaala's most powerful and fact-filled posts have already been moved over. Discussions are still underway as to whether any more posts from this thread will be moved.
Let no one doubt that criticism of the "REH used medieval Russia as a general basis for Hyperborea" is fully encouraged on this thread. Just because the "Finnoborean" hypothesis has been disqualified on Howardian grounds doesn't mean the matter is settled. Bring on the misgivings about the "Russoborean" idea. If other cultures (besides the Finns) look to be a better model, then put them forward. Just remember they have to withstand analysis in light of what Robert E. Howard wrote and said.
No further comments are to be posted on this thread for or against the "Finnoborean" hypothesis. That counts anything beyond the merest glancing reference. Posts that do go beyond that point will be cheerfully moved to the "Armies of the Hyborian Age" thread here:
Any replies to this post should be posted on the above thread. Just copy and paste (if you don't know how, ask Buxie). I'll be moderating that thread, like all other threads, so I'll reply. Any replies to this post posted on this thread will be moved to the "Venaala" thread.
It was agreed we would keep further Finnish discussions off this thread. We wouldn't want to deprive Venaala's thread of traffic. I will also repost this post to remind everyone, so just save everyone the hassle. Nobody is being repressed. Things are just being kept on topic and in the right threads. You don't drive an eighteen-wheeler in the bicycle lane.
Carry on. Let's talk REH and his Hyborian Age Hyperboreans.
Apparently, some people didn't read the last notice.
All posts replying to/commenting on the above notification will be moved to this thread:
That is where the [Suomi-land] discussions began (two pages of 'em last April/May) and that is where all of them now are. The change/split affects that thread just as much as this one and that thread needs the traffic. Click on over and check it out.
Let's talk Robert E. Howard and Hyperborea.