Just by chance, I stumbled across this 1976 Arkham House edition of L. Sprague de Camp’s wonderful Literary Swordsman and Socerers at my local public library. I immediately took it out and read it. De Camp’s informational essays on these fantasy writers made me want to drop everything and reread some of the great books by these authors. I’m a big fan of Lord Dunsany, but I haven’t read more than a fraction of his oeuvre. I’ve read most of Lovecraft, but I can always pick up one of his collections and find delight in its pages.
I’ve read all of Robert E. Howard’s CONAN tales, but Howard wrote a lot of other stuff that I haven’t read yet. I have the Night Shade Books editions of Clark Ashton Smith’s short stories, but I haven’t read them all. I’ve read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, but little else by this fantasy giant. I have books by Morris, Eddison, and White on my shelves, but I haven’t opened them yet.
De Camp’s essays display a familiarity with the works of all these writers. My only quibble is that Fritz Leiber–who wrote the marvelous Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser tales–only gets a few pages in “Conan’s Compeers” instead of an entire chapter which he deserves. The same for C. L. Moore who wrote the underrated Jirel of Joiry. Inexpensive reprints of LITERARY SWORDSMEN AND SORCERERS can be found online for reasonable prices. If you love heroic fantasy, you’ll love this book! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
“Introduction: Neomythology”, by Lin Carter xi
Chapter I. “The Swords of Faërie” 9
Chapter II “Jack of All Arts: William Morris” 31
Chapter III. “Two Men in One: Lord Dunsany” 48
Chapter IV. “Eldritch Yankee Gentleman: H. P. Lovecraft” 64
Chapter V. “Superman in a Bowler: E.R. Eddison” 114
Chapter VI. “The Miscast Barbarian: Robert E. Howard” 135
Chapter VII. “Parallel Worlds: Fletcher Pratt” 178
Chapter VIII. “Sierran Shaman: Clark Ashton Smith” 195
Chapter IX. “Merlin in Tweeds: J.R.R. Tolkien” 215
Chapter X. “The Architect of Camelot: T.H. White” 252
Chapter XI. “Conan’s Compeers” 270