PDF & EPUB Editions Of The Silence & The Howl (Book I) Now Available

The PDF (90 pages) & EPUB (76 pages) editions of The Silence & The Howl: Book I (a novella) are now available from the Logos Literature patreon and can be found HERE.

For those who aren’t interested in becoming patrons, the entire novella can be read (for free) HERE.

Circular 12/25/19 (Yuletide Edition)

Regular readers of the site will be aware that circulars have been few and far between of late. That is not because I’ve discontinued the series, but simply because I’ve been focused on various other projects (namely music composition and writing). With that said—Merry Christmas! to all our readers and supporters.

— K. E., Logos Editor.


LOGOS RECAP

From Matt Wildermuth, four classically inspired poems (Hubris, Prospero, Leaving Ogygia, and Ysatters-Kasja).

From Dan Klefstad Elevens (2001) – an new excerpt from his forthcoming novel, Fiona’s Guardians.

From yours truly, chapters 1 through 15 of The Dauntless Rook (a novella), the remasters of the tracks Suzerainty (a march) and Blood For Butterflies (a organ-driven leitmotif), as well as a new arrangement of the track Legerdemain (a waltz) and a short essay on the etymology of culture.

Additionally, for those interested in downloading site-published tracks, the Logos patreon-exclusive music archive is now live (and will be updated daily).


LITERATURE (verse and prose)

From New Pop Lit, the Tale of the Christmas Bear.

From The American Literary Blog, a republication of a Christmas poem, written by the Virginian, W. G. McCabe during the Civil War.


VISUAL ART

From the always colorful Examining The Odd, a vibrant, eye-catching illustration.

From PMu at the Daily Doodle, a charming Christmas tree sketch.

And a statue of the Roman Sun-God Mithras (whose birthday is Dec. 25th).


MUSIC

For your listening pleasure, a wonderful performance of Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie Overture by Jonathan Scott on the great Willis Organ of Hereford Cathedral. If the title doesn’t sound familiar to you, give it a listen and you might be surprised that you’ve heard (a part of) it somewhere before.


HISTORY & CULTURE

One of the most enduring icons of yuletide in America (and various other places around the world) is Santa Claus. When one thinks of Jolly Ole St. Nick one is likely to conjure an image very similar to that created by the American artist Thomas Nast in 1881, an illustration which Smithsonian Magazine describes as “the face that launched a thousand Christmas letters.”

From SciHub, a fascinating article on the first radio broadcast in the U.S. conducted by Reginald Fessenden on Christmas Eve, 1906.

And lastly, I recently provided the sound-design for a Monologue On Roman Satire by the talented Miss White.


 

Notes on Schopenhauer’s The Art of Literature (1893)—II

† continued from part I


§.08—Our author continues, remarking upon material modalities.

“Unless an author takes the material on which he writes out of his own head, that is to say, from his own observation, he is not worth reading. Book manufacturers, compilers, the common run of history writers, and many others of the same class, take their material immediately out of books; and the material goes straight to their finger-tips without even paying freight or undergoing examination as it passes through their heads, to say nothing of elaboration or revision. How very learned many a man would be if he knew everything that was in his own books! The consequence of this is that these writers talk in such a loose and vague manner, that the reader puzzles his brains in vain to understand what it is of which they are really thinking. They are thinking of nothing. It may now and then be the case that the book from which they copy has been composed exactly in the same way; so that writing of this sort is like a plaster cast of a cast; and in the end, the bare outline of the face, and that, too, hardly recognisable, is all that is left of your Antinous¹.” (A. Schopenhauer, The Art of Literature, p. 6)

§.09—“… a plaster cast of a cast,” how perfectly apt is this description; how many stories of ‘chosen ones,’ or the ‘girl interrupted,’ wherein the distinctive attributes are merely cosmetic—a name, a setting, a hairdo, a historical reference—yet the form and function is essentially the same as popular narratives preceding it. However, I differ from Schopenhauer in holding authors who “take their material immediately out of books” in such totalizing contempt; what is of paramount importance in the question of textual information acquisition is the quality of the information contained and (as he notes) its verification (for whatever qualities). Given that the information acquisition and exploitation from a text is fundamentally no different than any other kind of information acquisition and exploitation, it is mistaken to vitiate information derived from a text and information derived from studying a tree or a stone (ie. one’s own observation”). That is to say that the writer is always writing “out of his own head” a distinction that may seem trivially semantic, but which is conceptually crucial.


Sources

  1. Arthur Schopenhauer. (1893) The Art of Literature. Swan Sonnenschein & Co.; MacMillan & Co.
  2. Elena Martinique. (2016) Is Consumerism Depicted in Art Relevant a Relevant Critique of Contemporary Society and Culture? Widewalls.
  3. Farooq A. Kperogi. (2016) Myth of the Decline in Standard of English Usage and Grammar. Nigeria Village Square.
  4. Ranulf Higden, trans. John Travisa. (1364; eng. trans. 1865) Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden Maonachi Cestrensis.
  5. R. L. S. (2015) Johnson: Language anxieties: A Long Decline. The Economist.
  6. Sabina Nedelius. (2017) The Myth of Language Decay: Do Youths Really Not Know How To Speak? The Historical Linguist Channel.
  7. Sarah Waters. (1995). The Most Famous Fairy in History: Antinous and Homosexual Fantasy. Journal of the History of Sexuality. University of Texas Press. 6 (2): 194–230.
  8. Steven Pinker. (2014) The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide To Writing In The 21st Century. Penguin.
  9. Stuart Henry. (1897) Hours With Famous Parisians. Way & Williams.
  10. Thomas Adajian. (2018) The Definition of Art. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

End Notes

¹ Antinous (also Antinoüs or Antinoös) was a Bithynian Greek, friend and lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. After his mysterious death, the emperor deified Antinous and organized a cult in his honor. Schopenhauer, in the passage above, utilizes ‘Antinous’ as a metaphor for the artist’s creation.

Red Shadows (1928)

“This Solomon Kane is a demon from Hell, I tell you.”

 

—Red Shadows, 1928


§.00 In the introduction to The Elements of Style (Strunk & White, 1999, p. xv.), the authors implore the reader thrice over to “Omit needles words!” Robert E. Howard’s Red Shadows (first published in Weird Tales, August 1928)—the first of the Solomon Kane stories—follows this dictum to a near-fanatical degree. No word is wasted and no description is deployed that does not advance the plot. The bare bones approach is so pronounced that at numerous points in the tale I wished it was less minimalistic.

In almost every way, Howard’s spare, swift, repetitive and concise style is the complete opposite of his friend, H. P. Lovecraft’s, whose writing is long, winding, labyrinthian and baroque (though both maintained a thoroughgoing interest in historicity, evidenced by Lovecraft’s remark to E. Hoffman Price after Howard’s death, “I always gasped at his profound knowledge of history… and admired still more his really astonishing assimilation and visualisation of it. He was almost unique in his ability to understand and mentally inhabit past ages…”).

reh_studio_side.jpg
Robert E. Howard.

§.01 (*The following contains details concerning the plot) The tale begins in a unspecified location (presumably France), with the titular protagonist, Solomon Kane, a Puritan wanderer, stumbling across a terribly wounded young woman near a ruined village. Kane inquires what happened and is told that a bandit named Le Loup (the wolf) descended with a band and waylaid the town. The woman then tells the traveler that it was none other than the bandit leader who had ravaged and mortally wounded her. The woman then succumbs to her wounds and Kane swears vengeance upon the criminals.

§.02 What is really compelling about the tale is, firstly, its protagonist, who is quite a unique creation. Kane is a somber man, with a “gentle voice,” polite (described as “not a profane man”) and yet obsessed with violently stamping out evil wherever it may reside. It is this latter quality which throws him into conflict with his religion, for how can a cool-blooded murderer (albeit of other murderers) be also a man of God, a Puritan? His answer is simple: He is an instrument of providence, an agent of divine retribution. Yet, he waxes uncertain as to the veracity of this belief and it is this uncertainty that lends him a depth of humanity and the believability required of his status as protagonist.

Le Loup himself is also a interesting character and a effective villain. Intelligent and debonair, yet haughty, vain and avaricious. So consumed by greed is the detestable rogue that he murders his own subordinate, Rat, so that the plunder need not be split two ways. Despite this, towards the end of the tale, when he could have ambushed Kane, he decides instead to meet him in a duel in the open, suggesting some lingering chivalric sentiments, some as-yet uncorroded honor.

The other two main antagonists, introduced in the latter-half of the tale, though they don’t recieve as much development as the wolf, also prove effective, particularly in driving the themes of the tale, for the thing which all three of the central opponents of Kane—Songa, Gulka and Le Loup—share is a penchant for capricious betrayal.

Le Loup betrays his own men, then the African sorceror, N’Longa, whilst Gulka and Songa both join in on the usurpation. As a consequence, they rise high—for a time—but end up facing death alone for want of aid. Yet Kane, despite constantly being thrust into similarly harrowing circumstances, receives aid firstly, and intentionally, from N’Longa, and secondarily, and unintentionally, from the gorilla that hunts Gulka down. The actions of the three knaves ultimately bring about their demise—Songa meets his end at N’Longa’s hand, Gulka is slain by the gorilla whose mate he cruelly slew, and Le Loup is struck down by Kane. Not a hand raises to aid them. Condemned by their selfsame, corrosive agency, their eschewing of all civility. For such creatures, death at the hands of their vengeful fellows is all but assured, when they are not first claimed by Solomon Kane.


Sources

  1. Robert E. Howard. (2007) The Best of Robert E. Howard, Vol. 1.
  2. Strunk & White. (1999) The Elements of Style.

The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate (1997)

“The Highly Selective Dictionary can be thought of as an antidote to the ongoing, poisonous effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness—aided by permissive lexicographers who blithely acquiesce to the depredations of unrestrained language butchers.”

 

—Eugene Ehrlich, Preface to The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate.

Eugene Ehrlich’s The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate (Harper Collins, 1997) is a treasure trove of obscure words. The 192 page book is divided into six sections, Acknowledgements, a Preface, Pronunciation Notes, a Introduction and, lastly, The Dictionary proper and features such obtuse and oft-unuttered words as blatherskite (a person given to blathering), dysphemism (a unpleasant or derogatory word or phrase substituted for a more pleasant and less offensive one) and galimatias (confused or unintelligible talk).

One of the unique strengths of the book is its omission of commonplace words whose meaning(s) are widely known (such as “door,” or, “car”). In leaving aside [near]omnipresent words, the book focuses wholly on those words a common English reader is apt not to know, which sets it apart from other reference dictionaries that include words which most, quite simply, will not ever need to look-up. It might also be remarked that the proliferation of the internet, which was not so pronounced upon the writing of the book as it is now, further mitigates the need to include commonplace words in reference dictionaries, given the readiness with which they can be accessed through the web.

However, simply because one can find obscure words online doesn’t mean that one will (in a suitable timeframe, if at all)—hence the importance of having a reference book to hand. To this end, The Highly Selective Dictionary is excellent.


You can find the book online at Thriftbooks, Amazon, or Ebay.


Cover image: Man wearing Gernsback Isolator (invented 1925) at writing desk.

The First Book Printed In English-America

§.00 The first book known to have been printed in English-America is the Whole Book of Psalms (Bay Psalm Book, or, New England Version Of The Psalms) and was printed by Stephen Daye in Massachusetts, 1640 (20 years after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth).

§.01 The New England settlers were partial to Henry Ainsworth’s version of the psalms, the first edition of which was published in 1612, titled The Book Of Psalms: Englished Both In Prose And Metre. With Annotations, Opening Words And Sentences, By Conference With Other Scriptures. However, Ainsworth’s Psalms, unsurprisingly, were not ubiquitous in their popularity; the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay favored T. Sternhold & J. Hopkin’s Psalms (featured in the Geneva Bible of 1569), yet Sternhold & Hopkin’s version was considered unacceptable by numerous nonconformists of the time (Cotton Mather, in his Magnolia Christi Americana, 1663-1728, described the Bay Colony Puritan’s opinions of the Ainsworth’s Psalms as a “Offence” to “The Sense of the Psalmist”). Thus, there was a desire for a book of psalms which was more true to the original Hebrew.

§.02 The book may be read online and in-full here.


Sources

  1. (1903) The Bay Psalm Book: Being A Facsimile Reprint of the First Edition Printed by Stephen Daye. Dodd, Mead & Co.
  2. Cotton Mather. (1663-1728) Magnolia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of the New England, from its first planting in the year 1620, unto the year of Our Lord, 1698. In seven books. London. Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and three crowns in Cheapside.
  3. John Josselyn. (1865) An Account of Two Voyages to New England: Made During The Years 1638, 1663. Boston. William Veazie. MDCCCLXV.

Originality By Way Of Cliche: Kumo Kagyu’s Goblin Slayer, Vol. 1 (2016)

“Goblin Slayer was calm as he delivered this answer that was no answer. He daubed his gauntlets with blood, then pulled a liver out from one of the bodies.”

 

—Kumo Kagyu, Goblin Slayer, Vol. 1 (2016)

§.00 The first installment of the novel series Goblin Slayer, Vol.1 (2016), written by Kumo Kagyu (with illustrations by Noboru Kannatsuki), opens with a creation story; the gods of light, order and destiny are locked in a cosmic struggle with the gods of darkness, chaos and chance (how many gods attend each attribute, we are not told). In place of fighting each other directly, their contest is engaged by the rolling of die. After some time the gods tire of dice and create the world as their board and all the beings upon it as their pawns.

§.01 After the table-top inspired prologue, a knowing, introductory line, preempting the cliches to come: “You’ve heard this one before.” More likely than not, upon reading Chapter 1, a fantasy-versed reader will, indeed have heard the set-up before; a young, would-be adventurer known only as Priestess (no characters in the novel have names, only class-designations) joins a guild, receives “porcelain” rank (the lowest of the guild’s 10-teir hierarchy) and is met by three other, young, would-be porcelain adventurers—Warrior, Fighter and Wizard—who ask her to join their party on a quest to save kidnapped maidens from the clutches of a band of goblins (which are described as “-tall as a child, with strength and wits to match”). Priestess after some hesitation, accepts the offer. The party then tracks down the goblins to their lair in a gloomy cave. Venturing within the recess, the party is filled with confidence, save for Priestess, who urges caution, however, her chiding proves fruitless—shortly thereafter, a band of goblins blindside the adventurers.

§.02 In a more conventional tale, the brave wayfarers would have just barely defeated the goblins, rescued the maidens and received a bountiful reward for their pains. However, in Goblin Slayer, they all wind up dead, or as good as. Wizard is gutted with a poison blade. Warrior is slaughtered. Fighter is beaten and raped. Priestess is set upon and takes an arrow to the shoulder. Yet, just before Priestess meets the same fate as Fighter, a mysterious man appears who is “not very impressive” and donned in “dirty leather armor and a filthy steel helm.” The man, a silver ranked adventurer (the third highest rank within the guild hierarchy), decimates the goblins and introduces himself as Goblin Slayer. He then tells Priestess that Wizard is as good as dead, due to the workings of goblin poison that had lined the blade which skewered her. Wizard asks to be put out of her misery and Goblin Slayer swiftly obliges and slits her throat without compunction, much to Priestess’ dismay. Slayer then states that he is going to finish off the rest of the goblins; Priestess goes with him and together they destroy the nest and find a secret room filled with goblin children born from the wombs of human females the goblin horde had kidnapped. Priestess inquires whether or not Slayer will kill them. He says he will and she tries to stop him by asking if he would still be willing to slaughter them if they were good, to which the Slayer replies “The only good goblins are the ones that never come out of their holes,” before clubbing the baby goblins to death. After this grisly affair, the Priestess resolves (rather surprisingly) to become a proper adventurer by accompanying Goblin Slayer on his bloody, ceaseless missions.

§.03 The first thing that struck me about the novel was how original its execution, despite its abundant cliches. In GS, cliches are dutifully employed to be forthrightly subverted, but not merely for the sake of surprising the reader, as when, in a Hollywood horror film, convention dictates a cat or trusted friend be responsible for the first jump-scare so that the effect of the second may be heightened by causing the audience to question whether or not it will again be a harmless animal or friend, or some genuine threat. For example, Goblin Slayer, a skillful warrior and thoughtful tactician, would, in more conventional fantasy works, ladder his way up from the stock genre threats (such as bandits, goblins, trolls, etc) to ever greater challenges (such as dragons and necromancers) in tandem with a plot ever expanding in scope, from the local, to the demense, to the national, to the continental to, invariably, the world, and, perhaps, other worlds (spirit realms, etc). This, however, is not the case with the slayer, who adamantly refuses to engage in any activity not related to exterminating goblins. His idee fixe is so extreme that the co-inhabitants of the town near where he resides come to consider him eccentric, if not mad, and they might be right, for even when he is told that the world is imperiled by “an army of demons” he refuses to aid those who petition his assistance, saying only, “If it isn’t goblins, then I don’t care.” His proclivity, no matter how unhealthy, proves salubrious to those previously living in fear of the diminutive raiders, as the “military won’t move against goblins.” (p. 135)

Further, a character who is introduced in a like-manner to the slayer in a conventional genre-work would also be charged with the characteristics partial to fantasy protagonists; which are generally either sullen and given over to reverie (as in Twilight or Lord of the Rings), whimsical and optimistic (as the protagonists in the novels of Charles De Lint), or a straight-laced ‘chosen one’ (as in Harry Potter or Star Wars), however, the slayer bares no similarity to any of these archetypes, or the hero archetype in general. Rather, he is more akin to a professional shorn of all social ambition—a obsessive tradesman—than the prototypical knight-errant of romantic literature. This is demonstrated in the sedulous way in which the slayer’s tradecraft is highlight, as in the following passages, “‘Leather armor prizes ease of movement. Mail would stop a dagger in the dark… His helmet, the same. Sword and shield are small, easy to use in a tight space.'” Kagyu, p. 130… “‘Clean items reek of metal,’ Goblin Slayer said, a note of annoyance in his voice. Goblins have an excellent sense of smell.” p. 132.

Of further interest is the fact that his trade is not a vaunted one, but is, instead, looked down upon as the preoccupation of an amatuer (the consensus in the story is that real heroes should always seek greater glory). One can see parallels between the snobbery of the guild adventurers, and the differential treatment by real-life society between the man who goes to college so as to become a doctor, and the man who goes to trade-school so as to become a lineworker. In recognizing this, Goblin Slayer Vol.1, functions as a cleverly disguised social satire as much as a RPG homage or action-adventure.


The novel series had its origins in a online thread posted by Kumo Kagyu in October, 2012; the story was later re-edited into novel-form and picked up by GA Bunko. On February 15, 2016, the first installment of the novel series was published via SB Creative (in Japanese). A few months later, in December 20, 2016, Yen Press licensed the novels and released the first volume in English. Both a comic (written by Masahiro Ikeno) and an animated adaptation (written by Hideyuki Kurata and Yosuke Kuroda) have been made in the interim since the initial publication of the novel series, which is, presently, still on-going (with ten volumes released in Japan as of 2019).