In this article I use key definitions from the writings of C. S. Lewis and Hannah Arendt to analyze the portrayal of "conscience as motive" in Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane stories. I propose a reading of "Kane Saga" as unified by a single underlying fantasy narrative structured around the development of Kane’s conscience across several adventures set in Europe and Africa. In doing so, I attempt to construe these stories of Howard’s earliest “Sword and Sorcery” hero as a fruitful place for critical engagement with Howard’s rhetorics of race, motive, conscience, and action. In doing so, I push back against the dearth of scholarship about Howard's Kane stories relative to scholarship about his Conan stories, and I offer some potential ways in which scholars of fantasy might more effectively navigate Howard’s rhetorical treatment of race.
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Mythcon 52: The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien
Albuquerque, New Mexico; July 29 - August 1, 2022