Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Swashbucklers and Pulp-Style Adventures

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Swashbucklers and Pulp-Style Adventures

Postby Margaret » Sat September 6th, 2008, 1:19 am

Annis has just reviewed Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road for http://www.HistoricalNovels.info (see http://www.HistoricalNovels.info/Gentlemen-of-the-Road.html), and it got me thinking about this genre of masculine adventure, which I think is really the male counterpart of historical romance. Gentlemen of the Road is Chabon's let's-have-fun novel that is a deliberate throw-back to the old pulp-style historicals of the first half of the 20th century. Those stories, like the dime novel cowboy stories, are probably one of the reasons why historical fiction got a bad name and is only now starting to get more respect because of the many authors whose research is excellent and whose style is in the more literary vein that pleases reviewers at the major newspapers and magazines.

But the old swashbucklers still have a following. Who hasn't seen Captain Blood, the movie made from Rafael Sabatini's novel? While researching examples of pulp historicals for the review post, I discovered that a surprising number of these have been reprinted in modern editions. Robert E. Howard was probably the instigator of this genre in the 20th century. Then there was Harold Lamb, L. Sprague de Camp, and others. Does anyone here read these oldies?
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
donroc
Compulsive Reader
Location: Winter Haven, Florida
Contact:

Postby donroc » Sat September 6th, 2008, 11:35 am

Yes, I grew up with the swashbucklers, which I never considered to be pulp. So many were made into entertaining film.

I still return to Sabatini on occasion and have fond memories of Costain, Shellabarger, Edson Marshall, Schoonover, Slaughter, Feuchtwanger, early Frank Yerby, and so many others who inspired me in my youth to dream one day of writing HF.

Yes, their MCs were males and as boys we wanted to buckle the swash with them.
User signature picture

Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6OtI&feature=channel_page

chuck
Bibliophile
Location: Ciinaminson NJ

Postby chuck » Sat September 6th, 2008, 1:42 pm

"donroc" wrote:Yes, I grew up with the swashbucklers, which I never considered to be pulp. So many were made into entertaining film.

I still return to Sabatini on occasion and have fond memories of Costain, Shellabarger, Edson Marshall, Schoonover, Slaughter, Feuchtwanger, early Frank Yerby, and so many others who inspired me in my youth to dream one day of writing HF.

Yes, their MCs were males and as boys we wanted to buckle the swash with them.


All great reads.....As a young lad I was blessed to read some of the above classics with illustrations by Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth....I miss those great books with those beautiful prints.....they made the characters and story come alive....Today I'm sure it would be to expensive to include prints....

User avatar
donroc
Compulsive Reader
Location: Winter Haven, Florida
Contact:

Postby donroc » Sat September 6th, 2008, 2:16 pm

"chuck" wrote:All great reads.....As a young lad I was blessed to read some of the above classics with illustrations by Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth....I miss those great books with those beautiful prints.....they made the characters and story come alive....Today I'm sure it would be to expensive to include prints....


I still have my four volume Howard Pyle Scribners Brandywine edition of King Arthur and his knights. As you say, beautiful prints. They have been reissued for $19.95 each, I believe, but I have no idea about the quality.

Mine cost $3.95 in the early 1940s -- expensive for that era.
User signature picture



Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.



http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6OtI&feature=channel_page

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat September 6th, 2008, 2:29 pm

OK, Yerby is definitely swashbuckler, cranked out for the pulp market. Some of Sabatini is and some isn't. Shellabarger isn't. Schoonover, at least the two books I have tried to get through, definitely (research stinks). Costain hangs on the edge, but some of his are definitely literature. Both Costain and Shellabarger also wrote history books as well as HF.

Dumas is swashbuckler turned classic. So is the Scarlet Pimpernel. It seems like the Flashman series is an over-the-top sendup of the swashbuckler pulp novel.
Would you call Zane Grey's westerns a variant of this?

I think that historical romance has done more to give HF a bad name than the swashbuckling genre.

chuck
Bibliophile
Location: Ciinaminson NJ

Postby chuck » Sat September 6th, 2008, 3:10 pm

Pulp Westerns?....I think of Max Brand.....Are we teetering on the brink of leaping into a general discussion about Pulp Fiction?....could be fun....It definitely had influences on HF.....
Last edited by chuck on Sat September 6th, 2008, 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TerriPray
Reader
Location: Iowa, USA
Contact:

Postby TerriPray » Sat September 6th, 2008, 3:27 pm

Boy's Own fiction is another name for 'swashbuckling' and it's partly what UTM (the small press I'm with) is attempting to do.
Currently reading through submissions ranging from alternative history to science fiction and fantasy.

User avatar
Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Location: Georgia USA

Postby Ludmilla » Sat September 6th, 2008, 6:15 pm

I love swashbucklers and westerns, but I only read them occasionally as a treat, and I've probably gotten more exposure to them through films than through books. Sabatini and Shellabarger are two that I read a lot of when young, along with some of the books of Robert Louis Stevenson. A lot of people remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for Sherlock Holmes, but he also wrote historical adventures. The White Company is one that is a lot of fun to read. Takes place during the time of Edward III. Another good old-fashioned one is Mary Johnston's To Have and To Hold (set in colonial Jamestown) -- might be labeled historical romance, but the pirate sections definitely place it on par with something like Captain Blood (and it is one of those that I think was reissued in recent years with a lovely new cover).

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sat September 6th, 2008, 8:19 pm

Sir Walter Scott was pretty swashbuckling, too, wasn't he?
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
Melisende
Reader
Location: Australia

Postby Melisende » Thu September 11th, 2008, 11:46 pm

Currently reading GMF's "The Reavers" - certainly plenty of swash and buckle - considering the "leading man" is described as extremely Errol Flynn-like!
"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

Women of History


Return to “General Discussion”