A Review: Pt. 5 Tarzan The Invincible by Edgar Rice Burroughs
July 4, 2010
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#14 Tarzan The Invincible
Part V of X
First Published On The Ezine, ERBzine
Six White Men In Search Of An African Empire
If one believes that Burroughs is merely on a rant against Communism in Tarzan The Invincible and Tarzan Triumphant then there is nothing more to say. Still, it is remarkable that ERB specifically names Stalin as a persecutor of Tarzan in both books. As Burroughs says he doesn’t mind fictionizing political and religious realities the question is , is he fictionizing a real life situation where Stalin, or the Communists are giving him a hard time?
Seems really improbable doesn’t it? People are used to thinking of Burroughs as a barely literate fantasy writer better ignored by the literati. But more insignificant men than ERB have been the victims of hate campaigns.
Who now, for instance, remembers Harvey Springer? Harvey Springer? Never heard of him? I don’t wonder. Oddly enough when I was in San Diego in 1957-58 Harvey Springer, who was some kind of evangelicalist, was going to appear at some church out where no sailor ever went. He was kind of a cowboy evangelical from Denver. His most dramatic stunt was placing one of size fourteens, he was a tall rangy man, on one chair and the other on another to harangue the crowd.
I hadn’t heard of him, you know, nor had anyone I knew, but Harvey Springer was reputed to be an arch anti-Semite. Could have been for all I knew, but I’m not going to take anyone’s word for it. The point is the Jews sent all kinds of people into the streets to tell people not to go see Harvey. I don’t how many times they must have heard- Who’s Harvey Springer?- in reply. Rather than say he’s an anti-Semite, of which I had even less knowledge at the time never having heard the term, all that was necessary was to say the two words, church and evangelical to cool my ardor, if I had any, to find where he was speaking and go see him.
In addition the AJC and ADL published books in which they denounced Harvey Springer as a very dangerous anti-Semite. Now, if certain people would go to such extremes to persuade someone not to do something he had no intention of doing what would they do to defame someone with an international reputation? The only one who didn’t realize the extent of ERB’s fame seems to have been ERB himself. He was no self promoter, he thought it best to keep his head down.
In that sense, judging from the unpublished Under The Red Flag and the published Moon Maid, Invincible and Triumphant Burroughs was actually a leading anti-Communist voice. I mean, people read this stuff. They read it in America , they read it in England, they read it in numerous translations and they read it in the Soviet Union. Here’s the kicker, Stalin read it. Not only that, Stalin was a movie buff. And he requested Tarzan films (reported in a recent UK Telegraph story and the book of Simon Sebag Montefiori: Stalin: The Court Of The Red Tsar.)
History is not a mystery, it’s just schoolyard bullies bigger than life.
We also know that Stalin ordered his scientists in the 1920s to attempt to cross an ape and a human to create a super warrior. It’s clear to me that Stalin had read Beasts Of Tarzan. The Man of Steel may have had a difficult time distinguishing between fact and fiction as many another. Besides, remember eugenics was a hot topic of conversation in Red circles then as it is today. Not knowing what we know now about genetics crossing an ape and human may not have seemed that far fetched. It doesn’t to a lot of people now. Heck, the Old Testament enjoins one to destroy the results of an animal-human union so the ancient Hebrews thought it was not only possible but a regular occurrence.
There is very clear evidence that the Reds were conducting a campaign of vilification against Burroughs. I’ve mentioned it before but the clearst evidence is H.G. Wells’ novel Mr. Blettsworthy On Rampole Island.
May we take a moment to look more closely at Wells? Don’t think I’m antagonistic toward Wells. I dearly love Wells just as I do Burroughs. I have a complete collection of Burroughs while I’m looking for the odd volume of the more obscure Wells. I’m not boasting, I’m just saying this in the way of credentials. I’ve read all of Burroughs more than once and I’ve read all the Wells’ titles I have, many of them more than once. In point of fact I love all the literature from say, Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines to 1930 and perhaps an odd year or so beyond. I love. I mean, I love it. I love Edgar Wallace who, if you can believe it, is claimed to have sold one out of four books sold in England during this period. If you don’t know him he was one of the co-writers of the movie King Kong and then he died. All this stuff of this period is wonderful. Robert Hitchens, P.C. Wren.
So, you know, it’s like this: H.G. Wells was a Soviet literary hatchet man.
The man had a wonderful career. You know his most famous novels, The War Of The Worlds, First Men In The Moon, The Island Of Dr. Moreau, In The Days Of The Comet. If you like Wells, and I do, those are the tip of the iceberg. A few of his short stories and he wrote many are as good as short stories get.
He was always a socialist and perhaps a terrorist conspiritor, but he was a child of the nineteenth century until his mind broke at the end of the Great War. At that time he lost faith, in god, transferring his faith to the Revolution, becoming a Soviet dupe. His literary career may be divided into two halves, pre-God- The Invisible King and post-God. That was one of his books.
He was not taken seriously as a fiction writer after the war. During the twenties and thirties he turned out an unending stream of novels that were ignored. It’s not difficult to see why, but I find them a little more tolerable. I like Wells. His reputation and career were saved by his 1922 effort An Outline Of History. It was a massive volume and it sold massively for twenty years or more while being hugely influential in literature. Put him on easy street for the rest of his long life. As much as any artist who is skilled at spending money can be on Easy Street.
As a novelist however, he was pretty much a has been. While none of his post-1920 novels take off he hits the spot with me.
From 1920 on his soul belonged to the Revolution, which is to say the Socialist homeland, which is to say the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics. That means he was more loyal to Russia than he was to England. In short, a traitor in intent if not in deed. While no Liberal ever deals in realities hence are in constant denial, The Man of Steel, Josef Stalin, was his boss. Wells naturally would have denied this.
The Soviets had a pretty comprehensive system which once again is denied. There were a number of State prostitutes who were assigned to the various important Red writers to service them as mistresses, while reporting back to the Kremlin. This is, of course, denied by the Liberals. I don’t understand living a life that has to be denied, where everything you do has to be represented as something else, but such duplicity is apparently congenial to the Liberal mind. They must seek it.
Wells was assigned a woman named Moura Budberg. She must have known how to turn on the charm as she was able to make a number of men she was assigned to sincerely love her, including the British diplomat Bruce Lockhart, the Russian writer Maxim Gorky and H.G. Wells. She wasn’t that good looking either. All of these people led double, triple or quadruple lives. They must have been really able to compartmentalize their minds. Freud didn’t touch that type.
After Wells’ visit to Lenin in 1921 he was signed on. He began his career as literary hatchet man. In his writing he portrayed recognizable people, sometimes under their real names, in negative or positive lights. As a skilled writer, whether you like his later stuff or not, he was more than competent to do this. It appears that he first targeted Burroughs in his 1923 novel Men Like Gods. Among his science fiction novels this one should rank more highly than it does. Burroughs’ 1926 Moon Maid reads like a reply to Wells. Especially the first part of the trilogy where Burroughs dances imaginative rings around the First Men In The Moon. From there Wells took up the challenge with Mr. Blettsworthy On Rampole Island of 1928 which unmistakably is a parody of Burroughs in which he portrays Burroughs as insane, but not a bad analysis.
Burroughs responded possibly with At The Earth’s Core but definitely with Tarzan The Invincible. At the same time one interprets Stalin’s interest in crossing apes with humans as being derived from Beasts Of Tarzan and other Tarzan novels there may have been more direct Soviet interest in ERB. One notes that Tarzan The Invincible was the first title published under the Burroughs imprint. I think it highly probable that his publishing was being interfered with by the Reds in addition to whatever other grievances against his publishers Burroughs may have had.
One may say that Burroughs was too insignificant for Stalin to bother with, yet according to Simon Sebag Montefiori Stalin put out a contract on John Wayne because he was such an ardent anti-Communist. Khruschev is said to have told Wayne that he concelled the contract after Stalin’s death. Edgar Rice Burroughs was at least as significant in 1930 as Wayne in the 1940s and 50s.
At any rate in 1930 Burroughs has Stalin and the Reds invading his dream world of Opar to steal his gold, i.e. put him out of the publishing business. Invincible and Triumphant, notice the titles, both deal with Stalin and the Soviets then the topic disappears from the oeuvre. Was Burroughs given incentive to counter-attack the Reds? I think there is enough evidence to warrant the opinion while time will tell even more. Research is just beginning.
It is signficant that Burroughs introduces the story in his own voice, not a framing device. He may be simply talking to the reader or he may be addressing Wells and, dare I say say it, The Man Of Steel himself. Perhaps a subtitle could be ‘The Big Bwana Meets The Man Of Steel.’ Now, it should also be remembered that this is the fourteenth novel of the series. the first title had been written eighteen years earlier. At that time the surprise of the character had knocked the socks off the reading public. In 1930 Tarzan was in danger of becoming old hat. Burroughs had to think up new and interesting devices to keep his readers coming back. As with most series of this type the readership was limited. Maximum sales could be predicted so that success meant not falling below a certain level of interest or letting interest diminish below unsupportable levels. As his own publisher Burroughs was now taking all the risks financial as well as literary. He had to turn out a successful book.
I think he did a superb job. Since the series continued to flourish his readers must have thought so too. I do wish ERB, Inc. would release some sales figures though.
For the premiss of his story Burroughs postulates that Stalin and the Soviets wish to instigate a new world war which will allow them to pick up the pieces establishing a complete European dictatorship. Not at all farfetched. Burroughs postulates that Mussolini and his Fascists are aiming at a European hegemony. This is 1930 so Hitler and the Nazis are not on anyone’s radar as a threat to world peace except for a few fringe elements. At the time Hitler and the NSDAP were in hand to hand combat with the Communists for control of Germany. They would not assume power until three years hence.
The Reds then wish to create an incident that would cause the Italians to attack France. The indirect approach is usually more effective than the direct approach so they wish to create an incident in Africa where French colonial troops appear to invade Italian Somaliland.
At that instant expendable confederates in Italy would reveal a bogus French plan to Mussolini. It is assumed that Italy would then declare war on France and the holocaust would begin. As we all know Italy did not declare war on France in 1930 so the plan must have misfired somewhere along the way. Tarzan was the reason. Burroughs gives these little known details that would have been lost to…well… if not history, remembrance. So, uh, really ERB is providing a valuable service here.
There may be two sides to every story, but usually one is on one side or the other. We don’t have to be reminded ERB is not on the side of the Reds. In fact, ERB is exposing their plans and weaknesses. He displays a fairly profound understanding of the goals and workings of the Communists. He is read up on the subject, He has studied. He is not shooting from the hip. He knows whereof he speaks. If not an authority on the subject he is pretty darn close.
ERB has his eyes on how ‘American’ manufacturers are relating to Moscow. He has Zora Drinov analyze the situation this way, p. 12
“But what do the puny resources of this single American (Wayne Colt) mean to us?” demanded Zora. “A mere nothing compared to what America is already pouring into Soviet Russia. What is his treason compared with the treason of those others who are already doing more to hasten the day of world communism than the Third Internationale itself- it is nothing, not a drop in the bucket.’
“What do you mean Zora?” asked Miguel.
“I mean the bankers, and manufacturers, and engineers of America, who are selling their own country and the world to us in the hope of adding more gold to their already bursting coffers. One of their most pious and lauded citizens is building great factories for us in Russia, where we may turn out tractors and tanks; their manufacturers are vying with each other to furnish us with engines for countless thousands of airplanes; their engineers are selling us their brains and their skill to build a grreat modern manufacturing city, in which ammunitions and engines of war may be produced. These are the traitors, these are the men who are hastening the day when Moscow shall dictate the policies of our world.”
“…their government is a capitalistic government that is so opposed to our beliefs that it has never recognized our government; yet in their greed, these swine are selling out their own kind and their own country for a few more rotten dollars.”
Sound anything like the US and China today? That was a mouthful. The first thing FDR did upon taking the reins of government was to recognize Soviet Russia. Tell you anything about FDR? That was a mouthful that should have eraned ERB the hatred of the Liberal Coalition.
You can see why they wanted to stop his mouth. Passages such as this are probably the reason Richard Slotkin and his crowd, John Taliaferro, group ERB with Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard. A charge of racism is usually a cover for a multitude of offences that have nothing to do with race. One is merely opposing the Liberal program. If they were to say- the fellow opposes the Liberal program they would get no rise- they might even have to explain the Liberal program- so the charge of racism is used as a red herring. One should always suspect such an accusation and disregard it.
Liberals however, never answer such charges. They merely deny them. In 1953-54 they were even denying themselves as Communists or taking the Fifth, which is the euivalent of saying, yes I am, but I’m not going to admit it.
The Revolution was only twelve years old in 1930. The CPUSA had been briefly outlawed in the early twenties but ‘disinterested parties’ believing in the time honored notion of ‘free speech’ had the ban lifted. Over in Russia their free speech loving comrades were filling cattle cars with dissenters destined for the Gulag or else they were murdered outright. Today, of course, these freedom loving people are throwing dissenters in prison on the basis of trumped up laws. The Program is moving right along isn’t it?
Even William Z. Foster denied he was a Communist as he was running for President on the Communist ticket. Today a tenured Law Professor at Harvard actually denies that AIPAC, which is a registered lobby group, exists. They ought to throw such people into cells next to David Irving. Denial of themselves is what Liberalism is all about. You couldn’t find anyone to admit to being a Communist. They all denied it. The hypocrisy of Liberals throwing men as decent or moreso than themselves into jail for denying the holocaust is mind boggling. Well, it would be, if you didn’t already know what’s going on.
So ERB would have been roundly denounced as a paranoid delusive for the above passage.
Men like Armand Hammer, Bernard Baruch, essentially the whole Jewish government in exile here in the US were working furiously to make the Revolution a global reality. They really had no idea of Hitler’s intentions at the time, yet they attempted assassination while through the German Communist Party they were waging street warfare against the National Socialists. The word National is what they objected to not so much the man Hitler. Burroughs mentions the Third International. The Comintern- short for Communist International as it was known- was essentially a beta model for what is now multi-culturalism. It was the Jewish cultural vision of the world. Thus industrialists like Armand Hammer and Bernard Baruch using their Jewish identity as a shield from criticism, any criticism would be characterized as anti-Semitism, were directing huge sums of money into the development of Soviet Russia.
In addition a well-meaning industrialist, Henry Ford, who would later be denounced as a Nazi, was doing the
same thing. The mention of tractor factories refers to Henry Ford- the Jewish bete noir- who was trying to relieve the Communist induced famine by selling or even giving tractors to the Russians to increase food production. He was also building the factories for them. I mean, you know, gratis; altruism run rampant. The great industrial city probably refers to Stalingrad.
Even Burroughs biographers Porges and Taliaferro disparage Burroughs for his rational stance against Communism. Burroughs doesn’t stop his analysis with the multi-cultural contradiction within American society, p. 35:
“The general plan, of course, is no secret to any of us here,” said Zora, “and I shall betray no confidence in explaining it to you. It is part of a larger plan to embroil the capitalistic powers in wars and revolutions to such an extent that they will be helpless to unite against us.”
“Our emissaries have been laboring a long time toward the culmination of the revolution in India that will distract the attention and armed forces of Great Britain. We are not succeeding so well in Mexico as we had planned, but there is still hope, while our prospects in the Philippines are very bright. The conditions in China you well know. She is absolutely helpless, and we have hope that with our assistance she will eventually constitute a real menace to Japan. Italy is a very dangerous enemy, and it is largely for the purpose of embroiling her in war with France that we are here.”
Once again you will note that there is no reference to a threat from Germany. No one could have seen it but the Communists who were opposed not merely to Hitler but any Volkish attempt to govern. The Volkish movement was inherently anti-Communist. To be anti-Communist was equivalent to being anti-Semitic, so that Hitler was automatically an enemy to be destroyed. When he and the Nazis assumed power in 1933 an automatic boycott of Germany and things German was instituted by the Jews. One might say that WWII began in January of 1933 at the instance of the Jews. The obvious conclusion is that if Hitler’s actions against the Jews were not self-defense, they were acts of war in which the first offensives had been begun by the Jews. Needless to say any such opinion is and will be denied. Any such discussion of such matters will be ridiculed and suppressed. But there you have it. At any rate ERB was not one of those far-sighted individuals who foresaw the rise of Hitler. Italy turned out to be a not so dangerous enemy.
In his story Italy was merely to be a dupe of the Soviets.
In order to present his analysis ERB had to be especially well informed. What he read or where isn’t clear as there is nothing in the existing library that even deals with the Communists per se. ERB does have a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf but that could only have been obtained after 1940 when the war was in progress.
As the story opens then, the Reds are assembling their forces for the march on Italian Somaliland.
Things aren’t to be quite so simple as the leader of the expedition, Peter Sveri, develops delusions of grandeur hoping to establish his own Empire in Africa with himself as Emperor. On the one hand Communism breaks down on the rocks of the interests of the various cultures, while in seeking to establish himself in Africa Zveri is infringing on the domain of its current Emperor, Tarzan.
Tarzan handily frustrates Zveri’s designs, while at the same time beating Stalin and the Reds, hence the title Tarzan The Invincible. One imagines though that there may be something more behind it. Originally titled Tarzan, Guardian Of Africa the change of title indicates something deeper.
In order to finance his operations Zveri intends to loot the fabled treasure vaults of Opar of which, one assumes, he has read about in The Return Of Tarzan, Jewels Of Opar and Tarzan And The Golden Lion. This makes him somewhat a fan of the amanuensis of the Big Bwana.
This is the fourth and last of Burroughs’ Opar stories. In section six let’s review Opar and its significance to this story.