November 26, 2011
The Prague Cemetery
Tracing The Racial Memory
For what is history but the attempt to remember or reconstruct the racial past and therefore one’s own pre-history. For as the ancients said: The unexamined life is not worth living. Where better to begin than with the origins of life.
The key fact of existence on earth is that the planet is a huge dynamo generating an electro-magnetic field. In other words the core of the planet is moving at a different rate of speed than the outer layers. There could be no life without this fact. The movement of the core also generates a combination of the elements hydrogen and oxygen we humans call water which is extruded to the surface creating the oceans.
Isaac Asimov describes the human body as big sack of water where H2O comprises very nearly the whole body. So, in contradiction to the ignorant Semitic model ‘dirt’ has no part in the composition of the body.
It is said that the early atmosphere was 100% hydrogen. Thus the extrusion of water and its evaporation must have freed oxygen atoms. As air is 21% oxygen, that fixes the origin of life at the time when oxygen displaced hydrogen in the atmosphere to the extent of 21% at which level it remains today. That also means that if the percentage varied by very much life as now constituted could not survive.
All matter can be deconstructed into its constituent chemical atoms, primarily four gases. While hydrogen and oxygen are the bases of life forms, a dozen or so other trace elements are used in the amounts that were in the sea when life began. All were therefore dissolved in water. It therefore follows by a chain of those atoms proto-life was formed. As life is activated by electricity it follows that electricity was imparted from the electro-magnetic field, the sun or possibly activated by an electrical charge from lightning in conjunction with the electro-magnetic field.
Thus life, a single cell, was formed in the ocean waters which as everyone knows is salty. Hence human are salty. From then in some mysterious process not yet discovered the single cell evolved into all the myriad forms of life that have been and are. At some point ocean forms evolved into land forms which became increasingly complex until one has the human form the most evolved and complex of all. Just because the process can’t be described in full as yet doesn’t mean that Evolution isn’t a reality.
The World Island, Pangaea, is said to have to have begun breaking up 250 million years ago. The planet is said to be about four billion years old so in all probability the land mass was not the same for that entire time period. Pangaea was an intermediate period. As the planet is essentially a top spinning freely in space all the rules of physics pertaining to tops apply.
If you have a water filled top with solid bits in it when you spin the top the solid bits will be drawn to the upper hemisphere. This is what happened to the land mass of the earth. The rotational stresses were such that the surface cracked into large plates that began drifting North. Hence today the land mass forms a circle around the North Pole. Above Russia and Siberia long transverse islands have pulled away from the main mass to gravitate further toward the Pole.
Africa occupies the central position of Pangaea so that as the continents moved they were essentially split off from Africa. Asia moved up and curved around the Pole. The Atlantic Rift separated North and South America moving them to the North and West. India split off moving East and North to collide with Asia forcing the great transverse mountain range of the Himalayas up. And of course Indonesia and Australia trailed out across the ocean to their current stations. Antarctica was drawn South to form that Pole.
As the parcels separated whatever life there was must have traveled on their respective parcels. Thus, even though it may be said the life began in Africa the various life forms must have evolved separately on their land masses.
There have been several mass extinctions not least of all that which occurred at the end of the last ice age when, for instance, many life forms including horses, mastodons, saber tooth tigers and possibly humans disappeared from the Americas. Huge death rate. The remains of least tens of thousands of mammoths were killed and in Siberia and the American North frozen quickly enough and permanently enough to preserve their flesh which was still edible, although gamey, when the bodies were unearthed in recent times.
As this disaster occurred as recently as probably ten thousand years ago it must have left a memory trace in the traditions of humans
We are told that Homo Sapiens came into existence about 150- 200 thousand years ago in Africa. This may possibly or probably be true but it cannot be stated positively. What can be known is that the earliest remains of Homo Sapiens have been found in Africa. At any rate at the beginning of the Age Of Leo dawned, Ages are how the ancients kept track of immense reaches of time, every part of the Earth bore some human population. These populations were in different evolutionary states. The least evolved human species was in Africa. The East of Asia was populated by Mongols who are evidently a sterile branch of the human species. Europe had a population but not a large one of Neanderthals and various human races while the population flooded out of the previously exposed Mediterranean Basin gathered around the shores of the sea, most notably at the effluence of the Nile.
Now, the ancestors of the Folk of which Eugene Sue speaks were centered somewhere in Central Asia probably around the Aral Sea. This was the great hive from which the Aryans were to spread across the World.
There are many, many legends of these distant times such as Atlantis, the land of Mu and Shambala., the last of which was located in Central Asia. These legends must have some basis in fact; the imagination of man is incapable of creating anything out of whole cloth; whatever man believes must have been suggested to it by actual circumstances.
While little is known of the actual origins of the Aryans that can be ascertained as fact is that beginning around the year 2000 BC the Aryans began to move out of their hive lands. We know that they moved West into the Middle East and South into India. There is no reason not to believe that bands or hordes didn’t also move East into China.
The first migrations into India and the West did so with a fully developed religious system or world view, a Weltanschauung. This means that the system and view were well developed in the Hivelands before the Aryans began their migrations. Thus the similarities between the Hindu religion and the Homeric religion were probably deviations from the old time Hive religion adapted to their specific new conditions.
It is possible that there was cross fertilization between India and Greece but since the entire North from Greece to Northern Europe to Iran/Persia and India were invaded and dominated by the Aryans I think it is just as likely that the core beliefs were common to all the Aryans shifting forms to adapt to religions established in the occupied areas.
Thus while I can offer no proof, I think it probable that Shambala did exist and that it was the Aryan home citadel. In legend Shambala was on an island in the middle of a lake in what is now the Gobi Desert. At the end of the ice age both the Caspian and Aral seas were much more extensive than they are while the Gobi may have been wet also. It seems more probable that a temple city may have been on an island of either of those two more expansive seas. Still the legend is the legend. Increasing desiccation would in any event have forced population dislocations in Central Asia. In any event about the year –2000 the Aryans began to move. However they were located, whether strung out from the Himalayas to the Caspian or whatever, one branch crossed the Hindu Kush down into India. Wherever the Aryans went they wrote these huge long Weltanschauungs, at least after writing reached them which they don’t seem to have had on their own.
Because the Indian books were written in Sanskrit and because Sanskrit was determined to be the most ancient Aryan language words common to the Aryan languages were said to be derived from Sanskrit. This needn’t be the case. I think it more likely that since all Aryans derive from the same stock the language was their common inheritance from the Hivelands. Thus while there may have been contacts between Greek and Indian the similarity more likely reflects the common religious heritage of both peoples. Thus, the Indian Aryans wrote their huge corpus while at about the same time the Greeks were composing their own version of the national epic in Greece and Troy.
Over the centuries the various hordes descended into Persia and Anatolia while when the Scyths appeared in Southern Russia they were then nomadic rather than settlers. Assuming that the Aryans of the Shambala period were sedentary it follows then that climatic conditions forced the Folk into a different economic niche. That the Scyths were of the same Aryan stock as the Greeks is evident from their metal working.
After the Scyths we have the Celtic migrations many of whom ended up at the End of the World in Ireland. Along the way they caused havoc in Anatolia where they were known as the Galatians, harassed the Greeks, gave the Romans the willies from their settlements on the Po and finally became the Gauls of what would become France then came the German tribes who would establish themselves in Northern Europe.
When the Aryans migrated into more populous areas they lost their identity. Probably mere hordes, those who reached China were completely absorbed just as later Jewish migrants to China being few in relation the Chinese were also absorbed. Depending on the size of the Indian contingent they were able to shape the mores of the India with its huge Black population but were absorbed racially. The caste system came into existence as a result of the Aryan’s desperate attempt to maintain racial purity.
Even in the Middle East the Aryan influence has been diluted and all but extinguished. The Aryans of Iran are now adherents to the alien Semitic religion of the Arabs.
Over several centuries the Aryan tribes were able to conquer the Romans but in the process destroyed the Roman Civilization bringing about the long social reorganization of society known as the Dark or Middle Ages. It is here in the German or Frankish conquest of France that Eugene Sue must begin his novel of The Mysteries Of The Folk.
It’s a pity the novel has never been translated into English because Sue must cover the whole of European history including the period of the Crusades. The Indian and Greek epics had long been written when the now European Aryans began the third great national epic, the story of Chivalry of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. This is one huge story. The Vulgate-Lancelot alone runs to several thousand pages with numerous very long branches.
Now, the roots of the Arthurian epic still date back to the Homeric epic while receiving input from myths and legends from the Aryan Hivelands. There is then continuity from the very beginning, so to speak.
The Arthurian epic is a curious European recreation of the Indian books and the Homeric cycle with a Semitic add layer of course. In addition to curious crises at the intra changeover of the Piscean Age. We are not talking of the personal astrology of the newspapers here. Astrology was once a serious part of astronomy. We are talking of the great Astrological religious system that began development eons ago. If you wish to believe Sumerian mythology or sources it has vague memories of tens of thousands of years previously. I have no reason to question the veracity of these Sumerian sages. An age, of course, is one twelfth segment of the Great Year of 25 thousand something years. Thus after the cycle of twelve ages Pisces will once again return. The symbol of Pisces is of two connected fish swimming in opposite directions, perhaps indicating Dionysian androgyny. Thus halfway through the age the archetype of the age changed from the male domination of Jesus to the female archetype of Mary in Southern Europe and Diana in Northern Europe. This actually happened.
In the South Mariolatry emerged while in the North Diana replaced Merlin in Pagan circles. According to the legend Vivian (Diana, Artemis) The Lady Of The Lake, charmed Merlin into revealing all his magic to her. Once she obtained it she threw a hex on Merlin entombing him either under a rock or in a tree. Thus Diana replaced Merlin as the pagan archetype of the Piscean Age. Artemis in Greek, Diana in Latin and Vivian with the Norse, the Virgin Huntress, Mistress Of the Animals and The Lady Of The Lake who abhorred the company of men, became Northern Europe’s ruling archetype or Anima while the Virgin Mother became that of the South.
Having eliminated Merlin, Vivian then kidnapped Lancelot as a boy (because she was the Virgin Huntress and couldn’t bear her own son) taking him to her enchanted palace beneath the lake where as the Alpha female she taught him to be a preeminent knight or the Alpha male in Arthur’s court. Arthur was a creature of Merlin but lost the use of the latter’s magic when he was entombed. Thus Arthur was unprotected against Vivian’s purloined magic.
As Lancelot was Vivian’s or Diana’s creature there had to be conflict between the two halves of the Piscean Age. That was naturally caused by a woman, Arthur’s flirtatious wife, Guinevere. As a result the golden age of the Round Table came to an end.
The Arthurians were acquainted with some Homeric traditions that I have not found in the mythological sources. Thus the Arthurian cycle was a continuation in the mold of the Homeric cycle. Vivian or Artemis in Greek, was traced back to the Greek Peloponnese or Lacedaemon. Lacedaemon means the Demon or Lady Of The Lake. So Diana, in Roman Myth or The Lady as she appears in Dumas’ Three Musketeers. But, I can’t find any extant record of the myth.
Arthur and his characteristics can be traced back into the Caspian and Aral Hivelands of the Aryans so that the three traditions come together in the Arthurian cycle of Europe. The cycle also combines Gallic legends of Britain bringing in that great Aryan race.
This is the rich stew then that Eugene Sue had to work with in his mysteries of the Folk. My ancestors and yours. The Arthurian cycle was active from c. 1060 to 1300. Malory is a late compilation. When the Crusades ended and the Templars were suppressed the period ended. Thus the second half of the millennium began.
We will skip the intervening history until the great European upheaval of the Enlightenment and French Revolution.
The Jews In Europe
As Eco’s story is centered around the Jews concerning the Protocols of Zion and the Dreyfus case it will be necessary to say a few words concerning their history to set the stage.
I hope I have demonstrated the persistence of the racial memory in my brief tracing of the movements of the Aryans. Their motif is the scientific explanation of nature which they have pursued with varying success in all their movement from the Hivelands to India and Great Britain and from there to North America and Australia and New Zealand. The scientific goal has never been lost sight of.
There is no other people on Earth with a stronger racial memory and an inflexible but criminal will than the Jews while at the same time, like the Aryans, they have recorded their goals in print. They too persist doggedly in the attempt to realize their plan.
Briefly the place and time the tribe came into existence can be pinpointed if their writings are accurate. That place was Ur of the Chaldees and the time was the transition from the Age of Taurus to the Age of Aries c. 2000 BC. Their pedigree goes back no further than that. They are an artificial Semitic creation; they have no roots in antiquity.
Challenging the authority of the Chaldean astronomers the Jews were expelled from Ur for their impertinence. Thus they were born of disappointed expectations; their future was cast; they were doomed to disappointed expectations.
However they knew how to push their luck to the limit; call it chutzpah.
Skipping over two thousand years of conflict we find the Jews established throughout the Roman Empire challenging the Romans for supremacy. Defiant of Roman authority even in the capitol Rome, the Jews taxed their fellows sending the gold to Jerusalem which they established as their capitol contra Rome. Hence the famous Rome-Jerusalem dichotomy. While their prophet Jesus counseled them to cede temporal authority to Rome- render unto to Caesar that which is his and unto God his own- open rebellion began which was crushed, the people killed or dispersed, Jerusalem leveled with Jews being forbidden to set foot in the city again. An early version of the final solution.
Briefly, we next find the Jews in Spain. Here the Roman Catholic Church has established itself and for superstitious reasons granted the Jews an invaluable monopoly, that of loaning money at interest. A one of a kind gift. Wheedling their way into another monopoly, that of being royal tax farmers, they did indeed farm their Spanish cattle, not unlike the Greek and Italian situation today. This was an intolerable situation that took a long time to culminate but in 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain. This was a crushing blow for them.
Due to the Spanish expulsion and various other expulsions Jews migrated into the sparsely inhabited area of Eastern Poland which then included Byelorussia and the Ukraine, later to be called the Pale Of The Settlement.
Then, the worst catastrophe ever hit the tribe. The Northern Europeans began to assert their birthright of free inquiry while at the same time rejecting the Judaeo-Christian incubus. It was called the Enlightenment. Aryan scientific thought asserted itself against the Semitic stultification throwing the Semitic religions- Christianity, Judaism and Moslemism- into an atavistic status of a prior and lower intellectual state.
The Enlightenment would quickly result in the French Revolution which was to change the course of both Jewish and Aryan history. With the Revolution came the emancipation of the Jews. They were placed on an ‘equal’ footing with the Europeans. Emancipation was more quickly achieved in France while in Central Europe it moved in stages reaching fulfillment after the 1848 revolution.
It was then that Europeans became aware that equality was a one way street; it was not what the Jews were after. In the reaction about 1875 the German Wilhelm Mars invented the term anti-Semitism and the stage was set for the Protocols of Zion and the Dreyfus Affair.
In the wake of the Revolution Eco’s heroes Eugene Sue and Alexander Dumas were born whose novels filled Eco’s imagination and memories with their fantastic works.
We’ll move in that direction in Part III.
April 10, 2011
The Treasure Vaults Of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Unconscious
Originally published in the Spring 2002
issue of the Burroughs Bulletin
What makes an immortal writer? One thing and one thing only! Being able to captivate the mind of the reader. One may say that a magnificent use of grammar, vocabulary, syntax and such literary devices are important but only minimally. The greatest users of the language will be forgotten before their books have littered the remainder tables. Great ‘storytellers’ come and go with regularity. Every generation has its dozens. They are mere entertainment; amusing for a day and then forgotten.
An immortal writer may have faults, but with all his faults he is simply a writer who grips the reader’s imagination and won’t let go. Bulldogs. Such writers are in essence mythmakers. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes; D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers of Dumas. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If Walter Scott, the greatest of all novelists is slipping into oblivion it is because no matter how great a storyteller he may have been he has failed to create great mythological characters.
Tarzan himself would be no more than another Conan the Barbarian except that his adventures are placed in the mythical Africa which was dispelled by the advance of the twentieth century. Tarzan in Paris, Wisconsin or Baltimore in a suit of clothes is a mere laugh. In North Africa among the Berbers as a French ‘secret agent’ he begins to assume his true form, still there is something lacking there. Burroughs’ North Africa looks and feels too much like the real North Africa. When Tarzan arrives back in the jungle he assumes proportions that exceed one’s dreams.
The Greek myths are not historical reality; the fairy tales derived from the Greek myths take flight as mere fantasy. The difference between Perseus and Puss In Boots is immense. Yet Greek myths are a true representation of the human psyche while fairy tales are mere flights of fancy.
Edgar Rice Burroughs reverses the process and derives the creation of his life, Tarzan, from the fairy tales of H. Rider Haggard whose stories he turns into adventures of the greatest of the great mythical figures of the modern age.
The Tarzan series succeeds not from any literary skill of Burroughs, not because he replicates an authentic image of Africa, but because the mighty image of Tarzan exists in his mind as a living being in his imaginary Africa that bears more resemblance to Fenimore Cooper’s New England than any real Africa.
Nor was Burroughs an original author who drew his inspiration from vague sources. Burroughs very nearly copied out his stories from other men’s books. Who else would have named a character Lorna Downs after Lorna Doone. The fabulous world of Tarzan could never have come into existence if H. Rider Haggard had never written his three great African novels: King Solomon’s Mines, She and Allan Quatermain.
Every incident in Haggard’s novels are replicated in Burroughs’ novels. He even paraphrases the most memorable of Haggard’s phrases in the Tarzan series:
…he dreams of the sight
of Zulu impis
breaking on the foe
like surf upon the rocks
and his heart rises in rebellion
against the strict limits
of the civilized life.
Not only does Burroughs paraphrase the passage but the content of the quote informs the whole of the Tarzan series. The passage might be the motto of the Tarzan saga.
Haggard’s great trio of African adventures first appeared from 1885 to 1888 when Burroughs was from eleven to fourteen years old. Sensational successes in their day, one assumes that they would have come to the young adventurous boy’s attention quickly. I don’t know when Burroughs read them or how many times but I would think they had become part of his mental furniture sometime between the time he was fourteen or twenty.
There the fabulous exploits of Sir Henry Curtis, John Good and Allan Quatermain would have seethed and simmered away in his unconscious until they erupted from his imagination in 1912 as the incredible Great White Ape, Tarzan. Tar=White, zan=skin. Whiteskin. Tarzana=Whiteskin City.
Burroughs’ Tarzan is clearly derived in part from H. Rider Haggard.
There was a huge difference between the two writers. Haggard grew up in an England where he came into contact with the Esoteric tradition. His sojourn in Natal, South Africa intensified this streak of the occult. As Haggard was putting pen to paper Madame Blavatsky’s great ‘Isis Unveiled’ had already been in print for ten years. Bulyer Lytton’s esoteric novels were at the peak of their popularity.
Haggard was absorbed in esoterica so his stories partake a great deal of the supernatural. Burroughs on the other hand was born in the heart of pragmatic Chicago, USA in 1875 coming to young manhood in the Edisonian experimental scientific America that allowed little room for the supernatural. By 1900 the great Madame B had published both her masterworks but there is no indication that Burroughs read them.
Burroughs was from the Chicago someone styled ‘The Hog Butcher Of The World.’ It was said of the meat packing plants that they used every part of the pig but the squeal. The meat packers eventually created a product that looked like meat, sort of tasted like meat and possibly utilized the pig’s squeal for an attempt at zest. They called it Spam.
At the same time, Henry Ford was experimenting with this marvelous plant called the soy bean. By scientifically manipulating the oil chemically you can make door knobs or crab meat. Ford used the stuff to make the little revolving knobs for inside door handles. Others used the same stuff to create reasonable facsimiles of steak or crab meat. It’s not real steak or crab but it can be made to look sort of like the real thing and it has a flavor that would only fool anyone who has never had the real thing, but it is an approximation.
Thus by applying such scientific methods to H. Rider Haggard’s novels Burroughs converted Sir Henry Curtis into Tarzan. Then he took every impossible fantasy of Haggard to convert it into a scientifically plausible incident. You have only minimal necessity to suspend your sense of disbelief- once you accept his impossible premiss- in Burroughs while Haggard’s imaginative flight never bear up to examination.
In ‘Allan Quatermain’ the protagonists disappear into a cavern exposed only at low water to begin their journey through a huge tunnel that forms the course of an ‘underground river.’
Well, the entrance wouldbe visible at either low or high water. At high water the location of the entrance would identified by a fierce maelstrom down which the water would be drawn as though down a kitchen sink.
Once within the channel itself the roof was an improbable ten feet ove the trio’s head.
Burroughs would have found this explanation ludicrous and clearly scientifically impossible.
However when Haggard’s river delivers the intrepid adventurers safe and sound into the hidden valley the reader is entranced by the medieval civilization found there. This locale can also be found in Tarzan, Lord Of The Jungle.
When the adventure ended Good and Quatermain elected to return home while Sir Henry Curtis married the princess, sealed off the ground exit and elected to remain there until civilization should discover him. Compare that to the ending of Zane Grey’s Riders Of The Purple Sage.
Gosh, what a story! Burroughs must have said to himself. I’d like to write something like that some day. One day he did. That was about 1926. In his story everything had to be scientifically plausible. Thus he has a remnant of Richard Coeur De Lion’s crusaders who had become separated from the main body living in a secluded African valley somewhere in Gallaland.
Haggard couldn’t explain how his White medieval society found his hidden valley among the Mountains of the Moon. Burroughs could explain his. Furthermore his crusaders had developed in a scientifically probable way. The entrance and exit, both similar to Haggard’s, are probable too. Burroughs has the entrance which is a tunnel, not dissimilar to Haggard’s tunnel, guarded by Black soldiers in medieval garb speaking medieval English which, the example of Chaucer not withstanding, was not too different from our own. Once in custody, the hero, Jim Blake, paraphrasing Il Duce says: Take me to your Director’ as he has mistakenly believed he was on a movie set.
Once within the valley the incidents follow Haggard’s story very closely. A battle takes place between two contending factions. The way out of this valley is identical to the way out of Haggards’ valley with the exception that rather than being obscure it is well know by the surrounding Gallas but as they are no match for the Valley’s inhabitants they avoid it.
In the end Blake, like Curtis, elects to remain with the Princess in a simpler but not necessarily kinder society.
Thus while Burroughs lifts the whole story from Haggard he manages to take the incredible and make it scientifically plausible. The place could have existed. You or I could go there if we only had a map and couple dozen Black porters.
So also the treasure vaults of Opar are a transliteration of the treasure chamber of Ophir in Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines. As John Talliaferro points out in his Tarzan Forever, La is based on Haggard’s She. Although this had passed over my head I was somewhat mystified by the name La. But as La is the French feminine article as in le, la, meaning he, she or it, the name La might even be translated as She. If La is She then the vaults of Opar are a combination of Ophir and the labyrinth of She.
There are also a couple other readily identifiable sources for Opar. One is H.G. Wells and the other is Sigmund Freud. As I always have the haunting presence of L. Frank Baum while reading Tarzan we may assume his presence too.
Many of the Tarzan books seem to be literary composographs. Burrughs wrote very fast turning out three or even four books in some years. This speed of writing doesn’t leave much time for real composition. It becomes almost necessary to borrow from other writers. Thus Burroughs offers a sort of literary Spam; If you examine it closely you can identify the parts but you have essentially a new product.
In the same way Burroughs combines his parts in such a way that you have a new original product.
The terrific Baumian feeling of Tarzan, Jane and Korak the Killer swinging down the jungle lanes on their way back from Pal-Ul-Don just really reminds me of Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scare Crow swinging down the Yellow Brick Road.
Once back home, Tarzan learns that his profligate loans to the British Empire, which the Empire has apparently no intention of paying back, have impoverished him. He realizes that he will have to make another run on the Bank of Opar.
He returns to Opar. Opar greatly resembles the land of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. There are even Morlocks and Eloy. The men are all Morlocks and the women are all Eloy. This effect is achieved by unnatural selection or dysgenics on one hand and eugenics on the other. Over the ages since the sinking of Atlantis any normal men have been disposed of, only the degraded and misshapen kept. On the other hand the ugly women have been discarded while only beautiful women have been kept. One wonders at the genetic problems involved but it is so in Opar. Burroughs chucks in a little science while you’re not watching, showing what the effect will be if inferior specimens of humanity are allowed to live and propagate and the contrary results if eugenics are followed. A very popular idea is made palatable.
Thus we have this scene replicated from Wells’ Time Machine taking place in a land that time never knew.
So far we have Baum, Wells and Haggard represented. Now Burroughs throws in a little Freud. There is no doubt Burroughs read Freud up to at least 1922 as his notion on the theory of dreams in ‘Tales of Tarzan’ shows. By 1922 Freud was all the rage in America. One of Freud’s theories that challenged the psyche of the times was that of the Unconscious.
The nature of or even the existence of the Unconscious was highly controversial at the time with most people rejecting the notion. Interestingly ERB meets the challenge head on as he did with Freud’s theory of dreams. He seems to understand and accept the notion.
In King Solomon’s Mines the treasure vault of Ophir is concealed behind a fore chamber adorned with Haggard’s ghoulish trappings. The treasure room is hidden behind a counter-weighted door of which only the vile Kukuana priest knows the secret. He traps Good, Curtis and Quatermain in the chamber by lowering the door.
Apparently doomed the trio are delivered when Good notices that the air in the room hasn’t gone stale as it should. The men set about to discover the source of the fresh air which turns out to be a trap door in the floor. Descending, the men grope their way in total darkness through a maze of tunnels. They are forced to turn back when Good nearly falls into one of Haggard’s ever present underground rivers..
Forced to turn back they discover a ray of light they missed the first time. The light is coming from the end of the tunnel made by a small furry burrowing animal. The men force their way through the hole tumbling into the pit King Solomon’s men excavated for diamonds centuries before.
In Burroughs the deformed priests of Opar capture Tarzan and put him in a darkened room with no apparent egress other than the barred door. Tinkering around somewhat like Edison Tarzan discovers that ages ago long forgotten Oparians had sealed up a tunnel.
Cannily Tarzan removes the bricks one by one making an opening just large enough for him to pass through. He then replaces the bricks from inside the tunnel so the Oparians will by mystified by his disappearance.
The underground structure as we learn from various books is on two levels. On its upper level a long tunnel leads from the temple to a room containing the forgotten gold vaults of Opar. Halfway along there a, I don’t know, twenty foot wide gap over a pool of water. Tarzan is going to have to leap this gap to go on. It would be impossible to do this in a low tunnel. Consequently Burroughs has a large dome built over the gap with a small opening at the top which admits some few shards of light.
On the other side the tunnel continues on until one enters the gold vaults. Now, it would be impossible to return across the gap carrying a sixty pound ingot of gold which is what the ingots weigh.
Another literary source is here introduced. Burroughs was familiar with the Greek myths. Surely he had read Bulfinch as well as having studied Greek and Latin at Harvard Latin School in Chicago. The nether entrance/exit is so peculiar that if one weren’t already absorbed in the impossible African world of Tarzan it would certainly shake one’s sense of belief.
The nether exit leads steeply up a path to emerge from the top of a gigantic rock formation standing alone in a plain. Strangely neither the degraded Oparian males or the intelligent Oparian females have ever, over a period of at least six ages, investigated it. They’ve been there since the Flood.
The structure reminds me of the story of Metis and Zeus. In that story Zeus had swallowed the goddess Metis. She proved a bit much for the big fella’s digestion so in some kind of psychological manifestation of his indigestion Athene emerged fully formed from the Big Guy’s forehead. So Tarzan who has entered the body of Zeus from a different analogous part of Zeus’ anatomy emerges fully formed from the aperture in the rock.
Really funny if you think about it. Entrance through the nether end, leaping over the belly in the middle then emeging from the forehead. But then that is why one cherishes Burroughs. There is so much to discover in his Africa.
Take the matter of the weight of the ingots. Why sixty pounds? Once can only guess of course but if you read H.M. Stanley’s In Darkest Africa you will learn that the normal weight Stanley’s porters were to carry on their heads was sixty pounds. The men of Tippu Tib, an adversary of Stanley’s rebelled at the weight, demanding the loads be reduced to forty-five pounds or even twenty pounds.
Tarzan’s faithful Waziri, who would act as porters for no other than the Big Bwana, not only joyfully picked up a single sixty pound ingot but grabbed two, staggering across the lianas and creepers under the incredible burden of one hundred twenty pounds. ERB really knew how to top the next guy.
While we have In Darkest Africa in view, which Burroughs obviously read as Stanley mentions an upper Congo tribe called the Waziri, we might compare his version of the jungle with Burroughs’. One didn’t swing blithely barefoot down Stanley’s jungle trails. They were dangerous places full of both poisoned snakes and stakes. One might step on a horrid red ant nest, disturb wasps or have black ants drop on you.
In Tarzan’s Africa there are such things as lower, middle and upper terraces, one drops from a lower limb to the ground. Obviously Burroughs is not replicating the Africa of Stanley or Livingstone where the great trees are sheer for the first fifty or sixty feet in the air.
Burroughs obviously discarded the unpleasant realities of Africa for a replication of Fenimore Cooper’s New England forests of oaks and maples where there are low branches and no snakes, stakes or fire ants.
The diagram of the tunnels is not yet complete. We learn after an earthquake has the brought the treasure vault down on Tarzan’s head while closing the exit through Zeus’ forehead, Tarzan completely bereft of memory, suffering from amnesia as they used to do on the old radio Soaps, staggers back along the tunnel falling into the gap in the middle. Here he drops into the water which is level with the floor of the lower tunnel. This is real close to King Solomon’s Mines. Swimming to the further edge, once you’ve learned to swim you never forget, Tarzan climbs up to continue on where he comes to the spectacular jewel vaults of Opar. A near paraphrase of Haggard. Cases of giant stones fill this huge room. It may be true that De Beers has destroyed all roads to Opar in order to protect its monopoly. (That’s a yolk, son.)
From thence Tazan emits into a counsel room. Perhaps the darkness and obscurity of his exit from the tunnel prevented the incurious Oparians from discovering it.
What Burroughs has created here is a sort of map of Freud’s Unconscious as Burroughs understood it. I can’t tell exactly what Burroughs understood of Freud’s notion of the Unconscious but I interpret his understanding thusly: An idea for a great character enters the mind through a back door. Illuminated by a little candle the idea progresses through the canyons or corridors of the mind seeking resolution. Perhaps halfway through its genesis it meets an obtacle. If the idea can’t pass the obstacle it is aborted. If the obstacle can be passed the idea develops. But as the light was blown out by the leap perhaps the idea gestates deep in the unconscious no longer directed by the light of consciousness.
In Burroughs’ representation Tarzan, or the idea’s progress, was lit by a little candle until the light was extinguished by Tarzan’s leap across the gap. From then on Tarzan had to grope his way into the gold vaults which lie beneath the rock or mind of Zeus.
The idea of Tarzan having come to fruition bursts forth fully formed as with Athene and Zeus. The monetary value of the idea of Tarzan is represented by the gold lurking in the mind which is coverted to cash when the idea is expressed.
Perhaps Burroughs is here telling us how he conceived the idea of Tarzan. Back in 1890 or so when he read Rider Haggard the notion of Tarzan entered his mind through a chink in his psyche. Unable to develop the idea at the time the notion of Tarzan continued to gestate until in 1912 it burst from his mind like Athene from the forehead of Zeus.
There’s a joke in there somewhere and it’s a pretty nifty way of telling the cognoscenti how he developed the idea of Tarzan while incorporating the telling in the exposition of a Freudian theory.
Thus Burroughs has cobbled together a story from assorted literary parts. A little Fenimore Cooper, a little of L. Frank Baum, some H.G. Wells, a Greek myth, a lot of Haggard and a fairly serious discussion of Freud for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
By all rights such a compendium of other men’s stories and ideas ought to have been not only obvious but a failure. But like Spam, Burroughs was able to make easily seen parts unrecognizable while adding his own genius and brilliant creation into a fabulous myth which there is no need to check against reality. It is true because it fills a deep inner need.
If Tarzan wasn’t true he should have been. We love his idea as we love ourselves.
We are true. Tarzan is true. That truth exists in my mind and the mind of every reader. I will never find Tarzan’s Africa no matter where or how far I travel. No anthropologist will ever unearth the remains of Tarzan’s parents, Kerchak or Kala, but they still rest in God’s green earth. Tarzan cannot age. He can never die.
As I pass through the canyons of my mind I have found a little box canyon. In that box canyon I have discovered that I exist as Tarzan. I am Tarzan. I’m sure the reader has discovered that he too is Tarzan. Tarzan lives!
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.
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#14 Tarzan The Invincible
Part I of X
By 1930 ERB was fifty-six years old. An age when many or even most people have become hardened into unchangeable forms. Burroughs seems to have been an exception to this rule. His ability to evolve with the times is remarkable. Some can, some can’t. The problem isn’t one of merely attempting to mimic the style of the period but to adapt one’s mental outlook so that one thinks in the current idiom,
The post-Civil War period into which Burroughs had been born had disappeared now long ago. There might have been a couple survivors of the GAR but not many. The Indian Wars of his childhood were over. The plains had been swept clean of the buffalo. Even the buffalo robe that could easily be found during the first two decades of the century became difficult to find in the twenties and impossible to find in the thirties.
So that past which must still have been vivid in ERB’s memory was no more. Frank James and Cole Younger had died as late as 1915 and 1916 respectively. Buffalo Bill in 1917. TR in 1919. Charlie Siringo who had been present at the shootout with Billy The Kid was giving advice to authenticate Western movies even as he passed away in 1928. Heck, Burroughs could claim to be an authentic cowboy. He was out on the Idaho range in 1890 the heyday of the cowboy, Johnson County war and all that. His Western novels are about as authentic as you can get, maybe even more so than one of ERB’s heroes, Owen Wister.
The guy was carrying impressive baggage from the past to the present and into the future. The era of the first two decades had come and gone disappearing into the Roaring Twenties, the New Era. The twenties were a major transitional period for ERB. He picked up on the new trends by such writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald and kept on hoofing it down the highways and byways. The Shaggy Man of Tarzana.
There was a hiatus of four years between Tarzan And The Ant Men, which may be considered the last of the Tarzan novels of the first period and 1927′s Tarzan, Lord Of The Jungle. The latter may be considered a transitional work between the first and the later period.
Tarzan And The Lost Empire of 1928 shows him saying goodbye to the Lost Empire of his early dreams. By this time he had begun his affair with Florence Gilbert Dearholt that would result in the end of his marriage of thirty-four years to the lovely Emma.
Also a new political element entered his writing competing with the love element of Emma and Florence. Tarzan novels fairly gushed from his pen over the next seven years. Tarzan At The Earth’s Core of 1928-29, Tarzan The Invincible of 1930, Tarzan Triumphant of 1931, Tarzan And The Leopard Men also of 1931, Tarzan And The City Of Gold of 1931-32, Tarzan And The Lion Man of 1933 and Tarzan’s Quest of 1934-35. With the divorce his fecundity ended; he had severed his connection with his origins.
Politics had entered his life in earnest with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He had always been involved with politics to some extent. In his youth his basic attitudes had been formed by immigration while he watched immigrant German socialists parade through the streets of Chicago under the red flag shouting, Down with America. The Russian situation had troubled him too. The villains of the Russian Quartet had been Russians. A very great many of his villains were Russians. The Communist leaders of Tarzan The Invincible are Russian.
In 1919 he rushed his political tract Under The Red Flag denouncing the Russian revolutionaries to his publishers. Haven’t read it but I suspect it was much too polemical for the pulp fiction magazines for which he wrote. It if was anything like The Little Door I can understand why it was rejected on literary grounds. I don’t doubt the novel was rejected for political reasons also as Reds and Fellow Travelers had already worked themselves into the cultural edifices of the US.
Certainly he was flagged as a counterrevolutionary to be watched and interfered with. It is now becoming apparent that ERB was more widely read in the new Soviet union than previously thought. Josef Stalin may even have followed the Tarzan series. We know for certain
that Tarzan novels were read to workers on the job.
It appears that H.G. Wells was appointed to harass Burroughs in print. His 1923 novel Men Like Gods seems to reference Burroughs in a negative way. The means of communication between Wells, the Reds and ERB remains to be discovered but there appears to be novelistic warfare between the two. Wells seemingly was the Soviet hatchet man attacking other notable counterrevolutionaries such as Aldous Huxley.
ERB refined his approach getting his condemnatory novel of Bolshevism, The Moon Maid, published in 1926. The Moon Maid wasn’t that satisfactory although Wells replied to it in 1928 with Mr. Blettsworthy of Rampole Island.
Wells unmistakably alludes to Burroughs in this novel calling him insane. Tarzan At The Earth’s Core which is an attack on some core beliefs of the revolutionaries may possibly have been a rushed response to Blettsworthy.
In Tarzan The Invincible which may be incontrovertibly considered his third attack on the Revolution and an answer to Wells ERB succeeded in the grand manner. He shed the nineteenth century trappings of The Moon Maid that was written in the style of Wells’ First Men In The Moon to write a thoroughly modern novel. Invincible might be considered a prototype of the modern spy thriller, one of the first of the genre. Not only a prototype of the genre but as David Adams points out in ERBzine 0199 a superb blending of fact and fiction:
Fictional author: Burroughs pulls off a tour de force by narrating an introduction in his own voice, then slipping into the story so smoothly one is deceived into believing it is part of a newspaper story in a historical setting.
By which David means current events occurring almost as we speak. Tour de force is correct. David got the handle on that one. Tarzan is actually integrated into a current political situation as an actual historical figure. Tarzan interacts with fictional agents of Stalin who are represented as real acting under orders from Moscow. Incredibly Opar devolves from a mere fantasy of Burroughs into an actual geographic location somewhere in southern Abyssinia. The Soviet agent Dorsky tells Tarzan that they know that he knows where the gold of Opar is hidden and that he is going to tell them.
Thus Stalin has apparently kept up on Tarzan’s adventures which he thinks are real being aware of the source of Tarzan’s wealth and his earlier expeditions to Opar. In fact, one knows that Tarzan’s adventures are common knowledge which they should be as several millions of copies had been sold worldwide. Tarzan’s amanuensis Burroughs has seen to that.
The Soviets had located Kitembo of the Basembos who knew where Opar was and had actually seen it. The Basembos were native to the area of the railhead on Lake Victoria. One assumes that Kitembo must have known one of the faithful Warziri who showed him the ruins. As ERB explains only Tarzan and some of the Waziri had been to Opar. That overlooks Ozawa, who probably bore Tarzan a little grudge for the gold taken from him and the bearers of Esteban Miranda of Tazan And The Golden Lion but possibly the well-known Curse of Atlantis had carried them all off. Haven’t heard of the Curse of Atlantis? Well, you’ve heard of the Curse of the Pharaohs haven’t you? Same thing, only different.
The Reds trying to loot Opar isn’t all that far-fetched. As has been mentioned elsewhere Stalin actually ordered his scientists at about this time to cross an ape and a human to attempt to create a new super warrior that could run on regular. We know that Stalin was a fan of the Tarzan series, both books and movies, possibly even a secret admirer of our favorite author. The possibility of Stalin thinking a eugenic hybrid of ape and human possible from reading Burroughs seems to have a high degree of probability. The Oparian males were believed to have some ape blood in them. If word of the experiments had reached Burroughs, Tarzan The Invincible could be part a spoof on Moscow. So, in a way, the blending of fact and fiction David notes could on the other hand be a blending of fiction and science by Stalin. Amusing to think about. I’m sure more information will surface in the future. At any rate this story does read as an unreported behind the scenes actual event.
Let’s take a look at how Burroughs sets it up. From the opening paragraph.
I am no historian, no chronicler of facts…
OK, so we’re warned that we’re about to be put upon.
Had the story I am about to tell you broken in the newspapers of two certain European powers, it might have precipitated another and a more terrible world war. But with that I am not particularly concerned. What interests me is that it is a good story that is particularly well adapted to my requirements through the fact that Tarzan of the Apes was intimately connected with many of its most thrilling episodes.
Ah, so Tarzan really exists.
That passage is reminiscent of both the first framing story of Tarzan of the Apes and any number of story introductions of Dr. Watson for Sherlock Holmes. The echoes are very strong. An overlooked fact is that Burroughs actually plays Dr. Watson’s role for Tarzan. Burroughs
in fact is the chronicler of Tarzan’s adventures as was Watson those of Holmes.
Burroughs goes on to establish his story’s authenticity:
Take the story simply as another Tarzan story, in which, it is hoped, you will find entertainment and relaxation. If you find food for thought so much the better.
Doubtless, very few of you saw, and still fewer will remember having seen, an news dispatch that appeared inconspicuously (how inconspicuously?) in the papers some time since, reporting a rumor that French colonial troops stationed in Somaliland, on the northeast coast of Africa, had invaded an Italian African colony. Back of that news item is a story of conspiracy, intrigue, adventure, and love- a story of scoundrels and of fools, of brave men, of beautiful women, a story of the beasts of the forest and the jungle.
That seems like it covers all the bases of what a story should have. It is also pure Dr. Watson or, rather, Arthur Conan Doyle; let’s not fail to differentiate between fact and fiction. So far what Burroughs has posited could well be true. After all few read and fewer remembered the news item which appeared inconspicuously sometime in the not too distant past. Now Burroughs removes the story from the news item another step and quietly slips into full fiction mode:
If there were few who saw the newspaper acount of the invasion of Italian Somaliland upon the northeast coast of Africa, it is equally a fact that none of you saw a harrowing incident that occurred in the interior some time previous to the affair.
Um, yes, if there were few…then it’s a fact there were none. It seems ERB has established an incontestable ‘fact.’ So if you let that sophistry slip by you he’s going to tell you pure fiction. If you know the difference you won’t care, if you don’t it won’t matter. Anyway his intro was a perfect synthesis of nineteenth century humbug brought completely up to date.
Burroughs’ writing style is even close to reportorial. Tarzan, La and Opar become ‘real’ as ‘real life’ Reds make their assault on the ancient Atlantean colony. So, in a way, Atlantis becomes an established fact rather than an hypothesis.
Burroughs uses clear, concise sentences developing his story news style. For once his story is evenly paced with a well developed beginning, middle and unrushed end. He doesn’t cram a hundred page ending into ten as usual.
While one hesitates to call the book his best Tarzan novel it may be his best written. Thoroughly modern in its swift and pleasant reading with wonderful detailing I certainly can’t consider the novel hack work or inferior to any of the Tarzan novels in any way. The characters are entirely plausible, the premiss doesn’t seem far fetched. There are historical antecedents that we will examine. The novel could easily have take its place among the major spy thrillers written in the last fifty or sixty years. David is right. The novel is a major tour de force.
Part II of X follows.
Four Crucial Years
In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part IV of IV
By this time ERB would have been viewed as a real upsetter. Since 1890, except for a summer vacation or so, ERB had only been in Chicago from late Spring ’97 to Spring of ’98. Then he had gone away for a year and now he was back spoiling some other people’s plans.
Even after having deserted Emma Hulbert twice, the first time without notice for sure, and probably the second also, she was still waiting for him. Amazing! Ten full years when when the biological clock was ticking loudest she was still there. If that’s not true love I don’t know what is.
It must be that ERB took it for granted that she would always be waiting for him because he was still willing to leave her at the drop of a hat, if he could only get that coveted officer’s appointment.
As ERB walked down his street you could almost hear Alvin Hulbert say ‘Drat! that young man is not going to set foot in this house.’
Papa George T., quietly holding that three hundred dollar note, welcomed him back restoring his old job to him.
The following account is based on two letters, one from R.H. Patchin dated 3/21/1950 and the reply from Jack Burroughs dated 4/4/50. I learned of the letters which were quoted in part by Burroughs scholar Robert Barrett in the Fall 2003 issue of the BB. Danton Burroughs of ERB, Inc. subsequently was gracious enough to provide me with full copies as he had Mr. Barrett.
As of the time of the letter Mr. Patchin was from 68 to 70-75 years old. My guess is that Frank Martin couldn’t have been younger than Emma so was probably at least 25 to 30 years old in 1899. It is not impossible that he was older but as his exemplars in ‘W.C. Clayton and Terkoz in Tarzan Of The Apes and The Return Of Tarzan are approximately the same age as Tarzan Martin was most likely 25-27.
As Emma would be 23 at the beginning of 1899 which would be close to spinsterhood one may believe there was some anxiety on Papa Alvin’s part to get her safely married. Martin was about the most advantageous marriage possible. At, say 27, he was looking at one of the last unmarried women of his age cohort. If he failed with Emma he would have to find a much younger woman than himself or take a woman who had already been married. He has some reason to repent this man he could not have known well who not seeming to care that much for Emma yet stood between himself and her.
Patchin says a lot in his letter to Jack Burroughs. He mentions the three times his and ERB’s paths crossed. They were all unfortunate for Burroughs. In the first ERB got his head bashed in; in the second Patchin showed up just after ERB divorced Emma which divorce was national news; the third was the condolence letter at ERB’s death. Talk about an ill omened bird.
Sometime between ERB’s divorce and 1950 Frank Martin became a statistic. He didn’t survive his nemesis. I am guessing of course but Patchin’s meeting with ERB after his divorce must have been arranged by Martin. He may even have been watching from a distance. One wonders if he ever married.
I only mention the following as a point of interest. By the time John Dos Passos wrote the third volumeof his USA trilogy, The Big Money, Burroughs was already a major literary figure. As he didn’t seem to court publicity he can’t be said to have been a celebrity. In The Big Money Dos Passos cameos a number of interesting people among them Bernarr Macfadden.
It should be clear to everyone that nothing can be done in secret. Whatever passed between Martin, ERB and Emma must have been a source of gossip among Chicagoans. Somewhere along the way Dos Passos may have heard the gossip. In The Big Money he includes a story about a woman named Evaline Hutchins. A segment of the story bears some resemblance to the situation between the three under consideration. In the episode the Martin-like character takes the Emma character driving. He cracks up the car leaving the woman with some explaining to do to her husband.
I don’t say it’s so but suppose that in 1907-08 Martin, still seething at his rejection, in some way got Emma to go out driving with him with the above result throwing Burroughs into a panic. It was in 1908 that Joan was born to be followed immediately by Hulbert. Is it possible that after eight childless years Burroughs suddenly began a family as a defensive move against Martin? I can’t say but it is a hint I would dearly love to follow up.
At the time Patchin wrote the letter in 1950, judging from his stationery, he was down on his luck. His sloppy typing can’t be accounted for by age alone, or perhaps a lifetime of hard living had left him a wreck. My conjecture is that he had been drinking when he wrote the letter.
You will notice that the staionery bears only a street address- 555 Park Avenue- and no indication in the body of the letter as to what city. Burroughs’ reply provides the location. New York City. Patchin must have been clever enough to provide a return address on the envelope. The street address is printed rather than engraved so it is less expensive stationery. With no other address details provided it is obviously not Patchin’s personal stationery. The paper must have come from a mailing address. The stationery was probably available to anyone. 555 Park Avenue is a lower East Side address so Patchin was totally down on his luck. Probably drunk as he wrote.
He makes a glaring Freudian slip in the first paragraph when he says of ERB, ‘He lived his wife well. Wife for life! Hence the letter is as much about Emma as ERB. Emma meant nothing to Patchin so he must be speaking for Frank Martin. He then immediately relates the anecdote concerning ERB’s bashing in Toronto; thus Emma and the bashing are related. The one caused the other.
What follows now is extrapolated from Patchin’s virtual confession and Jack Burroughs’ reply. Burroughs hints that he knows more of the story than he is letting out. He and ERB had discussed this matter shortly before ERB passed over, he says. Obviously among the last things on ERB’s mind.
Martin viewed Burroughs’ return from Idaho with apprehension. Emma’s delight at Burroughs’ reappearance disconcerted Martin’s plans which he and Alvin probably thought were progressing well. Martin perhaps in talking with Patchin, if they were equals and friends, which I doubt, may have said, ‘How am I going to get rid of this guy?’ ‘Let’s think about it.’ Said Patchin. ‘What kind of accident could he have?’
Indeed, that’s how people get rid of someone they don’t like, the victim has an ‘accident.’ Murder is for amateurs. With murder the Law has to be paid, with accidents it doesn’t. No investigation. Perhaps he steps on a banana peel; gets run over by a car going the wrong way down a one way street, pushed in front of a trolley car. The next question would have been, where, how, when?
Better that it should be out of town rather than in town.
How to get Burroughs out of town? Now we’re talking old hat. You find a desirable reason for going somewhere, say New York City, then you make arrangements.
In Frank Martin’s case he had a perfect situation. Frank’s father, Col. L.N. Martin, was a multi-millionaire railroad man who had his own private rail car. In July of ’99 the Col. was going to NYC so Martin, extended an invitation to Burroughs to travel by private car to New York City. What a deal, huh?
Burroughs should have been surprised at the offer since the two weren’t that close friends while they were rivals for Emma’s favor. There should have been enough there to give one pause. Still, what a tempting offer.
The trip appears to have lasted at least three to four weeks, returning to Chcago at the beginning of August. Clearly ERB and Martin were not in the same economic league. Our Man was receiving fifteen dollars a week. Martin could spend that much for lunch every day of the week and take Emma to the theatre every night without a single concern for expense. There was no way ERB could have kept up so that the Martins had to have paid his way. Didn’t ERB wonder why they would do that for a comparative stranger?
There was no questioning expenses from the Martin point of view. They owned a luxurious private railroad car. It cost more than Burroughs made in a week to connect it to a train. Jack Coleman Burroughs recalls: ‘Dad also recalled on the same trip, a colored porter would knock on the stateroom doors the first thing every morning. The porter bore a silver tray upon which was a choice of ‘eye openers’. According to Dad, this went on over different parts of the private car during the rest of the days and into the evenings.’
Thus ERB was accepting lavish hospitality he couldn’t hope to reciprocate. This is a fairly humiliating situation. You cannot feel like an equal nor will you actually be treated as one. One the other hand he was kept tipsy, to say the least, for the whole trip.
When they got to New York ERB does not appear to have lived on the car. Once again with the Army fever on him he wrote to Col. Rogers who was then in Washington D.C. in the hopes of gaining an officer’s appointment. The return address Rogers was given was 11 17th in NYC. That is the lower East Side somewhere in the vicinity of the Bowery. Patchin was writing from somewhere in the same vicinity. Of course, the address could possibly have been a box of the railroad; the information is incomplete. At the same time the Martin party was staying on the posh Riverside Drive. There’s a degree of separation there.
ERB’s letter was sent on the 15th while Rogers very quick reply came back on the 22nd in the negative. He didn’t have to give his reply much thought. Now, ERB was ready to abandon Emma again. Marrying her must have been a low priority in his mind.
If Martin had been thinking, rather than preparing an ‘accident’ for ERB he would have gotten his father, ‘the Colonel’ who must have had some influence, to secure Burroughs an appointment and have him shipped to the Philippines. That would have made ERB eternally grateful while getting him out of Martin’s hair. Frank missed a chance.
Sometime after the 22nd the return trip to Chicago began. As is usual in attempts of this kind the hit was delayed until the last minute. In this case the assassination was to take place in Canada to which, if anything went wrong, Martin would have to be extradited as they would cross the river into the United States from Toronto the next morning.
More rounds of drinks were served as the train moved from NYC to Montreal and thence to Toronto. Probably a fairly lengthy trip as they might have had to switch trains a couple times while wating in the yards.
Neither Patchin nor Jack Burroughs gives a date for Toronto. As this took place in 1899 there were no motorized taxis. As Patchin says the railcar was parked in the Grand Trunk yards. These ‘three gentlemen songsters out on a spree’ would have had to walk into town or hire a carriage, probably the latter as Martin had the money.
At this point someone would have had to have previously hired the thugs to bash Burroughs. As I figure it the logistics were Patchin’s job. I don’t see him so much a friend of Martin’s as an accomplice or stooge. In his letter he does not claim to be a friend of Martin, he does not say ‘our’ old friend but claims to have been a friend of ERB while ERB was a friend of Martin. Stange circumlocution when he could have just said ‘our friend.’
Although Patchin describes the thugs as ‘Canadian hoodlums’ I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been brought from Chicago contracted by Patchin there. It would have been easier and surer.
If you study Patchin’s letter you will see that other than the slip of ’He loved his wife well’ there are no other typos in the first paragraph. As he gets into his story in the second paragraph he begins to have difficulties. By the third paragraph when guilt seizes him he can’t even spell his last word or keep the words on the same line. He begins emergency with two Es, can’t spell the critical word ‘hospital’, crossing it out. Serious stuff.
Where did they go in Tornonto on that memorable evening. Probably to the red light and gambling district. Toronto’s answer to Chicago’s Levee. Where else could you arrange a fight with such hoodlums so easily. Patchin doesn’t say whether the fight took place indoors or outdoors, just that Burroughs took a smack to the head. Since the scalp was opened he was coshed with a sap or pipe.
Burroughs says that he didn’t lose consciousness but he must have been knocked flat on his back. He must have had time to get his arm up to partially block the blow or he would most likely have been killed by it. As I see it, then, this was an assassination attempt. Martin meant to permanently get Burroughs out of the way. Put him in a place from where he couldn’t come back.
As I see it Martin and Patchin faked the brawl. Patchin doesn’t say that he and Martin had a hard time of it. No. Just Burroughs got hit. Only Burroughs got hurt which is suspicious. After the first blow which could have been interpreted to be in the heat of anger which would still have been manslaughter, to have continued to belabor Burroughs would have been a clear case of murder which would have had to have been thoroughly investigated. The Law would have to be paid. Thus the opportunity was lost when the first blow failed. Martin and Patchin didn’t even report the incident to the police. The ‘Canadian hoodlums’ could still have legged it across the border though. It is not impossible that they weren’t Canadian but Chicago hoodlums contracted for the job before the private car left the Big Windy. Why not? Perfect job.
So at two in the morning when asked where he was staying by the hospital doctor ERB replied in our private car down in the Grand Trunk Station. Not Martin’s car but our car. He quickly got used to the luxury of a private car. Never forgot it either.
As he was able to walk he was released the party returned to the yards returning to Chicago the next morning.
One may ask is there any evidence to show that Burroughs after he had thought about it for a while ever came to the conclusion that Martin and Patchin had meant him harm? I think there is. In The Return Of Tarzan Burroughs puts these words into the mouth of Jane perhaps thereby admonishing more sternly who might, not unreasonably, be expected to be reading these books. He obviously would get more out of them than we might.
Jane says ‘…this terrible jungle. It renders even the manifestations of friendship terrifying.’
A manifestation of friendship was the invitation to NYC from Martin. This indeed had been terrifying. So that for the parties concerned if they read between the lines they had every reason to believe that Burroughs understood everything.
One of the consequences of the attempt on Burroughs’ life was that he rushed back home to propose to Emma. Within five months they were wed thus taking her away from Martin. Emma had had a choice between a prince and a pauper and by some miracle had chosen the pauper. Really a very romantic story worth of a movie on its own. Grand Opera the way I see it. Andrew Lloyd Weber should look into this one.
There were other serious consequences. Of the blow, Jack Buroughs says: “He suffered for a number of years with bad headaches from the blow he received in that fight, and attributed one or two short periods of amnesia to that rap. (Amnesia is a recurrent theme in the Tarzan oeuvre.) I remember the scar was quite evident on his forehead when we were children (Jack Burroughs was born in 1913 so the scar must still have been visible in 1920 although it doesn’t show up in photographs.) but it seemed to disappear in his later life. Mother used to jokingly attribute his success to that blow.”
Emma would be in a position to know.
So Burroughs suffered lasting injury from that blow– one doesn’t have periods of amnesia unless there is internal pressure on the brain. There is evidence that he suffered from such pressure. Perhaps brain damage is too strong a phrase in this case but here is a clinical description that seems to fit the case. Per Brodal: The Central Nervous System: Structure and Function (3rd. Edition, page 433):
A peculiar form or amnesia occurs together with confabulation; that is the patient invents stories (without knowing that they are not real). Most of the patients have a lesion involving the substantia inominata, the medial hypothalamus, and the orbito frontal cortex (usually caused by a ruptured aneurism in the anterior cerebral artery). The often bizarre stories can usually be traced back to real events, although they consist of various, unrelated fragments from memory. It seems the patient is unable to suppress irrelevant associations, and cannot chack them against reality.
That is pretty close to ERB’s situation although he doesn’t appear to have lost his connection to reality although his stories as fantastic as they come always relate to his own memories. The Corpus seems to form one gigantic web of psychological unity as Richard A. Lupoff has pointed out.
One could think that after such a fearsome blow he would have been kept at the hospital for observation for at least a day or two but as he appeared to have no more than an open wound the doctor sewed him up and sent him on his way. As Patchin says the doctor came down to the yards the next morning to check up on the private car story which may have seemed incredible to him causing him to the think the patient deluded perhaps being more hurt than he looked as, indeed, he was.
There seems to be no reason to doubt that the blow ruptured the anterior cerebral artery. Thus internal bleeding over the next couple days would have created a clot which would have put pressure on the prefrontal lobe causing cobwebs, headaches and obviously a faulty memory with periods of amnesia.
There must be a medical reason for all these.
The symptoms should have begun showing up within a week or so, so that the several months of faintness ERB experienced began then. It was in this mental condition that he proposed to Emma.
Disappointed by the quick rejection of Col. Rogers while at least intuitively understanding that he had been set up in Toronto, ERB quickly went to work to capture Emma from Martin. I see little reason to believe that he had intended to marry her any time soon before he went o NYC, if at all. Back in Chicago in August he proposed and he and Emma were married by the end of January. In terms of years he was twenty-five and she twenty-four but in reality ERB was only four months older than Emma.
The sudden wedding must have been disconcerting to the Hulberts. I’m sure they envisioned a magnficent society wedding for their daughter. There was now no time to plan one so they must have been bitterly disappointed.
ERB now had to face a reality he hadn’t planned for. His rough and rowdy days were over.
While solidly based on documentation the foregoing is at present somewhat conjectural but let us see if we can find some discussion by ERB of these events in his writing. There are four titles that go over these events in slightly different ways. Certainly ERB had to ask himself what had happened. He gave it a lot of thought. Beginning in 1909 his answers came pouring forth. Minidoka 937th Earl Of One Mile, Series M which was unpublished in his lifetime was the first of these efforts followed by Tarzan Of The Apes, The Return Of Tarzan and The Girl From Farris’s. As ‘The Girl’ is concerned with the early married years rather than this period I will forego discussion of that title although it should be read in sequence with Minidoka.
Minidoka, which actually began ERB’s writing career is directly concerned with this struggle between himself, Alvin Hulbert and Frank Martin. In the story the evil Brady represents Alvin Hulbert with the genuine thoroughbred godling, Rhi, representing Frank Martin.
The wars and battles represent Hulbert’s attempts to keep ERB away from Emma which ultimately fail. However the story may explain a curious situation in which ERB and Emma took up residence in the Hulbert home after marriage. Not a situation most newlyweds would want, but one that the Brady or Hulbert insisted on.
Alvin Hulbert had thought little of ERB for several years. The Army episode and the Denver marching band stunt did little to improve his opinion of Our Man. How the New York trip was represented to him by Martin would be interesting to know. Probably Martin who had every incentive to slander Burroughs said he was drunk all the way to New York and back, drank continually, started the day with liquor. He may have said that they were in the red light district of Toronto at ERB’s insistence. In other words, he probably made the most of the situation.
Undoubteldly terrified at his daughter’s willfulness in marrying this ne’er-do-well Hulbert made it a condition of his consent that the couple live in his house where he could keep a close eye on ERB. I’m sure he was ready to have the marriage annulled at a moment’s notice.
In Minidoka Rhi by a very devious trick puts Minidoka/Burroughs in a situation where he is meant to be killed, a situation not unlike Toronto- then rushes to the heroine Bodine/Emma to inform her that Minidoka is dead proposing marriage to himself instead. It could have really happened that way.
As in real life Emma/ Bodine remains steadfast and true to Burroughs/Minidoka, all wool and a yard wide as Burroughs puts it.
Thus Minidoka mirrors the real life events in a fantastic manner as Per Brodal would suggest.
Minidoka was never published so the same material was available for a retelling. This was done in the first two Tarzan novels. Tarzan Of The Apes tells the story of Burroughs life up to 1896 with some interpolations from the later period. The Return Of Tarzan covers the four years from 1896 to his marriage with Emma in 1900.
Always bear in mind that Burroughs has to tell his story with commercial ends in mind.
The blow to the skull made an indelible impression on ERB as well it might. In Tarzan Of The Apes, Tarzan takes three serious beatings, one with a gorilla from another tribe, perhaps representing John the Bully, and with Kerchak and Terkoz of his own tribe. In all of them Tarzan is beaten about the head and shoulders. Terkoz/Martin rips his scalp open from above the left eye over to his right ear. Clearly an exaggeration of the true wound but that must have been how it felt.
Kerchak delivers a blow to the head that would have killed him had he not deflected its force with his raised arm.
Then when Tarzan and Jane are in the jungle Terkoz abducts Jane causing Tarzan to rescue her killing Terkoz in the process. Thus in Program A Tarzan kills his adversary.
Running concurrently in Program B Tarzan is a penniless jungle ape-man up against W.C. Clayton who is a genuine thoroughbred godling as was Rhi in Minidoka. Tarzan feels he doesn’t have a chance against Clayton so he magnanimously resigns Jane to him at the end of Tarzan Of The Apes. There must have been a sequel in mind because, as in reality Burroughs won Emma, Tarzan must win Jane.
The end of Tarzan Of The Apes may correspond to Burroughs joining the Army in 1896 while finding Clayton embracing Jane in the jungle may correspond to his second Idaho trip in 1898.
So that between 1896 and 1898 it may have appeared to him that he had lost out to Frank Martin. In ‘Return’ Tarzan retreats to Opar which is his fantasy world with the beautiful but unobtainable anima figure, La. At this early date she and Emma/Jane are fighting it out in his mind for his allegiance. He would rather have La, that is remain unmarried, but his rivalry with Martin is pushing him toward Emma.
Tarzan is captured by the Oparians destined for sacrifice to the Flaming God of which La is High Priestess. Burroughs reverses the situation and instead of squelching his imaginary La she is about to sacrifice him. Burroughs can’t renounce his Anima fantasy so rather than kill him which would end both Burroughs’ wish persona of Tarzan and his relationship with La, she releases him. Tarzan/Burroughs then triumphs over W.C. Clayton winning Jane/Emma. Jane/Emma leaves Opar never to return. La remains in Opar until Tarzan The Invincible when Burroughs is about to leave Emma and take up with his Anima figure, Florence Gilbert. La then comes out of Opar in the same way Burroughs leaves Emma for Florence. Opar disappears from the oeuvre, never being mentioned again.
Then as ‘Return’ ends Burroughs and Emma are married mirroring his fantasy where Tarzan and Jane are married. While not literal as Burroughs is writing for publication and must construct an interesting and, at least, nominally plausible story he confabulates events from his life into a fantastic and improbable tale.
The history of his slugging which closes this period was mysteriously obscured by his youngest son John Coleman Burroughs. These two letters were only discovered by Danton Burroughs, John Coleman’s son, recently. They were unknown to biographers Fenton, Porges and Taliaferro. For decades it was believed that Burroughs had been coshed in Idaho by a policeman as an innocent bystander in a saloon brawl.
In an interview with Porges Jack Burroughs told this latter story in 1970. Porges then dutifully reported the Idaho story in his biography. the question is why would Jack invent the latter story to replace the true one with which he was aware. As he himself replied to Patchin having previously discussed the event with his father I don’t see how he could have forgotten it. Nor was there any need for him to even tell Porges the Idaho invention.
Perhaps Jack knew details buried away in the archives wishing to lay down a false trail to disarm the curiosity of Porges.
In 1899 ERB had had the direction of his life changed by a rap on the head. He now had to face a life filled with heavy responsiblities which he had been able to avoid to this point.
We see a new Edgar Rice Burroughs emerge from his early married years.
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#23 Tarzan And The Madman
What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been
In everyone’s life there comes a time to recapitulate. Tarzan And The Madman was that time for Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Great Saga began in 1912 and in this novel of 1940 unpublished durng his lifetime the long strange trip, to quote the Grateful Dead, came to an end. The Big Bwana and his imposter got on a plane and flew out of Africa never to return.
Two more novels would follow but they were placed in the Pacific either in or near Indonesia. The succeeding Tarzan And The Castaways was also unpublished during his lifetime while Tarzan And The Foreign Legion could find no takers so was published by ERB, Inc. It almost seemed as though the sun had gone down on the Great Ape Man.
Of course the movie Tarzan still prospered, first with the great Johnn Weismuller and then Lex Barker. ERB even tips his hat to MGM by replicating the flight through the fog to the great tabletop of the Mutia Escarpment, an MGM invention. Thus, the last game is played out on the MGM playing field. Just as ERB and Florence left LA on a plane so Rand and the Goddess and Tarzan do Africa in this novel. In a short 157 pages ERB manages to recap the Big Fella’s entire career in print or on film.
In reading through the book this last time I suddenly realized the significance of all those doppelgangers. They signified the problem ERB was having realizing his ambition to be the man who was Tarzan. In Madman he gives up the ghost realizing his failure to become the Man-who-thought-he-was-Tarzan but wasn’t. Now typing away in exile from LA on Hawaii he throws in the towel.
As I have tried to show in my other reviews ERB read Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde probably sometime before 1890 within a four years of its issue. The book must have been a sensation during his years at the Michigan Military Academy, the subject of endless discussions among the cadets. As hard as it must be for us to realize what we consider a classic was an exciting new book for ERB. No movies could be made of it because the technology hadn’t been developed as yet. Even the primitive Nickelodeons were shimmering a ways into the future. Yea, verily, the future lay before them.
The novel was significant enough to be in the first batch of talkies being first produced in 1931. I’m sure ERB was transfixed as the story unfolded on the screen. The theme of psychological doubles had dominated the Tarzan oeuvre from the beginning. While it seems repetitious to a first rading of the novels the theme is actually developing as the series progresses. ERB didn’t so much fall back on a cliche to him but he was working out a variation on the theme of Jekyll and Hyde.
He says that he was convinced that every man had two sides to his personality, perhaps not as pronounced as that of Jekyll and Hyde but there nonetheless. He was aware of his own duality chronicling it in the pages of the Tarzan oeuvre. The duality is often prompted by a blow to Tarzan’s head. The blow certainly commemorates the hit ERB took in Toronto while perhaps the aftermath split ERB’s personality so that he became two nearly different people. Perhaps that’s the secret of his writing career as he said that he was able to disappear into the alternate reality when he wrote.
Tarzan always had two personalities from the beginning. He was both a civilized man and a beast. This undoubtedly represents ERB’s feelings about himself. Perhaps he had periods when he was something of a wild man, not unlike Tarzan on the Rue Maule in The Return Of Tarzan who became a beast and then shook himself back into a human not unlike the transformation of Jekyll and Hyde. This type of duality would characterize the Russian Quartet, the first four novels.
The Tarzan doppelganger first appeared in Jewels of Opar where having received a blow to the head he loses his memory during which he lived as an uncivilized beast, regaining civilization with his memory but he had not yet split into two co-existing separate identities. That would first occur in Tarzan And The Golden Lion and Tarzan And The Ant Men when the great character of Esteban Miranda served as a doppelganger. Esteban was identical to Tarzan in appearance but an arrant coward compared to Tarzan. This was a characteristic of all the doubles. Esteban represented the negative pre-success side of ERB while Tarzan the positive post-success side. Thus in thse two novels ERB is beginning the attempt to become Tarzan- The-Man-Who-Thought-He-Could-Be-Tarzan.
ERB was very sensitive about his early failings in his relationship with Emma. In these two novels he offered Jane/Emma the chance to recognize him as the strong Tarzan and not the weakling Esteban doppelganger. Having overcome the failures of his past he felt he had proven himself as a man and a supreme provider demanding recognition. Given the decision to make Jane/Emma chose ERB’s former existence, Esteban, thereby sealing her fate. After her ill fated choice Jane disappears from the oeuvre except for the chance encounter in the succeeding novel Tarzan Lord Of The Jungle whereas the Golden Lion assumes a prominent role.
While the next double, Stanley Obroski, appears in Tarzan And The Lion Man a double of sorts in the form of Lord Passmore makes his appearance in Tarzan Triumphant. Another double appears in Tarzan And The Leopard Men when felled by a giant tree in a storm Tarzan blanks out assuming another persona. Also, in Tarzan And The City Of Gold Valthor serves as a double. In a strange variation ERB repeats the story of Jewels Of Opar when Tarzan rescues Jane from the Arab boma. Here, in an exact duplicate of that scene, he rescues Valthor. Thus Jane and Valthor are connected in ERB’s mind.
In Tarzan And The Lion Man Burroughs kills off his weaker persona thus assuming the role of Tarzan himself. Then in Tarzan And The Forbidden City Brian is his look-a-like although the role of double is not explored. Perhaps this is the initial realization the ERB has failed in his quest to be Tarzan.
After a decade of trials and tribulations struggling against the Communists and MGM and losing ERB sat down in exile at the beginning of 1940 to write this confession of defeat.
The man-god Tarzan himself remains the same but The-Man-Who-Thought-He-Was-Tarzan but failed confesses his defeat getting into his airplane up there on MGM’s Mutia Escarpment flying out of Africa forever. First he was expelled from Opar by the Communists and then from Africa by MGM.
Although Tarzan was in the plane with him, the Big Bwana shows up again in Africa for a moment in Tarzan And The Castaways. This novel written in a style entirely different from the rest of the oeuvre was also unpublished during Burroughs lifetime hidden away in a safe.
In this novel Tarzan is defeated by a Black chief, symbolically perhaps, captured and sold as a wild man, a feral child. Once again Tarzan has lost his memory reverting to a pure beast or feral boy. As this novel was written after King Kong and Tarzan ends up on yet another island perhaps ERB was conflating the movie with this novel. Tarzan is put aboard ship with the other animals destined for the circus and taken from the continent.
Running all through Burroughs is the ghost of Jule Verne’s Mysterious Island. Once aboard ship a storm assaults the ship which, signficantly loses its rudder. Thus like the now rudderless Burroughs the ship is adrift. In a scene reminiscent of both Verne’s novel and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped the ship is tossed atop a reef while all aboard including a Noah’s Ark of animals find their way to shore as the Castaways.
Stevenson and Verne were two of ERB’s earliest influences thus ERB returns full circle to his origins.
In the last Tarzan novel and the last published in his lifetime, Tarzan And The Foreign Legion, at the very end the fugitives from the Japanese army approach the remains of the Mysterious Island that after the volcanic explosition of Verne is a mere spire of rock in the vast ocean. Not a refuge in the world left for Tarzan or ERB. Like Capt. Nemo a submarine surfaces to rescue Tarzan and the Legion from a watery fate.
It seems amazing that as an honorary Frenchman Tarzan was never placed in a situation with the real French Foreign Legion. Perhaps P.C. Wren had preempted the genre with his magnificent FFL trilogy which left no room for ERb’s imagination to operate.
The long odyssey had ended. ERB could not imitate his man-god but he left him to us as an avatar for the coming New Age. What a long strange trip it was and for us, will be.
Part II follows.
December 19, 2009
A Contribution To
The ERBzine Library Project
Edgar Rice Burroughs Shakes Hands With Edgar Wallace
Credit to Wikipedia and Fantastic Fiction.
Quite by accident I came across a probable source for Burroughs in an English writer by the name of Edgar Wallace. Wallace as Burroughs was born in 1875. He was a prolific writer of 175 novels numerous plays and incidental writings. Astonishly he was responsible for the creation of King Kong working up the first script although dying in 1932 before the project came to fruition.
The movies were kind to him; over 160 films based on his novels have been produced.
Burroughs was well aware of Wallace having four of his more obscure titles in his library: Great Stories Of Real Life, Island Life, A King By Night, and Mexican Sierras.
More to the point for Bibliophiles was a series of African novels gathered under the title: Mr. Commissioner Sanders. The first of these, Sanders Of The River, appeared as Burroughs wrote his first novel, A Princess Of Mars, in 1911. The second, The People Of The River, in 1912, The River Of Stars in 1913 and Bosambo Of The River in 1914. The later stories needn’t detain us here as the influence was largely expended in Burroughs novel of 1914, The Beasts Of Tarzan although the influence might have resurfaced in 1929′s Tarzan And The Lost Empire. Wallace also has monkey characters called N’Kima that was probably remembered in the twenties when Burroughs created his own N’Kima.
Wallace was a very good writer. Very concise and intense. The Sanders stories are despised today for depicting an accurate portrayal of the times rather than a sentimental version of what might have been consistent with today’s prejudices. Our own time would prefer something along the lines of Dr. Dolittle Of The River. Amusingly Burroughs’ Beasts of Tarzan could be seen as a parody of Dr. Dolittle.
Unlike Burroughs Wallace was in Africa but seemingly not long enough to have experienced all the adventures he portrays. The series aren’t novels so much as collections of short stories except for River Of Stars which is a longer story than a novelette but short for a full fledged novel. Nice story though.
The first two collections, Sanders Of The River and People Of The River seem to be the main influences of Beasts Of Tarzan. Sanders used a gunboat with a couple Maxims to make his presence tolerated or, even, welcome. Thus he cruised up and down an unnamed river in an unnamed part of Africa but looking very near to Nigeria in order to keep order amongst the troublesome tribes under his jurisdiction.
Burroughs makes a farce of Beasts Of Tarzan having The Big Guy cruise up and down the river in his canoe apparently somewhere in Gabon with his motley crew of beasts. Perhaps reminscent of Kipling.
Burroughs abandoned river stories after Beasts.
There was an incident in Sanders Of The River in which Roman centurions appear and disappear mysteriously. The idea may have recurred to Burroughs for use in Lost Empire.
Altogether I can highly recommend Wallace for some effective story telling. The more PC might wish to avoid the stories. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any title that came to hand. In fact I bought a couple omnibus editions giving me about ten percent of the corpus. Wallace’s reputation was made early however in 1905′s Four Just Men. You might want to look that up first.
November 20, 2009
A Contribution To The
ERBzine ERB Library Project
H. Rider Haggard
Review by R.E. Prindle
From London To The The Caves Of Kor
She is dedicated to Andrew Lang:
I Inscribe This History To
In Token Of Personal Regard
My Sincere Admiration For His Learning
And His Works
One may well ask then who is this Andrew Lang and what is his learning? In point of fact Haggard not only dedicated She to Lang but wrote three books in collaboration with him. Andrew Lang, 1884-1912, was a Scottish scholar specializing in folklore, mythology and religion so you can see where Haggard came by much of his esoteric knowledge. In addition Lang was one of the founding members of the Society For Psychic Research and a past-President. Lang wrote dozens of books over his lifetime. He even wrote a parody of She in 1887 called He. Today he is remembered only for his collections of fairy tales. Twelve volumes in all each titled after a color such as The Crimson, or Blue or Pink or Gray Fairy Book. The volumes are undergoing a fair revival now with a collector’s edition published by Easton Press and several nicely bound volumes by the Folio Society.
The nineteenth century was the one in which advanced knowledge of the past was rapidly extending European knowledge greatly. The Rosetta Stone deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics had been achieved as recently as the 1830s. Nineveh and the Assyrian ruins had been unearthed. Schlieman had discovered the locations of Troy and Mycenae.
The exoteric side was covered by the academics while the esoteric side was covered by independent scholars like Madame Blavatsky and probably Andrew Lang. There was a clean split between the academic Patriarchal view of ancient history and the emerging Matriarchal view that had just been developed by the Swiss mythologist, J.J. Bachofen. Bachofen organized ancient history into Hetaeric, Matriarchal and Patriarchal periods. He himself was a member of the successor Scientific period.
The academics totally rejected the notion of a Matriarchal period. This, of course, led to a complete inability to understand Homer, both Iliad and Odyssey. The Iliad especially is a description of the war by the Patriarchy to destroy Matriarchy.
Lang seems to have understood the Matriarchal phase of ancient history. He must have passed this knowledge on to Haggard. Ayesha, as She, rules a Matriarchal society. While the ideas represented in She must have seemed bizarre or merely an amusing reversal of the Patriarchal world at the time, today it all reads comprehensibly. It rings true if not exact.
C.G. Jung, the psychologist, who developed such notions as the male Anima and the Shadow was very immpressed by what he saw as the male Anima in She. Madame Blavatsky lauded the book for its esoteric content. But then, Haggard was firing on all eight cylinders when he wrote it, it is difficult to conceive of a more perfect fantasy/adventure novel. Indeed Haggard subtitles the novel: The History Of An Adventure.
Haggard was an excellent Egyptian scholar. He not only visualized Egypt convincingly in his Egyptian novels but his Egyptian ideas pervade the African novels. Many of them involve Egyptian influences and even peoples filtering down into East and Central Africa. The Ivory Child is a case in point as is She.
The set up to the trip out is brilliant incorporating details that become cliches in B movies.
Leo Vincey’s father before he died gave a metal box to Leo’s guadian, Horace Holly, that wasn’t to be opened until Leo was twenty-five. This box is now opened. It contained a letter to Leo, a potsherd (a piece of a broken jar) covered with ‘uncial’ Greek lettering, a miniature and a scarab containing Egyptian hieroglyphics that read ‘Royal Son of the Sun.’
Thus Haggard captured most if not all of the elements that went into the intellectual aura fostered by B moves primarily in the first years of the talkies through the thirties. That entailed things like the Curse of the Pharaohs, movies like The Mummy melding into Wolf Man, Dracula, Frankenstein and African juju spells. Things against which Europeans had no defense because the ancient magic was stronger than modern science, or so we were led to believe. I can’t speak for others but it took me a while to shake this oppressive spirit. This was pretty strong stuff for my ten to twelve year old brain. Not to mention being bombarded by The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Thing and The Day The Earth Stood Still. We wuz tried in the fire and come through good.
The gist of it is that Leo’s ancestor Kallicrates lived in the time of the last Pharaoh Nectanebo as one of the royal family. Spookier still Nectanebo was said to have fled Egypt before the conquering hordes, going to Macedon where he secretly impregnated Olympia, Philip’s wife, who then gave birth to Alexander which made him the rightful heir to the Pharaohship instroducing Greeks as rulers into his city of Alexandria.
At any rate Kallicrates girl friend, Ayesha, killed him in a jealous rage. The family nursing vengeance for all these two thousand years it is Vincey’s mission if he chooses to accept it, to follow the ancient map to the Caves of Kor and kill Ayesha or, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed who has been nursing regrets over killing Kallicrates two thousand years previously. Listen to me, I’m tellin’ ya it’s all here.
So Vincey, Holly and their man Job set out to find this place in Africa even more remote, if possible, than King Solomon’s Mines. And a heck of a lot more hostile too.
The trip out is some of Haggard’s finest writing. They are to be looking for a rock formation on the coast in the shape of a gorilla’s head. Sailing the coast they miraculously spot this head just as a terrific squall sends their felucca, dhow or other exotic ship from foreign climes to the b ottom.
But, even though the ship sinks they beat the reaper because they brought a boat containing unsinkable water tight compartments. As the storm subsides the three survivors along with an Arab float into the mouth of the appropriate stream as though it were all foreordained. What follows is some excellent writing with details I don’t need to recount.
Suffice it to say they are dragging their boat along an ancient canal when they are accosted by men from Kor. Ordinarily these guys would have speared them and moved on, no strangers needed in Kor. Using her magic She had learned of Leo’s coming a week previously thus ordering their lives spared while they were to be brought to her. Uh huh.
The detailing is terrific, this book is tight and well organized. It moves right along. The land is under the thumb of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. This is a tight Matriarchy as we now recognize not just some strange place where a woman is in charge.
While the three are entering the Caves of Kor, Leo Vincey, being the cynosure of all female eyes, a knockout named Ustane steps up and kisses him. Not averse to a public display of affection Leo lays one on her back. New to the area and not aware of the customs of the place Leo had just accepted Ustane as his woman. In town for a few minutes and already married. That’s the way things happen in this particular Matriarchy. Ustane is now in conflict with Ayesha, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.
The stage is now set for the main drama when Ayesha recognizes Leo as her long lost Kallicrates come back from all those reincarnations at last.
The exoteric Catholic Church is thus thrust aside in favor of all the heretical doctrines of the esoteric which have been bubbling under the Hot 100 for two thousand years. These unfamiliar esoteric doctrines would become the mainstay and staple of science fiction/fantasy for the next one hundred years.
Just as an example of how Burroughs probably learned esoterica, I became familiar with estoeric themes myself from reading 1950s science fiction and fantasy- Amazing Stories, William Tenn, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and all that sort of stuff without realizing what I was taking in, thus Burroughs surrounded by the Society for Psychical Research, Camille Flammarion, George Du Maurier and Stevenson et al. naturally learned the esoteric language. No mystery, he was speaking in tongues before he knew it.
Leo is awaiting the summons from Ayesha which will be covered in Part III.
October 5, 2009
A Contribution To The
ERBzine ERB Library Project
The Beau Ideal Trilogy Of
Beau Geste~Beau Sabreur~Beau Ideal
Review by R.E. Prindle
Part I. Introduction
Part II. Review of Beau Geste
Part III. Review of Beau Sabreur
Part IV. Review of Beau Ideal
The first novel of the trilogy signifies a good, beautiful or noble deed. The deed being the Geste brothers taking the odium of the theft of the sapphire on themselves. The second, Beau Sabreur, meaning the Noble Warrior or Fighter. The story then centers on its Lancelot like character, De Beaujolais with attention to the noble actions of subsidiary characters. Hank and Buddy fit in as noble warriors also. Beau Ideal then centers on the noble ideals that activate the characters and are part of Western Culture as against that the the others.
I will put the dramatic first chapter second begin with the second section called The History of Otis Van Brugh, perhaps meant to be a Gawaine type. Beau Ideal is Otis’ book as the first was that of Michael Geste and his brothers and the second that of De Beaujolais.
Otis, Hank and Mary are brothers and sister with a last sister who remained at home in Texas. Their father was a brute of a fellow who drove all his children from home except the last sister. Wren himself must have had a wretched father because all the fathers in the trilogy are failed men, fellows who don’t have a grip on the meaning of really being a man.
Neal, or Hank Vanbrugh, refused to put up with it taking to a wandering life. On the road he met Buddy where they became pals ending up in the Legion.
Otis and mary being younger subsequently left Texas to lead a peripatetic ex-patriot life of the well to do. The history of Mary, Hank and Buddy has been given in Beau Sabreur.
When Otis left De Beaujolais he tried to reach the French contingent in the fort. Along the way he ran into Redon who filled him in. Otis was to try to reach the fort to request them to assist a detached unit fighting their way to the fort. He succeeds.
In the process Redon diverting the attack away from the fort is shot by friendly fire. Both he and Otis were dressed as Moslems. Otis attempts to reach Redon but is shot falling unconscious outside the fort. Thus when the French are massacred he is the sole survivor.
He returns to England where psychologically shattered he is stopped by a policeman. While being interviewed he is conveniently rescued by the leading ‘alienist’ of England. Given refuge in his asylum Otis discovers Isobel whose mental health is destabilized because her husband John Geste is in the penal battalion of the FFL. She implores Otis to find John and bring him back alive. Here’s a beau ideal. Ever loving Isobel Otis agrees to sacrifice his happiness to go back to Africa to find John.
What a guy! Otis joins the Foreign Legion with the intent of being sent to the penal battalion called the Zephyrs. He joins and succeeds in being sent to the Zephyrs. Now we return to the opening chapter.
Anyone who ever fancied joining the Legion, and the notion was discussed a lot down to the sixties of the last century when I was launching my bark upon the waters, should have read Erwin Rosen’s In The Legion first. The Legion was unconcionably cruel to its soldiers in everyday life let alone the penal battalion. As an example, the Legionnaires complained of excessive marching. They were required to do thirty miles a day carrying 50 lbs. or more with pack and rifle. One really has to read Rosen’s description to realize the horror. Those who dropped out were left where they fell. Arab women found them subjecting them to horrid tortures.
This became so common that the Legionnaires were given leave to slaughter the Arab women as a lesson. This they did with a vengeance. Rosen was shown a purse by a fellow soldier made from the severed breast of a woman. Rosen said they were common at one time; an example of what can happen when civilization meets savagery. Civilization is lowered but savagery isn’t raised. The Beau Ideal is lost.
One of the punishments Rosen mention was called the Silo. As he describes it these were holes dug into the ground with a funnel put where the victim had to stand exposed to the blazing sun during the day and freezing cold at night.
Wren converts the idea of these silos into an actual underground grain storage unit capable of holding several men. In his version the funnel was closed off admitting no light. As the story opens several men are sweltering in the pit. A Taureg raid was made on the penal colony building a road near the pit that killed the whole contingent so that no new supplies were lowered. The men are dying one by one.
Otis is in the silo the next to last survivor. He discovers that the other survivor is none other than John Geste. On the point of expiring a scout from Hank and Otis’ tribe, or headquarters, discovers the silo and hauls the two out. Coincidences and miracles just naturally go with the desert.
The scout take them to a member tribe of the federation. Both are now wanted men by the FFL with no hope of salvation. They have no alternative but to get out of Africa hopefully avoiding France.
I can’t ask you to guess who was in the camp because you wouldn’t. Remember the Arab dancing girl Otis met in Beau Sabreur? She’s the one and she’s still in love with Otis. Wren names her the Death Angel. Wren was heavily influenced by E.M. Hull’s The Sheik. Maud in Beau Sabreur was mad about sheiks, overjoyed when she won one in the person of Hank. Of couse Hank was an American sheik and not an Arab one, much as Hull’s sheik was in reality half English and half Spanish.
So, perhaps Otis and the Death Angel are revenants of the Sheik and Diana from Hull’s novel. In this case the woman has power over the man but the sexual roles remain the same as the king trumps the queen every time as Larry Hosford sings. If you don’t lose track of who you are it’s true too. Otis doesn’t lose track of who he is. Revisit the story of Circe and Ulysses.
The tribe that rescues Otis and Geste is a rival of Hank Sheik’s but a subordinate member of the confederation. Hank has organized a sort of United Emirates of the Sahara of which he serves as President for life but without any democratic trimmings. In a parody of the Sheik then the Death Angel demands ‘kiss me’ of Otis. He’s not so easy to deal with as Diana. Even with the Death Angel’s knife at his breast he refuses.
In the meantime the Zephyrs reclaim Geste and he goes back to his old job of building roads. Rosen’s account of the FFL compares with Burroughs’ account of his army days. ERB too was put to work building roads, complaining of moving or perhaps breaking huge boulders. Both his experience and that of the penal colony of the FFL are quite similar to the chain gangs of the old South of the United States.
Even when not of the Zephyrs the Legionnaires were given detestable tasks unbefitting the dignity of soldiers. According to Rosen the men were required to clean out sewers in the Arab quarter of Sidi Bel Abbes. That’s enough to make anybody desert. And then get sent to the penal battalion. Crazy, crazy world. Rosen’s In The Legion is well worth reading if you like this sort of thing. Download it from the inernet. Only a hundred pages or so.
Geste then has to be re-rescued. This forms the central part of the story along with Otis’ struggles with the Death Angel. Hank and Buddy get windof the two FFL captives coming to investigate. Otis then discovers his long lost brother. It is settled then that Hank and Buddy will give up their Sheikdom to return to pappy’s farm, or ranch.
Even though Hank and Buddy are powerful sheiks they are still deserters from the Legion so getting out of Algeria is a problem. Rosen tells a story of a deserter who made it back to Austria where he became a rich and successful manufacturer. He made the mistake of exhibiting his manufactures in Paris in person. There he was recognized by his old officer who arrested him sending him back to Africa. There he died. So Hank and Buddy run the risk of being recognized and arested on the way out of Africa as well as Otis and Geste.
Geste’s rescue is effected. The quartet successfully exit Africa arriving safely back in Texas. However the Death Angel’s help was necessary. To obtain that help Otis promises to marry her. He doesn’t want to but a Beau Ideal is a Beau Ideal and so he is going to honor his commitment. On the eve of departure the Angel gives Otis a locket she wears as a good luck charm. Very bad move. The locket contains pictures of her mother and father. Otis examines the mother with some interest then turns his attention to the father….
Should I ruin a perfectly good ERB ending for you? Sure, why not? I’ve got a little sadistic streak too. Everyone was using this one. No fooling now, the Death Angel was Otis’ sister because dear old Dad was her mother’s wife; he was known as Omar out there on the burning sands. Well, there’s a revelation, not that keen sighted readers like you and I didn’t see it coming from miles away. You can see a long way out there in the desert.
Hank, Buddy and Otis’ excellent African adventure is over. The whole episode was like watching a movie except real. But, back in Texas it may as well have been a dream. The old codger is still living as the troop of Mary and De Beaujolais, Hank and Buddy and Otis assemble at the ranch, John and Isobel are there too. Sister Janey is still waiting on her father.
Well, Hank has Maud, De Beaujolais has Mary, Geste has Isobel but Buddy’s staring at the moon alone. Still there’s Janey and that’s a match made in heaven but Dad won’t let her go and Janey waon’t leave without his consent. Otis intervenes pushing Janey toward Buddy then turning to face down his Dad for the first time in his life.
Pop doubles his fist moving to deck Otis. Otis holds up the locket like a cross before Dracula stopping the old man in his tracks. Confronted with the truth the old fellow buckles giving his son the triumph. So the Beau Ideal triumphs.
That’s all there is, no more verses left.
August 1, 2009
Note: I mistakenly placed the review of Beau Geste on another of my blogs: reprindle.wordpress.com. The review may be found there.
A Contribution To The
Erbzine Library Project
The Beau Ideal Trilogy Of
Beau Geste~Beau Sabreur~Beau Ideal
Review Of Beau Sabreur
Part I: Introduction
Part II: A Review Of Beau Geste
Part III: A Review Of Beau Sabreur
Part IV: A Review Of Beau Ideal
Bibliographial Entry: Welland, James: ‘The Merchandise Was Human’, Horizon Magazine, Vol. VII, No. 1, Winter 1965. PP. 111-117
Beau Sabreur shifts from the classic literary style of the mid-nineteenth century to the vernacular of pulp or, perhaps, Wold Newton era. The pulp writers seem to have all read each other and Wren has certainly done his share of reading.
This novel begins at a pre-Zinderneuf time when Charles De Beaujolais was a mere cadet entering the service. If Beau Geste began in c. 1888 Beau Sabreur is set back at the beginning to perhaps 1875. De Beaujolais’ circumstances quite parallel those of the hero of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness. Conrad has maintained a very respectable readership down to the present even though stoutly anti-Communist and a colonial writer. Both Communists and Africans are working hard to bury his reputation. It’s amazing how guys like Conrad manage to hang on, but that may not be for long as Western influence in society declines.
So it is that De Beaujolais is a sort of lounger applying himself to nothing in particular when his uncle recruits him for the French secret service as an agent to be attached to the African Spahis, an army corps. His uncle says that he will severely try him and should he fail in any particular he will be immediately dismissed. This essentially means that if De Beaujolais lets a woman come between him and his duty it is all over for him. So we are forewarned that there will a choice between love and duty.
The book was written after 1917 so Wren introduces a subversive Communist or anarchist character. In this book he assumes the name of Becque at the beginning. In Beau Geste he went by Rastignac and late in the novel he will be recognized as Rastignac although he appears to be going by another name. Wren has a good idea of the type describing him thusly under the name Becque:
He was clearly a monomaniac whose whole mental content was hate- hate of France; hate of all who had what he had not; hate of control, discipline and government; hate of whatsoever and whomever did not meet his approval. I put him down as one of those sane lunatics, afflicted with a destructive complex; a diseased egoist, and a treacherous, dangerous mad dog. Also a very clever man indeed, an eloquent, plausible and forceful personality…The perfect agent-provacteur, in fact.
Thus Becque in his various incarnations is always subversive, whether of army morale or working the Moslems up against the French. This will be a major theme of the novel. the same theme will appear in Tarzan The Invincible developed for his own needs.
Having been recruited by his uncle, De Beaujolais is sent to a sort of boot camp to learn the hard way. His ordeal is very convincingly described by Wren. It seems authentic enough to make one believe that Wren himself actually experienced such an indoctrination but there is no record that he did. He is just a consummate artist.
While learning to be a soldier Becque attempts to recruit him as a Communist agent. This leads to a sword fight in which De Beajuolais injures Becque but does not kill him.
Having completed his boot camp De Beaujolais takes his station with the secret service and the Spahis in Africa. Spahis are not FFL but a different corps.
When the French conquered Algeria in 1830 they disrupted a thousand year old social system. The North African Moslems had an insatiable need for slaves. Not only did they raid European shores to abduct Whites but an immense system for deliviering Negro slaves had been in existence since the Moslem conquest. This system had been run by the Tuaregs. This people was descended from Whites dating back to at least the Phoenician conquest of North Africa. Their alphabet probably precedes that of the Phoenicians. Undoubtedly they were the descendants of the former inhabitants of Mediterranean Valley known as Libyans in Egypt flushed out by the melting of the ice age.
What they did before the arrival of the Moslems isn’t known but with the African conquest of the Moslems they became the middle men between Africans of the Sahel and the Moslems of the North. Every year for a thousand years the Tuaregs had collected convoys of Negroes from the South driving them North across the Sahara. This was necessarily done with great loss of life as the Tuaregs were not that tender toward the Negroes.
With the advent of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the sixteenth century the Tuaregs also captured Negroes and drove them to St. Louis in Senegal for sale and transshipment to the Americas. According to James Welland the depredations on the Blacks was so great that the area around Lake Tchad had been cleared of inhabitants. This age old life style was disrupted in 1830 by the French. By that time Europeans had discontinued the slave trade so that the French disrupted the trans-Sahara trade causing a disruption in the Tuareg economy from which there was no recovery. Welland explains:
In short, the official abolition of the slave trade, the desert tribes, the desert itself for that matter began to play a diminished part in human affairs, and the Tuareg, who had been the only link for two and a half thousand years between Central Africa and the Mediterranean- in other words, between the Negro and the White world- began to pass from the stage of history. They were left unemployed and purposeless, with the result that they turned to intertribal war and oasis raiding to keep some semblance of their nationhood. Then again, as the supply of black labor dried up, the palmeries were increasingly neglected and often, as the consequence of a razzia, comepletely destroyed. The size and number of oases decreased, sand filled the wells and cisterns- many of which had been maintained since Roman times- and the age old trails became more hazardous and finally were hardly used at all.
In the secret service in Africa De Beaujolais becomes involved in the maelstrom of change, racial conflict and bad memories which were now exacerbated by the arrival of the non-Moslem, or Christian, French. The novel beomes then a sort of proto-thriller. De Beaujolais is on a mission to a town called Zaguig when he is caught up in a Moslem revolt. In Zaguig he meets the touring Mary and Otis Vanbrugh. Otis, you will remember returns from Beau Geste.
Mary is the love interest in the story and she will conflict De Beaujolais between his love for her and his duty as imposed by his uncle. Frankie Laine or Tex Ritter and songwriters Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington (I tried to work Trad. in there somewhere but couldn’t do it) expressed the balance well in the song High Noon:
Oh to be torn ‘betwixt’ love and duty
Supposin’ I lose my fair haired beauty…
De Beaujolais relates the story of another agent who chose his beauty over duty and was drummed out of the service ultimately being killed. De Beaujolais has a premonition. Wren cleverly resolves the choice so that De Beaujolais gets his beauty while fulfilling his duty.
At the same time Otis Vanbrugh meets the apparent Arab dancing girl, who yet retains European features, who will figure largely in the sequel.
As the revolt erupts these conflicts emerge. As is usual in thrillers things are not what they seem. Raoul D’Auray De Redon, a close friend of De Beaujolais’ remains behind disguised as an Arab to confuse their attack on a small French garrison destined to be wiped out. De Beaujolais has important dispatches which must be delivered. Thus duty makes him appear to be an ingrate and coward humiliating him before Mary. His job is to locate the latest Arab Mahdi and suborn him the the French side.
De Beaujolais thinks little of Otis Vanbrugh and we are meant to accept his opinion. His true story will appear in the sequel.
Mary was one of those women who flirt by taunting or ridiculing her guy. In her case when De Beaujolais was within hearing she mockingly whistled a tune De Beaujolais couldn’t quite place but was called Abdullah Bulbul Amir. This was a very popular song and poem of the time that can be found at http://wiki.answers.com/Q/lyrics_of_bhulbhuliya. A couple of verses of its 19 will suffice to give its tenor but the poem is one you should be familiar with.
The sons of the Prophet are hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the most reckless of life or of limb
Was Abdullah Bulbul Amir.
When they wanted a man to encourage the van
Or harass a foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, they had only to shout
For Abdullah Bulbul Amir.
Apparently the poem was so well known that Wren felt no need to name it and he doesn’t.
The time to leave Zaguig comes, so taking his entourage of faithful soldiers, Mary and her maid Maud, he sets out into the desert toward Oran.
Soon Tuareg or Arab raiders pick his party up and they are forced to fight a pitched battle although from an advantageous position. Here De Beaujolais has to make a very difficult choice between between loyalty to his men and his duty to get his dispatches through. Getting his men into position he is compelled to abandon them to their fate and push on.
This puts a strain on his relationship with Mary who cannot understand the concept of duty or necessity- the necessity to get the dispatches through. After a long flight the party falls into the hands of a desert tribe. But this is a strange desert tribe. Rather than the usual unorganized tactics these fellows seem to have the scientific training of the French. Another mystery.
As luck would have it De Beaujolais and the women were captured by the Mahdi’s troops. By way of explanation the Moslem Mahdi is equivalent to the Jewish Messiah but not the Christian Messiah. There’s only one Christ but Jewish Messiahs and Moslem Mahdis pop up everywhere.
So now, going back to the ending of Beau Geste, the two Americans Hank and Buddy were out there somewhere trodding the burning sands. Hank was discovered and rescued on the point of death by a kind hearted Sheik while Buddy was captured by hard hearted Tuaregs being saved from death when Hank Sheik’s tribe defeated his captors. Buddy was out there somewhere for a long time because Hank had been rescued years before.
Having been rescued at the point of death Hank was aware of the necessity to pass as a Moslem so he pretends to be dumb until he has learned the language so well he can pass. He then cleverly becomes the tribe’s sheik. The tribe is then threatened by a razzia of Tuaregs. As this takes place in the North Tuaregs no longer having Negroes to convoy have taken to raiding the oases. Normally the tribe would have run and hid leaving their goods and a few token members as slaves for the Tuaregs. Hank has a better idea and using his superior scientific French training the tribe rather than waiting to be attacked unexpectedly attack the Tuareg camp handily defeating them. Buddy is thus rescued. Coincidences are dime dozen out on the burning sands.
Teaching Buddy the language while he too plays dumb, Buddy becomes Hank’s vizier. With Buddy as military commander the tribe is trained in scientific methods in earnest. They then begin to organize the tribes into a confederation thus earning Hank the title of Mahdi in French eyes. De Beaujolais was thus on a mission to co-opt the new Mahdi.
As luck, or coincidence, would have, at the same time De Beaujolais and the girls arrive so does Becque/Rastignac. Becque is now employed one supposes by the Soviet Union to arouse the Moslems to a jihad. He comes bearing gifts not realizing that Hank and Buddy are his old Legion comrades. He doesn’t recognize them but Hank recognizes him. Becque and De Beaujolais have that old unsettled score to settle. De Beaujolais now settles his hash removing that source of irritation.
I’ve pointed out before that Burroughs very likely drew inspiration for his series of political Tarzan novels from 1930 to 1933 after reading this trilogy from 1924 to 1928. The Sahara had fascinated him long before he read Wren. David Innes of Pelucidar even surfaces in the Sahara returning from the Inner World. The great desert and the Sahel is not quite as we Westerners have imagined it. The thousand year long history of amazing suffering boggles the imagination. A thousand years of thousand mile treks from South to North, untold millions of Africans were trekked across the burning sands with equally untold millions falling along the way. This is not all. This is a horror story. Welland again, p. 116:
Even after the slave trade had been suppressed, the old life of the desert survived for a while for one simple reason…the absence of salt in the Sudan. Nearly all the salt in Central Africa had always come from the north across the Sahara on the backs of camels, donkeys, horses and men. The salt mines in the middle of the most terrible wastelands of the desert- at Taghaza, at Taodeni, and at Bilma- had always been worked all the year round by Negro slaves, who died within a few years of their arrival at the mines and were immediately replaced by new workers. The salt they mined was worth its weight in gold in Timbuktu, and its transport across the desert was a considerable enterprise of unbelievable size, involving the assembling of as many as 40,000 camels to make the quick dash from Bilma to Kano.
Think of it. For a thousand years Negroes were dropped down a funnel in a steady stream to live the most miserable of lives for a very few years. Over a millennium! Think of it. I should think those Negroes who travelled the Middle Passage in the Atlantic Slave Trade ending up in the paradise of the Caribbean and the Americas should bless their deliverers from that African hell.
Africans should bless the French for delivering them from total servitude and degradation. When one digs for facts beneath the surfice, the things one finds.
Thus without giving any historical background Wren is telling the story of how Europe saved the Africans from themselves. Indeed, Hank and Buddy singlehandely rearrange North Africa on livable lines. The two, in the story, break the power of the Tuaregs while establishing an African paradise in a hundred square mile oasis. Their people are delivered into prospeirty by a million franc subsidy from France that Hank and Buddy use for the betterment of their people rather than sequestering it in a numbered Swiss bank account. A new day for Africa indeed courtesy of Western enlightenment.
Thus De Beaujolais accomplishes his mission to align the new Mahdi, Hank, with France while winning his fair heared beauty and pleasing his uncle.
Hank marries Maud the maid leaving Buddy hanging out but not for long. We still have the last of the trilogy, Beau Ideal to go. Let’s go.