April 29, 2009
George Du Maurier
Review by R.E. Prindle
Du Maurier is interesting as a possible influence on Burroughs. Du Maurier not only borrows from authors he admires but tells the reader he’s borrowing. Burroughs borrows without creditation. The great literature of the nineteenth century was written during Du Maurier’s lifetime. Thus Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers of 1845 was a new book. It was also a book that overwhelmed Du Maurier’s imagination while having a later profound effect on Burroughs. Thus Du Maurier tells the reader his plot is based on The Three Musketeers. Like Burroughs Du Maurier incorporates several sources in an obvious manner. He was apparently fascinated by Henry Murger’s Scenes De La Vie Boheme of 1851. I haven’t read the book as yet but other reviewers say the influence is there. I pick up an influence from La Dame Aux Camellias by Dumas fils also. Du Maurier refers to many poets and writers whose writing left him helpless but as I am not that well grounded in many aspects of early nineteenth century literature I can’t identify the influences myself but they are as plentiful and obvious as with Burroughs himself.
In his own life Du Maurier had aspirations to be an opera singer but lacked the powerful voice. He then aspired to be an artist but lacked that talent becoming one of the premier illustrators of the century instead. And then as he felt death approaching he turned to writing. Thus a failure as a singer, a failure as an artist but success as an illustrator he became a huge success as a novelist. The careers of his protagonists generally follow the same course.
He is also a nostalgic writer as he lovingly recreates the scenes of his youth and life. He always retained the impress of La Boheme living his life in a genteel bohemian style. I suppose today he would be like an old hippy walking around in a gray pony tail, sandals and the garb of the sixties while making a fortune as a stock broker.
Thus Trilby opens in an artist’s atelier on the Left Bank of Paris in the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter of his time may be compared to New York’s Greenwich Village or San Francisco’s North Beach of the fifties and sixties. Du Maurier himself lived such an existence for a couple years at the end of the eighteen fifties.
We are thus introduced to his three musketeers- Taffy, the Laird and Little Billee. They are fine comrades living the Bohemian life style much as some upper middle class hippies took to a bohemian life style with torn jeans and the pose of the impoverished in the nineteen-sixties.
The whole ensemble is gathered thogether in the atelier for the opening section. Taffy, The Laird and Billy are letting the studio. As Du Maurier says on the title page this is a love story. Trilby O’ Farrell the love interest turns up immediately. She and Billy love each other but Trilby is classed as a grisette which was apparently the equivalent of a hippy chick who was somewhat free living. Trilby declassed herself completely by posing as an artist’s model in the altogether or, in another word, nude. This was no small thing to all concerned although the bohos tended to be a little tolerant.
After Trilby arrives come Svengali and his sidekick Gecko. They are musicians. Svengali is billed as an incomparable musician which is to say performer. He was a great pianist. He taught Gecko his violinist everything he knew.
We are discussing the nineteenth century and nineteenth century views in context. The story can’t be told any other way. If the attitudes and opinions of other times and other people offend y0u be forewarned and proceed at you own risk. I will bowlderize history to suit no one’s whims. As Walter Duranty facetiously said: I write as I please. Du Maurier, the gentlest of men, nevertheless had well formed opinions. Svengali is a Jew and pretty much a stereotype of the Jew at the time. He appears to be a beteljew from the Pale actually although he is said to be German but the accent Du Maurier gives him could just as well be Yiddish as German. It is important to bear all this in mind because in the contest for the possession of Trilby between Billy and Svengali the latter is going to obtain her.
There’s an interesting contrast here the meaning of which isn’t exactly clear to me. Trilby has a beautiful foot, the kind that drives fetichists wild. After this first encounter Billy, the consummate artist, sketches the foot on the wall to perfection. All the others are amazed at the likeness. This sketch occupies as central place in the story as does Svengali’s hypnotism of Trilby. Svengali on the other hand demands that Trilby open her mouth wide so he can look in. Raises your eyebrows when you read this. Not only does Trilby have a beautiful foot but she has a cavernous mouth that made for an amazing sound chamber, the kind that comes along apparently once in ever.
The problem is that Trilby can’t put two notes together nor can she even find the note while finding the key is bothersome. Much is made of her inability to sing as she screeches ludicrously through Sweet Alice, Ben Bolt. (Ben Bolt was one of the most popular songs of the century on both sides of the Atlantic. Due to the wonders of the internet if you’ve never heard Ben Bolt you can get a good performance on the net. I’d heard of the song but never heard it until I checked it out on the net. Just amazing.)
Her rendition was a cause of great merriment. So you have the European sketching the foundation of the girl while the Jew is inspecting the intellectual possibilities. The Jew will win because he’s at the right end. As I say the mystery of these images float over my head. I’m merely making a stab at the meaning. I know there’s a contest and what it’s about but the symbolism is shaky to me.
And so the introduction ends with everyone agreeing that Svengali is a cad after he left and all three musketeers falling in love with Trilby.
There is much description of the fine times the musketeers have. One gets the impression that Du Maurier was living the life in the sixties in Paris but such was not the case. He signed on at Punch in 1860 and thus was working as an illustrtor for them from that date until his death. He seems to have been familiar with the Pre-Raphaelite painters of London of whom he speaks highly most especially of Millais. He seems to have been friends with a Fred Walker who he thought was a great artist but who seems to have been lost in the mists of time. I’d never heard of him anyway but one can find his pictures on the internet. Du Maurier loved the artist’s life.
Much of this book as well as the other is a loving recreation of the times and his memory of the times is one of wonderful things. Very refreshing against the unremitting negativity of modern literature. The book is set mainly in the sixties but the ‘horrible’ year of 1871 and the French Commune obtrudes. Du Maurier while recognizing its ugliness nevertheless passes over it quickly with a shrug and back to the good times. He introduces some additional charming characters but then come the crisis.
Billy had asked the declassed Trilby to marry him nineteen times and she had always refused because she knew she wasn’t in his class. After an amazingly wonderful Christmas feast in the atelier Billy asks again. Trilby, as she says, in a moment of weakness accepts. When the news reaches Billy’s mother, Mrs. Bagot, she scurries over to Paris from London to check Trilby out. When she learns that Trilby had posed in the altogether she persuades Trilby to give up her son.
Trilby leaves town without a goodbye. When Billy finds out he has his brain fever or a nervous breakdown that prostrates him for weeks. There was a chance he wouldn’t make it. He does but with psychological consequences. He can no longer love while he lives in a deep melancholia. There are some who know where that’s at. After he recovers he returns to England. the wonderful Bohemian rhapsody is over.
Trilby had left Paris to go to the provinces. She had a little brother who she was supporting and bringing up who she took with her and who then dies of a fever. This devastates Trilby who cuts her hair, dresses as a man and walks back to Paris. Her old haunts have disappeared in the interim so she shows up on the doorstep of Svengali who is but too happy to take her in. The hypnotized Trilby is a small part of the book. The next hundred pages or so describe Billy’s wonderful success as a painter and the loss of camaraderie as the young idealists of the Latin Quarter age and lose their affinity for each other. Charmingly told with just the right touch of heartache.
In the meantime and off stage, as it were, Svengali accompanied by Gecko keeps Trilby in a hypnotic trance as he
teaches her to use her tremendous oral cavity to sing. While she has the exact equipment to be a great singer she lacks the musical sense and can’t learn it sober. Svengali instills the musical sense through hypnosis but as Gecko later explains Trilby is merely providing the instrument while Svengali is actually singing through her. For three years they labor in the salt mines, as they say, performing on street corners or wherever. Then Trilby is properly trained becoming the rage of Europe as La Svengali becoming bigger and better than such stars as Adelina Patti or Jenny Lind, two real life divas.
Thus while Billy has lost Trilby’s foot or body, Svengali has captured her soul or oral cavity. That’s about the only way I can make sense of foot and cavity.
Now, in real terms the Jews had been emancipated beginning in 1789 by the French Revolution although occuring at different localities in Europe at different times. With the emanicipation a contest began for the soil and soul of Europe. Europeans owned the soil but the Jews while originating nothing became the cultural virtuosi of Europe. Not only in the performing arts but in finance, science and as entrepreneurs. The soil temporarily remained European but the culture was becoming Judaized. It was then that Freud made his assault on European concepts of morality. So Du Maurier has portrayed the situation poetically in a magnificent manner.
Thus the Jews while offering no Beethovens, Bachs or Mozarts became virtuoso interpreters of the music as performers. As Svengali says: Piff, what is the composition compared to my ability to render it. There you have the exploiter’s motto. The Allen Kleins and Albert Grossmans of the world suck the talent, as it were, out of their performers or, boys, as they call them, as agents taking nearly everything leaving the actual talent a pittance.
Nothing changes, this is what Svengali was doing with Trilby or, in another word, Europe. He was making a fortune while Trilby in her hypnotized state was wasting away. Oh, Svengali dressed her well but for the sake of his appearance not hers. When she died, of the fortune that she had made for Svengali none was left to her. Except for presents she had received in appreaciation of her singing she had nothing. They were supposed to be man and wife but, in fact, Svengali never married her. Here I think we have the real import of the story; the competition for Europe between the Jew and the European. Having given up the soul of Europe Europeans were losing their very substanc, the soil, or Trilby’s foot.
Du Maurier is also describing the rise of the artist from a despised menial to the central position in society that they have attained today, especially movie, TV and musical stars. One only has to look at the position Bob Dylan has attained to see the result today. Here is a man with no qualities revered as if he was the savior while poised to begin a tour of stadiums at 67.50 a head that will sell out earning him a fortune within a couple months. Thus as with Svengali he has conquered the soul and wealth of virtually the world. This is truly astonishing.
So Svengali is on top of the world. Despised as a beteljew in the atelier a short five years ago he now has Trilby/Europe and the fortune that goes with her. Alas, he is sucking the life’s blood from her to do this and she is within weeks of death when the Three Musketeers hearing of La Svengali’s fame travel back to Paris to see her perform.
Of course they are so astonished at seeing someone who looks like Trilby singing that they can’t believe it is indeed her. Svengali harbors ill will toward Billy because Billy is always in her heart while her relationship with Svengali is strictly professional.
The Musketeers and the Svengalis are staying at the same hotel where Svengali meeting Billy can’t resist spitting in his face. Billy, who is actually known in the story as Little Billee is much smaller than the six foot Svengali but he nevertheless goes after him getting the worst of the fight until Taffy, a giant body builder type, shows up grabbing Svengali’s ‘huge Hebrew nose’ between his first two fingers leading him around by the nose. Oh, those unintended consequences. The humiliation is too much for Svengali, he becomes vicious toward Trilby in revenge. Readying for their London debut he bullies Trilby in front of Gecko, now his first violinist, who stabs Svengali in the neck with a small knife.
Svengali while wounded is not hurt that bad but his physicians advise him not to conduct the opening performance. This creates a problem because Svengali must make eye contact to sing through Trilby.
He takes a box directly in front of Trilby. But he spots Billy and the other two musketeers in the pit in front of him. The malice and venom he has toward Billy makes his heart fail. His face freezes into a risus sardonicus as he sits lifelessly leering at the Three Musketeers, triumphant in death. Of course Trilby can’t sing a note on her own so that ends a fine career. Now begins the denouement. While seemingly superfluous this is a very important part of the story giving it its secondary meaning.
The Musketeers take Trilby in charge. No one is aware she had been hypnotized while she has no memory of performing and little of the lost five years. The situation between she and Mrs. Bagot, Billy’s mother, are now reversed. Trilby is the great lady while Mrs. Bagot is merely a middle class hausfrau. One might say Svengali has created the real Trilby. Mrs. Bagot still hadn’t posed in the altogether however. Where was Hugh Heffner when you needed him.
On the surface it looks as though Mrs. Bagot has gotten her comeuppance but as Trilby is the creation of Svengali she would have remained the simple little grisette that Billy loved without him. She would have remained the foot without realizing the potential of her oral cavity. Nevertheless this Trilby was Trilby as she should have been.
The woman was fading fast. Svengali had drawn the vital energy from her in his exploitation of her. Mysteriously, just before she dies, a life sized portrait of Svengali is delivered. The contest between he and Billy is still in effect. Gazing in the painted eyes of the hypnotist Trilby breaks into song as a final effort in her best manner.
Billy is grasping desperately for Trilby’s love. On her death bed he leans close to hear her breath out- Svengali, Svengali, Svengali. Thus he believes she loved Svengali more than he. His brain fever is reactivated, he dies. In grand operatic style the love story ends. All because Mrs. Bagot was a snob. But, I think a correct one. Although, what the heck, Billy was just a boho painter.
As an anti-climax in a final chapter titled Twenty Year After as tribute to Dumas whose sequel to The Three Musketeers was title Twenty Years After, Taffy takes a trip to Paris where he finds Gecko playing fiddle in a music hall. He sends a note that Gecko accepts requesting a meeting at his hotel. There Gecko resolves the mystery filling Taffy in on Trilby’s missing five years. He reveals that Trilby had always loved Little Billee and never Svengali.
The reading public then and now has concentrated on the Svengali-Trilby hypnotism aspect of the novel ignoring the rest. That aspect is actually a very small part of the novel but without it I suppose the story woud have fallen flat. Even today a manager like Colonel Tom Parker is thought of as a Svengali to Elvis Presley, so the name has come into common usage for someone’s inexplicable control of someone else.
Edgar Rice Burroughs who had a fascination with hypnotism was probably charmed by that aspect of the story. In his most detailed reference to hypnotism in Thuvia, Maid Of Mars he seems most influenced by stage hypnotism in which the audience is induced to see what is not there rather than the Svengali type. Still, Thuvia-Trilby and the relationship between Jav and Thuvia and Thuvia and Tario has some resonances. I dout that ERB would have been conscious of his borrowing imagining rather that he was creating the story from whole cloth.
End of Part Two, Go to Part Three the Review of The Martian.
August 18, 2008
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 Tarzan And The City Of Gold
R. E. Prindle
The City Of Gold itself, which is a white and gold city, evokes the image of the red and gold ruin of Opar and the Forbidden City of the same title, as well as The White City of the Columbian Exposition. As Burroughs was writing construction was going on for Chicago’s second great exposition on the fortieth anniversary of the first. Chicago, incorporated in 1833, was about to present its Century Of Progress expo of 1933-34. So Burroughs would have had his mind redirected to the scenes of his childhood.
What I am going to suggest may seem far fetched to many but having gained some idea of the way Burroughs’ mind worked I think the suggestion plausible. Emmett Dedmon tells the following story about the Great Sandow at the ’93 Expo. If anyone doesn’t know Sandow by now he was the first great bodybuilder who also performed at the Expo. As Florenz Zeigfeld was representing Sandow there is a no reason to think of the story as other than a publicity stunt, but I leave the judgment to you. (Emmett Dedmon, Fabulous Chicago, 1953, NY, p. 235)
Amy Leslie, the drama critic for the News, described Sandow as a fascinating mixture of brute force and poetic sentimentality. On a walk through the Wooded Island…Sandow snipped a tiny cup from a stock of snapdragon. “now, when we were little in Germany,” Sandow told the astonished Miss Leslie, “we took these blossoms and pressed them so, and if the flower mouth opened, why that was a sign they were calling us home.” As Amy reported it, “he touched the tinted bud and its rosy lips parted in a perfumed smile.” Just as Sandow finished his sentence, a Columbian guard shouted that he had violated the rule against picking flowers. To emphasize the reprimand the guard seized Sandow by the elbow and attempted to push him away. At this effrontery Sandow lifted the surprised guard off the ground and held him at arm’s length, examining him as though he were a curious discovery. Miss Leslie, more conscious of the dignity of the law, persuaded Sandow to put the guard down, which the strong man did with an ouburst of German expletives and an explanation (in English) to Miss Leslie that he did not think much of humans as guards. “I prefer nice well-bred dogs,” he said.
This made a great story that made the rounds of the fair. The question is did 17 year old Burroughs hear it and did it make an impression on him? Strangely enough we can definitely answer that question in the affirmative. Nearly twenty years later Burroughs borrowed the incident for his first Tarzan novel. Not only that but he has Tarzan play the part of Sandow. So, Sandow, Tarzan; Tarzan, Phobeg.
At the end of Tarzan Of The Apes Burroughs replicates the Sandow scene on the Wooded Island when he terrorizes Robert Canler holding him at arms length with one hand. Thus in this novel Tarzan not only holds Sandow/Phobeg at arm’s length but raises him above his head throwing him into the stands. Burroughs usually has his characters going their models one better as Tarzan does here.
As Sandow was strolling through the Wooded Island with Miss Leslie so Tarzan strolls through town with Gemnon. Instead of picking a flower Tarzan notices a lion eating a human while no one takes any notice. Cosmopolitan Tarzan inquires for an explanation. Gemnon calmly explains the quaint custom just as Sandow so pleasantly explained his snapdragon story. Dragons, lions, all the same thing. Burroughs does a neat parody and makes his joke but the original was such a great story he can’t let it go.
Indeed, Tarzan’s habit of picking men up and tossing them around can probably be traced back to this one arm trick of Sandow’s. Like I said, you’ll probably think it’s a stretcher but I think it both plausible and probable. Can’t be absolutely proven of course, but we can and have proven that the incident left an indelible imprint of ERB’s memory.
That said and moving along to 1920-24 there is also a flavor of H.G. Wells’ utopian novel Men Like Gods to be found here. Once again Burroughs turns Wells’ utopia around a bit but the tour of Cathne with Gemnon seems to be a paraody of a similar tour in Men Like Gods. ERB was still in the thick of his literary duel with Wells at the time.
The plot involving Nemone is slightly more complex and better worked out than is usual for ERB. Tomos, Erot, M’Duze and Nemone reflect other influences. The plot has the feel of French overtones. Of course we know that ERB read Eugene Sue’s The Mysteries Of Paris, Dumas’ Three Musketeers and The Count Of Monte Criisto, while the prisoner behind the golden door points in the direction of The Man In The Iron Mask. We also know that ERB had read Victoy Hugo’s Les Miserables.
All these may have provided some inspiration. However more directly influential I believe are two other books found in ERB’s library as listed on ERBzine. ( www.erbzine.com ) They are Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche and Stanley J. Weyman’s Under The Red Robe. Never heard of Stan Weyman? Me neither but, believe it or not, there is a Stanley J. Weyman Society on the internet that you may join if so inclined.
Both books were hugely influential in Hollywood, each being filmed several times with at least one version getting very good reviews. Let’s start with Sabatini. While Weyman, one would believe is all but forgotten, Sabatini enjoyed an excellent reputation down to at least my graduation from high school. Probably not so much lately although my copy of Scaramouche is the Common Reader edition published in 1999 so there must be fans out there.
Sabatini was Burroughs exact contemporary- 1875-1950. Like Burroughs he had to defend himself against charges of plagiarism. His stuff all reads like you’ve read it somewhere before, so in Scaramouche he presents an extended defense of himself.
Nevertheless he writes in a simple direct style that is ‘easy to uderstand’ but cleverly presented. Sabatini was obviously one of the first to understand that stories written like movie scenarios had a better chance of selling to the movies.
Like Burroughs he has his point of view which is admirably presented. Also like Burroughs he was intellectually unsympathetic to Communism. His reaction was less emotional that ERB. Although Scaramouche is about the opening years of the French Revolution Sabatini gives it only a slanting attention as he concentrates on people who are caught up in the flood much against their wishes. In that sense there is very little politics in the novel. The participants are merely caught up in the political events.
Scaramouche is a country lawyer unsympathetic to revolutionary ideology but he becomes a revolutionary fugitive when his Red friend is murdered by a reactionary nobleman. The story is well developed and an exciting one with a lot of swordplay. In fact Scarmouche become the fastest swordsman of France. You can see what drew ERB’s attention to the novel.
Of more importance for ERB and an undeveloped subplot of City Of Gold is one that involves Scaramouche’s ancestry. Bearing in mind that ERB became a voluntary orphan when he was sent to the MMA I think Burroughs found the mystery of Scaramouche’s ancestry compelling. Scaramouch is named after the clown of the Italian Comedia Del Arte which also nests neatly with the clown aspect of ERB’s psychology.
It is thought that Scaramouche was the illigetimate son of a village nobleman. The fact that the boy was well looked after by this man seemed proof. In fact, as we learn later in the book Scaramouche is the bastard son of his foster father’s sister, the noblewoman, Madame de Plougastel. She bore Scaramouche illegimately then trusted him to her brother. Thus on one side Scaramouche was of noble birth. An orphan or pretended orphan’s dream. His father remains a mystery for the moment.
Scaramouche’s friend had been murdered by the nobeman Le Tour d’Azyr. Scaramouche had sworn an eternal enmity to him. At a crucial moment in the story Scaramouche learns that this same La Tour d’Azyr is his father. I should have seen it coming from a long way off but I didn’t. It is possible that ERB was surprised too. Sabatini handles it well. Thus Scaramouche the illegitimate child is a nobleman by birth on both sides but the Revolution invalidates this advantage.
It would have been normal for Burroughs to have concocted a fantasy in which his parents now dead to him were not his real parents but some mysterious others. In fact he did concoct two fantasies: the one of John Carter who has been alive forever but can remember no parents and Tarzan whose parents were killed with the result that he was raised by ape foster parents. Not exactly noble people in the ordinary sense but his deceased parents were. One imagines the impact this really good story had on him although he first read it in the early twenties.
In any event he attempts to weave in a subplot providing mysterious parentage for Nemone and her brother Alextar. The subplot isn’t very well developed. On the one hand we are asked to suspect that Nemone was the child of the old king and a Black M’duze who in her youth was tall and beautiful while on the other hand it is insinuated that Nemone is the child of Tomos and M’duze. The latter through her machinations has placed Nemone on the throne and imprisoned Alextar. So Burroughs throws in some misceganation which has always been the most excing literary topic of America, then as now.
Not convincingly done by ERB he had nevertheless carried the story of Scaramouche around in his head for a decade waiting for the opportunity to employ it.
Another book in ERB’s library which is influential here is Stanley J. Weyman’s Under The Red Robe. Like Scaramouche this story was very well thought of in Hollywood being filmed more than once. It seems a fact that ERB saw the 1923 silent film. He was so impressed that he went out and bought the 1923 Grosset and Dunlap Photoplay Edition. I obtained an identical copy so as to to have read the same text and viewed the same plates.
I think I’ll have to include a few of Burroughs’ experiences at the MMA to bring this all together. It would seem that Sabatini considered himself a psychological orphan also. The man was born in Italy to an Italian father and an English mother. As they were traveling actors, not unlike what Scaramouche becomes at one point in his story, they sent young Rafael back to England to live with relatives. As Sabatini’s stories often concern orphans it follows that his reaction to being put away from his parents was that he considered himself an orphan.
Burroughs was also put away by his father. Three times. He was sent to Idaho, Massachusetts and Michigan. Thus he too was put away by his parents. As his reaction was to play the clown developing an off beat sense of humor we know that he reacted negatively to all this shuffling about. His exile to the Michigan Military Academy was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He rebelled, running away. The incident is treated rather uncomprehendingly by Porges in his biography which of course is my authority.
From ERB’s point of view the MMA was an elite reformatory school where bad rich boys were offloaded by their parents. Thus the boy was declassed and slgihtly criminalized in his own mind. As he treated his own sons and the Gilbert boy the same way it is easy to see how seriously he was affected by the experience. ERB was cast adrift with no direction home which happened so many times to characters in his stories, most notably in the original short version of The Lad And The Lion. ERBzine should publish the magazine version of this novel
Having run away from the MMA he was promptly escorted back by his father becoming in his own mind an orphan as in Tarzan’s case and a motherless child as in John Carter’s. Like the race horse Stewball of musical fame, Carter just blew down in a storm. Another standard orphan’s solution to being forced outside society.
Stanley J. Weyman’s (1855-1929) novel also meshes with this persona. As a result of his mistreatment Burroughs developed a very negative self-conception. He became, in fact, a ne’er-do-well. Much to his father’s satisfaction I might add. This self-conception would explain his eccentric behavior from the time he left the MMA in 1896 through 1903 if not for the rest of his life. The man was conflicted. On the one hand he knew he was very capable and on the other he felt worthless so he sought failure.
A fact easily glided over is his quarterbacking and captaincy of the MMA football team. One’s team members don’t elect one captain unless they have confidence in you. One also cannot be quarterback without their confidence while quarterbacking requires organizational and executive abilities. In fact the Burroughs led team defeated all comers in their class and while yet high schoolers they played the varsity teams of Michigan and Notre Dame. The Burroughs led MMA fought the U of M to a tie.
As a result he was offered a football scholarship to the University. He might well have become a football hero having an entirely different kind of life. ERB inexplicably declined the U of M offer. He offered some lame excuse that both his brothers had attended Yale and it was Yale or nothing for him. Possible but hardly probable. Most likely he felt comforatable leading the juvenile delinquents of MMA while he didn’t feel respectable enought to lead the Wolverines.
Leaving for the Army as an enlisted man instead he and a few other ne’er-do-wells formed a group calling themselves The Might Have Seen Better Days Club. You don’t have to be a Freudian to figure that one out. So I think his history in these years can be explained by his negative orphan self-image.
There is one very crucial event, the shame of which never left him, that figures into the Nemone story. That was when in Idaho he gambled away his and Emma’s last forty dollars. Certainly this was a turning point in his life.
In Weyman’s Under The Red Robe the hero is a ne’er-do-well who has exhausted all his chances but one. Named de Berrault the story opens when he is accused of using marked cards in a French game of the early seventeenth century. “Marked Cards!’ are the opening words of Weyman’s novel.
Indeed it would seem certain that Burroughs felt he had been cheated of his forty dollars. In my experience of card games I’m certain he was. De Berrault insists he didn’t use marked cards but that he used the mirror behind the player. Perhaps Burroughs said to himself when reading this: Yeah. that must have been it. At any rate thirty years later the incident was green in his mind and Why Not?
While The City Of Gold is crtical of Nemone/Emma ERB could never forget that he had done Emma wrong in gambling away those forty dollars. Perhaps as much as anything his shame required a separation. Perhaps he thought Emma was too good for a ne’er-do-well like himself.
And then there is this very interesting passage in Under The Red Robe p. 208:
I stood a moment speechless and disordered; stunned by her words, by my thoughts- so I have seen a man stand when he has lost all, his last at the table. Then I turned to her, and for an instant I thought that my tale was told already. I thought she had pierced my disguise, for her face was aghast, stricken with sudden fear. Then I saw that she was not looking at me but beyond me, and I turned quickly and saw a servant hurrying from the house to us.
Just as I admired ERB’s version of this device of looking past the intermediate person so he admired Weyman’s.
The line ‘I stood there speechless and disordered, stunned by her words, by my thoughts- when I have seen a man stand when he has lost his all, his last, at the table…’ must have resonated with ERB from the time he had experienced the same emotion in 1903 as Emma waited for him upstairs.
It becomes seen how ERB wove his various influences into his writing. At this point I would like to bring up another very long novel that formed a backdrop to ERB’s writing in general. the novel is the ten volume, five thousand page work of George W.M. Reynolds entitledThe Mysteries Of London or alternatively, The Mysteries Of The Court Of London. Modeled after The Mysteries Of Paris Reynolds lacks the lunacy of Eugene Sue but maintains a fantastic level of excitement all the way through. ‘The Master Of Adventure’ may very well have learned his own mastery from the pages of Reynolds.
The further one gets into ERB library the more clear things become but to really understand the man I highly recommend the reading of the Mysteries of Paris and London.
Another almost irrelevant theme ERB takes up in this novel is the theme of the Grand Hunt or the Man Hunt. The idea is no way original to ERB; he seems to be in reaction to it, repelled by it. I can’t pretend to trace the story back to its origins but the theme has been used repeatedly in movies and on television. The story is attributed to Richard Edward Connell who is credited with writing the original short story in 1924 for which he received the O. Henry Prize for that year, entitled The Most Dangerous Game. Perhaps the story was original to him but it doesn’t seem likely.
The story was made into a movie starring Joel McCrea in 1932. Whether this movie was released early enough in the year to influence City Of Gold I don’t know, or, perhaps Burroughs saw an advance screening. At any rate ERB gives the idea an extended treatment and prominent place in his novel, actually using it twice.
If Connell did indeed orginate the story in 1924 which seems unlikely than Buroughs treatment comes as close to plagiarism or, perhaps, appropriation as any story could. That he is in raction to the story condemning its implications is obvious.
In his version Tarzan defeats the aims of the hunters by carrying their intended victim to safety while adding the filup that he too was an intended victim. At the very least the Man Hunt is one of the least disguised influences in the corpus. Extraordinary in that no ruckus was raised by his appropriation of the story. Either ERB was not taken seriously or he led a charmed life.
Should I stay, Or Should I Go?
The crux of the story is Tarzan’s relationship with Nemone or, in other words, ERb’s relationship with Emma. If the oeuvre is a guide ERB had already decided to throw his lot with Florence. That seems clear from Tarzan And The Leopard Men. City Of Gold then is mere procrastination. One imagines that Florence was pestering him to break the news to Emma. He would only muster the courage to do this at the end of 1933. For now he seems torn and indecisive.
The appearance is that Tarzan and Nemone would have gotten together but for two things. The first was M’duze who seemed to exert some sort of hypnotic control over Nemone and the other was her pet lion, Belthar.
M’duze was determined to maintain control over Nemone while Tarzan just left a bad taste in Belthar’s mouth. It were well that Tarzan kept his distance.
In point of fact Tarzan was a prisoner on parole. He could easily have escaped or walked away but for two things: one was his fascination with Nemone and the other was that he was bound by oath to Gemnon to not escape. In those days people had a sense of honor.
ERB had constructed an interesting psychological situation in the female image of Nemone. ERB has been really successful in portraying the Xy male construction of the Anima and Animus throughout the corpus but this is his first attempt as far as I know of constructing the XX of the female.
This is always the qustion of whether he knew what he was doing. This is a difficult question to answer but the enidence in the writing seems to imply he did. The situation seems too perfect to be accidental. As I’ve noted elsewhere when the chromosomal division took place and sexual identities came into existence of the four possibilities, XXX and y, the male received an X and the y with the y making him male. You can’t be male without the y, you can’t be female with it. Boys are boys and girls are girls. Now, this is not an ‘oh wow, isn’t that interesting’ type of fact; the fact has consequences.
For instance the whole burden of child bearing became the female’s portion. I am not interested in all the different possibilites of how young are fertilized, incubated and born, yes, there are myriad possibilities but none of them apply to human beings but this one. The method for human beings is impregnation in the womb, a nine month incubation period and then birth followed by a very long period of helpless development outside the womb.
These simple facts determined the post partum relationship of the role of the male and the female. When paternity was unknown the result was close knit communities held together by the offspring. It was a question of interdependence whether Freud thought so or not.
Physiologically the male required the female for sexual release while the female was attracted by the y chromosome of the male, the penis envy for which Freud was castigated for uttering. He wasn’t always right but he was right on this.
While the female is XX chromosomally still one X is received from the mother which is of the passive ovum; the other X is received from the father’s mother through him in the form of an active X sperm. The two Xes while both X are not identical. If both were passive the female would be virtually immobile.
Thus ERB posits the ovate X as M’duze who dominates Nemone’s Anima, which would be correct, while the male lion Belthar provides the activity of the X of the Animus. Whether Burroughs thought this out or not, it works out. Could be accidental, I suppose.
Lacking the y chromosome which she formerly enjoyed during the sexless period the female has an uncontrollable longing for the male or penis. Thus Nemone and her desire for Tarzan. Now, this is classic, no matter how indifferent or rude Tarzan is to her Nemone continues to have an intense longing, or love, for the Big Guy.
This may or may not reflect Emma’s attitude toward Burroughs but Tarzan’s attitude toward Nemone certainly reflects Burroughs attitude toward Emma. In point of fact, Emma’s fidelity is nothing short of marvelous.
Also in Weyman’s Under The Red Robe which is an influence on City a subplot concerns the relations between a Mademoiselle de Cocheforet and the protagonist, de Berrault. The lady distrusts the gentleman, as well she might as Cardinal Richelieu has suborned de Berrault to surreptitiously arrest her brother as a Huguenot. De Berrault conceals his intentions but is found out when he arrests Mademoiselle’s brother. Construing the arrest as a betrayal of her trust, which it wasn’t de Berrault forfeits the lady’s trust.
Thus the novel combines the fateful card game with the forfeiture of Emma’s trust. Having lost her trust ERB was never able to gain it back even though Emma continued with him loving, one supposes, the man despite his faults. Quite possibly the situation between Tarzan and Nemone portrays the actual relationship between ERB and Emma in which as they were about to unite the past comes between them.
Thus in Tarzan and Nemone’s first encounter Tarzan has fallen under Nemone’s spell being about to succumb when M’duze, or Nemone’s Anima, appears as though from the past, taps the floor with her staff breaking the spell while ordering Nemone from the room. Belthar, Nemone’s Animus, rears up on his chains roaring and clawing the air at Tarzan.
Thus both the Anima as represented by M’duze and the Animus as represented by Belthar interfere in Nemone’s attempt to realize her desire for Tarzan.
The scene is repeated in reverse later in the novel as Nemone is about to succumb to Tarzan’s spell M’duze appears once again to disrupt the relationship. Thus as in real life neither Burroughs nor Emma could get past that fatal card game.
In the end then Tarzan presumes on Nemone’s desire too much. She turns on him in the fury we all saw coming making him the object of the Grand Hunt. One sees the influence of The Most Dangerous Game in ERB’s mind. He is given a head start and then Belthar is released to pursue him. Thus he is about to be destroyed by Nemone’s Animus. ERB probably felt this way about Emma in real life.
We have never seen the resourceful ape-man so defenceless and helpless before but now without his father’s knife to murder virtually defenseless lions Tarzan calmly awaits death after a game attempt to outrun Belthar. He should have played dead; we all know that story by now.
Not to worry. All during the novel a mysterious lion has been tracking the Big Bwana appearing at intervals in the story. Perhaps some people were mystified as to who this lion was but not this writer, no sirree, Bob. I knew it was Jad-Bal-Ja all along. I was just surprised the Golden Lion hadn’t brought Nkima with him.
Now just as Belthar rears to cut the Big Guy down to size Jad-Bal-Ja flashes past Tarzan to destroy Nemone’s lion. As ERB says, Jad-Bal-Ja won because he was bigger. Does that mean that ERB’s ego was bigger than Emma’s?
The oeuvre needs a complete analysis of Tarzan and his relationship to animals for on one hand he is a beast. The lion situation is complicated by the fact that originally there were to have been both lions and tigers in the series. That would have changed the complexion of the stories.
However after the magazine publication of Tarzan Of The Apes the readers created an uproar about the fact that there were no tigers in geographical Africa so Burroughs was forced to change tigers to lions for book publication. I am unaware whether changes were made to the newspaper serialization of the story.
The appearance is that Burroughs intended tigers to be villainous while lions were intended to be noble, as witness Jad-Bal-Ja. In that situation most, if not all, the lions Tarzan killed would have been tigers. Thus while as David Adams points out Tarzan kills a lion to put a seal on a sexual situation the very likely killing would have been a tiger.
So the psychological aspect of the story gets skewed. Just as Burroughs has insisted that Tarzan killed deer while there are no deer in Africa so his readers forced him to change Bara the deer to Bara the antelope by Tarzan The invincible.
The climax of the story returns us again to the problem of lions in Burroughs. As David Adams points our Tarzan kills a lion to put a seal on a sexual situation. In this instance Tarzan is helpless but Jad-Bal-Ja his Anima substitute comes to his rescue which is the same as Tarzan killing Belthar. Thus the killing of Belthar seals off Tarzan’s relationship to Nemone and ERB’s to Emma.
I’m sure David Adams would take exception with me but I see Jad-Bal-Ja as an Anima figure of Tarzan/Burroughs while I see Belthar as the Anumus figure of Emma/Nemone. I know both lions are males but the lion male or female is associatied with the goddess or Anima in Greek mythology. A case can be made that the six gods and six goddesses are generalized archetypes of the character types.
Now, Jad-Bal-Ja came into the oeuvre at a critical time in the lives of ERB and Emma and at a critical juncture. It is known that ERB walked out on Emma several times in the course of their marriage. These instances are not well documented at this time. It would appear that a very serious conflict in the marriage began at the time of Tarzan The Untamed through the period leading up to the writing of Tarzan And The Golden Lion.
As Golden Lion opens Tarzan, Jane and Jack are returning from Pal-Ul-Don from whence Tarzan has retrieved Jane.
As I read the story there seems to be a certain coolness and distance between Tarzan and Jane on Tarzan’s part. At this point the lion cub who will become Jad-Bal-Ja makes his appearance standing in the middle of the trail. David’s sexual seal of the killed lion would be the cub’s mother who was accidentally killed by a Native who stumbled on the lioness and cub. As a defense mechanism against Emme/Jane Tarzan/Burroughs adopts the cub as an Anima surrogate.
In an email to me of 1/23/07 David makes these comments:
Through the first nine Tarzan novels the hero gradually establishes the lion symbol as his own until in Tarzan And The Golden Lion he is completely aligned with his source of power in the merging of lion symbol and self/Jad-Bal-Ja. Even though Jad is described as a glorified dog, this is only his personal devotion to the ape-man being explained in easy terms. Tarzan himself always respects Jad, saying “A lion is always a lion.” he is far from the domesticated ones in Cathne in purpose and spirit.
My thinking is that David is right in that the lion symbol and self are united but not within the ego but separately as the Anima and Animus. So what we have is Anima/Jad-Bal-Ja and Animus/Tarzan. Tarzan is sort of doubly armed with two masculine sides with Jad-Bal-Ja being associated with the goddess and partaking in some way of her femininity.
There wouldn’t be too much of a conflict between the female Anima and the Male Anima figure as ERB’s Anima was subsumed by the male fencing master Jules de Vac of The Outlaw Of Torn. De Vac killed ERB/Norman’s Anima figure Maud and then assuming female attire lived with Norman in the attic of a house over the Thames for a fairly long period of time thus becoming a substitute Anima.
Thus the anomaly of a male lion Anima is easily explained. As a symbol of the goddess Jad-Bal-Ja is, as it were, clothed in female attire as was De Vac. Further Jad-Bal-Ja is always indifferent to Jane/Emma. Jane has no real relationship with the Golden Lion.
David once again:
The mad queen of Cathne, Nemone, is an example of negative Anima, a feminine power corrupt and dangerous. Her lion Belthar is the dark shadow opposite of Tarzan and Jad who are symbols of power and light and sun. Her lion is treated as a dark god and is linked to Nemone’s own dark soul. When Jad kills Belthar, Nemone kills herself because the source of her power is gone. It is an archetypal case of light overcoming darkness. The masculine power of light overcoming a dark feminine anima.
In the general sense I have no problem with David’s analysis although I would argue that Belthar is Nemone’s Animus. Nemone is playing the part of Circe in the myth of Odysseus while that story is the triumph of the male ego in freeing itself from matriarchal sexual thralldom. This whole series of novels is related to the Odyssey. So that, in that sense Tarzan is imprisoned by the charms of Nemone/Circe. He is being emasculated, deprived of his will, by the feminine will by one might say, the maneater, Nemone.
In fact Nemone as ruler of Cathne has emasculated the leonine male power. As David Adams sagely observes:
In Cathne lions are employed as domesticated animals for the purpose of pulling chariots, hunting and racing. This is a reduction of the power of the lion symbol to the mundane, even to the point of being ridiculous. It is a degradation and humiliaton of ERB’s ultimate symbol of power and virility.
Yes, and that would be in keeping with the story of Circe who turned Odysseus’ crew into swine and would have Odysseus except that he had a pocketful of Moly, a charm to set Circe at naught. Likewise the queen of the City of Gold of the Legends Of Charlemagne who enchanted the paladins of that king, except for one who then freed the others.
So, Nemone had Tarzan at her mercy except for the strange situation of the lion of ERB’s Anima defeating the lion of Nemone’s Animus.
Once this was done the charm of Nemone/Circe/Queen of the City of Gold was destroyed with the City of Gold being restored to male supremacy and Alextar restored to his rightful throne. Things were then returned to their rightful order as in the domains of Circe and the Queen. We are led to believe that a Utopian age begins. This may be a slap at Wells and his Men Like Gods.
This review completes this very important series of five novels. Obviously I consider the key novels to be Tarzan The Invincible, Tarzan And The Leopard Men and Tarzan And The Lion Man. These novels are more directly concerned with ERB’s political and religious opinions. A trilogy concerning ERB’s sexual problems could be made up of Tarzan Triumphant, Leopard Men and City Of Gold bracketed by Invincible and Lion Man but Triumphant and City Of Gold appear to me to be more minor key than the other three.
Nevertheless these five novels usually treated as the least significant of the series are the most crucial to the understanding of Burroughs while being very good stories in themselves.
Excluding Tarzan And The Foreign Legion that is outside Burroughs’ psychological development, although a good story, ERB published only another three Tarzan novels in his lifetime and they were all decidedly inferior to that which preceded them, still good stories, but ERB’s concentration had been broken. Tarzan’s Quest is the best of the last three but just as Lion Man ends with Burroughs’ dreams going up in flames so does Quest. Perhaps eccentric best describes Tarzan And The Forbidden City. The title says it all. He was never to find salvation; the doors of the Sacred City remained closed to him. Tarzan The Magnificent while having exciting episodes just doesn’t come together.
Magnificent less Foreign Legion concluded the oeuvre until Castaways and Madman were discovered twenty years later. However Burroughs himself chose not to publish those books so they must be an addendum to the series. The two posthumous novels complete ERB’s psychological development being important in that respect for the student.
Further his psychological development was brought to a head during the writing of these five novels. In this tremendous struggle between ERB, the Communists and the Jews ERB was routed by the time he wrote Tarzan And The Lion Man. He didn’t think his tactics and strategy through to the end.
Thus ERB’s whole life was a prelude to the Gotterdamerung that ended as Tarzan fled the City of God.
ERB’s whole life is a magnificent adventure that in itself would make a tremendous movie with the right and unfettered treatment. It could the grandest of grand opera worhty of Mozart. I’d like to see it; even better i’d like to write it.
March 15, 2008
A Contribution To The ERB Library Project
A Review of
Thomas F. Dixon Jr.
Review by R.E. Prindle
Of Thomas Dixon’s Reconstruction Trilogy- The Leopard’s Spots, The Clansman and The Traitor- only the last is found in ERB’s library. It would seem reasonably sure that he read the other two also. As The Traitor was published in 1907 it seems certain that the trilogy was read before ERB put pen to paper so that Dixon was influential on the whole of ERB’s career.
This is no small influence as the Civil War and Reconstruction are central to ERB’s works. Once again, one is amazed at how ERB could absorb so many influences and keep each nearly discrete. Further on I will postulate the possible influence of Alexandre Dumas’ French Revolution series.
Of interest to ERB’s reading habits Bill Hillman recently posted a list of books in ERBzine of ERB’s post WWII reading list that Burroughs described as a few of the books he’d read. As the list was substantial the complete list must have been enormous. The list mainly consisted of books in the areas of crime and other topics which certain minds share. As I happen to be one of those minds based on the internal evidence of the novels and shared intellectual direction I feel a fair amount of confidence in my speculations concerning his reading although I leave room for error.
I am also of the opinion now that he could have read from 500 to 750 books from, say, fifteen to thirty-five when he began writing. His consumption from 1911 to 1940 must have been enormous. Fortunately we can get a pretty good fix on the type of books he preferred from his library.
Thomas Dixon Jr. lived from 1864 to 1946. Reconstruction was in effect from 1865 to 1877 when the last occupation troops were withdrawn. Dixon grew up in Shelby, North Carolina where his father was an important figure in the first Ku Klux Klan. The Traitor is apparently based on his father’s career. It is said that because of corruption in the Klan his father was instrumental in disbanding it.
Dixon although young would then have had first hand experience with both Reconstruction and the Clan.
Dixon believed, and I second him, that Reconstruction was one of the most brutal crimes in history. It certainly ranks in the same category as the French Revolution’s criminal acts in The Vendee and Hitler and Stalin’s actions from 1925 to 1945. One should not underestimate the horrors of Reconstruction. Liberals, for their own reasons, have attempted to excise the period from US history while sanitizing what little is taught. One is certain than an inquiring mind like Burroughs sought out the true and whole story.
Liberals have blackened Dixon’s name as they have that of Dixon’s fellow Southerner, D.W. Griffith, who produced the Dixon trilogy as the most amazing movie of its time- The Birth Of A Nation. In 1915.
While both Griffith and Dixon have been defamed as racists in today’s multi-cultural society they must no longer be seen as racists merely as representatives of an anti-Liberal segment of White culture.
Dixon was one of the most popular American writers of the period to at least until the aftermath of the Russian Revolution when he and writers like him, including Burroughs, came under attack from the Communists. With the exception of Burroughs all have been defamed into oblivion today.
As we know Burroughs’ father, George T., served in the Union Army during the Civil War. His father’s more admirable attributes seem to have gone into the character of John Carter, the hero of the first three Martian stories. He seems to have been combined with a Confederate Officer of Virginia stock as well as a character of the nature of Count Caliogstro of the pre-French Revolution period.
Here the problem of Alexandre Dumas and his Revolutionary romances enters. John Carter’s tomb in Connecticut is probably based on Graham’s tomb in The Traitor. The similarity is striking. Carter’s longevity may be based in part on Dumas’ description of the charlatanry of Cagliostro who claimed to be as old as the Great Historical Bum while rationalizing his ability to survive much as the thousand year old Martians did.
The Martians were in fact deathless as was Cagliostro’s claim unless they were killed by some sort of physical accident. Dumas’ Caliogstro describes his situation in these exact terms. The novels in Dumas’ roman a fleuve are the Memoirs Of A Physician, Joseph Balsamo, The Queen’s Necklace, Ange Pitou, The Countess Of Charny, The Chevalier Of The Maison Rouge and The Blue And The White. I can recommend them highly. We know that Burroughs read The Three Musketeers and probably The Count Of Monte Cristo. He may have read one, two or more of the Revolution series also.
There is an interesting passage in the Physician in which an ignorant country boy teaches himself to write both printed and cursive letters after a very rudimentary instruction in reading. The passage bears comparison to Tarzan’s teaching himself to read and write. The point being that Burrough’s imagination was probably fired by this series.
Now, we know that Burroughs was always opposed to the Revolution. Dumas would have introduced him to conspiracy theory. I would guess that ERB read Dumas before 1900 but that is just a guess. Also bear in mind what we consider ‘classical’ literature was current in Burroughs’ youth. All these books would have been new and therefore doubly exiting. As David Adams noted to me concerning Baum’s Oz series the books would have been equivalent to a new Beatles record in the sixties when people rushed to stores at the earliest possible moment to get their copy. Knowing this stuff would have made one a very hep cat.
We also know that prior to 1911 Burroughs associated with several knowing people among which were Sweetser and Dr. Stace. These buys are always into conspiracy theory as, indeed, am I . As I have said as Burroughs and I share the same reading tastes I think it less than pure speculation that Burroughs also knew something about the Revolutionary conspiracy. Difficult to tell what.
It doesn’t appear that ERB was ever a Freemason. The Revolution was attributed to the Masons. The lodges then would have been thought Communist then by their opponents. Communist and Illuminated. The Illuminati are, of course, central to any conspiracy theory.
In theory and certainly in fact the lodges were instrumental in the overthrow of the French monarchy. I have even read that Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans were involved with the Rosicrucians, hence the Freemasons and hence the Masonic revolution against thrones. While I don’t find the idea improbable I haven’t got enough evidence to speculate one way or the other. I find it interesting though to see that John Adams was thought to be Illuminated. It is certain that Revolutionary cadres in the form of Libertines were active in England during the seventeenth century and were certainly instrumental in the destruction of London’s Newgate Prison some few years before the destruction of the Bastille.
It is also certain that Adam Weishaupt’s Illuminati infiltrated the French Freemasons some few years before 1789 and that the Jacobins arose from them. It is also clear that the Illuminatti infiltrated American Freemasons at least by 1799. There are those who believe with good evidence that Thomas Jefferson was Illuminated. Indeed, the Communists of the twenties called Jefferson one of their own. It seemed ridiculous until one looks a little further. Whether Lincoln was one of the Communists’ own along with Jefferson as they claim seems preposterous on the surface of it.
However an illuminated Mason by the name of Morgan was about to publish a book exposing the Masonic plot in 1843 when he was abducted and murdered. A symbol of the Illuminatti was the Phrygian Cap. The Union enlisted cap is nothing less than the Phrygian Cap with the front knob truncated and replaced by a flat board. So, shall we say that the Illuminatti took a prominent but disguised role in the Civil War.
If this Jacobin-Illuminatti attitude was in the Northern attitude then it must have been represented in the Abolitionist attitude. Their hatred always directed against authority was the directed against the Southern Whites and in favor of the Negroes. And in fact it was attempted to make Whites slaves to the Negroes. Just as in France the hatred was directed against not only Aristocracy but against peasants or anyone who resisted the Jacobin or Liberal will. In the Vendee of France which remained loyalist genocide was carried out on the Vendeans. I have no doubt out and out genocide would have been committed against Southerners if it had been possible. In that respect perhaps Sherman’s antecedents should be examined to determine unrecognized motives for the march from Atlanta to the sea.
There is no question that a great many of the post-Civil War immigrants were Communists or socialists and that they refused to accept a non-socialist America. Many if not most of the 48ers who fled Europe after the failure of the Revolution of 1848 were socialist while there is no reason to suppose that a large number of those were Jacobins or Illuminated.
Burroughs first contact with these people was as a child or teenager when he saw them parading through Chicago under the Red banner. It seems very unlikely that he wouldn’t have picked up a lot of anti-Socialist information. At any rate his hatred of German and things German began at that time developing into a near mania during the Great War and a firmest attitude by WWII.
I can’t guarantee that he read Dumas’ Revolutionary novels but there are enough seeming contact points in the novels to indicate that he may have. Thus John Carter’s longevity may be based on Dumas’ portrayal of Cagliostro. This input Burroughs combined then combined with his readings of The Virginian and the positive aspects of his father to create John Carter. It is probably significant that Carter was the main character in only the first three Martian novels before ERB’s father died. When George T. died John Carter ceased being the dominant character being replaced by his son Carthoris in the next novel, Thuvia, Maid Of Mars. Burroughs may not have been able to divide his own alter-ego between Carthoris and Tarzan as the former disappears being replaced by a number of different personae.
However ERB understood the Civil War and Reconstruction the two events were a significant part of his mental makeup.
The three Dixon novels were formative before he began to wirte while the Dixon scripted The Birth Of A Nation filmed by D.W. Griffith and released in 1915 had a terrific impact on Burroughs as well as the Nation.
The movie would have revived all his emotions on the two topics. I have read the novels of the subsequent years with this thought in mind but echoes may be there.
Over the following decades Liberals have succeeded in characterizing Birth Of A Nation as ‘racist’ which it is not. The story may be culturally centered on the White side of the story rather than the Black but this fact doesn’t make the movie any more racist than if it had been culturally centered on the Black aspect. The issue of race simply cannot be avoided.
The movie misunderstands the breach between the two White viewpoints of the North and the South. While the movie is plea for Whites to never do this again and to reunite as one people, the bigots of the North wished only for the destruction of Southern Whites. As the Jewish historian Eric Foner writes, Reconstruction is the unfinished Revolution that is still going on today and will culminate in the election of Barry Dunham-Obama and its sequel.
Eric Foner is part of the Foner dynasty of Communist historians. His uncle Phil Foner wrote distorted labor chronicles while his Pappy Jack was dismissed from his academic position in the ‘50s as a Communist.
The movie was the most successful of its time providing the funds for the MGM empire. Louis B. Mayer who was a theatre operator at the time made enough from the movie to go to Hollywood and establish the Mayer studios which Loews later combined into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer when they crushed William Fox of Fox Studios which then was combined with Twentieth Century to become Twentieth-Century Fox.
The movie certainly was not considered racist at the time except by the Jacobin faction who were not as influential then as they have become today. The Democratic president of the time, Woodrow Wilson, thought it a superb movie.
Interestingly both Wilson (1856-1924) and Dixon were together at Johns Hopkins University with Dixon being a champion of Wilson. D.W. Griffith, from the South as was Wilson, was Burroughs nearly exact contemporary. Griffith was born in Louisville, Kentucky also in 1875 dying in 1948 two years before Burroughs. Griffith was another who was marginalized by the Communists.
Thus the essential Edgar Rice Burroughs was taking its final form in the years from 1900-1911. I would like to organize those years as part of his early married years. This is not easy. As we are aware when he and Emma returned to Chicago from Idaho and Salt Lake City in 1904 ERB was suffering from the excruciating headaches that lasted half a day incurred from his beating in Toronto.
His sojourn in Salt Lake must also be included as part of his education as with his innate anthropological curiosity he would have investigated the absurdities of that religion. Once again he was much closer to the origins of the religion as it had only about sixty years of history to deal with rather than one hundred and sixty.
Even on the train trip back to Chicago ERB would have traveled through an entirely different landscape along approximately the Mormon Trail than today. The geographic changes have been enormous. The earlier geography would have influenced Mormon memories and stories that he would have heard. As an example of a feature that has been completely destroyed is a description from a book titled: The Mormon Trail: Voyage Of Discovery, The Story Behind The Scenery by Stanley B. and Violet Kimball. Page 35:
Weary teamsters and tired oxen struggled onward despite the difficult, rocky terrain. Many journals commented on the hordes of grasshoppers that had helped deplete the area of grass. Still, the optimism remained high in camp for they knew the Sweetwater River was just around the bend. The ground here proved to be miry, “smelled bad”, was swampy and many oxen got “buried in the mud.” Mosquitoes and “Gad flies” were numerous, and both oxen and humans were plagued for miles. The water along this route was so bad that even the cattle refused to drink. Most of the time they had to use sage for firewood here because buffalo chips were scarce and so was wood.Among the several landmarks along this part of the Trail were the Avenue Of Rocks and The Devil’s Backbone. Today the quarter-mile-long Avenue Of Rocks is gone, a victim of road widening.
That’s how little Americans care for their environment. Possibly the Avenue of Rocks was used by Fennimore Cooper as a locale in his novel The Prairie that Burroughs was certain to have read.
The Mormons would have made the trip a scant thirty or so years before so Burroughs would have been regaled with stories by those who had made the trip, probably before Buffalo Bill cleared the prairie of buffalo. Certainly before the tremendous network of reservoirs that now cover the area.
Having returned to Chicago Burroughs had to get down to some serious living; something he wasn’t good at. One would imagine that his father with a long history in business in Chicago could have gotten him a decent job to start but for some reason of which we are not informed he seemed to be in disrepute. ERB literally started at the bottom taking jobs for which there were few applicants.
Burroughs ran through an odd assortment of jobs over the next seven or nine years. After all it was only seven years from 1904 to 1911. Short enough in the telling but the equivalent of several lifetimes in the living. I won’t do a recital of the jobs as I’ve done it before while everyone is familiar with the story.
Intellectually these were stimulating times for Burroughs. L. Frank Baum’s Oz books began at the turn of the century, Baum trying to end the series in 1910. The Oz stories had a great influence on ERB. Jack London began publishing whose hobo experiences probably rekindled Burroughs interest in that life find expression in the trilogy of novel involving Billy Byrne that began in 1913 shortly after ERB began writing.
Owen Wister published The Virginian that would be so influential on Burroughs’ writing going into the character of John Carter. The Graustark novels of George Barr McCutcheon also began appearing the memory of which ERB would cherish to his dying day.
And of course ERB had his relationship with Dr. Stace. Now, Porges gives us very little information on this period in ERB’s life. However John Dos Passos in his USA trilogy includes a character who closely resembles Burroughs. This is in the third volume, The Big Money. Dos Passos was a vicious little man. At the time he was an open Red. Somewhat later in life he supposedly became a ‘conservative.’ As Reds go becoming ‘conservative’ in my opinion merely means getting old. I don’t see how anyone who has based their life on Communist principles can ever embrace opposite principles but many people can, or at least, they allow themselves to think they can.
It would be absurd to think that there would be no stories circulating about one of the most successful writers in the world. Dos Passos was actually from Chicago although absent most of his life, still he undoubtedly picked up some stories on Burroughs who would have been thought of, at the very least, as a colorful character. Thus writing in the thirties Dos Passos may very well have picked up stories from people like Frank Martin himself. Can’t be sure at this time of course…but if you look…
Dos Passos carefully describes the type of businessman ERB was. There apparently was a type of scrabbler who while not being able to afford an office of their own would rent space for a desk in someone else’s office so they could have an address. Sort of like the mail box addresses existing today. As an independent businessman Burroughs was of this type. In this capacity Dos Passos has his character turn up with a patent medicine type who go through Michigan trying to sell their wares. Dos Passos details of the foray are unimportant and probably highly imaginative but definitely derogatory. But then his whole corpus is of a mocking nature.
The point is Porges describes about this time, 1907 or so, that Burroughs sent Emma a note from South Bend, Indiana lauding the town saying that he would be back home soon. Porges doesn’t say what he was doing in South Bend. We are left to guess.
I would imagine it was something along the lines that Dos Passos describes. Or perhaps this was about the time the Feds cracked down on the Patent Medicine business and Burroughs and Stace may have found it convenient to absent themselves from the Windy City. I haven’t been able to find a reference to such a trip in the corpus as yet.
More to follow.