August 29, 2008
Virginia And The Westward Movement
David Hackett Fischer and James C. Kelly
Review by R.E. Prindle
Grant, Madison, Conquest Of A Continent, Liberty Bell Publications, 2004, reprint 1933 original.
Fischer, David Hackett and Kelly, James C., Bound Away: Virginia And The Westward Movement, U. Virginia Press, 2000
For the student of settlement patterns in the US David Hackett Fischer is indispensable. Of the many books he’s written his 1992 Albion’s Seed is absolutely necessary. In that book he involves himself in the settlement patterns of all four strains from Great Britain. In this volume he interests himself only in the colony of Virginia. He considers immigration into Virginia, migration within Virginia and emigration from Virginia.
As Madison Grant points out in his work Virginia was the mother of States. Fischer points out the whys and hows. His work might be considered and extension of Grant’s.
The founding of Virginia was much more different and tumultuous than our school books relate. The Indians came close to expelling the Virginia colonists while the English had a very difficult time adapting to the climate. The death rate was worse than on the slave ships.
Black slavery was slow to develop in Virginia as the Aristocracy preferred White slaves, politely known as
indentured servants. It was only when the White supply dried up that the Aristocracy turned to Africans. More than in the States of the Deep South slavery defeated the Commonwealth.
Where Whites had a difficult time surviving in the rich soils of the Tidal area Africans prospered soon significantly outnumbering the Whites.
The characteristic Virginia polity of an upper cast White Aristocracy, a small middle class, and the White and Black impoverished proletariats came into existence under Governor Berkeley in 1650 being perpetuated until the Civil War.
Between the strong White caste system and slavery the White proletariat was driven to escape by emigration. Virginia gradually became depopulated over the two hundred years before the Civil War. At that time East and West Virginia were one. A look at the map, of which the book has several, will show Virginia abutting both Kentucky and Ohio. Thus the Western exodus to those two States formed the character of one and shaped the character of the other. From Kentucky and Ohio the Virginians carried through southern Indiana and Illinois while populating several counties in Missouri that were known as Little Dixie.
With the opening of Alabama and Mississippi many Virginians chose to take their slaves and migrate in that direction.
The net effect of the migrations was that Virginia lost several representatives in Congress while losing intellectual vitality. The issue of slavery caused groups like the Quakers to leave the State and it became correspondingly hazardous to one’s health to criticize slavery.
Of course after th Civil War the descendants of the Virginians continued West into California and Oregon. Thus Virginian customs and styles found their way across country.
After the War national immigration began in earnest with Southern and Eastern Europeans forming the bulk of it. Grant laments the diminishing of the Nordic cultural influence while Fischer wisely makes no comment even ignoring the issue concerning himself only with the movement of Virginians.
Even then there is an honesty in his work that makes one wonder how he survives in the anti-truth Liberal university system. I suppose it’s a matter of not what you say but how you say it. Knowing what to leave in and what to leave out.
At any rate for those interested in US settlement patterns I heartily recommend Madison Grant’s Conquest Of A Continent and both David Hackett Fischer’s Albions’ Seed and Outward Bound. If one then overlaps something like Carl Wittke’s We Who Built America that gives some idea of how post-1871 immigration patterns shaped twentieth century America one has a pretty fair idea of how the US developed up to the 1965 revision of the Immigration Act. After that revision a whole new pattern develops.
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.
August 16, 2008
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs #16
Tarzan And The City Of Gold
Tall, magnificently proportioned, muscled more like Apollo than Hercules,
Garbed only in a narrow G-string of lion skin
With a lion’s tail depending before and behind,
He presented a splendid figure of primitive manhood
That suggested more, perhaps, the demigod
Of the forest than it did man.
This novel follows Tarzan And The Leopard Men in the sequence in which the novels were written. Ballantine lists it as number sixteen while placing Leopard Men in eighteen in the sequence in which they were published. In order to understand Burroughs’ psychological development however Leopard Men should be read before City Of Gold.
The amazing use of symbolism in Leopard Men is continued in City Of Gold. I am convinced that at this
time Burroughs was investigating the Indian religion of Vedantism. Swami Prabhavananda had established a temple in Hollywood at the beginning of the decade which quickly took hold. The symbolism would be employed by the Vedantists while Burroughs’ interest in symbolism itself was piqued. Shortly after this novel ERB purchased a 1932 volume entitled The Scientific Dream Book And Dictionary Of Dream Symbols by one Johnathan B. Westerfield. Thus ERB was investigating the psychological origin of his dreams. The man was trying hard.
It is clear that this sequence of novels is heavily influenced by Homer, especially by his Odyssey. Homeric motifs run all through these five novels while as Doctor Hermes and David Adams have pointed out Burroughs uses the Athenian monetary unit, the drachma, as the currency of Cathne.
A third probable source would be from the Legends Of Charlemagne volume of Bulfinch’s Mythology. In the last Bulfinch tells of a City Of Gold in which an enchantress keeps the paladins of Charlemagne captive. That story seems to be based on Homer’s story of Circe and Odysseus, or Ulysses in the Roman telling, so Burroughs combines both stories in his own enchantress, Nemone, of his City Of Gold. One may take the City Of Gold to be the Sacred City of the Iliad.
The rival kingdoms of Cathne and Athne- my spell check just pointed out to me that Athne respelled is Athen which is very close to Athene or Athens- have Greek sounding names reinforcing the Homeric connection.
While the sexual symbolism of Leopard Men is dark and brooding placed in a swamp not unlike the Lernean Swamp of Greek mythology in which Heracles fought the furious female Hydra, The City Of Gold is much brighter and airier, more intellectual than the darker urges of the subconscious.
Having now read many of the Tarzan novels four-five and even six times I am astonished at how well they maintain their freshness from reading to reading. Rather than weary me, each reading is a fresh experience that opens a whole new vista of possibilities. The more I seem to understand of what I’m reading the more signficance the words have as the story seems to rise from the page to form concrete living images, as it were.
In this novel expecially I am impressed by the pacing, the effort put into preparing the scenes and the masterly execution in which each word assumes its independent value almost as though ERB had put as much care into word selection as, say, the poet Tennyson. Of course we all know ERB read Tennyson as well as other verse and poetry while also being familiar with song lyrics. Thus while writing prose he is able to maintain a poetic intensity.
The opening scene is an excellent example of his skill. Tarzan is out hunting when he is spotted by some shiftas. He’s in Ethiopia at the end of the rainy season. We aren’t told why he is there but he has commanded Nkima and Jad-Bal-Ja to stay home. As a corollary, just before he leaves Emma two years later he will take a solo vacation to the mountains of Arizona. The spatial arrangement conveyed in this scene is that of Tarzan between the shiftas and the prey he is hunting. While he is silently stalking the prey the shiftas are more noisily stalking him. The movement of the shiftas which can be seen by the prey but not by Tarzan who has his back to them is caught by the prey who looks past Tarzan to the shiftas. Tarzan noticing the prey looking beyond him also looks back to spot the shiftas stalking him.
The spatial concepts involved are astonishing while three views of time are also evident. I only picked up on this aspect with my fifth reading. My interest was thus piqued and heightened so that the novel took on an entirely new aspect. The scene as written is so well paced and spaced that it made a vignette I’m sure I shall never forget, while I now long to duplicate such a scene in my own writing.
The patient lulling slow pace of Tarzan’s hunt was now broken. As Tarzan’s quarry fled, the action between Tarzan and the shiftas became fast, furious and frenzied, while the sexual symbolism bursts into one’s consciousness.
As the shiftas bear down upon him Tarzan realizes that he cannot escape by running. If he could have he would have because as Burrughs never tires of noting there is no disgrace in running from a force majeure. Instead Tarzan shot arrows among the the shiftas. Than as a shifta bore down on him lance leveled:
There could be no retreat for Tarzan; there could be no sidestepping to avoid the thrust, for a step to either side would have carried him in front of one of the other horsemen. He had but a slender hope for survival, and that hope forlorn though it appeared, he seized upon with the celerity, strength and agility that make Tarzan Tarzan. Slipping his bow string about his neck after his final shot, he struck up the point of the menacing weapon of his antagonist, and grasping the man’s arm swung himself to the horse’s back behind the rider.
Abilities like that make Tarzan Tarzan and I’m sure such a feat could be done in reality as in the imagination although possibly not if Tarzan had had the bunchy muscles of the professional strongman. Smooth ones flowing beneath the skin like molten metal are undoubtedly a prerequisite.
Dispatching the shifta Tarzan is now symbolically seated on a horse. The horse directly plunges into a river to swim to the other side. In mid-stream the horse and rider are attacked by a crocodile that Tarzan kills or disables. Emerging from the river Tarzan gallops into a forest where he abandons the horse for the security of the trees.
There in a short passage we have a wealth of symbolism that tells in a few paragraphs what ERB could have developed in many chapter if told in straight prose.
The horse is a symbol of the female. Thus Tarzan as Animus is symbolically united with his Anima. the horse plunges into the river which is also a female symbol representing the waters of the unconscious. Still mounted Tarzan is in the conscious sphere above water while the horse is submerged in the subconscious. The crocodile also a female symbol representing the greedy, devouring, emasculating aspect of the female attacks. The horse turns upstream in an attempt to flee the croc. Tarzan strings his bow firing an arrow, as a masculine symbol, into the crocodile’s mouth disabling it thus escaping the disabling aspect of the feminine while with strange violence sending the arrow down the throat. One has to think about these things.
The horse scrambles up on the opposite bank signifying a change in life, then gallaps into the forst of the subconscious where one goes in search of oneself. The forest here is the same as all those underground mazes in Burrough’s corpus.
Once in the forest Tarzan abandons the horse, or Anima for the security of the trees where he is above it all. Apparently there is a deep cleavage between his Animus and Anima. Now begins a very strange encounter. Burroughs apparently felt he left something of himself on the other side of the river so he goes back for it.
Coming upon the camp of the shiftas he notices that they have a bound captive. As this appears to be what he returned for one can only speculate that the bound captive is an aspect of himself. Perhaps the captive represents his marriage to Emma in which he is in the bonds of matrimony wishing to escape them. Tarzan takes action. At this point Burroughs offers this rather remarkable passage describing the Ape-Man. p. 15:
It was difficult for Tarzan to think of himself as a man, and his psychology was more often that of the wild beast than the human, nor was he particularly proud of his species. While he appreciated the intellectual superiority of man over other creatures, he harbored contempt for him because he had wasted the greater part of his inheritance. To Tarzan, as to many other created things, contentment is the highest ultimate goal of achievement, health and culture the principal avenues along which man may approach this goal. With scorn the ape-man viewed the overwhelming majority of mankind which was wanting in one essential or the other, when not wanting in both. He saw the greed, the selfishness, the cowardice, and the cruelty of man; and, in view of man’s vaunted mentality, he knew that these characteristics placed man upon a lower spiritual scale than the beasts, while barring him eternally from the goal of contentment.
In the above quote ERB outlines the central problem of mankind. In the evolution of mankind from beast to homo sapiens the much vaunted mentality of HS has failed to make the transition from the pure mentality of the beast to that of, essentially, the god. In orther words his origins are dragging him back as he tries to make the leap to the next stage of evolution and development.
While having a godlike intelligence rather than using it to elevate himself above primal desires as the direction of the nineteenth century was going, in the early twentieth century Freud undercut the drive to perfection dragging mankind back down to primal desires. This is Freud’s great crime for which he should be burned in his effigy of Satan once a year in a great world wide holiday. Thus as Man uses his intelligence to get at the root of things, and I think we’re very close to understanding all, Man’s primal desires lapsing back into the ‘unconscious’ of Freud, and make no mistake the current conception of the unconscious is of Freuds’ personal devising, devise even more fiendish ways of evil as that knowledge increases. Thus rather than aspiring toward a spiritual contentment Man chooses to give in to desires that lower him beneath the hyena.
Thus Tarzan, who has attained spiritual contentment, and become godlike, looks with scorn and contempt on the humanity of his fellows preferring to think of himself as a ‘spiritually pure’ beast.
While this attitude is a theme throughout the oeuvre and the corpus as a whole perhaps this rant was sharpened by the developing difficulties at MGM. Shortly after this was written Tarzan, The Ape Man hit the screens scrambling ERB’s vision of Tarzan forever. The screen Tarzan has no intellect. In the movie Tarzan’s Desert Adventure Boy even has to read Jane’s letter to him.
On his way to the shifta camp the ever present Numa is between him and the desperadoes. Taking to the trees of the forest to pass over Numa he spots a strangely garbed man in the shifta camp. Still smarting because he lost his quarry and operating on the primitive logic that since the shiftas had deprived him of dinner it would only be right to deprive them of something they wanted, he decides to free the captive.
He was about to fail in his attempt when the ever present Numa saves his skin by attacking the shifta camp. In the confusion Tarzan and the prisoner escape. The man turns out to be an Athnean named Valthor. Having escaped they must put up for the night. Sheeta the panther is abroad. As David Adams is wont to point out, for Burrough Sheeta is a sexual symbol, so the next scene has strong homoerotic overtones.
The question is who does Valthor represent. He is curiously vague in personality. As Burroughs was obsessed with the Jekyll and Hyde notion at this time I suspect that Valthor is an aspect of Burroughs’ own personality with some sort of relation to Tarzan as Jekyll to Hyde. Valthor’s life is saved as Sheeta leaps for him so that one feels he may be related in some way to Stanley Obroski, another alter ego of Tarzan, who will actually die in the succeeding novel, Tarzan And The Lion Man.
In this novel, in putting up for the night, Tarzan with his superior junglecraft, finds a tree where two horizontal branches fork. He cuts some smaller limbs to form a pallet for himself for the night. He had eaten but he is unconcerned whether the able bodied Valthor has eaten or not. Tarzan does not hunt for other men. If he hadn’t already eaten he would have made a kill and shared the abundance.
Valthor lies down on the ground. Sheeta is watching silently. So silently even Tarzan does not hear him breathe, until readying himself to springs, he quietly brushed a leaf or two. Tarzan hears for his ears are not as yours or mine. As Sheeta launches himself on Valthor Tarzan shouts a warning while rolling from the pallet to descend on Sheeta’s back.
Now, this scene replicates a similar scene in Beasts Of Tarzan when Tarzan leaps on Sheeta’s back in midair as she was about to leap on the ape, Akut. I hadn’t thought of homoerotic overtones between Akut and Tarzan but they may be there. It may be signficant that Akut later became the mentor of young Jack Clayton otherwise known as Korak The Killer.
In the instance of Akut, the ape became sort of a vassal of Tarzan, while in this story Tarzan and Valthor become fast friends although the relationship is one of superior to inferior- Batman to Robin. After killing Sheeta, Tarzan takes a more motherly attitude toward Valthor, making a bed for him in the tree because he knew Numa was prowling the forest. That undoubtedly he knew that before was he leaving Valthor for Numa?
They awoke in the morning. p. 26:
Nearby, the other man sat up and looked about him. His eyes met Tarzan’s and he smiled and nodded. For the first time the ape-man had an opportunity to examine his new acquaintance by daylight. The man had removed his single garment for the night, covering himself with leaves and branches. Now as he arose, his only garment was a G-string and Tarzan saw six feet of well muscled, well proportioned body topped by a head that seemed to bespeak breeding and intelligence. The wild beast in Tarzan looked into the brown eyes of the stranger and was staisfied that here was one who might be trusted.
Not exactly a description of love at first sight but a definite tinge of homoeroticism. Brown eyes. In fact Tarzan and Valthor become fast friends. Quickly learning each other’s language by the point and name system, or at least, Tarzan learning Valthor’s language, they are soon chatting away amiably.
Valthor comes from the mountains but after they wander around for a week he admits he is lost. Tarzan gets the general direction then setting out in a bee line. Their goal is the huge extinct volcano, Xarator, which they soon locate. Just as Leopard Men was cast in the erotic swamps of the feminine as Old Timer lusted and panted after Kali Bwana so The City Of Gold is located in a valley high in the mountains where heaven and earth meet and the cold incisive intellect works best. Tarzan is not going to lust; like brave Ulysses he is going to resist the sexual blandishments of his Circe, Nemone.
Both City Of Gold and Tarzan Triumphant take place near or in volcanos so the volcano must link the two stories. The extent of emotion involved in this one is indicated by the atmospheric conditions as the two men enter the valley. Compare this scene with that of Tarzan The Invincible when Tarzan and La leave Opar. the symbolism is ferocious.
The scene is set in the mountains of Ethiopa. The rainy season is about to end but the last and most furious storm of the season bursts on the two. It seems certain here that Valthor is another aspect of Burroughs’ Animus in the Jekyll-Hyde sense. In this case the two are not so widely divergent as Jekyll and Hyde but are closer in aspects . Tarzan is still definitely superior and Valthor inferior.
Athne and Cathne are twin cities in the valley but they have to pass through Cathne- The City Of Gold which is to say perfection- to get to Athne. Athneans are Elephant men while Cathneans are Lion Men. As the two begin to cross the valley the great storm breaks. The storm no doubt symbolizes that storm feared by Burroughs of actually separating himself from Emma, certainly one of the most difficult thing he would ever have to do.
The separation must have been terrific internal trauma so that ERB kept putting it off rather than face it. One imagines that as in a situation like this Florence was continually asking him when he was going to tell Emma. It would be another two years before he could force himself to make the break. It is significant that just before he left he took a leave of absence from Emma returning to Arizona where, as here, he stayed in the mountains, the White Mountains of the Apaches. Thus his time in the Army must have had more significance for him than we credit. He must have thought, as miserable as he appeared to be, that those were the happiest days of his life.
In Cathne the rains came down. This was the mother of all storms. Between the thunder, lightning and literal sheets of rain the two were severed from all reality. They were walking ankle deep along the road. Once again they have to cross a stream. ERB has seen such a stream in Arizona, so this whole situation seems to be recalled by his Army days. Actually the nine months he spent in Arizona was a fairly rainy period of fourteen inches. In February 1897, I believe, four and half inches fell probably in one stormy period. ERB records a stream that became a raging torrent in his last Western novel. To some extent then he was writing from experience but already thinking of the good old days before he married.
As hard as it was raining in Cathne the river should have been unfordable but art has its demands.
Valthor knowing the ford begins to lead Tarzan across. He gets too far ahead. Tarzan in his uncertainty misses a step being swept away by the flood. He is now in the possession of the waters of the feminine, that is, his female problems, just barely able to get his breath. He is swept from side to side by the violent action of the waters, tumbled head over heels, but he keeps his mental presence. There is a great waterfall ahead of him which threatens certain death. The symbolism should be clear. In a last ditch effort Tarzan catches a rock hauling himself from the water, if I am correct, on the same side of the river, in other words, Emma. He doesn’t cross which is symbolically important. Refer that back to the earlier crossing in which he actually crosses but then returns.
Gathering his senses about him he sees some lights, going to investgate. He unwittingly stumbles into Nemone’s garden. Out of the frying pan, into the fire so to speak.
Brave Ulysses has found his Circe.
The scent of the big cats fills this book. Already Sheeta and Numa have had nearly equal billing with Tarzan and Valthor; now lions are given prominence. Now Tarzan emerges from the flood, which symbolizes a major life change, into the land of lions and lion worship. the ownership of lions is a mark of distinction in Cathne, Cahtnean chariots are even drawn by lions which brings to mind the chariots of goddesses like Cybele, Harmonia and Cadmus. Nemone will promise to reward Tarzan with three hundred lions, apparently an incredible number making him the top Lion Man. Remember the next novel Tarzan And The Lion Man will continue the theme.
Continuing an old theme from Tarzan And The Golden Lion a lion is even the god of Cathne. The symbol of Nemone’s Animus is a great black maned male lion named Belthar. The novel will devolve into a battle between Nemone’s lion, Belthar, and Tarzan’s lion, Jad-Bal-Ja. Also continuing an old device employed in Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar by the jewels and in Tarzan And The Ant Men by Tarzan’s locket this story is unified by the image of a great lion drawing ever nearer to Tarzan. So amid all these lions is the true Lion Man, Tarzan’s personal lion. His own guardian animal.
It does seem clear that ERB associates the big cats with sexuality.
ERB is building this story very carefully with great attention to spacing and pacing. Captured by the
Cathneans ERB takes care to ingratiate the Big Bwana with the troops. He has Tarzan and the Cathnean soldiers enter into a spirit of camaraderie as he introduces them to and instructs them in the use of the bow. Nemone is instroduced but seems to take little notice of the Big Guy condemning him to fight in the arena.
Taken to a prison cell he and we are introduced at some length and in some detail to a character named Phobeg. Phobeg is billed as the strongest man in Cathne.
ERB devotes an amazing amount of space to his confrontation between Phobeg and Tarzan. His development of such a minor character is unusual. I think what we have here is a confrontation between Tarzan and the actual man who inspired Burroughs to create Tarzan, the man who was the physical basis of the Lion Man. Phobeg can be no other than the first important body builder in the world- The Great Sandow. Just as in Tarzan The Magnificent Burroughs takes care to indicate that Tarzan has now replaced H.M. Stanley as the symbol of Africa, so here he puts down ‘the strongest man in the world’ in favor of his hero.
Sandow (1867-1925) had died a few years earlier. While other muscle men had replaced Sandow, most notably Charles Atlas, Burroughs was still obsessed by the man he had seen at the Columbian Expo of 1893. It would seem certain that ERB occasionally picked up a copy of Physical Culture Magazine to keep up on the latest builds. He couldn’t have missed the memorial copy devoted to Sandow, the greatest and still the greatest of the body builders. The award given to Mr. Olympia is called the Sandow.
While bowled over by the strongman, and strongmen, ERB was always offended by the bunchy muscles created by body building. he repeatedly makes allusions to strongmen throughout the corpus while Tarzan himself is both the antithesis and the perfection of the strongman. That is why Tarzan has smooth muscles flowing like molten metal beneath his skin while in this case Phobeg as a Sandow surrogate has the knotted muscles of the body builder.
If Burroughs found Sandow’s build offensive he would have gone apoplectic at the most recent champions who seems to have developed musculature as far as it can go. Unlike builders like Charles Atlas, Gordon Scott or Arnold Schwarzenegger who aspired to the Apolline figure, Ronnie Coleman and his successor Jay Cutler have opted for muscle upon muscle until there is nothing but muscle with no attention to a human shape. As an example check out Jay Cutler the current Mr. Olympia and holder of the Sandow at www.emusclemag.com. This guy is only 5’9″ but bulks up at 320 lbs., paring down to 275 for performance. And that is literally all muscle. One look at Cutler and ERB would have been foaming at the mouth
Just as Sandow was billed as the strongest man in the world, so Phobeg is billed as the strongest man in
Cathne. ERB makes him a braggart in relation to Tarzan but if he was the strongest man in Cathne he had little reason to respect Tarzan’s physique which was more like ‘Apollo than Hercules.’ Tarzan’s strength though greater than Phobeg’s was disguised.
At they are to fight each other to the death in the arena this allows Burroughs to introduce another of his interests which may be related, that of professional wrestling. Burroughs had Tarzan jokingly suggest that they stage the fight much as professional wrestlers. Burroughs who still attended the matches was disgusted becasue the matches were pure entertainment, something he should have applauded. Then as now the professional wrestling matches were staged. Professional wrestling then as now has more to do with entertainment than sport. Either you can get caught up in the fun and drama or you can’t. ERB obviously did although as he still thought of the shows as wrestling he felt put upon.
After several pages of Phobeg’s bragging and Tarzan’s false humility the ‘really big shoo’ begins. Tarzan and Phobeg are the last act on the program and they would have been a difficult act to follow.
ERB must have loved this part as the lenghty description of the gambling taking place is many times more detailed that he usually is. Whether the gambling aspect went on at the wrestling matches he attended or not, I don’t know. The odds naturally are for Phobeg, whose Cathnean reputation is immense and accurate as concerns the past. Everyone expects the inveterate gambler Nemone to bet on the sure thing as was her custom. They hedged their bets when they could at fantastic odds. Nemone then surprised them by betting on Tarzan. Nearly bankrupted the whole coterie of Lion Men.
Tarzan wins of course but refusing to kill Phobeg he instead does his trademark thing lifting Phobeg above his head and tossing him into the stands at Nemone’s feet. Now that is one hard act to follow.
Having now won his liberty, a lion man named Gemnon is assigned custodian of Tarzan taking him under his wing. Up to this point there seems to be no reference to contemporary affairs except for Sandow and wrestling. At this point ERB displays a numerous and surprising set of literary references.
Go To Tarzan And The City Of Gold part two.
August 9, 2008
Exhuming Bob 12:
Bob And The Middle Class
I was rewatching Martin Scorcese’s No Direction Home today. I was struck by the various reporters’ insistent demand to know what Bob was trying to say in his music. Bob seemed genuinely mystified at the time being apparently no more enlightened at the time of Scorcese’s interview.
I offer a suggestion, no more. Bob, says in the interview that he had slipped through the net meant to keep he and his ‘type’ out and now it was too late to do anything about it. I know what he meant. He and his style, viewpoint, were antithetical to everything acceptable in culture. The later TV creation of the Monkees that imitated, and in its way mocked, the Bohemian Dylan style was the acceptable pop mode of ‘protest’ songs.
Whether Dylan realized it or not he, in his songs, said everything the middle class did and thought was wrong, and further that they were all ‘assholes.’ Something happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you? I’m smart and you’re dumb. Whether he meant it that way or not, that was what they heard. That is what I heard but I didn’t disagree with him I wanted to be in the chorus and sing along. I knew exactly what Bob meant even if I couldn’t articulate it any better than he could.
Bob, in his arty way put things in such terms that so disguised what they believed was his real intent, they did understand, that he left them no convenient handle to denounce him. So what they wanted Bob to say when they asked ‘What do you songs mean?’ was ‘Well, all my songs mean I know better than you all do and besides you’re all assholes.’
At that point they would no longer have to take him seriously and could denounce him. ‘Oh, so YOU think YOU know more than the rest of us, do YOU? Well, there’s something happening here and YOU don’t what it is do YOU, Mr. Dylan? Well, let us tell YOU Buster…etc. etc.’
When people say that something new was introduced into pop music it wasn’t necessarily the ‘poetry’ or oddball language but his reviling of how the conventional mind works.
Bob said he slipped through. He could never have passed vetting for pop stardom by Tin Pan Alley so he managed to slip through anyway and destroy those who would never have given him a chance.
From his cornucopia sprang the ‘singer-songwriter’ genre that completely bypassed Tin Pan Alley. From his condemnation of the middle class sprang the rancorous Punk music of the seventies. From his denunciation of ‘a world gone wrong’ sprang the Negro rap music.
Call it a revolution if you want but it was just an underclass by some sort of heat convection bubbling to the surface. The sounds were commercially viable meaning that they made money for the labels. CBS could happily sell the ‘revolution’ on one hand, Johnny Mathis on the other and classical music strapped to its back.
I hope this makes sense to you.
August 5, 2008
In Your Wildest Dreams
Review by R.E. Prindle
Foos, Kimi, In Your Wildest Dreams, iUniverse, Inc. 2008 14.95
This lovely memoir by Kim Foos is characterized by rare charm and grace. A virtual love letter to her husband of 35 years Rick. From beginning to end one feels how lucky Rick is to be cherished so.
Kim Foos as a young girl of twelve fixed her sights on a much older (in teenage years) Rick determining then and there to make him hers. Kim lovingly chronicles Rick’s doings as a child and young man as though from a watchful distance. The anectdotes are wondrously told. Rick and Kim grew up near Wheaton, Illinois in what seems like a heavenly less populated time spent fishing, weirding out and investigating old subterranean missile sites. Sort of like my old childhood but strikingly different. I didn’t have that much fun. We didn’t have any fantastic abandoned missile sites near us. More detail could have been lavished there by the historically minded Kimi.
The innocence and sprigtliness of Rick’s springtime was rudely blasted apart as he heard a knock on the door and the low chuckle of Uncle Sam saying: Here I am. Yes. And the viet Nam war was raging in far off Asia. Like any good lad who knows his duty Rick chose the Army over Canada. Might not have been the wisest choice in retrospect. Turned his life inside out in one devastating moment when the hell he was standing on in Viet Nam moved skyward. Yes. It was thoroughly mined, a trap, an ambush. Dazed and blonkered Rick came back down to survive and stagger back to help his fellows, ears ringing and staggering nearly aimlessly. He needed as much help as anyone else.
Strangely he was not sent home but remained to serve out his term. And now Kim Foos’ story take a dark turn.
If there were enemies on the Eastern Front they had allies on the Home Front. Inept in Viet Nam our Commanders were cowardly at home. They allowed the traitorous domestic Red allies of the Communist Viet Namese to taunt and revile those who had courageously fought the battle of Justice and right. The returning soldiers who had faced a dogged and vicious enemy were told to keep their heads low on their home turf. This to appease a bunch of criminal, traitorous Red agitators who might just as easily have been shot. I don’t know who to revile more the Command or the scurvy Reds.
The shame of America that Rick experienced was to go much deeper. Returned home, reunited and united with a supportive wife in Kim now old enough to marry Rick, just barely, he took a job as auto repairman. According to Kim he was a born mechanic. When a customer learned that Rick was a returned Vietnamese vet he said he would take his custom elsewhere unless Rick was fired. Didn’t want him working on his car. to the shame of America, to the shame I share on behalf of American ingrates the garage owner fired Rick.
What does it mean to be an American? Don’t ask. It’s only an idea anyway.
Shortly thereafter Kim and Rick removed to the wastes of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The story continues there, the review ends here.
I close as I opened: this is a memoir of rare grace and charm. A testament to the love in a young girl’s heart. You won’t be wasting your 14.95.
August 4, 2008
Conquest Of A Continent
Review by R.E. Prindle
Grant, Madison, Conquest Of A Continent, Liberty Bell Publications, 2004. Reprint of 1933 Edition
Fischer, David Hackett, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways In America, Oxford, 1991
Higham, John, Strangers In The Land: Patterns Of American Nativism 1860-1925 Rutgers U. Press 1955
Myers, Gustavus, History Of Bigotry In The United States, Random House, 1943
Wittke, Carl, We Who Built America: The Saga Of The Immigrant, Case Western Reserve, 1939
In the immediacy of the moment one frequently overlooks or forgets the history leading up to the moment. One might think for instance that the current flap over Diversity and Multi-Culturalism is a recent occurrence. While the two terms are of recent provenance the argument under different names goes back much farther while the protagonists are essentially the same.
The story of immigration into America is almost always told from the point of view of the immigrant. Few books tell the tale from the Nativist point of view and they are universally and viciously derided as a tale told by bigoted idiots. While charity is demanded from the Nativists none is to be expected from the immigrationists.
Thus we get volumes like Strangers In The Land by John Higham and Carl Wittke’s We Who Built America that distort the issue in favor of immigrants while deprecating the Natives.
Qustavus Myers’ History Of Bigotry In The United States on the other hand appears to be a willful misunderstanding of the nature of the relative status between immigrant and native resulting in a slanderous approach like that of the contemporary Greil Marcus.
Conquest Of A Continent has been placed on the Jewish Index Of Anti-Semitic Books. Based on that I expected a detailed derogatory examination of the Jews from their entry into America perhaps being the conquerors referred to. The President of the American Jewish Committee sent a letter to every Jewish publisher in the United States demanding that they refrain from either reviewing the book or noticing it at all. Dynamic silence was to prevail.
After reading Conquest I can only conclude that the AJC was hyper sensitive to a degree. Since his 1916 Passing Of The Great Race Mr. Grant had learned that ‘You Don’t Mess With Rohan’ to quote Adam Sandler. Grant all but ignores the Jews in his volume. No, his offense, according to the AJC was even more egregious, he uses the world Nordic and dares to imply that they are ‘the Great Race’ rather than the AJC’s own Semites.
The other volumes mentioned and, indeed, all writing in this genre which is pretty extensive, defers to the Jews as ‘the Great Race’ probably genetically superior to all others.
So Madison Grant is interested in telling the story of how the Nordic race conquered the continent. This approach can only be considered as a sin by non-Nordics. Grant then tells the story of how the US and Canada were occupied by peoples other than the native Indians.
He begins early referring to twelfth century attempts to settle by Scandinavians. In the 1100s the firece native Indians were able to exterminate the invaders and may well have been able to exterminate the Puritan settlers but for the fact that a small pox epidemic shortly before the Puritan arrival had reduced the native population by as much as half while weakening them concomitantly. Such is the luck of the draw.
Grant thus traces immingration back to its origins colony by colony and then State by State as the Nordics moved Westward.
David Fischer in his excellent Albion’s Seed retraces the same ground fifty years after Grant with much addional detail concerning the places of origin and their activities once in the US.
Grant’s approach is in some ways superior to that of Fischer since as an unabashed Nordic advocate he is interested in detailing the exact racial content of the occupation of the various states and provinces. If you aren’t aware of the progress of settlement and by whom there are numerous surprises. My own notions were certainly vaguer before I read Grant.
I was surprised at the seeming numerical superiority of Southern migrants in the Westward movement. It seems that Whites did not like to live in the South where they were compelled to compete with slave labor while being despised by both the plantation owners and their slaves. Thus there was a constant stream of the best and brightest of the South moving into the North and West. As Grant notes, Virginia was the mother of States.
Then too some of Grant’s population statistics are of interest also. At the 1790 census before the invention of the cotton gin in 1793 there were less than a million Africans in the United States. Seventy years later as the Civil War began the number had increased to four and a half million. Thus natural increase was out of the question. It follows then that between 1800 and 1860 more Africans were brought to the US than there were before 1800. As a result the slave trade fluorished more than ever.
Prior to 1800 Alabama and Mississippi had no settlers so that in 1860 these two States were still rough frontier States still in a state of organization.
There is much good background here as to how the US came under settlement. The continent was accupied in its entirely when the truly major immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe began to accelerate in the 1870s and 1880s changing the basic Nordic institutions of the country. The change in Grant’s eyes was much for the worse.
Carl Wittke’s We Who Built America published in 1939 was undoubtedly in response to Grant’s Conquest Of A Continet. Wittke, was published by Case Western Reserve University. Grant explains the meaning of The Western Reserve which has always puzzled me. The Western Reserve was three million acres set aside as a concession to the State of Connecticut for giving up other territorial rights.
Wittke made a great impression with his his volume, his opinions being taken as overriding fact. I remember my sixth grade teacher in Michigan lauding the book to the skies. I finally read it a couple years ago. Not so much.
As is usual with books and writers of this type Wittke overstates his case and underproves his facts. A contribution to the dialogue at best.
Grant’s book should prove useful to any unbiased reader. If his attitude of Nordic superiority offends you, ignore it. His history as history is sound. For those of you reared on Myer’s History of Bigory attitude you will probably be surprised to find that there is another point of view. Bigotry is not a matter solely of American destestation of immigrants as the program of Diversity and Multi-Culturalism indicates, bigotry is a red herring and not the issue. The issue is who will be Top Race. The contestants for the Top Spot have turned out to be the Africans, Semites (both Jews and Arab Moslems) Hispanics, Chinese and Euro-Americans. (Grant’s Nordics) As you can see race has replaced nationalism.
The contest is real and ongoing. Peace is merely another form of war. The prize will go to who wants it the most. If you don’t see the contest in these terms I suggest you remove your rose colored glasses.