Only The Strong Survive

Part II

An Examination Of Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid

As Created By Edgar Rice Burroughs

(Alternate Title:  The Oakdale Affair)


R.E. Prindle


Part II

Into The Mysteries

(Some capitalization appears in the text that has no significance.  For some reason it just showed up.  I didn’t do it) 

Young Burroughs With His Camera Eye

Burroughs does a good job in the Holmesian sense in this book enclosing mysteries within mysteries. The central mystery is who is committing the crime wave in Oakdale. Having learned from his mentor, Conan Doyle, Burroughs skillfully withholds details to enhance the suspense then disclosing them to reveal the mysteries. The organization of the scheme of crimes gradually unfolds to show that the real Oskaloosa Kid is one of the perpetrators. So we have a clever doubling of a sweet girl posing as the vicious criminal The Oskaloosa Kid. This is obviously a transfer of his Anima identity from the male De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid to the resumption of a female identity for his Anima through the fake Oskaloosa Kid/Gail Prim.

The girl who was seen with the criminals could have been Gail since she had disappeared without a trace never having arrived at her destination. Gail was not the girl seen with Reginald Paynter, who was robbed and murdered, and the crooks. That person was Hettie Penning who was ejected from the car speeding past the abandoned Squibbs place by the real Oskaloosa Kid. Thus symbolically De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid returns his Anima to Bridge/Burroughs.

As indicated Hettie Pening represents the dead early Anima of Burroughs who has here been resurrected. As in all cases of Burroughs representation of his failed Anima she appears to be a ‘bad’ girl but in reality is merely misunderstood. He compensates for himself.

Bridge himself is a mystery man and double. He is a hobo but with great manners and an excellent education. He is definitely a member of the Might Have Seen Better Days Club. The real club was organized by Burroughs when he served as an enlisted man in the Army in 1896.

In this case Bridge is in actuality the son of a wealthy Virginia aristocrat who has left home because he prefers a life on the road. In the framing story of a Princess of Mars Burroughs portrays himself in his own name as a Virginian. In reality Burroughs was declassed at eight or nine by John the Bully and by his father’s subsequent shuffling of him from school to school finally sending him to a bad boy school that Burroughs describes as little more than a reformatory for rich kids.

If one looks at his career he was on the move quite a bit. During his marriage he seldom lived in one house for more than a year or two then moved on.

Just as Bridge will assume his proper identity at the end of the novel so through his writing Burroughs has abandoned the shame of his hard scrabble years from 1905-13. In a sense he is assuming his proper identity with this novel.

Bridge and the Kid joining together at the fork in the road, one is reminded of Yogi Berra’s quip: When you come to a fork in the road, take it, in this case the less traveled dirt road.

I read word for word frequently dwelling on the scenes created. Burroughs is a very visual writer. Standing at the fork in a driving Midwest summer lightning, thunder and deluge storm they can hear the pursuing hoboes shouting down the road. Ahead of them is a dark unknown and a house haunted by the victims of a sextuple murder.

Indeed, Burroughs describes almost a descent into hell, or at least, the hell of the subconscious.

Over a low hill they followed the muddy road and down into a dark and gloom ravine. In a little open space to the right of the road a flash of lightning, followed one imagines by either the crash of deep loud rumbling of the thunder of perhaps if over head the sonic boom of the air splitting and closing, revealed the outline of a building a hundred yards (that’s three hundred feet, a very large front yard) from the rickety and decaying fence which bordered the Squibb farm and separated it from the road.

There are those who say Burroughs doesn’t write well but in a short paragraph he has economically drawn a verbal picture which is quite astonishing in its detail. The house is a hundred yards from the road. In the rain and muck that might be a walk or two or three minutes or more.

A clump of trees surrounded the house, their shade adding to the utter blackness of the night.

That’s what one calls inspissating gloom. One might well ask how any shade can add to utter blackness but one gets the idea. There is some intense writing thoroughly reminiscent of Poe but nothing like him.

The two had reached the verandah when Bridge, turning, saw a brilliant light glaring through the night above the crest of the hill they had just topped in their descent into the ravine, or, to be more explicit, the small valley, where stood the crumbling house of the Squibbs. The purr of a rapidly moving motor car rose above the rain, the light rose, fell, swerved to the right and left.

“Someone must be in a hurry.” commented Bridge.

There isn’t any better writing than that. Another writer can say it differently but he can’t say it better. Just imagine the movie Frankenstein or Wolf Man when you’re reading it. Burroughs did as well in less than the time it takes to show it.

A body is thrown from the speeding car a shot following after it. Bridge goes to pick up the body.

Thus the mystery and horror and terror of the dark and stormy night has been building. Bridge carrying the body which may or may not be alive asks the Kid to open the door.

Behind him came Bridge as the youth entered the dark interior. A half dozen steps he took when his foot struck against a soft yielding mass. Stumbling he tried to regain his equilibrium only to drop fully upon the thing beneath him. One open palm extended to ease his fall, it fell upon the uplifted features of a cold and clammy face.

Yipes! What more do you need? Cold and dripping, half crazed from fear, overwhelmed by the thought he might be a murderer the Kid’s hand falls on cold and clammy dead flesh. Bridge is standing there with maybe another dead person in his arms. The Kid is also aware that the murderous hoboes are hot on his trail.

If that doesn’t get you then somehow I think you can’t be got.

Not yet finished Burroughs builds up the tension. Striking a match from the specially lined water proof pocket of Bridge’s coat they find a dead man wearing golden earrings. Obviously a gypsy but while staring in unsimulated horror they hear from the base of the stairs of a dark dank cellar the clank of a slowly drawn chain as a heavy weight makes the stairs creak.

This is too much for the nerves of the Kid. Burroughs brilliantly contrasts the terror of the unknown in the basement with the fear of the dark at the top of the stairs. You know where that’s at, I’m sure, I sure do. In a flash the Kid chooses the unknown at the top of the stairs to the horror in the cellar.

What do you want?

The hoboes are still slipping and sliding down the descent into the ravine of the subconscious. Horror in front, terror behind. There is absolutely no place to hide. Nightmare City, don’t you think? How could anyone do it better? What do you mean he can’t write? Put the scenes in a movie and everyone in the theatre would be covering their eyes. Itd\ would be that Beast With Five Fingers all over again. Maybe worse. Never saw that one? Check it out. Peter Lorre. Terrifying. Of course I was a kid.

The clanking of the chain recreates an incident in Burroughs’ own life when he had a job collecting for an ice company. He called on a house and while he was waiting he heard the clanking of a chain coming slowly up the driveway. Waiting with a fair amount of trepidation he saw a huge dog dragging the chain appear. ERB backing slowly away forgot about the delinquent bill.

In this case the chain is attached to Beppo the dancing bear but Bridge and the Kid won’t know that until the next day.

They retreat into an upstairs bedroom. Here what Burroughs describes in capital letters as THE THING and IT pursues them. I remember two movies one called The Thing and the other It.

Just when the thing retreats the murderous gang of hoboes enters the house. Wow! Out of the frying pan and into the fire in this night of terrors as the lightning continues to flash and the thunder crash.

Discovering the dead man and as the bear begins moving again four of the hoboes flee while two who were on the staircase being trapped in the house flee into the same bedroom as Bridge, the Kid and the girl, Hettie. Shortly thereafter a woman’s scream pierces the lightning and the thunder then silences as the storm settles into a steady drizzle.

The rest of the night is one tense affair between the murderous hoboes and the Bridge and the girls. Not a moment to catch your breath.

In the morning when they go downstairs the mystery increases when they find the dead man gone and nothing in the cellar. If they’d had Tarzan along he would have not only been able to smell the bear but to tell whether if was black or brown.

After a brief confrontation Dopey Charlie and the General are driven off. Bridge’s relationship with the Kid is then deepened. Even though all the Kid’s reactions are repulsive to the manhood of Bridge he feels his attraction to the seeming boy growing stronger.

Not since he had followed the open road with Byrne, had Bridge met one with whom he might care to “pal” before.

This brings up an interesting hint of latent homosexuality. My fellow writer, David Adams has objected that in my analysis of Emasculation as applied to ERB is that he should have been a homosexual but wasn’t.

There are degrees of emasculation and there are various degrees of psychotic reaction to it. I don’t say and I don’t believe that ERB was a homosexual but there was a degree of ambiguity introduced into his personality by his emasculation. I have touched on this in my ‘Emasculation, Hermaphroditism and Excretion.’

Here we have another example of it as Bridge is experiencing some homoerotic emotion which is very confusing to him as he has never wanted a ‘pal’ before. In hobo lingo I believe a ‘pal’ has a homosexual connotation.

If Burroughs took his ‘inside’ information on hoboes from Jack London’s The Road then Bridge is the sort of hobo London describes as the ‘profesh’, the hobo highest in the hierarchy of hobodom. London always thought of himself as a quick learner, so one doesn’t have to award his statement too much credibility but Burroughs apparently took him at face value.

As London describes the ‘profesh’ he has been on the road so long he knows all the ropes. Unlike the unkempt bums he realizes the importance of a good front and always dresses neatly. But he is hardened and capable of committing any crime.

While Bridge is obviously intended to be a ‘profesh’ he is neither criminal nor does he dress to put up a good front.

Another category of hobo London lists is the ‘road kid.’ These are young people just starting on the life of the road. The ‘profesh’ would often take one of more of these road kids under his wing as his fag, as the British would say, or in Americanese, a ‘pal.’ In other words a homosexual relationship. Thus this displays ERB’s sexual ambiguity which David couldn’t locate in my psychological analysis of ERB’s emasculation. In this case the ambiguity will be resolved and explained when we learn that the Kid is the beautiful young woman, Abigail Prim, and both Bridge and Burroughs heave a sigh of relief.

Nevertheless ERB is discussing homosexuality in an open and natural way that couldn’t be missed by the knowing and which may be unique for its time. But then, remember that one of ERB’s hats in this story is that of the Alienist, so that in these pages we are deep into the psychological abstractions and Doyle’s mystery stories as influences.

Now comes the time for breakfast. Someone has to ‘rustle’ grub. We have already learned in ‘Out There Somewhere’ that Bridge doesn’t rustle food, he rustles rhyme. Nothing has changed. The Kid goes out to get breakfast and when she comes back with the goods, true to form Bridge bursts forth with several snatches from H.H. Knibbs which surprisingly the demure Miss Prim recognizes. What has she been reading?

How might this apply to Burroughs’ own life. Let’s look at it. Burroughs was enamored of How to books but in his heart he must have considered them a fraud. Willie Case will soon pick up his copy of How To Be A Detective which he finds completely inapplicable to his circumstances. He also has the good sense to throw the book away reverting to his native intelligence which may be a subtle comment on How To books by Burroughs.

ERB always considered himself of the executive class. After his humiliating experience trying to sell door to door he never attempted it again. Instead as a master salesman he preferred to write how to sales manuals for others to use as they went door to door selling his line of pencil sharpeners or whatever while he sat in the office waiting for orders. Hence in his own life he was the ‘rustler of poetry’ or manuals while others rustled grub in the door to door humiliation of the actual selling. Here the Kid will do the door to door gig. ERB always makes me smile.

In this case in what may be a joke the Kid just buys the goods from the homeowner reversing the roles.

There are those who insist Burroughs can’t write but I find his stuff wonderfully condensed getting more mileage out of each word than anyone else I’ve ever read. Just see how he describes breakfast.

Shortly after, the water coming to a boil, Bridge lowered three eggs into it, glanced at his watch (an affluent hobo) greased one of the new cleaned stove lids with a piece of bacon rind and laid out as many strips of bacon as the lid would accommodate. Instantly the room was filled with the delicious odor of frying bacon.

“M-m-m-m!” gloated the Oskaloosa Kid. “I wish I had bo- asked for more. My! But I never smelled anything so good in all my life. Are you going to boil only three eggs? I could eat a dozen”

“The can’ll only hold three at a time,” explained Bridge. “we’ll have some boiling while we are eating these.” He borrowed the knife from the girl, who was slicing and buttering bread with it, and turned the bacon swiftly and deftly with the point, then he glanced at his watch. “Three minutes are up.” He announced and, with a couple small flat sticks saved for the purpose from the kindling wood, withdrew the eggs one at a time from the can.

“But we have no cups!” exclaimed the Oskaloosa Kid, in sudden despair.

Bridge laughed. “Knock an end off your egg and the shell will answer in place of a cup. Got a knife?”

The Kid didn’t. Bridge eyed him quizzically. “You must have done most of your burgling near home,” he commented.

The description of the breakfast between the time Bridge looked at his watch and when the three minutes were up was delightfully done. I could smell the bacon myself while I especially like the detail of swiftly and deftly turning the bacon with the knife point. The knife seemed to have disappeared between the bacon and knocking the end off the egg.

Nice details aren’t they? You’d almost think Burroughs had actually done things like this for years. There’s enough blank spots in his life that he may have had more experiences of this sort than we know about. Take for instance the three days in Michigan between the writing of Out There Somewhere and Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid. He says it took him twelve hours by train on four different lines to return to Coldwater from Alma. It is not impossible that he was hoboing back for the experience. He knew that he was going to write Bridge And The Kid next; might he not have been picking up local color?

Likewise in Bridge And The Kid he mentions the road from Berdoo to Barstow with seeming familiarity. Had he met Knibbs and the two embarked on a few days road trip as the expert Knibbs showed him some of the ropes?

I don’t know but there is something happening in his life which has not been explained.

Perhaps also the hoboism which appears in 1915-17 in his work when by all rights his success should have permitted him entry into more exalted social circles symbolized a rejection by so-called polite society. If so, why? Certainly the serialization of Tarzan Of The Apes in the Chicago paper must have raised eyebrows when people said something like: Is that the same Edgar Rice Burroughs who’s been tramping around town for the last several years?

After all people live in a town where a reputation is attached to them whether earned or not. In reviewing the jobs Burroughs had after he left Sears, Roebuck there is a certain unsavory character to them. Indeed, one employer, a patent medicine purveyor was shut down by the authorities while ERB then formed a partnership with this disgraced person. Where was Burroughs when the authorities showed up to shut the business down? I make no moral judgments. I’m of the Pretty Boy Floyd school of morality: Some will rob you with a six gun, some use a fountain pen. Emasculation is the name of the game.

It is certainly true that many, perhaps most, of the patent medicines of the time were based on alcohol and drugs therefore either addictive or harmful to the health. Samuel Hopkins Adams was commissioned by Norman Hapgood of Collier’s magazine to write a series of articles exposing the patent medicine business in 1906. . A consequence of the articles may very well have been the shutting down of Dr. Stace. I think it remarkable that Burroughs didn’t distance himself from Stace at that time.

Even as Adams was presenting his research on patent medicines Upton Sinclair was exposing the hazards of the Chicago meat packing industry whose products were no less hazardous to the public health than patent medicines. Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, as well as perhaps Adams’ articles resulted in the Pure Food And Drug Act of 1906.

The products of meatpackers were so bad the British wouldn’t even feed them to their Tommies. That’s pretty bad.

So, if the Staces of the world were criminal and ought to be put out of business then by logic so should have the Armours and Swifts but what in our day would be multi-billion dollar industries don’t get shut down for the minor offence of damaging the health of millions.

One can’t be sure of Burroughs’ reasoning but his writing indicates that he was keenly aware of the hypocrisy of legalities. Perhaps for that reason he stuck by Dr. Stace.

However Stace was put out of business and the Armours and Swifts weren’t. While I applaud ERB’s steadfastness I deplore his lack of judgment for surely his reputation was tarred with the same brush as Dr. Stace.

When society figures may have asked who this Edgar Rice Burroughs was they were given, perhaps, a rundown on Dr. Stace and patent medicines as well as other employments that seem a little murky to us at present. I’m sure the ERB was seen as socially unacceptable. Thus Bridge who has lived among the hoboes has never partaken of their crimes so there is no reason for society to reject him especially as he is the son of a millionaire.

In any event ERB left Chicago for the Coast returning in 1917 then leaving for good at the beginning of 1919. Life ain’t easy. Ask me.

As Bridge, the Kid and the putative Abigail Prim were finishing breakfast the great detective Burton pulls up in front of the Squibbs place. Burton is obviously a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Allan Pinkerton. We have been advised of the Holmes connection in the opening paragraphs of this book. ERB describes Burton thusly:


Burton made no reply. He was not a man to jump to conclusions. His success was largely due to the fact that he assumed nothing; but merely ran down each clew quickly yet painstakingly until he had a foundation of fact upon which to operate. His theory was that the simplest way is always the best way. And so he never befogged the main issue with any elaborate system of deductive reasoning based on guesswork. Burton never guessed. He assumed that it was his business to know; nor was he on any case long before he did know. He was employed now to find Abigail Prim. Each of the several crimes committed the previous night might or might not prove a clew to her whereabouts; but each must be run down in the process of elimination before Burton could feel safe in abandoning it.

That’s a pretty good understanding of Doyle’s presentation of Holmes. ERB did learn Holmes’ dictum that it was necessary to read all the literature on the subject to understand the mentality of one’s subjects. Burton did demonstrate some acumen in his arrest of Dopey Charlie and the General. He deployed an agent fifty yards below and fifty yards above to converge on the two criminals while he approached from the front. Either Burroughs had been doing some reading of his own or he picked up some experience or information from elsewhere.

Another keen point was when Burton went back to where the hoboes had been hiding to dig up the evidence they had concealed that would lead to their conviction for the Baggs murder.

It’s little details like these that always make me wonder where Burroughs picked up this stuff. He does it all so naturally but one can’t write what one doesn’t know. He must have been a curious man, good memory.

So Burroughs has a a pretty good understanding of the methods of Sherlock Holmes. It must be remembered that ERB was reading these stories as they first appeared not as we do as part of literature. Holmes, O.Henry, Jack London, E.W. Hornung, these were all fresh new and extremely stimulating with a great many references and inferences which are undoubtedly lost on us. Even in Bridge And The Kid ERB’s reference to the Kid’s bringing home the bacon is a direct reference to a quip the mother of the ex-heavyweight champion of the world Jack Johnson made just after he won the championship from Jim Jeffries: He said he’d bring home the bacon and he’s done it. I don’t doubt if many caught it then but I’m sure the phrase has become such a commonplace today that only a very few catch the reference and share the laugh.

Doyle’s stories such as A Study In Scarlet dealing with the Mormons and The Valley Of Fear dealing with the Molly Maguires would have had much more thrilling immediacy for ERB than they do for us. Also Burroughs has caught the essence of Holmes which was not so much the stories as the method of Holmes.

I have read the canon four times and while I could not reconstruct any of the stories without difficulty, if at all, maxims like- When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable must be the truth. – have lodged in my mind since I was fourteen guiding my intellect to much advantage. So also the dictum to read all the literature. Not easy or even possible, but the more one has read the or read again the more things just fall in place without any real effort. You have to be able to remember, remembrance being the basis of all mind, of course. Holmes has been like a god to me.

If you wish to learn a source of Burroughs’ stories then all you have to do is apply the above methods; it will all become clear.

Burton moves the story forward as his appearance causes Bridge who isn’t sure what the status of the Kid and the putative Gail Prim is, elects to avoid the great detective even though they are friends.

The trio slip out the back into the woods following a track leading to ‘Anywhere’. Burroughs in a masterful telling catches the feel of a Spring day on a recently wetted trail littered with the leaves of yesteryear. Ou sont les neiges d’antan?

They come upon a clearing where a gypsy woman is burying a body. By this time Bridge has solved the mysteries of the previous evening.

The girls make noises upon hearing the clank of a chain in a hovel causing the gypsy woman to look around. Rather than spotting the trio she spots Willie Case hiding in the bushes who she drags out.

The gypsy woman, Giova, is as good a character as Bridge, the Kid, Burton and the hoboes, but my favorite of the story is Willie Case, the fourteen year old detective. While to my mind ERB presents Willie as a thoroughly admirable character, he nevertheless vents a suppressed mean streak not only on Willie but on the whole Case family.

ERB doesn’t let his mean streak show very often, it lurks in the background, but he lets it loose in this book. He must have been under personal stress.

He describes Willie as having no forehead and no chin, imbecilic traits, literally beginning with the eyebrows and ending with the lips. A freak of nature, a real grotesque. That means that Willie was a real ‘low brow’ as Emma accused ERB of being, even a no brow. Is it a coincidence that Emma called ERB a low brow or that the literati thought ERB wrote ‘low brow’ literature?

In point of fact Willie strikes me as an intelligent boy. He analyzes the situation always being in the right place at the right moment. Burton himself pays him a high but sneering compliment then cheats him out of the promised reward of a hundred dollars but in the manner McClurg’s published his books Burroughs was cheated out of a large part of his reward.

I don’t say that’s the case but if so it fits the facts.

In any event ERB treats the Case family meanly; they might almost be prototypes of Ma and Pa Kettle of the Egg and I or the meanly portrayed characters of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road. Jeb Case behaves very reprehensively at the lynching although once again he merely reported the facts that the Kid gave Willie. The Kid did tell Willie that he had burgled a house and killed a man. So, perhaps ERB created some characters that he could kick around as he felt himself being kicked.

And then we have the gypsy woman, Giova. She and her father are not only pariahs in general society as gypsies but because of her father they even have been cast out by the gypsies. Her father was a thief from both general and gypsy society. The former may have been laudable in gypsy terms but the latter wasn’t. They make, or made their living by thieving and cadging coins with Beppo, their dancing bear. Beppo of the evil eye.

Burroughs presents Giova as being sexually attractive with lips that were made for kissing, in echo of the refrain from Out There Somewhere. Here we may have a first inference that Emma was in trouble; the kind of trouble that would have ERB leaving her for another woman a decade or so hence. There are numerous rumblings indicating the trend not least of which was ERB’s fascination with Samuel Hopkin Adams’ novel, Flaming Youth of a few years hence and the subsequent movie starring Colleen Moore.

Bridge is now on the run with three women and a bear and he hasn’t done anything wrong to get into such hot water. One woman his emergent Anima, one, his rejected Anima, and the last a longing for a woman whose lips were made for kissing. Wow! This is all taking place in a ravine that opens into a small valley too.

All this has been accomplished in a compact one hundred pages. One third of the book is left for the denouement that Burroughs scamps as he usually does.

Giova decks them all out as gypsies which must have been an amusing sight to the Paysonites as this troop of madcaps complete with dancing bear in tow troop inconspicuously through town. Surprised they didn’t call out the national guard just for that.

As the story draws to a close ERB contributes a wonderful vignette of low brow Willie dining out at a ‘high brow’ restaurant called the Elite in Payson. The idea of Willie being conspicuous in a burg like Payson which we big city people would refer to as a hick town good only for laughs is amusing in itself. You know, it all depends on one’s perspective:

Willie Case had been taken to Payson to testify before the coroner’s jury investigating the death of Giova’s father, and with the dollar which the Osklaloosa Kid had given him in the morning burning in his pocket had proceeded to indulge in an orgy of dissipation the moment that he had been freed from the inquest. Ice cream, red pop, peanuts, candy, and soda water may have diminished his appetite but not his pride, and self-satisfaction as he sat down and by night for the first time in a public eatery place Willie was now a man of the world, a bon vivant, as he ordered ham and eggs from the pretty waitress of The Elite Restaurant on Broadway; but at heart he was not happy for never before had he realized what a great proportion of his anatomy was made up of hands and feet. As he glanced fearfully at the former, silhouetted against the white of the table cloth, he flushed scarlet, assured as he was that the waitress who had just turned away toward the kitchen with his order was convulsed with laughter and that every other eye in the establishment was glued upon him. To assume an air of nonchalance and thereby impress and disarm his critics Willie reached for a toothpick in the little glass holder near the center of the table and upset the sugar bowl. Immediately Willie snatched back the offending hand and glared ferociously at the ceiling. He could feel the roots of his hair being consumed in the heat of his skin. A quick side glance that required all his will power to consummate showed him that no one appeared to have noticed his faux pas and Willie was again slowly returning to normal when the proprietor of the restaurant came up from behind and asked him to remove his hat.

Never had Willie Case spent so frightful a half hour as that within the brilliant interior of the Elite Restaurant. Twenty-three minutes of this eternity was consumed in waiting for his order to be served and seven minutes in disposing of the meal and paying his check. Willie’s method of eating was in itself a sermon on efficiency- there was no waste motion- no waste of time. He placed his mouth within two inches of his plate after cutting his ham and eggs into pieces of a size that would permit each mouthful to enter without wedging; then he mixed his mashed potatoes in with the result and working his knife and fork alternatively with bewildering rapidity shot a continuous stream of food into his gaping maw.

In addition to the meat and potatoes there was one vegetable side dish on the empty plate, seized a spoon in lieu or a knife and fork and – presto! The side dish was empty. Where upon the prune dish was set in the empty side-dish- four deft motions and there were no prunes in the dish. The entire feat had been accomplished in 6:34 ½ , setting a new world’s record for red headed farm boys with one splay foot.

In the remaining twenty-five and one half seconds Willie walked what seemed to him a mile from his seat to the cashier’s desk and at the last instant bumped into a waitress with a trayful of dishes. Clutched tightly in Willie’s hand was thirty-five cents and his check with a like amount written upon it. Amid the crash of crockery which followed the collision Willie slammed check and money upon the cashier’s desk and fled. Nor did he pause until in the reassuring seclusion of a dark side street. There Willie sank upon the curb alternately cold with fear and hot with shame, weak and panting, and into his heart entered the iron of class hatred, searing it to the core.

The above passage has many charms. First, it is an excellent piece of nostalgia now, although at the time it represented the actuality, thus, as a period piece it is an accurate picture of the times. And then it is excellent comedy as well as a a parody as I will attempt to show.

One has to wonder if ERB really thought the Elite was a pretty fine restaurant. If so, one wonders where he took Emma and kids for a night out. Not too many gourmet Chicago restaurants served breakfast for dinner. Ham and eggs with mashed potatoes? Reminds me of the Galt House Hotel in Louisville where a ‘starch’ is served as a side dish. What exactly was this side-dish Willie wolfed- stewed tomatoes? The dessert prunes- dessert prunes?- was a nice touch too. Dessert for breakfast? Another nice quality touch at the Elite was the cup of toothpicks. Of course, those were the days cuspidors were de riguer so what do I know, maybe the Palmer House had a cup of toothpicks on the table too. I know they had cuspidors.

It does seem clear that little Willie was far down the social scale of little rural Payson. They had electric street lights, though. I’m not even from New York City but I would find the Elite, how shall I say, quaint and charming? Of course, New York City is not what it used to be either. Can’t fool me in either case; I’ve dined out in Hannibal. Good prices. Bountiful. Plenty of side dishes something that I’d never seen before.

I’m sure I’ve been in Willie’s shoes, or would have been if he’d chosen to wear them, too, so I have a great deal of sympathy for the lad. A man with a dollar has the right to spend where and as he chooses. Damn social hypocrisy!

In addition to the charm and light comedy ERB interjects a little parody of Taylorism and mass production into the mix.

For those not familiar with Frederick W. Taylor and his methods I quote from :

 Taylor wrote “The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911. These principles became known as Taylorism. Some of the principles of Taylorism include (Management for Productivity, John R. Schermerhorn, Jr. (1991)):

Develop a ‘science’ for every job, including rules of motion, standardized work implements, and proper working conditions.

Carefully select workers with the right abilities for the job.

Carefully train these workers to do the job, and give them proper incentives to cooperate with the job science.

Support these workers by planning their work and by smoothing the way as they go about their jobs.

Taylorism which led to maximum efficiency also give the lie to the unconscious of Sigmund Freud, or at least puts it into perspective. If the twentieth century has been the history of the devil of Freud’s unconscious it has also been the century of the triumph of the god of conscious intelligence. The question only remains which will triumph.

One of the recurring themes in ERB’s writing of the period is efficiency. Indeed, a couple years hence he will write a book entitled The Efficiency Expert.

It was the age of efficient mass production which required standardized motions and produced terrific results where applied as at Henry Ford’s marvelously efficient factories. Ford brought the task to the worker in well lighted clean factory spaces at a level which required no time consuming, fatiguing and unnecessary lifting or bending. Plus Henry Ford blew the industrial world away by doubling the going wage for unskilled labor. He changed the course of economic history singlehanded. He achieved more than the Communists or IWW could have accomplished in a million years earning their undying enmity. He may in one fell swoop have defeated the Reds. They sure thought so.

But, go back and review how Willie organizes his repast for consumption. Taylor-like he eliminated all non-essential motions then with maximum assembly line speed-up he gets production into one continuous stream.

A comic effect to be sure but there is even more comedy in the parody of the assembly line and Taylorism. I’m sure ERB intended it just that way.

Willie may be a joke but there is a certain flavor to be obtained by filling a continuum of food, mouth and time. Such an opportunity for enjoyment may present itself once in ten years or so. Willie saw his opportunity and seized it which he does throughout the story. Willie is OK with me.

I have eaten that way but I now reserve the method for ice cream and highly recommend it. My last opportunity, they present themselves but rarely and can’t be forced, was several years ago when I was insultingly offered a half melted Cherries Jubilee. The dish was of a perfect consistency for assembly line consumption. I saw my chance and like Willie, I took it. I kind of distributed cherries and ice cream chunks in the creamy stew, got mouth in the right position and cleaned the bowl in sixty seconds flat, reared back gripping the bridge of my nose, honked a couple times as the freeze seized my brain and then took a few minutes for consciousness to return. One of the great natural highs in this drug infested time. I tell ya‘, fellas, they was all lookin’ at me but I am much beyond the iron of class hatred. If they can’t take a joke…well, you know the finish. So I think Willie Case did the right thing.

Clumsy waitress to get in his way anyway. Fourteen hours on the job was no excuse.

Willie didn’t feel guilt for too long though, for what ERB calls a faux pas, it put him in the right place at the right time to see Giova and her dancing bear fresh from Beppo’s own slops. How could ERB be so cruel to a dumb animal- the bear, not Willie-, one that was going to save the heroine’s life- both the bear and Willie.

After having had dinner and refreshments Willie still had 20 cents left from a dollar of which he spent 10 cents for a detective movie and had ten cents left over for a long distance phone call to Burton in Oakdale after he spotted Giova and her dancing bear when he came out of the movie theatre.

He followed Giova to Bridge and the girls, fixed their location then called Burton. Not only did Willie spot the fugitives but so did the four leftover bums. Dopey Charlie and the General were impounded for the Baggs murder while we will learn that the real Oskaloosa Kid and the putative Gail Prim remain as well perhaps as the true identity of L. Bridge.

Burroughs is full of interesting details. The hoboes are gathered in an abandoned electrical generating plant which had formerly served Payson but had been discontinued for a larger plant servicing Payson from a hundred miles away. We don’t know when that might have happened but electrical generation and distribution was relatively new. The consolidation into larger generating units was even newer. Samuel Insull, whose electrical empire collapsed about1938 had begun organizing distribution in 1912 when he formed the Mid-West Utilities in Chicago absorbing all the smaller companies such as this one in Payson obviously.

I find details like this the exiting part of reading Burroughs.

The murderous hoboes set out to rob and kill Bridge and the Kid while Sky Pilot and Dirty Eddie elect themselves to return the putative Gail Prim who we will learn is actually Hettie Penning, thus doubling ERB’s Anima figure and connecting the latter to the former.

One is put in mind of the Hettie of H.G. Wells’ novel In The Days Of The Comet. Both Hetties exhibit the same traits. While it may seem a slender connection, still, ERB has so many references to other authors and their works that the connection is not improbable. For obvious reasons ERB always insisted he had never read H.G. Wells. Wells? Wells, who?, but how could he not have?

Bridge and the girls would have met their end except that Willie Case’s call brought Burton on the run who arrives in time to save their lives. Unfortunately Beppo of the evil eye meets his end after having done Burton’s job for him much as Willie always did.

In between the girls, the ‘boes, Bridge and the coppers Burton has a full load so he drops Bridge and Kid at the Payson jail. Willie Case had not only solved the case for the ingrate Burton but saved the life of Gail Prim posing as the Oskaloosa Kid. In a heart wrenching scene little Willie seeking his just reward is cruelly rejected and cheated by the Great Detective. I don’t know, maybe I read too closely and get too involved. Or, just maybe, ERB is a great writer.

It’s all over but the shouting and along comes the mob howling from Oakdale for the blood of Bridge and the Kid. I tell ya, boys, it wuz close. Burton arrived in time but not before Bridge with a well aimed blow broke Jeb Case’s jaw. What did those Cases ever do to ERB I wonder?

In the end Hettie Penning is identified, clearing up that mystery. Burton is able to tell Bridge’s dad who has spent $20,000 looking for him that he is found. It may even have cost less for Stanley to find Livingston. Of course there was a lousy rail system in the Congo in Livingston’s time. Bridge is united with Gail obviously prepared to renounce the roving life. Thus the promise of Out There Somewhere is redeemed. Bridge has found his woman.

Thus on paper, at least, Burroughs is reunited with his Animus in gorgeous female attire. No more men in women’s clothes or women in men’s clothes.



Bridge And The Kid is a very short book, only 152 pages in my Charter paperback edition of 1979 (Septimius Favonius BB #24. Charter didn’t see fit to include a date.) Although first issued in book form so late as 1937, it was reprinted in 1938 and 1940 so there must have been some early readers however when reprinted in 1974 there could have been few who remembered it.

My fellow writer, David Adams wrote a short review in the same issue #24 of the Burroughs Bulletin, October 1995, in which he also recognized the importance of this book to the corpus:

It may come as a surprise that anyone could possibly think of calling the novelette, THE OAKDALE AFFAIR, a major work of such a prolific writer as Edgar Rice Burroughs, but I found it to be such an animal…

I am unaware that any other than Mr. Adams and myself have reviewed the book. To sum up:

There seems to be an obvious connection to Jack London in the Bridge Trilogy (I prefer Bridge to Mucker because the latter draws reproving stares and no one today knows what a mucker is. It sounds slightly obscene.)

Mr. Adams, who is more of an authority on Jack London than myself, I’ve only begun to read London as a result of Bill Hillman’s series of articles in ERBzine, which posits a strong connection between Burroughs and London, and not the other way around, feels the novels have a great deal to do with London. The connection seems to be there but I have only begun to read London’s relevant or major works.

What ERB’s attitude towards London may have been which seems ambiguous isn’t clear. Burroughs never wrote about London and never mentions him explicitly. There are many points of disagreement between the two politically and socially. Burroughs does seem to have liked London and his work although what he read or when he read it isn’t clear. There are no London titles in his library.

The second major influence in the novel is the problem of hoboism connected with the IWW and labor unrest.

In the background Burroughs is working out his Anima/Animus problem.

The whole is framed in the form of a rather magnificent detective story patterned after Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories with a dash, perhaps a soupcon, of E.W. Hornung thrown in.

Attention should be paid to the psychological aspects.

Many of ERB’s favorite themes such as the efficiency expert are also thrown in. Nifty historical details like Samuel Insull’s electrical empire are added to the mix as well as Taylorism.

If anything ERB was too efficient, too economical in his use of words. The Book could easily have been fleshed out another sixty or hundred pages with no loss in the marvelous immediacy of the telling. If anything the story is too condensed. I found myself pausing over each description to recreate a mental image of the depiction. I was willing to do so and the personal reward was great. How much ERB was the creator of my vision of the story and how much my own as collaborator isn’t clear to me. Perhaps ERB just outlined the story ‘suggesting’ the scenario, expecting the reader to ‘customize’ the story as he reads along. This may be the first ‘inter-active’ novel. If so, Burroughs may be an even more innovative and greater writer than he is commonly thought to be.

A Review

The Mysteries Of The Court Of London


George W.M. Reynolds

Review by R.E. Prindle: First published in ERBzine

Collecting is a peculiar form of insanity.

I had it in boyhood,

Stamps, coins and postmarks.

E.R. Burroughs- Creator Of Tarzan Speaks

LA Times, Jan. 7, 1923

     Stamps, coins and postmarks.  Looks like the bug had a pretty firm grip on Our Man In Tarzana.  As one of the afflicted I have to agree with ERB.  Collecting is a form of insanity.  I think it even possible to depict collecting as a disease on the same order as alcoholism, kleptomania or obesity.  Definitely a personality disorder.  It’s about time we had medical recognition and federal finanicial assistance.  Our problem wouldn’t get any better but we’d have more money to indulge it.  Why send all that money overseas when it could be better spent at home?

     I don’t know if I have ever been ashamed of the affliction but I have certainly been embarrassed by it.  ERB is being slightly disingenuous when he modestly says he had it in boyhood.  How did he cure himself?  Endless hours of analysis or did he take the twelve point program of Collector’s Anonymous.  Perhaps there’s a pill of which I’m unaware.  You know what I’m talking about don’t you?  I know how he felt.  I conquered my mania too.  There are all kinds of things I no longer collect.  But…my library does keep growing.  I might as well confess it all;  I’ve got that under control too.  I no longer just buy books to be buying books; I only buy books for functional purposes now.  Of course my mind has a very broad definition of functional.  My most recent purchase was George W.M. Reynolds’  Mysteries Of  The Court Of London.  What a buy!  One title but it comes in ten volumes.  Another two feet of nonexistent shelf space eaten up.  Did I like the book?  Oh yeah!  What an unexpected bonus.

     The title was found in Burroughs’ library so I wasn’t too surprised that I like it.  I’ve found that Burroughs has impeccable literary taste.  I’m pretty broad on literary too.  Of course that it is in the library is why I obtained the set myself.  I really like the picture of  Burroughs- the man who conquered the collecting mania- sitting at his desk in front of a massive array of compeletely filled bookshelves.  One more won’t hurt as the alcoholic said.  Yeah, sure, ERB used to suffer from that peculiar form of insanity.  He tries to dignify his book collecting by saying he no longer reads fiction.  He only read fiction as a kid.  Cured himself of fiction at the same time as collecting, I suppose.  Ah, the ‘sins’ of our youth.

     Does he really think buying non-fiction rather than fiction means he’s not collecting?  Listen to ERB in his own words trying to justify and dignify his book collecting.  LA Times 1/7/23:

And then there are magazines such as the Geographic, Asia and Popular Mechanics.  These three constitute an encyclopedia of liberal education for adult or child that arouses a desire for more knowledge and fosters the habit of reading.

     ‘Arouses a desire for more…’  I get it.  Yes, ERB does collect but there’s a good reason for it as well as the real reason.  He’s improving his mind.  I know where that excuse is at and it beats drinking.  You can bet the old boy was lugging several hundreds of pounds of magazines as he moved fifty times in fifty years or thereabouts.  Geographics are heavy in more ways than one.

     You see he was getting a liberal education.  He was reading high tone stuff (haut ton in French) like the National Geographic (spoken of familiarly as the Geographic), Asia, (nice touch, shows breadth of interest), and Popular Mechanics (proletarian touch).  The trio of magazines pretty well reflects the contents of his own novels.  Well, what about fiction?

     I am fond of fiction, too, although I don’t read a great deal of it.

     No.  However…

     And I have my favorites.  Mary Roberts Rhinehart and Booth Tarkington are two of them.  When I read one of Mrs. Rhinehart’s stories I always wish I had been sufficiently gifted to have written it, and then when I read somethingof Tarkington’s I feel the same way about that.  I have read “The Virginian” five or six times [this is within twenty years] and “The Prince And The Pauper” (N.B.) and “Little Lord Fauntleroy”  as many.

     Gee.  That’s all literary fiction; how about the guys he really liked: Baum, London, Haggard, Doyle, Sue and Reynolds for instance.  Too close to pulp, not enough dignity to mention in a Times article.   The amount of fiction he read from 1920 to 1924 was fairly impressive.

     My studies have compelled me to read a lot of fiction in the attempt to understand ERB and let me say this, the man had unerring taste in exciting fiction.  The Mysteries Of The Court Of London is one heart pounding book.  No one would ever confuse it with the National Geographic, Asia or Popular Mechanics though.

     Reynolds could ramble on too.  The work is composed of two series of five volumes, each series twenty-five hundred pages long.  the internal evidence in Burroughs’ work is that he read it before 1910.  There are at least three clear references to the First Series:  the house on the Thames that Norman and De Vac lived in was based on the mid-wife’s house in Reynolds.  The segment of the Mysteries concerning the Monster Man contributed a great deal to ERB’s Monster Men, while the abduction of the baby by the Monster Man lent itself to Baby Jack’s abduction in The Beasts Of Tarzan.  Burroughs’ vision of London, which he never saw, is probably drawn from Reynolds although various other British authurs such as Doyle would  also have been influences.

      The series of novels would have been only fifty years old when Buroughs read it, so he was fairly close to the times if seven thousand miles or so from location.

     I couldn’t find a Reynolds Society on the internet although the books are not that easy to find nor all that cheap.  I bought the only complete set offered, otherwise it would have been impossible to assemble a complete set from the partial list offered.  Reynolds must therefore be in demand by the cognoscenti.

     George Reynolds was born in 1914, two years after Dickens, being 32-35 years old when he wrote this huge wook.  To write such an extended novel requires a capacious and inventive mind.  The novel comprises hundreds of characters and thousands of incidents each individual in its depiction.  That Reynolds should have had the experience and the ability to organize it as the novel indicates at such a young age is nothing short of amazing.

     Politically Reynolds was a Red.  He was affiliated with a political organization known as Chartism.  As the novel was written in magazine installments to coincide with the Revolution of 1848 the appearance is that Reynolds’ intent was to irritate the people into open rebellion.  If so, he failed.  He was opposed to the monarchy and called for its abolition.  The work is a diatribe against George III and George IV.  Reynolds’ hatred of the pair actually disfigures the novel.  He compares George III to Caligula and Nero but fails to show in what way the monarch resembled either Roman.  As Reynolds was born in 1814 while George IV died in 1830 and the events covered are in 1798 and 1814 he couldn’t have been a witness of the times.

     In his lifetime Reynolds was more popular than Dickens.  Perhaps the topicality of this novel precluded the success Dicken has subsequently enjoyed.  The comparison would  be that between Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan.  While the novel was reprinted in limited editions to at least 1912 there is currently no full reprint available.

     I find the novel compelling; to use the old cliche, the novel is a page turner volume after volume, thousand pages after thousand pages.  The work is masterfully planned, events in the first dozen pages are worked out fifteen hundred pages or more later.   Indeed the central mystery is concluded at the end of the work five thousand pages on.  The detail and variety never tire.  the mystery and detective elements  preshadow Doyle and the entire twentieth century.  Police personnel turn over on a regular basis, everything is always fresh and sparkling.  Scenes and characters are vividly drawn.

     Altough Burroughs drew the line at modern sex novels,  Mysteries is a sex novel par excellence.  The entire novel is drawn against the sexual escapades of the characters.  If you like mildly smutty novels this one is for you.  The influence of the novel on Burroughs may be most pronounced in this respect.  Reynolds goes into detailed studie of male-female relations.  Each volume of the first series is subtitled after a heroine.  Thus the action depends on the harassment of worthy females by, well, lecherous unprinicpled men.  The worst of the lot and the character who holds the novel together is Prince George the future Regent and King.

     Reynolds’ men stop at nothing when they come across a desirable female; abduction, threats, force, in a word, rape is their stock in trade.  They are aided by procuresses who run establishments, in the most respectable shipping districts that double as brothels.

     While Reynolds is not as graphic in his sex scenes as writers are today his descriptions of capacious bosoms is tantalizing enough.  His ladies must have had strange diets because he speaks of ‘glowing orbs.’  Quite tactile in his way.  Frazetta would have had a field day illustrating Mysteries.  Reynolds’ descriptions reminded me of nothing so much as Frazetta’s women.  Frazetta’s own voluptuous but virtuous portrayals were based on Burroughs descriptions so I would have to think Burroughs’ imagination was fired by this endless procession  of stunningly voluptuous beauties.

     Then too, the frequent abductions and threatsof ‘fates worse than death’ by the villains in Burroughs’ work exhale the aroma of Mysteries.

     Reyonld’s use of darkness and labyrinthine passages, locked doors and whatnot seem to be reflected in Burroughs’ work.  One most appealing trait of Reynolds that ERB must have enjoyed was the former’s use of slang and thieves cant.  Burroughs also delights in underwold slang and various dialects.

     This immense work can be considered a very early roman a fleuve not unlike some of Dumas’ work, that Burroughs also read,  or even as a prototype of Marcel Proust’s.  I believe Burroughs saw it that way.  Seen that way Burroughs created four roman a fleuves influenced by Reynolds’ Mysteries.  Tarzan, the Mars series, Pellucidar and the Venus series.

     The Russian Quartet of Tarzan may be based directly on Mysteries from the nautical scenes to London and Paris.  Indeed, the Quartet may be considered a separate roman a fleuve within the Tarzan oeuvre.  His portrayals of London and Paris show Reynolds’ influence.

     Just as Reynolds’ volumes in this novel portray a series of adventures cut off after about five hindred pages then resumed in the next volume, Tarzan’s adventures beginning with the Jewels Of Opar display the same characteristic.  After the Russian Quartet Tarzan is just one long novel or roman a fleuve.

     The Venus series is just a long story broken up into five volumes.  It could just as easily be bound in one volume with consecutive pagination and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

     The John Carter on Mars series exhibits the same traits although less clearly.  Pellucidar in nearer in concept to the Venus series.  So all the series show an endless series of barely connected adventures held together by a common cast of characters with the stories going nowhere.  They just end.  Princess of Mars is the most obvious case.  Mars just runs out of air like a flat tire which might mean that Burroughs just didn’t have an ending or that he had temporarily run out of ideas and had to recharge.

     While Burroughs is charged with using coincidence to excess, once again he may have just been emulating Reynolds.  The latter is shameless in his use of coincidence.  At one point while visiting a dangerous villain in a lawless area Reynolds’ detective, Larry Sampson, needs a disguise.  A disguise store is very conveniently located just across the street.  The owner is in cahoots with Sampson even though doubling as a criminal.  He provides Sampson with a disguise and the story continues.  Is it any wonder that two or three shipwrecks occur on the same stretch of coast on which Tarzan’s parents landed?  Burroughs learned the use of improbable coincidence from a master.

     So in addition to borrowing specific incidents from Reynolds Burroughs also borrowed the basic plan.  Combining Mysteries Of The Court Of London and Eugene Sue’s Mysteries Of Paris one gets down to the bedrock of Burroughs’ influences.  but the man’s ability to absorb influences and incorporate them into his work from the beginning indicates that the man was a real book worm reading a lot of fiction.  As we know he was also an athlete the man must never have had an idle moment.

Part II follows.


Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Anima And Animus


R. E. Prindle And Dr. Anton Polarion and Dugald Warbaby

Bad Blood In  The Valley Of The Hidden Women:

Thoughts On Riders Of The Purple Sage And The Rainbow Trail


Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Corpus 1911-1940

Grey, Zane:  The Riders Of The Purple Sage 1912

Grey, Zane:  The Rainbow Trail, 1915

Grey, Zane:  The Mysterious Rider, 1921

Prindle, R.E. Freudian Psychology Updated To Modern Physics, ERBzine 2004.

Prindle, R.E. Something Of Value Books I, II, III.  Erbzine 2005

Zane Grey


     Anton and I had never read Zane Grey before reviewing the library of Edgar Rice Burroughs as published on ERBzine by Mr. Hillman.  Nor probably would we have but for the Bill Hillman series of articles comparing Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Anton and I dismissed any such connection as being relevant but then Prindle read The Rainbow Trail and said we should check it out.  Prindle is a close friend of ours; a little on the independent side but alright.

     Grey refers to The Rainbow Trail as a continuation of The Riders Of The Purple Sage so Anton, he’s a psychologist became intrigued by the manner in which Grey treated aspects of the Anima and Animus.  We both then read Riders in which we discovered a full blown theory of the Anima and Animus.

     It should be noted here that Grey had passages excised by his editors that they thought dealt too explicitly with the sexual aspects of the Anima and Animus while reducing the commerical viability of the story.  The unexpurgated version of the story was published under the title The Desert Crucible in 2003. I have the Leisure Historical Fiction edition in mass market paperback.

     Grey’s ideas were presented in a very pure manner with complete and intact symbolism so there could be no mistaking that Grey was presenting a well thought out theory.  Anton became very excited as he said Grey’s theory certainly rivaled the ideas of Freud and Jung and must have been developed independently of their thought much as Burrughs’ ideas of psychology were.

     Although Riders Of The Purple Sage wasn’t among the books listed by Hillman as being in the Library we have to assume that Burroughs read it along with a number of other Grey titles although he must have found Rainbow Trail and The Mysterious Rider the tales of Grey he found most significant for his needs.  We will assume that this is so. To understand The Rainbow Trail originally titled The Desert Crucible which was in ERB’s library it is necessary to also review Riders Of The Purple Sage.


     Grey in this book examines the nature of the Animus and the Anima  of the male as well as the relationship between the living male and female.  The micro study of the Anima and Animus is placed in the macro study of Mormon society and law of 1871 versus Gentile society and law.  This is also a study of the nature of religion.

     The Gentiles- I follow Grey’s thought here- Mormons refer to themselves as the Chosen People and ‘others’ as Gentiles- are all of a stricken Anima which paralyzes their Animus while the Mormons have a strong Animus but disturbed by a stricken relation with the Anima which they completely repress not unlike the Jews and Moslems.

     Thus Mormons have a strong affinity with the Semitic religious systems from which they derive their religion in part.  Anton, the psychologist, avers that the problem of the Animus and Anima has been known for at least five or six thousand years. Anton is close to Prindle who is a historian, so much of the historical part comes to Anton through him although Anton is well versed in the history of human consciousness.


Edward Borein: Six Riders Of The Purple Sage

 Historically the struggle of the male to come to terms with the X chromosome and the y chromosome or Animus is central to history  and psychology.  During the Matriarchal Age, which is to say a sub- or unconscious age, the X chromosome or Anima ruled the mind of man.  As consciousness evolved and the conscious mind emerged from the subconscious the nature of  the y chromosome or Animus became apparent.  The Patriarchal Consciousness evolved.

     To reconcile or not to reconcile?

     The Egyptians developed their own theories but here we are not concerned with HS II and IIIs and the Semites.  Suffice it to say that the Semites borrowed from the Egyptians while adding very little of their own.  If one reads the story of Psyche and Eros in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass one will have a good general introduction to the HS II and III point of view as expressed in Grey’s Gentile characters such as Lassiter and Venters.  As said the Mormons reflect the Semitic view on women.

     The Semites on the other hand, exaggerted the importance of the Animus in favor of suppressing or subordinating the Anima which has been passed on to the HS IIs and IIIs through the adoption of aspects of the Semitic religions.  In a Hungarian myth of the Christian Era the Anima is portrayed as being entombed in the support of a bridge.  Thus imprisoned on one side of the river or brain it is denied its rightful function.

     The Semitic attitude is reflected in the way the two peoples treat their living females who stand as a symbol and only a symbol of the X chromosome of the male.  In both existing Semitic relgions, the Judaic and the Mohammedan, the females are treated as property no different than cattle.  Some of these attitudes have been temporarily weakened through contact with the HS II and IIIs.  They haven’t gone away or changed.

     The Semitic attitude infiltrated the HS II and III consciousness through their religion which was amalgameted into the HS-Semitic hybrid called Christianity.

     Then in 1930 in the Unied States a man named Joseph Smith created a religion called Mormonism based on the extreme Patriarchal notions of the Semites.  As Grey puts it the religion was based on the notion of ruling women.  Smith devised rules by which women were completely subordinated to the Animus much as in the Hungarian myth while the men were required to take multiples wives.  Smith himself racked up 30 plus.

     According to Grey the women were not happy with the arrangement but in the thrall of religious belief they thought it their god assigned role.

     As polygamy is not part of HS II and III culture Smith and the Mormons came into conflict with constituted society in Smith’s home base of Fayette, New York being driven out.  They encountered the same opposition in their new homes which led finally to Nauvoo, Illinois.  Smith, who apparently overplayed his hand was murdered in 1844.  In 1847 Brigham Young led the new Chosen People from Nauvoo to the Promised Land on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.  By 1871 when Riders takes place they must have multiplied exponentially because they occupy all of Utah and parts of adjacent states.  This prologue of the diptych is placed before the passage of the 1882 law of the United States outlawing polygamy.  The denouement of the novel will take place as the US attempts to stamp out the practice.

     The action of Riders-Trail takes place on the border of Utah and Arizona and parts of adjacent states with the Grand Canyon of the Colorado as a backdrop.


Edward Borein: Riders On The Mesa

   As with the other Semitic religions the Mormon Bishops and Elders with untempered Animi have made their will the law.  Thus, according to Grey, the Churchmen have become criminals willing to commit any crime to achieve their personal desires which they equate with the will of God.

     As Riders opens a Mormon woman, Jane Withersteen, against all the rules of Mormon society is living as an independent woman in Cottonwoods on the Utah-Arizona border, Gentile Law on one side, Mormon law on the other.  She does this in defiance of Bishop Dyer (die-er?) who has ordered her to marry and end her independent status.  She has her own duchy among the Mormons owning her own town, the water, aparently several counties, a magnificent bunch of horses (emblematic of the Anima) and six thousand head of cattle divided into two herds, the red and the white.  (emblematic of the male and female.)

     Her independence is a standing affront to the Mormon Elders and Bishops.  Having been ordered to marry Elder Tull as one of his many wives she has no wish to submit to the Bishop’s will.  Read- Will of God.

     These men are not to be balked.  The woman Withersteen has no actual rights under Semitic law.  As these men have a crazed Animus untempered by the acknowledgement of the female principle or Anima which they deny they have lost all sense of justice, or rather, they equate justice with their desires which they believe are supported by divine law.  They are going to use every concealed criminal means to break Jane Witherspoon down.  As their will is law they can’t see the difference between subjective criminal methods and objective legal ones.

     Jane is already having trouble hiring Mormon riders, riders are the same as cowboys in Grey’s lexicon, to manage her herds so she has resorted to hiring Gentiles.

     The Mormons must be seen as a species of Semite and in the Semitic manner they punish Gentiles, or unbelievers as the Moslems would put it, destroying any attempts at their prosperity.  If you read the first few lines of the Koran you will find it plainly stated that unbelievers must be punished.  Hence all the Gentiles are kept uneducated and impoverished.  Jane’s ramrod, is a young Gentile named Bern Venters.  Venters at one time had been a prosperous cattle rancher but the Mormons had emasculated him by lifting his cattle.  Venters was rescued by Jane from complete impoverishment by offering him a job.

     The Elders hate her for this.  They have warned Jane to get rid of him and her other Gentile employees but as a sort of Great Mother figure, an active female principle opposed to their male principle, she has refused.  She is sort of a Matriarchal throwback among these Patriarchs.  As the story opens Elder Tull has dragged Venters out of Jane’s house where Tull gives Venters the choice of hightailing it out of the Territory, Utah being a territory from 1850 to 1895 when it became a State, or being whipped to an inch of  his life.  Now, Tull means this, they are going to whip Venters nearly to death for being a Gentile in Mormonland.

     Having already been emasculated by the lifting of his cattle which, in reality, he couldn’t prevent, Venters now chooses to take the whipping rather than emasculate himself further by hightailing it.  Difficult choice.

Rainbow Bridge

     Tull is about to have him stripped when the Hammer Of The Mormons, Lassiter, appears out of the purple sage riding a blind horse- you heard right- a blind horse.  This guy is Bad Blood personified.  Boy, they’ve heard about him but how.  Black hat, black leather chaps, two massive black handled pistols worn very low, apparently at his ankles, his reputation as a Mormon Killer is well established.  Tull gets the cold shivers just looking at him on his blind horse.  The blind horse probably indicates that at this point Lassiter is oblivious to female charms, the horse being a symbol of the female and he’s riding a blind pony.

     Lassiter makes a few mild mannered inquiries then orders the Mormons to let Venters go.  We’re talking Animus to Animus here, cojones to cojones, whoever backs down is emasculated in relation to the other, and Lassiter’s twin pistols make him the master Animus.  The Mormons have to eat dirt or die.  The Mormons powerful as a collective cannot be so man to man.  Tull gives a hint of throwing an iron on Lassiter but the latter goes into his famous gunslinger’s crouch so he grab one of those guns around his ankles, intimidating the dickens out of the Mormons who retire leaving this field to him while muttering threats that he’d better watch his back.

     As we said, all the Gentiles are stricken in there relationship  between their Animas and Animi.  Between Riders and Rainbow they will be healed.

     Grey handles the symbolism starkly and masterfully.  Jane Withersteen is a masterful Matriarch.  Her independence and relationship to the Gentile men has left the impression that she is sexually loose.  It isn’t clear to the reader whether she is nor not.  She is more the Great Mother rather than the Siren.

     Her role seems to be the womanly one of tempering the raging Animus of the male.  While she has no effect whatsoever on the Mormon men she is successful in emasculating the stricken Gentiles.  She had persuaded Venters to abandon his six gun which made it possible for Elder Tull to seize him while it was only Lassiter’s two black handled six pistols that freed him.

     In a rather sexually explicit scene Jane would stand in front of Lassiter to seize a gun in each hand in an attempt to dissuade him from carrying them thus emasculating him.  This at a time when Mormons were trying to gun him down.  Her role seems to be one of civilizing society although her method seems backward.

     Lassiter is a wronged individual seeking his personal justice in a vengeful way.  He has shot up several Mormon towns being now known as a Mormon slayer or, in other words, the equivalent of an anti-Semite.

     The reason for his anti-Semitism is that a Mormon kidnapped his sister, Millie Erne, holding her captive until she consented to become one of his wives.  Hint, hint. Her remains are buried on Jane Withersteen’s property.


Edward Borein: Lassiter on his blind horse?

    Lassiter’s horse was blinded when men held it down then placed a white hot iron alongside the eyes searing them.  The horse as a female mother symbol represents Lassiter’s striken relationship with his Anima.

     If one reads this novel in a literal sense then many of its incidents are improbable if not ridiculous.  What notorious gunslinger would ride a blind horse?  Grey has been criticized for wooden characters which is womewhat unjust.  These are archetypal characters who are fully developed and can’t change.  As allegories there is no need to change.  This is mythology.

     The Mormons lift Jane’s red herd.  This may represent her female Animus as in iconography the male is usually represented as red while the female is white.  They next try to stampede her white herd by devious means which they believe are undetectable such as flashing a white sheet from a distance.  As a Chosen People they even have to convince themselves that what happens was not caused by them but was the will of God.

      Lassiter notes this taking Jane with him to show her.  As they watch the cattle begin to stampede.  Three thousand on the hoof they stream down the valley.  Lassiter on his blind horse races full speed down the slope, obviously no blind horse could do this, out on the flat to single handedly mill the cows.  As the lead cows enter the center of spiral Lassiter disappears in the dust.  He emerges sans horse to appear before Jane:  ‘My horse got kilt.’ he announces.  Jane’s response is ‘Lassiter, will you be my rider?’  Pretty clear sexually I think.  Not exactly changing horses in midstream but obviusly the transition from a blind horse to a sighted jane is an improvement in Lassiter’s relationship with his Anima.  ‘You bet I will Jane.’  Lassiter promptly and positively responds.

     Whether you want to consider this stuff  ‘high literature’ or not read properly it is not much different from the Iliad or Odyssey.

     As a mother figure Jane is a keeper of  horses, a symbol of the mother and female.  The blinding of Lassiter’s horse was the equivalent of separating him from the mother figure.  Jane not only has a full stable of  horses but she has the prized horses Night, Black Star and Wrangler.  As Grey makes clear these are the devil’s own mounts.  In the big chase scene Grey has Wrangler close to breathing flames as he compares the horse to the devil.

     The Mormons steal Jane blind while she refuses to allow Lassiter to defend either himself or her.  Seems to be the Great American Dilemma even today.

      Remember this is a war between Gentiles and Semites qua Mormons.  The Gentiles hands are stayed while the Semites are allowed to run wild.  Maybe Grey is making a social comment.  Also remember that Jane is a Mormon so that while she is powerless to control her own aging maniac men the only men she can influence are the Gentiles whom she emasculates.  As soon as the emasculated Venters gets away from her while pursuing the rustlers he immediately begins to revert to full manhood.

     The Mormons set both Mormon men and women to steal from her.  They take her bags of gold, this woman is prodigal, rich, her deeds and anything of value.  They steal her six thousand cows.  They want to kill Lassiter, dozens of Mormons lurk in the cottonwood groves (female places) but something stays their hands; they can’t shoot him either from behind or in front.

     The only thing Jane worries about is her horses.  Black Star and Night.  It is possible that in this instance Jane represents the moon goddess.  Finally the Mormons steal these symbols of her power.  The independent woman is now completely violated.  She has a man who could shoot down all the Mormons in Utah but she won’t let him use his guns.

     So why should we care?


Edward Borein: The Three Caballeros

     The myth switches to an alternate plot.  Young Bern Venters goes in search of the rustler gang.  Once again, Jane attempts to emasculate her men by pleading with Venters not to go, to stay beside her.  Why anyone would want to hang around such a loser woman isn’t clear.

     Venters goes in search of the rustler gang which is led by a man named Oldring.  Old Ring.  I’m sure the name has significant meaning but I can’t place it.  The wind soughing through the caves is known as Old Ring’s Knell.  Even though Oldring’s gang consists of a couple dozen men who have punched a herd of three thousand red cows they have somehow left no trail. Over all the years they have been rustling and pillaging there is no one who has been able to find this robber’s roost.

     Venters has traced them to the foot of a waterfall where he loses track.  While he is mulling this over a group of desperadoes return from pillaging plodding up the stream.  Lo and behold they ride right through the waterfall into yet another hidden valley.  Big enough to hold three thousand head of cattle.  The West was a big country.

     Venters rides off to relate this discovery to Jane and Lassiter when he encounters a despearado with the famous Masked Rider, reputed to have shot down dozens of men.  He is dressed from head to toe in black wearing a black mask.  This Rider is credited with shooting down any Mormons Lassiter overlooked.

     Venters takes out his ‘long gun.’  You know how riders despise the long gun or rifle preferring six shooters, and by dint of long practice he shoots the lead rustler dead and wounds the Masked Rider.  While examining the Masked One’s wound he unbuttons the shirt to discover the ‘beautiful swell of a female breast.’  Boy, howdy.  You got it, the Masked Rider is a woman, a mannish girl.  The image of Venter’s Anima.

      Stranded in the desert while trying to nurse this girl back to health Venters chases a rabbit up a slope where he notices ancient steps cut in the rock.  Following these he comes into ‘Surprise Valley.’  Formerly the home of cliff dwellers the place is a vitual paradise, green and verdant.  No one would ever discover him and the Rider there.  Carrying the slight figure of the Rider up hill and down for maybe ten miles or so Venters secretes themselves in the Valley which abounds in game and delightsome frolics.

     About this time I recognized some teen fantasies of my own.  Shooting and wounding a woman while having to tend her wounds in a secluded place where she has to be eternally grateful when healed was just too obvious.  In my case, just after the onset of puberty, I think, when the Anima would be making itself known, I came up with the daydream of having this woman I could keep in a milk bottle until I wanted her.  When I let her out of the bottle she became full sized and did whatever I wanted then she willingly went back into the bottle until the next time I wanted her.

     As a thirteen year old before the advent of universal pornography I didn’t know what I wanted the woman for but I knew it would be fun.  Grey here creates his version of the same fantasy.  The Rider, who turns out to be Bess, apparently has a past.  I say apparently because nearly everyone in this story has an apparent history which turns out to be false.  As a member of the gang she  was thought to have been, um…the piece…of Oldring.  He kept her in a cabin up on a ledge in his valley behind the waterfall.  He was gone a lot so we’re not clear that he ever laid a hand on her but Venters believes she is not ‘pure’ which in his great love for her he is willing to over look but it rankles him.

     If you want to know the wonders of Surprise Valley read the book yourself.  Comes a time when Venters has to go into Cottonwoods for supplies.  There he realizes that he and Bess can’t stay hidden away forever.  He has enough money for supplies obviously but not enough to flee from Mormonland.

     They don’t call it Surprise Valley for nothing.  When he returns Bess hauls out a big bag of gold to give to him.  This must be the treasure that the female brings the male.  The whole several mile length of the river which runs through this valley is lined with pebbles of gold which Bess has collected.  Shades of Opar, huh?  In her girlish gratitude she wants Bern to have the lot.

     ‘Gosh,’ says Bern.  ‘Now I don’t have to get a job.’  (He didn’t put it quite that way.)  ‘We can leave this valley and go far away from Mormonland.’

Edward Borein: Four Navajos Crossing The Desert

     Far away from Mormonland, by the way, is either Quincy or Beaumont (beautiful mountain) Illinois.  Not too far from Nauvoo which was the Mormon stronghold jumping off place for the long march to the Great Salt Lake into the fantastic scenery Grey either describes or imagines.  Certinly the West of Grey’s imagination is as fantastic as anything Burroughs created on Barsoom.

      Even though Grey refers to the desert this is certainly the lushest desert  anyone has ever seen.  The purple sage is the equal to Burroughs red moss of Mars.

     Grey wrote an essay about what the desert meant to him.  His desert with its plentiful water complements his vision of the Anima and Animus.  The desert may answer to Grey’s subconscious which appears to be missing in his analysis of Anima and Animus, so that perhaps the desert stand for the subconscious.

     His desert reminds me of a dream I used to have with some frequency.  In my dream I was walking across this immense barren desert spotted at invervals with small oases in which I wasn’t allowed to remain.  Off in the distance I could see this great brain shaped mountain.  On approaching the mountain I found a small stream of water leading down into the mountain.  As I descended I noticed that the stream ran through a bed of solid salt which rendered the water bitter.

     Descending further the water disappeared beneath a steel chute.  Unable to turn back while unwilling to go further I was nevertheless pushed into the chute where dropping into a steel lined entry I was pushed into a steel walled laundry room as the steel door slammed behind me.  There was plenty of water but no way out.  There was a ventilation shaft along the ceiling of the back wall.  I conceived a plan of drinking to repletion then urinating into the ventilation shaft creating such a smell that they would want to find the source.

     My plan worked.  Three maintenance men opened the door and I dashed out so fast they didn’t know I had been there.  Still in a steel lined area I saw a bank of elevators which would take me back to ground level.  A door opened but the elevator was filled with classmates from my high school who pushed me back refusing to allow me to enter.

     I don’t know how but I gat back to the surface where once again I approached the back side of the mountain which I ascended this time rather than descended.  Now, the mountain was deep in a frozen snow but starting from the low grade at the back I had no trouble climbing, walking on top of the snow.  The sun was shining brightly but all was frozen white.  When I reached the top I found I was standing above the brow of the face of a great idol carved in the snow.  Thousands of feet below terified and intimidated people were kneeling in the desert worshipping the great snow face.  From where I stood I couldn’t see the face but I conceived the notion of destroying the snow god to free the people.  Leaping into the air I came down on the god’s forehead creating an avalanche.  The great face slid away as I descended thousands of feet on a cushion of snow to alight unharmed.

     As I hoped, the destruction of the god freed the minds of the people from the domination of their morose god.  The melting snow created numerous streams watering the desert among which the people danced and sang as the desert bloomed, while I looked on admiringly.

     I don’t know enough about Grey’s background to say how unhappy his childhood had been but since his plot of Riders/Rainbow roughly follows my dream I suspect what the desert meant to him was the barrenness of his early life.  The appeal of the novels to Burroughs must have been of the same order.

     When Venters leaves the Valley Grey begins to lose control of his story.  The clarity and focus of the first half becomes jumbled.  He finally just crams the ending through as Burroughs so frequently does.


Edward Borein: The Apaloosa

 Venters, riding Wrangler, crosses trails with the men who stole Night and Black Star from Jane.  A sort of running  joke throughout the novel is whether Wrangler is faster than the two blacks.  Wrangler proves his mettle in this chase overtaking the two even though they were ridden by the best rider on the range, Jerry Card.  Card is sort of a puzzle, at least for me.  His horsemanship was so great that racing at full tilt leading one horse he could keep both horses side by side at full pace; in addition he could hop back and forth from horse to horse.  Whether Grey was making a joke or not, I can’t really tell, he describes Card’s appearance as froglike. Hop-frog of Poe?  Card is a little misshapen runty man.  Whatever Grey had in mind for him he forgot to develop.

     Card abandons the horses as the race ends disappearing into the purple sage.  Wrangler gets away from Venters to be captured by Card.  In a rather spectacular scene Card is trying to guide the horse by biting it on the nose.  He is actually being dragged with his teeth in Wrangler’s nose.  I’m no horseman but I’d really have to have the fine points of this maneuver explained to me.

     Unable to hit the small fragile Card with a rifle shot as rider and horse rode alongside an escarpment rather than let Card get away, Venters shot the horse who leaped off the edge in what Grey describes as a fitting end for the greatest horse and greatest rider of the purple sage.  I can’t follow his reasoning here but he must be trying to say something.

     Venters rides the remaining two horses down the main street of Cottonwoods with apparently no more reason than to enrage Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull and announce in stentorian tones that Jerry Card is dead.  Reminds me of the myth in which it is announced that the great God Pan is dead.

     Venters packs some saddlebags with provisions then, in what seems a comic touch, since Jane’s wonderful stable of horses is now empty, mounts a burro to return to Surprise Valley.  Riding one and leading a string of burros he looks behind him to see if he being followed by men on horses  I presume he would have hopped off the burro and started running.  The burro appears to represent severe emasculation.

     Another essential subplot has been the arrival of a small child still annoyingly gushing babytalk- muvver for mother and oo for you- by the name of Fay Larkin.  Fay is going to be the heroine of the sequel.  She was the daughter of a Gentile woman who died.  The woman asked Jane, who was ever kind to the despised Gentiles, to take the child which Jane did.  She now ‘cannot live without the child.’

     Having stolen everything else of the woman in the name of God, the Mormons now steal Fay.

     This is too much for Lassiter who coldly disregards Jane’s imploring to disregard this insult and injury too, even though a moment before she ‘couldn’t live without the child.’  While it seems that Mormon men emascualte their women, Mormon women in turn emasculate their men.  Maybe that’s what the story is about: the conflict between the sexes.  Lassiter disregards her, strapping on not only his big blacks but an extra brace that he hides beneath his coat.  The extra brace doesn’t figure into the story so it isn’t clear why two gun Lassiter became four gun Lassiter.

     Lassiter shoots the Mormons up pretty good killing Bishop Dyer.  Elder Tull is out of town at the moment.  Lassiter and Jane know they have to get a move on so, packing enough to stagger any ten horses , including bags of gold, they skedaddle riding Night and Black Star.

     Somewhere in here Grey must have become stymied in his story not having the progression to Rainbow Trail figured out.  Something like the odd ending of Burroughs’ Princess Of Mars.  Venters still thinks Bess was Oldring’s girl hence something only his great love for her can make him overlook.  Loading up their burros they leave Surprise Valley.  Out in the purple sage who should appear much as he had at the beginning of the story but Lassiter, this time with Jane.

     It now comes out that Venters thinks Oldring is Bess’ father.  Jane lets out the fact that he had then killed his future wife’s dad.  Bess is revolted at the thought, calling off the wedding.  Lassiter to the rescue.  He produces a locket with a picture of his sister Millie Erne and her husband Frank.  Lassiter explains that Millie was pregnant by Frank when Millie was kidnapped and that Frank Erne is her real father.  The obstacle that had appeared between Venters and Bess now disappears as he hadn’t killed her father, just the guy who reared her.  At the same time Bess is no longer the daughter of a low rustler but of a respectable man.

     But wait, there’s more.  Grey can produce as many twists as Edgar Rice Burroughs.  It was the literary fashion of the day.

     Not only is Bess the daughter of Millie Erne but the Mormon kidnapper of Millie had been no ther than Jane Withersteen’s father.  The ever-forgiving Lassiter, now Uncle Jim to Bess, mutters something like ‘Aw shucks, Jane, I don’t pay thet no nevermind.’  and sister Millie is forgotten.  nearly two decades of bad blood goes up in smoke with a shrug.

     Venters and Bess head off for the safety and security of civilization in Beaumont, Illinois, while Lassiter and Jane depart for the security of Surprise Valley.  Two problems remain for the next ten pages or so, Fay Larkin and Elder Tull.

     Just like Tarzan, Lassiter can apparently smell a white girl because there is no other way that he could have located her.  She was being held by some Mormons in a side canyon.  Setting Jane to one side, Lassiter enters the canyon from which after firing every cartridge in his four guns and belts- Grey didn’t actually make it clear that he was still wearing the extra set up under his coat but he didn’t say he took them off either- of’ four guns Lassiter kills all the varmints, emerging from the canyon with little Fay in his arms and ‘five holes in his carcase.’

     As they glory over little Fay, who was problem number one, problem nuber two, Elder Tull and his band of Mormon riders appear on the horizon.  Leaping on their burros, did I mention Jane and Uncle Jim swapped Night and Black Star with Venters and Bess for their burros?- the Hammer Of The Mormons and Jane jog off with the Mormons in hot pursuit on horses, but tired ones.

     One would think that even tired horses would have the advantage over burros but it is a very tight race.  You see why Grey’s stuff translated to the movies so well.  Getting all safe within Surprise Valley on the other side of balancing rock (did Grey borrow this detail from the She of Rider Haggard?)  Uncle Jim lacks the nerve to roll that stone because Jane has pretty completely emasculated him.  ‘Roll that stone’ Jane commands restoring  Lassiter’s will.  He does just as Elder Tull ad his Mormon band reach the cleft.  The stone falls eliminating Tull and his Mormons while sealing off Surprise Valley ‘forever’ with Uncle Jim, Jane and Little Fay Larkin inside.  Of course they are well provided because Venters has stocked the Valley with burros, fruit tree stock and plenty of grain seed.  At the same time he had eliminated coyotes and other beasts of prey so that jackrabbits, quail and other small food animals have mutiplied exponentially.  It’s going to be a long twelve years in the valley so the bunch has to be well provided.  Without his gun though Lassiter is going to have to catch those jackrabits with his hands.  During their long stay Lassiter and Jane apparently have no sexual relations as there were no additional children when the valley was reentered by the Mormons.  Jane must truly have been a mother figure.

     On this incomplete note Grey ends his novel.

Edward Borein: Grazing Cattle


     Indeed, from the Enlightenment to the present has ben a period of intense religion formation, especially the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

     Utopian and Scientific Socialism may both be considered forms of religion, especially the latter in its Semito-Marxist form. 

     Mormonism itself, which has no basis in science, orginated from the brain of Joseph Smith in 1830.  Madame B’s Theosophy, Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, Ron Hubbard’s Scientology and the Urantia religion all have a basis in science as do most religions formed after Darwin.  With the emergence of science none of the old religions were satisfactory.  Hence it should come as no surprise that writers like Grey and Burroughs were intensely concerned with the problem.

     As I have mentioned in Something Of Value no adequate myth for the scientific age developed, leaving men and women whose faith in the Semitic gods was undermined with a stricken religious consciousness such as in the case of John Shefford, the protagonist of Rainbow Trail, and probably both Grey and Burroughs.

     So the search for meaning was endemic in this period not being confined to Burroughs and Grey who were merely symptomatic.

     Another attitude that both authors share is a yearning for the wide open spaces of their youth that, while we may look back in envy, were rapidly disappearing before  their eyes.  Somehow this yearning was also connected to a feeling for the prehistoric past, perhaps as a Golden Age.

     Both men were charmed by the notionof cliffdwellers.  It would seem that Americans of the period were also absolutely charmed and enamored with the Anasazi of the American Southwest.  Burroughs was very nearly obsessed with cliffdwellers.  Novel after novel is replete with cliffdwellings whether in Pellucidar, various terrestrial locations or even on Mars.

     The inhabitants of the skyscrapers of Chicago were nicknamed cliffdwellers; a replica of Southwest cliffdwellings  was built for the Columbian Expo of 1893 that apparently made a great impression on 17-year 0ld ERB.  The premier literary club of Chicago was known as the Cliff Dwellers which was on the 8th floor and roof of Orchestra Hall.  I think Burroughs had a yearning to be a member of this club.

     Thus there were many cliffdweller influences on ERB’s life , whether he had ever seen the Anasazi dwellings before 1920 is doubtful, it would be interesting to know if Grey had before 1910.

     At any rate cliffdwellers had carved out homes in Surprise Valley in some distant prehistoric time.  Thus both Venters and Bess and Uncle Jim Lassiter and Jane were actual cliffdwellers utilizing the old dwellings.  Lassiter, Jane and Fay Larkin would be cliffdwellers for twelve years.  This must have had a very romantic appeal for Grey’s contemporary readers.

     During that period they dressed in skins living as close to a stone age existence as was possible.  So one may compare the Surprise Valley of Lassiter and Jane with the cliffdwellers of Burroughs’ Cave Girl.

     As all these themes were in the air of the period it is not necessary for either of these two authors to be influenced by each other to this point but it is probable that both were influenced by the stone age stories of Jack London and H.G. Wells among others.

     I doubt Burroughs was influenced during this period by Grey although he did have a copy of Rainbow Trail in his library, one of only two Grey titles.  We can’t be sure when he bought Trail.  Grey’s stories complement Burroughsian attitudes but only after this formative preriod around 1912.  ERB’s Western and Indian novels probably owe something to Grey but they were written after 1920.

     Riders Of The Purple Sage sets the scene for its denouement which is The Rainbow Trail.  Riders was a wonderful romantic vision of the West which answered the needs of the period when for the first time the percentage of Americans living in cities surpassed that of those living on farms.  Indeed, very like these authors, modern cliffdwellers had a heartsick longing for the Paradise they had lost.  For decades it would be a crazy dream of city dwellers to buy a farm and ‘get back to the land.’  The movie ‘Easy Rider’ was a good laugh in that respect.

     Both Burroughs’ and Grey’s novels addressed that need.

     Burroughs’ interest in Rainbow Trail would stem from religious aspects and the perfect union of the Anima and Animus when John Shefford and Fay Larkin unite. It might be noted that a fay is a fairie.  Cliffdwelling and the purity of Grey’s noble savages, the Navajos, would have been compelling for ERB.

    Before continuing on to The Rainbow Trail let us take a brief interlude to examine some aspects that would have interested ERB from the other Grey title in his library- The Mysterious Rider.



A Review

The Low Brow And The High Brow

An In Depth Study Of Edgar Rice Burroughs’

The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doortstep


R.E. Prindle

Part II

Background Of The Second Decade- Personal


     Erwin Porges’ ground breaking biography Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Invented Tarzan is the basic source for the course of ERB’s life.  John Taliaferro’s Tarzan Forever is heavily indebted to Porges adding little new.  Robert Fenton’s excellent The Big Swinger is a brilliant extrapolation of Burroughs’ life taken from the evidence of the Tarzan series.

     Porges, the first to pore though the unorganized Tarzana archives, is limited by the inadequacies of his method and his deference for his subject.  His is an ideal Burroughs rather than a flesh and blood one.  Matt Cohen’s Brother Men: The Correspondene Of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Herbert T. Weston has provided much fresh material concerning ERB’s character.

     Bearing in mind always that Weston’s evaluation of Burroughs in his August 1934 letter in reply to Charles Rosenberg, whoever he was, about ERB’s divorce is one man’s opinion nevertheless his statements can be corroborated by ERB’s behavior over this decade as well as throughout his life.  My intent is not to diminish ERB in any way.  Nothing can take away the fact that Burroughs created Tarezan, but like anyone else he was subjected to glacial pressures that distorted and metamorphosed his character.

     During the Second Decade as he experienced a realization of who he was, or who he had always thought he should be, or in other words as he evolved back from a pauper to a prince, he was subjected to excruciatingly difficult changes.

     A key to his character in this period is his relationship to his marriage.  It seems clear that he probably would never have married, stringing Emma along until she entered spinsterhood while never marrying her.  He seemingly married her to keep her away from Frank Martin.  As he later said of Tarzan, the ape man should never have married.

     Rosenberg in his letter to Weston (p.234, Brother Men) said that ‘…Ed says he has always wanted to get rid of Emma….’  The evidence seems to indicate this.  After ERB lost Emma’s confidence in Idaho, gambling away the couple’s only financial resources, his marriage must have become extremely abhorrent to him.  I’m sure that after the humiliations of Salt Lake City this marriage had ended for him in his mind.  That it was his own fault changes nothing.  He may simply have transferred his self-loathing to Emma.

     That Emma loved and stood by Burroughs is evident.  that he was unable to regain her confidence is clear from his writing.  The final Tarzan novels of the decade in one of which, Tarzan The Untamed, Burroughs burns Jane into a charred mess identifiable only by her jewelry show a developing breach.  Probably the jewelry was that which ERB hocked as the first decade of the century turned.  Now, this is a fairly violent reaction.

     ERB states that he walked out on Emma several times over the years.  In Fenton’s extrapolation of Burroughs’ life from his Tarzan novels this period was undoubtedly one of those times.  There seems to have been a reconciliation attempt between Tarzan and Jane between Tarzan The Untamed and Tarzan The Terrible.  Then between Tarzan And The Golden Lion and Tarzan And The Ant Men ERB’s attempt to regain Emma’s confidence seems to have failed as Jane chooses the clown Tarzan- Esteban Miranda-, one of my favorite characters- over the heroic Tarzan -ERB – in Tarzan And The Ant Men.

     This undoubtedly began ERB’s search for a Flapper wife which took form in the person of Florence Gilbert beginning in 1927.


     Weston says of ERB in his disappointment and rage over ERB’s divorce of Emma that ‘…the fact that Ed always has been unusual, erratic and perhaps queer, has been his great charm and attraction for me…’ (p.223, Brother Men)   There’s a remote possibility that ‘queer’ may mean homosexual but I suppose he means ‘odd’ or imcomprehensible in his actions.  The evidence for this aspect of ERB’s character is overwhelming while being well evidenced by his strange, spectacular and wonderful antics during the second decade.  When Weston says of him that ‘…there is no woman on earth that would have lived with him, and put up with him, except Emma…’ there is plenty of reason to accept Weston’s opinion.

     Part of ERB’s glacial overburden came from his father, George T. who died on February 13, 1913.  Burroughs always professed great love for his father, celebrating his birthday every year of his life, although one wonders why.

     Apparently George T. broadcast to the world that he thought ERB was ‘no good.’  His opinion could have been no secret to Burroughs.  Weston who says that he always maintained cordial relations with George T., still thought him a difficult man, always dropping  in to visit him on trips through Chicago said that George T. complained to him, ERB’s best friend, that his son was no good. While without disagreeing with George T. up to that point, Weston said that he thought there was plenty of good in ERB but that he just hadn’t shown it yet.  Kind of a back handed compliment, reminds me of Clarence Darrow’s defense of Big Bill Haywood:  Yeah, he did it, but who wouldn’t?’

     Such an opinion held by one’s father is sure to have a scarring effect on one’s character.  How exactly the effect of this scarring worked itself out during this decade isn’t clear to me.  Perhaps Burroughs’ mid year flight to California shortly after his father’s death was ERB’s attempt to escape his father’s influence.  Perhaps his 1916 flight was the same while his move to California in 1919 was the culmination of his distancing himself from his father.  That is mere conjecture at this point.

     Now, what appears erratic from outside follows an inner logic in the subject’s mind unifying his actions.  What’s important to the subject is not what obsevers think should be important.


     The scholars of the Burroughs Bulletin, ERBzine and ERBList have also added much with additional niggardly releases of material by Danton Burroughs at the Tarzana archives.  One of the more valuable additions to our knowledge has been Bill Hillman’s monumental compilation of the books in ERB’s library.

     Let’s take a look at the library.  It was important to ERB; a key to his identity.  Books do furnish a mind, as has been said, so in that light in examining his library we examine the furnishing  of his mind.  The shelves formed an important backdrop to his office with his desk squarely in front of the shelves.  ERB is seated proudly at the desk with his books behind him.

     How much of the library survived and how much was lost isn’t known at this time.  Hillman lists over a thousand titles.  Not that many, really.  The library seems to be a working library.  There are no the long rows of matching sets by standard authors.  The evidence is that Burroughs actually read each and every one of these books.  They found their way into the pages of his books in one fictionalized form or another.  Oddly authors who we know influenced him greatly like London, Wells, Haggard and Doyle are not represented.

     Most of the works of these authors were released before 1911 when Burroughs was short of the ready.  Unless those books were lost he never filled in his favorites of those years.  That strikes me as a little odd.

     It is generally assumed that he picked up his Martian information from Lowell, yet in Skelton Men Of Jupiter he says:  ‘…I believed with Flammarion that Mars was habitable and inhabited; then a newer and more reputable school of scientists convinced me it was neither….’  The statement shows that Camille Flammarion’s nineteenth century book was the basis for Burroughs’ vision of Mars while Lowell was not.  Further having committed himself to Flammarion’s vision he was compelled to stick to it after he had been convinced otherwise.  When that understanding was obtained by him we don’t know but at sometime he realized that the early Martian stories were based on a false premiss.

     Thus, his Mars became a true fiction when his restless, searching mind was compelled by judicious reasoning of new material to alter his opinion.  That he could change his mind so late in life is an important fact.  It means that behind his fantasy was a knowledge of solid current fact.  The results of his pen came from a superior mind.  It was not the maundering of an illiterate but amusing boob.

     Organizing the books of his library into a coherent pattern is difficult.  I haven’t and I Imagine few if any have read all his list.  Based on my preliminary examination certain patterns can be found.  He appeared to follow the Chicago novel by whomever, Edna Ferber’s So Big is a case in point.  Seemingly unrelated titles can be grouped aorund certain Burroughs’ titles as infuences.

     In 1924 when Marcia Of The Doorstep was written ERB had already formed his intention of leaving, or getting rid, of Emma.  He began a fascination with Flappers that would result in his liaison with Florence.

     After the move to Hollywood in 1919 a number of sex and Flapper potboilers find their way into his library.  The tenor of literature changed greatly after the War showing a sexual explicitness that was not there prior to the Big Event.  To be sure the graphic descriptions of the sex act current in contemporary literature was not permissible but the yearning to do so was certainly there.  Language was retrained but ‘damn’ began to replace ‘d–n’ and a daring goddamn became less a rarity.

     Perhaps the vanguard of the change came in 1919 when an event of great literary and cultural import took place.  Bernarr Macfadden whose health and fitness regimes had very likely  influenced Burroughs during the first couple decades decided to publish a magazine called “True Story.”  The magazine was the forerunner of the Romance pulp genre while certainly being in the van of what would become the Romance genre of current literature.

     The advance was definitely low brow, not to say vulgar, indicating the direction of subsequent societal development including the lifting of pornographic censorship.  Pornography followed from “True Store” as night follows day.

     The magazine coincided with the emergence of the Flapper as the feminine ideal of the twenties.  In literature this was abetted by the emergence in literary fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  His Beautiful And Damned is a key volume in Burroughs’ library forming an essential part of Marcia.  To my taste Fitzgerald is little more than a high quality pulp writer like Burroughs.  I can’t see the fuss about him.  He riminds me of Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend and vice versa.  In fact, I think Jackson mined the Beautiful And  Damned.  Plagiarize would be too strong a word.

     “True Story” caught on like a flash.  By 1923 the magazine was selling 300,000 copies an issue; by 1926, 2,000,000.  Low brow was on the way in.  Vulgarity wouldn’t be too strong a word.  Macfadden had added titles such as “True Romances” and “Dream World” to his stable.  His magazine sales pushed him far ahead of the previous leader, Hearst Publications, and other publishers.  Pulpdom had arrived in a big way.

     Where Macfadden rushed in others were sure to follow.  The sex thriller, the stories of willful and wayward women, which weren’t possible before, became a staple of the twenties in both books and movies.

     ERB’s own The Girl From Hollywood  published in magazine form in 1922, book form in 1923, might be considered his attempt at entering the genre.  Perhaps if he had thrown in a few Flapper references and changed the appearance and character of his female leads he mgiht have created a seamless transition from the nineteenth century to the twenties.  A few Flapper terms might have boomed his ales much as when Carl Perkins subsititued ‘Go, cat, go’ for go, man, go’ in his Blue Suede Shoes and made sonversts of all us fifties types.

     Certainly ERB’s library shows a decided interest in the genre from 1920 to 1930.  Whether the interest was purely professional, an attempt to keep up with times, or personal in the sense of his unhappiness in his marriage may be open to question.  I would have to reread his production of these years with the New Woman in mind to seek a balance.

     Still, during the period that led up to his affair with Forence ERB seems to have been an avid reader of Flapper and New Woman novels.

     He had a number of novels by Elinor Glyn who was the model of the early sex romance.  He had a copy of E.M. Hull’s The Sheik, that shortly became the movie starring Rudolph Valentine with its passionate sex scenes.  A ‘Sheik’ became the male synonym for Elinor Glyn’s ‘It’ girl.

     Of course, the influence of Warner Fabian’s Flaming youth of 1923, both book and movie, on ERB is quite obvious.

      Just prior to this relationship with Florence he read a number of novels by Beatrice Burton with such sexy titles as The Flapper wife-The Story Of A Jazz Bride, Footloose, Her Man, Love Bound  and Easy published from 1925 to 1930.

     I would like to concentrate on Burton’s novels for a couple reasons; not least because of the number of her novels in ERB’s library but that when Burroughs sought publication for his low brow Tarzan in 1913-14 he was coldly rebuffed even after the success of his newspaper serializations.  The disdain of the entire publishing industry was undoubtedly because Burroughs was the pioneer of a new form of literature.  In its way the publication of Tarzan was the prototype on which Macfadden could base “True Story.”  Not that he might not have done it anyway but the trail was already trampled down for him.  In 1914 Burroughs violated all the canons of ‘polite’ or high brow literature.

     A.L. Burt accepted Tarzan Of The Apes for mass market publication reluctantly and only after guarantees for indemnification against loss.  Now at the time of Beatrice Burton’s low brow Romance genre novels, which were previously serialized in newspapers, Grosset and Dunlap sought out Burton’s stories publishing them in cheap editions without having been first published as full priced books much like Gold Seal in the fifties would publish paperback ‘originals’ which had never been in hard cover.  Writers like Burton benefited from the pioneering efforts of Burroughs.  G& D wasn’t going to be left behind again.  Apparently by the mid-twenties profits were more important than cultural correctness.

     As ERB had several Burton volumes in his library it might not hurt to give a thumbnail of who she was.  needless to say I had never read or even heard of her before getting interested in Burroughs and his Flapper fixation.  One must also believe that Elinor Glyn volumes in ERB’s library dating as early as 1902 were purchased in the twenites as I can’t believe ERB was reading this soft sort of thing as a young man.  Turns out that our Man’s acumen was as usual sharp.  Not that Burton’s novels are literary masterpieces but she has a following amongst those interested in the Romance genre.  The novels have a crude literary vigor which are extremely focused and to the point.  This is no frills story telling.  The woman could pop them out at the rate or two or three a year too.

     Her books are apparently sought after; fine firsts with dust jackets go for a hundred dollars or more.  While that isn’t particularly high it is more than the casual reader wants to pay.  Might be a good investment though.  The copies I bought ran from fifteen to twenty dollars, which is high for what is usually filed in the nostalgia section.  Love Bound was forty dollars.  I bought the last but it was more than I wanted to pay just for research purposes.

     There is little biographical information about Burton available.  I have been able to piece together that she was born in 1894.  No death date has been recorded as of postings to the internet so she must have been alive at the last posting which woud have made her a hundred at least.

     She is also known as Beatrice Burton Morgan.  She was an actress who signed a contract with David Belasco in 1909 which would have made her fifteen or sixteen.  Her stage name may have been Beatrice Morgan.  The New York Public Library has several contracts c. 1919 in her papers.

     One conjectures that her stage and film career was going nowhere.  In The Flapper Wife she disparages Ziegfeld as Ginfeld the producer of the famous follies.

     Casting about for alternatives in the arts she very likely noticed the opening in sex novels created by Macfadden and the Roaring Twenties.  The Flapper Wife seems to have been her first novel in 1925.  The book may possibly have been in response to Warner Fabian/Samuel Hopkins Adams’ Flaming Youth.

     As the motto for his book he had “those who know, don’t tell, those who tell, don’t know.’  The motto refers to the true state of mind of women.  Burton seems to have taken up the challenge- knows all and tells all.  Flapper Wife was an immediate popular success when taken from the newspapers by G&D.  Critics don’t sign checks so while their opinion is noted it is irrelevant.

     Burton apparently hit it big as the movies came afer her, Flapper Wife was made into a movie in 1925 entitled His Jazz Bride.  Burton now had a place in Hollywood.  Burroughs undoubtedly also saw the movie.  What success Burton’s later life held awaits further research.  As there is no record of her death on the internet it is safe to assume that when her copyrights were renewed in the fifties it was by herself.

     There are a number of titles in the library having to do with the Flapper.  The library, then gives a sense of direction to ERB’s mental changes.  There are, of course, the Indian and Western volumes that prepared his way for novels in those genres.  As always his off the top of his head style is backed by sound scholarship.

     The uses of the various travel volumes, African and Southeast Asian titles are self-evident.  I have already reviewed certain titles as they applied to Burroughs’ work; this essay involves more titles and I hope to relate other titles in the future.  So the library can be a guide to Burroughs’ inner changes as he develops and matures over the years.

     The amont of material available to interpret ERB’s life has expanded greatly since Porges’ groundbreaking biography.  Much more work remains to be done.

     The second decade is especially important for ERB’s mental changes as his first couple dozen stories were written beginnng in 1911.  Moreso than most writers, and perhaps more obviously Burroughs work was autobiographical in method.  As he put it in 1931’s Tarzan, The Invincible, he ‘highly fictionalized’ his details.  For instance, the Great War exercised him greatly.  From 1914 to the end of the War five published novels incorporate war details into the narrative:  Mad King II, Beyond Thirty, Land That Time Forgot, Tarzan The Untamed, and Tarzan The Terrible as well as unpublished works like The Little Door.  Yet I don’t think the extent that the War troubled him is recognized.  The man was a serious political writer.

     Thus between the known facts and his stories a fairly coherent life of Burroughs can be written.  My essays here on the ERBzine can be arranged in chronological order to give a rough idea of what my finished biography will be like.

     Burroughs was a complex man with a couple fixed ideas.  One was his desire to be a successful businessman.  This fixed obsession almost ruined him.  He was essentially a self-obsessed artist and as such had no business skills although he squandered untold amounts of time and energy which might better have been applied to his art than in attempts to be a business success.

     In many ways he was trying to justify his failure to be a business success by the time he was thirty rather than making the change to his new status as an artist.

     As a successful artist he was presented with challenges that had nothing to do with his former life.  These were all new challenges for which he had no experience to guide him while he was too impetuous to nsit down and thnk them out properly.  Not all that many in his situation do.  Between magazine sales, book publishing and the movies he really should have had a business manager as an intermdiary.  Perhaps Emma might have been able to function in that capacity much as H.G. Well’s wife jane did for him.  At any rate book and movie negotiations diverted time and energy from his true purpose of writing.

     His attempt to single handedly  run a five hundred plus acre farm and ranch while writing after leaving Chicago ended in a dismal failure.  Even his later investments in an airplane engine and airport ended in a complete disaster.  Thank god he didn’t get caught up in stock speculations of the twenties.  As a businessman he was doomed to failure; he never became successful.  It if hadn’t been for the movie adaptations of Tarzan he would have died flat broke.

     Still his need was such that he apparently thought of his writing as a business even going so far as to rent office space and, at least in 1918, according to a letter to Weston, keeping hours from 9:00 to 5:30.  Strikes me as strange.  Damned if I would.

     At the end of the decade he informed Weston that he intended to move to Los Angeles, abandon writing and, if he was serious, go into the commercial raising of swine.  The incredulousness of Weston’s reply as he answered ERB’s questions on hog feed comes through the correspondence.

     Think about it.  Can one take such flakiness on ERB’s part seriously?  Did he really think his income as a novice pig raiser would equal his success as a writer with an intellectual property like Tarzan?  Weston certainly took him seriously and I think we must also.  There was the element of the airhead about him.

     A second major problem was his attitude toward his marriage and his relationship with Emma.

     He appears to have been dissatisfied with both at the beginning and decade and ready to leave both at the end.  According to the key letter of Weston ERB was an extremely difficult husbnad with whom Emma had to be patient.  As Weston put it, no other woman would have put up with his antics.  Unfortunately he doesn’t give details of those antics but the indications are that Emma was a long suffering wife.

     ERB’s resentment of her apparently became an abiding hatred.  Danton Burroughs released information about ERB’s third great romance with a woman named Dorothy Dahlberg during the war years of WWII through Robert Barrett the BB staff writer in issue #64.

     After having been estranged from her husband for about a decade Emma died on 11-05-44, probably of a broken heart.  ERB returned to Los Angeles from Hawaii to dispose of her effects.  Arriving on 11/19/44 after visiting his daughter he met with Ralph Rothmund in Tarzana where he proceeded to get soused, apparently in celebration of Emma’s death.

     To quote Barrett, p. 25, Burroughs Bulletin #64.

     After Ed met with Ralph Rothmund, he opened a case of Scotch and took out a bottle after which he drove to Emma’s home in Bel-Air- where he and Jack “sampled” the Scotch a couple times.”  From Bel-Air Jack drove Ed to the Oldknows, some friends also in Bel-Air, where they continued to sample the Scotch.  After this visit Ed and Jack returned to Emma’s home at 10452 Bellagio Road, where Jack brought out a nearly full bottle of bourbon.  Jack asked the maids to postpone dinner for 30 minutes, while they waited for Joan and Joan II.  This evidently irritated the two maids as they both quit  and walked out on them!  Ed reported in his diary that after the two maids walked out, ‘we had a lovely dinner and a grand time.”

     That sort of strikes me as dancing on the grave of Emma which indicates a deep hatred for her on the part of ERB.  We are all familiar with the storyof ERB’s pouring the liquor in the swimming pool humiliating Emma in front of guests which she stood so Weston must have known what he was talking about.

     There is a certain hypocrisy in Burroughs now getting blotto in celebration of Emma’s death.  Between the two of them in the space of a couple hours ERB and his son, John Coleman, finished a fifth of Scotch and went ripping through a bottle of bourbon.  I don’t know how rough and tough you are but that would put me under the pool table.

     In this inebriated and hostile state they apparently had words with what I assume to have been Emma’s long time maids.  Maids don’t walk out because you ask them to hold dinner for a few minutes.  Being a maid is a job; they don’t respond that way to reasonable requests.  So in his drunken state ERB must have been offensive about Emma or the maids causing their reaction.

     Thus sitting totally soused  in the ‘alcoholic’ Emma’s home they ‘had a lovely dinner and a grand time.’  The woman was both good to him and good for him but it isn’t incumbent on any man to see his best interests.  There was a crtain dignity lacking in ERB’s behavior at this good woman’s death, not to mention the hypocrisy of getting thoroughly jazzed.


      The decade also witnesses the unfolding of ERB’s psyche from the repressed state of 1910 to an expanded and partially liberated state at the end of the decade when he fled Chicago.  Pyschologically ERB was always a dependent personality.  He let his editors both magazine and book bully him and take advantage of his good will.  He also needed a strong role model which is one reason his literary role models are so obvious.

     From 1911 to 1916 he seemed to lean on Jack London as his role model.  The problem with London is that we can’t be sure which of his books ERB read as he had none of his books in his library.  It seems certain that he read London’s early Gold Rush books.  ERB’s hobo information is probably based on London’s The Road and then he may possibly have read The Abyssmal Brute which is concerned with the results of the Jack Johnson-Jim Jeffries fight and a preliminary to The Valley Of The Moon. 

     It is difficult to understand how Burroughs could have read much during this decade what with his writing schedule and hectic  life style.  Yet we know for a fact that between 1913-15 he found time to read Edward Gibbon’s massive The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire.

     At the same time additions to his library from this decade are rather sparse, the bulk of the library seems to have been purchased from 1920 on.  Still, if one assumes that he read all the books of London including 1913’s Valley Of The Moon, then it is possible that his cross=country drive of 1916 may have been partially inspired by Billy and Saxon Roberts’ walking tour of Northern California and Southern Oregon in that book as well as on ERB’s hobo fixation.  Certainly London must have been his main influence along with H.H. Knibbs and Robert W. Service.  He may have wished to emulate London by owning a large ranch.

     I suspect he meant to call on London in Sonoma during his 1916 stay in California but London died in the fall of that year which prevented the possible meeting.  With the loss of London Burroughs had to find another role model which he did in Booth Tarkington.  He does have a large number of Tarkington’s novels in his library, most of which were purchased in this decade.  Tarkington was also closely associated with Harry Leon Wilson who also influenced ERB with a couple two or three novels in his library, not least of which is Wison’s Hollywood novel, Merton Of The Movies.  Just as a point of interest Harry Leon Wilson was also a friend of Jack London.

     ERB’s writing in the last years of the decade seems to be heavily influenced by Tarkington as in Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid, The Efficiency Expert and The Girl From Hollywood.

     Burroughs was an avid reader and exceptionally well informed with a penetrating mind so that his ‘highly fictionalized’ writing which seems so casual and off hand is actually accurate beneath his fantastic use of his material.  While he used speculations of Camille Flammarion and possibly Lowell on the nature of Mars he was so mentally agile that when better information appeared which made his previous speculations untenable he had no difficulty in adjusting to the new reality.  Not everyone can do that.

     I have already mentioned his attention to the ongoing friction between the US and Japan that appeared in the Samurai of Byrne’s Pacific island.  In this connection Abner Perry of the Pellucidar series is probably named after Commodore Matthew Perry who opened Japan in 1853.  After all Abner Perry does build the fleet that opened the Lural Az.  Admiral Peary who reached the North Pole about this time is another possible influence.  The identical pronunciation of both names would have serendipitous for Burroughs.

     As no man writes in a vacuum, the political and social developments of his time had a profound influence on both himself and his writing.

     The effects of unlimited and unrestricted immigration which had been decried by a small but vocal minority for some time came to fruition in the Second Decade as the Great War showed how fragile the assumed Americanization and loyalty of the immigrants was.  The restriction of immigration from 1920 to 1924 must have been gratifying to Burroughs.

     I have already indicated the profound reaction that Burroughs, London and White America in general had to the success of the Black Jack Johnson in the pursuit of the heavyweight crown.  The clouded restoration of the crown through Jess Willard did little to alleviate the gloom.  Combined with the sinking of the Ttitanic and the course of the suicidal Great War White confidence was irrevocably shaken.

     Burroughs shared with London the apprehension that the old stock was losiing its place of preeminence to the immigrants.  This fear woud find its place in Burroughs writing where he could from time to time make a nasty comment.  His characterization of the Irish is consistently negative while his dislike of the Germans first conceived when he saw them as a young man marching through the streets of Chicago under the Red flag was intense.  Their participation in the Haymarket Riot combined with the horrendous reports of German atrocities during the War reinforced his dislike almost to the point of fanaticism.  While the post-war German reaction in his writing was too belated he had been given cause for misinterpretation.

     Always politically conservative he was a devoted admirer of Teddy Roosevelt while equally detesting Woodrow Wilson who was President eight of the ten years of the Second Decade.  When the Bolsheviks took over Russia in 1917 polarizing public opinion into the Right and Left ERB was definitely on the Right.

     By the end of the decade the world he had known from 1875 to 1920 had completely disappeared buried by a world of scientific and technological advances as well and social and political changes that would have been unimaginable in his earlier life.  The changes in sexual attitudes caused by among others Krafft-Ebbing, Havelock Ellis and Margaret Sanger would have been astounding.

     The horse had been displaced by the auto.  Planes were overhead.  The movies already ruled over the stage, vaudeville and burlesque.  Cities had displaced the country.  The Jazz Age which was the antithesis of the manners and customs of 1875-1920 realized the new sexual mores so that the Flapper and Red Hot Mama displaced the demure Gibson Girl as the model of the New Woman.

     When ERB moved from Chicago to LA in 1919 he, like Alice, virtually stepped through the looking glass into a world he never made and never imagined.  A Stranger In A Strange Land not different in many ways from the Mars of his imagination.

Go to Part III- Background Of The Second Decade Social And Political




A Review

The Low Brow And The High Brow

And In Depth Study Of The Edgar Rice Burroughs Novels

The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doorstep


R.E. Prindle


Part One


     By the time Burroughs took up his pen to write at the age of 36 he had a lifetime of frustration and humiliation behind him.  Born into an affluent family, their means had petered out by the time young Burroughs reached manhood.  Thus he who had been born a prince had become a pauper.  ERB felt this keenly.  His problem became how to regain his position, his exalted destiny.

     The most direct and possible approach was to become an officer in the Army.  Burroughs closed that avenue early in life by botching his relationship with Colonel Rogers and Charles King of the Michigan Military Academ.

     He began a promising career at Sears, Roebuck but he found success there would be of a very anonymous sort as the member of the team.  Fearing to disappear into mercantile obscurity he aborted that career abruptly quitting his job with no prospects.

     In what may have been one of the most important decisions of his career he joined up with a patent medicine manufacturer named Dr. Stace.  This phase of his career has not been properly investigated.  Reasoning from inferences in the Corpus it seems reasonable that he and Stace ran afoul of the law.

     A Pure Food And Drug Act had been passed in 1906 which temporarily at any rate made the sale of patent medicines illegal.  A few years later the Supreme Court would once again legitimize their sale provided the contents were properly labeled.  For the time being there was a problem with the law.  Erwin Porges’ Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Invented Tarzan briefly discusses the relationship in this manner. p. 105:

Stace, whom Ed found very likable, had grown ashamed of the patent medicine business and was casting about for a more reputable type of livelihood.  His qualms may have been reinforced by the dubious attitude of the United States Government: “Alcola cured alcoholism all right, but the Federal Pure Food And Drug people tooke the position that there were worse things than alcoholism and forbade the sale of Alcola.”

     The portion in quotes is presumabley from Burroughs although Porges fails to properly identify it if so.

     Since the Pure Food And Drug people acted against Dr. Stace it is only fair to assume the police were involved and depending on how far Dr. Stace fought it, probably a Grand Jury.  It is probable then that Burroughs’ seeming intimate knowledge of police methods and Grand Juries was learned at this time.

     As Stace’s office manager it is possible that ERB bought into the company and was therefore more intimately involved.  Certainly he did not sever his relationship with Dr. Stace as a result of these legal actions, but instead formed a corporation or partnership with him immediately after to sell courses in salesmanship.  Hardly more respectable than patent medicines.

     As one usually found advertisements for such courses in the back of pulp magazines one can conjecture the status of the enterprise and also its chances of success.  The company bearing the name Burroughs-Stace did fail quickly.  Notice that Burroughs name came before that of Stace.

     Now, Alcola being an illegal product it could not have done ERB’s reputation much good to be associated with it.  Continuing his relationship with Dr. Stace in another questionable business would only confirm ERB’s rputation for operating on the legal borderline.  In later years Burroughs, while not denying that he had been associated with Stace, claimed to have never seen those people since the time thus attempting to dissociate himself from them.

     Thus ERB’s prospects loomed shakily.  As these events occurred in 1909-10 he was facing a lifetime of marginal jobs leading ever downward or taking the million to one chance of becoming a successful author.  Not too long after terminating his relationship with Dr. Stace he took up his pen.  Fate began to blow a strong wind into his sails, so to speak.

     However, if I am correct, he was now looked at askance by ‘polite’ society.

     His first writing efforts were a success.  So successful that he could get anything he wrote into print.  this began to bear fruit in 1913, two years after he began writing, when he could throw over his day job and become a self-supporting writer.

     Thus he was able to realize his ambition to regain his status of a prince after an interim of nearly thirty years.

     He still had to explain himself to himself and Emma as well as to Chicago in general.  Much of his output of 1913 would attempt to do just that; especially the first of the two works under consideration here:  The Mucker. 


     The psychological baggage Burroughs brings to his writing to exorcise is considerable.  When H.G. Wells portrayed ERB as insane in Mr Blettsworthy Of Rampole Island there was an element of truth while the case was overstated.  ERB  was apparently able to disappear into himself whiie he was writing thus living an alternate reality which is what Wells was talking about.

     The ability to do so is probably why Burroughs’ writing has such immediacy, why his improbabiities are so believable.  One wonders what would have become of his mind if he hadn’t become a successful writer.  Perhaps the pseudonym he adopted for his first book, Normal Bean, was more to convince himself than others.  Bean as slang for head or mind.  Certainly his reaction to his success appears to border on the irrational.

     His psychological compression was so great that he nearly went off the rails in 1913 in his first blush of success.  It is impossible that he wasn’t being observed by others.  It is impossible that others didn’t consider him a phenom.  The Mars Trilogy and Tarzan were such strange creations for the times that he had to be viewed with wonder.  While one can never be sure when he is being referred to in the fiction of other writers it seems to me that there are resonances of Burroughs in such writers as John Dos Passos and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

     If he had designed his actions to get talked about he couldn’t have come up with anything more spectacular than his trip to California mid-1913 after a successful half year.  For the full year he would earn over ten thousand dollars.  This sum in 1913 was reaching the lower limits of super affluence.  You couldn’t add much to your comfort with more than ten a year, the rest was conspicuous consumption.  It all depends on which multiplier you use but the one I use brings the income out in today’s dollars as between three and five hundred thousand dollars.

     Sudden affluence after years of scrabbling for a living can do strange things to your mind.  ERB’s was rocked to its foundations.  He went crazy in his rush to spend his money.  A clothes horse like his wife Emma came into her own.  In his rush to spend ERB spent his income before it was earned.  He was literally broke between  checks from his publishers.

     Then in mid-1913 an event occurred which might have triggered his flight from Chicago to California.  The Black boxer, Jack Johnson was conceded his title in 1910 when he defeated the White favorite, Jim Jeffries.  He had actually won the title in 1908 when he defeated then champion Tommy Burns.  Whites were reluctant to acknowledge his claim to the title until he had fought Jeffries who the Whites thought was the ‘real’ champion because he had retired undefeated.

     Having disappointed White hopes by defeating Jeffries, Johnson was then set up on a morals charge and convicted in what amounted to a kangaroo court.  About to lose his appeal Johnson skipped the country in July of ’13 rather than go to jail as an innocent man.

     The Affair Jack Johnson had had a tremendous effect on Burroughs who was an ardent boxing fan.  Thus his novel The Mucker  deals extensively with the Johnson Affair.  I believe that since his assocition with Dr. Stace Burroughs was considered quasi-legit at best and hence in the same boat with a Johnson.

     When Johnson split it seemed to cause an equal reaction in Burroughs.  Johnson went East to Europe while ERB went West to California.  In july of ’13 ERB began work on his realistic Chicago novel The Girl From Farris’s.  This work was undoubtedly intended to explain his actions between 1899 and 1911.  Once he got started he immediately ran into writer’s block being unable to continue the novel.  Before he could continue he had to work out several issues.  Thus he did what was for him a very unusual thing.  He began the book in July of ’13 only finishing it in March of ’14.  In between he wrote five other novels in his usual rapid fashion.  the were, in order  The Mucker, The Mad King Pt. 1, The Eternal Lover Ptl 1, Beasts Of Tarzan and The Lad And The Lion.   The entire set of six stories then are all closely related and should properly be understood only as aspects of the same novel- The Girl From Faris’s. 

     We are going to consider only the first of the inner five, The Mucker, here.  Thus the trip to California begins to work out the redemption or Salvation of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The whole set might be titled:  Edgar Rice Burrougs In Search Of Himself.  

     One must not underestimate the influence of the two or possibly three central events in Burroughs’ life; his confrontatin with John The Bully in 1884-85, the 1899 trip to New york with the Martins and his dramatic relationship with Dr. Stace.  One cannot devalue his relationship with his father or Charles King, nor the very influential visit to Idaho where he came under the influence of Lew Sweetser, but his first three seem to dominate his life and work.

     A major consequence of his confrontation with John The Bully is that it declassed him.  ERB’s Animus became part prince, part pauper; part outlaw, part orthodox as demonstrated in The Outlaw Of Torn.   The trip in the private rail car showed him how far down the economic scale he was and how far he had to climb.  Although he won the hand of Emma from Martin I think it very likely that when he and Emma returned from Idaho Martin renewed his attentions to Emma.  He undoubtedly drove one  of the big new automobiles with which the impoverished ERB could not compete.  About all he could do if he thought Emma’s affection were wobbling was to get her pregnant.  In 1908 and 1909 the couple had two children in rapid succession although they could afford them no more than in their first eight years of marriage.

     Thus ten years after had taken Emma to Idaho, for reasons that are unclear to us, he took her to California.  Always the wastrel he made the trip in the most expensive way possible.  The family went first class.

     As Porges quotes him ERB says:  “I had decided I was too rich to spend my winters in Chicago so I packed my family, all my furniture, my second hand automobile and bought transportation to Los Angeles.

     This was not the most rational move for a man who had written an “Ode To Poverty” not too long before.  He had no assurance of being able to write or sell stories, without the sale of which he would be stranded, broke twenty-five hundred miles from his home.  Of course he still had all his furniture.  There was no one who could help him financially.  It is interesting to speculate on what sort of job he would have applied for.

     Why would a man do this?  ERB had apparently bought his used car, a Velie, at the beginning of 1913 when for all practical acounts he was still broke.  Why the urgent need to hop a train?  I think the reason can be traced back to Frank Martin.  The humiliation of the trip East in a private railcar in 1899 and the subsequent stay in the Bowery while the Martins  lived on Riverside Drive had to be compensated.  While ERB couldn’t afford a new car he rushed out to buy a used one which was apparently as much as he thought he could afford at the time.  On the other hand as his characters always say of themselves:  For me. to think is to act. if the Martins among other ‘plutocrats’ wintered in Florida then as ERB could still not compete with them financially he went West.

     Arriving in LA he and family drove the second hand Velie down to San Diego with the furniture apparently entrained for the same destination.

     During this period ERB’s behavior is absolutely zany.  Unable to stay put in LA he moved to Coronado which is a sand spit on the west side of San Diego Bay.  North Island Naval Air would be built on the North end of it.  The Carriers used to be docked on the ocean side as their draft was too great for the Bay.  Disliking Coronado he moved back across the bay to the first low ridge of hills that separates the city proper from the Bay.  He apparently was near the crest as he said he could look over it to the East.  When I was in the Navy in San Diego I thought this small ridge only a couple miles in length had the most deligthful climate on Earth.  I still think it does.  So, in 1913-14 before 101 became a major noisy highway at the base of the hill ERB was living in as close to paradise as anyone in this world can ever get.

     It was here he explored his psychological problems.


     Burroughs because of his encounter with John The Bully, had been rendered susceptible to ‘low brow’ influences.  His subsequent life with its constant moving from school to school, from Illinois to Idaho, to Connecticut, to Michigan, to Arizona and back to Illinois had not put into contact with too many ‘high brow’ influences.

     In constrast, his wife Emma Hulbert, had been trained to high brow avocations from childhood.  I’m sure that one of the objections of her parents to ERB was that he was so detestably low brow.  Emma, afer all, had been trained to the opera which is the epitome of high brow.  Emma often referred to ERB as a low brow during their marriage which can be somewhat trying.  If one contrasts The Mucker with Marcia Of The Doorstep it will become immediately apparent that the former is low brow and the latter is intended to be high brow.  So the dominating theme of The Mucker is between the low brow Billy Byrne and the high brow Barbara Harding.  The problem as it surfaces when the two come into contact is how Barbara is to turn the low brow mucker into a high brow or at least into a low brow with good speech and mannerisms.  This may have been a daily conflict between ERB and Emma in real life.

     The first question is how far ERB identifies with Billy Byrne.  It is my contention that Billy is an alter ego conditioned by ERB’s confrontation with John The Bully.

     I have explained elsewhere that terror may be used to introduce a hypnotic suggestion.  Terror opens the mind to suggestion.  In ERB’s case when he was in terror of John he accepted the suggestion that because John was terrorizing him he was an admirable person to be emulated.  Of course this went against the teaching of his family so that ERB now divided his Animus nearly equally between his father/family and John.  Even though his family training commanded his first allegiance, John declassed him so that he mentally assumed the traits of this hoodlum Irish boy.  In a sense ERB split his personality.

     As would be expected the assumption of John’s characteristics caused a personality conflict which it was necessary to resolve.  One must assume that by 1913’s Mucker ERB was aware of his peronality conflict and began the attempt to write it out.

     For those new to the term a mucker was one who wallowed in the muck of society, a low class person with very little or no redeeming social value.  Thus Burroughs is dealing very harshly with both himself and Byrne/John.

     It may be assumed beyond doubt that John was first generation immigrant.  As he was twelve when he confronted ERB in 1884-85 he must have been born in 1872.  He may actually have been born in Ireland or was at least the son of immigrants hence his Irish prejudices against the English would be very strong while the Irish at the time were considered on a social and racial par with the Negro  or perhaps even below.  Combining these social disadvantages he was raised in Chicago’s great West Side which ERB with undisguised horror describes.

     He also very carefully indicates that Byrne was not an inherently bad person but was strictly a product of his environment.  He could have been anything raised in a different social setting.  Nurture over nature.  An interesting liberal opinion in an age when heredity was accredited to a criminal type.  By explaining Byrne as a product of his environment Burroughs was also justifying himself.  Indeed, how could he have learned the social graces to which he was entitled by birth having been brought up viewing the underbelly of society.  Probably ERB did not become acquainted  with the social graces or high brow point of view until he married Emma.

     If his social education began with his marriage to Emma then Byrne’s begins when he and Barbara Harding are brought into close contact on ‘Manhattan Island’ in the river of their Pacific island locale where they ‘play house.’  Thus there is more than sufficient evidence to indicate that Byrne and Burroughs are similar.  Both names even begin with a B.

     As he is part of Burroughs’ psyche ERB has to exonerate Byrne as well as rehabilitate him into someone at least that Burroughs can respect.  This is the burden of the book.

     After a youthful life in which Byrne makes the best of a bad situation, during which he became competent to survive and dominate in a difficult environment, Byrne takes a step up by becoming involved in boxing.  Thus he goes from a no brow to a low brow.  Already a fearsome street brawler Byrne becomes a formidable scientific boxer as well.  He is good enough to be a sparring partner with the Big Smoke himself.  This must have been before July 1913 but no earlier than say 1911.

     Sometime in 1912 or early 1913 Byrne is falsely accused of murder by one Sheehan who Byrne had defeated in a fight when they were twelve.  Billy had earlier saved a policeman’s life who was being savagely beaten by a rival gang on Byrne’s turf.  The policeman now returns the favor by advising Byrne to get out of town which advice Billy take seriously not unlike Jack Johnson.  Thus Johnson goes East, Byrne goes West at exactly the same time.  Coincidence?

     Billy bobs up in San Francisco about the same time that ERB shows up in the sunny Southland.  They both reach California at the same time.  Another coincidence?

     Unfortunately for Billy he gets shanghaied by the guy he intends to roll.  He is taken aboard the Half Moon.  The ship on which Henry Hudson explored New York’s Hudson River was named the Half Moon so there is a little joke here as Barbara and Byrne reside on a Manhattan Island in their Pacific location.

     Being shanghaied wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to Byrne for while he is aboard he is forced to learn discipline- putting a little organization into his chaotic mind.  The Half Moon might also stand for the MMA in ERB’s memory.  He was more or less shanghaied into attendance when his father made him return after he had run away from the school.  Then, under the tutelage of Charles King who he respected he learned the rudiments of self-discipline.

     Even though Byrne is a sort of wildman Burroughs shows the greatest respect for him.

     Byrne’s next civilizing lesson comes when the Half Moon pretending distress captures the Harding yacht aboard which Byrne is transferred.

     The yacht named the Lotus, perhaps after Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lotus Eaters.’  The Lotus Eaters sat around all day in idle forgetfulness which was a pretty good description of the Harding party and another joke.  Burroughs had a copy of Tennyson’s poems in his library so the association is probable, besides which as Burroughs had a strong grounding in Greek mythology he would have been familiar with the Lotus Eaters from his Homer.

     Burroughs, who had never been to sea, knew nothing of the ocean.  His source for sea matters most probably was Jack London.  ERB was a great admirer of London but as he had nothing in his library one can only guess at what he had read.  There’s pretty good evidence for The Call Of The Wild and The Sea Wolf.  He may have picked up his South Seas lore from London’s Son Of The Son (The Adventures of Captain David Grief  in my edition).  The last book was published in 1911 but Burroughs probably had read it.  As he would project the making of Melville’s Typee into a movie in the ’30s it is possible that he was already familiar with that book and Melville’s other South Sea romance, Omoo at least as early as 1913.

     Both myself and other researchers are pretty liberal about ERB’s reading list but as I have cautioned before the bulk of his reading for these early stories had to be done between 1900 and 1911 when he was a very busy man with troubles in mind not to mention excruciating headaches.  Along with newspapers and magazines he surely couldn’t have read more than two or three hundred books if that many.  He may have read a number of sea stories in various magazines at any rate, but his sea lore is second hand, unreliable and unknowledeable.

     He has the Lotus tending Southwest toward the Philippines having begun in Hawaii.  The Philippines is a large archipelago blending into the massive archipelago just South of it, the Lotus should have been in Equatorial waters where the trade winds blow.  Most of your monster storms are further North or South.  I was in the Navy making one tour from California in the East to China in the West, South to Australia and North to Japan.  I had the terrifying experience of passing through a typhoon off Japan which if it wasn’t the storm of the millenium I can’t imagine a greater.  Quite seriously, we all thought we were going to die.  My only thought was that the water was going to be awfully cold when I hit it.

     I do not jest when I say the waves were seventy-five feet high, you’re right, why not make them a hundred, maybe they were a hundred, two would be stretching it.  I was standing on the bridge twenty-five feet above the water line looking straight up at the crest of the waves when we were in the trough.  OK.  A hundred twenty-five then.  We were so far down in the trough there was no wind, nor did the waves break over us, they just slid under the ship raising us to the crests and then we slid down the other side.  I kid you not.

     Then, as we came down from the crest, way up there, at the bottom of the trough the ship slammed into a current bringing it to a complete halt left and right and fore and aft.  These troughs were not rows of waves and troughs, no no, but huge bowls perhaps a mile or more long.  Our ship was three hundred six feet long so there we were a speck, an atom, a proton sitting quietly in the midst of this huge bowl waiting for the swatter of fate to fall.

     I had been thrown across the deck from port to starboard when we slammed into the current.  I scrambled to my feet, noticed that the starboard watch, Engelhardt, was on the way over the side for a tete a tete with Davy Jones.  I knew that Jones didn’t have the time for an ordinary Seaman like Engelhardt or me so I grabbed his belt and pulled him back aboard, then ran over to port to wait to die.

     Now that was a storm.  I don’t know how we rode it out, I thought the end had come, was past.  So, why did I tell that?  Because ERB’s storms are ludicrous and in the wrong place.  A cloud appears, the next thing you know a few indeterminate big waves show up and the ship sinks but the lifeboats survive.  All this in equatorial waters.  Well, if you’ve never been in it, it might sound alright.

     It doesn’t matter because those sudden squalls in ERB’s stories represent his confrontation with John The Bully.  Within the twinkling of an eye ERB’s whole direction of life changed.

  His had been for the worse but Byrne’s was for the better.  This then reflected the change in Burroughs’ own fortunes.

     Byrne and the crew are thrown up on an unidentified island somewhere in the South seas but a fairly large one.  In those years one could believe that there were islands yet to be discovered.  This one has a river big enough to allow for a largish island in the middle.  It is here that Byrne will get his introduction to the finer side of life.  However not before some very exciting and exotic adventures showing Burroughs at his best.

Apart from Jules Verne, who might also be an influence on this book through his The Mysterious Island that had a tremendous influence on Burroughs though the book was not in his library.  ERB seems to be familiar with a number of French authors.  He had The Mysteries Of Paris by the incredible Eugene Sue in his Library, while it is fairly obvious he had been suitably impressed by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.  The sewer scene in his next book, The Mad King, is indicative of that while Theriere in this book may be a variation on Thenardier.  He was also familiar with Dumas’ The Three Musketeers as there are several references to that one including the sequel to The Mucker, Out There Somewhere, when he indicates an intent to create his own three Musketeers in Byrne, Bridge and Burke.

     As indicated in my Only A Hobo, ERB was probably immersed in US-Japanese relations that were fairly hot at this time as well as remembering the Japanese exhibit at the Columbian Expo of 1893.  He gets his facts right too.

     In this case the island is populated by an indigenous population that has been blended with a group of Samurai warriors from Japan.  Burroughs correctly indicates that the Samurai had come to the island just before Japan was closed to the world in the early seventeenth century.  From about 1620 to about 1860- Perry opened Japan in 1853- no one had been allowed to enter or leave Japan so ERB has been doing his homework.  Over the three hundred years a degenerate society of militant Samurai had combined with the indigenes to create a culture of savages.  An interesting anthropological notion not too unlike The Lord Of The Flies that has been a literary staple for the last sixty years.

     Byrne and Theriere engage in a terrific conflict to rescue Barbara Harding from the Samurai during which Theriere is killed and Byrne seriously wounded.  Barbara Harding nurses him back to health in an idyllic glen by a babbling brook.

     At this point Byrne is reunited with his Anima ideal.  Barbara is going to rehabilitate this guy.  He has made some few steps toward his own redemption but the following is the quality Barabara had to work with as described by ERB p. 17:

…Billy was mucker, a hoodlum, a gangster, a thug, a tough.  When he fought he would have brought a flush of shame to the face of His Satanic Majesty.  He had hit oftener from behind than before.  He had always taken every advantage of his size and weight and numbers that he could call to his assistance.  He was an insulter of girls and women.  He was a bar-room brawler, and a saloon corner loafer.  He was all that was dirty, and mean, and contemptible and cowardly in the eyes of a brave man, and yet, notwithstanding all this Billy Byrne was no coward.  He was what he was because of training (conditioning) and environment.  He knew no other methods, no other code.

     As Burroughs says, up to this time Byrne had been an insulter of women, abusive to the whole female sex, probably including his mother.  It is only now that his eyes begin to open to what Jack London would call the wonder of woman.  How far Byrne reflects ERB’s general attitude toward women isn’t clear although by the end of his life his misogyny was becoming pronounced.  He was certainly no ladies man prior to is marriage to Emma.  I am not certain he would have married if it hadn’t been for the competition with Martin.   The suddenness of his marriage after the Toronto incident indicates a Martin influence or else he was bonkers after the blow.  When he later said Tarzan should never have married he was undoubtedly talking about himself.  He certainly never placed Emma first, being always ready to accept an army commission, fight in Central America, seek a commission in the Chinese army or become a war correspondent all of which would have left Emma and the kids at home.

     At the same time Barbara who had detested Byrne becomes softened to him preparing her to love him once they moved downstream to Manhattan Island.  This may be some romanticized version of ERB’s relationship with Emma after Toronto although she seems to have been fixed on Burroughs from childhood.  At any rate the relationship comes to fruition downstream where the high brow Barbara attempts so raise the brow level of Byrne.

     If one takes high brow, low brow seriously being thought of as a low brow, that is inferior, can be annoying.  Since Burroughs has chosen in his first novel within the cocoon of Girl From Faris‘s  to write around the theme of a low brow hero I think it fair to believe it irritated him to be thought of as a low brow; especially so as in most instances he was much better educated than those who so named him.  Chief among these was his wife Emma.  Whereas she had been trained ot operatic arias ERB played the hillbilly tune Are  You From Dixie?  over and over again on his phonograph.  Hillbilly music really irritates the operatic type.  There must have been constant conflict in the household.

     Emma especially looked down on boxing as low brow.  ERB was an ardent boxing fan, while here he chooses a low brow boxer as hero.  ERB could have some startling opinions on what was high brow.  He thought auto races were high brow.  I don’t know what the crowds were like back then but I’ve been to the stock car races where I found high brows conspicuous only by their absence.

     But, to the Mucker.   Moving downsteam after his recovery on this rather large river coming closer to the estuary they hit an island.  Being bounded as it were by a Hudson on one side and East River on the other they named the island Manhattan.  There’s a nice Expo twist and joke here as in Chicago on the Wooded Island one came upon a Japanese settlement in the middle of the city; here on a Samurai Island in the Pacific one comes upon a Manhattan Island of Americans.  Kind of cute reversal, don’t you think?

     As Billy has to know some details about Manhattan to keep the story moving, Burroughs rather lamely invents a couple trips Billy had made to New York with the Goose Island Kid.    As the boxing scene Burroughs describes, with the exception of the Big Smoke is entirely Irish one might note the origin of the name of The Goose Island Kid.  Goose Island was an area in the Chicago River inhabited by the poorest of the Irish, so the Kid comes from the bottom of the social scale even below Byrne’s origins.  One should contrast this with Burroughs prized English ancestry.

     Burroughs is writing from experience either psychological or real.  Thus one asks when was ERB in New York to acquire his knowledge of the city.  Well, let’s see:  He had an extended stay in 1899.  That was the trip when he got bashed in Toronto.  Then he had a short stay at the the invitation of Munsey.  Most of what he knew must have come from the 1899 trip.

     On their desert Manhattan Island Barbara, who up to this time had been repelled by Byrne makes an attempt at deconditioning Byrne from a Mucker and reconditioning him as an upper class New Yorker.  the conditioning consists of ridding him of the horrific characteristics attributed to him by ERB while teaching him to speak in an educated manner.  As there was no tableware she couldn’t teach him which fork to use.

     Possibly this scene may reflect on the first couple years of Burroughs’ married life.  Remember that ERB hadn’t been much around polite society from the years of twelve to twenty-five during which he was conditioned to his low brow attitudes.  Emma had been brought up in a high brow environment so that she may have felt the need to isntruct her new husband in some of the finer points of good manners.

     When Frank Martin (see my Four Crucial Years) asked ERB to go to New York with him in 1899 he did so with a heart full of malice.  He was competeing with Burroughs for Emma Hulbert’s favors and, as is commonly believed, he felt all’s fair in love and war.

     The evidence points to the fact that he intended to have ERB murdered in Toronto to clear his path to the woman.  Along the way he must have done his best to humiliate his rival- the mucker Ed Burroughs.

     ERB was moving in much faster company than he was used to.  While coming from a once affluent family his people had fallen on hard times.  ERB’s income was little more than sixty dollars a month while Frank Martin the son of a millionaire could blow that much on dinner every night of the week.

     Riding in Martin’s father’s private railcar one imagines that ERB’s suit compared to the fabulous duds of Martin was laughable.  The contrasts between their two stations must have been even more laughable and very satisfying to Martin.  Martin would have considered himself a high brow to Burroughs’ low brow.

     Once in New York Martin’s hospitality didn’t extend to living quarters.  ERB gives no indication of how much money he took along or where he got it.  I should be surprised if he had so much as two hundred dollars, certainly no more.  However much he had there was no way he could have kept up with the Martins.

     His address while in New York was down on the Bowery while the Martin’s was in a better part of town, perhaps Riverside Drive.  Danton Burroughs has a picture of the three of them- Burroughs, Martin  and Martin’s other companion, R.H. Patchin, on Coney Island.  One hopes Danton will release the photo to ERBzine along with any other information he may have.  Coney Island would be good low brow entertainment to offer Burroughs, something he could afford.

     A possible account of how Burroughs felt during his dependency on Martin can be found in one of the volumes in ERB’s library:  The House Of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  The reading of it must have brought pangs of recognition to ERB.

     In The Mucker Billy Byrne speaks of Riverside Drive and the Bowery in this way:

“Number one, Riverside Drive,” said the Mucker with a grin, when the work was completed: “an’ now I’ll go down on the river front and build the Bowery.”

“Oh, are you from New York?” asked the girl.

“Not on your life,” replied Billy Byrne.  “I’m from good old Chi but I been to Noo York twict with the Goose Island Kid, so I knows all about it.  De roughnecks belong on de Bowery, so dat’s what we’ll call my dump down by de river.  You’re a high brow, so youse gotta live on Riverside Drive, see?’ and the mucker laughed at his little pleasantry.

     In 1913 the only real experience Burroughs had with New York was the 1899 trip so that one can guess that when the Martin party detrained Burroughs as a ‘roughneck’ went to the Bowery while Martin and his group went to Riverside Drive or its equivalent.  Surely Burroughs realized he had been duped at this point and felt it keenly.  Or, perhaps, he didn’t catch on until much later having thought about it for a while.  Referring to the Irish Martin as The Goose Island Kid who took him to New York may be a belated disguised slap in the face.  If Martin read the book I’m sure he would have understood.

     At this point is the novel Barbara begins Byrne’s deconditioning teaching him the Riverside patois thus giving him true English as a second language to his native Muckerese.  Thus Byrne is to some extent rehabilitated as a human being; this follows fairly close that of Jean Val Jean of Les Miserables, however as Billy ruefully learned there is more to reconditioning than language.

     At this point Byrne has a dual personality.  He is the low brow mucker and a high brow mucker in that he has learned certain mannerisms and he can speak both forms of English.

     If the scene on Manhattan Island to some extent reflected the relationship between ERB and Emma then the seeds of his discontent  which will result in divorce have already been sown.  The parting from Barbara at the end of the story may be the first prefiguration of his divorce.

     On the other hand Byrne has been temporarily reunited with his Anima figure somewhat in the manner of Eros and Psyche in Greek mytholotgy which makes him a complete being, his X and Y chromosomes being reconciled.  They are soon split apart again as he and Barbara find their separate ways to NYC.


      Upon Byrne’s return to NYC Burroughs begins to wrestle with the problem of the displacement of a White heavyweight boxing champ with a Black one.  In our age when boxing has become a totally Black sport it is difficult to see the real significance of Jack Johnson’s assumption of the championship for both Whites and Blacks.  The success of Johnson also came at a time when in competition with immigrants the Anglo ‘old stock’ was being displaced from a feeling of rightful preeminence in a country it had made.

     This displacement by immigrant’s also occured at the time when the ranks of the European conquerors of the world had reached their limitations and the conquered began to roll them back.  Thus one has such volumes of the period as Madison Grant’s The Passing Of The Great Race and Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide Of Color.  The world was mysteriously changing slipping from beneath the White Man’s feet.

     Complementary to the works of Grant and Stoddard, but not influenced by them, was the world of such writers as Zane Grey, Jack London and Burroughs.  A common thread in the world of all three is the displacement of the ‘old stock’ by immigrants.  London has a telling phrase in his excellent and highly recommended Valley Of The Moon when his character Billy Roberts is told that the ‘old stock’ had been sleeping and that now like Rip Van Winkle they were awakening to a new world that had changed while they slept.  This theme would reappear in such works as Booth  Tarkington’s The Magnificent Amerberson’s and Burroughs’ own The Girl From Hollywood of the next decade.

     The social conflicts are treated almost identically by all three authors.

     Richard Slotkin in his Gunslinger Nation attempts an exhaustive treatment of the problem from the Gustavus Myers’ immigrant/unskilled labor point of view which may be contrasted with that of our three masters.  I will discuss this a little later.

     Great changes were in progress.  To try to characterize them from a single point of view as the Myers’ school does is both foolhardy and pernicious.  While the immigrants and unskilled labor have their story it is only their story, a small part of the whole.  While one can sympathize with anyone, anywhere, one cannot necessarily accept their point of view as definitve on which point they do insist.  My heart goes out to everyone but does not rule my head.

     The argument then breaks down broadly between the Liberal Coalition and what name is appropriate for the other side? -the rational? the realistic?, the conservative?.  Why not settle for the Conservative with all its limitations.  Yes, I am unapologetically conservative.  No more limitating actually than calling the irresponsibility of the Coalition liberal.  I fail to see the liberality.

     The argument devolves into the two factions of the ‘old stock’ with the convervative wing being hopelessly outnumbered when the liberal wing aligned themselves along national and racial lines with the immigrants and Blacks and along poltical and religious lines with the Judaeo-Communists or more conveniently- the Reds.  Reds is shorter.

     That writers of the bent of Burroughs, London and Grey have survived at all, let alone remained popular, in such an environment is remarkable indeed.

     From 1910 to 1919 major events that affected our writers occurred and typified the decline of Euroamerica from its pinnacle of self-satisfaction.  The Great War which ran from 1914 to 1918 shattered the image of Euroamerica before the rest of the world  Successful resistance not only appeared possible to the defeated peoples but probable.  Note the advantage Japan took of the debacle.

     A second event almost prefiguring the Great War was the sinking of the great ship RMS Titanic in 1912.  Billed as unsinkable it represented the peak of Euroamerican scientific and technological skill.  When that Grat Ship went down on its maiden voyage it took a great deal of the West’s confidence down with it.  While the West watched in dismay and horror the rest of the world cheered  the West’s discomfiture.  Unsinkable indeed!

     But perhaps the single most disastrous blow to the pride of Euroamericans was when the Black Jack Johnson laid the pride of the Whites, Jim Jeffries, down in the fourteenth on July 4, 1910.  The might Casey, Jim Jeffries, had struck out.  The much despised Negro, Jack Johnson, walked away wearing the world heavyweight championship belt.

     The Whites howled, they rioted but they had shot their best shot and there was no backup.  No contender.  No hope.

     Jack London actually reported the fight.  He was there.  Ringside.  Nor was he charitable toward Jack Johnson.  He said things that might better have remained unsaid.  We have no indication as to what Burroughs thought at the time.  By the time he spoke publicly in The Mucker he had had time to mature his thoughts.

     The effect on London was traumatic.  In 1911 he published his book The Abyssmal Brute, his first thoughts on the fight.  The fight not yet out of his system London expressed himself still further in his 1913 novel The Valley Of The Moon.  I’ve said it before.  I’m no Jack London fan.  I’ve only read him more or less at the insistence of ERBzine’s Bill Hillman.  If I had gone to the grave without reading The Call Of The Wild or The Sea Wolf  I wouldn’t have considered it a loss.  Not the same with Valley Of The Moon.  This book along with ERB’s Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid is one of the neglected masterpieces of twentieth century American literature.  It alone justifies London’s excellent reputation.

     The story is that of two Oakland, California young people, Billy Roberts and his sweetheart Saxon Brown.  While lamenting the displacement of the ‘old stock’ by the immigrants London also makes this a boxing story along the same lines as The Mucker. 

     In fact the stories are quite similar in conception.  If one didn’t know that the authors were writing at the same time 2500 miles from each other one would think they may have written on the same theme as a bet.  London, too, must have been influenced by the midnight flight of Johnson from Chicago.  London makes Roberts an outstanding boxer in the Bay Area.  Roberts gives up boxing because of the fate of boxers  and because of the low brow fans.  Later in the book London  says that Roberts sparred with both Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson.

     After a  long period of unemployment in an attempt to win a hundred dollar prize to relieve his and Saxon’s poverty he agrees to go back in the ring, the squared circle,  as Burroughs always refers to it.  The fight with the Chicago Terror is very reminiscent of the Jeffries-Johnson battle.  Like Jeffries Roberts hadn’t fought for a long time.  Like Jeffries he was out of condition.  After retiring in 1905 Jeffries had taken up farming, blossoming out to three hundred pounds.  When the call came to redeem the honor of the White species sometime after 1908 Jeffries had to quickly get into condition losing all the extra tonnage.

     He had certainly not regained his top form, timing and mental focus when he climbed into the ring to face Johnson.  I make no excuses for him but as Jeffries said he saw his openings but his unconditioned reflexes didn’t allow him to take advantage of them.  His failure broke the hearts of his followers.

     The battle between Roberts and the Chicago Terror, johnson must have been intended, is probably a replay of the 1910 fight as seen by London.  Out of condition and rusty Roberts gets mauled from start to finish.  In an attempt to salvage special pride London has Roberts at least stay on his feet till the twentieth unlike the fourteenth round fall of Jeffries.

      Toward the end of Valley Of The Moon London has Roberts climb nto the ring again, this time against a Big Swede, sort of polar to the Big Smoke.  In the second of two bouts Roberts has difficulty putting the Big Swede away until the fourteenth.  Also a replay of the Jeffries-Johnson fight with Roberts/Jeffries winning this one, if only in Jack’s dreams.

     Thus the anguish of the loss surfaces three years after.  Now, that the two events, the Titanic and fight get confused in this shuddering defeat of Euroamerica is interestingly made evident in the song Jack Johnson and the Titanic.  In the song Jack Johnson goes down to the steamship line in England to buy passage for his White wife and himself.  He is told that no Black Folks are allowed on the Titanic.  As some sort of divine punishment for refusing him the Great Ship sinks.

     Obviously Jack Johnson couldn’t have been refused as in 1912 he was still in Chicago fighting to stay out of jail.  But the two White disasters became mingled in imagination.

     While London  was wrestling with the Johnson Affair in Valley Of The Moon, Burroughs was doing the same in his Mucker.   One wonders what a further seach of popular literature would reveal.

     In The Mucker Burroughs has gotten Byrne back in New York City.  Broke and with no means of a livelihood the big man-beast turns to the only thing he can do which is boxing.  While London, who had witnessed the fight essentially retold it in Valley Of The Moon, Burroughs who didn’t prepares Byrne to redeem the Whites by fighting and defeating the Big Smoke.  Burroughs doesn’t mention Johnson by name.  He uses Big Smoke, big dinge.

     Burroughs immediately places Byrne in the role of the next hope.    At the time these Whtie boxers were known only as hopes, the term Great White Hope in the completely derogatory sense evolved later.  Like London Burroughs minces no words about Jim Jeffries being his favoirte.  Not only does Byrne imitate Jeffries by fighting from a crouch but ‘Professor’ Cassidy his trainer says:

For a few minutes Billy Byrne played with his man, hitting him when and where he would.  He fought, crouching, just as Jeffries used to fight, and in his size and strength, was much that reminded Cassidy of the fallen idol that in his heart of hearts he still worshipped.

     Winning the fight Byrne went on to meet the #1 contender who he handily defeated.  Having evoked the ghost of Jim Jeffries Burroughs brings in his other hero, Gentleman Jim Corbett.

     The following morning the sporting sheets hailed “Sailor Byrne” ( tribute to Jack London whose hobo moniker was Sailor Jack) as the greatest white hope of them all.  Flashlights of him filled a quarter of a page.  There were interviews with him.  Interviews of the man he had defeated.  Interviews with Cassidy.  Interviews with the referee.  interviews with everybody, and all were agreed that he was the most likely heavy since Jeffries.  Corbett admitted that, while in his prime, he could doubtless have bested the new wonder, he would have found him a tough customer.

     Jeffries, Corbett, Byrne, a combination with so much magic in the names couldn’t help but win back the title to salve the wounded pride of the White species.

     Cassidy wired a challenge to the Negro’s manager, and received an answer that was most favorable.  The terms were, as usual, rather one sided but Cassidy accepted them, and it seemed before noon that the fight was assured.

     Assured in dreams, of course, as this is only a novel.

     It would be quite easy to pass over this part of the tale without realizing its significance but it shows the pain and suffering, the loss of pride that occurred when the championship went Black.  While Burroughs has no difficulty invoking the names of the fallen idol, Jeffries and Corbett, he cannot bring himself to name Johnson referring to him only as The Big Smoke, the big dinge, or the Negro.  The White world was in a deal of pain.

     One can only guess how Burroughs intended to resolve his dilemma of having the fictional Byrne fight the living Johnson or perhaps the story was only a magic incantation to arouse the true hope.  At any event when Byrne next appears in story in 1916’s Out There Somewhere, Jess Willard had already taken the championship back although under dubious circumstances.  By 1916 Byrne’s boxing career is forgotten; there is no mention of it in the sequel.

     Having solved the problem of the championship Burroughs returns to his Anima problem in the romance with Barbara Harding.  Billy remembers she lives in New York City and decides to call on her.  But…

…a single lifetime is far too short for a man to cover the distance from Grand Avenue to Riverside Drive…

     While the above words were spoken about Billy,  Byrne too came to the same conclusion:

     But some strange influence had seemed suddenly to come to work upon him.  Even in the brief moment of his entrance into the magnificence of Anthony Harding’s home he had felt a strange little stricture in the throat- a choking, a half-suffocating sensation.

     The attitude of the servant, the spendor of the furniture, the stateliness of the great hall and the apartments opening upon it- all had whispered to him that he did not “belong.”

     So Byrne feeling his inability to fit in walks away in bitter pride forswearing his love for Barbara Harding.  Still, he could remember her saying back on that other Manhattan Island:

I love you Billy for what you are.

     Thus the epic of the low brow Billy ends as he walks down the street a study of dejection with Barbara’s words ringing through his mind.

     The question here is how much the relationship between Byrne and Barbara is a ‘highly fictionalized’ account of ERB’s own relationship with Emma.  We can’t know for sure how hurt Burroughs may have been by Emma’s calling him a low brow.  Perhaps he longed to hear her say:  I love you, Ed, just the way you are.

     Certainly the stories enveloped by The Girl From Faris’s all deal with his relationship with Emma as his Anima ideal.  The Mad King which follows this story details the problems of the hero getting on the same wave length with the Princess Emma.  He even uses his wife’s real name.  The following title – The Eternal Lover – speaks for itself, Beasts Of Tarzan features a wild chase with Tarzan trying to find Jane who is lost in the jungle, while the last of the series, The Lad And The Lion, details the troubles of the Lad finding his desert princess.  After the Lad he got past his mental block being able to close The Girl From Faris’s.

     So if these stories are read consecutively they record the struggle going on in ERB’s mind to reconcile Emma to his Anima ideal and his Anima to his Animus.  This is a task for not any but the most dedicated Burroughs scholar but I would interested in learning the opinion of any who might attempt it.

     Read only Book One of Mad King and the first part, Nu Of The Neocene, of Eternal Lover in this context.


     Ten years later ERB tackled the problem from the high brow point of view in Marcia Of The Doorstep.

Go To Part Two

Background Of The Second Decade- Personal



Springtime For Edgar Rice Burroughs, Part One

Including A Review Of

The Cave Girl


R.E. Prindle

Book I:  The Cave Girl


     In 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs was looking back on nearly forty years of humiliation and failure.  As 1913 dawned, after that lifetime of suppression and depression it must have seemed as though the Millennium had arrived.  Success on his own terms seemed to be within  his grasp.  The Gambler had finally won the gamble.

     As the year turned he finished his fifth novel since he took up his pen in 1911, The Return Of Tarzan.  As of the beginning of 1913 only two had been published and those only in pulp magazine form.  Perhaps such publication was rewarding in the personal sense but the pulps had a very low literary reputation.  Pulp writers were always second class literary citizens.  Both his first publications created a sensation among the pulp readership while the second ‘Tarzan Of The Apes’ was a stunner. 

     His reputation was augmented when Tarzan Of The Apes began to be serially published in various newspapers.  So while he had not established a reputation from the pulp publications the newspapers had spread his fame.  Book publication was still a full year away.

    Thus by 1913 A Princess Of Mars and Tarzan Of The Apes were before the world.  Gods Of Mars would be published later in the year.  His second novel, Outlaw Of Torn, had been met with outright rejection.

     Based on this promising but hardly conclusive beginning, less than 2500.00 had changed hands in two years, Burroughs decided to throw over his day job to became a full time writer.  As he says everyone thought he was crazy; without the benefit of foresight he most surely was.  Burroughs himself even says he thought so.  The Gambling Man was risking his all on a turn of the cards.  His whole life he had seemed driven to take the riskiest and longest of long shots.  His characters would behave in the same way.  Shall we say on the positive side that it was an act of supreme confidence?

page 1.

     Not only did he give up his day job but he set himself the daunting task of writing a story every two months of which he expected every one to sell.  He ultimately wrote seven in 1913 of which all did sell.  In this year of the most daring audacity he did earn over 10,000 dollars and that beat the cost of living and then some.

     Burroughs won that bet, too.

     The first book of the year, At The Earth’s Core began his Inner World series.  It was also the begining of his exploration of prehistoric and evolutionary themes.  The prehistoric novel was already a genre.  Fictional treatments by Jack London and H.G. Wells were certainly known to him while he may have been familiar with the anthropological studies of J.G. Frazer in one form or another.  Frazer made the phrase ‘the thin veneer of civilization’ a household phrase that Burroughs was so frequently to use and mock throughout his work.  He may possibly have picked the phrase up through newspapers and magazines or possibly as David Adams has suggested through Jack London who used it before him and who we can be reasonably certain Burroughs read.

     Frazer was at the height of his influence at this time having written three different versions of his most famous work, The Golden Bough.  In 1910 he published  a four volume study called Totemism and Exogamy that Sigmund Freud cribbed to write his own semi fictional work, Totem And Taboo.

     Personally I would place Totem And Taboo with the prehistoric work of London, Wells and Burroughs.  Read as a novel Totem And Taboo isn’t all that bad.  Unfortunately Freud took himself seriously thinking he had more than he did.  But as fiction Totem And Taboo is OK.

page 2.

     Interestingly for Freud he formed his very speculative theories in the historical blind spot in the place between his intense Jewish Patriarchalism and the discovery of the Matriarchy that preceded Patriarchy.  So his theories are somewhat skewed.  Matriarchal theories were very stoutly resisted gaining any degree of acceptance only after the 1960s.

     It is to Freud’s credit that he didn’t resist the concept.  Even as early as Totem And Taboo he had heard of the discovery of the Matriarchy through the work of the Swiss mythologist, J.J. Bachofen, although he didn’t know how to incorporate the material.  By 1938 he seemed to be conversant with Matriarchalism but still didn’t know how to fit it into his system.  He was still touting the ridiculous theories of Totem And Taboo.

     For some reasons I haven’t yet identified I find similarities between Freud’s and Burroughs’ writing.  After all Freud did get his Nobel prize for literature not science.

     Freud was in many ways a speculative and wild writer and so in fact was Burroughs.  While the others wrote interesting but conventional prehistoric stories Burroughs discovered ways to link the various evolutionary stages with the present.  While it is overlooked, at the time it was very innovative.  The approach may have been suggested to him by his Prince and Pauper mentality in which he believed a clean break between his past and present had been made when he was sent to the Michigan Military Academy. 

     There is no clearer link for this possibility than the story of Tarzan.  In Tarzan Of The Apes Tarzan was born a ‘Prince’ to an aristocratic British family but became a ‘Pauper’ when his parents died and he was adopted by the great she ape, Kala.  Thus he was raised in a prehistoric environment before the advent of man.  Tarzan then evolves into the fully human right before our eyes eventually becoming the very epitome of civilization.  A thin veneer perhaps but a veneer.

     So ERB devises all sorts of clever ways to somehow get his contemporary characters into prehistoric environments.  In his fifth book, The Return Of Tarzan, he invents the lost land of Opar.  Opar is a fossil city dating back to prehistoric Atlantis.  The Oparians have never advanced beyond the culture of Atlantis and lost most of that.  Behind Opar is an even earlier stage of culture called The Valley Of The Diamonds.  This place is ruled by a highly developed form of gorillas.

page 3.

     In Tarzan The Terrible Tarzan crosses a great swamp to arrive in prehistoric Pal-ul-Don.  In the Inner World series he employs two methods of entering.  In the first David Innes invents an earth borer that drills through the crust to discover a hollow core containing the Inner World.  In Tarzan At The Earth’s Core Burroughs employs the notion of a North Pole entry using the dirigible O-220 to enter in that manner.

     In the most wild of all the stories, The Eternal Lover, his hero Nu is gassed in what Burroughs calls the Neocene to wake up in the twentieth century.  He acquires a lover with whom he successfully travels back to the Neocene.  On the return journey to the present he failed to keep his grip on the strap and didn’t make it.  Wonderful story concept.  Certainly as fine as anything Burroughs ever did.

     Then in the trilogy The Land That Time Forgot the crew of the submarine discover a submarine entrance to the lagoon of a large island that is prehistoric but covers the whole range of evolution from amoeba to full fledged humans.  Quite daring actually and Burroughs is able to make these impossible stories work.  If one compares The Land That Time Forgot with Freud’s Totem And Taboo I think it possible to find many similarities.  Of the two Burroughs was by far the most successful writer in their time although he received no Nobel prize.  Both writers have weathered the vicissitudes of fortune quite well.  One hundred years from those days both men are top sellers although Burroughs has the edge.

page 4.

     The novel under consideration, The Cave Girl has a terrifically interesting scenario.  In this story Burroughs anticipates The Land That Time Forgot by creating a large prehistoric island off the shipping lanes that is ‘seldom visited’ although it seems that no one has trouble finding it.

      In this story Burroughs reverses Tarzan Of The Apes.  Instead of an infant boy being abandoned he has the infant girl, Nadara, survive her parents.  Instead of a female ape rescuing Tarzan he has a cave man rescue and nurture the girl.  The Cave Man retains a little leather bag containing the emblems of Nadara’s origins, while Tarzan has his father’s cabin and books.

     In this instance Nadara having been left on the island, just as Jane and her party are landed on the spot of Tarzan’s father’s cabin so the civilized castaway, Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones is washed from the deck of the steamer by a big wave during a storm landing on the siland where as Tarzan watched Jane’s party arriving Nadara observes the arrival of Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones.

     It isn’t stated how old she was when she and the civilized Waldo got together but I should think twenty on the analogy of Tarzan.

     Burroughs’ two favored terrestrial locations for his stories are Africa and the South Seas.  Both locations occupy legendary possibilities in the imagination of the West.  They were thought to be locations where the White man was freed from the restraints and limitations of civilization.

page 5.

Go to Springtime For Edgar Rice Burroughs Part II