November 8, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
How The Story Is Told
Obscure but persistent workers in these decades of disaster
Pieced together the puzzle bit by bit.
There is a scale of fantastic disproportion
Between the scale of the labourers and the immense consequences
The psychology of association,
Was a side of social biology that had been disregarded
Almost entirely before the time of which we are writing.
People still had only the vaguest ideas
of the social structure in and by which they lived.
They accepted the most arbitrary and simple explanations
Of their accumulated set of relationships
And they were oblivious even to fundamental changes in that set.
Wild hopes, delusions and catastrophes
–H.G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come, pp. 245-46
This is actually an interesting story. If you search for references they are there aplenty. I’ve already referred to some but another that might be overlooked is the apparent reference to Edward Bulyer-Lytton’s famous opening sentence to his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. The original goes:
It was a dark and story night, the rain fell in torrents- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for this is in London our scene lies), rattling along the housetops and fiercely agitating the scanty flames of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
There is even an annual contest to see who can write the most successful parody. The line has such a reputation that many writers seek to write a variation on it to open one of their own stories. ERB has successfully replicated the feel as this story opens on a dark and stormy night.
The lurid horror of the story is set in this opening scene in which the headman of Kali Bwana’s safari attempts to rape her. She shoots him but only wounds him in the arm. Her safari then deserts her leaving her alone in the middle of the Ituri Rain Forest where even on a bright sunny day the gloom is never lifted. Now, that was a dark and stormy night.
She is discovered by Old Timer who himself takes it into his mind to rape her. He is prevented from shaming himself by the abduction of Kali Bwana by the Leopard Men in his abscence. The story of Kali Bwana and Old Timer is set in motion then as he sets out to rescue her from the deplorable fate of being Leopard Goddess to the Leopard God.
The complementary story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men is set in motion by A. The murder of an African swain, Nyamwegi by the Leopard Men during the story. B. The felling of Tarzan by a blown down tree with subsequent amnesia and C. his rescue by Nyamwegi’s friend Orando and his assuming the identity of Orando’s guardian angel or muzimo.
We are first introduced to Old Timer as he sits around the campfire with his partner, The Kid. They are ivory poachers, very disreputable. They split up to search for elephant in two different areas which leads to Old Timer’s discovery of Kali Bwana.
The protagonists of the story are the Leopard Men. They are an African clandestine religious cult who terrorize all the tribes over a large but unspecified area although they originated in a far away place, probably the Calabar Coast as in real life. They have been active as far away as among Tarzan’s Kenyan Waziri which has drawn his attention to them. He doesn’t want that kind of trouble on his estate.
The Leopard Men were a real phenomenon although not too much is known about them. Burroughs was apparently working from newspaper or magazine articles about them, National Geographic maybe. If he had a book or two they don’t appear in his library. To accentuate their horrific nature ERB makes them not only murderous but cannibalistic. They probably were both.
Cannibalism is a theme which recurs throughout ERB’s corpus not just in his African novels. Whether he leaned on the ntion for horrific effect or whether it has some deeper psychological meaning for him I have yet to determine. The fate of the Donner Party with its alleged cannibalism has always been discussed in hushed tones in California so he may have picked up the theme from that although the theme was prominent in earlier novels like The Mucker and Marcia Of The Doorstep. Burroughs has a way of working it in.
It becomes necessary for the Old Timer to rescue Kali Bwana from the Leopard Men. The Utengans wish to destroy them while Tarzan’s goal for coming to the Utengan country in the first place was to seach out their ‘fabled village and temple.’ As ERB explains coincidence allowed Tarzan not only to discover them but to destroy them.
Old Timer in his attempt to rescue Kali Bwana is led to the town of Gato Mgungu who is the political leader of the Leopard Men. Old Timer who has traded with Mgungu never knew his connection with the Leopard Cult. Whereas before he was welcomed now he is made captive to become the feast at the Leopard cult orgy. Then to the temple where he discovers Kali Bwana decked out in the regalia of the Leopard cult presiding at the festivities.
Burroughs introduces some wonderful details such as that the high priest is a ventriloquist who has deluded the Leopard Men into believing that the Leopard God actually speaks in their dialect. Tarzan, watching from the rafters, on behlaf of the Utengans although he has neither heard or seen ventriloquism before applies his mighty intellect, this guy learned to read an unknown language from a picture book, to the problem of divining the secret. Of course Tarzan had been to Paris and was familiar with London music halls so ERB may be laying it on a little thick here. Tarzan was surely sophisticated enough to know of ventriloquism. In his defense, however, he was suffering from amnesia so that while he did know of ventriloquism he had to work it out anew. I do detect a slight inconsistency here nonetheless.
Let us retrace out steps to recover Tarzan’s story after he was released by Oranda the Utengan. Tarzan has absolutely no recollection of who he is or where. Thus when Orando suggests to him that he is his muzimo Tarzan readily accepts the role. His companion, Nkima the monkey, who has not lost his memory can’t understand why Tarzan doesn’t accept the information when he tells Tarzan that Tarzan is Tarzan and Nkima is Nkima and not the spirit of Nyamwegi. Tarzan is unconvinced and even Burroughs refers to Tarzan only as Muzimo until he regains his memory.
Muzimo and Orando then set out on the trail of the Leopard Men to avenge Nyamwegi. Four Leopard Men were involved. Muzimo and Oranda kill three while the fourth escapes.
The next task is lunch. For this Tarzan, who only kills for food, never for sport, dispatches an Okapi described as bigger than a cow. The two hunters cut off a couple pounds for lunch and leave the rest for roving scavengers.
The Okapi would have been unknown to most of Burroughs’ readers. The beast was a native only to the Ituri. Its existence was only confirmed in 1900, so definitely an exotic touch to the story for its time.
The next task is to organize an army to attack the Leopard Men. The Leopard Men were much feared so this was not only difficult but nearly impossible. Only a hundred men showed up for the summons including the secret Leopard Man, Lupingu. Orando also has to counter the influence of the witch-doctor, Sobito, another secret Leopard Man. Even though Sobito’s influence is enormous Muzimo is able to counter it with his own seeming supernatural influence.
Sobito and Lupingu have a conference from which Lupingu is sent to betray Orando’s force to the Leopard Men. While Orando attends to the details of marshalling his force Muzimo acts as the intelligence wing reconnoitering Gato Mgungu’s village. Gazing down from the large lower branch of the ubiquitous tree Tarzan detects Lupingu betraying the force. The Leopard Men arrange a 300 man force within minutes attacking the Utengans while meeting Muzimo on their return.
The Utengan force had been decimated which is to say one in ten had been killed which is what decimated means. As someone interested in military matters one wonders if this is an inside joke of ERB’s.
Reconnoitering further Tarzan attends the installation ceremony of Kali Bwana. He is surprised to find the two white people there, Old Timer was there as a prisoner, but as a Utengan Muzimo, in fact as in name, has no racial interest in Whites.
He returns to Orando to tell him that the Leopard Men will be returning completely hungover so a perfect opportunity has presented itself. Orando takes advantage of the opportunity completely routing the returning Leopard Men while exterminating the men, women and children of Mgungu’s village and appropriating their left over beer. To the victor belongs the spoils.
In the battle Muzimo is knocked unconscious who when he comes to is Tarzan once again. Muzimo disappears from the story. Tarzan informs the awestruck Utengans that he is really the legendary Tarzan of the Apes whose exploits are the stuff of the campfire tales of the Utengans. Yes, friends, even in the depths of the Ituri Rain Forest the legend of Tarzan is a huthold word. The goddess Kali must have been running a close second.
Apparently when amnesia strikes one forgets one’s life prior to the attack but when one regains one’s memory one can remember the amnesicac details because Tarzan now remembers the two White people at the Leopard temple deciding to check up on them because of some faint racial affinity.
In the meantime without the aid of Tarzan Kali Bwana and Old Timer manage to escape with the bumbling aid of the African chief, Bobolo.
They manage to appropriate a gigantic dugout that Old Timer is able to manipulate on his own. Leaving the mysterious and silent river of death they enter the main river, one presumes the Aruwimi. While they are thus engaged the Leopard Men between them and downstream at their village are defeated and the survivors flee back to the temple. Old Timer perceives the first batch of canoes, steering his lumbering craft into the shadows of the bank where he is perceived. Rather than waiting to see if any others are following he immediately heads to center stream where he encounters Bobolo’s contingent. Old Timer is captured while Bobolo captures the glowing white Kali Bwana. Raising a warning cry he is able to detach himself from the little flotilla carrying Kali Bwana back to his own village to be his White wife.
Old Timer is taken back to the Leopard temple to serve the noble function of lunch. All this is convincingly well described by Burroughs with his usual economy. All this takes fewer pages than one might imagine.
Tarzan returning as Tarzan to the Leopard temple sends all the canoes save one downstream. He reenters the temple in the nick of time to save Old Timer who he sends downstream in the single canoe. Apparently all those canoes he released didn’t form a log jam on that narrow nearly stagnant slow moving mysterious and silent river of death.
As Old Timer poles his pirogue laboriously downstream Tarzan demands the Leopard Men give him Sobito who he had recognized behind his mask as a hostage. He then leaves carrying Sobito through the otherwise trackless and impenetrable swamp and jungle. The Leopard Men find all their canoes missing seeing only rows of crocodile eyes facing them. They have no way to escape the temple and…they are all cannibals, if you know what I mean.
So now Tarzan has destroyed this whole Leopard Man contingent. He leaves Sobito with Orando. Sobito contrives to escape himself heading downstream to his old friend Bobolo. So the whole crew is moving toward an assemblage at Bobolo’s village.
Now, when Bobolo showed up with this White wife his Black wives objected especially the Mduze like older wife. Bobolo is compelled to remove Kali Bwana. Rather than giving her up he transfers her to the Betetes, a tribe of Pygmies, for safekeeping intending to visit her on the sly. He promises to send food in recompense for her keep to the hapless Pygmies. Before he can the escaped Sobito shows up placing himself under Bobolo’s protection.
Old Timer who has been treed for several hours notices the canoe of Sobito coming along just behind him while from his tree he hears some native women discussing the fate of Kali Bwana. From them he learns Kali Bwana has been transferred to the Pygmy village. He sets out to the rscue. If you notice, through this whole story there has been nary a lion. Tarzan hasn’t killed his usual half dozen nor has Jad-Bal-Ja made an appearance. Instead Nikima has spent the book complaining about the overwhelming aroma of Sheeta.
Burroughs during his long career has made several errors of fact concerning the fauna of Africa. One of them is placing lions in the jungle. Lions are savanna dwellers. In Invincible Burroughs acknowledged there were no deer in Africa by changing Bara the deer to Bara the antelope. In this volume the antelope is known as Wappi. As there are no lions in the jungle Tarzan finds a savanna in the middle of the Ituri full of lions. While there are no lions in the jungle there are also no savannas in the Ituri but one assumes it will take his critics some time to discover the fact. You always have to be one step ahead.
Apparently Burroughs cannot write a book without a lion kill or two by Tarzan so he gratuitously throws in Chapter XVII: Charging Lions. This is a completely unnecessary episode that adds nothing to the story. It is interesting nonetheless.
Tarzan is hungry. Game is scarce. He reaches a savanna in the forest. The grass is tall, over his head. he spots a herd of herbivores off in the distance. Tarzan has eaten carnivores in the past when necessity dictated it but he much prefers herbivores.
Leaving the cowardly Nkima in a tree quaking because of the smell of Sheeta that pervades the forest Tarzan starts out over the savanna. He hasn’t gone too far when the aroma of lions assails his sensitive nostrils. But, he can smell that they have just fed so he is not worried. Well fed lions never charge. However worse than being unfed he has stumbled upon a mating pair which did escape his sensitive nostrils. Bad news, because a lion disturbed in copulation will always charge. Information like this has prevented me from making reservations for the Serengeti. Now the story actually gets not only improbable but a little bit on the looney side.
Apparently ERB is psychologically compelled to include this episode that adds nothing to the story while being difficult to understand. Tarzan and the lions which include the copulating pair and another four or five males are in tall grass so they can’t see each other. Only the grass waves indicating the seven lions. Tarzan has carefully kept a tree within fifty feet which with his lightning speed he can reach before any lion. However Tarzan is irked at having to run. He doesn’t mind a dignified advance to the rear but he resents having to make a headlong flight. Thus as the great male head appears through the grass the Big Bwana decides to kill him. His giant muscles rolling like molten steel beneath his bronzed skin he launches his heavy war spear at the charging lion. Muscles, weight and charge add up to a skewered lion.
Tarzan hasn’t counted on the female who is right behind her lover so he has to make his undignified pell mell flight anyway.
The female is plenty sore. She won’t go away. Just hangs around, waiting. The other male lions sit in a semi-circle first looking up at Tarzan, over the at the female and then at each other. A very peculiar and incongruous image.
The reluctance to flee and the brutal killing of the male are easy to understand. The male obviously represents John the Bully on the Chicago street corner. Burroughs was ashamed of having run so he stands his ground killing the image of John.
What of the enraged female and other males? Don’t know. Possibly the female represents his failed Anima. The strange image of his Anima and John the Bully copulating is very difficult. The four male lions looking on might easily be imagined as four boys watching ERB’s humiliation on the street corner. As Caz Casadesus points out Tarzan in the tree pelting the lions may represent the story of Kit Carson treed by a bear. The story must have tickled Burroughs so much he often places Tarzan in a tree tormenting the beasts below. Caz is probably correct in making Kit Carson a hero figure to ERB as Carson Napier of Venus is obviously named after him
I will get into this next section but as David Adams points out much of these stories are reported as viewed from above. We may have the reason explained here as John symbolically ran ERB up a tree causing dissociation or a splitting of the personality.
About noon of the next day the female gets tired of waiting, moving off. Tarzan retrieves his spear, which in itself was a great feat of strength withdrawing it from the carcass of the lion, returning to Nkima.
After this strange, irrelevant episode Tarzan is heading for Bobolo’s village because Old Timer had said Bobolo took Kali Bwana there when he passed near, not too near, Betete’s village. In Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa he mentions that the Pygmies he dealt with had an overwhelming stench. Tarzan is downwind so this stench is wafted by Usha the wind right to him. Amidst this stench he detects a more delicate aroma that reminds him of something. Oh yes, a White Woman. Not bad work even for so sensitive a nose as his. Could there be two White women in the same patch of the Ituri Rain Forest? Not likely. Tarzan will peek in.
Now, Kali Bwana’s situation is getting desperate. No supplies have arrived from Bobolo and these cannibals are pretty darn hungry. You get the idea. Both Tarzan and Old Timer arrive at this particular spot in the Ituri at the same time. Fortunately the Leopard Men had overlooked a jackknife in Old Timer’s pocket so he is able to cut through the hinges of the gate in the nick of time. His daring attempt of rescue is about to fail when a shower of arrows from ye olde overhanging bough cinches his opportunity. Chucking the naked Kali Bwana over one shoulder he hightails out the gate as he hears a crash behind him.
As Tarzan turned to leave the branch he was standing on sheared from the bole. Stunned by the fall, like Lilliputians the Pygmies bound him and tossed him in a hut. ERB uses a device he has fine tuned several times, most recently the previous year in Invincible.
Burroughs always establishes these things. On his way to Bobolo’s Tarzan chanced to run into some great apes he knew who had only recently moved into the Ituri. Zutho and Gayat were old acquaintances for the wide roaming ape man.
Nkima is waiting in a tree trembling in fear of Sheeta. The fear of the feminine is very pronounced in our little monkey. Nevertheless Tarzan gets him to direct Zutho and his fellow tribesmen to the village for his relief. These apes are seven and eight foot giants so when they scramble over the wall the Pygmies move back. Tossing Tarzan over a shoulder they scramble away. An entertaining page or two.
The diabolical Betetes had not only bound the Big Guy with thongs but they had also used copper wire. Nkima could chew through the thongs but neither he nor the apes could manipulate the copper wire.
Tarzan tells Goyat to go find him a Gomangani to unwind the wire.
Back again to Kali Bwana and Old Timer.
Having been gotten safely into the jungle Kali Bwana is surprised that her new abductor is Old Timer. As she wearily says she is getting used to being abducted. As the two tramp through the jungle Old Timer gains his redemption while Kali Bwana falls in love with him. They are busy building a shelter when who shows up but Gayat. His instructions are for a Gomangani but his primitive brain figures a Tarmangani will do just as well. Not only do all the humans in this comedy want the delectable White Woman but Old Timer figures the apes do too. ‘Run, Kali,’ he exlaims, ‘he wants you.’ Old Timer was wrong there as he discovered as Gayat tucks him under his arm.
Old Timer releases Tarzan who hurries back to Kali Bwana. Not only do the humans and apes want Kali but so does a Leopard who now crouches for the leap. Employing a new variation on an old theme as the Leopard leaps Tarzan launches landing on his back in each’s mid leap. Work the geometry out on that one. Although unarmed the Mighty One wrenches the Leopard’s head breaking his neck. Boy, would I have liked to have been there to see that one while sneaking a peek at the voluptuous Kali Bwana at the same time. She doesn’t faze Tarzan though.
OK. We’re almost there. Only a few paragraphs to go but with Burroughs a few paragraphs are always a near lifetime. Tarzan is leading his party through the forest with his unerring nose as a compass when they come upon an army detachment searching for them. The native contingent is led by a couple White French officers. The French are invariably good in Burroughs for some strange reason. With them is the Kid, Jerry Jerome. Old Timer feels out in the cold until Jerry explains that Kali is his sister. ‘Your sister,’ ejaculates the incredulous Old Timer. Why not? Coincidence is coincidence but if Burroughs strains anything in the oeuvre it is coincidence.
Well, you know, it only take another couple paragraphs but everything ends happily. Tarzan takes Sobito back to his just deserts, Bobolo and the remaining Leopard Men are arrested and Old Timer is not only redeemed but gets the girl. What a story, hey? Almost too incredible to believe. Well, it is too incredible to believe. This issue is not the issue though and it’s the other issue that is believable.
Next the sixth and last part.
November 4, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tazan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
Cast Of Characters
The Shaggy Man
This novel is fairly rich in well conceived and well executed characters. Even though an obvious adventure novel it is certainly at the top of the list of the genre. All novels, even historical novels, reflect the time in which they were written. The novels of ERB are no exception. In addition they always reflect his state of mind at the time. In this first section I will deal with the three big characters- Oldtimer, Kali Bwana and The Kid. This story does not seem to have political connotations but is a pure reflection of ERB’s sexual trauma.
ERB always writes on several diffent levels and this one is a humdinger of the kind. I have already mentioned the concealed jokes in the names of Jerry ‘The Kid’ Jerome- Jerome K. Jerome- and Old Timer’s given name -Hi- probably related to Lewis Carrol’s Hunting Of The Snark. Old Timer’s real last name is never given, he is actually nameless. Kali Bwana is called that by the natives while her name is Jessie Jerome of which I can make nothing. Following the idea of the author Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat this story could be titled Three People In A Boat.
All three characters are based on the Peru, Trader Horn and Nina T. of Ethelreda Lewis’ book Trader Horn and the movie version of W.S. Van Dyke. Thus the scene in Chapter 4 which Burroughs couples with the story of Sobito the witch doctor, replicates the opening scene of Van Dyke’s movie when Peru and a grizzled old timer of a Horn portrayed by Harry Carey, sit around a campfire discussing life.
As Bill Hillman points out there is a certain irony in Old Timer/Burroughs assuming Carey’s role. In the early twenties ERB requested his movie rental agency to never send him Carey movies. Perhaps he had had a run in with Carey upon his arrival in LA where Carey insulted him. According to Van Dyke’s record of the filming of Horn, Horning Into Africa, Carey was an aggressive sort of guy. Ye olde so-called Alpha male. You can read that ‘unspeakable boor.’ Perhaps by this time ERB had made up with Carey or maybe he was satirizing him. At any rate it is interesting to see ERB assume the Carey role, or even to have gone to see Trader Horn.
In keeping with the very dark themes of this novel Old Timer is very despondent. He had met the Kid a year previously teaming up with him. The Kid, who probably is modeled on Ashton Dearholt, plays the minor role of essentially giving Old Timer his sister, Kali Bwana. So Dearholt must have relinquished his wife Florence. If the woman wants to leave what are you going to do about it?
Suspense isn’t really ERB’s long suit so he could have explained why the Kid was on the lam at the beginning but he saved it for the end where the ‘surprise’ which the reader is waiting for is pretty lame.
Back home in Indiana or wherever the Kid came from he thought he had killed a man. In what seems rather cliche Burroughs explains on p.190 of 192, he really saved that surprise for the last, didn’t he? Kali Bwana speaking:
Jerry thought he killed a man. I am going to tell you the whole story because you and he have been such close friends.
Jerry was in love with a girl in our town. He learned one night that an older man, a man with a vile reputation, had enticed her to his apartment. Jerry went there and broke in. The man was furious, and in the fight that followed Jerry shot him. Then he took the girl home, swearing her to secrecy about her part in the affair. That same night he ran away, leaving a note saying he had shot Sam Berger, but giving no reason.
Berger didn’t die and refused to prosecute…
Personally I think Berger was in the right and Jerry in the wrong; he was lucky Berger didn’t want to prosecute. It a man invites a woman up to see his etchings and she goes she obviously is not in love with a feller like Jerry. My sympathies are with Berger. It would be reasonable to think from the name that Sam Berger was Jewish so the sharp eyed boys down at the ADL/AJC would probably take that as an anti-Semitic reference. Names are important. As Kali Bwana says of Old Timer: She loved this nameless man of rages and tatters. (p. 180). It might be interesting to see the ADL/AJC file on Burroughs.
All we know of this nameless man of rags and tatters is that he answered to Old Timer, Hi or any loud cry, and that he has been exiled into the forest far from the haunts of men by ‘what that woman did to him.’ Nor are we allowed to know what that one woman did do to him. Old Timer is a misogynist. And the woman made a ‘bum’ of him. One might also refer to the Shaggy Man Of Oz by Baum as a reference.
We don’t know how long he’s been on the run from society but he’s been poaching ivory for two years and teamed up with the Kid for one. We are advised that it were better for us not to be curious and ask no questions. P. 33:
People who ask questions should be taken gently, but firmly, by the hand, led out behind the barn and shot. It would be a better world to live in.
Alright. I’m not going to ask any questions. I’m just going to form conclusions from the evidence. The world would probably be a better place to live in without me too and someday in the not too distant future it will be. However, like the Dalai Lama, my successor has already been chosen and he’s not going to be as nice as me.
Having settled that let us ask the question of how closely is Old Timer pattered on ERB? I think following ERB’s ‘highly fictionized’ manner the two are identical.
ERB specifically calls his character a ‘nameless man of rags and tatters.’ Since he’s nameless he has a serious identity problem. That means he’s been taught to be ashamed of himself. This is not unusual. A great many people have had their identities destroyed. When the Bibliophiles began publishing my essays I had five identities I hid behind. Over the intervening years I have come to assume my proper identity of R.E. Prindle. In this novel of personal crisis ERB is grasping for his own proper identity, his name. Will he be able to stand tall as the real Edgar Rice Burroughs? The issue still seems unresolved at novel’s end as Old Timer still answers only to ‘Hi!’ or any loud cry as he and Kali Bwana stand looking downstream toward ‘civilization’ which he may or may not be able to join and regain his identity. One can’t be nameless in civilization only out in the jungle.
As ERB is now 57 at novel’s end he has been struggling to resolve this problem for some time.
We are reasonably certain as to the women in ERB’s life. Until the age of 53 there was only Emma and his mother. Those are the only two women who could probably have affected his attitude toward real women. There doesn’t appear to be anything Emma actually did to him to make him a misogynist. I sense a lack of warmth and closeness to his mother but I can’t pick up any references to her and she wouldn’t have ‘done’ any womanly thing to make him a misogynist.
That leaves only the Anima. As I have pointed out, in the bilateral arrangement of the human body the male has an X and y chromosome while the female is XX. This fact is of great significance. It means the female has no male component but still has an active X provided by the male which serves as her Animus while the passive X provided by the female contributor forms her Anima.
Therefore the male always carries within his mind an ideal woman which no living woman can do more than approximate. Freud and Jung picked this up as ‘bisexuality.’ In the sixties we were admonished to ‘get in touch with our feminine side.’ If this is understood outside the notion of sexual intercourse with other males both the psychologists’ notions are approximations of the truth.
Over the course of life the relationship between a male’s Anima and Animus will become estranged and/or perverted. Hence it is indeed necessary to get in touch with your female side or in other words to reconcile your Anima and Animus to form a healthy mind to go with your healthy body, if you have one. One of the reasons why an unhealthy mind means an unhealthy body is the psychosomatic reaction.
Now let us review the definition of rags and tatters from the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, p. 782:
(rags and tatters) are the symbol of anxiety and lesions of the psyche.
I know from personal experience the above definition is true.
It seems that in this novel ERB is using a volume such as the Penguin as a guide. Perhaps he was studying with the Theosophists or Vedantists or some related esoteric discipline. Let us assume that he had a nearly identical definition of ‘rags and tatters’ to work from so that his understanding is identical to Penguin’s and mine, if not yours.
Thus ERB is admitting to anxiety and psychic lesions.
What could have caused this anxiety and these psychic lesions?
Yes, you’re right, his confronation with John the Bully at the age of eight or nine. ERB’s Anima had failed him making a ‘bum’ of him from age eight or nine. His father from a very early age said the ERB was ‘no good.’ We know very little about his childhood so from the time we know him he has always been a ‘bum’ and ‘no good.’
Therefore if a ‘woman’ did it to him she did it when he was eight or nine. That’s as close an analysis as I can do. If it doesn’t satisfy you it satisfies me.
Being a ‘bum’ is a man’s confession that he can’t deal with life. For whatever reason he would rather voluntarily renounce his mahnood rather than compete and try. ERB learned of bums and hoboes firsthand while working at his father’s office down on the Main Stem of Madison Avenue in his native Chicago. He may have met and talked to a great many of them. He was a ‘bum’ before he married Emma. She had nothing to do with his feelings of inferiority although she may have amplified them over the years.
During the first two decades of the twentieth century ERB was fascinated by hoboes. He writes of them extensively including his hobo trilogy The Mucker, “Out There Somewhere’ or The Return Of The Mucker and Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid, or The Oakdale Affair. After the last title the hobo recedes or disappears from his corpus to reappear here in Leopard Men at this sexual and psychological crisis in his life. The psychic lesions have split his mind asunder.
He has become the Shaggy Man. The notion of the Shaggy Man had probably been working away in his mind since 1910’s The Emerald City Of Oz by L. Frank Baum. David Adams has gone to pains to point out that Baum was extremely influential on Burroughs. As the two men not only knew each other but were familiar while ERB reverenced Baum it follows that Baum must have imparted some authorly wisdom to Burroughs. The Emerald City Of Oz was the last Oz book Burroughs read before going West in 1913 to meet his hero.
As David points out Baum was an esotericist and Theosophist in particular. Thus Baum’s rather extraordinary character of the Shaggy Man in Emerald City is worth examining in relation to ERB. Leopard Men could be interpreted as an ‘adult’ version of Emerald City.
It would appear that Baum knew what the image of the Shaggy Man, a man of rags and tatters, meant. To give a slightly different reading to Baum’s character, Penguin, p. 782:
(Rags and tatters) denotes as well a disguise by princes, princesses and wizards or cloaks inner riches under an appearance of wretchedness…
The Shaggy Man of Baum is a wizard while under his frightful appearance he disguises his great inner worth. Rather remarkably Baum has him lure the little girl Dorothy away from Aunt Em’s farm down the Road to Anywhere. One wonders how many little girls were led astry by strange bums because of the Emerald City Of Oz?
So in a sense Leopard Men had been gestating in Burroughs’ mind since his 1910 reading of Emerald City. Now, in 1931, he is able to combine it with Trader Horn, book and movie. So in the complex makeup of Old Timer, who is the Shaggy Man, he also has to be seen as Burroughs’ version of Trader Horn.
The Kid and Old Timer go off on their separate ways in search of ivory. Old Timer hears a shot and goes to investigate. He comes upon Kali Bwana who has been abandoned by her safari after she refused to ‘be good’ to her Negro headman, Golato. ERB puts together a strange scenario here in that the safari is composed of ‘low browed’ West African Blacks. That would mean that Kali Bwanan began her trek from somewhere on the West Coast. Congo or Gabon. She must have been out there for months as the safari was now in the heart of the Ituri Rain Forest.
When the Old Timer broke camp after grousing about the horrors of women the Kid joked that he would fall for the first ‘skirt’ he met. Now, here in the middle of the Ituri Rain Forest Old Timer does just that. A little humor. He is stunned at the sight of Kali whose hair is of the platinum blonde variety. As mentioned she is certainly based on Jean Harlow who had recently starred in Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels. ERB must have been knocked out by the movie.
Old Timer is gruff and offensive openly insulting to all women. Kali dismisses him as ‘an unspeakable boor.’ This was a major conflict for him as the fires of lust burst into flame in his heart. He immediately conceived the notion of rape. Rape seems to be Kali’s fate although she does manage to avoid it.
As evidence of the lesions of the psyche associated with the Shaggy Man Kali thinks Old Timer is crazy. He himself thinks maybe he is. So, in this period of stress one alter ego, Tarzan, characteristically loses his memory while his other walks around mumbling that maybe he is crazy while he’s making plans to rape a woman. Leopard Men is definitely not a children’s book.
Old Timer leaves a man behind to look after Kali while he goes off in search of ivory. On the way back he has an unusual soliloquy. P. 51:
When he turned back toward camp at the end of his fruitless search for elephant signs a new determination filled him with disquieting thoughts and spurred him rapidly upon the back trail. It had been two years since he had seen a white woman, and then Fate had thrown this lovely creature across his path.
What had women ever done for him? “Made a bum of me,” he soliloquized; “ruined my life. The girl would have been lost but for me. She owes me something. All women owe me something for what that one woman did to me. This girl is going to pay the debt…
Old Timer was saved from this unspeakable crime because in his absence the Leopard Men had abducted Kali Bwana.
From this point to her rescue from the Pygmy village the story of Old Timer and Kali Bwana does not seem to relate to Burroughs’ personal life.
The abduction by the Leopard Men may relate to Dearholt’s decision to take Florence land yachting. Dearholt probably noted with alarm the developing relationship between Florence and Burroughs so he pitted one adage against another: Out of sight, out of mind vs. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. The latter won.
There is no question as to how the romance between ERB and Florence began. On the one hand Joan thought she was used by Florence to inveigle her way into proximity to ERB. After the divorce Joan refused to speak to Florence. On the other hand ERB is said to have fallen in love with Florence at first sight for which the Leopard Men offers some evidence. The question is when was this first sight? Astute ERB researcher Woodrow Nichols believes it may have been as early as 1922 when she made a Western with Ashton Dearholt. If so, Burroughs must have been carrying the torch for her for a few years when chance threw her in his way when Ashton Dearholt, since married to her, asked ERB to finance a movie project. As the saying goes ERB chased Florence until she caught him.
While land yachting Florence may have been so yearning to return that Dearholt just threw in the sponge and came back notifying Burroughs that they had returned. The return was more than Burroughs could bear hence we have this novel redolent of symbols of sexual desire at which Kali Bwana/Florence is the center.
The combination of the Scottsboro Boys, Trader Horn, the MGM contract and the return of Florence evidently made ERB/Old Timer crazy and ran Tarzan off the tracks. One wonders how Emma was taking this other than walking out during the showing of Trader Horn. Actually as her drinking escalated at this period we do know how she took it. Make no mistake on my position, drinking is not a reason to violate the for better or worse clause of the marriage contract especially when you’re the reason for the drinking.
So between Kali’s abduction by the Leopard Men and her abduction from the Pygmys’ by Old Timer was the time Florence was land yachting. The abduction by Old Timer then must represent the serious beginning of the affair which would result in ERB’s walking out on Emma two and a half years later. These two and a half years would be some of the most traumatic of his life.
ERB hoped or thought that Florence would redeem his life even as he was intent on hurting her as he felt he had been hurt. He apparently thought that Florence could cleanse his soul restoring him to princely status from a man of rags and tatters. Thus as he is still harboring evil rape thoughts he seizes Kali roughly forcing a kiss upon her. Having learned to trust this disreputable looking man she is hurt and astonished. Her reaction wakes him from his ‘boorishness’, he becomes contrite and like the frog redeemed by the kiss of the princess in the story, Old Timer is redeemed becoming ‘uncrazed.’
A neat little story with a moral if you follow the symbolism.
The tale then ends with the implication that the two will live happily forever after as they leave the forest of iniquitous desire for the trading posts and civilization down river. Very pretty.
Buy, you know, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Extricating oneself from previous commitments is neither easy nor pretty:
Did you ever have to make up your mind?
To pick up on one and leave the other behind?
It’s not often easy,
And not always kinds,
Did you ever have to make up your mind?
–John Sebastian and Lovin’ Spoonful
The Goddess Kali
There was no science of social processes at all.
People were not trained to remark
The correlations of things.
For the most part they were not aware
That there was any correlation between things;
They imagined this side of life might change
And that remain unaltered.
–H. G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come p. 78
One sees ERB as a lone individual without any connection to the world scheme; this vast struggle against the forces of oppression by the forces of freedom. Put another way the struggle of knowledge against the forces if ignorance, the unconscious versus the conscious, fear versus confidence, timidity versus daring.
Will there be a retreat to the cocoon of religion or will mankind dare the metamorphosis to the butterfly? This is the serious question of our times.
Ever since the two species clashed in Ur of the Chaldees and the ignorant Semitic religons overwhelmed the emerging science of the Sumerians the great culture clash has been between science and religion. Europe versus the Semites. The great Greek upsurge toward knowledge and intelligence led by Aristotle had been thwarted by the Semitic takeover of the intellect of Europe, not unlike that of the former takeover of the Sumerian intellect. Slowly all intelligence was crushed in the name of Semitisim. The fertile developing intellectual life of Greek science and the alternate religious speculation of the Middle East and Egypt was outlawed, crushed beneath the Iron Heel of Semitism. The great library of Alexandria was burned to the ground in contempt of all secular learning. Desperate to save any part of learning alternate religious tracts and scientific papers were buried in the sands to be discovered millennia later.
Intelligence was driven underground. Any who dared to challenge the religious orthodoxy of Semitism were murdered, imprisoned or forced to recant, their minds closed by the iron jaws of bigotry, not unlike today.
But resistance to tyranny works forever beneath the surface. Sabotage of Judaeo-Christian systems of repression came from the Moslem world as a result of the Crusaders attempt to impose Judaeo-Christian beliefs on the Middle East.
Outside the reach of Judaeo-Christianity the great Hindu system of mythology waited to fructify Western religious thought.
And so science and esoterica overthrew Judaeo-Christian oppression as the eighteenth century drew to a close. The Judaeo-Christian reaction set in immediately, weakly flickering at first but gaining strength slowly even in the teeth of the rapidly developing scientific knowledge which laid bare the intellectual folly of revealed religion.
By the time Burroughs began writing in 1911 the religious reaction was nearly on a parity with the scientific revolution. The so-called Russian Revolution of 1917 tipped the scales once again in favor of religion. Now the impetus was once again in favor of Judaeo-Communism as the Semites discarded their outworn cover of Christianity.
By 1930 Edgar Rice Burroughs was clearly enmeshed in the coils of his personal struggle in the five thousand year old war between Europeans and Semites now in its new guise of Judaeo-Communism.
A German-Swiss student of mythology, J.J. Bachofen, a former lawyer, was always amazed at how two different lawyers could analyze the same facts to arrive at opposing conclusions. For that reason I hesitate to recommend any books. However as background for the ’30s is necessary may I suggest Eugene Lyons’ The Red Decade. This is a contemporary history written as the decade closed. Up front and personal.
A word about Lyons. Eugene Lyons is of course not his real name. He was born in 1898 into a Jewish household. He found it convenient to assume a goy disguise. He beame an ardent Communist serving as a correspondent in Russia from 1927-34. He claims to have become an apostate to the Communist faith, a sort of proto-neocon. One needn’t take his apostasy at face value. His first loyalty was always to his Jewish Culture while as his later career demonstrates he never gave up his Communist faith.
He probably was only revolted by the goy Stalin who gave up on International Communism, the Jewish version of the faith, for Communism in one country, a version of fascism as Lyons notes, which at this time was almost as successful at purging Jews as Hitler. That may have influenced Lyons while it is also possible that Lyons was merely a paid Stalinist agent posing as a renegade so that he could bore from within. He tells us nothing new. Reading his book is like talking to God; you aren’t going to learn anything you don’t already know or couldn’t surmise. Lyons merely confirms speculations.
However, it is clearly stated while coming from an inside source. A student of his times like Burroughs either was or could have been aware of everything Lyons says so one may assume that ERB was fighting the good fight in awareness. One can hardly believe otherwise when one follows the story from Invincible through Quest.
Lyons was one of a number of so-called apostates or renegades all of whom were well rewarded for their apostasy, probably from both sides. Lyons himself received good paying jobs from ‘conservative’ magazines running the gamut from American Mercury to a plum at Reader’s Digest to his founding of the neocon magazine National Review with William Buckley as an Anglo-Saxon figurehead.
The Digest rewarded a number of renegades such as Lyons and Max Eastman with terrifically good paying jobs that might better have gone to loyal Americans. Thus the reward for Communists came from both sides of the fence. I have no doubt they were all still on the Soviet payroll as Stalin laughed up his sleeve at us.
From the Digest Lyons was intrumental in launching the National Review. Which nation was never made clear. As a complete greehorn of 22 in 1960 it took me about three issues to tear aside the veil of the phony conservatism of the National Review.
But to return to the thirties. A couple of key chapters of the Red Decade are X: The Liberals Invent A Utopia through XVI: The Incredible Revolution Spreads.
If one equates the cult of the Leopard Men with Judaeo-Communism, as I do, then one of the more striking images in the book is that of the Leopard Men leading Kali Bwana as the goddess Kali through the steaming jungle with a rope around her neck. This could be interpreted to symbolize the Semitic capture or supordination of Hindu mythology in the West.
One may argue that Burroughs wouldn’t have been conscious of such an intent which while it may possibly be true is irrelevant. The point is that ERB had the knowledge in his brain to conceive such an idea whether consciously or unconsciously. One cannot get out of a brain what isn’t in it while anything in it will inevitably come out. For instance, I first read Lyon’s book twenty years ago. The info went in but I couldn’t recall the source or even the specific info. On the rereading I recognized a great many facts and ideas that had gone into forming my own opinions. Thus while I couldn’t have acknowledged Lyons as a source he, in fact, was one. So whether consciously or unconsciously Burroughs used what he read or observed to form his images.
In addition Kali Bwana is not only named after the Hindu goddess of birth, death and regeneration but she serves the same functions for Old Timer. At the same time that Judaeo-Communism was taking over Hollywood and LA the great esoteric religious tradition was also firmly seated in LA and the suburbs. This novel is clear evidence that Burroughs was familiar with one or even all of them. He was an open minded and curious kind of guy.
There was plenty to be curious about in the Southland too. There were more esoteric outfits there than you could shake a stick at. There were the Rosicrucians down in Oceanside, Aleister Crowley’s Golden Dawn out in Barstow, Manly Hall was advising the studios on esoteric matters, the Theosophists had their university but perhaps most important were the Vedantists. It will be remembered that the founder of Vedantism, Swami Vivekananda, probably came to the young ERB’s attention during the 1893 Columbian Expo. Vivekananda went back to India to teach after founding the Chicago temple which still exists. In the year of the Fair by coincidence a man was born in India who undoubtedly left his mark on the ERB of the current period. The Swami Prabhavananda was born in the year of the Fair. ( http://www.vedanta.org/vssc/prabhavananda.htm ) He graduated from Calcutta University and then joined the Ramakrishna Order. In 1923 he began his mission in the United States, serving first in San Francisco then migrating North to Portland. In 1929 he established the Vedanta Society of Southern California. There was a monastery in Hollywood.
If we cut to 1936’s Tarzan’s Quest we will find ERB’s character Swami Kavandavanda and his monastery. It would seem that between 1930-31 and 1936 that ERB was involved with the Vedanta Society. In later years Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood would be involved with the Vedantists. One wonders who ERB may have met in his years with the Vedantists. Harry Carey? Wouldn’t that have been a good joke.
With the appearance of the goddess Kali in this book along with the wealth of female symbolism it would seem certain that by sometime in 1930 ERB became interested in Vedantism. This means that the Broadhurst/Adams faction of the Bibliophiles who noted ERB’s esotericism whether Theosophical or not are right.
Once within the temple of the Leopard God Kali Bwana is surrounded by the priestesses who are wearing only the skimpiest of g-strings. They tear at Kali’s clothes until as ERB says she was wearing less than they were. Must be totally naked as Mickey Spillane would say, here’s where we learn whether Kali Bwana is a true platinum blonde or not. I’m betting she was. Throughout most of the rest of the novel Kali Bwana was walking around nude.
Once naked the priestesses dress, or adorn her, in the most barbaric but gorgeous fashion. The goddess Kali is portrayed with a necklace of skulls. ERB doesn’t give Kali Bwana a necklace of skulls but he does give her one of human teeth which is almost the same thing. I don’t think there can be any mistaking that Our Man has been talking to Swami Prabhavananda.
Decked out Kali Bwana is stood beside the Leopard God gazing out over a spectacular image of drunken dancing Africans leaping about. As the Africans fall into a drunken stupor Chief Bobolo offers to help Old Timer and Kali Bwana escape. At this point she becomes the universal White Woman under threat of rape by the Black hordes.
As we clearly saw from Tarzan The Invincible the desirability of the White Woman for the other races or species was a sore point for ERB. The fear of miscegenation apparently occupied his mind. The gang rape of the two White Women by the Scottsboro Boys undoubtledly confirmed his worst fears.
While Kali was undoubtedly influenced by Edwina Booth of the movie Trader Horn in which she was sensational ERB combined her with Jean Harlow to make her the whitest, blondest woman ever seen in the jungles of Africa. She is so white she glows in the dark. She is under threat of rape from the Africans not to mention Old Timer.
Probably this protective attitude toward White Women is a large part of the reason Liberals denounce Leopard Men as Burroughs’ worst book. Their purpose is to eliminate the White species; to wipe Whites off the face of the earth by having White women subjected to ‘coloreds’ bearing colored children. So that Burroughs attitude represents everything they hate.
There are a couple sites on the internet that explain this issue quite bluntly. Though they are ‘hate’ sites I’m not going to obscure the issue in name calling. The facts speak for themselves. One Peoples Project outrightly advocates violence against people who disagree with this viewpoint. This attitude is, of course, sound Liberalism as attested by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. The other, more academically inclined site is called Race Traitor. Their motto is- treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity. Such a slogan could be construed as anti-Semtitic. They make no bones about eliminating Whites from the face of the earth. In a paper delivered at UC Berkeley over 4/11-13/97, what I’m quoting must be a condensed version, the founder of Race Traitor, Noel Ignatiev, formerly of Harvard since transferred to the Massachusetts College of Art, explains his position thusly:
Various commentators have stated that their aim is to identify and preserve a white identity. Abolitionists (of the Whites species) deny the existence of a positive white identity. We at Race Traitor, the journal with which I am associated, have asked some of those who think whiteness contains positive elements to indicate what they are. We are still waiting for an answer. (From whom, specifically, Professor Ignatiev does not indicate.) Until we get one, we will take our stand with David Roediger, who has insisted that whiteness is not merely oppressive and false, it is nothing but oppressive and false. As James Baldwin said, “So long as you think you are white, there is no hope for you.”
…Whiteness is not a culture…Whiteness has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position. It is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no other reason than to defend it.
(Here comes the clincher.) Either America is a very democratic country where cab drivers beat up city councilmen with impunity…(or what?
It goes on like that. One doesn’t argue with such logic even if the speaker is a Harvard educated professor and intimate of Rabbi Schneerson. It goes without question that the professor is of the Jewish Culture. He is also associated with Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African-American Research as well as with his own Race Traitor.
The question here is as an abolitionist how does one abolish a human species? Prof. Ignatiev twists logic here, which should surprise no one, from abolishing a thing- slavery- to abolishing a people- genocide. How does an abolitionist go about committing genocide of a billion, never mind six million, people or so? What in his mind makes eliminating a billion more just than eliminating six million. Liberals can talk like this without the least hint of shame.
Very likely he will employ the time honored manner– kill the men, appropriate the women. In this case convincing White Women it is their duty to pair with non-White men. Burroughs’ worst fears realized.
If White women bear colored children ‘whiteness’ disappears. Easy enough. Convincing them isn’t that hard. The males, whether they pair with colored women or not will die out. If they do, more colored children. It’s a dream but not that far fetched. It will be noted that Prof. Ignatiev of Harvard has not paired with a black woman however so as not to dilute his Jewish ‘genes’ per Rabbi Schneerson.
One can plainly see an ideological basis for condemning Tarzan And The Leopard Men as well as Burroughs in general as Prof. Slotkin does. Thus when one reads that Leopard Men is Burroughs’ worst one has to ask on what basis. I’ve read it very carefully and find it certainly no worse than the rest of the oeuvre while on many levels I find it better. People like Prof. Ignatiev aren’t going to say the real reason they don’t like the book is because Burroughs is intent on preserving women of the ‘White race’ because that does sound bad but just that the book is ‘bad’ in general. No reasons needed. But their distaste is because of ‘race’ because this is the most racially conscious novel in the oeuvre.
A main source of tension is whether Kali Bwana will have Black men forced on her. Burroughs was horrified at the prospect. He expects that the reader will share his revulsion also.
While I have not found the reason that Leopard Men was not released in 1932, possibly because the publishing program was already set in Burrough’s mind, City of Gold being next, a probable reason for its being released in 1936 was the continued agitation for the release of the Scottsboro Boys by the Communists. It would be intgeresting to note any changes made in the story between the magazine edition of 1932 and the book version of 1936.
Tarzan, The Utengans And The Leopard Men
Why have historians, sociologists and economists
Nothing to tell us now?
There may indeed be some excuse
For the failure of politicans under democratic conditions
But have our universities
Been doing nothing about it?
Is there indeed no science of these things?
Is there no knowledge?
Has history learnt nothing of causes,
And is there no analysis of the social processes that are destroying us?
–H.G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come pp. 122-23
There is little more obvious than that Leopard Men was a spur of the moment inspiration that Burroughs acted on. At the same time hsi mind became marvelously focused. Overall he wrote four books in 1931. And he wrote very quickly. Tarzan Triumphant was written in 82 days. He took 47 to knock out Tarzan And The Leopard Men, 34 days to write Pirates Of Venus and another 47 days to set down Tarzan And The City Of Gold. That’s a lot of material. I’m not here to discuss literary quality; suffice it to say that all four are still being read today.
I have already discussed several probable inspirations for Leopard Men. We will examine religious matters in some detail here. There is a curious dissociation here between the story of Tarzan as Muzimo and the story of Old Timer and Kali Bwana. For most of the book they are two stories running side by side that only begin to blend about halfway through the book and then with very little emotional involvement on the part of Tarzan. In the sort of split personality of Burroughs it is as though Tarzan has no interest in Burroughs extra-marital affairs, perhaps even revolted by them.
That Burroughs himself was struggling with his problems is evident from the fact that Tarzan is bashed once again suffering amnesia yet another time.
If one has read only one or two of the Tarzan books the problem of repetition does not come up but if one has read the complete oeuvre at least once several themes and variations present themselves with enough regularity to be troublesome if one doesn’t try to penetrate their meaning. As is evident from the title of this series of reviews I try to understand this repetition as various themes and variations with meaning that is signficant to ERB’s psychology.
The single most frequently used motif is the bashings that Tarzan suffers from novel to novel while in this novel he takes two incredible blows to the head while being stunned unconscious falling from a tree in the Pygmy viillage.
In a variation of the blows received in Ant Men when a blow to the forehead makes Tarzan smaller and it is facetiously suggested that a blow to the back of the head would make him larger, in Leopard men one blow makes his lose his memory while a second causes him to regain it.
One has to question the consciousness changing nature of these blows to the head. They obviously all refer to the blow to the forehead ERB received in Toronto which caused him so much trouble. The blow was obviously the kind one never forgets. The closest I can come for comparison is when I fell on the back of my head while ice skating during high school. I don’t think I was out but I might have been for a few seconds. I literally saw stars. I can relive the experience today and I can still visualize the stars, so there is every reason to believe that ERB relived the Tornonto incident every day if not every moment of his life. If one counted the bashings in the corpus they would probably number in the thousands. many, many authors have written stories without one such incident.
In this novel Tarzan loses his memory at the very beginning when a tree falls on his head. Yes, a tree. This gives some indication of how the Toronto blow felt. It too was a life changing experience. In this story even though unconscious of the purpose of his visit to the Utenga country Tarzan fulfills his purpose destroying both the village and temple of the Leopard Men. One wonders if that isn’t how Burroughs saw his life, a sort of unconscious realization of his hopes and dreams so that like Tarzan he was thankful for the blow. I think it unlikely but perhaps his literary career did stem from the blow in Toronto.
He does say that he was able to get lost in his storyline for periods of time returning only after having written them. What sort of dual life was the man living while lost in the ozone? I think the problem bears some examination. ERB may be giving clinical details of his own plight after Toronto. Read Girl From Farris’s carefully.
When he awakens he encounters the Utengan Orando who is out hunting. Orando was named afer a dead ancestor. Each Utengan had a a guardian angel called a muzimo who he was named after. So Tarzan who Orando mistakes for his muzimo is actually named Orando in the story although his descendant Orando calls him Muzimo. Probably saves a little confusion. As Tarzan has no other identity he accepts Orando’s evaluation at face value becoming Orando the Muzimo. ERB refers to him only as Muzimo during this part of the story. ERB skillfully blends the natural deeds of Muzimo into a supernatural matrix in Orando’s mind. Thus the natural and supernatural become one. I’m sure we can all see that ERB is heading in the direction of another of his religious analyses.
In a fashion Tarzan returns from the dead. As the ancestor of Orando he has come back. Without committing myself to the notion one still recalls that at this time there was a great interest in spiritualism. A sound intellect like Conan Doyle’s played seriously with notions of communicating with the dead on the ‘other side.’ Seances were a social event. H.G. Wells wrote a novel disparaging the idea a couple years previously so it is possible that ERB is weighing in with his little joke.
Of interest is the fact that Harry Houdini ne Ehrich Weiss died Halloween night of 1926 vowing to return if it was possible. People believed that if anyone could do it this great escape artist was the man. Ever since seances have been held on Halloween night in the hopes of contacting Houdini. It is also interesting to note that Houdini and his then partner performed at the Columbian Expo in 1893 so it is possible that ERB saw Houdini then and may have remembered him. It’s a stretcher I know to even hint that ERB had Houdini in mind for a background for Muzimo but in Orando’s mind Muzimo does break on through from the other side. I would seriously argue that there is a reference to spiritualism. I think it clear that ERB is once again ridiculing supernaturalism.
Let us analyze the scene when Muzimo meets Sobito. As the story opened a Utengan, Nyamwegi, had been murdered by the Leopard Men. He was Orando’s friend. Just as Orando projected the identity of muzimo on Tarzan so he projected the spirit of Nyamwegi on the monkey, Nkima, who was Tarzan’s companion. These identities were accepted by Orando’s fellow tribesmen with the exception of the witch-doctor Sobito who was also a secret Leopard Man hence disloyal to the Utengas.
ERB describes the encounter thusly:
There was one skeptic, however. It was the village witch-doctor, who doubtless felt it was not good business to admit too much credence in a miracle not of his own making. Whatever he felt, and it is quite possible that he was as much in awe as the others, he hid it under a mask of indifference, for he must always impress the laity with his own importance.
The attention bestowed on this stranger irked him; it also pushed him entirely out of the limelight. This nettled him greatly. therefore to call attention to himself, as well as reestablish his importance, he strode boldly up to Muzimo. Whereupon the Spirit of Nyamwegi screamed shrilly and took refuge behind the back of his patron. The attention of the village was now attracted to the witch-doctor, which was precisely what he desired. The chattering ceased. All eyes were on the two. This was the moment the witch-doctor had awaited. He puffed himself to his full height and girth. He swaggered before the spirit of Orando’s ancestor. Then he addressed him in a loud tone.
“You say that you are the muzimo of Orando, the son of Lobongo; but how do we know your words are true words? You say that the little monkey is the ghost of Nyamwegi. How do we know that, either?”
‘Who are you, old man, who asks me these questions?” demanded Muzimo.
“I am Sobito, the witch-doctor.”
“You say you are Sobito, the wtich-doctor, but how do I know that your words are true words?”
“Everyone knows that I am Sobito, the witch-doctor.” The old man was becoming excited. He discovered that he had suddenly been put on the defensive, which was not at all what he had intended, “Ask anyone. they all know me.”
“Very well, then,” said Muzimo: “Ask Orando who I am. He alone knows me. I have not said that I am his muzimo. I have not said that the little monkey is the ghost of Nyamwegi. I have not said who I am. I have not said anything. It does not make any difference to me who you think I am. But if it makes a difference to you, ask Orando,” whereupon he turned about and walked away, leaving Sobito to feel that he had been made to appear ridiculous in the eyes of his clansmen.
Fanatical, egotistical, and unscrupulous, the old witch-doctor was a power in the village of Tumbai. For years he had exerted his influence, sometimes for good, sometimes for evil, upon the village. Even Lobongo, the chief, was not as powerful as Sobito, who played upon the superstitions and fears of his ignorant followers until they dared not disobey his slightest wish.
What we have here is the clash of two religious systems one led by Tarzan and that of the Leopard Men led by Sobito. It should be remembered that Sobito has infiltrated Utengan society and in Communist terminology is ‘boring from within’. His first loyalty is to the Leopard Men so that he advises Lupingu to betray Orando’s expedition against the Leopard Men. Thus he betrays his ostensible people while sabotaging their ends.
Tarzan, or Muzimo, on the other hand works loyally to defeat the enemy of Orando and his Utengans.
As I maintain one cannot separate Burroughs or his writing from the political and religious trends of his time. Nor should his understanding be distorted by today’s religious or political evaluation of his times. ERB acted according to the knowledge and understanding of his time.
Thus the Leopard Men must represent the Judaeo-Communists. There is no accident that Sobito is a religious figure more powerful than the temporal figure, Chief Lobongo. Sobito has been able to conceal his identity as a Leopard Man. Only Muzimo (Tarzan really has no other identity in this part of the story) is able to ferret out the true identity of Sobito.
So in American society Judaeo-Communists preferred disguises to being identified in their true guises. Exposure would have led to discreditization. It was somewhat like the Arthurian romances when knights wore other men’s armor so that they could only be identified by people familiar with their characteristics. Or in contemporary society being exposed as a racist or anti-Semite.
Tarzan, as we learn later, came into this country to discover the Leopard Men’s haunts. Working from within Utengan society in the disguise of Muzimo he is able to destroy them. Very much, one imagines as ERB wanted to do with the Judaeo-Communists in Hollywood.
One can almost envision Rabbi Schneerson in all his magical paraphernalia as the witch-doctor Sobito. Indeed there isn’t much difference between the two and this was probably ERB’s intent. Of course he had his own models as Schneerson came later.
In an effort to ‘expose’ Muzima as a fake, equivalent of anti-Semite, Sobito has performed a number of magical rites, p. 40:
Suddenly he halted and stooping low tossed some powder from his pouch upon the fire and then with the root of the Hyaena tail he drew a rude geometric figure in the dust before the blaze. Stiffening, he closed his eyes and appeared to be listening intently, his face turned partially upward.
In awestruck silence the warriors leaned forward, waiting. It was a tense moment and quite effective. Sobito prolonged it to the utmost. At last he opened his eyes and let them move solemnly about the circle of expectant faces, waiting again before he spoke.
“There are many ghosts about us,” he announced, “They all speak against this war, those who go to battle with the Leopard Men will die. None will return. The ghosts are angry with Orando. The true muzimo of Orando spoke to me, it is angry with Orando. Let Orando beware. That is all; the young men will not go to war against the Leopard Men.”
The warriors gathered behind Orando looked questioningly at him and at Muzimo. Doubt was written plainly on every face. Gradually they began to move, drifting immperceptively away from Orando. Then the son of the chief looked at Muzimo questioningly. “If Sobito has spoken true words,” he said, ‘You are not my muzimo.” the words seemed a challenge.
“What does Sobito know about it?” demanded Muzio. “I could build a fire and wave the tail of Dongo. I culd make marks in the dirt and throw powders on the fire. Then I could tell you whatever I wanted to tell you, just as Sobito has told you what he wanted you to believe; but such things prove nothing. The only way you can know if a war against the Leopard Men will succeed is to send warriors to fight them. Sobito knows nothing of it.”
Surprisingly reason triumphed here. The Utengans did fight the Leopard Men and with the ‘more powerful magic’ or reason of Muzimo they succeeded.
One notices the similarity between the magical methods of Sobito and those of Rabbi Schneerson. They date nearly from the same psychologcial period of evolution as do those of Sobito. Rather than a hyaena’s tail the Rabbi has more attachments than a computer on his body. The box on his head is supposed to put him in direct contact with not only his Muzimo or god, but what he fancies is the universal god. His coat of colors is arranged just so, straps and fringes, all with their special magical meanings abound. In the old pre-scientific days his people were ‘chosen’ by their god; in the light of subsequent scientific knowledge the Rabbi has created out of whole cloth the notion that there is a genetic difference between his people and all others, indeed, that they are a separate and superior species. Thus, by his reckoning there are two species of humans in the world, us and them. Nothing has changed but the justification.
You can hear Burroughs laughing through Tarzan’s mouth. Religious blather is religious blather.
Having thus set up a conflict between the Utengans and the Leopard Men on a religious basis replicating the Judaeo-Communist situation of the West and Hollywood ERB then has Muzimo set about destroying them. The rest of the story of Muzimo among the Utengans is the story of the conflict between the two religions in which, of course, the Leopard Men are destroyed and the Utengas triumph.
Once Tarzan regains his memory the Big Bwana becomes involved in solving the problem of Old Timer and Kali Bwana.
But that can be dealt with in relating that plot in Part V.
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
This Silent River Of Mystery And Death
In our hour of darkness,
In our hour of need…
Leopard Men is an exceptionally dark novel. There is nothing about it that isn’t horrific, a sort of Gotterdamerung. There are probably more people killed in this novel than any other of Burroughs’. The threat of rape hangs heavy in the air. Old Timer/Burroughs is going through more major changes trying to burst his chrysalis.
Through it all runs the thread of religion; and not just one religion but three religious systems. There is the animistic religion of the Africans; a Semitic style religion of the Leopard Men and an esoteric interpretation concealed in a gorgeous wealth of symbolism. I will consider the last in Part B.
ERB’s life was reaching a crisis, he had the MGM contract to worry about, his ongoing war with the Reds and now his sexual crisis that had been roiling beneath the surface for nearly fifty years and was about to bubble over. Hence the novel is filled with murky, rasty sexual symbolism welling up from the subconscious disguised as religion.
For supposedly being an escapist writer without either serious purpose or intellectual content when one parses out any of his stories one is amazed that such serious purpose can be successfully disguised as escapist. ERB shares this ability with Homer of the Iliad. Since no one seems to have penetrated beyhond the surface glitter from one hundred years ago to this day I hope I will be pardoned for making the attempt.
ERB’s style of plotting is so diffuse that it is very difficult to grasp the focal point which unites the various strands of his story. In some incredible way he has half a dozen stories running concurrently each with a different point and different conclusion. One has to follow the bouncing ball. In Jewels Of Opar the uniting theme is the story of what happens to the Jewels. In Ant Men one has to follow the trajectory of Tarzan’s locket. In this one the key is Kali Bwana. ERB seems to favor this linking approach.
Leopard Men has two main stories, that of Old Timer and Kali Bwana with its subplots as well as the story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men. As the story opens Tarzan is in Leopard Men territory far from home. One wonders what Tarzan is doing in this country? Naturally Burroughs presents his information on a need to know basis. We apparently don’t need to know until p. 108 when after Tarzan regains his memory from yet another crushing blow to the skull we are told:
During the long day Tarzan’s mind was occupied with many thoughts. He had recalled now why he had come into this country, and he marveled at the coincidence of later events that guided his footsteps along the very paths he had intended on trodding before accident had robbed him of the memory of his purpose. He knew now that depredations by Leopard Men from a far country had caused him to set forth upon a lonely reconnaissance with only the thought of locating their more or less fabled stronghold and temple. That he should be successful in both finding these and reducing one of them was gratifying in the extreme, and he felt thankful now for the accident that had been responsible for those results.
Thus as Tarzan regains his memory he discovers that he had destroyed the stronghold of the Leopard Men. In rescuing Old Timer and Kali Bwana he will also destroy their temple. A good day’s work.
With this story of his quest and triumph we have a second examination of religion, a continuation of the exploration begun in Tarzan Triumphant in the first half of 1931. The reference to the accident that led to these results may be a reference to the incident in Toronto in 1899. He and Emma both believed it resulted in his writing career. Perhaps the signing of the contract with MGM in April may also be inferred to as an ‘accident.’ Much research into his relations with MGM and these critical five or six years of his career is necessary. Certainly by late July and August as he was writing this story the realization of the meaning of the contract he had signed was seeping in. By 1933’s Tarzan And The Lion Man he was fully aware. Subsequent to that discovery he formed an ill advised alliance with his new wife’s ex, Ashton Dearholt, to film the ‘real’ Tarzan. That in its place. For now his troubles were not on the laps of the gods but on the desks of Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer.
If negotiations began on April 4 and were completed and signed on April 15 that means that neither ERB nor Rothmund read the contract very thoughtfully. They certainly didn’t take it to an attorney. As in Lion Man ERB complains of the duplicity of men; he was finding out what the terms of the contract meant. Perhaps in Leopard Men he was getting glimmers of the shape of things to come.
As in Triumphant the two Midian peoples obviously represent Jews and non-Jews, us meaning the Jews and them meaning the rest of the world as per Rabbi Schneerson’s division of mankind into two different species, us and them. I will treat the Utengans as us and the Leopard Men as them which is what ERB intended. The connection of the Leopard Men to the Jews can be established by two references connecting them to Hollywood:
Gato Mgungu had never had the advantages of civilization. (He had never been to Hollywood.)
And on p. 66:
Perhaps his reasons might be obvious to a Hollywood publicity agent.
I’m sure you moved out of the way so ERB’s sarcasm didn’t splash on you.
His letting his contempt for Hollywood which he had suppressed since 1922’s Girl From Hollywood show now and his associating it with Thalberg, Mayer and MGM is evidence of his frustration.
When Van Dyke returned from Africa he brought his gun bearer Riano and the actor who played Renchoro, Mutia, with him for the finishing scenes. It seems likely that ERB would have sought an introduction to these two ‘real’ Africans. One can only imagine what these two bush Negroes who had never conceived a world larger than their own Jungle thought of the twentieth century in the bizarre world of Tinseltown. How did these minds that had probably never seen a wheel prior to Van Dyke’s expedition react to what must have seemed to them a parallel universe straight out of Wells. Place yourself in their position and your head will spin. One wonders, even, having lived naked all their lives, how they reacted to dressing every morning and wearing Western style clothes all day. Did Tarzan’s experience in the shower in Tarzan Goes To New York have anything to do with these two noble savages introduction to civilization? Possibly the reference to Gato Mgungu’s never having been to Hollywood may refer to ERB’s observation of Riano and Mutia.
There is some wonderful stuff going on here. If Hollywood wasn’t centered on pornography and its concomitant degraded sadistic violence with a little imagination they might be able to put together a good movie or two from this material. Do I digress? Ah, then I digress. But back to the story.
As with ‘them’ elsewhere the Utengans are good men going about their business while the ‘us’ or Leopard Men are a destructive force in society. ERB has displaced the two religious systems to Africa where he presents two rather derogatory versions of Africans. He is uncharacteristically derogatory of the Blacks. Perhaps his concentration on so portraying the Africans was the result of his rage at the Scottsboro Boys. On p. 92 he says of the orgy of the Leopard Men:
He saw that religious and alcoholic drunkenness were rapidly robbing them of what few brains and little self-control Nature had vouchsafed them, and he trembled to think of what excesses they might commit when they passed beyond even the restraint of their leaders; nor did the fact that the chiefs, the priests, and the priestesses were becoming as drunk as their followers tend but to aggravate his fears.
ERB in his evolutionary mode had always considered the African to be less evolved but this is subjective observation and not an objective one. The bold statement ‘what few brains and little self-control’ may have been his personal opinion but doesn’t look well in print. I can’t imagine how it got beyond the Ballantine censors. I think it probable that his anger over the Scottsboro affair caused him to lose his customary discretion. In doing so he would be giving fuel to his detractors which it is never wise to do. When it is said that this is his worst novel I believe it is because of passages like this.
One wonders why the delay in the book issuance until 1936 and why then. Among other reasons one may have been that by 1936 the Communist campaign to embarrass the United States over the alleged injustice to the Boys was reaching a peak. Perhaps one intention of ERB was to show by the African example that Negroes were by nature of feeble intelligence and little self-control. If so, risky business for ERB. However throughout the novel a series of Black men is slathering at the mouth to rape Kali Bwana, recalling the train incident of the Scottsboro Boys.
ERB also introduces the concept of religious drunkenness which can exist quite independently of alcohol. Indeed there are many who can maintain a perpetual religious high. The bizarre statements of Rabbis Schneerson and Ginsburg can be attributed to religious drunkenness. In their religious enthusiasm they have certainly set aside reason. So once again a greater depth of thought is revealed than is usually attributed to Burroughs. Just two words- religious drunkenness- reveal a fair amount of thought and study.
During the great storm the Leopard Men catalyze the story by the ritual killing of a Utengan named Nyamwegi. While the storm is raging Tarzan who has taken refuge beside the bole of a great tree has it blown down with one of its great lower branches landing on his head. One admires the tensile strength of the Big Bwana’s skull. Apparently a big eighteen wheeler laden with thirty tons could roll over his head, the only possible result being a temporary loss of memory. Burroughs is going through another period of great stress so Tarzan does wake up in a world he doesn’t recognize.
A Utengan passing by notices the Big Bwana pinned to the ground on his back by the tree, not on his head, thank goodness, but somewhere over his body. No broken bones, luck is still with the Big Guy. As he had his bow and quiver slung over his back as he was pinned one has to think he’s in a fair amount of discomfort. Orando, the Utengan, is about to eliminate Tarzan from the story, which would have left a gap, when he has the suspicion that this might be his Muzimo. Orando had just been praying to his Muzimo to aid him in his hunting, perhaps Muzimo is the hunter after whom this chapter is named, and lo, he now appears. ERB goes to some lengths to demonstrate the superstitious nature of African religion. He really seems to be making an effort to belittle the African in this novel. Orando’s suspicion is confirmed a few moments later when by a series of coincidences Tarzan seems to answer when Orando calls him Muzimo. As Tarzan has no memory of another identity he assumes the role of Orando’s Muzimo. This is really quite well done.
A Muzimo is a sort of guardian angel, a spirit of an ancestor who looks after you. Tarzan really fills the role performing natural- for him- feats that Orando believes are supernatural. Tarzan, or Muzimo, directs the entire successful attack on the Leopard Men’s stronghold.
Tarzan’s role of Muzimo is a story within the story within the story which based on Trader Horn. If one keeps diving we might even find another story within the story. The story of Tarzan as Muzimo is quite independent of the story of Old Timer, the Kid and Kali Bwana. As we will learn when his role of Muzimo ends, Tarzan’s reason for coming to Utenga was to search out the Leopard Men. The fact that Old Timer, Kali Bwana and the Kid are there is mere coincidence. Their stories only become meshed at the Leopard Men’s temple which inadvertantly brings all together. Even then, after regaining his memory, as Burroughs explains, they are of little interest to Tarzan. The connection is only racial which is very weak. Really the devil is in the details; a whole lot of devils.
ERB has established the conflict between the superstition based animistic religion of the majority culture and the horrific satanic religion of his minority culture. He may be ‘fictionizing’ here the real life situation between the Western dominant culture of Christiantity, which he would still believe superstitious, and its recessive Jewish sub-culture. I’m not clear how closely he intends the comparison. At first sight Orando’s mistaking Tarzan for his Muzimo or guardian angel seems ridiculous yet even at this moment seventy percent of Americans believe in guardian angels. The figure would probably have been a few percentage points higher at that time.
Also, the Scopes Monkley Trial in Dayton, Tennessee was as recent as 1925-26, so the conflict between science and superstition in the US was by no means a settled matter. The analogy between African and American culture may be sardonic.
Just as the Utengans probably represent the Christian culture of the West so the Leopard Men may represent the minority Jewish Culture. Just as the Leopard Men had adherents functioning secretly within the majority culture directing affairs so did the Jewish Culture in the West. Just as the Leopard men had organizatonal representatives distributred amongst all the tribes across Africa functioning toward a common goal so Jewish Culture was represented in every culture of the Western world. Just as the witch doctor Sobito manipulated the affairs of the Utengans from within for the benefit of the Leopard Men so the Jewish Culture through the ADL/AJC manipulated Western Culture for its own benefit.
In the twenties and thirties the International Jewish Conspiracy phase of Jewish manipulation was the prevailing fear. The struggle to deny the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion had not yet been effected although well along.
It seems clear to me that Burroughs always has ulterior motives in his novels. He is not simply telling a story for entertainment. Burroughs must have been puzzled by the attitude of the majority culture. While Science was daily discrediting the supernatural yet the majority of the majority clung to, not so much outmoded religious beliefs, as a religious cast of mind. The belief in Christianity was being steadily eroded as based on superstition yet rather than abandoning religion Americans frantically tried to incorporate science into religion. Thus one has the strong religious quality of Liberalism that encourages the defamation of Christianity yet pursues a religious agenda based on wishful thinking.
It is very strange, more than passing strange, that while Westerners reject Christianity they have reverence for Judaism and Moslemism. While Christianity represents an anterior stage in the psychological development of mankind, the former two are even more primitive, magical and superstitious. One has to laugh out loud at Rabbi Schneerson’s attempt to incorporate genetics into his religious system while the Moslem clerics are unfathomable by both Scientific and Liberal ideas and notions. Yet Liberals attack Christianity while endorsing Judaism and Moslemism.
Burroughs pits his alter-ego Tarzan and the majority against the minority religion launching an all out attack. Tarzan, whose memory is gone, accepts his role as Orando’s Muzimo. Curiously Burroughs describes Tarzan’s tan as so deep that he is the same skin color as Orando yet retains his status as ‘White.’ Possibly Orando was better able to accept Tarzan as his Muzimo because of the skin color. Tarzan becomes Muzimo being in fact Orando’s guardian angel until he regains his memory at which point he becomes again his own man pursuing his own interests. While he is Orando’s Muzimo he is a spectacular guardian angel directing Orando’s quarrel with the Leopard Men to a successful conclusion which as we are told his original intention was the suppression of the Leopard Men.
Tarzan foils the Leopard Men’s advantage in Utenga by exposing the witch doctor Sobito as a Leopard Man as well as the spy Lupingu. He is instrument in the deaths of both. His task is made easier because Orando believes implicitly in whatever his Muzimo says. Thus, while there is a natural explanation for what happens the results appear as genuinely supernatural to Orando and his tribesmen.
This is all handled very cleverly by Burroughs as he lets the reader see what is happening as he also shows Orando’s superstitious interpretation. It’s actually pretty funny.
By following Tarzan/ Muzimo’s advice the Utengans catch the Leopard Men coming back from a ritual orgy while hung over and either kill or scatter them, men, women and children. There was no one left alive in their village. Thus the majority expel their troublesome minority or sub-culture from their midst, perhaps as ERB wished the majority culture of the United States might do with its troublesome minority culture. He may have used Africa as a metaphor for the United States. In any event Leopard Men seems to be a continuation of Triumphant on the religious level while being perhaps the most detailed examination of religion that ERB ever did. But you can see why his Liberal detractors would call this his worst novel.
At the time of writing Leopard Men the most recently issued story was Tarzan The Invincible. Tarzan Triumphant had been written and probably submitted to Blue Book but it wouldn’t be published until 1932-33 while the book edition was published in 1932 so there couldn’t as yet have been a reaction to his portrayal of the two Midian cultures and Abraham son of Abraham and his followers of Paul.
Perhaps ERB found his religious portrayal of Triumphant too clumsy so he refined it in Leopard Men.
Riders On The Storm
If you don’t enter as an initiate you won’t get the story. The symbolism in this story is so strong and complete that it should be a standard psychological textbook. Burroughs writes as though he had just come from a course in esoteric symbolism. He continues this throughout the story too. I don’t know if I can do this justice but I will try.
Burroughs has entered the defining crisis of his life, thus the novel is full of symbols of life, death, sex and regeneration. ERB feels that he is being born again, the butterfly emerging from the cocoon. The very name Kali Bwana is the primary symbol. Kali is the Hindu symbol of life, death and regeneration. Her image is as dark as this story. This story, as it were, emerges from the very bowels of the pit, the viscera of frustrated desires and hopes of their fulfillment. Very frightening actually. I can see how on one level so many people would consider it ERB’s worst. It isn’t easily understandable.. The story deals with primal needs and desires that would drive a man insane. Indeed, Kali Bwana considers Old Timer insane. He himself says that maybe he is crazy. He makes psychotic statements and is on the verge of criminal sexual behavior throughout the book until the very end when he is reformed. This is an extremely violent but regenerative story. Sort of like Walt Disney on steroids.
Kali Bwana is the joy of man’s desiring. A platinum blonde, her beauty apparently disintegrates all men’s self control as she inspires dreams of rape rather than courting. Old Timer himself has rape in mind all through the book. No man or animal in the story every thinks of honoring her femininity; their only thoughts are to violate her beauty to gratify their illicit lustful desires or, perhaps, to cannibalize her beauty and make it their own possession. This is serious stuff.
As Kali she is the mate of Shiva. while Shiva is usually depicted as a handsome young man serenely playing the flute while all goes to hell around him Burroughs represents him as the Leopard god of the cannibalistic, criminal animist or nature cult. Thus, Kali Bwana is captured by the Leopard Men to serve as high priestess to their Leopard god thus forming an Anima and Animus. Burroughs does an excellent job of presenting both the barbaric splendor and degradation of the cult or religion.
The story is set by the book’s opening, one of attempted rape and violence set amidst a terrific storm in a sort of swamp like atmosphere. One feels this is not an ordinary storm but one fraught with significance and meaning. It is a life changing storm.
The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols which I use here for reference is readily available. It discusses storms on p. 941:
The storm is a symbol of a theophany, the manifestation of the awesome and mighty power of God. While it may herald a revelation, it can also be a manifestation of divine anger and sometimes of punishment.
Creative activity is also unleashed in a storm. In a cosmic upheaval beyond the power of words, life itself was born.
And then Burroughs refers to the storm as a hurricane. The Penguin dictionary says this of that, p. 533:
Hurricanes are almost Dionysiac orgies of cosmic energy. They symbolize the ending of one period of time and the beginning of another as tireless Earth repairs the damage.
So now we have the figure of the eternal female, the symbol of birth, death and regeneration coupled with storm and hurricane symbols also denoting major epochal changes. The impact is increased by the whole being expressed in a half dozen pages, very compressed.
It should be noted that Florence Gilbert represents Kali Bwana and Old Timer is obviously ERB. the changes are happening to him. Florence/Kali is both repelled and passive. Perhaps because of the ripening romance between his wife and ERB Ashton Dearholt had taken her on a motor tour removing her from the scene probably hoping separation would end the affir. According to the ERBzine 30s Bio Timeline the Dearholts returned to LA in May just as ERB was completing Triumphant and before he began Leopard Men. If he had been fighting his feelings for Florence her return was obviously more than he could deal with hence this terrific storm and the overwhelming number of female symbols in the novel.
At the same time as the rape attempt the Leopard Men corner Nyamwegi, a Utgengan returning from a date with his girl friend. Amidst the multiple bolts of lightning which illuminate the entire sky and tremendous crashes of thunder the Leopard Men gruesomely and bloodily murder the boy removing body parts.
ERB accentuates the ferocity of the storm and hurricane by saying that the lightning bolts were numerous and continuous, filling the entire sky. The Penguin dictionary, p. 606:
Lightning symbolizes the spark of life and powers of fertilization. It is fire from Heaven, vastly powerful and terrifyingly swift, which may be either life giving or death dealing.
And on p. 607:
As the weapon of Zeus, forged in FIRE (symbol of the intellect) by the Cyclops, lightning is the symbol of intentive and spiritual enlightenment or the sudden flash of inspiration. However, while it enlightens and stirs the spirit, lightning strikes down the drive of unsatisfied and uncontrolled desire…
So after this storm all will be changed; there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth. Kali Bwana has averted personal disaster while Nyamwegi has met his end. Nearby in another part of the forest Tarzan and Nkima crouch beside a forest giant to wait out the storm. Here the hurricane topples the tree uprooting it. Tarzan tosses Nkima out of the way but is himself struck by a branch, one assumes one of the big ones of the lower terrace. Once again the Big Fella is given a case of amnesia so that he is not aware of his racial affinity to the Whites aligning himself with the Blacks.
In another part of the forest, not too far away, Old Timer and the Kid are discussing their fortunes apparently unaware of this massive storm. As Old Timer sets out on the trail of ivory on the morrow he hears a shot which leads him to Kali Bwana. All the elements of the New Day are in place.
The action takes place not only in the forest but in the Ituri Rain Forest, the forest of forests. In Western symolism the forest is where the lost man wanders in search of his redemption. One has to find one’s way out of the forest for personal redemption. Thus Old Timer and Kali lose their way wandering around in the forest hopelessly lost. At one point Old Timer can’t see the constellations to navigate at night. At another the forest is so dark he can’t see the sun to navigate by it. Both he and Kali have to be rescued by Tarzan after he regains his memory.
As David Adams has pointed out Sheeta the panther is always associated with the Anima or female. Usually Sheeta is described as a panther but in this novel Sheeta is the Leopard. The smell of Sheeta is overwhelming throughout this novel. In this case I think we may be sure that Sheeta represents the fear of the feminine. Tarzan and Nkima are inseparable in this novel. Throughout the entire novel Nkima complains about the small of Sheeta who wishes to devour him, in other words, to emasculate him. So Burroughs is afraid of what is happening to him in regards of Florence. When Tarzan recovers consciousness after the battle with the Leopard Men the first thing he does is call Nkima. The little monkey in his place on Tarzan’s shoulder reminds one of the Egypian Ka or double. Tarzan the fearless and Nkima the fearful. Burroughs as a child confronted by John the Bully.
As an aspect of Tarzan’s- and Burroughs’- character Nkima probably represents his more chicken livered side. There is no record of Tarzan ever having fear, he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word, but Burroughs did hence Nkima who knows nothing but fear. Neither Tarzan nor Burroughs have ever been what one would call ladies men hence if not fear of the feminine at least an apprehension of it. As Burroughs is now reaching a major crisis of his life having now to choose either Emma or Florence it is not to be wondered that the forest reeks of Sheeta. Indeed, the Leopard Men themselves are symbols of the feminine and they intend to sacrifice Old Timer. Thus one has the leopard as Leopard god and Kali Bwana as his Leopard goddess.
The tremendous rainfall, itself a symbol of regeneration and fertility from the male sky god would create a steaming swamplike atmosphere as it fell on Mother Earth while the temple of the Leopard God itself was in a crocodile infested swamp.
First the Crocodile as symbol, Penguin p. 244:
The crocodile which carries the Earth on its back, is a divinity of darkness and the Moon, whose greed is like that of the NIGHT which each evening devours the Sun. From civilization to civilization and from age to age the crododile exhibits a high proportion of the countless links in that basic symbolic chain which belongs to the controlling forces of death and rebirth. The crocodile may be a formidable figure, but this is because like all expression of the power of fate, what he displays is inevitable- darkness falling so that daylight may return, death striking so that life may be reborn.
In other words, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Poor Emma. Obviously for ERB he is killing his past so that his future may be born.
The temple is in the center of a swamp so deep withing the forest that the sun never shines on it. The swamp is the quintessential female symbol. It is in the Lernean swamp where Heracles has to battle with the Hydra. Hydra=the water of the feminine and the irrational. Each time Heracles cuts off one of the seven heads another grows in its place until he cauterizes each severance with fire, that is the power of the male intellect.
Thus, one has crocodiles, leopards, water, swamp, the river and Stygian darkness. if you can’t rise above the fear of the feminine, you will be swamped, drowned in her waters. The only entrance and exit is this slow moving river is obscured by the forest. This river of mystery and death, this impenentrable forest. The River is the last of the great symbols we will consider, Penguin p. 808:
The symbolism of rivers and running water is simultaneously that of the ‘universal potentiality’ and that of the ‘fluidity of forms’ (Schuan) of fertility, death and revewal. The stream is that of life and death. It may be regarded as flowing down to the sea; as a current against which one swims; or as something to be crossed from one bank to another. Flowing into the sea it is the the gathering of the waters, the return to an undifferentiated state, attaining Nirvana. Swimming against the stream is clearly returning to the divine source, the First Cause. Crossing the river is overcoming an obstacle, separating two realms or conditions, the phenomenal world and the unconditioned state, the world of the senses and the state of non-attachment.
Then this from Burroughs, p. 191:
The sun was sinking behind the western forest, its light playing on the surging current of the great river that rolled past the village of Bobolo. A man and a woman stood looking out across the water that was plunging westward in its long journey to the sea down to the trading posts and the towns and the ships, which are the frail links that connect the dark forest with civilization.
If one looks at this novel from an esoteric symbolic point of view the symbols tell their own story.
As Old Timer says Kali means Woman. At the beginning we have Woman and the Shaggy Man.
I haven’t given the symbolism of the Shaggy Man yet so using the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols again under the heading Rags and Tatters, p. 782:
(Rags And Tatters) are the symbol of anxiety and lesions of the psyche as well as that material poverty which, in folktale, is sometimes adopted as a disguise by princes, princesses and wizards. It denotes simultaneously poverty and anxiety or cloaks inner riches under an appearance of wretchedness, thus displaying the superiority of the inner over the outer self.
Thus Kali- the Woman- the symbol of death, birth and regeneration, and The Shaggy Man or the Frog Prince, the Hero in disguise, waiting to be regenerated by the kiss of the ultimate Woman. A classic fairy tale, actually, with a tip of the hat to David Adams for insisting on the fairy tale connection.
The Man, the Woman, the Storm with a tremendous display of Lightning, Thunder, Wind and Rain completely transforming both the physical and psychic landscapes bringing the Man and the Woman together.
The Woman is then captured by the repressed sexual desire of the Leopard Men who wish to install her as their Goddess. The Woman or Kali is stripped Naked and then adorned with various attributes of the Leopard Cult.
As in various myths, fairytale and folklore stories the Man and the Woman (the Anima and Animus) have been separated by Fate and must fight through all obstacles to be reunited.
Kali (Woman) is led through the teeming, steaming forest with a rope around her neck to the big river down which she is canoed to a smaller stream, ‘the silent river of mystery and death’ in the darkest, swampiest, most crocodile infested part of the darkest of dark forests.
Abandoning all other concerns the Shaggy Man pursues Kali to the village of the Leopard Men where he is taken prisoner, then taken down the silent river (the Styx?) to be sacrificed. By a miracle the two escape only to be separated again while the Shaggy Man is taken back to the temple of the Leopard Men. Kali, Woman, is captured by a Black chief to serve his sexual needs. Rape again. White=Light, Black= Darkness. Thus the ever present threat of rape seems to be about to be fulfilled. But no, the elder wife of the Black chief objects to the White Woman. Out of the pot and into the fire. The Woman is left with Pygmies who are even more vile than the Blacks.
But now a Deus ex-machina, Tarzan, has released the Shaggy Man. Hot in pursuit he follows Woman to the Pygmy camp. He madly attempts rescue which is successful once again because of the Deus ex machina.
It’s not over yet folks. ERB can make any 192 page story go on for a near eternity. Together again Kali and the Shaggy Man are once more torn assunder when the Deus ex machina sends an ape who captures the Shaggy Man. Makes you breathless, doesn’t it? Deus once again reunites the Woman and Shaggy Man. Now, if you will notice the Shaggy Man forces a kiss on Woman. His act of violence shames him so that he finds redemption in his remorse. Thus the kiss of Woman has returned the Frog Prince to his rightful form.
As the story ends the two are about to leave the dark forest for the light of civilization down river.
Thus one has the classic myths- Psyche and Eros, Perseus and Andromeda and many others, numerous fairy tales -Cinderella, one which ERB has used before, and much folklore. It is done very well, too, if you’re following the bouncing ball.
It is noteworthy that the work of another great author is misunderstood too. I refer to the ancient poet Homer. While Homer’s reputation is very great no one understands the Iliad. The adventures of the Gods and Goddesses are beyond the comprehension of classical scholars. Thus they prefer the Odyssey which is written in a more comprehensible if pedestrian style. If I remember correctly the Five Foot Shelf excludes the Iliad while containing the Odyssey. While both are attributed to Homer they must have been written by two different mind sets. The psychology of each is too different to have been written by one mind. Besides the Iliad concerns the middle part of the Siege of Troy while the Odyssey skips all the way to the story of only one of the Returns.
There are similarities in the way Burroughs and Homer tell their stories but to avoid argument Homer is incomparably the greater.
Nevertheless Burroughs has masterfully used a set of symbols to supply a very rich subtext to this story and he has done it intentionally. He does know whereof he speaks. I don’t think there is any doubt that he has studied Esoterica. Probably the topic was of life long interest both in the old kook capitol Chicago and the new kook capitol of Los Angeles. (Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb.)
There was a lot of esoterica going on in LA. The Golden Dawn of Aleister Crowley was out in the desert at Barstow, Manly Hall was advising the movies on estoteric matters, the Vedantists were established and the Theosophists had a terrific college in LA.
Anybody who thinks ERB wasn’t interested in such things doesn’t know how to spell Edgar Rice Burroughs.
While ERB wouldn’t touch a religious theme unless ‘highly fictionized’ he managed to highly fictionize all manner of religion in this great novel of his mature period. He was working at break neck pace too.
Love this stuff.
On to Part IV which will deal with the cast of characters. Inevitably there’s a certain amount of repitition but I try to cast the stuff in different highlights, crosslights and aspects. This stuff deserves a thorough examination.
October 28, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
Debunking The Debunkers
Here with a loaf of Bread beneath the bough,
A flask of Wine, A Book of Verse- and thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
I started out on Burgundy
But soon hit the harder stuff.
H.G. Wells, Uncle Joe Stalin, Multi-Culturalism And Edgar Rice Burroughs
Unraveling Burroughs’ political situation in the thirties, particularly the years from 1930-36 is difficult. I don’t think anyone has ever conceived that there might be a political situation involved. Porges passes right over it. Fenton doesn’t deal with it. The BB and ERBzine scholars don’t seem concerned with a political environment, yet Burroughs was in the crosshairs of the Left.
The world in which ERB emerged as a writer had long passed away. That America had been wiped from the face of the earth. The thirties was the new post-war America that evolved into whatever we call this mess today. The America I grew up in has been wiped off the map also. Time toddles right along changing everyhthing on a daily basis except for our attitudes. It isn’t easy, it is even impossible to keep up, to run abreast of Time. Life isn’t as orderly as a baseball diamond, that particular Field of Dreams where everyone knows his place and stays in it.
The basis for interpreting the period then is what has become known as Multi-culturalism, the Kultur Kampf or in English, Culture Wars. The question has been and is, which culture is going to be Top Dog. That’s an English term to describe the nineteenth century culture wars. Trader Horn understood it well. If you read his book you will have an accurate understanding of what Top Dog means. He had it, his boss didn’t. Rhodes had it. In multi-cultural terms the Semites have it. Today’s Whites don’t.
Thus during the Jewish Emancipation since the French Revolution Jews have unerringly striven to be Top Dog or Nation. Their Semitic cousins, the Arabs, have the desire and just to give it a date, since 9/11 they have given notice that they intend to be Top Dog. The Western World, Europeans and Americans have lost the desire to be Top Dog. They kind of walk around with their tail between their legs. As the West has lost the instinct of Top Dog there is no doubt the Arabs will attain their goal too, shoving their Jewish cousins aside.
But, our story concerns the years 1900-1936 and is concerned only with the Semites in the United States which is to say the Jewish culture.
Socially they have attempted and succeeded in making ‘bigotry’ the issue. But the issue isn’t the issue. Charges of racism and hatred are thrown about to obsfuscate the true issue which is naturally what is termed ‘race.’ Race is the issue; bigotry is the obfuscation in the drive to be Top Dog. Semitic goals and attitudes, regardless of the language employed have remained the same since their first encounter with the HSII Sumerians four thousand years ago. Who knows how far back these things stretch. It might not be out of line to say seven or possibly eight thousand years ago. Foundations take a long time to lay; the superstructure goes up relatively quickly; the finishing touces even more quickly.
Whether speaking in Biblical or scientific terms the result is the same. Semites believe there is a special relationship between themselves and their god. In Freudian terms the Semites basing their identity on an unreal foundation are psychotic. See The Future Of An Illusion by Freud. Jewish religious notions may have been best expressed by a Rabbi Schneerson of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Judaism centered in New York City transplanted from the Lithuanian community. First a quote from the Lubaviticher Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg:
“If every simple cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is part of God. Therefore something is special about Jewish DNA.”
Here we have a mind completely distorted by his religious preoccupations. We have bad science
compounded by worse logic. The universe including the human body is made of chemical elements of mainly oxygen and hydrogen. If the Rabbi wants to argue that the chemical elements making up the Jewish body are different from the chemical elements making up the universe then let him. However his conditional if-then format leaves him an escape route. Every ‘simple’ cell of a Jewish body doesn’t equal divinity. Divinity is a metaphysical term that bears no relationship to chemistry. If the Rabbi is truly going to be scientific he has to assume the position that there is no such thing as divinity. If he wishes to maintain that there is, then he has to limit his argument about other religious types as being as out of touch with reality as he is but each religion has equal validity with his own. The Rabbi may be able to argue his case on these terms with his fellow religious types, atavistic as they are, but being of scientific persuasion I can’t have any truck with such puerility.
Further, if every strand of DNA, which means both the male and female contribution to the Jewish body is part of God, then that means every Jew is, in fact, God. If in Rabbi Ginsburg’s mind each Jew is God then let’s see a world full of miracles. Without the ability to act as God, not gods, but God, Rabbi Ginsburg’s premiss falls to the ground. He becomes not only stupid but possibly demented as well. The Rabbi is incapable of sound reasoning. The challenge of Science to his religion has driven him off the deep end. This guy is not Top Dog material.
Rabbi Scheerson writing in his Gatherings of Conversations of 1965 trundles a little further out to the end of the pier:
“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: “Let us differentiate.” Thus, we do not have a profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of ‘let us differentiate’ between totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body; the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the the body of (members of) all the nations of the world…”
So, in Rabbi Schneerson’s mind the world is composed of two different Homo Sapiens species: the Jews and everyone else. Sitting around the basements of Brooklyn meditation this stuff the fumes from the sewer go right to your head. In so far as the Semites, not Jews specifically, being a different species, on that score Rabbi Schneerson and I are in agreement. I have so stated in earlier essays so there is no argument there. Writing in 1965 Rabbi Schneerson was even prescient as the study of genetics had advanced insufficiently for the statement to be made authoritatively. Nineteen sixty-five was the year also that homoseuxals discovered the homosexual gene. So shall we say that at the time the Rabbi was in good company.
That he could make the leap from a feeling of genetic superiority to the notion that Jewish ‘bodies’ are differently composed than other bodies shows the degree of raligious fanaticism that distorts his reason. Remember that these people are now influential with the government of the United States.
Rabbi Schneerson carries his folly even further going on to state:
An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness…
One trembles at the thought of Einstein and Schneerson having ever gotten together. Whew!
It can be plainly seen that the Rabbi Schneerson is the last of the line of great Jewish ‘scientists’ which includes Marx, Einstein and Freud.
If there is anyone who can believe such twaddle then let them but for my purposes I quote this only to show the basic attitude of the members of the Jewish culture who reached these shores froms 1870 to 1920 plus the later colonists and stragglers. In the struggle to be Top Dog it is this attitude that has shaped American culture into what it has become beginning in 1900.
Burroughs when he began writing in 1911 was only trying to redeem his life. He would have been unaware that Anglo-America was being challenged for the role of Top Dog within the United States. Nor, could he have had any idea what a threat he was in the contest with the Semites. He would have had no idea that he failed the test when he answered the AJC questionnarie in 1919. A little over a decade later he had been drawn unknowingly into the thick of the battle, indeed, a significant target.
Now, the twenties began the great age of the debunkers. Volume after volume appeared discrediting every Anglo-American hero from Patrick Henry to Henry Ford. I don’t see any reason to challenge the fact that George Washington ever told a lie or whether he threw a silver dollar across the Delaware, the Mississippi, or the wide Missouri before that river was channeled. But some others did.
This was a good approach for the Underdog to dispose of the Top Dog. First one emasculates him by making him ashamed of his ancestors then one destroys his own confidence in himself, in his own decency.
In a society in which the Negro was an intrusive and unresolvable problem this was not at all difficult. The Jewish culture sided with the Black culture against the White culture. Even a careless reading of Rabbi Schneerson will show the Culture was not interested in eight Blacks or Social Justice. Schneerson clearly states his culture is of a different and superior species from everyone else which means Whites and Blacks are destined to be hewers of wood and carriers of water for the Jewish Culture.
Jewish support of Black culture, then, could only intend to be divisive. They wished to exacerbate an already difficult and untenable situation in their drive to be Top Dog.
As the Jews were part of the Liberal Coalition the Coalition swung in behind them.
Now, at the same time they were debunking White heroes they were elevating Jewish heroes replacing those of the Whites. Thus Maimonides and Spinoza, Moses Mendelsohn and others were lauded as the greatest of philosophers while Socrates, Hegel and Kant and others were belittled. I have no brief for philosphers, I belittle them all. But it should be noted that such as Maimanides and Spinoza are cut from the same cloth as Rabbi Schneerson. Indeed, they all climb up out of the Talmud.
In their conquest of Top Dog it was necessary to create an ‘us and them’ polarity. Judaeo-Communists as ‘us’ were the good guys. Afer 1933 anyone who disagreed was labelled a Fascist or Nazi, a little Hitler. At that point ‘us and them’ good and bad was clear. Prior to the success of Fascism in Germany their opponents could only be denounced as prejudiced which was termed a major sin. The term ‘bigot’ in its current racial meaning was not yet in common use but we will use it here.
In the Judaeo-Communist lexicon Burroughs was a bigot. The AJC typed him as an anti-Semite in 1919. But that typing was too tenuous to use. However there was no doubt that Burroughs considered Whites superior to Blacks. The attitude was not lost on Blacks who to this very day are accused of being anti-Semites because they resent being condescended to.
It would be very worthwhile to know what pressures were being placed on Burroughs. Indeed, as a defensive move Leopard Men may very likely have been written to show that while Whites might be construed in a negative light for the treatment of Blacks that Blacks themselves could be just as oppressive and violent when they were Top Dog. On p. 129 he says:
It was with a feeling of relief that Kali Bwana saw Bobolo and Kapopa depart. During the interview with Rebega no one had once addressed her, just as no one would have addressed a cow he was arranging to stable. She recalled the plaints of American Negroes that they were not treated with equality by the whites. Evidently it all depended on which was the more powerful and had nothing whatever to do with innate gentleness or spirit or charity.
This has the sound of being an answer to someone. One asks what might be the occasion? A possible source may have been the row kicked up by the Scottboro Boys. This case was the centerpiece of Communist propaganda against America and Americans.
For those not familir with the situation, on March 25, 1931 an incident had occurred between Black and White hoboes on a train traveling from Chattanooga through Alabama on the Southern Railroad. The only evidence is the testimony of the participants so really the only question is which side are you on? Us or them?
According to ascertainable facts two groups were hoboing. One Black, one White. The Whites were in a gondola car while the Blacks were in the trailing boxcar. It seems clear that the Blacks decided to invade the gondola of the Whites, else there could have been no trouble. For what purpose isn’t clear but a battle then broke out during which the Blacks threw the Whites off the train with the exception of two White girls and one White boy.
The Whites thrown off the train asked the station master at a town called Stevenson, Alabama to call ahead to have the Blacks arrested for assault. Irate citizens in Paint Rock, Alabama stopped the train taking the Blacks off. The two girls said they were gang raped by the Blacks. The Blacks were arrested and given a speedy trial and conviction well before Burroughs began to write. Were they guilty? That depends solely on whether you believe them or the Whites. That there was a fight and the Whites lost is without question. No one contests that.
It was a perfect issue for the Reds. The Blacks were held up by the Communists as sterling ‘youths’ while the White girls were labeled tramps and whores. Well, you can see where is this going nowhere. The only question is who are you going to believe? I have no doubt that a group of Blacks who had just triumphed over Whites in the deep South with their blood up, exultant, would do the obvious and physically assault the girls, they had just assaulted the boys, or men, and thrown them off the train, why not? Seems logical to me. There is no answer.
The Communists over the next several years made political hay out of the case arousing Northern White prejudices against the South and Southern ‘bigots’ while posing as being really interested in the fate of the Scottsboro Boys.
Burroughs would have read the news through clenched teeth. Here was all the evidence he needed that Blacks would assault White women given the opportunity. When conditions were reversed Blacks were not the Stepan Fetchit stumblebums Liberals like to represent them as. If Blacks were ‘shuffling along’ it was because they were held down, they were not naturally as Liberals believed them to be. That is what Burroughs is saying.
It may be coincidence but Leopard Men opens with the attempted rape of a White woman by a Black. Kali Bwana’s head man Golato enters her tent as the storm breaks with intent to rape her. Kali Bwana fires a shot at him wounding and driving him off. Golato then organizes a mutiny. Kali Bwana’s safari deserts her leaving her alone in the heart of the Ituri Rain Forest.
Storm and forest are sexually laden symbols.
So, a second impetus for the hurried writing of Leopard Men may have been the arrest, trial and conviction of the Scottsboro Boys. Boys, not men, to make them seem less offensive although it would be construed as a racial insult by Blacks.
Now, the pressures on Burroughs were coming from the Left. The pressure was not obvious and overt but clandestine and secretive. Could he be provoked to make the first obvious move placing the onus on him? The question then arises as to whether Leopard Men represented the Communists and their Fellow Travelers who functioned as a secret society in America. As the post-WWII investigators into the Communist influence in Hollywood would prove, none of these Communists, many of them Soviet agensts, would even admit that they had ever been more than ‘liberal.’ When asked where they now or had they ever been Communists none of them would give a simple yes or no answer. They took the Fifth. To answer would incriminate them. Right.
Many of these Hollywood people, Dalton Tumbo, John Howard Lawson and others were already established in Hollywood by 1934. Communist sites on the internet now list them as having been Communists at the time. Soviet documentation obtained after the fall also confirms this. A leading Jewish Congressman from New York, Samuel Dickstein, was on the Soviet payroll. It was he who originated the House Un-American Activities Committee of which the purpose was meant to be to run anti-Communists to earth. To Dickstein and his Soviet handlers it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The key fact is that, through Dickstein, Stalin and the Soviets were able to exercise extreme influence on the American political system even directing American policy. Had the chairmanship of HUAC fallen into Dickstein’s hands there is no doubt that he would have forwarded Judaeo-Communist goals while putting what he was pleased to call un-American citizens in jail. In 1944 the ADL/AJC did just that causing pre-war dissidents to be arrested and tried for treason.
Hollywood Reds insisted that they were ‘liberals’ seeking ‘social justice’ and were completely uninfluenced by Soviet agents or handlers. Using Dickstein as your model you can see that the probability of this being true is nil. While Studio heads like Mayer, the Warners, and Harry Cohn maintained a cover of being All-American Boys while not recognizing that their Studios which were managed closely from the top were not controlled by Reds must be pure bushwa. They had to be involved if not ringlearders. But none of the Hollywood people wished to be known as Communists. They were all taken advantage of by Left wing groups. What a bunch of overly naive innocents.
So, Leopard Men can be read as a portrayal of this very dangerous situation in which ERB found himself. The Leopard Men with their secrecy and infiltration of all the tribes can easily be equated with the Communists. The witch doctor, Sobito, of the Utengas who pretends to be a loyal Utengan while he is actually a Leopard Man betraying his own people into their hands is a prime example as on a more proletarian level is Lupingu who actually betrays the army of Orando.
So, one might say that Uncle Joe Stalin, to use FDR’s term, with his love of movies had an actual hand in Hollywood, one of the two capitols of the Communist world, the other being Moscow. It is not improbable that story lines were formulated in Moscow being sent to traitors like Dalton Trumbo to be worked up into serviceable scripts for American consumption.
Stalin’s agent H.G. Wells who was making derogatory attacks on several honest writers was writing furiously at this moment. As much as I personally like Wells, the man must be debunked. Wells met with Charlie Chaplin, another notorious Red, in Hollywood in 1935. Already a courier between Uncle Joe and Roosevelt, what messages did he carry to Chaplin and the Hollywood Reds? Remember Wells wrote the propaganda novel The Shape Of Things To Come in 1933, followed by the movie Things To Come in 1935. If you haven’t seen the movie of which Wells had nearly complete control it is worth seeing. More than once.
Leopard Men as a possible commentary on the Utopian Wells presents what must be the most vile dystopia ever conceived. Worse than Orwell. As in Invincible of the year or so before in which Tarzan singlehandedly foils Stalin and the Soviet plot, in this one he destroys the Leopard Men. At least within the vicinity of Utengans which might be to say, Hollywood. It is only after the Leopard Men are destroyed that Tarzan pays any attention to Kali Bwana and Old Timer thus there are two stories. In the battle between the Utengans and Leopard Men , Tarzan once again gets his head bashed but when he comes to he has regained his memory. No longer Orando’s Muzimo he goes back to his old ways as Lord Of The Jungle.
Interestingly the first thing he does when he comes to is call for Nkima. The two are inseparable in this novel. The relationship between the two and their characters deserves an in depth study.
By the time the novel was written in July-September the proceedings for the making of Tarzan, The Ape Man must have been well advanced. I’m not ware of the date that Weissmuller was selected for the role but probably by or during this time. He would have needed time to memorize the lines or at least perfect the Tarzan yell. Nor do I know the exact date ERB obtained his copy of W.S. Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa. I would imagine that he had at least met Van Dyke by the time of writing. Possibly ERB’s rather gruesome concentration on cannibalism may have been meant as a refutation of Van Dyke’s statement that there was absolutely no proof any African had ever been a cannibal. There’s fair evidence in Horning Into Africa that Van Dyke knew which side his bread was buttered on expressing himself accordingly.
While ERB took his main frame from the Horn book and movie he gussied the story up with plenty of his own motives and themes. Just as Invincible was anti-Communist so Leopard Men probably is too. Since we’ve covered the politics we might as well go on to religion in Part III.
October 25, 2011
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Themes And Variations
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
While Tarzan And The Leopard Men is not well thought of by Bibliophiles being considered the worst of the series, I can’t find any reason to believe this. I couldn’t place it in the top five but the book is on a general par with the rest of the series, perhaps a little better.
I think the problem arises because it is thought to portray the African in a negative light. As with the Mafia there are those who deny the Leopard cult because it is offensive to their sensibilities. They prefer to see the African as a ‘noble savage.’ I have no problem with this attitude but I prefer historical accuracy to anything I might wish to believe.
The existence of the Leopard cult in no way diminishes the character of the African. Secret societies are part of every culture in this multi-cultural world. Many of them are murderous. The Assasins of Hasani Sabah of Persia are a notorious example. The Illuminati who were responsible for the worst atrocities of the French Revolution are another. The Freemasons who while perhaps not so violent function, have functioned and do function as a secret brotherhood who help each other against society. The Mafia and Organized Crime in general are secret societies on a par with Leopard Men. During the thirties Lepke Buchalter ran the infamous Murder, Inc. So I see no reason to lower one’s opinion of the book because it may seem to certain sensibilities, by no means shared by all, to disparage the Negro. The events in the Congo after independence and the events in Shonaland happening now are so horrific they make the Leopard Men seem like novices.
The book Tarzan And The Leopard Men was written over July-September of 1931; a trifle of a rush job even for a fast writer like Burroughs. The story was published in Blue Book from Auguast 1932 to January 1933. Book publication was delayed until 1936 so there may have been some editing to reflect personal events over that period.
As the novel shows a rather direct influence from both the book and movie of Trader Horn Burroughs may have received some criticism from the magazine publication hence delaying book publication until time had dimmed the memory.
When Burroughs formed his publishing company he had expected to write a Tarzan novel a year. That schedule would have been adhered to except for this novel that was interjected into the series out of order of its writing.
The cause of the disturbance is very easy to find. In February of 1931 MGM released it great African epic Trader Horn. According to the ERBzine Bio Timeline for the 1930s, on February 23 ERB and Emma drove into Hollywood to catch the show. So we do know exactly when he saw the movie, or, at least, the first half of it. At intermission Emma remembered that they were to babysit for daughter Joan drawing her husband from the theatre. I’m sure ERB steamed over that for more than a day.
At that date he was in the midst of writing Tarzan Triumphant but Trader Horn aroused him so much that he began to plan a rejoinder. After completing Triumphant in May he conceived Leopard Men and rushed it through. Perhaps ERB thought Horn infringed on the Big Bwana’s African domain as Leopard Men is a virtual reformulation of Horn using elements from both the book and movie. Of course ERB ‘adapted’ Horn for his own needs. Trader Horn was to be an influence on the rest of the series.
Trader Horn as a book first appeared in 1927. It was a non-fiction best seller in both ’27 and ’28, in the top five for both years, a tremendous success. That alone might have aroused ERB’s jealousy. Whether he read the book between its issue date and his viewing of the movie isn’t known but that he had read it by the time he wrote Leopard Men is clear. The title does not appear in his library although Director W.S. Van Dyke’s 1931 story of the African filming, Horning Into Africa, does. ERB undoubtedly used Van Dyke’s book as background for his 1933 effort, Tarzan And The Lion Man.
Don’t look for a copy of Van Dyke in your library; the book was privately printed and distributed. Copies are available on the internet but at collector prices of from one to several hundreds of dollars. Thus it will readily be seen how large a space Trader Horn formed in ERB’s consciousness.
I’m sure that when Emma dragged him from the theatre to babysit, ERB had no idea how influential Trader Horn was going to be in his life. For at least three years his career centered around it. In 1931 he saw the movie, possibly read the book for the first time and wrote Leopard Men. In ’31 the contract with MGM surrendering the rights to the portrayal of his Tarzan characters was signed. Then Van Dyke and Hume fashioned Tarzan, The Ape Man after Trader Horn. Tarzan, The Ape Man was a major success changing the public’s understanding of the character of Tarzan from a literate cosmopolite to feral child. In answer Burroughs wrote a parody of Van Dyke’s African filming of Trader Horn. When the screen Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, gave up the role in the late forties he put on some clothes and became Jungle Jim who might very well have been modeled on Trader Horn. Perhaps an inside joke.
Trader Horn and Ethelreda Lewis
At the time Alfred Aloysius ‘Wish’ Smith otherwise known as Trader Horn told his story to the woman who wrote it up and got it published, Ethelreda Lewis, he was a seventy year old derelict living in a doss house in Johannesburg, South Africa. Etheldreda Lewis was a well-known South African novelist.
Horn made his meager living by making wire gridirons and selling them door to door. He had developed a sad sack routine meant to induce housewives to buy his gridirons out pity. It worked with Mrs. Lewis.
She engaged him in conversation. As a novelist she realized he had a story to tell, she encouraged him to do so. Horn wrote up a chapter a week bringing it to her on Mondays. As she treated him respectfully offering him tea and cakes and a last chance at self-respect before he peeled off for the other side of the river he managed to prolong his story over twenty-six chapters and one presumes as many weeks of tea and cakes. Trader Horn the book is indicated to be Vol. I. There is a volume two telling of his other adventures. Vol. I is currently in print for 16.95, probably less on Amazon. Highly recommended.
In addition to Horn’s story Mrs. Lewis also recorded their weekly conversation which she appends to each chapter. Horn makes some very interesting and timely observations, a little sad but on the knowing side. I’m sure ERB was sympathetic as Horn confirmed his own beliefs. Altogether a very interesting and entertaining book which should have been a best seller not only for two years but more.
Horn’s experiences were so wonderful that naturally the question has arisen as to how accurate his recollections may be. I have read a number of vulgar opinions stating that Mr. Horn was a liar. I take offense at such an assertion. The man was relating his life. He may possibly have gotten a few details wrong but, as they say in Hollywood, his life was based on a true story.
I have read the book five times now within the last four years. My opinion as to Horn’s veracity is this. He very much wants to please and prolong a pleasant interlude to a rather grim life at the time. He had read a number of books including Burroughs and Du Chaillu. He claims to have known the French explorer De Brazza. He was an educated, intelligent and experienced man. He had apparently always had literary leanings.
Everyone has to be somewhere every moment of their lives and I have no doubt that Horn was on the Ogowe River in Gabon at the time he says he was. As a reader I hope I can perceive the ring of authenticity in a man’s reminiscences . Also I have been around myself enough to have seen some things, even seen some repeatedly, for which I get looks of incredulity, so just because I haven’t seen some things doesn’t mean they aren’t true. I reserve the right to question them to myself but stranger things have happened than I’ve ever seen.
While Horn is telling his own story I think he tries to make a good story better combining fiction with a factual tale. One questions his story of the White Goddess, Nina T. That story just doesn’t ring true. It seems like he borrows a little from ERB. Nina T. has been the Egbo goddess since the age of four, five or six being now in her twenties. She was the daughter of an English trader George T. who died when amongst the Blacks. They then appropriated her to groom as their White Goddess.
While Horn is plotting to spirit her away he has to communicate with her in writing, one imagines cursive. He has to explain how she can read, write and understand English. Nina T. and Tarzan should have gotten together. Horn explains that before George T. died he taught the very young Nina how to read and write using a picture alphabet book. Over the intervening twenty years or so Nina never forgot, itself a great feat of memory. Not quite as amazing an accomplishment as Tarzan teaching himself to read and write from possibly the identical picture alphabet book but still very impressive.
The natives also have a giant ruby as a fetish that Horn says he lifted by having a replica made solely from a description he sent to his friend Peru. As he was the first White man to be initiated into Egbo such a betrayal of his oath doesn’t speak well for his integrity or trustworthiness.
Thus, while I don’t have any trouble believing his trading and hunting adventures I have to conclude that as Burroughs would say, he was ‘fictionizing’ the rest. Nevertheless it makes a good story and if relating it made him feel good so much the better. No reason to call him a liar and his story lies.
One has conflicting reports on his subsequent life. On one hand there is a story he lived well off the proceeds of the book in England. When he was about to die the story goes that he said: Where’s me passport, boys, I’m off to Africa. Famous last words, indeed. On the other hand it is said that he died in 1927 in SA before he received the fruits of his labor. I would like to think he lived long enough to see a version of his story on the silver screen. If he had one imagines he would have been brought to Hollywood for the premier. He wasn’t.
So, whichever way he went, a tip of the hat for you Trader Horn.
Horn, Van Dyke, Hume and Burroughs
Had ERB known of Trader Horn in far off South Africa turning in his weekly installments to Mrs. Lewis I doubt if he would have realized how large a part Horn’s story was to play in his own life.
When the book was published and became a bestseller, something which Burroughs must have heard of, there must have been a glimmer of interest but still no recognition of Horn’s future impact on his life. When he saw Van Dyke’s movie he was duly impressed and was influenced but still probably had no idea of what loomed ahead.
By 1932’s MGM movie, Tarzan, The Ape Man, he had begun to realize the significance of Trader Horn to his own life. When he sat down to write Tarzan And The Lion Man the Old Campaigner was aware. While no copy of Trader Horn found its way into his library we know for certain he read it. A book that did find its way into his library was W.S. Van Dyke’s account of the filming of Trader Horn, Horning Into Africa of 1931. This book was used as the basis for Tarzan And The Lion Man.
It seems certain that Van Dyke read Trader Horn shortly after issue. By 1929 as the book was moving down the charts Van Dyke, a cast of many and several tens of tons of equipment were moving to Africa to form a safari to end all safaris. Not since Henry Morton Stanley in his quest for Livingstone had Africa seen such a spectacle.
Trader Horn was the first entertainment film shot on location in Africa. All the footage was authentic except those scenes shot on lot in Hollywood. I’m learning to talk Hollywood…all, except. The movie was a mind blower when it hit the theatres being one of the biggest grossers of all time. Burroughs saw it, picked up his pen, dictaphone or whatever, and following the script and book closely dashed off Tarzan And The Leopard Men leaving out the bit about the music box. Let’s compare the three versions of Trader Horn.
In the book Horn is the central character. He is a young man of seventeen or eighteen who has run away from school. Peru, his schoolhood chum, does not enter the story until the very end. His faithful Black companion, Renchoro, plays a very secondary auxliary role.
In the movie Horn is a grizzled Old Africa Hand tutoring his young pal, Peru. In the opening scene they are sitting around the campfire before setting out for the interior.
Burroughs follows the movie in having Old Timer teaming up with his young pal, The Kid. Even though the character of Old Timer seems to be based on a man of Burroughs’ age it is explained that he is under thirty while the Kid is twenty-two. Maybe ERB looked old but felt young.
In Horn Nina T. is a dark haired beauty the daughter of an Englishman George T. and an octaroon which means Nina is one sixteenth Negro but not so’s you could tell. She is literate, after a fashion, being able to read Horn’s handwritten notes in English. Horn buys her European clothes which she wears while yet a goddess.
In the movie Nina is a real primitive with the brain of an ape. Burroughs may have been thinking of her when he created Balza of Lion Man. She is astonishingly well played by Edwina Booth who has a mane of blond hair that would have gained her entrance as the queen of the Hippies in the sixties. A very exciting appearance. Just as Van Dyke and Hume made Tarzan an illiterate they show no favors to Nina. She couldn’t have begun the the alphabet let alone recite it.
In the book her mother died before her father. In the movie Horn and Peru encounter her mother walking through the jungle in search of a daughter lost twenty years previously. I laughed. I wouldn’t know if anyone else did as I was watching alone in front of my TV. By the way the VHS I was fortunate enough to buy new for twenty dollars, now out of print, is advertised on Amazon for up to one hundred seventy-five dollars. What a strange world. I hope they issue it on DVD. Maybe this essay will spur enough interest.
Horn coyly refused to give Nina’s last name as she is an heiress to the T. fortune which had been claimed long before. The movie boldly proclaims her as Nina Trent.
As Burroughs tells it, the future White Goddess is known as Kali Bwana, a name the natives gave to her. Her real name is Jessie Jerome. Her brother is Jerome Jerome. This is probably a coy reference to the English writer Jerome K. Jerome whose classic Three Men In A Boat was in ERB’s library as well as Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow. Three Men is supposed to be one of the most comic books in the English language. If so, it was too subtle or too broad for this reader. I didn’t find it amusing. ERB must have liked it. Jerry Jerome covers the Jerome Jerome parts of the name while the K of Kid provides the middle initial. Jerome K. Jerome.
The names are conceald from us until the very end of the book so there must be a haw haw there for the knowing reader. ERB calls Jerome Jerry never calling him Jerome Jerome.
Kali Bwana or Jessie Jerome is ‘what is known as a platinum blonde.’ So the goddess has gone from dark hair to the blondest. Jean Harlow had starred in Howard Hughes 1930 production of Hell’s Angels making her the Blonde Bombshell of Htown so ERB was duly impressed.
In the book Horn was a bright young man, in the movie, an old African hand. In Burroughs although ‘not yet thirty’ he is an Old Timer, a bum because of what a woman done to him. Since Kali Bwana/Florence redeems his attitude toward women we are free to assume that Emma was the woman what done it to ERB.
Kali Bwana is deserted in the jungle by her safari because she refuses to submit to the embraces of her Negro headman. Old Timer discovers her camp where she tells him she is looking for her brother Jerry Jerome, in yet another parody of Stanley and Livingstone. Old Timer and the Kid have never asked each other’s names so Old Timer has never heard of Jerry Jerome, even though he is Old Timer’s partner. Thus the rest of the story need never have happened had they known each other’s names. ERB likes this sort of thing, using it often.
Old Timer puts Kali Bwana under his protection which proves ineffective against the Leopard Men who seize her and carry her away to their Josh house to be their goddess.
In the book Renchoro is merely an associate of Horn. In the movie Renchoro becomes virtually a romantic interest of Horn. Several scenes are tinged with homosexual overtones, especially Renchoro’s death scene while when Peru and Nina T. board the paddle wheeler for the return to civilization and Horn remains behind a big balloon containing a picture of Renchoro appears as a hearthrob for Horn. Horn returns to the jungle presumably to find a substitute for Renchoro. Interesting comment on the Black-White relationship.
In the Burroughs’ story the Black-White relationship is removed to one between Tarzan and Orando. Tarzan has a tree fall on his head as the story opens not unsurprisingly giving him another case of amnesia. Orando happens along. He is about to put an arrow through the Big Bwana when Tarzan speaks to him in his own dialect. A handy thing to not only know every dialect in Africa, human and animal, but to know when to employ the appropriate one. Probably has something to do with a refined sense of smell.
Speaking of ape languages, Spain is about to vote on a measure giving apes human status in the country. So not only is the human species to be counted politically in Spain but leaping the Last Hominid Predecessor, an entirely different evolutionary strain is to be accounted human. It will be interesting to see how the Spanish ape population votes.
Orando then mistakes Tarzan for Muzimo or his guardian spirit. Thus for most of the book the relationship between Muzimo and Orando is that of the movie between Horn and Renchoro. And also between God and Human.
Horn traded on the Ogowe River in Gabon. Much of his story concerns his navigation of the Ogowe and its tributaries. Unlike every other African explorer I have read Horn makes Africa seem a wonderland. Every other writer makes Africa dark and forboding with piles of human skulls laying around, walkways lined with skulls. Horn’s Africans are laughing back slappers who are merry even as they are shooting and killing each other. The rain forest along the Congo depresses all other explorers but Horn finds the Ogowe otherwise. The skulls are still there but Horn apparently finds them amusing. The river Horn navigates unlike those of Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness or Stanley’s Through The Dark Continent and In Darkest Africa is a bright cheery place. Maybe it’s all a state of mind.
Van Dyke has only one river and that does not play a central role while it is on the dark side, a river of death. It is also the Nile in East Africa. Most of the movie takes place on terra firma.
Burroughs makes the rivers central to his story but they are dark, violent rivers of death. ERB borrows more heavily from Stanley on this score than he does from Horn. Actually, if one is looking for similarities there is some resemblance of Horn’s story to the Beasts Of Tarzan, but the latter is based on Edgar Wallace’s Sanders Of The River. We don’t know what of Burroughs Horn read; it is quite possible that he read a few of the six or seven Tarzans available in his time.
Horn has the Egbo fraternity practicing their rites in a long building quite similar to that employed in Burroughs’ Cave Girl of 1913. Horn would have had to have read that in magazine form which is possible but seems a stretch.
Van Dyke has his rites practiced in the open. Horn originates the idea of crucifying the victims upside down so that when the head is cut off the blood drains into a pot for ritual uses. Van Dyke includes an upside down crucifixion but leaves out the more grisly details.
Burroughs dispenses with the crucifixion scene entirely relying on his often used cannibalism. This may be one of the reasons the book is disliked. In the sixties the traditional cannibal cooking pot was derided as a false stereotype of the African. It was denied that cannibalism had ever been practiced in Africa. Black musical groups in the US like Cannibal And The Headhunters ridiculed the facts. Thus imputing cannibalism to Africa became bad taste. Perhaps when Leopard Men was reprinted in 1964 its heavy reliance on such rituals prejudiced a certain mental outlook against it so the story was derided as the worst of Burroughs novels. While very dark and even gruesome the story isn’t noticeably inferior to any of the others.
In the book Horn is not only on good terms with the various tribes but he was the first White man initiated into the Egbo society. Egbo is at its most innocent a sort of Freemasonic society and at its worst on a par with the Leopard Men. Horn describes Egbo as a sort of vigilante society who do in anyone any member has a grievance against. Neither Egbo nor Leopard Men figure into Van Dyke’s movie. As I understand it , Nina T.’s people merely practice savage primitive rites.
Burroughs who has moved his story from the Ogowe of Gabon to the Aruwimi of the Ituri Rain Forest with which he was familair from Stanley’s account in his In Darkest Africa relates the Leopard cult that was notorious at the time. Horn does have a lot of leopards in his story giving a detailed description of how their talons leave cuts looking like they were sliced by knives. His natives wear a lot of leopard skins. There isn’t much on Egbo available on the internet except a notice that it originated on the Calabar Coast which, if I’m not mistaken is where the Leopard cult comes from.
Fellow Bibliophile David Adams gives a good short account of the Leopard Men.
Burroughs undoubtedly had sources so that his presentation is based on facts of the Leopard Men but adapted for his own purposes. Thus he makes the Leopard Men the central idea of the story. Tarzan becomes involved with the Leopard Men through his role as the Muzimo of Orando. As an ally of Orando’s Utenga people Tarzan engineers the destruction of the Leopard Men’s village and cult in that part of his domain.
In Horn’s book as a member of Egbo he is familiar with the Negroes, a member of the cult and has full access to the ldge and, in fact, Nina T. He has no difficulty in rescuing her whatever. He had just previously defeated the Egbo chief in battle so that worthy was thoroughly cowed refusing to even give chase.
In Van Dyke’s movie Horn and Peru wander into an African Chief’s village attempting to trade. The chief is uninterested in trading seizing them as victims for his sacrifical rites.
Horn and and Peru as trade goods offer the chief a music box that the chief scorns. In the book the music box is known as Du Chaillu’s Music Box. At some earlier time Du Chaillu while researching gorillas had left a music box and compass behind that enthralled the Africans. Peru shows up with another that they leave behind, presumably in payment for the monster ruby.
Van Dyke apparently thought the music box ridiculous while Burroughs doesn’t use it at all although he does follow the movie scene with the African chief closely.
In his version the Old Timer in pursuit of Kali Bwana learns that she was abducted by Gato Mgungu and taken to his village. Gato means cat so perhaps the name has some reference to leopards. Gato Mgungu is chief of the Leopard Men. Old Timer who has traded with Mgungu before barges into his village alone demanding he release Kali Bwana. In the movie the chief is a tall, extremely well built, handsome fellow. Quite astonishing actually, while Burroughs gives Mgungu a huge pot belly. Old Timer is given as short a shrift as the movie Horn. He is seized, dumped in a canoe and taken down river to the Leopard Men’s lodge also, as in the movie, destined for the stew pot.
In the book Horn and Nina T. are well acquainted. She trusts him and is eager to be rescued. They easily escape down river in Horn’s boat. In the movie Horn and Peru are shown o Nina T. who falls in love with Peru. Somehow an escape plan is concocted that she more or less leads. They are hotly pursued by her people. The band finds its way to the trading post on the river although Renchoro is killed.
Burroughs has Kali Bwana taken to the lodge where with titillating details involving gorgeous nudity she is prepared to serve as chief goddess of the Leopard King who is a real leopard along the lines of the various lion kings of Burrough’s stories.
Old Timer is held captive among the crowd of Leopard Men gathered for the rites. As Kali Bwana is led out they both recognize each other and gasp. Unknown to everyone the Big Bwana is up in the rafters observing everything. From then on he becomes the agent of deliverance.
In the book Nina T. having been rescued, Horn provides the happiest of endings. Horn and Peru have only one goddess between them. She must go to one or the other. The happy-go-lucky goddess is willing to take either the one or the other so they flip a coin for her. The outcome is obvious since Horn didn’t marry her. Peru wins the toss and gets the goddess. Peru is the son of the owner of one of the richest silver mines in the world in his namesake Peru. He has just come of age so he is one Porfirio Rubirosa. Nina T. has left the jungle to fall into unimaginable wealth. As I see her as nearly a feral child I do not envy Peru.
The two are married aboard ship by the captain then after a pleasant interlude in Madeira Peru and Nina go their way while Trader Horn and his ruby go another. Horn sells his ruby to Tiffany’s from whom he does quite well. The stone while large has flaws so he didn’t do was well as he might have.
In this volume at least Horn doesn’t mention ever hearing from Peru and Nina T. again. He may mention them in volume two but I haven’t read it.
In the movie with Nina’s tribesmen hot on their trail Nina and Peru go off in one direction while Horn and Renchoro lead the tribesmen on a wild goose chase. Renchoro is killed but Horn makes it back to the trading post. Peru and Nina are now an item. She has either quickly picked up enough English to understand a proposal and say yes or she just likes the color of Peru’s eyes. They offer to take Horn with them but that balloon of Renchoro pops up with the implication that Horn can find himself another African ‘boy’, which he seems to prefer. The paddlewheeler steams down the river with Nina and Peru while Horn turns back toward the jungle presumably in search of another ‘boy.’
Burroughs version is much more involved. Suffice it to say that after many tribulations the French army shows up to suppress the remnants of the Leopard Men who were destroyed by Tarzan and the Utengas. Jerome K. Jerome locates Old Timer and the goddess Kali Bwana. The latter two have been reconciled and now are in love with each other. When Old Timer learns that her real name is Jessie Jerome he fears the worst.
In one of Buroughs, name games Kali Bwana had refused to give him her real name insisting he should call her Kali. Old Timer refused to give his last name but confessed to being named Hiram. Perhaps his last name was Walker. Kali could him ‘Hi.’ Just as there is a joke in the Kid being Jerome K. Jerome there is probably a joke in Old Timer being called Hi.
I refer you to Lewish Carroll’s Hunting Of The Snark:
There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship- but the worst of it was
He had wholly forgotten his name.
He would answer to “Hi!” or any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or
Fritter My Wig!”
There is a copy of The Hunting Of The Snark in ERB’s library so he must have read and reread the poem, as well as, one might note, The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam, so I think telling Kali Bwana she could call him Hi or any old thing is another of his literary jokes which are sprinkled throughout the novels.
Old Timer is overjoyed when he learns that Jerry and Jessie are brother and sister instead of husband and wife. As they are about to board the old paddle-wheeler, as in the movie, Jessie asks Old Timer to come with her. (Old Timer plays coy.)
The sun was sinking behind the western forest, the light playing on the surging current of the great river that rolled past the village of Bobolo. A man and a woman stood looking out across the water that plunged westward on its long journey to the sea, down to the trading posts and the towns and the ships, which are the frail links that connect the dark forest with civilization.
“Tomorrow you will start,” said the man. “In six or eight weeks you will be home. Home!” There was a world of wistfulness inn the simple, homely word. He sighed, “I am so glad for both of you.”
She came closer to him and stood directly in front of him, looking straight into his eyes. “You are coming with us,” she said.
“What makes you think so?” he asked.
“Because I love you, you will come.”
It can be plainly seen how all three versions of this scene are related while being derived from the original of the novel. As Burroughs adapted the movie version of the relationship between Horn and Peru he followed the movie ending.
Thus the novel and movie reoriented his own approach to Tarzan novels. The relationship of the three stories has literary repercussions. While it is plainly seen that Burroughs was, shall we say, highly inspired by Horn’s novel and Van Dyke’s movie, what might not be so apparent to the untrained eye is the extent to which both Horn and Van Dyke were influenced by the work of Burroughs which preceded theirs by a couple decades.
Horn admits to being familiar with the Tarzan stories. He was a first time writer here, while he had his own story to tell, he needed a format. He has chosen to emphasize many characteristics of the few Tarzan novels he could have read by 1925. While the Ogowe River figures in his life he probably would have been excited by the river scenes in Beasts Of Tarzan. He treats elephants and gorillas that he had actually seen in the wild differently than Burroughs but includes generous doses of both because they have worked for Burroughs.
Viewing from a distance as we are compelled to do one loses the savor of the times. A Burroughs reading Horn carefully might easily have picked up many references that slip by us.
Van Dyke and Hume on the other hand had been exposed to Tarzan movies for a dozen years or so. What they read can’t be so obvious. But the very format of the jungle thriller would have derived from previous Tarzan movies. ERB may have felt he was entering a turf war as the Big Bwana’s domain was being invaded.
He may have believed himself justified in expropriating the expropriators. If Horn died in 1927 his opinion no long mattered. What Ethelreda Lewis may have thought isn’t known. She apparently had a hand in writing the movie script for Swiss Family Robinson. Whether she came to Hollywood to do it I am not informed although she was around the movie capitol for a number of years. A meeting between her and ERB would have been interesting.
What Van Dyke and Hume may have thought I am equally uninformed, however between the release of Horn in February 1931 and the release of Tarzan, The Ape Man in March of 1932 was a year during which a contract was negotiated between MGM and Burroughs for the use of his characters but not of any of his material on April 15 of 1932. (Erzine Bio Timeline, 1930s). Within nine months then the movie Tarzan, The Ape Man was in the theatres.
The generally expressed view is that Hume first wrote up a script involving a combination Horn and Tarzan story. This was before they might have seen Leopard Men in print. To quote William Armstrong from ERBzine 0610:
Cyril Hume who had turned the filming of “Trader Horn” in Africa into a suitable story outline, was given the assignment of writing the script for Tarzan The Ape Man, Hume’s original script had Trader Horn leading an expedition to Africa to search for a lost tribe. En route, they discover Tarzan, who kidnaps the woman scientist member of the safari. She eventually returns to the safari and they are captured by the tribe they seek (who worship the moon), and are to be human sacrifices to a sacred gorilla. Tarzan leading a pack of elephants, arrives in time to save the safari. The woman scientist decides to stay with Tarzan while Trader Horn and his party return to the trading post.
This script may give some idea of how conventional Hollywood minds viewed both Horn and Tarzan. Apparently the relationship between th two was very close in their minds. This script leaves little room for the development of the Tarzan yell while it gives the feel of making Tarzan a subordinate character to Horn. Tarzan might or might not have been a part of the next Horn movie. If MGM continued to use Harry Carey in the Horn role he may very likely have had a stronger film presence than Tarzan who, one imagines would still have been portrayed as a feral boy as he essentially was in Tarzan, The Ape Man.
It would be interesting to know when MGM decided to film a Tarzan movie and in what connection to Trader Horn. The success of Horn may have prodded them but one is astonished at the speed at which the project was conceived and executed especially as we are led to believe that they had no actor to play Tarzan in mind when the contract with ERB was signed.
As Leopard Men was probably not even fully conceived in ERB’s mind when he signed it could have had no effect on the signing. The release of Tarzan, The Ape Man in 1932 did have an effect on Burroughs. After writing Tarzan And the City Of Gold from November of 1931 to January of 1932 he was stunned by the MGM characterization of his great creation.
That shock resulted in early 1933’s novel Tarzan And The Lion Man.
As influential as Horn was for the main frame of the story of Leopard Men ERB had all his usual themes and variations to employ which he lavishly did. This is a very dark story that I do not fully understand. The Trader Horn connection was the easy part. Now to the hard stuff.
August 16, 2008
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs #16
Tarzan And The City Of Gold
Tall, magnificently proportioned, muscled more like Apollo than Hercules,
Garbed only in a narrow G-string of lion skin
With a lion’s tail depending before and behind,
He presented a splendid figure of primitive manhood
That suggested more, perhaps, the demigod
Of the forest than it did man.
This novel follows Tarzan And The Leopard Men in the sequence in which the novels were written. Ballantine lists it as number sixteen while placing Leopard Men in eighteen in the sequence in which they were published. In order to understand Burroughs’ psychological development however Leopard Men should be read before City Of Gold.
The amazing use of symbolism in Leopard Men is continued in City Of Gold. I am convinced that at this
time Burroughs was investigating the Indian religion of Vedantism. Swami Prabhavananda had established a temple in Hollywood at the beginning of the decade which quickly took hold. The symbolism would be employed by the Vedantists while Burroughs’ interest in symbolism itself was piqued. Shortly after this novel ERB purchased a 1932 volume entitled The Scientific Dream Book And Dictionary Of Dream Symbols by one Johnathan B. Westerfield. Thus ERB was investigating the psychological origin of his dreams. The man was trying hard.
It is clear that this sequence of novels is heavily influenced by Homer, especially by his Odyssey. Homeric motifs run all through these five novels while as Doctor Hermes and David Adams have pointed out Burroughs uses the Athenian monetary unit, the drachma, as the currency of Cathne.
A third probable source would be from the Legends Of Charlemagne volume of Bulfinch’s Mythology. In the last Bulfinch tells of a City Of Gold in which an enchantress keeps the paladins of Charlemagne captive. That story seems to be based on Homer’s story of Circe and Odysseus, or Ulysses in the Roman telling, so Burroughs combines both stories in his own enchantress, Nemone, of his City Of Gold. One may take the City Of Gold to be the Sacred City of the Iliad.
The rival kingdoms of Cathne and Athne- my spell check just pointed out to me that Athne respelled is Athen which is very close to Athene or Athens- have Greek sounding names reinforcing the Homeric connection.
While the sexual symbolism of Leopard Men is dark and brooding placed in a swamp not unlike the Lernean Swamp of Greek mythology in which Heracles fought the furious female Hydra, The City Of Gold is much brighter and airier, more intellectual than the darker urges of the subconscious.
Having now read many of the Tarzan novels four-five and even six times I am astonished at how well they maintain their freshness from reading to reading. Rather than weary me, each reading is a fresh experience that opens a whole new vista of possibilities. The more I seem to understand of what I’m reading the more signficance the words have as the story seems to rise from the page to form concrete living images, as it were.
In this novel expecially I am impressed by the pacing, the effort put into preparing the scenes and the masterly execution in which each word assumes its independent value almost as though ERB had put as much care into word selection as, say, the poet Tennyson. Of course we all know ERB read Tennyson as well as other verse and poetry while also being familiar with song lyrics. Thus while writing prose he is able to maintain a poetic intensity.
The opening scene is an excellent example of his skill. Tarzan is out hunting when he is spotted by some shiftas. He’s in Ethiopia at the end of the rainy season. We aren’t told why he is there but he has commanded Nkima and Jad-Bal-Ja to stay home. As a corollary, just before he leaves Emma two years later he will take a solo vacation to the mountains of Arizona. The spatial arrangement conveyed in this scene is that of Tarzan between the shiftas and the prey he is hunting. While he is silently stalking the prey the shiftas are more noisily stalking him. The movement of the shiftas which can be seen by the prey but not by Tarzan who has his back to them is caught by the prey who looks past Tarzan to the shiftas. Tarzan noticing the prey looking beyond him also looks back to spot the shiftas stalking him.
The spatial concepts involved are astonishing while three views of time are also evident. I only picked up on this aspect with my fifth reading. My interest was thus piqued and heightened so that the novel took on an entirely new aspect. The scene as written is so well paced and spaced that it made a vignette I’m sure I shall never forget, while I now long to duplicate such a scene in my own writing.
The patient lulling slow pace of Tarzan’s hunt was now broken. As Tarzan’s quarry fled, the action between Tarzan and the shiftas became fast, furious and frenzied, while the sexual symbolism bursts into one’s consciousness.
As the shiftas bear down upon him Tarzan realizes that he cannot escape by running. If he could have he would have because as Burrughs never tires of noting there is no disgrace in running from a force majeure. Instead Tarzan shot arrows among the the shiftas. Than as a shifta bore down on him lance leveled:
There could be no retreat for Tarzan; there could be no sidestepping to avoid the thrust, for a step to either side would have carried him in front of one of the other horsemen. He had but a slender hope for survival, and that hope forlorn though it appeared, he seized upon with the celerity, strength and agility that make Tarzan Tarzan. Slipping his bow string about his neck after his final shot, he struck up the point of the menacing weapon of his antagonist, and grasping the man’s arm swung himself to the horse’s back behind the rider.
Abilities like that make Tarzan Tarzan and I’m sure such a feat could be done in reality as in the imagination although possibly not if Tarzan had had the bunchy muscles of the professional strongman. Smooth ones flowing beneath the skin like molten metal are undoubtedly a prerequisite.
Dispatching the shifta Tarzan is now symbolically seated on a horse. The horse directly plunges into a river to swim to the other side. In mid-stream the horse and rider are attacked by a crocodile that Tarzan kills or disables. Emerging from the river Tarzan gallops into a forest where he abandons the horse for the security of the trees.
There in a short passage we have a wealth of symbolism that tells in a few paragraphs what ERB could have developed in many chapter if told in straight prose.
The horse is a symbol of the female. Thus Tarzan as Animus is symbolically united with his Anima. the horse plunges into the river which is also a female symbol representing the waters of the unconscious. Still mounted Tarzan is in the conscious sphere above water while the horse is submerged in the subconscious. The crocodile also a female symbol representing the greedy, devouring, emasculating aspect of the female attacks. The horse turns upstream in an attempt to flee the croc. Tarzan strings his bow firing an arrow, as a masculine symbol, into the crocodile’s mouth disabling it thus escaping the disabling aspect of the feminine while with strange violence sending the arrow down the throat. One has to think about these things.
The horse scrambles up on the opposite bank signifying a change in life, then gallaps into the forst of the subconscious where one goes in search of oneself. The forest here is the same as all those underground mazes in Burrough’s corpus.
Once in the forest Tarzan abandons the horse, or Anima for the security of the trees where he is above it all. Apparently there is a deep cleavage between his Animus and Anima. Now begins a very strange encounter. Burroughs apparently felt he left something of himself on the other side of the river so he goes back for it.
Coming upon the camp of the shiftas he notices that they have a bound captive. As this appears to be what he returned for one can only speculate that the bound captive is an aspect of himself. Perhaps the captive represents his marriage to Emma in which he is in the bonds of matrimony wishing to escape them. Tarzan takes action. At this point Burroughs offers this rather remarkable passage describing the Ape-Man. p. 15:
It was difficult for Tarzan to think of himself as a man, and his psychology was more often that of the wild beast than the human, nor was he particularly proud of his species. While he appreciated the intellectual superiority of man over other creatures, he harbored contempt for him because he had wasted the greater part of his inheritance. To Tarzan, as to many other created things, contentment is the highest ultimate goal of achievement, health and culture the principal avenues along which man may approach this goal. With scorn the ape-man viewed the overwhelming majority of mankind which was wanting in one essential or the other, when not wanting in both. He saw the greed, the selfishness, the cowardice, and the cruelty of man; and, in view of man’s vaunted mentality, he knew that these characteristics placed man upon a lower spiritual scale than the beasts, while barring him eternally from the goal of contentment.
In the above quote ERB outlines the central problem of mankind. In the evolution of mankind from beast to homo sapiens the much vaunted mentality of HS has failed to make the transition from the pure mentality of the beast to that of, essentially, the god. In orther words his origins are dragging him back as he tries to make the leap to the next stage of evolution and development.
While having a godlike intelligence rather than using it to elevate himself above primal desires as the direction of the nineteenth century was going, in the early twentieth century Freud undercut the drive to perfection dragging mankind back down to primal desires. This is Freud’s great crime for which he should be burned in his effigy of Satan once a year in a great world wide holiday. Thus as Man uses his intelligence to get at the root of things, and I think we’re very close to understanding all, Man’s primal desires lapsing back into the ‘unconscious’ of Freud, and make no mistake the current conception of the unconscious is of Freuds’ personal devising, devise even more fiendish ways of evil as that knowledge increases. Thus rather than aspiring toward a spiritual contentment Man chooses to give in to desires that lower him beneath the hyena.
Thus Tarzan, who has attained spiritual contentment, and become godlike, looks with scorn and contempt on the humanity of his fellows preferring to think of himself as a ‘spiritually pure’ beast.
While this attitude is a theme throughout the oeuvre and the corpus as a whole perhaps this rant was sharpened by the developing difficulties at MGM. Shortly after this was written Tarzan, The Ape Man hit the screens scrambling ERB’s vision of Tarzan forever. The screen Tarzan has no intellect. In the movie Tarzan’s Desert Adventure Boy even has to read Jane’s letter to him.
On his way to the shifta camp the ever present Numa is between him and the desperadoes. Taking to the trees of the forest to pass over Numa he spots a strangely garbed man in the shifta camp. Still smarting because he lost his quarry and operating on the primitive logic that since the shiftas had deprived him of dinner it would only be right to deprive them of something they wanted, he decides to free the captive.
He was about to fail in his attempt when the ever present Numa saves his skin by attacking the shifta camp. In the confusion Tarzan and the prisoner escape. The man turns out to be an Athnean named Valthor. Having escaped they must put up for the night. Sheeta the panther is abroad. As David Adams is wont to point out, for Burrough Sheeta is a sexual symbol, so the next scene has strong homoerotic overtones.
The question is who does Valthor represent. He is curiously vague in personality. As Burroughs was obsessed with the Jekyll and Hyde notion at this time I suspect that Valthor is an aspect of Burroughs’ own personality with some sort of relation to Tarzan as Jekyll to Hyde. Valthor’s life is saved as Sheeta leaps for him so that one feels he may be related in some way to Stanley Obroski, another alter ego of Tarzan, who will actually die in the succeeding novel, Tarzan And The Lion Man.
In this novel, in putting up for the night, Tarzan with his superior junglecraft, finds a tree where two horizontal branches fork. He cuts some smaller limbs to form a pallet for himself for the night. He had eaten but he is unconcerned whether the able bodied Valthor has eaten or not. Tarzan does not hunt for other men. If he hadn’t already eaten he would have made a kill and shared the abundance.
Valthor lies down on the ground. Sheeta is watching silently. So silently even Tarzan does not hear him breathe, until readying himself to springs, he quietly brushed a leaf or two. Tarzan hears for his ears are not as yours or mine. As Sheeta launches himself on Valthor Tarzan shouts a warning while rolling from the pallet to descend on Sheeta’s back.
Now, this scene replicates a similar scene in Beasts Of Tarzan when Tarzan leaps on Sheeta’s back in midair as she was about to leap on the ape, Akut. I hadn’t thought of homoerotic overtones between Akut and Tarzan but they may be there. It may be signficant that Akut later became the mentor of young Jack Clayton otherwise known as Korak The Killer.
In the instance of Akut, the ape became sort of a vassal of Tarzan, while in this story Tarzan and Valthor become fast friends although the relationship is one of superior to inferior- Batman to Robin. After killing Sheeta, Tarzan takes a more motherly attitude toward Valthor, making a bed for him in the tree because he knew Numa was prowling the forest. That undoubtedly he knew that before was he leaving Valthor for Numa?
They awoke in the morning. p. 26:
Nearby, the other man sat up and looked about him. His eyes met Tarzan’s and he smiled and nodded. For the first time the ape-man had an opportunity to examine his new acquaintance by daylight. The man had removed his single garment for the night, covering himself with leaves and branches. Now as he arose, his only garment was a G-string and Tarzan saw six feet of well muscled, well proportioned body topped by a head that seemed to bespeak breeding and intelligence. The wild beast in Tarzan looked into the brown eyes of the stranger and was staisfied that here was one who might be trusted.
Not exactly a description of love at first sight but a definite tinge of homoeroticism. Brown eyes. In fact Tarzan and Valthor become fast friends. Quickly learning each other’s language by the point and name system, or at least, Tarzan learning Valthor’s language, they are soon chatting away amiably.
Valthor comes from the mountains but after they wander around for a week he admits he is lost. Tarzan gets the general direction then setting out in a bee line. Their goal is the huge extinct volcano, Xarator, which they soon locate. Just as Leopard Men was cast in the erotic swamps of the feminine as Old Timer lusted and panted after Kali Bwana so The City Of Gold is located in a valley high in the mountains where heaven and earth meet and the cold incisive intellect works best. Tarzan is not going to lust; like brave Ulysses he is going to resist the sexual blandishments of his Circe, Nemone.
Both City Of Gold and Tarzan Triumphant take place near or in volcanos so the volcano must link the two stories. The extent of emotion involved in this one is indicated by the atmospheric conditions as the two men enter the valley. Compare this scene with that of Tarzan The Invincible when Tarzan and La leave Opar. the symbolism is ferocious.
The scene is set in the mountains of Ethiopa. The rainy season is about to end but the last and most furious storm of the season bursts on the two. It seems certain here that Valthor is another aspect of Burroughs’ Animus in the Jekyll-Hyde sense. In this case the two are not so widely divergent as Jekyll and Hyde but are closer in aspects . Tarzan is still definitely superior and Valthor inferior.
Athne and Cathne are twin cities in the valley but they have to pass through Cathne- The City Of Gold which is to say perfection- to get to Athne. Athneans are Elephant men while Cathneans are Lion Men. As the two begin to cross the valley the great storm breaks. The storm no doubt symbolizes that storm feared by Burroughs of actually separating himself from Emma, certainly one of the most difficult thing he would ever have to do.
The separation must have been terrific internal trauma so that ERB kept putting it off rather than face it. One imagines that as in a situation like this Florence was continually asking him when he was going to tell Emma. It would be another two years before he could force himself to make the break. It is significant that just before he left he took a leave of absence from Emma returning to Arizona where, as here, he stayed in the mountains, the White Mountains of the Apaches. Thus his time in the Army must have had more significance for him than we credit. He must have thought, as miserable as he appeared to be, that those were the happiest days of his life.
In Cathne the rains came down. This was the mother of all storms. Between the thunder, lightning and literal sheets of rain the two were severed from all reality. They were walking ankle deep along the road. Once again they have to cross a stream. ERB has seen such a stream in Arizona, so this whole situation seems to be recalled by his Army days. Actually the nine months he spent in Arizona was a fairly rainy period of fourteen inches. In February 1897, I believe, four and half inches fell probably in one stormy period. ERB records a stream that became a raging torrent in his last Western novel. To some extent then he was writing from experience but already thinking of the good old days before he married.
As hard as it was raining in Cathne the river should have been unfordable but art has its demands.
Valthor knowing the ford begins to lead Tarzan across. He gets too far ahead. Tarzan in his uncertainty misses a step being swept away by the flood. He is now in the possession of the waters of the feminine, that is, his female problems, just barely able to get his breath. He is swept from side to side by the violent action of the waters, tumbled head over heels, but he keeps his mental presence. There is a great waterfall ahead of him which threatens certain death. The symbolism should be clear. In a last ditch effort Tarzan catches a rock hauling himself from the water, if I am correct, on the same side of the river, in other words, Emma. He doesn’t cross which is symbolically important. Refer that back to the earlier crossing in which he actually crosses but then returns.
Gathering his senses about him he sees some lights, going to investgate. He unwittingly stumbles into Nemone’s garden. Out of the frying pan, into the fire so to speak.
Brave Ulysses has found his Circe.
The scent of the big cats fills this book. Already Sheeta and Numa have had nearly equal billing with Tarzan and Valthor; now lions are given prominence. Now Tarzan emerges from the flood, which symbolizes a major life change, into the land of lions and lion worship. the ownership of lions is a mark of distinction in Cathne, Cahtnean chariots are even drawn by lions which brings to mind the chariots of goddesses like Cybele, Harmonia and Cadmus. Nemone will promise to reward Tarzan with three hundred lions, apparently an incredible number making him the top Lion Man. Remember the next novel Tarzan And The Lion Man will continue the theme.
Continuing an old theme from Tarzan And The Golden Lion a lion is even the god of Cathne. The symbol of Nemone’s Animus is a great black maned male lion named Belthar. The novel will devolve into a battle between Nemone’s lion, Belthar, and Tarzan’s lion, Jad-Bal-Ja. Also continuing an old device employed in Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar by the jewels and in Tarzan And The Ant Men by Tarzan’s locket this story is unified by the image of a great lion drawing ever nearer to Tarzan. So amid all these lions is the true Lion Man, Tarzan’s personal lion. His own guardian animal.
It does seem clear that ERB associates the big cats with sexuality.
ERB is building this story very carefully with great attention to spacing and pacing. Captured by the
Cathneans ERB takes care to ingratiate the Big Bwana with the troops. He has Tarzan and the Cathnean soldiers enter into a spirit of camaraderie as he introduces them to and instructs them in the use of the bow. Nemone is instroduced but seems to take little notice of the Big Guy condemning him to fight in the arena.
Taken to a prison cell he and we are introduced at some length and in some detail to a character named Phobeg. Phobeg is billed as the strongest man in Cathne.
ERB devotes an amazing amount of space to his confrontation between Phobeg and Tarzan. His development of such a minor character is unusual. I think what we have here is a confrontation between Tarzan and the actual man who inspired Burroughs to create Tarzan, the man who was the physical basis of the Lion Man. Phobeg can be no other than the first important body builder in the world- The Great Sandow. Just as in Tarzan The Magnificent Burroughs takes care to indicate that Tarzan has now replaced H.M. Stanley as the symbol of Africa, so here he puts down ‘the strongest man in the world’ in favor of his hero.
Sandow (1867-1925) had died a few years earlier. While other muscle men had replaced Sandow, most notably Charles Atlas, Burroughs was still obsessed by the man he had seen at the Columbian Expo of 1893. It would seem certain that ERB occasionally picked up a copy of Physical Culture Magazine to keep up on the latest builds. He couldn’t have missed the memorial copy devoted to Sandow, the greatest and still the greatest of the body builders. The award given to Mr. Olympia is called the Sandow.
While bowled over by the strongman, and strongmen, ERB was always offended by the bunchy muscles created by body building. he repeatedly makes allusions to strongmen throughout the corpus while Tarzan himself is both the antithesis and the perfection of the strongman. That is why Tarzan has smooth muscles flowing like molten metal beneath his skin while in this case Phobeg as a Sandow surrogate has the knotted muscles of the body builder.
If Burroughs found Sandow’s build offensive he would have gone apoplectic at the most recent champions who seems to have developed musculature as far as it can go. Unlike builders like Charles Atlas, Gordon Scott or Arnold Schwarzenegger who aspired to the Apolline figure, Ronnie Coleman and his successor Jay Cutler have opted for muscle upon muscle until there is nothing but muscle with no attention to a human shape. As an example check out Jay Cutler the current Mr. Olympia and holder of the Sandow at www.emusclemag.com. This guy is only 5’9″ but bulks up at 320 lbs., paring down to 275 for performance. And that is literally all muscle. One look at Cutler and ERB would have been foaming at the mouth
Just as Sandow was billed as the strongest man in the world, so Phobeg is billed as the strongest man in
Cathne. ERB makes him a braggart in relation to Tarzan but if he was the strongest man in Cathne he had little reason to respect Tarzan’s physique which was more like ‘Apollo than Hercules.’ Tarzan’s strength though greater than Phobeg’s was disguised.
At they are to fight each other to the death in the arena this allows Burroughs to introduce another of his interests which may be related, that of professional wrestling. Burroughs had Tarzan jokingly suggest that they stage the fight much as professional wrestlers. Burroughs who still attended the matches was disgusted becasue the matches were pure entertainment, something he should have applauded. Then as now the professional wrestling matches were staged. Professional wrestling then as now has more to do with entertainment than sport. Either you can get caught up in the fun and drama or you can’t. ERB obviously did although as he still thought of the shows as wrestling he felt put upon.
After several pages of Phobeg’s bragging and Tarzan’s false humility the ‘really big shoo’ begins. Tarzan and Phobeg are the last act on the program and they would have been a difficult act to follow.
ERB must have loved this part as the lenghty description of the gambling taking place is many times more detailed that he usually is. Whether the gambling aspect went on at the wrestling matches he attended or not, I don’t know. The odds naturally are for Phobeg, whose Cathnean reputation is immense and accurate as concerns the past. Everyone expects the inveterate gambler Nemone to bet on the sure thing as was her custom. They hedged their bets when they could at fantastic odds. Nemone then surprised them by betting on Tarzan. Nearly bankrupted the whole coterie of Lion Men.
Tarzan wins of course but refusing to kill Phobeg he instead does his trademark thing lifting Phobeg above his head and tossing him into the stands at Nemone’s feet. Now that is one hard act to follow.
Having now won his liberty, a lion man named Gemnon is assigned custodian of Tarzan taking him under his wing. Up to this point there seems to be no reference to contemporary affairs except for Sandow and wrestling. At this point ERB displays a numerous and surprising set of literary references.
Go To Tarzan And The City Of Gold part two.