Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells

And The

Wold Newton Mythology


R.E. Prindle

     It Came From Outer Space

     For some decades now I have been struggling with the problem of a new mythology for the scientific consciousness.  When the old mythopoeic mythology was invalidated by science it left sort of a void in the human psyche.  In the Arthurian sense we had entered the Wasteland of disappointed expectations, otherwise known as depression.

     Over the last twenty years of unremitting labor I have been either trying to discover or create such an existing scientific mythology.  Perhaps my efforts have been rewarded.  I modestly offer the following for your approval.

When The Student Is Ready…

     Unlike the internet where I get most of what passes for news by current standards, this day I was reading the newspaper.  I hadn’t come to that, it was just lying handy and I had the idle moment.  owever I read that our giant combined new and used Pulsar Book Store had laid off a couple dozen employees, or workers as they are sometimes amusingly described, because of declining in store sales.  I further read that sixty percent of Pulsar’s sales were over the internet.

     I’ve been doing all my book buying over the internet and hadn’t been in the Pulsar store for years.  Casting about for a reason for a decline in sales, apart from a growing illiteracy in the body politic, it occurred to me that on line electronic transmission of books was cutting into book sales deeply.  I mean, Amazon offers oodles of older books free, many of which you will never see in books stores but are offered by Print On Demand publishers over the internet.  Ask yourself when you last saw a Charles King?  Lots of them for free on Amazon.  That has to hurt sales.  I then reasoned that Pulsar’s shelves must be groaning.  I might be able to find a superb selecion at good prices, and I was right.

     I was rewarded with an armful of books at my first stop in the Bs.  I picked an armful of hard to find Balzac titles dirt cheap, thousand page nineteenth century omnibus volumes for six dollars and ninety-five cents each, Good God Almighty.  As close to heaven as you can get without taking the chance of dieing.

     Then I bethought myself to check the H.G. Wells section.  I have a complete collection of Wells’ fiction but I’m still missing a few titles of the non-fiction.  The Wells shelf was loaded and with cream, titles that I had had trouble finding over the year were now there in profusion.  I had to laugh to see nearly a whole shelf loaded down with copies of Wells’ Seven Science Fiction Novels in many editions.  I bought my copy of that at sixteen when it became the foundation of my psychic reality.  There were a number of editions I had never seen before.  In a fit of curiosity and affection I pulled a copy out just to fondle it.  As I did a small slim volume concealed between thetwo larger ones tumbled out and fell to the floor.

     I picked the paperback up.  It was by one Garrett P. Serviss titled Edison’s Conquest Of Mars and sub-titled as the Original 1898 Sequel To The War Of The Worlds.  I laughed at what seemed ludicrous and slid it back on the shelf.  I must not have been adept because it fell out on the floor again.

     I stood looking at it for a few seconds then decided that a mysterious power was bidding me to read it.  I know how ridiculous that sounds but it happens to me often and always with an important book for me to read.  Call it serendipitous, call it destiny, I follow my star.  They wanted nine-ninety nine for a paperback of two hundred pages. I had an armful of thousand page, hundred year old, hard backs on really good paper for six ninety-five each. I wavered.  But then I rememberd the mysterious way it had been concealed between two books destiny knew I would look at.  I thought of the old esoteric adage, when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  This same thing had happened to me many times before.  Often when my mind had been prepared a book had suggested itself.  Here it was, deja vu all over again.  Was I going to let a little literary bigotry stand between me and my obvious destiny?  Not I.  I begrudged the ten dollars but when I got home and examined the tiny volume I saw that I had discovered the missing link.  I can now make a case for a new scientific mythology.

When It All Comes Down, I Hope It Lands On Me

     The search for a new mythology goes on apace.  Perhaps the catalyst in the organization of the search was a sci-fi writer named Philip Jose Farmer.  Back in 1972 he formulated a scheme in his fantasy novel Tarzan Alive called the Wold Newton Universe.  He provides a very rigorous framework for the search.  Farmer posited that a meteorite fell to Earth near Wold Newton in the North of England in 1795, which is true, a meteorite did come down.  He further posits following the lead of H.G. Wells novel In The Days Of The Comet that this 1795 comet produced a change in men’s minds, and in point of fact there was a change of consciousness that occurred at this exact time.

     Several years ago, decades now, I bought a collection of the British magazine The Monthly Review, a run from 1781 to 1795.  Isn’t this spooky?  These volumes reflect a late medieval consciousness.  As an example the volumes use for s internally in a word- paf try for pastry for instance while beginning and ending esses are the convention letter s.  After 1800 this form disappears.  I wondered at what precise time The Monthly Review changed its orthography.  Through the wonders of the internet I was able to determine that precise date.  It was at the beginning of 1796, the volume following the last I own.  Thus 1795 is, in fact, a very good date for the change to the modern consciousness.

     After 1795 then Euroamerica looked at reality with different and fresh eyes.  Also a new literary style arose that led into the genre literatures of the present.  A magic generation of writers then arose with one foot in the medieval world and the other in its successor, with modern orthography of course.  Shelley and Byron, Peacock and the greatest of all, the father of modern fiction, Walter Scott.  Scott has lost nearly all his glamor now but he was the presiding genius of nineteenth century fiction.  I mention only the great French Bohemians Honore De Balzac and Alexandre Dumas.  Toss in Edgar Allan Poe.

Searching For The Thread

     Thus in Tarzan Alive Philip Jose Farmer began a classification system for the new approach to mythology.  Currently there are two Wold Newton systems- The French Wold Newton Universe and the Anglo-American.  Generally speaking a Wold Newton author’s whole work, or the major part of it, is a series of novels, a roman a fleuve, built around a character or a theme, thus Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Baums Oz stories or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter/Mars stories.  All the Wold Newton novels develop the new scientific mythology.  Some themes are developed by several hands such as the Vampire corpus or that of Frankenstein/artificial life.

     A major writer falling somewhere between literary and Wold Newton fiction is H.G. Wells.  He neither created a great fictional character nor works that fit easily into nor works that are exactly genre literature.  Still, Wells is at the center of the Wold Newton mythology.

     There are three novels of Wells that I think can fit into and define the Wold Newton Universe.  These are The War Of The Worlds, When The Sleeper Wakes and Tono Bungay.  With the exception of the Seven Science Fiction novels, of which only four have made an indelible impact, the rest of Wells’ novelistic corpus is today disregarded having apparently no relevance to the modern world.

     Of course I like Wells and I have read the entire fiction corpus.  There are a few novels that I think merit attention but in the hundred years since they first began appearing the body of fiction that has been written obscures all but the brightest stars of novels so that vas amounts of meritorious fiction is only read by the specialist or literary enthusiast exploring the past.

      War Of The Worlds is what got me started on this investigation, isn’t it?  I’ve read War Of The Worlds three or four times now and each time it’s a new book and not the one portrayed on the screen or what I perceived from my childhood reading.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the book isn’t really all that good although it has set the world on its ear.  It must have played into the fears of a society desperately grappling with a sea change in history.  Every conventional way of viewing the world was falling into the dust as the old mythology vaporized as before the Martian tripods and a new mythology was as invisible as Griffin in Wells’ Invisible Man.  When you removed the wrappings of Griffin there was nothing there but the invisible power of the past.

     Perhaps Wells’ Martians symbolized the all too visible power of the new scientific reality destroying the old magical religious vision of reality.  At any rate the book was received with startling avidity at its publication in 1898.  An nowhere was this book seized upon with such voracity as in America.  The effect has also been enduring including the radio broadcast of Orson Wells in 1938 and a number of movie treatments.  We often think Wells created this genre but not so.  

     In fact the space opera centered on Mars was an exciting new genre that developed rapidly during the nineties and the first decade of the new century.  Burroughs with his great Martian Trilogy was merely taking advantage of an established theme which he epitomized so well that his books are a culmination of Martian writing to that point.  His were the apex of the nineteenth century Martian theme, a new starting point for the future.

     He was apparently well read in the genre although apart from a few obvious titles one can’t be sure how deeply he had read. 

     Robert Godwin explains in the introduction to Edison’s Conquest Of Mars:

      Late in 1897 the great H.G. Wells struck gold when he submitted for publication- in Pearson’s Magazine of London- the future-war story to end all future-war stories, The War Of The Worlds.  It was not the first story of aliens coming to Earth, Edgar Allan Poe had done that sixty years earlier.  It was not even the first to involve humans fighting Martians, that had been done by Percy Greg in 1880, while German author Kurd Lasswitz had brought Martians to Earth to wage war with the British earlier that year.  It was Wells who brought this novel idea home with star realism.  The War Of The Worlds has little dialogue and few characters but is literally dripping with paranoia.  His invading Martians were completely alien and they had the technology to rampage right across the capitol city of the most powerful nation on Earth.  The War Of The Worlds soon appeared in America through the pages of Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Will This Nightmare Never End?

     Perhaps the dripping in paranoia was the key to Wells’ American success.  America is a very paranoid ountry and the paranoia is shared equally by both the Right and the Left.  If War Of The Worlds dripped with paranoia it was  as nothing compared to Wells’ next book, When The Sleeper Wakes.  Sleeper is all bombs, sirens and searchlights playing across the dark night skies.  Sleeper is the masterpiece of paranoia.  I just love it.  Wells must hav been going through a period of deep anxiety when he wrote it.  Sleeper is one great long anxiety attack wich he translated into a fear of being buried alive.  The hero, Graham, is actually buried alive although above ground.  He’s placed in a glass case where he sleeps for a couple hundred years until one day he awakes to find himself in possession of all the wealth in the world.  His money had been in trust gathering interest for all these centuries until his estate equalled the world’s wealth.  Of course he is more dangerous awake than asleep so he begins running scared.

     But that fear or paranois also characterized The War Of The Worlds which is one long flight from danger.  Godwin continues:

     Cosmopolitan was not cheap and so it would not be until the following January that the impressionable and imaginative young inventor Robert Goddard would first encounter Wells’ Martian war machines.  Copyright laws in America were still somewhat tenuous and newspapers were at liberty to do as they pleased.  Obtaining permission was often the last thing a newspaper editor would worry about and this modus operandi was especially prevalent in the smaller newspapers such as the New York Evening Journal, The Milwaukee Sentinel and the Boston Post.  Many of these newspapers decided to jump on Wells’ bandwagon.

     In the Boston Post, a Sunday, January 9th 1898, an entirely revised version of The War Of The Worlds appeared under the title Fighters From Mars- or, The Terrible War Of The Worlds, as it Was Waged in or Near Boston in the year 1900.  What is particularly remarkable about this is that the story is completely transposed from London to Boston.  All of the familiar scenes which take place in south London are suddenly taking place in Concord Masschusetts.  The Boston Post was fairly well circulated in the New England area and Robert Goddard soon learned of the remarkable serial.  The Post certainly did their part to stoke the fires of enthusiasm, they repeated the first chapter the next day in Monday’s newspaper and then not a day went by for the next few weeks without another installment appearing.  On the 3rd of February the serialization was complete and Wells’ great story was soon destined to appear in America as a full fledged book.

     Then something altogether unexpected happened.  The editors of the Boston Post revealed that they had acquired a “sequel” to Wells’ story, the advert in the Post read.  “Edison’s Conquest Of Mars- A Sequel To ‘Fighters From Mars’… written in collaboration with Edison by Garrett P. Serviss the well known astronomical author.”

     A truly astounding development.  Here was immediate impact to be followed forty years later by the even more astonishing reaction to Orson Wells radio script of the novel which was accepted as fact, real by the radio listeners who grabbed their shotguns and ran into the streets to repel the Martian invaders.  Obviously the novel answered a deep seated psychological need of Americans  which would be reflected in a series of movies such as The Day The Earth Stood Still with Gort an Klaatu as well as such later developments as Roswell, New Mexico and Area 51.  Aliens and space were united to the New Mythology.  Of course such aliens are only God thinly disguised.  After all such characters as Klaatu are always preaching  to us to mend our misbegotten ways or else.  Religion or no religion.

A Giant Leap For Americans

     The remarkable thing is that the Boston Post or one or more of its editors got a British copy in their hands, or the Cosmopolitan reprint, read it had his mind transformed on the spot immediately beginnning the transposition from London to Boston while at the same time beginning he process to create a sequel that was ready to begin publishing as soon as the original finished.  Plus Edison had to be immediately amenable to the idea so as to give his permission to use his name.

     Now, all this is transpiring during the Spanish-American war and the insurrection in the Philippines.  Also as if one phenomenon weren’t enough this was also the moment that Kipling’s poem The White Man’s Burden appeared.  Kipling’s poem was, of course, a commentary on the Philippine insurrection.

     Serviss then had probably no more than a month to draft his sequel.  Serviss himself had a scientific background which he fully employs in his sequel.  He was up to date on Martian theory.  As incredible as it may seem the book could have been a pilot for Star Trek.  He got it all in one book.  The Boston Post serialization ran and then the story disappeared.  It never made book form at the time.  In 1947 it was unearthed and published in a truncated form so unless by a miracle the Post episodes were seen by Edgar Rice Burroughs they had no influence on him although it seems like they could have.  However Percival Lowell the astronomer who is often mentioned as an influence on Burroughs was from Boston.  By 1899 he had already established his observatory in Flagstaff and written the first of his three Martian books, ‘Mars.’   He might then have had an influence on Serviss.  Lowell’s other two Martian books Mars And The Canals and Mars As The Abode Of Life written in 1906 and 1908 respectively might have been influenced by Serviss.  As a budding Mars expert it is likely that he might have had his attention called to both Wells’ and Serviss’ efforts.  If Burroughs read Lowell he would have been indirectly influenced by Serviss.  Anyway Serviss has a full discussion of how the water imagined to be on Mars flowed from the South to the North because the South Pole was thought to be elevated over the North and water, of course, flows down hill.  Serviss doesn’t explain how the water gets back to the South Pole.

     Serviss and undoubtedly Lowell have the water flowing on the surface so Burroughs has it flowing underground somehow.

     At the time Edison’s reputation was at its zenith as a technologist.  He was the epitome of the American can do attitude.  Serviss was pretty fair at this first attempt at sci-fi.  One has to assume that all the scientific ideas were in the air but Serviss skillfully blends them together in that can do attitude within virtually days.

        Edison creates   a fleet of anti-gravity ships within thirty days.  The anti-gravity ship is a plausible way of inter-planetary travel while the ships are designed in the projectile shape of current rockets.  The disintegrator guns Edison designs, also within thirty days, eliminate the bonds between atoms also in a plausible manner thus scattering the stricken entity to the winds.

     Thus a few years before the Wrights not only does Edison have heavier than air craft but the Martians have huge air fleets along the line of Burroughs.  So, as I say, Burroughs was stepping into an established genre not originating anything.

     Serviss merely makes the Martians giants so we essentially have a Gullivar and the Lilliputians story reversed. It’s a reasonably good story while being a very proper scientific novel.  There is nothing really for future writers to add, just rearrange the details.  And that was in 1899.

     The Boston response to the invasion from Mars was to ‘organize’ its own invasion of Mars and annihilate them as a psychological projection.  Very interesting.

From One Dark Spot To Another

     I have found no response from Wells to this rewrite of War Of The Worlds and its sequel.  H.G. got busy writing another fantastic futuristic sci fi effort title, When The Sleeper Wakes.  This book can actually be bundled with 1909’s Tono Bungay.  Both wonderful paranoid books.  These two books plus War Of The Worlds form the core of my psyche and if the truth were known probably a large part of the psyche of Edgar Rice Burroughs; most especially he was influenced by Tono Bungay which can be readily traced.

     Sleeper is a wonderfully paranoid tone poem.  By 1898-99 Wells was realizing his ambition of rising above his origins while his Anima-Animus problem was becoming paramount.  Wells was born into the lower social level of society with almost no hope of realizing his considerable potential.  He was seemingly condemned to a life as a Draper’s Assistant which was little above servitude or even slavery.  On his own efforts he rebelled seeking a way out through education.  He achieved this after enduring several years on the razor’s edge uncertain as to what his future would be.  Combining his scientific background with his literary skills he began to rise above his origins financially although he was never to escape the psychological stigma of his lower class origins.

      Thus through his short stories which were sensational at the time and some still are he got a foothold in the literary scene.  Wells wrote at least two or three masterpieces.  His The Time Machine put him in the writer’s top notch class.   War Of The Worlds and When The Sleeper Wakes, close to a diptich, written out of acute anxiety as to his future put him over the top.  He was a force to be reckoned with.

     Thus both novels pit his heroes against overwhelming forces that they must defeat.  In the War Of The Worlds  the enemies fade away through natural causes.  In Sleeper, Graham the Sleeper, awakes to find himself the richest man in the world only to discover that all is to be taken away from him.  This is normal anxiety for someone on the rise.  The new man is always resented and his way made difficult.  He is to be prevented if possible.  Hence the intense fear and paranoia of Sleeper.  In the denouement Graham takes to the air in the last remaining airship to single handedly drive back the Negro police summoned from Africa.  Prescient really.  The Sleeper’s plane spirals into a crash but then Wells takes the copout that it is only a dream.  At any rate in real life he wakes up to find that he is now a guru.  His non-fiction Anticipations- a guide to the future- published two years later in 1901 established him irrevocably as a ‘futurist’.  All he had do then was write passable books.

     Both of his masterpieces Worlds and Sleeper also dealt with Wells’ troubled sexuality.  As in the life of all men his Anima became estranged from his Animus which Wells was never able to reconcile as he developed a rather bizarre sex life as he searched for a way to recover his Anima.

     In WOW as the populace was fleeing the Martians his hero was driving a cart along with his Anima figure.  The two became separated when a crowd came between them and she was lost.  In Sleeper Graham finds his Anma but once gain events separate them and he is about to crash his plane alone.

     And then ten years later Wells crowned his work with the very wonderful Tono Bungay.  Not close to the finest story ever told it is nevertheless one of the world’s great novels.  The book had a profound influence on me.  I first read it when I was twenty while I have subsequently read the book three times.  I cherish my first reading because I projected myself into the story so much that I rewrote the book in my imagination to suit my own needs.  Tono Bungay was an entirely new book in my last reading.  I hope to show that the book had a profound influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs as his and Wells lives touched as the 1930s arrived.  It’s always a strange world.

     Wells seems to have been interested in the patent medicine businss in the US during the first decade of the century.  Strangely it is not impossible that the story refers to the situation of a Dr. Stace of Chicago.  I’m just guessing now.  Stace’s partner was a young man named Edgar Rice Burroughs.  So it may be coincidence that Edward Ponderevo, the inventor of the tonic Tono Bungay, and George Ponderevo his nephew, may have been based in part on Stace and Burroughs.  I mean, the patent medicine stories are identical.  Probably a coincidence though but I’m just guessing. 

     During the first decade of the twentieth century the patent medicine business had developed  in the United States to magnificent proportions.  As great national magazines arose the potential of the business rose accordingly.  The active ingredient in the patents was usually alcohol although drugs, which were unregulated were frequently used.  It is well known, for instance, that the Coca in Coca Cola referred to the cocaine with which the drink was laced.  Coke was a real pick me up back then.  Amphetamines were isolated in 1897 so imagine Methedrine Cola.  Quite an idea.

     The US government saw the dangers of these patent medicines, not a few of which used the opium based laudanum.  I mean, these were loose times, they used to give infants opium based laudamun to keep them quiet.  Better than TV.  So, during the teens the government was forced to conduct a campaign against patent medicines.  First they came for the patent medicines then they came for the alcohol and then they came for the cigarettes.  Now they’re working on sugar and salt and caffeine.  You’re next, you miserable user you.   Wells was watching this fascinating activity from Britain.  In one instance Edward Ponderevo remarks that six or seven go-getter Americans would wake England up.  Then he invented Tono Bungay, the patent medicine par excellence.

     Strangely, leading the anti-patent medicine campaign in the US was Samuel Hopkins Adams who would affect Stace-Burroughs then and sixteen years or so later would upset Burroughs’ life when he published his very successful novel, Flaming Youth.  Strangely, strangely how many people who have never met can be so influential on others.  Almost paranormal.

     So, Burroughs took up with Stace in the sale of patent medicines just as the government was cracking down on them, putting them out of business, filing legal complaints, doing the double nasty.  Stace and Burroughs developed a close relationship, almost as close as father and son or, uncle and nephew.  Even after the two were put out of business they continued in another line of business before parting.  Erwin Porges in his biograpy of ERB doesn’t go into a lot of detail over this relationship, maybe from a mistaken sense of delicacy, but this was a big event in Burroughs’ life perhaps straining his marriage with Emma.  I believe it was here that he gained his personal experience of sheriffs and grand juries. 

     Stace may have been a big enough operator to come to Wells’ attention so that he was captivated by this story of the older man and his younger acolyte.

     At any rate Edward Ponderevo goes bust in a provincial town through his aggressive business practices removing to London where he develops the idea of Tono Bungay.  Wells then diverges from the patent medicine story as Ponderevo, who was a real go-getter, develops an empire based on legitimate products, like soap, so that Tono Bungay takes a back seat in his success story.

     Interestingly Ponderevo buys a huge estate not unlike Tarzana around which he begins to build a ten foot high wall some eleven miles in length.  Then, of course, he overextends himself and goes bust.

     In reading this story, as I’m sure Burroughs did, he must have really related to the patent medicine story while probably rewriting the story in his mind to suit his circumstances.  In this story too, Wells finds his perfect soul mate or Anima who once again he loses.

     If by chance  Wells was aware of the Stace story and did know he had a junior partner, Burroughs, he undoubtely forgot about him and the patent medicine business in the turmoil of the years to come.

     The story of Ponderevo, his large estate and the eleven mile ten foot high wall must have stuck in Burroughs’ mind.  The story may have been instrumental in his decision to buy Tarzana while it appears spectacularly in 1933’s Tarzan And The Lion Man.

     Let me say that this whole group of writers who would nearly all find a place in the Wold Newton Universe read each other.  While Kipling, Haggard, Wells and Doyle were reading Burroughs after he became famous as well.  Indeed, Wells in Sleeper mentions three stories that had a profound effect on all these writers: Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness and Henry James’ The Madonna Of The Future.   Writers appearing after ERB’s fame appear to have been universally influenced by his, too.  Haggard and Kipling’s Love Eternal was a response to ERB’s The Eternal Lover and unless I’m oversensitive they talked to him in it, too.

     In a way then this was a form of telepathy, so controversial a topic at the time- true long distance communication and this would continue through the thirties if you’ve read enough and thought about it.

     Anyway Burroughs read extensively incorporating almost everything that impressed him into his stories one way and sometime or other. I’m sure he was unconscious of using most of the sources.  Thus the story of Tono Bungay, Ponderevo and the ten foot fence entered his subconscious.

     In 1919 he left Chicago for LA for good.  His intent was to buy twenty acres or so to raise hogs.  This he could easily have afforded avoiding all the subsequent economic pain.  However Harrisons Gray Otis, the publisher of the LA Times had died in 1917 and his 540 acre estate, Rancho Del Cabrillo, was on the market.  ERB made an abrupt about face and bought it.  I’ve often wondered why, what was the impetus?  If one reads of Ponderevo’s estate in England one has a pretty good match of Tarzana.  Burroughs has been quoted as saying he would have liked to have a large estate that he could build a ten foot high wall around.  Of course he had the estate and lost it.  But the Ponderevo estate seems to have been on his mind.

     This may sound completely conjectural but let’s move ahead to 1933 when ERB penned what I consider his magnum opus, Tarzan And The Lion Man.  He includes a novella in the story that might be entitled, Tarzan And The City Of God.  This is a pretty good story.  By 1933 the talkies had been in existence for five years.  Many of the more magnificent early horror stories had already been filmed.  I may be a sucker for these early horror films but given the limitations of the industry at the time they have never been equaled.  So, in addition to all the books stored in ERB’s mind, fifteen years or so of silent films, he now added a full catalog of talkies.  Himself a virtual father of all B movies with his own catalog of novels all these B horror films reinforced his imagination.  Even though he had little to do with the filming of his own movie starring Herman Brix as Tarzan, The New Adventures Of Tarzan, the movie was nevertheless perfect of the B genre.  Sort of an a correction and example to MGM.

     Tarzan And The City Of God is perfect in the Pulp genre which is the literary counterpart of the B movie but now ERB seamlessly joins the Pulp to the B genre.

      Tarzan And The Lion Man mocks the making of MGM’s film, Trader Horn.  As I have pointed out in other reviews in 1931 ERB signed a contract with MGM that removed the Tarzan character in the movies from his control to MGM.  MGM then proceeded to mock the Tarzan character on the screen in an attempt to destroy ERB’s creation.  Of course, the mockery failed, Tarzan going on to greater glory and an immortality he might not have attained otherwise.

     At the same time ERB was locked in a battle with Joseph Stalin and, at the risk of seeming preposterous, the Soviet Union.  This war was brought to the surface n 1930’s Tarzan The Invincible.  Now, Stalin and the Communists of all countries were attempting to discredit all pre-Revolutionary writers who rejected the Communist program.  ERB was one of these while, oddly, Tarzan was one of Stalin’s favorite characters, especially in the MGM movies.

     H.G. Wells who accepted the Revolution in substitution for God in about 1920 was one of Stalin’s literary hatchet men.  During this period Stalin assigned State prostitutes to service certain Western literary men to report back to him on their doings.  Moura Budberg had been assigned to H.G. Wells.  Amazingly Wells fell deeply in love with her although he had to have known that he was her job.  One of Wells’ targets was Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Thus beginning in the twenties Wells began parodying and vilifying Burroughs in various books to which Burroughs replied in other of his own books.  Thus, in a sense, there was telepathic communication.

     In 1933 the combined attack of MGM, one imagines Louis B. Mayer, Wells and Stalin had overwhelmed Burroughs.

     In 1930’s Tarzan The Invincible Burroughs had been forced to abandon the valley of Opar and La to Wellsian and Soviet interference.  The Communists invaded Opar destroying ERB’s imagined paradise.  So now, in a masterful creation he attacks Wells, MGM and the Communists in the City of God, London, England transposed to the Mutia Escarpment in Africa  The Mutia Escarpment was MGM’s imaginary location for the Tarzan movies named after an African actor who appeared in Trader Horn.  We do have telepathic communication here if you’ve got your radio turned on and tuned in.  So there is layer after layer of mockeries in what is actually a titanic combat involving film and literature carried on right before the eyes of an unseeing world.  Stalin, Burroughs, Wells and L.B. Mayer knew but virtually no one else.  I might never have caught on but for the internet  and the availability of films on DVD and flat screen TVs programmed through my wireless computer network.    I have a complete collection of ERB’s novels, nearly all of Wells, and a nearly complete collection of Tarzan DVD’s.  There’s always one or two that elude you.  So I can read and watch at will.  Rather amazing really.  All one’s intellectual influences on one shelf while every library and film archive is only a click away.  Isn’t God good to us?

     So, Tarzan scales the Mutia Escarpment which at his point of attack is a sheer wall of granite.  this probably indicates the difficulties ERB was facing.  As usual there is an easier ascent for the ladies but Tarzan knows nothing of it.  In real life, the location of Van Dyke’s Trader Horn was Murchison Falls on the Nile and the plateau would have been the land around Lake Victoria.

     On the plateau Tarzan approaches the City of God/London which is surrounded by a, guess what, ten foot high wall.  The circumference must have been at least eleven miles.  Thus we have a replica of Ponderevo’s estate as imagined by H.G. Wells of London, England.  Instead of Ponderevo’s modern ‘castle’ we have a replica of what might be Frankenstein’s castle or some othe horror film castle with the requisite village at its base.

     Now, ‘God’ who was a ‘formerly handsome Englishman’ had come to this country in 1859.  This is now 1933 so 74 years previously.  As God will tell Tarzan shortly he was a biological scientist experimenting in evolution and creating artificial life a la Frankenstein, when his studies involving corpses brought the authorities down on him forcing him to flee England but not before he had removed,  essentially DNA, which ERB calls ‘germs’, from the corpses of Henry VIII and his court buried in Westminster Abbey.  In London, Africa God had forced the evolution of a tribe of gorillas turning them into barbaric replicas of Henry VIII and his court.  Still having the appearance of gorillas they have more or less human minds speaking and acting as archaic Englishmen.

     Tarzan having scaled the impossible cliffs of the plateau is now faced with a ten foot wall with sharply pointed wooden stakes pointing downward making a leap and hoist impossible.  ERB has left out the overarching tree in this instance so Tarzan does his strongman act.  The body builders are never far from ERB’s imagination.  Tarzan pulls off an impossible stunt.  Leaping up he grabs a couple stakes lifting himself over his wrists until he was above the wall then rolled forward.  Only time that trick’s ever been performed.  Thus ERB enters that ‘sacred city.’  The sort of Troy that refused Achilles.

     The scaling of the cliffs, the clearing of the wall might have been suggested to ERB by his struggle to achieve success which he had done for one brief moment.  Lifting himself by his bootstraps, as it were, he had gained entry into that sacred city.  His success was to be shortlived and almost as tragic as Tarzan’s visit to the City of God or ERB’s Tarzana or Ponderevo’s estate.

     While Wells was born to poverty ERB’s course in life had been different; he was a Golden Child with the highest expectations.  And then in his teens it was all taken from him as he was plunged into poverty although not as abject as he makes it out to be.  Thuse he had a different personal myth than that of Wells.  He identified with Mark Twain’s Prince And The Pauper in which the Prince changes places with his impoverished doppelganger, then regains his position.  His other favorite book of this type was Little Lord Fauntleroy in which a British heir lives a normal life in America until he inherits his English title.  Thus these two books combined with Tono Bungay suggested a course to his life that he actually realized and as the three titles suggest lived his life in a boom and bust fashion. as though compelled to gain and lose, lose and gain his fortunes until he died in bed a comparatively well off man.  ERB was a very suggestible guy.  At this point in his life he was heading into a major bust part of the cycle and this story tells of it.

     Once inside the walls there sits the castle, The City of God, the City on the Hill, the sacred city of Achilles, his goal.  Tarzan mounts a very long flight of steep stairs as ‘God high above on the castle ramparts watches with grim satisfaction. the fly has come to the spider.  Just like L.B. Mayer and MGM he’s got his man all but trapped.

     Having just been trapped by his enemies ERB belatedly has it all figured out.  Tarzan enters a oyer faced by three doors.  At this point all decisions are Tarzan’s.  He can go back or he can go forward.  He elects to go on.  Two of the doors are locked while one is ajar.  This scene of Tarzan and the doors is repeated several times in the corpus.  I’ve tried to figure it out.  The nearest I can come is a short story of 1898 by Frank Stockton titled The Lady Or The Tiger.

     Since this was a very famous story I, for myself, have no doubt that ERB read it and was suitably impressed.  This is arbitrary, I know, however there is a great deal of similarity between this story and the story of Queen Nemone and Tarzan in the arena from Tarzan And The City Of Gold.  Now, in the Lady Or The Tiger the story hinges on two doors, behind one of which is a tiger and the other a gorgeous lady.  This is the trial by ordeal that Stockton’s king has chosen to decide his criminal cases.  In his story a young lowly man has dared to love the king’s daughter.  She is inn attendance but displeased because the lover will possible marry another.  She indicates to him to take the right hand door.  The question is left unanswered whether the lady or the tiger was behind the door by Stockton leaving it to the reader whether the one or the other was the man’s fate.

     In the city of God, of course, the choice has been made for Tarzan as the middle door is left unlatched.  Tarzan enters descends some steps, passes through another door that latches behind him to find himself facing…the lady.  Well,I don’tknow, could be unrelated to Stockton’s story, but then, again….

     At any rate it relates to ERB’s obsessions with tigers.  As we all know the magazine story of Tarzan Of The Apes had both tigers and lions that public opinion forced Tarzan to change as the literalists pointed out that there were no tigers in Africa.  ERB changed the tiger to a lioness he called Sabor so that female lions can be thought of as tigers.  I think most of the lions Tarzan kills are females.  If tigers and ladies are associated in ERB’s mind then in City of God Tarzan got both the symbol and the real thing, who was his preferred Anima figure Rhonda.  I’m pretty sure that’s how ERB’s mind worked.

     Speaking of tigers, for those lovers of the Pulp and B movie genres, a perfect of its kind, the grande finale of the genre so to speak is Fritz Lang’s Indian diptich The tiger Of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb of 1959.  Set in India but pure Burroughs with plenty of tigers, as there are no lions in India as everyone knows.  Stunning color and the perfect pulp story of the twenties and thirties.  Three or four hours of bliss.

     So Tarzan/ERB is in a cage with his other half, his Anima.  He’s been in tight spots before but this is it, the real thing, the place that’s a leap too far.  Rider Haggard all over again.  While the Big Guy and Rhonda are talking things over their captor, ‘God’, makes his appearance.  A jolly fellow, a formerly handsome Englishman, now piebald, who might go by the name of H.G. Wells.

     As I said Wells is one of my favorites and when I was younger and slightly more obtuse Wells struck me as he probably did ERB as a stunning writer.  Later as I learned of Wells’ politics and other failings he lost much of his gitter but the glory pretty much remains although resented.  Burroughs had much more reason to consider Wells a ‘formerly handsome Englishman’.  Thus he takes a certain malicious pleasure in making his God character half black, half white, half ape and half human.   There’s a lot more to analyze in the character of God but I’m working this side of the track right now.

     The reason God is half and half is because as he aged he took germ cells from the apes to rejuvenate himself thus slowly adopting ape characteristis, regressing as it were in an evolutionary sense and making a fine joke on the Stokes Trial in Tennessee of a few years earlier.  God is delighted to have captured two such fine White DNA specimens as he hopes their germ cells may restore him to his former splendor.

     We’ll never know now because while God absents himself, in the best pulp/B movie fashion Tarzan feels a breeze stirring.  This leads to what is hopefully an escape oute but merely tuns into an avenue leading to Tarzan’s Gotterdamerung.  A fire starts rising up through the flue Tarzan found and ascended so that the whole City of God on the hill perishes in flames.

     While Burroughs may have said back in the teens that he had never read Wells, that may be dismissed.  Actually when one delves behind the obvious facts one finds a fairly intimate connection with their careers contacting on the psychological level, that is to say ‘telepathically’, several times.  Between Wells and Burroughs almost continuously from, say, 1908 to the thirties.

     If one assumes that Wells was aware of the Stace-Burroughs situation, which is only a possibility, then Wells formed part of Burroughs subconscious with his Tono Bungay.  That influence probably surfaced when Burroughs purchased Tarzana and then became continuous through the twenties and thirties when Wells became Stalin’s literary hatchet man.

     Wells eludes the Wold Newton because he never created a mythic character or series of novels although the psychological situations of the seven science fiction novels and Tono Bungay along with many of his short stories give him a significant place in the Wold Newton mythos.  The WNU is of course a state of mind giving mythological form to history since 1795 when the meteor landed altering consciousness.

A Contribution To The Erbzine Library Project

The Beau Ideal Trilogy Of

P.C. Wren

Beau Geste, Beau Sabreur, Beau Ideal

Review by R.E. Prindle

Part   I: Introduction

Part II: Review of Beau Geste

Part III: Review Of  Beau Sabreur

Part IV: Review Of Beau Ideal

P.C. Wren

  For hundreds of years after the expulsion of the Moors from Spain the Moslems raided the European c0asts of the Mediterranean abducting men, women and children as slaves while also preying on shipping.  The newly formed United States sought unsuccessfully to suppress this Moslem piracy.  ‘Millions for defense but not one penny for tribute.’  If you remember that one from school.

     Finally in 1830 France invaded, conquered and occupied what is now known as Algeria ending the Barbary Pirates.

     An army corps was formed and named the Legion Etrangere in French, French Foreign Legion in English to pacify Algeria.  Over the next hundred years the Legion was used for peaceful penetration into the Sahara and Sahel to form the French West African Empire.

     In an astonishing turn around the Moslem power evaporated while the French easily became the masters of the bulge of Africa.  The military superiority was to last until post-WWII when exhausted by two world wars accompanied by a moral collapse as the best and brightest died on the battlefields leaving nothing but singers and dancers to live off the fat of the land.  The French were militarily capable but morally bankrupt.  The Moslems reasserted themselves in the fifties forcing the French out of Algeria while beginning the invasion of France by peaceful penetration.  A neat reversal of fortunes.  Thus the conquest of Europe interrupted by the Spanish expulsion began again.

     Immediately after the French invasion of Algeria the deserts of Africa beame a playground of Europeans.  The lure of the desert held a strange appeal for them.  Perahaps devoid of romance in their homelands the desert with its now no longer dangerous but exotic inhabitants replaced the fairies and elves displaced by the scientific revolution.  The Euroamerican romance with ‘noble savages’ and ‘inferior races’ may very well be caused by the void created by the scientific revolution.  Euroamericans hoped to find or create those emotional or psychological needs lost in the advance of civilization.  This may explain to some extent the White worship of people of color whose ‘natural’ uninhibited behavior they profess to admire and imitate.  Witness the tatooing and body piercing in imitation of the Africans who themselves appear to have to given it up.

     The French having conquered Algeria had to establish an army corps dedicated to perpetual warfare.  That unit was the Legion Etrangere or French Foreign Legion.  The duty in the Sahara amid an enemy population was so execrable  that only men without hope, that is criminals and outcasts with no other options need have applied.

     In 1831 then, a year after the conquest and annexation of Algeria as an actual Department of France the French Foreign Legion was created by Louis Philippe the new Bourgeois King of France.

     The Legend of the Legion apparently grew very quickly.  the first legion novel is thought to be that of the English writer Ouida.  She published her novel Under Two Flags in the 1860s.  It was a great success ultimately being made into a movie.  Alongside the Legion novels were a number of novels that dealt with the desert in a very romantic way.

     The genre of novel could only have developed after the French conquest of Algeria after 1830 and  a little later with the pacification of the Moslems.  If not pacification at least intimidation.  Astonishingly the centuries intervening between Roman Africa and the conquest of Algeria vanished from the consciousness of Europeans.  In only a hundred years (well, a hundred twenty-five years) a brief interlude, Europeans were in turn expelled from North Africa with their tremendous superiority shattered and in ruins.  That brief century now appears like a fairy story without real substance.  A hundred years of struggle and dieing ant then- poof!  But the stories were great.

      Fans of Jules Verne have a very good story- The Barsac Mission- that undoubteldy was an influence of P.C. Wren.  The work has only been translated recently issued in two volumes as Into The Niger Bend and The City Of The Sahara by Americor.  Some consider the novel science fiction.

     The publishers are escapist types who have retreated to Mattituck N.Y.  at the most extreme end of Long Island.  Unfortunately, as with many of Verne’s books the Barsac has been bowlderized to reflect current Liberal tastes.  The translator I.O. Evans coyly expresses it this way:  I have also taken the liberty, found necessary by most of Verne’s other translators, of abbreviating or omitting a few passage of minor interest.  (cough, cough)

     Another wonderful Sahara novel written at the same time as the Barsac is Robert Hichens’ The Garden Of Allah.  Hichens was an influence on Burroughs.  The novel was very well known at least through my youth.  I knew people with whom Hichens’ reputation was very great although I imagine there are few who would recognize his name today.

     And then ERB himself devoted a number of pages to the romance of the desert.  In The Return Of Tarzan it will be remembered that Tarzan was despatched to Algeria as a French secret agent just along the lines of Wren’s De Beaujolais.  The Lad And The Lion is of course a complete Sahara novel that appears to have had an influence on Wren.   Korak the Killer of The Son Of Tarzan operated on the margins of the desert while the Sahara plays a frequent part in a lot of the Tarzan novels.

     There is no question that E.M. Hull’s The Sheik was a major influence on Wren as he actually parodies Mrs. Hull’s novel virutally by name.

     With Wren the myth of the Sahara and the Legion comes into full bloom.

     If one has read only Beau Geste one has read an amazingly good story but to understand Wren’s intent it is necessary to read Beau Geste, Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal in sequence.  By the time Wren wrote, the handwriting was on the wall.  The Western will had already been sapped.  The beau ideals that had inspired Western men since the days of the Arthurian epics was fading from the Western consciousness being replaced by the effete homosexual ‘ideals’ of today.   The strength and confidence that allowed Western man to subjugate the world was becoming just a memory.  Wren in his way is either commemorating the ideals or seeking to reverse the decline.

     The three novels are concerned with the fortunes of two families, one English, the other American.  Wren has a wonderful feel for the difference between the English and the American characters, not to mention the French.  His command of American dialect and hobo slang is virtually alone worth reading the trilogy.

     The first volume, Beau Geste based on Wilkie Collins The Moonstone (a so-so read) concerns the early history of the Geste brothers, Beau, Digby and John and the story of Fort Zinderneuf away out there almost beyond a hobo’s imagination.

FFL 1939: Life Magazine


     The novel does introduce the two American hoboes, Hank and Buddy, serving in the Legion.   Wren kills off Michael and Digby Geste in this first novel putting the load on John.

     In the second novel of the trilogy, Beau Sabreur (The good sword or swordsman) John returns to Africa to try to locate Hank and Buddy who were lost in the drifting sands after saving his life.

     In this manner Wren introduces the American family of which Hank is a member.  Hank and his friend Buddy were the two men lost in the desert that John Geste is seeking.  Both men lying in the desert near death in different locations were rescued by the Bedouins.  As luck would have it  Hank managed to work his way up to Sheik acquiring Buddy as his vizier.  They introduce superior Western discipline and tactics into their tribe giving them dominance in the desert.  Hank then comes to the attention of the French as the new Mahdi.  De Beaujolais is sent to coopt the new Mahdi.  Through a series of adventures De Beaujolais meets and falls in love with Hank’s sister Mary who is traveling with her other brother Otis Vanbrugh.  They as well as Hank are fleeing from a brutish father.

     At stories end the whole cast Henri De Beaujolais who had wed Mary, Otis, Hank, Buddy, John Geste and his wife Isobel, who plays a large part, are back at the ranch in Texas facing the old brute of a father down while trying to free Hank’s other sister from thralldom to the old brute so she can marry Buddy and begin a life of her own.  Hold on, now, Wren must have been studying Burroughs because he’s got a number of twists up his sleeve, or perhaps, tricks.

     While Otis was in Algeria an Arab dancing girl had fallen in love with him who was apparently the queen of the desert.  Otis tried to escape her but in exchange for help in recovering John from the penal battalion of the FFL he promised to marry her.  Aw shucks, that’s right, you guessed it.  Nakhla was in reality his sister.  The old brute had fathered her on another dancing girl when he was out making deals in the desert.  So we have Nakhla, the same name as the heroine of Burroughs’ The Lad And The Lion, pretty much following the plot line of The Girl From Farris’s.  So maybe Wren should also be included in the Farmerian Wold Newton Universe.

     So that is the broad overview of the story line that holds the three volumes together.   Before I go on to the individula reviews there is one other problem I wrestle with  that I would like to to discuss and that is the
Western fascination with primitive life styles.

     For a convenient starting point we’ll use H. Rider Haggard, no, cancel that.  I’ll go back a little further to the French Wold Newton.  I’m reading the Paul Feval Black Coats series and they have some earlier antecedents.  Balzac, Dumas, Eugene Sue and Feval all deal with organized crime groups.  A Dumas title that I haven’t been able to get is titled The Mohicans Of Paris while Feval makes several reference to crime organizations  adopting a sort of  ‘red indian’ mentality.  What Dumas called Mohicans evolved into the Apaches of late nineteenth century Paris.  Anyone who watched TV in the fifties is familiar with French Apache dancing.

     Thus while the French were becoming fascinated with the North American Indians and their primitive mentality Haggard was celebrating the primitive African mentality.  And then along comes Ouida, Verne, Hichens, Burroughs, Hull and Wren celebrating the ‘free and wild’ life of the desert.

     As of the beginning of the nineteenth century, if not before, the Euroamericans evolved into the Scientific Consciousness leaving the rest of the world behind in the mythopoeic or Religious Consciousness.  However the transition from one consciousness to the other is not a clean break.  Haggard, for instance, never really made the transition while Burroughs did.  That may be why Burroughs reads as modern if a trifle old fashioned while Haggard is purely of an anterior psychology- good but just a little stodgy.

     Thus, as the White Man spread over the globe, the, what I shall I call it, White Man’s Burden, White Man’s novel appeared.  A whole genre of either stated or implied White superiority appeared of which Haggard and Burroughs are the most promient.  From these writers the genre went on to the Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle stuff to imitative White Jungle god stories.  Conrad sang the colonial era in lyric tones.  Kipling told of the Raj of India while inventing the White Man’s Burden which was very real.

     Ouida is usually credited with the first FFL novel, Under Two Flags, while Burroughs contributed The Return of Tarzan in which Tarzan goes to Algeria as a French secret agent although not as FFL.

     In 1924 P.C. Wren wrought the glamor of the French Foreign Legion with the first novel of his trilogy, Beau Geste, followed by Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal.  These novels are also scientific demonstrating the superiority of Euroamerican intelligence over the mythopoeic mentality of the desert tribes.  Merely by introducing European military discipline into the tribe Hank and Buddy enable the tribe to defeat all others and dominate the desert.  This while Abd El Krim and the Riff dominated Western news instilling admiration for the  primitive desert tribes over Western Civilization.  I had a tearcher in high school who would get sexually aroused just talking about El Krim.

     Thus while the transition from mythopoeic and scientific thinking was not complete if even half evolved the West was presented with various mythopoeic cultures that drew them back from the transition to the Scientific Consciousness.  At present, then, the West has a split personality in which they admire the Negro and Arab mentality so much that they denigrate their own scientific side.  It doesn’t seem likely that Euroamericans in sufficient numbers will make the transition to Scientific Consciousness quickly enough to preserve Western civilization hence the present bizarre worship of primitive races in North America and Europe.  On the other hand the rest of the world seeks to imitate the West in matters that they cannot understand or sustain on their own.  If the West is in trouble imagine the actual psychological state of things in China and India.

     Now it is time to move on the first of the reviews- Beau Geste.


A Review

The Novels Of George Du Maurier

Peter Ibbetson, Trilby, The Martian

Part IV

Peter Ibbetson

Singers and Dancers and Fine Romancers

What do they know?

What do they know?

-Larry Hosford

Review by R.E. Prindle

Table of Contents

I.  Introduction

II Review of Trilby

III.  Review of The Martian

IV.  Review of Peter Ibbetson

     Peter Ibbetson is the first of the three novels of George Du Maurier.  As elements of the later two novels are contained in embryo in Ibbetson it would seem that Du Maurier had the three novels at least crudely plotted while a fourth dealing with politics but never realized is hinted at.  Actually Du Maurier has Ibbetson who writes this ‘autobiography’ write several world changing novels from inside the insane asylum to which he had been committed.  In the Martian Barty Josselin wrote several world changing books while ‘possessed’ by an alien intelligence, in a way, not too dissimilar to the situation of Ibbetson.  Du Maurier himself comes across, as I have said, as either a half demented lunatic or a stone genius.

     He has Ibbetson and the heroine, The Duchess of Towers write in code while they read encrypted books.  Du Maurier says that Ibbetson and hence the two following books deal with weighty subjects but in a coded manner that requires attention to understand.

     On page 362 of the Modern Library edition he says:

     …but more expecially in order to impress you, oh reader, with the full significance of this apocalyptic and somewhat minatory utterance (that may haunt your fever sense during your midnight hours of introspective self-communion), I have done my best, my very best to couch it in the obscurest and most unitelligible phraseology, I could invent.  If I have failed to do this, if I have unintentionally made any part of my meaning clear, if I have once deviated by mistake into what might almost appear like sense, mere common-sense- it is the fault of my half French and wholly imperfect education.

          So, as Bob Dylan said of the audiences of his Christian tour:  Those who were meant to get it, got it, for all others the story is merely a pretty story or perhaps fairy tale.  The fairy tale motif is prominent in the form of the fee Tarapatapoum and Prince Charming of the story.  Mary, the Duchess of Towers is Tarapatapoum and Peter is Prince Charming.  It might be appropriate here to mention that Du Maurier was highly influenced by Charles Nodier the teller of fairy tales of the Romantic period.  Interestingly Nodier wrote a story called Trilby.  Du Maurier borrowed the name for his novel Trilby while he took the name Little Billee from a poem by Thackeray.  A little background that makes that story a little more intelligible.

     Those that watch for certain phobias such as anti-Semitism and Eugenics will find this story of Du Maurier’s spolied for them as was Trilby and probably The Martian.  One is forced to concede that Du Maurier deals with those problems in a coded way.  Whether his meaning is derogatory or not lies with your perception of the problems not with his.

     Thus on page 361 just above the previous quote Du Maurier steps from concealment to deliver a fairly open mention of Eugenics.  After warning those with qualities and attributes to perpetuate those qualities by marrying wisely, i.e. eugenically, he breaks out with this:

     Wherefore, also, beware and be warned in time, ye tenth transmitters of a foolish face, ye reckless begetters of diseased or puny bodies, with hearts and brains to match! Far down the corridors of time shall clubfooted retribution follow in your footsteps, and overtake you at every turn.

          Here we have a premonition of Lothrop Stoddards Overman and Underman.   The best multiply slowly while the worst rear large families.  Why anyone would find fault with the natural inclination to marry well if one’s handsome and intelligent with a similar person is beyond me.  Not only is this natural it has little to do with the Eugenics Movement.  Where Eugenics falls foul, and rightly so, is in the laws passed to castrate those someone/whoever deemed unworthy to reproduce.  This is where the fault of the Eugenics Movement lies.  Who is worthy to pass such judgment?  Certainly there are obvious cases where neutering would be appropriate and beneficial for society but in my home town, for instance, no different than yours I’m sure, the elite given the opportunity would have had people neutered out of enmity and vindictiveness.  that is where the danger lies.  There is nothing wrong with handsome and intelligent marrying handsome and intelligent.  How may people want a stupid, ugly partner?

     Du Maurier had other opinions that have proved more dangerous to society.  One was his belief in the virtues of Bohemians, that is say, singers and dancers and fine romancers.  On page 284 he says:

     There is another society in London and elsewhere, a freemasonry of intellect and culture and hard work- la haute Ashene du talent- men and women whose names are or ought to be household words all over the world; many of them are good friends of ine, both here and abroad; and that society, which was good enough for my mother and father, is quite good enough for me.

     Of course, the upper Bohemia of proven talent. But still singers and dancers and fine romancers.  And what do they know?  Trilby was of the upper Bohemia as was Svengali but Trilby was hypnotized and Svengali but a talented criminal.  What can a painter contribute but a pretty picture, what can a singer do but sing his song, I can’t think of the dancing Isadora Duncan or the woman without breaking into laughter.  And as for fine romancers, what evil hath Jack Kerouac wrought.

     I passed part of my younger years in Bohemia, Beat or Hippie circles, and sincerely regret that Bohemian attitudes have been accepted as the norm for society.  Bohemia is fine for Bohemians but fatal for society which requires more discipline and stability.  Singers and dancers and fine romancers, wonderful people in their own way, but not builders of empires.

     In that sense, the promotion of Bohemianism, Du Maurier was subversive.

     But the rules of romancing are in the romance and we’re talking about Du Maurier’s romance of Peter Ibbetson.

     Many of the reasons for criticizing Du Maurier are political.  The  man whether opposed to C0mmunist doctrine or not adimired the Bourgeois State.  He admired Louis-Philippe as the Beourgeois king of France.  This may sound odd as he also considered himself a Bohemian but then Bohemians are called into existence by a reaction to the Bourgeoisie.  Perhaps not so odd.  He was able to reconcile such contradictions.  Indeed he is accused of having a split personality although I think this is false.  Having grown up in both France and England he developed a dual national identity and his problem seems to be reconciling his French identity with his English identity thus his concentration on memory.

     In this novel he carefully builds up a set of sacred memories of his childhood.  He very carefully introduces us to the people of his childhood.  Mimsy Seraskier his little childhood sweetheart.  All the sights and sounds and smells.  In light of the quote I used telling how he disguises his deeper meaning one has to believe that he is giving us serious theories he has worked out from science and philosophy.

     Having recreated his French life for us Peter’s  parents die and Ibbetson’s Uncle Ibbetson from England adopts him and takes him back to the Sceptered Isle.  Thus he ceases to be the French child Pasquier and becomes the English child Peter Ibbetson.  A rather clean and complete break.  From this point on his childhood expectations are disappointed with the usual psychological results.  He develops a depressed psychology.  The cultural displacement prevents him from making friends easily or at all.  His Uncle who has a difficult boorish personality is unable to relate to a sensitive boy with a Bohemian artistic temperament.  Hence he constantly demeans the boy for not being like himself and has no use for him.

     This is all very skillfully handled.  We have intimations that bode no good for Peter.   The spectre is prison.  The hint of a crime enters into the story without anything actually being said.  But the sense of foreboding enters Peter’s mind and hence the reader’s.  This is done extremely well.  It’s a shame the Communists are in control of the media so that they can successfully denigrate any work of art that contradicts or ignores their beliefs.  For instance the term bourgeois itself.  The word is used universally as a contemptuous epithet even though the Bourgeois State was one of the finest created.  Why then contempt?  Simply because the Communists must destroy or denigrate any success that they canot hope to surpass.  I was raised believing that what was Bourgeois was contemptible without ever knowing what Bourgeois actually meant.  It is only through Du Maurier at this late stage in life that I begin to realize what the argument really was and how I came to accept the Communist characterization.  I’m ashamed of myself.

     Hence all Du Maurier criticism is unjust being simply because it is the antithesis of Communist beliefs.  The man as a writer is very skillful, as I have said, a genius.  If I were read these novels another couple of times who knows what riches might float up from the pages.

     Colonel Ibbetson apprentices Peter to an architect, a Mr Lintot, which, while not unhappy, is well below Peter’s expectations for his fairy Prince Charming self.  As a lowly architect he is placed in a position of designing huts for the workers of the very wealthy.  The contrast depresses him even further.  He has been disappointed in love and friendship and then he is compelled by business exigencies to attend a ball given by a wealthy client.  He definitely feels out of place.  Psychologically incapable of mixing he stands in a corner.

     At this ball the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, The Duchess of Towers, is in attendance.  From across the room she seems to give him an interested glance.  Peter can only hope, hopelessly.  As a reader we have an intimation that something will happen but we can’t be sure how.  I couldn’t see.  Then he sees her in her carriage parading Rotten Row in Hyde Park.  She sees him and once again it seems that she gives him a questioning look.

     Then he takes a vacation in France where he encounter her again.  After talking for a while he discovers that she is a grown up Mimsey Seraskier, his childhood sweetheart.  Thus his French childhood and English adulthood are reunited in her.  Wow!  There was a surprise the reader should have seen coming.  I didn’t.  I had no trouble recognizing her from childhood in France but Du Maurier has handled this so skillfully that I am as surprised as was Peter.  I tipped my imaginary hat to Du Maurier here.

     Perhaps I entered into Du Maurier’s dream world here but now I began to have flashbacks, a notion that I had read this long ago, most likely in high school or some other phantasy existence.  I can’t shake the notion but I can’t remember reading the book then at all.  Don’t know where I might have come across it.  Of course that doesn’t mean an awful lot.  If asked if I had ever read a Charles King novel I would have said no but when George McWhorter loaned me a couple to read that he had in Louisville I realized I had read one of them before.  Eighth grade.  I could put a handle on that but not Peter Ibbetson.  Perhaps Du Marurier has hypnotized me.  Anyway certain images seem to stick in my mind from a distant past.

     It was at this time that Mary, the Duchess if  Towers, formerly Mimsy, enters Peter’s dream, in an actual real life way.  This is all well done, Peter dreamt he was walking toward an arch when two gnomish people tried to herd him into prison.  Mary appears and orders the gnomes to vanish which they do.  ‘That’s how you have to handle that.’  She says.  And that is very good advice for dreams that Du Maurier gives.  As we’ll see Du Maurier has some pretensions to be a psychologist.

     She then instructs Peter in the process of  ‘dreaming true.’  In such a manner they can actually be together for real in a shared dream.  Now, Trilby, while seemingly frivolous, actually displays a good knowledge of hypnotism.  More than that it puts Du Maurier in the van of certain psychological knowledge.  Hypnotism and psychology go together.  Without an understanding of hypnotism one can’t be a good psychologist.  If he wasn’t ahead of Freud at this time he was certainly even with him.  Remember this is 1891 while Freud didnt’ surface until 1895 and then few would have learned of him.  He wrote in German anyway. 

     Freud was never too developed on auto-suggestion.  Emile Coue is usually attributed to be the originator of auto-suggestion yet the technique that Mary gives to Peter is the exact idea of auto-suggestion that Coue is said to have developed twenty or twenty-five years on.

     Du Maurier speaks of the sub-conscious which is more correct than the unconscious.  He misunderstands the nature of the subconscious giving it almost divine powers but in many ways he is ahead of the game.  Now, Ibbetson was published in 1891 which means that Du Maurier was in possession of his knowledge no later than say 1889 while working on it from perhaps 1880 or so on.  It will be remembered that Lou Sweetser, Edgar Rice Burroughs mentor in Idaho, was also knowledgable in psychology in 1891 but having just graduated a couple of years earlier from Yale.  So Freud is very probably given too much credit for originating what was actually going around.  This earlier development of which Du Maurier was part has either been suppressed in Freud’s favor or has been passed over by all psychological historians.

     So, Mary gives Peter psychologically accurate information on auto-suggestion so that he can ‘dream true.’  I don’t mean to say that anyone can share another’s dreams which is just about a step too far but by auto-suggestion one can direct and control one’s dreams.  Auto-suggestion goes way back anyway.  The Poimandre of Hermes c. 300 AD is an actual course in auto-suggestion.

     Peter is becoming more mentally disturbed now that his denied expectations have returned to haunt him in the person of Tarapatapoum/Mimsey/Mary.  Once again this is masterfully done.  The clouding of his mind is almost visible.  Over the years he has generated a deep seated hatred for Colonel Ibbetson even though the Colonel, given his lights, has done relatively well by him.  Much of Peter’s discontent is internally generated by his disappointed expectations.  The Colonel has hinted that he might be Peter’s father rather than his Uncle.  This completely outrages Peter’s cherished understanding of his mother and father.  The Colonel according to Peter was one of those guys who claimed to have made every woman he’d ever met.  One must bear in mind that Peter is telling the story while the reader is seeing him become increasingly unstable.

     While Peter doesn’t admit it to himself he confronts the Colonel with the intention of murdering him.  He claims self-defense but the court doesn’t believe it nor does the reader.  It’s quite clear the guy was psycho but, once again, Du Maurier handles this so skillfully that one still wonders.  Given the death penalty his friends and supporters, the influential Duchess of Towers, get the sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

     Then begins Peter’s double life in prison that goes on for twenty years.  By day a convict, at night Peter projects hemself into a luxurious dream existence with his love, Mary, the Duchess of Towers.  Quite insane but he has now realized his expections if only in fantasy.  Now, this novel as well as Du Maurier’s other novels is textually rich.  The style is dense while as Du Maurier tells us it is written in more than one key, has encoded messages, so I’m concentrating on only the main thread here.  That concerns memory.

     While it is possible to subconsciously manage one’s dreams, I do it to a minor extent, of course it is impossible for two people to dream toether and share that dream.  This is to venture into the supernatural.  Spiritualism and Theosophy both dealing with the supernatural as does all religion including Christianity, were at their peak at this time.  Du Maurier has obviously studied them.  Just because one utilizes one’s knowledge in certain ways to tell a story doesn’t mean one believes what one writes.  Ibbetson is written so well that the writer seems to have fused himself with the character.  If I say Du Maurier believes that may not be true but as the same themes are carried through  all his novels without a demurrer it seems likely.

     Du Maurier seems to be pleading a certain understanding of the subconscious giving it as many or more supernatural powers as Freud himself will later.  This might be the appropriate  place to speculate on Du Maurier’s influence on Mark Twain.  We know Twain was an influence on Burroughs so perhaps both were.

     Before he died Twain wrote a book titled the Mysterious Stranger.  This was twenty-five years after Peter Ibbetson.  Operator 44, the Mysterious Stranger, is a time time traveler who has some sort of backstair connecting years as  a sort of memory monitor.  Peter and Mary over the years work out a system that allows them to travel back through times even to prehistoric times.  Thus Peter is able to sketch from life stone age man hunting mastodons, or Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.  They are present at these events but as sort of ghost presences without substance.  they have no substance hence cannot affect reality.

     This would be a major them in fifties science fiction in which, for instance, a time traveler steps on a grub, then comes back to his present time finding everyone talking a different language.  Change one item and you change all others.  Du Maurier avoids this problem that he very likely thought of in this clever way.

     We can clearly see the future of twentieth century imaginiative writing taking form here.  One can probably trace several twentieth century sci-fi themes back to Du Maurier.

     Peter and Mary have a magic window through they can call up any scene within their memories.  In their dream existence they are dependent on memory they can only re-experience, they cannot generate new experiences.  The memory extends back genetically although Du Maurier speaks in terms of reincarnation.  Peter hears Mary humming a tune he has never heard before.  Mary explains that the tune is a family melody written by an ancestress hundreds of years before.  Thus one has this genetic memory persisting through generations.  This gives Du Maurier room to expatiate on the persistence of memory through past, present and future.

     Du Maurier has worked out an elaborate scheme in which memory unites past, present and future, into a form of immortality.  This is actually a religious concept but a very beautiful concept, very attractive in its way.

     Peter and Mary had elected to stay at one age- twenty-six to twenty-eight- so for twenty years they retained their youthful form and beauty.  Then one night Peter enters the mansion of his dreams through a lumber room to find the way blocked.  He knows immediately that Mary has died.  He then learns that in attempting to save a child from a train she was herself killed.

     Peter goes into an insane rage attacking the prison guards while calling each Colonel Ibbetson.  Clearly insane and that’s where the send him.  The mad house.  Originally he continues to rage so they put him in a straight jacket where he remains until his mind calms enough to allow him to dream.  In his dream he returns to a stream in France.  Here he believes he can commit suicide in his dream which should be shock enough to stop his heart in real life.  Something worth thinking about.  Filling his pockets with stones he means to walk in over his head.  Then, just ahead he spies the back of a woman sitting on a log.  Who else but Mary.  She has done what has never been done before, what even Houdini hasn’t been able to do, make it to back to this side.

     Now outside their mansion, they are no longer young, but show their age.  This is nicely done stuff.  Of course I can’t replicate the atmosphere and feel but the Du Maurier feeling is ethereal.  As I say I thought he was talking to me and I entered his fantasy without reserve.

     Here’s a lot of chat about the happiness on the otherside.  When Peter awakes back in the asylum he is calm and sane.  He convinces the doctors and is restored to full inmate rights.  Once himself again he begins to write those wonderful books that right the world.

     One gets the impression that Du Maurier believes he himself is writing those immortal books that will change the world. Time and fashions change.  Today he is thought a semi-evil anti- Semite, right wing Bourgeois writer.  I don’t know if he’s banned from college reading lists but I’m sure his works are not used in the curriculum.  I think he’s probably considered oneof those Dead White Men.  Thus a great writer becomes irrelevant.

      It’s a pity because from Peter Ibbetson through Trilby to The Martian he has a lot to offer.  The Three States of Mind he records are thrilling in themselves, as Burroughs would say, as pure entertainment while on a more thoughtful read there is plenty of nourishment.   Taken to another level his psychology is very penetrating.  His thought is part of the mind of the times.  Rider Haggard shares some of the mystical qualities.  The World’s Desire is comparable which can be complemented by his Heart Of The World.  The latter may turn out to be prophetic shortly.  H.G. Wells’ In The Days Of The Comet fits into this genre also.  Another very good book.  Of course Burroughs’ The Eternal Lover and Kipling and Haggard’s collaboration of Love Eternal.  Kipling’s Finest Story In The World might also fit in as well, I’m sure there are many others of the period of which I’m not aware.  I haven’t read Marie Corelli but she is often mentioned in this context.  You can actually slip Conan Doyle in their also.

     Well, heck, you can slip the whole Wold Newton Universe, French and Farmerian in there.  While there is small chance any Wold Newton meteor had anything to do with it yet as Farmer notes at about that time a style of writing arose concerned with a certain outlook that was worked by many writers each contributing his bit while feeding off the others as time went by.

     I don’t know that Du Maurier is included in the Wold Newton Universe (actually I know he isn’t) but he should be.  He was as influential on the group as any other or more so.  He originated many of the themes.

     Was Burroughs influenced by him?  I think so.  There was no way ERB could have missed Trilby.  No possible way.  If he read Trilby and the other two only once which is probable any influence was probably subliminable.  ERB was not of the opinion that a book could change the world, so he disguised his more serious thoughts just as Du Maurier did his.  He liked to talk about things though. 

     Singers and dancers.  What do they know?  What do they know?  In the end does it really matter what they know.  Time moves on, generations change, as they change the same ideas come around expressed in a different manner.  They have their day then are replaced.  The footprint in the concrete does remain.   Genius will out.