April 10, 2011
The Treasure Vaults Of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Unconscious
Originally published in the Spring 2002
issue of the Burroughs Bulletin
What makes an immortal writer? One thing and one thing only! Being able to captivate the mind of the reader. One may say that a magnificent use of grammar, vocabulary, syntax and such literary devices are important but only minimally. The greatest users of the language will be forgotten before their books have littered the remainder tables. Great ‘storytellers’ come and go with regularity. Every generation has its dozens. They are mere entertainment; amusing for a day and then forgotten.
An immortal writer may have faults, but with all his faults he is simply a writer who grips the reader’s imagination and won’t let go. Bulldogs. Such writers are in essence mythmakers. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes; D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers of Dumas. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If Walter Scott, the greatest of all novelists is slipping into oblivion it is because no matter how great a storyteller he may have been he has failed to create great mythological characters.
Tarzan himself would be no more than another Conan the Barbarian except that his adventures are placed in the mythical Africa which was dispelled by the advance of the twentieth century. Tarzan in Paris, Wisconsin or Baltimore in a suit of clothes is a mere laugh. In North Africa among the Berbers as a French ‘secret agent’ he begins to assume his true form, still there is something lacking there. Burroughs’ North Africa looks and feels too much like the real North Africa. When Tarzan arrives back in the jungle he assumes proportions that exceed one’s dreams.
The Greek myths are not historical reality; the fairy tales derived from the Greek myths take flight as mere fantasy. The difference between Perseus and Puss In Boots is immense. Yet Greek myths are a true representation of the human psyche while fairy tales are mere flights of fancy.
Edgar Rice Burroughs reverses the process and derives the creation of his life, Tarzan, from the fairy tales of H. Rider Haggard whose stories he turns into adventures of the greatest of the great mythical figures of the modern age.
The Tarzan series succeeds not from any literary skill of Burroughs, not because he replicates an authentic image of Africa, but because the mighty image of Tarzan exists in his mind as a living being in his imaginary Africa that bears more resemblance to Fenimore Cooper’s New England than any real Africa.
Nor was Burroughs an original author who drew his inspiration from vague sources. Burroughs very nearly copied out his stories from other men’s books. Who else would have named a character Lorna Downs after Lorna Doone. The fabulous world of Tarzan could never have come into existence if H. Rider Haggard had never written his three great African novels: King Solomon’s Mines, She and Allan Quatermain.
Every incident in Haggard’s novels are replicated in Burroughs’ novels. He even paraphrases the most memorable of Haggard’s phrases in the Tarzan series:
…he dreams of the sight
of Zulu impis
breaking on the foe
like surf upon the rocks
and his heart rises in rebellion
against the strict limits
of the civilized life.
Not only does Burroughs paraphrase the passage but the content of the quote informs the whole of the Tarzan series. The passage might be the motto of the Tarzan saga.
Haggard’s great trio of African adventures first appeared from 1885 to 1888 when Burroughs was from eleven to fourteen years old. Sensational successes in their day, one assumes that they would have come to the young adventurous boy’s attention quickly. I don’t know when Burroughs read them or how many times but I would think they had become part of his mental furniture sometime between the time he was fourteen or twenty.
There the fabulous exploits of Sir Henry Curtis, John Good and Allan Quatermain would have seethed and simmered away in his unconscious until they erupted from his imagination in 1912 as the incredible Great White Ape, Tarzan. Tar=White, zan=skin. Whiteskin. Tarzana=Whiteskin City.
Burroughs’ Tarzan is clearly derived in part from H. Rider Haggard.
There was a huge difference between the two writers. Haggard grew up in an England where he came into contact with the Esoteric tradition. His sojourn in Natal, South Africa intensified this streak of the occult. As Haggard was putting pen to paper Madame Blavatsky’s great ‘Isis Unveiled’ had already been in print for ten years. Bulyer Lytton’s esoteric novels were at the peak of their popularity.
Haggard was absorbed in esoterica so his stories partake a great deal of the supernatural. Burroughs on the other hand was born in the heart of pragmatic Chicago, USA in 1875 coming to young manhood in the Edisonian experimental scientific America that allowed little room for the supernatural. By 1900 the great Madame B had published both her masterworks but there is no indication that Burroughs read them.
Burroughs was from the Chicago someone styled ‘The Hog Butcher Of The World.’ It was said of the meat packing plants that they used every part of the pig but the squeal. The meat packers eventually created a product that looked like meat, sort of tasted like meat and possibly utilized the pig’s squeal for an attempt at zest. They called it Spam.
At the same time, Henry Ford was experimenting with this marvelous plant called the soy bean. By scientifically manipulating the oil chemically you can make door knobs or crab meat. Ford used the stuff to make the little revolving knobs for inside door handles. Others used the same stuff to create reasonable facsimiles of steak or crab meat. It’s not real steak or crab but it can be made to look sort of like the real thing and it has a flavor that would only fool anyone who has never had the real thing, but it is an approximation.
Thus by applying such scientific methods to H. Rider Haggard’s novels Burroughs converted Sir Henry Curtis into Tarzan. Then he took every impossible fantasy of Haggard to convert it into a scientifically plausible incident. You have only minimal necessity to suspend your sense of disbelief- once you accept his impossible premiss- in Burroughs while Haggard’s imaginative flight never bear up to examination.
In ‘Allan Quatermain’ the protagonists disappear into a cavern exposed only at low water to begin their journey through a huge tunnel that forms the course of an ‘underground river.’
Well, the entrance wouldbe visible at either low or high water. At high water the location of the entrance would identified by a fierce maelstrom down which the water would be drawn as though down a kitchen sink.
Once within the channel itself the roof was an improbable ten feet ove the trio’s head.
Burroughs would have found this explanation ludicrous and clearly scientifically impossible.
However when Haggard’s river delivers the intrepid adventurers safe and sound into the hidden valley the reader is entranced by the medieval civilization found there. This locale can also be found in Tarzan, Lord Of The Jungle.
When the adventure ended Good and Quatermain elected to return home while Sir Henry Curtis married the princess, sealed off the ground exit and elected to remain there until civilization should discover him. Compare that to the ending of Zane Grey’s Riders Of The Purple Sage.
Gosh, what a story! Burroughs must have said to himself. I’d like to write something like that some day. One day he did. That was about 1926. In his story everything had to be scientifically plausible. Thus he has a remnant of Richard Coeur De Lion’s crusaders who had become separated from the main body living in a secluded African valley somewhere in Gallaland.
Haggard couldn’t explain how his White medieval society found his hidden valley among the Mountains of the Moon. Burroughs could explain his. Furthermore his crusaders had developed in a scientifically probable way. The entrance and exit, both similar to Haggard’s, are probable too. Burroughs has the entrance which is a tunnel, not dissimilar to Haggard’s tunnel, guarded by Black soldiers in medieval garb speaking medieval English which, the example of Chaucer not withstanding, was not too different from our own. Once in custody, the hero, Jim Blake, paraphrasing Il Duce says: Take me to your Director’ as he has mistakenly believed he was on a movie set.
Once within the valley the incidents follow Haggard’s story very closely. A battle takes place between two contending factions. The way out of this valley is identical to the way out of Haggards’ valley with the exception that rather than being obscure it is well know by the surrounding Gallas but as they are no match for the Valley’s inhabitants they avoid it.
In the end Blake, like Curtis, elects to remain with the Princess in a simpler but not necessarily kinder society.
Thus while Burroughs lifts the whole story from Haggard he manages to take the incredible and make it scientifically plausible. The place could have existed. You or I could go there if we only had a map and couple dozen Black porters.
So also the treasure vaults of Opar are a transliteration of the treasure chamber of Ophir in Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines. As John Talliaferro points out in his Tarzan Forever, La is based on Haggard’s She. Although this had passed over my head I was somewhat mystified by the name La. But as La is the French feminine article as in le, la, meaning he, she or it, the name La might even be translated as She. If La is She then the vaults of Opar are a combination of Ophir and the labyrinth of She.
There are also a couple other readily identifiable sources for Opar. One is H.G. Wells and the other is Sigmund Freud. As I always have the haunting presence of L. Frank Baum while reading Tarzan we may assume his presence too.
Many of the Tarzan books seem to be literary composographs. Burrughs wrote very fast turning out three or even four books in some years. This speed of writing doesn’t leave much time for real composition. It becomes almost necessary to borrow from other writers. Thus Burroughs offers a sort of literary Spam; If you examine it closely you can identify the parts but you have essentially a new product.
In the same way Burroughs combines his parts in such a way that you have a new original product.
The terrific Baumian feeling of Tarzan, Jane and Korak the Killer swinging down the jungle lanes on their way back from Pal-Ul-Don just really reminds me of Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scare Crow swinging down the Yellow Brick Road.
Once back home, Tarzan learns that his profligate loans to the British Empire, which the Empire has apparently no intention of paying back, have impoverished him. He realizes that he will have to make another run on the Bank of Opar.
He returns to Opar. Opar greatly resembles the land of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. There are even Morlocks and Eloy. The men are all Morlocks and the women are all Eloy. This effect is achieved by unnatural selection or dysgenics on one hand and eugenics on the other. Over the ages since the sinking of Atlantis any normal men have been disposed of, only the degraded and misshapen kept. On the other hand the ugly women have been discarded while only beautiful women have been kept. One wonders at the genetic problems involved but it is so in Opar. Burroughs chucks in a little science while you’re not watching, showing what the effect will be if inferior specimens of humanity are allowed to live and propagate and the contrary results if eugenics are followed. A very popular idea is made palatable.
Thus we have this scene replicated from Wells’ Time Machine taking place in a land that time never knew.
So far we have Baum, Wells and Haggard represented. Now Burroughs throws in a little Freud. There is no doubt Burroughs read Freud up to at least 1922 as his notion on the theory of dreams in ‘Tales of Tarzan’ shows. By 1922 Freud was all the rage in America. One of Freud’s theories that challenged the psyche of the times was that of the Unconscious.
The nature of or even the existence of the Unconscious was highly controversial at the time with most people rejecting the notion. Interestingly ERB meets the challenge head on as he did with Freud’s theory of dreams. He seems to understand and accept the notion.
In King Solomon’s Mines the treasure vault of Ophir is concealed behind a fore chamber adorned with Haggard’s ghoulish trappings. The treasure room is hidden behind a counter-weighted door of which only the vile Kukuana priest knows the secret. He traps Good, Curtis and Quatermain in the chamber by lowering the door.
Apparently doomed the trio are delivered when Good notices that the air in the room hasn’t gone stale as it should. The men set about to discover the source of the fresh air which turns out to be a trap door in the floor. Descending, the men grope their way in total darkness through a maze of tunnels. They are forced to turn back when Good nearly falls into one of Haggard’s ever present underground rivers..
Forced to turn back they discover a ray of light they missed the first time. The light is coming from the end of the tunnel made by a small furry burrowing animal. The men force their way through the hole tumbling into the pit King Solomon’s men excavated for diamonds centuries before.
In Burroughs the deformed priests of Opar capture Tarzan and put him in a darkened room with no apparent egress other than the barred door. Tinkering around somewhat like Edison Tarzan discovers that ages ago long forgotten Oparians had sealed up a tunnel.
Cannily Tarzan removes the bricks one by one making an opening just large enough for him to pass through. He then replaces the bricks from inside the tunnel so the Oparians will by mystified by his disappearance.
The underground structure as we learn from various books is on two levels. On its upper level a long tunnel leads from the temple to a room containing the forgotten gold vaults of Opar. Halfway along there a, I don’t know, twenty foot wide gap over a pool of water. Tarzan is going to have to leap this gap to go on. It would be impossible to do this in a low tunnel. Consequently Burroughs has a large dome built over the gap with a small opening at the top which admits some few shards of light.
On the other side the tunnel continues on until one enters the gold vaults. Now, it would be impossible to return across the gap carrying a sixty pound ingot of gold which is what the ingots weigh.
Another literary source is here introduced. Burroughs was familiar with the Greek myths. Surely he had read Bulfinch as well as having studied Greek and Latin at Harvard Latin School in Chicago. The nether entrance/exit is so peculiar that if one weren’t already absorbed in the impossible African world of Tarzan it would certainly shake one’s sense of belief.
The nether exit leads steeply up a path to emerge from the top of a gigantic rock formation standing alone in a plain. Strangely neither the degraded Oparian males or the intelligent Oparian females have ever, over a period of at least six ages, investigated it. They’ve been there since the Flood.
The structure reminds me of the story of Metis and Zeus. In that story Zeus had swallowed the goddess Metis. She proved a bit much for the big fella’s digestion so in some kind of psychological manifestation of his indigestion Athene emerged fully formed from the Big Guy’s forehead. So Tarzan who has entered the body of Zeus from a different analogous part of Zeus’ anatomy emerges fully formed from the aperture in the rock.
Really funny if you think about it. Entrance through the nether end, leaping over the belly in the middle then emeging from the forehead. But then that is why one cherishes Burroughs. There is so much to discover in his Africa.
Take the matter of the weight of the ingots. Why sixty pounds? Once can only guess of course but if you read H.M. Stanley’s In Darkest Africa you will learn that the normal weight Stanley’s porters were to carry on their heads was sixty pounds. The men of Tippu Tib, an adversary of Stanley’s rebelled at the weight, demanding the loads be reduced to forty-five pounds or even twenty pounds.
Tarzan’s faithful Waziri, who would act as porters for no other than the Big Bwana, not only joyfully picked up a single sixty pound ingot but grabbed two, staggering across the lianas and creepers under the incredible burden of one hundred twenty pounds. ERB really knew how to top the next guy.
While we have In Darkest Africa in view, which Burroughs obviously read as Stanley mentions an upper Congo tribe called the Waziri, we might compare his version of the jungle with Burroughs’. One didn’t swing blithely barefoot down Stanley’s jungle trails. They were dangerous places full of both poisoned snakes and stakes. One might step on a horrid red ant nest, disturb wasps or have black ants drop on you.
In Tarzan’s Africa there are such things as lower, middle and upper terraces, one drops from a lower limb to the ground. Obviously Burroughs is not replicating the Africa of Stanley or Livingstone where the great trees are sheer for the first fifty or sixty feet in the air.
Burroughs obviously discarded the unpleasant realities of Africa for a replication of Fenimore Cooper’s New England forests of oaks and maples where there are low branches and no snakes, stakes or fire ants.
The diagram of the tunnels is not yet complete. We learn after an earthquake has the brought the treasure vault down on Tarzan’s head while closing the exit through Zeus’ forehead, Tarzan completely bereft of memory, suffering from amnesia as they used to do on the old radio Soaps, staggers back along the tunnel falling into the gap in the middle. Here he drops into the water which is level with the floor of the lower tunnel. This is real close to King Solomon’s Mines. Swimming to the further edge, once you’ve learned to swim you never forget, Tarzan climbs up to continue on where he comes to the spectacular jewel vaults of Opar. A near paraphrase of Haggard. Cases of giant stones fill this huge room. It may be true that De Beers has destroyed all roads to Opar in order to protect its monopoly. (That’s a yolk, son.)
From thence Tazan emits into a counsel room. Perhaps the darkness and obscurity of his exit from the tunnel prevented the incurious Oparians from discovering it.
What Burroughs has created here is a sort of map of Freud’s Unconscious as Burroughs understood it. I can’t tell exactly what Burroughs understood of Freud’s notion of the Unconscious but I interpret his understanding thusly: An idea for a great character enters the mind through a back door. Illuminated by a little candle the idea progresses through the canyons or corridors of the mind seeking resolution. Perhaps halfway through its genesis it meets an obtacle. If the idea can’t pass the obstacle it is aborted. If the obstacle can be passed the idea develops. But as the light was blown out by the leap perhaps the idea gestates deep in the unconscious no longer directed by the light of consciousness.
In Burroughs’ representation Tarzan, or the idea’s progress, was lit by a little candle until the light was extinguished by Tarzan’s leap across the gap. From then on Tarzan had to grope his way into the gold vaults which lie beneath the rock or mind of Zeus.
The idea of Tarzan having come to fruition bursts forth fully formed as with Athene and Zeus. The monetary value of the idea of Tarzan is represented by the gold lurking in the mind which is coverted to cash when the idea is expressed.
Perhaps Burroughs is here telling us how he conceived the idea of Tarzan. Back in 1890 or so when he read Rider Haggard the notion of Tarzan entered his mind through a chink in his psyche. Unable to develop the idea at the time the notion of Tarzan continued to gestate until in 1912 it burst from his mind like Athene from the forehead of Zeus.
There’s a joke in there somewhere and it’s a pretty nifty way of telling the cognoscenti how he developed the idea of Tarzan while incorporating the telling in the exposition of a Freudian theory.
Thus Burroughs has cobbled together a story from assorted literary parts. A little Fenimore Cooper, a little of L. Frank Baum, some H.G. Wells, a Greek myth, a lot of Haggard and a fairly serious discussion of Freud for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
By all rights such a compendium of other men’s stories and ideas ought to have been not only obvious but a failure. But like Spam, Burroughs was able to make easily seen parts unrecognizable while adding his own genius and brilliant creation into a fabulous myth which there is no need to check against reality. It is true because it fills a deep inner need.
If Tarzan wasn’t true he should have been. We love his idea as we love ourselves.
We are true. Tarzan is true. That truth exists in my mind and the mind of every reader. I will never find Tarzan’s Africa no matter where or how far I travel. No anthropologist will ever unearth the remains of Tarzan’s parents, Kerchak or Kala, but they still rest in God’s green earth. Tarzan cannot age. He can never die.
As I pass through the canyons of my mind I have found a little box canyon. In that box canyon I have discovered that I exist as Tarzan. I am Tarzan. I’m sure the reader has discovered that he too is Tarzan. Tarzan lives!
December 4, 2009
A Contribution To The
ERBzine Library Project
A Review Of
H. Rider Haggard
Review by R.E. Prindle
Part IV and end:
The idea of a twenty-two hundred year old woman patiently waiting for the reincarnation of a man she had murdered in that far off time is in itself an extraordinary concept. As an imaginative flight of fancy very likely Rider Haggard can be seen as its originator. Burroughs would borrow the notion twenty-seven years later in his The Eternal Lover when he reverses the sexes and has a cave man asleep for millennia wake to find his reincarnated woman. Since then variations on the theme have become quite common.
She, or Ayesha, was a powerful image of a woman. C.G. Jung saw her as the personification of his Anima theory. Haggard drew on many personal and historical details to create her. Ayesha was titled She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. As a child Haggard had a doll to which he gave that name. The doll must have represented his mother. If he invested characteristics of his mother into Ayesha then she must have been both warm and loving and cold and imperious. Over all one gets the impression that she was not particularly loving. Thus, Ayesha, while appearing to be in love with Leo/Kallicrates is nevertheless imperious, demanding and self-centered. In her only real display of afftection she kisses Leo on the forehead, as Haggard says, like a mother. As Haggard says of Meriamun in The World’s Desire, her love was not so much for her lover but an expression of her own vanity.
Haggard represents her as a living corpse in white funereal garments, completely shrouded. She has a strange accoutrement in the serpent belt with two heads facing each other. This is close to the caduceus. Perhaps Haggard had no idea of what the symbol meant in 1886 but by 1890 he had come up with an explanation. In The World’s Desire of that year Queen Meriamun of Egypt keeps something she calls the Ancient Evil in a box. The Evil is a small blob. When she warms it in her bosom it grows. World’s Desire pp. 144-45:
Thrice she breathed upon it, thrice she whispered, “Awake! Awake! Awake!”
And the first breath she breathed the Thing stirred and sparkled. The second time that she breathed it undid its shining folds and reared its head to her. The third time that she breathed it slid from her bosom to the floor, then coiled itself about her feet and grew as grows a magician’s magic tree.
Greater it grew and greater yet, and as it grew it shone like a torch in a tomb, and wound itself about the body of Meriamun, wrapping her in its fiery folds till it reached her middle. Then it reared its head on high, and from its eyes there flowed a light like the light of a flame, and lo! its face was the face of a fair woman- it was the face of Meriamun!
Now face looked on face, and eyes glared on eyes. Still as a white statue of the Gods stood Meriamun the Queen, and all about her form and in and out of her dark hair twined the flaming snake.
At length the Evil spoke- spoke with a human voice, with the voice of Meriamun, but in the dead speech of a dead people!
“Tell me my name,” it said.
“Sin is thy name,” answered Meriamun the Queen.
“Tell me whence I came.” it said again.
“From the evil within me.” answered Meriamun.
“Tell me where I go.”
“Where I go there thou goest, for I have war and thee in my breast and thou art twined about my heart.”
This quote gives an idea of what the snake belt worn by Ayesha signifies.
Of signficance while Meriamun is dealing in magic Ayesha denies all connection with the art saying she utilizes nature. She doesn’t use the word science but nature; nature would include psychology. She therefore draws on natural processes discovered but not scientific processes exposed. Thus when she kills her rival Ustane she does it by utilizing electro-magnetism, somehow using her own electro-magnetism to negate Ustane’s thus extinguishing her life force. We have then an example of tele-kinesis- action at a distance. As I’ve noted in other essays tele-kinesis was amongst an array of mental powers thought to reside in the unconscious being investigated by the Society For Psychical Research. Thus Haggard, probably through Lang, is up on the latest psychic developments.
The ability to kill by telekinesis places a moral burden on Ayesha. If one agrees that the use of such a power may be necessary the question arises of when it may be misused. It would seem that the killing of a sexual rival was an inappropriate use, so the warring good and evil heads of her snake belt refers to the moral dilemma Ayesha faces.
Her belt seems somewhat different than that of Queen Meriamun of The World’s Desire. The latter having accepted the aid of the Ancient Evil was committed to evil being unable to remove the belt. There seems to be an element of volition remaining to Ayesha. She is not ‘possessed.’ Of course Ayesha began her life some thousand years after Meriamun so perhaps psychology was somewhat further evolved at that time or evolved with her over her two thousand year life span.
Indeed, a topic of discussion Haggard introduces shouldn’t be dimissed lightly. That topic is the age old discussion of whether good can come from evil and evil from good. This is indeed a dilemma as bad results can arise from good intentions and vice versa. There is a serious side here.
Ayesha is pure irresistable beauty. Once she shows her face no man can resist her. She glories in this power. In The World’s Desire of four years hence Haggard will separate good and evil making Meriamun represent evil while Helen, the world’s desire, is all good.
Holly is an interesting character who may be a back hand slap at the concept of evolution. Holly also makes this the story of a beauty and a beast. Holly is described as having a low forehead with a hairline growing out of his eyebrows, further his beard and his hairline meet. He is said to have a hugely broad chest and shoulders with extra long arms, perhaps down to his knees although this is not stated. What we have in Holly then is the Wolf Man combined with King Kong. Monstrous indeed.
In contrast Leo Vincey is a Greek god, a sort of Apollo. As Ayesha is irresistable to men Leo seems likewise to be irresistable to women. Indeed, he was married to Ustane within minutes of arriving in Kor. He appears to have sincerely liked Ustane even though on sighting Ayesha’s face he too loved her. Ustane was a rival for a portion of Leo’s affections so Ayesha cut off her electrical supply.
Of several truly dramatic scenes in this spectacularly well constructed story a very dramatic one is when Leo confronts his twenty-two hundred year old incarnation 0f Kallicrates. Haggard doesn’t dwell on Leo’s understanding of this strange phenomenon although from the potsherd and his father’s letter he must have been convinced of the truth. Strangely he doesn’t ask Ayesha for an account of this earlier life, nor how it was that she came to Egypt from Yemen to interfere in his romance with Amenartas.
Haggard and Lang were aware of the early history of Yemen from whence Ayesha as a pure Semite came. She was pre-Christian, although not pre-Jewish, of some ancient Arabic religious beliefs. How she got to Egypt is never disclosed or how she came into conflict with the Egyptian princess Amenartas for Kallicrate’s affections.
Ayesha, by the way the name translates as Life, merely confronts Leo as the neo-Kallicrates without any preparation. A year or so to get to know her and become accustomed to her face might have been nice. Although, Leo was married within minutes of arrival in Kor and was apparently satisfied with his wife. He was a pretty adaptable guy.
At any rate Ayesha rushes him into immortality and while tomorrow may be a long, long time, eternity is even longer. One might want to consider a moment about a relationship of that duration. Nor does she adequately prepare Leo’s mind for the ordeal of fire that she wants him to go through to become immortal. Twenty-two hundred years of waiting had done little to improve her patience.
Haggard has put everything he has into this story. He was granted clear vision only once in his life and he took advantage of it. In later years he was frequently asked why he didn’t write another story as good as She. His reply was that such a story may only come once in a man’s lifetime. The concentration and focus probably will never return again. While Allan Quatermain, his third successive attempt to create a lost civilization was on the weak side I would argue that his last, Treasure of the Lake, comes close to She.
So, the four of them set out for the place of the fire of life. Masterful effects. High in the mountains there is a gigantic balancing rock, a huge mushroom type cap balanced on a spire. It would seems that Zane Grey was also greatly affected by She as Riders Of The Purple Sage hews very close to She. A narrow ledge of rock extends out opposite with a gap of fifteen feet. To cross this gap with high winds howling through, a plank carried by the ever patient Job has to be lowered across the gap. No mean task I’m sure, with only one chance of getting it right. Once in place, thousands of feet above the gorge each has to walk from side to side; plus they have only a few minutes for all four to get over during a single beam of light from the setting sun.
Fortunately all four make it crossing the balancing rock to descend into a cave leading to the bowels of the mountain. There an eternal flame that ensures the life of the planet rumbles by every so often. Twenty-two hundred years before Ayesha had bathed in this fire which following esoteric doctrines had burned away her gross, earthly, moral impurities making her essentially, pure spirit.
A famous incident of the process is recounted of the goddess Demeter in her travels after the abduction of her daughter Persephone by Hades. Coming to Eleusis Demeter in her form of an old crone was taken in by King Celeus and his wife Metaneira. As a reward for her kind treatment Demeter set about to make their infant son Demophon immortal. Thus each night she held him over the hearth fire to burn away his mortal impurities. Surprised one night by a startled mother, Metaneira, the process was disrupted so that Demophon retained mortal impurities and failed to attain to godhood.
In this sense then the fire that maintained the life of the Earth traveled a route through this mountain at the center of the Earth. It appeared something like Old Faithful at Yellowstone periodically. When it swept by, if one stood in the flame it burned away one’s mortal impurities leaving one, it is to be assumed, wholly Spiritual. All the materiality was gone.
Spirituality and materiality are still being discussed today. Some talk of Spirit as though it exists while the materialists aver that all so-called spirituality is a seeming effect of materiality. I am of the latter school of thought. Oneself is all there is, there is nothing more. The effect of spirituality is nothing more than a mirage created by intellect and consciousness which is entirely material. It is all reduced to psychology which is a description of material existence.
In Haggard’s story it is clear that Ayesha having lost her materiality to the flames is purely spiritual. This is going to cause her problems as she steps into the flames the second time.
The flame passes by while Leo dithers. Impatient for Leo to assume immortality Ayesha strips, as the flames will flame the material garments about her but not her body. As the flame comes around again Ayesha eagerly stands in its way. However having been once purified it is good for eternity. The second time is disastrous. Perhaps spiritually dessicated by the double dose Ayesha begins to wither devasted even in her death throes by her loss of beauty. Love in vain.
Job is so horrified he dies of fright leaving Leo and Holly alone.
The story for all intents is over but Haggard takes a dozen pages or so to get his heroes out of the caves and back to civilization.
Ayesha’s existence wasn’t extinguished. Her dying words were that She would return. Room left for the sequel which not surprisingly was called The Return Of She appeared in 1906.
Haggard hit the groove sharp as a knife in this incredibly well devised and executed story. One will find evidences of it strewn all through Burroughs’ corpus. Not least in his own character of La of Opar. La itself translates from the French as She, of course, so Burroughs even appropriates the name.
La is as ardent for Tarzan as She was for Leo/Kallicrates. Tarzan himself remains cold and indifferent to La throughout all four Opar stories finally abandoning her in Tarzan The Invincible.
She by Haggard is well worth three or four reads to set the story in mind and savor the wonderful and unearthly details
End of Review
February 4, 2009
The ERB Library Project
Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Animus And Anima
The Rainbow Trail
Bad Blood In The Valley Of Hidden Women
R.E. Prindle, Dr. Anton Polarion And Dugald Warbaby
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Corpus 1911-1940
Grey, Zane: The Riders Of The Purple Sage, 1912
Grey, Zane: The Rainbow Trail, 1915
Grey, Zane: The Mysterious Rider, 1921
Prindle, R.E.: Freudian Psycology Updated To Modern Physics, ERBzine, 2004
Prindle, R.E.: Something Of Value Books I, II, III, Erbzine, 2005.
The protagonist of this continuation of Riders Of The Purple Sage is named John Shefford. The appeal of this book and Mysterious Stranger to ERB is evident since John Bellounds and John Shefford are both Johns which was ERB’s favorite male name for both heroes and villains. Shefford is the hero here while Bellounds was a villain.
Symbolical of the religious problems of the period Shefford had been pushed into the ministry, some undefined sect, by his parents. But he had his doubts. These doubts found expression in his sermons to his flock. This may have been just after the Civil War to keep time periods straight. Not sharing his doubts the faithful threw him out of their church. So on the religious level Shefford is searching for a belief system. His old one had been ruined by Science. So we have the science-religion dichotomy here.
Shefford’s congregation was in Beaumont, Illinois which is where Venters and Bess of Purple Sage took Night and Black Star and their bag of gold. They had told their story to Shefford who found Bess strange and wonderful deciding that where she came from there must be others and that he was going there to get him one. In my youth, they called it Kansas City but this is not the case here.
When they told him the story of Fay Larkin he decided to go in search of her himself and locate this duplicate of Bess known as Fay Larkin. We should note that a fay is a fairie, so Fay Larkin is in essence a fairy princess. Thus Shefford is not only looking for redemption for his Animus but he seeks to reconcile his Anima. This is not much different from the Hungarian myth where the Anima was imprisoned in bridge footing, here the Anima is imprisoned in Surprise Valley just over the Arizona line in Utah. Get this, at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge. How elemental can you get.
With the blessing of Venters and the unmasked Rider, Bess, Shefford sets out for the desert in search of redemption. So, we have the religious dilemma of the period caused by Darwin and other scientific advances as the foundation of the story coupled with the Anima-Animus problem of the male.
The book was published in magazine form as The Desert Crucible. For the meaning of this metaphor for Grey check out his 1910 novel The Heritage Of The Desert. For Grey the desert tries a man’s soul either making or breaking him. The hero of Heritage, John Hare, was a ‘lunger’, that is tubercular, who was healed both physically and mentally in the desert crucible. In Shefford’s case he tapped his breast and said: ‘I’m sick here.’ meaning his heart or soul. I haven’t read a lot of Grey but of what I have read he never deviates much from his basic story; it’s all pretty much the same told from different perspectives. Shefford will have his heart or ‘soul’ healed just as Hare had his lung healed while finding himself as a man ‘way out there.’ Out There Somewhere as Knibbs and Burroughs would say.
Pretty much the same notion as Burroughs who believed a return to nature was the solution of the urban problem. Neither writer was unique in this respect but symptomatic of the times.
Whereas the desert was lush in Purple Sage under the dominion of the Great Mother, now under the control of the Patriarchal Mormon men viewed through the heartsick eyes of John Shefford the desert is dry as a bone, the water and the Great Mother are gone, all is barren and bleak.
Even the old landmarks have disappeared. No one has ever heard of Deception Pass although they think it may have been what is now known as the Sagi. Amber Spring has dried up. The town of Cottonwoods razed, only a few walls standing, while nobody reallys wants to discuss it. Verboten. No one has ever heard of Surprise Valley, which after all was sealed off from the world. But the name Fay Larkin does ring a bell. Hope in the wilderness.
Purple Sage took place in 1871, this is twelve years later, hence 1883. The United States Government, interfering in both religious and sexual matters, declared polygamy illegal in 1882 in response to this Mormon threat. In the background then is the US tribunal trying to root out the Mormon vice of polygamy. Time is moving right along on the last frontier.
In Grey and Burroughs’ real time, this book was published in 1915, the problem would have been a different Semitic intrusion, the Jews, who were manipulating US policy, certainly vis-a-vis Czarist Russia, for their own ends. Both writers would have been aware of Jewish political activities as well as the Great War that broke out in 1914. The Mormon-US confrontation may very well be also an examination of the Jewish-Gentile situation which was felt more keenly by contemporaries than the history books wish to tell as well as concern for the Big One in Europe.
The consequences of the situation described by Grey in Purple Sage would have been a serious one for the Mormon government. Clearly the situation had been allowed to get out of hand by Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull. Direct action should never have allowed to develop; it should have been kept more covert as any well managed operation should be. My god, the number of Mormons and others who died should have been a scandal. Wars have reported fewer deaths. The fact that Cottonwoods was destroyed, Amber Spring stopped up, and whatever indicates it was the Mormons who were trying to wipe the past from the history books. No need to talk about this one. One may compare this incident to Egyptian history. When the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut died her name was chiseled off every monument in the land. The idea that you can change the past by chiseling it out of the history books is current as well today.
The Mormons did not forget Lassiter and Jane walled up in Surprise Valley but there was no entry to get at them. Grey, a better writer than astute geologist, hastens erosion in the valley. More erosion occurred in these twelve years than in the previous two or three thousand. There were constant landslides and then the really Big One occurred when the canyon wall opposite the cliff dwellings gave way allowing for an entrance but still too formidable for an escape.
A watching Piute, Navajos are Grey’s noble savages, the Piutes his ignoble savages, Twain excoriated them too, informs the Mormons who invade the Valley seizing Lassiter and Jane. Lassiter had, of course, left his empty guns outside the Valley eleven years before and was unarmed or, in other words, emasculated.
The Mormons were going to string the Hammer up from his own sour apple tree when they decide to spare him if he and Jane will give them Fay Larkin for a fate worse than death, that is being given to a Mormon as one of his multiple wives and educated to the faith. It’s not clear why they asked as Jane and Uncle Jim had no power to refuse. At any rate, they considered it a square deal. The Mormons took the girl, apparently leaving Uncle Jim with his hands tied and the hempen noose still around his neck. Rather ludicrous vision when you think that he was attired in a fairly loose fitting garment made of jackrabbit hides.
Thus as the story begins Lassiter and Jane are alone in Surprise Valley, Fay Larkin is being educated to be the youngest wife of a Mormon Elder but as yet untouched, the US Government is pursuing the Mormons to prevent polygamy and John Shefford is in search of god and himself slogging knee deep through sand dunes in search of an obliterated past.
Do you believe in magic? You’re going to have to.
Because of US pressure the Mormons have gotten very devious. They have moved their extra wives across the Utah border into Arizona in a village of hidden women called Fredonia which means Free Women, are you laughing yet, apparently in the sexual sense. An oxymoron if there ever was one as these women were definitely not free. I find it difficult to follow Grey’s thinking here.
The Mormons forbid men to visit here while they themselves make periodic visits to their wives and children. That these are quality time visits is evidenced by the large numbers of children and no resident men. Hmm, freaky, Fredonia huh?
Of course supplies have to be brought in by men but these are men the Mormons ‘trust.’ Shefford links up with the trader Willets who is one of the trusted ones who vouches for the stranger Shefford so that he is allowed into the Valley Of Hidden Women.
Grey is incredible, in Purple Sage there was only one woman in Surprise Valley, now in Fredonia there is a whole village of delectable females. Willets encourages Shefford to mingle with them, get to know them, make them like him, but don’t touch.
On his way to the ladies Shefford has to pass through the crucible of the desert. It’s hard work but, boy, your muscles feel good, the air is great too. On the way Shefford is befriended by the Navajo, Nas Ta Bega, the navvy actually making him his brother. Say Nas Ta Bega rapidly three or four times and it almost comes out Nasty Beggar. Coincidence. This is the beginning of Shefford’s new religion.
For the Navajos religion was material, they worshipped the sun, the rocks, the winds, anything they see or feel. The natural rock formation, Rainbow Bridge, is their greatest terrestrial god, none daring approach it.
Shefford meets Mary his first day in Fredonia. We all know Mary is Fay Larkin and really so does Shefford but he has to make her say it. As she is his Anima figure they naturally love each other at first sight but as she is the affianced of Elder Waggoner he has to get her away from him.
This is not 1871, there is no longer any wild gunslinging. The law is here. In fact a court of inquiry is taking place in Stonebridge just across the border in Utah. Interesting how closely Grey follows ancient legends of which he probably had no knowledge. The Mormon wives are immured in a hidden valley on the other side of the border from Stonebridge not unlike the Anima figure entombed in the bridge foundation on the other side of the river in Hungarian myth.
The US judge has no luck in making the women admit to being other wives, in fact, to Grey’s horror, they allow themselves to be thought of as prostitutes rather than admit to polygamy. Apparently the US was unable to prove one case of polygamy anywhere in Utah. Them Mormons was close lipped.
Shefford still has to get Fay Larkin away from her prospective Mormon husband. As with all of Grey’s protagonists Shefford procrastinates and vacillates. Fay Larkin invites him into her house, obviously on a sexual pretext which he is slow to pick up. While he is allowing for the information to seep into his brain bootsteps are heard on the porch. It is not the milkman. Fay wants Shefford to kill Waggoner but Shefford has strong moral principles against killing for any reason. As Fay looks imporingly to him for protection her husband is opening the door. Shefford dives through an open window running as fast as his legs will carry him.
Grey seems to consider this natural as Shefford has an aversion to killing; strangely, Fay Larkin does not seem to resent his hasty departure leaving her to the mercy of her husband whose intent is to impose a fate worse than death on her.
In fact, Shefford’s will seems to be paralyzed from here to the end of the story not unlike the paralysis Jane inflicted on Lassiter. Something about those Withersteen women. Fay has after all been renamed Mary after the Mother Mary. Everyone else does things for Shefford as he wanders about in a daze; he seems to be able to do nothing for himself.
Fay’s husband is found dead on her doorstep the next morning. She thinks Shefford did it and is pleased; he thinks she did it and is horrified. Actually the Navajo, Nas Ta Bega, Shefford’s Bi Nai, or blood brother, did it for him. Is Grey thinking about the contemporary Jews? Bi Nai is awfully close to the B’nai of B’nai B’rith. B’nai means brother or brotherhood. B’nai B’rith means Brothers of the Ceremony. I can’t say for certain but it is the little details that give you away.
Nas Ta Bega has been doing the legwork for Shefford all along. He actually discovered that Mary was Fay larkin for certain. Whereas no one had ever heard of Surprise Valley Nas Ta Bega had found it. Shefford is too paralyzed to kill Waggoner so n=Nas Ta Bega does it for him. While Shefford himself could never shed blood and he was horrified that Fay Larkin might have done it he is relieved that Nas Ta Bega did it accepting the gift without any qualms. Grey is a strange one.
There is some resemblance here to Daddy Warbucks of Orphan Annie fame where Warbucks himself kills no one but his confederates the Indian Punjab and indeterminate Asp eliminate people by the dozen for him. Thus Warbucks’ hands are always clean but the job gets done anyway. Here Shefford remains innocent of the murder shuffling the guilt off to Nas Ta Bega his blood brother.
The bunch heads to Surprise Valley to get Lassiter and Jane out. It requires pegs and ropes to get into the valley but there they find a very relaxed, one might even say, comatose, Uncle Jim who says ‘Shore’ to everything, for shore. Very amiable guy for a man with the blood of dozens of Mormons on his hands.
He and Jane are released and now begins a very complicated escape plan down the Colorado River then through the rapids to safety on the Arizona side. The Mormons at this stage of history thought that Utah extended to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon although the US authorities thought differently.
The story effectively ends with the release of Lassiter and Jane from Surprise Valley. Shore, it does. But Grey throws an extra forty pages in the ending mainly to give a description of a boat ride down the rapids of the Colorado which he has apparently taken. Lassiter and Jane are reunited with Venters and Bess, Night and Black Star back in Beaumont, Illinois. Shefford finds his Anima, redeems his soul, finds a true religion and lives happily ever after.
G.M. Farley, the editor of Zane Grey Collector, in his charming appreciation of Zane Grey for the ERBzine says that Grey wrote no fantasy, but these two novels, Purple Sage and Rainbow, are just that, pure fantasy. Lassiter, Venters and Shefford are archetypes. Surprise Valley nor anything like it ever existed nor did the Valley Of The Hidden Women. Both these books are pure fantasy. If appreciated properly these two books should stand as the cornerstones of Grey’s literary legacy. Much better than his ordinary cornpone Westerns. When it come to Westerns I will take those of Burroughs over Grey every day.
Burroughs is absolutely learned compared to Grey. The former’s insatiable curiosity is very evident in his writing while Grey gives the impression of having read nothing. Of course if you’re writing several months out of the year and out to sea for the rest perhaps there isn’t much time for reading. The contrast between land and water in Grey’s fiction was lived out in his real life. Psychoogically land represents the hard, dry Animus while water is representative of the creative Anima. As Roger Miller said, he had too much water for his land which is to say that he was subject to wild flights of fantasy but unable to govern his life. He also said quite correctly, Squares, that is people with a lot of land, make the world go ’round. Thus the Mormon squares controlled the situation while ‘hipsters’ Jane and Lassiter ended up buried in the canyon.
Thus Grey’s concentration on the desert as compared to farmland or the forest is signficant. The opening scenes of Rainbow when Shefford slogs through the sand drifts to arrive at a bitter waterhole is significant of his inner barrenness; a nonfunctioning Anima. Contrast the bitter water with the sweet water Amber Spring of Purple Sage. When Shefford is united with his Anima figure, Fay Larkin, they travel through harsh desert to leave finally on a raging torrent washed over with water until they are nearly drowned to land on a hospitable South shore of the Colorado in Arizona not Utah.
Likewise Grey lived his life between the desert and the sea. On the sea angling for the big fish a la Jonah or perhaps the fish of wisdom of Sumerian Oannes.
Certainly the epic is a search for both wisdom and redemption. Having been disowned by his church Shefford has been set adrift without any new guidelines or directions home.
As Shefford explains to Fay Larkin:
“So when the church disowned me…I conceived the idea of wandering into the wilds of Utah to save Fay Larkin from that canon prison. It grew to be the best and strongest desire of my life. I think if I could save her that it would save me. (Right.) I never loved any girl. I can’t say that I love Fay Larkin. How could I when I’ve never seen her- when she is only a dream girl? But I believe if she were to become a reality- a flesh and blood girl- that I would love her.”
So that Shefford hopes to find redemption in Fay Larkin. He might indeed love her- if she were a flesh and blood girl as well as his Anima ideal- but the Anima ideal can never become a real flesh and blood girl. Real women are different.
Shefford’s situation seems to be that of the Hungarian myth with the Anima trapped in a sealed in valley rather than the buttress of a bridge. As it doesn’t appear that Grey read or studied much, this understanding must have been a realization of his own situation which he was able to objectify on paper.
In many ways this then is exactly what Burroughs was searching for as most of his novels are Anima/Animus novels although ERB did not have such a clear grasp while being much more involved with the psychoses of the subconscious.
And then there were the other two themes: the search for the realization of manhood, or the escape from emasculation , and finding a new religious identity.
As noted, Grey thought the desert brought out manhood. His trip West with Buffalo Jones a few years before Purple Sage must have been a real eye opening experience. The Grand Canyon with its contrast between desert and water must have really inspired the author.
Thus Shefford, before he finds his Anima first learns to be a man ‘way out there.’ The test of manhood involves the carrying of a large stone that proved Navajo manhood.
A few passages:
“Joe placed a big hand on the stone and tried to move it. According to Shefford’s eye measurements the stone was nearly oval (egg shaped), perhaps three feet high, but a little over two in width. (Big egg) Joe threw off his sombrero, took a deep breath and, bending over, clasped the stone in his arms. He was an exceedingly heavy and powerful man, and it was plain to Shefford that he meant to lift the stone if that were possible. Joe’s broad shoulders strained, flattened; his arms bulged, his joints cracked, his neck corded, and his face turned black. By gigantic effort he lifted the stone and moved it about six inches. Then as he relaxed his hold he fell, and when he sat up his face was wet with sweat.
Lucky he lived through that.
“Try it,” (Joe Lake) said to Shefford, with his lazy smile. “See if you can heave it.”
Shefford was strong, and there had been a time when he took pride in his strength. Something in Joe’s supreme effort and in the gloom of the Indian’s eyes (Nas Ta Bega) made Shefford curious about this stone. He bent over and grasped it as Joe had done. He braced himself and lifted with all his power, until a red blur obscured his sight and shooting stars seemed to explode in his head. But he could not even stir the stone.
“Shefford, maybe you’ll be able to lift it some day,” observed Joe. Then he pointed to the stone and addressed Nas Ta Bega.
The Indian shook his head and spoke for moment.
“This is the Isende Aha of the Navajos.” explained Joe. “The young braves are always trying to carry this stone. As soon as one of them can carry it he is a man. He who carries it farthest is the biggest man. And just so soon as any Indian can no longer lift it he is old. Nas Ta Bega says the stone has been carried two miles in his lifetime. His own father carried it the length of six steps.”
So, manhood consists of lifting a stone, carrying that weight. It would seem to me that pale-faced education would have less to do with being built like Louis Cyr or Man Mountain Dean. I, myself, don’t feel any less a man because I can’t lift a 350 lb. rock.
Talking about fantasy: If the stone were moved two miles in Nas Ta Bega’s lifetime while his mighty father movied it six toddling steps, if only ten percent of the Navajos were big enough to move the stone then the Navajos should have been as populous as the sands of the desert.
As as a Patriarchal Mormon Joe Lake could lift the stone, as a Matriarchal Gentile Shefford couldn’t and it was impossible for the completely emasculated Indian, Nas Ta Bega, what we have here is a lesson in masculinity.
For myself, I’ve carried that weight for decades but I wouldn’t waste my time and kill myself by trying to lift some rock.
The search for manhood and faith went on but we’re getting closer if no less ridiculous. Another quote, Shefford to Fay Larkin:
“Listen,” his voice was a little husky, but behind it there seemed a tide of resistless utterance. “Loss of faith and name did not send me into this wilderness. But I had love- love for that lost girl, Fay Larkin. I dreamed about her till I loved her. I dreamed that I would find her- my treasure- at the foot of a rainbow. Dreams!…When you told me she ws dead I accepted that. There was truth in your voice, I respected your reticence. But something died in me then. I lost myself, the best of me, the good that might have uplifted me. I went away, down upon the barren desert (Oh Dan, can you see that great green tree where the water’s running free…) and there I grew into another and a harder man. Yet strange to say, I never forgot her (Water) though my dreams were done. (Clear) As I suffered and changed I loved her, the thought of her- (Water) more and more. Now I have come back to these walled valleys- to the smell of pinon, to the flowers in the nooks, to the wind on the heights, to the silence and loneliness and beauty.”
“And here the dreams came back and she is with me always. Her spirit is all that keeps me kind and good, as you say I am. But I suffer and I long for her live. If I loved her dead, how could I love her living! Always I torture myself with the vain dream that- that she might not be dead. I have never been anything but a dreamer. And here I go about my work by day and lie awake at night with that lost girl in my mind. I love her. Does that seems strange to you? But it would not if you understood. Think. I have lost faith, hope. I set myself a great work- to find Fay Larkin. And by the fire and iron and the blood that I felt it would cost me to save her some faith must come to me again…My work is undone- I’ve never saved her. But listen, how strange it is to feel- now- as I let myself go- that just the loving her and the living here in the wilderness that holds her somewhere have brought me hope again. Some faith must come, too. It was through her that I met the Indian, Nas Ta Bega. He has saved my life- taught me much. What would I have ever learned of the naked and vast earth, of the sublimity of the the vast uplands, of the storm and night and sun, if I had not followed the gleam she inspired? In my hunt for a lost girl perhaps I wandered into a place where I shall find a God and my salvation. Do you marvel that I love Fay Larkin- that she is not dead to me? Do you marvel that I love her, when I know, were she alive, chained in a canon, or bound, or lost in any way my destiny would lead me to her, and she should be saved?’
Wow! You get old Zane wound up and he’s hard to stop. This guy must have been a terror with the girls. Dazzled ’em. Stars in their eyes. Remember from eight to seventeen Fay was locked up in Surprise Valley where with the passing years Jane and Uncle Jim spoke less and less as they slowly became as clams. Now as an eighteen year old girl with absolutely no human intercourse and Jane and Jim weren’t speaking she has been undergoing a heavy course of indoctrination in Mormonism while being isolated in her cabin. Could she understand this torrent of words from Shefford? Think about it. She’s a nature girl from the Stone Age moving into the nineteenth century in the twinkling of an eye.
It seems pretty clear to us, astute in varying degrees, that Shefford is going to find salvation in Fay but how about religion. Once again, bear in mind that Grey has displaced the contemporary situation in 1915 back to 1883. In that way he doesn’t have to deal with all those troubling immigrants while the major religious war between the Semites and Gentiles can be discussed under cover of the conflict between the Mormons and the Gentiles. Polygamy might be compared to the Semitic concept of the Chosen People. End either one and the source of conflict would disappear.
Just as Jane and Lassiter have reverted to the Stone Age so Grey goes to his noble savages, the Navajos, to find Shefford’s religious solution:
The Navajo, dark, stately, inscrutable, faced the sun- his god. This was the Great Spirit, the desert was his mother, but the sun was his life. To the keeper of the winds and rains, to the master of light, to the maker of fire, to the giver of life the Navajo sent up his prayer:
Of all the good things of the earth let me always have plenty.
Of all the beautiful things of the earth let me always have plenty.
Peacefully let my horses go and peacefully let my sheep go.
God of the Heavens, help me to talk straight.
Goddess of the Earth, my Mother, let me walk straight.
Now all is well, now all is well, now all is well, now all is well.
Hope and faith were his.
Hope and faith may be the essence of religion. As I say, I doubt if Grey read much but he has certainly captured the essence of mythology. The bit about the sun as keeper of the wind and rains is astute. As Grey said, the Navajo religion was materialistic. Pantheistic too, perhaps. There is nothing spiritual here just a prayer for plenty of what makes life enjoyable for the Navajo combined with the essence of morality which is to talk and walk straight. Quite admirable really. I can imagine the ERB was very nearly in awe as he read it. Of course, by 1915 ERB had already smashed the old religious system on Barsoom supplanting it with his own vision of the man-god but I’m sure he concurred with Grey.
Then Grey sums up the turbulent Colorado:
“Life was eternal. Man’s immortality lay in himself. Love of a woman was hope- happiness. Brotherhood- that mystic ‘Bi Nai” of the Navajo- that was religion.
Yes, as they passed under the Rainbow Bridge at the foot of the rainbow it all become clear. What happened later when reality hit I don’t know.
Grey’s formula reads well: Life in the general sense, in whatever form, will last for a long time but hardly eternally. ‘Man’s immortality lay in himself’ is difficult to parse. Not exactly sure what that means. ‘Love of a woman was hope- happiness.’ Possibly, if he’s talking about a reconciliation of the X and y chromosomes into a unified whole but for an old philanderer like Grey he should amend his statement to love of any or many women, a quick one in other words. And the mystic and grand “Bi Nai.’ Yep. That was religion.
I imagine ERB was goggle eyed when he finished this one and lovingly patted it back on the shelf.
The good things of this world had come the way of Grey and Burroughs in abundance. Grey was able to ‘get back to the land’ six months of the year while testing his manhood like Ahab landing the big fish on the seas the other part of the year. I used to love those travelogues on Saturdays when they showed those heroes trolling the seas for swordfish off Florida proving that had to be a real man to land those big fellas.
Then they would show the little woman standing proudly by her catch towering over her. They fished ’em out by the time I was in a position to prove my manhood. I’ll have to take up skydiving or bungee jumping; to heck with climbing Everest.
Burroughs also got back to the land in a big way. Some of the letters in Brother Men, the collection of his and Herb Weston’s letters are quite delightful as ERB exults about planting every known species of vegetable while raising most of the better known food animals in great quantities. Just that he couldn’t figure out how to make a profit at it. All expense the way he went about it. That wasn’t according to plan.
In their own way both Grey and Burroughs retreated from the social realities of their day both in their fiction and in their lives. Depending on how one defines fantasy both men retreated into fantasy rather than deal with an uncomfortable reality. At the same time both tried to come up with solutions to the pressing social and relgious problems of their times in fiction.
Of the two I much prefer Burroughs because of his wider ranging intellectual interests as well as his highly developed sense of humor. There isn’t one grain of humor in Grey; the man is deadly serious all the time; he must have played shortstop in baseball.
Times change. I find nothing enduring in Grey save the Purple Sage/Rainbow diptych and that because of his amazing portrayal of the Anima/Animus problem.
Burroughs has a certain quality to what he does. Herb Weston in Brother Men seemed put off by ERB’s Mastermind Of Mars. the novel first appeared in Amazing Stories; Weston thought the story was truly amazing. So do I. I can’t explain exactly why I think Mastermind is an enduring story because on one level it isn’t a very good book; yet on another, while Ras Thavas is a great character there is something being said which still escapes me but seems important.
As Grey and Burroughs are representative of the period 1890-1910 just let me say that I really love this period of history in the United States. I like most of the writers and Burroughs and Grey are two of my favorites. They probably read each other but their intellects were so disparate that I doubt if they could have gotten along if they had met.
Fortunately this is a moot point as they didn’t.
Happy trails to you hoping that if you look you can find Surprise Valley and The Valley Of The Hidden Women. Just don’t take your guns to town, Son, leave the Bad Blood at home.
February 3, 2009
The ERB Library Project
Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Anima And Animus
R.E. Prindle, Dr. Anton Polarion And Dugald Warbaby
Burroughs: Edgar Rice: Corpus 1911-1940
Grey, Zane: The Riders Of The Purple Sage, 1912
Grey, Zane: The Rainbow Trail 1915
Grey Zane: The Mysterious Rider, 1921
Prindle, R. E.: Freudian Psychology Updated To Modern Physics, ERBzine, 2004
Prindle, R.E.: Something Of Value Books I, II And III, ERBzine, 2006
R.E. Prindle, Dr. Anton Polarion And Dugald Warbaby
The Mysterious Rider
Two of the more popular musical groups of the 1980s were Culture Clash and Boy George’s Culture Club. They were from England which was being invaded by peaceful infiltration by a number of different cultures. The popular response of these groups divined that the issue was not ‘race’ or skin color but one of cultures.
In any clash of cultures the most intolerant must win- that is the culture that clings to its customs while rejecting all others. To be tolerant is to be absorbed by the intolerant culture. This was the meaning of German term Kulturkampf of the pre-Great War period.
Historical examples are too numerous to mention, suffice it to say, that the ancient Cretan culture was defeated by the Mycenean while both were supplanted by later Greek invasions. Eventually Greek culture supplanted the Cretan which was lost to history.
The English being the most tolerant people will lose their culture to a Moslem-Negro combination which will undoubtedly be absorbed by the Chinese. This is an incontestable evolutionary fact, it has nothing to do with anyone’s opinion.
While the movement of peoples may be an unavoidable fact of life it is folly for a superior more productive culture to sacrifice itself to a lesser, misguided by notions of tolerance.
Evolutionarily the problem is not the cosmetic one of skin color as most HSIIs and IIIs imagine.
Apart from the evolutionary problem of genetics the social problem of cultures is of prime importance. Not all cultures are of the same quality nor is this a matter of relativity. For instance it is generally agreed that female circumcision is an evil to be avoided but among the Africans where it is prevalent their culture stoutly defends the procedure along with polygamy. In France where large numbers of Africans are invading French culture denies the validty of both female circumcision and polygamy hence the culture clash between the two nations the society will be determined by numbers and will. Given the increasing numbers of Moslems and Africans in France among which polygamy is an established custom and given their superior will and intolerance of the HSIIs of France, it is merely a matter of time before polygamy and female circumcision become permissible thus changing French society as the French themselves adopt Semitic and African customs.
Only a small percentage of the French, English or Americans recognize the danger to their cultures. They must naturally be as intolerant of the culture of the invaders as the invaders are intolerant of theirs. As a minority among their respective peoples they are derided by the majority as bigots while the, perhaps, benign and tolerant opinion of the majority can lead only to their own elimination as history and evolution clearly shows.
America in the nineteenth century with its open and unrestricted immigration was the first country, other than Russia which was also involved with these difficulties, to come to grips with the problem of clashing cultures. The official American position was one of tolerance. Absorption of the large African population was a poser, but among the HSIIs and IIIs the cultural differences were not so great as to be an insuperable obstacle although assimilation as between the Anglos and the Irish, for instance, was painful and slow while still incomplete to this day as large numbers of Irish consider themselves Irish first and Americans second but generally Northern Europeans blended reasonably well.
Then in the 1870s just at the time that both Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs were born the focus of immigration shifted to Eastern and Southern Europe. This influx continued unabated up to 1914 when it was interrupted by the Great War. While earlier immigration might be characterized as troublesome the Eastern and Southern European immigration presented a real culture clash.
The cultural differences between Northern Europeans and Eastern and Southern Europeans are actually quite striking. Rightly or wrongly, as you may choose to see it, contemporaries of Burroughs and Grey believed that, at least, the Jews and Italians were unassimilable, which is to say, they were not prepared to abandon their customs to blend into the whole but wished to impose their customs on the whole. Indeed this has proven to be the case as witness the Jewish attempt to abolish Christmas. If you don’t object there is no problem. If you do, you have a culture clash that the most intolerant will win.
As representatives of the founding culture of the United States men like Burroughs and Grey could not but see the new immigration as a threat to their ideals which has proven to be true. Thus the American generation of Teddy Roosevelt who was born in 1858 were the heroes of the younger generation. When TR died in 1919 a vision of hope flickered out for Burroughs’ and Grey’s generation.
The poem ‘The American’ reprinted in Part IV of my Four Crucial Years published in the ERBzine will give some idea of the frustration experienced by the Burroughs/Grey generation just as they were coming of age.
Burroughs grew up in one of the most polyglot centers of the world. The Anglos in Chicago were in a distinct minority being no more than 10% of the population in 1890. Grey practiced his dentistry in New York City in which Anglos were as small a percentage of the population.
Neither man was a hateful bigot which is not to say that they couldn’t help but be affected by the diversity of languages and customs which they encountered everyday in what they considered to be their own country. It would be silly to say that they or any rational Anglo didn’t regret the situation. That the absorption of all this diversity into a semblance of homogeneity was made without undue violence must always to be the credit of the American social organization. That organizations of frustrated individuals like the American Protective Association or the KKK arose is not to be wondered at especially in the face of very aggressive and terrorist immigrant organizations such as the Mafia and the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith which was being advised by Sigmund Freud.
Both Burroughs and Grey began writing at the very height of unrestricted immigration. There is every reason to expect the influence of immigration to be reflected in their writing for the period of the teens no matter how they sublimated it. After 1920 conditions changed which is reflected in Burroughs’ writing although I am unread in Grey after the teens.
Burroughs of course transposed his social and religious conflicts to Mars, Pellucidar and his vision of Tarzan’s Africa where they were fought on an allegorical level much in the style of Jonathon Swift.
Grey on the other hand transposed the problem to an earlier period in the American West where he avoided the problem of foreign activities concentrating on culture clashes of Mormonism, cattle and sheep ranching and matters of the like. He’s an acute observer of the Mexican-American clash also. Thus the Mormon-Gentile clash of mid-nineteenth century could be compared to the Jewish-Gentile confrontation of the teens which Grey would have been facing but would have been unable to discuss without being labeled an anti-Semite or bigot.
Both writers could also translate social problems into psychological terms as they did. Both men suffered from a fair degree of emasculation which is most notably represented in Grey’s work especially the three of his novels under consideration.
In The Mysterious Rider he examines the same Animus problems that he did in Riders Of The Purple Sage but under different conditions.
His protagonist, Hell Bent Wade of Mysterious Rider, answers to that of Lassiter In Riders. Wade possessed a violent and ungovernable tempter as a young man which led him to murder his wife and a man he mistakenly believed to be her lover. Discovering his error he brought his temper under control becoming mild mannered like Lassiter but helpful and with more character; still his youthful reputation follows him, blighting his life.
Wilson Moore may be seen as another version of Venters while the Mormon Animus is represented by the rancher, Bill Bellounds and his son Jack. His Anima figure in this story is an orphan girl named Columbine, Collie, as after the flower.
Old Bill Bellounds (Hounds Of Hell?) is a big rancher in Colorado who took Columbine ( in good conscience I can’t call her Collie, which is the name of a dog) in as a child and raised her as his own. This is a recurring motif in Grey. Now he wants her to marry his son Jack. Jack is no good. Bad man. As an Animus figure he is the wild ungoveranble aspect. He is crazed having no behavioral controls.
Columbine is placed between what she considers her duty to the man she had always known as dad and her own desire which is a love for Wilson or Wils Moore.
Moore is just the opposite of Jack Bellounds. He is gentle, sensitve, conscientious, hard working, kind, loving, just an all around great guy of the emasculated Animus sort. Grey, who has all the attributes of the emasculated man, including the middle hair part, may have thought of him as a sort of self-portrait. Grey always holds up as his model of the virtuous man the long suffering type who endures injustices to the point of being crippled or even killed before he retaliates, if he does.
In this case Wilson Moore is crippled for life by Jack Bellounds with barely even a thought of self-defense. Hell Bent Wade, the protagonist who had the ungovernable temper as a youth, a reformed Lassiter, is now feminized to the point where he is willing to serve as a male nurse.
Thus he nurses Moore back to physical health, but mutilated, while he keeps Moore’s mind straight.
He is unable to do anything with Jack Bellounds who although he wants to win the love of Columbine is incapable of reforming. His drinking and gambling lead him into a situation where he is rustling cattle from his father.
A showdown occurs between him and Hell Bent in which by giving Jack every chance he is shot by Jack while at the same time killing the latter. We are expected to admire this self-sacrifice. Thus Wils and Columbine are united. Mutilated virtue prevails.
Grey always manages an interesting tale with good detailing so the reading of the novel as OK qua story but written after the Great War it is evident that Grey is hauling up nuggets from an exhausted mine.
The appeal of the story for Burroughs seems clear as it is a virtual symbolic retelling of his courtship of Emma. Alvin Hulbert, Emma’s father favoring another suitor who was quite privileged, while denying ERB the house, the crippling struggle with the suitor in Toronto and the eventual successful denouement as Emma chose him over the other ‘owner’s son’ and the marriage.
Published in magazine form in 1919 and in book form in 1921 its appearance coincided with a low period in ERB’s life as represented in Tarzan And The Golden Lion and Tarzan And The Ant Men. This was also the period when when Warner Fabian’s ‘Flaming Youth’ appeared followed by the apparently sensational movie. The book, which is in ERB’s library and, the movie made a terrific impression on him.
As this is one of only two Grey books still in his library when it was catalogued we must assume that he felt the content was applicable to himself. Other than that I found the novel of negligible value.
Now let us turn to The Rainbow Trail which was the other Grey novel in ERB’s library. This will be a fairly signifcant book.
February 1, 2009
Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Anima And Animus
R. E. Prindle And Dr. Anton Polarion and Dugald Warbaby
Bad Blood In The Valley Of The Hidden Women:
Thoughts On Riders Of The Purple Sage And The Rainbow Trail
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Corpus 1911-1940
Grey, Zane: The Riders Of The Purple Sage 1912
Grey, Zane: The Rainbow Trail, 1915
Grey, Zane: The Mysterious Rider, 1921
Prindle, R.E. Freudian Psychology Updated To Modern Physics, ERBzine 2004.
Prindle, R.E. Something Of Value Books I, II, III. Erbzine 2005
Anton and I had never read Zane Grey before reviewing the library of Edgar Rice Burroughs as published on ERBzine by Mr. Hillman. Nor probably would we have but for the Bill Hillman series of articles comparing Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Anton and I dismissed any such connection as being relevant but then Prindle read The Rainbow Trail and said we should check it out. Prindle is a close friend of ours; a little on the independent side but alright.
Grey refers to The Rainbow Trail as a continuation of The Riders Of The Purple Sage so Anton, he’s a psychologist became intrigued by the manner in which Grey treated aspects of the Anima and Animus. We both then read Riders in which we discovered a full blown theory of the Anima and Animus.
It should be noted here that Grey had passages excised by his editors that they thought dealt too explicitly with the sexual aspects of the Anima and Animus while reducing the commerical viability of the story. The unexpurgated version of the story was published under the title The Desert Crucible in 2003. I have the Leisure Historical Fiction edition in mass market paperback.
Grey’s ideas were presented in a very pure manner with complete and intact symbolism so there could be no mistaking that Grey was presenting a well thought out theory. Anton became very excited as he said Grey’s theory certainly rivaled the ideas of Freud and Jung and must have been developed independently of their thought much as Burrughs’ ideas of psychology were.
Although Riders Of The Purple Sage wasn’t among the books listed by Hillman as being in the Library we have to assume that Burroughs read it along with a number of other Grey titles although he must have found Rainbow Trail and The Mysterious Rider the tales of Grey he found most significant for his needs. We will assume that this is so. To understand The Rainbow Trail originally titled The Desert Crucible which was in ERB’s library it is necessary to also review Riders Of The Purple Sage.
Grey in this book examines the nature of the Animus and the Anima of the male as well as the relationship between the living male and female. The micro study of the Anima and Animus is placed in the macro study of Mormon society and law of 1871 versus Gentile society and law. This is also a study of the nature of religion.
The Gentiles- I follow Grey’s thought here- Mormons refer to themselves as the Chosen People and ‘others’ as Gentiles- are all of a stricken Anima which paralyzes their Animus while the Mormons have a strong Animus but disturbed by a stricken relation with the Anima which they completely repress not unlike the Jews and Moslems.
Thus Mormons have a strong affinity with the Semitic religious systems from which they derive their religion in part. Anton, the psychologist, avers that the problem of the Animus and Anima has been known for at least five or six thousand years. Anton is close to Prindle who is a historian, so much of the historical part comes to Anton through him although Anton is well versed in the history of human consciousness.
Historically the struggle of the male to come to terms with the X chromosome and the y chromosome or Animus is central to history and psychology. During the Matriarchal Age, which is to say a sub- or unconscious age, the X chromosome or Anima ruled the mind of man. As consciousness evolved and the conscious mind emerged from the subconscious the nature of the y chromosome or Animus became apparent. The Patriarchal Consciousness evolved.
To reconcile or not to reconcile?
The Egyptians developed their own theories but here we are not concerned with HS II and IIIs and the Semites. Suffice it to say that the Semites borrowed from the Egyptians while adding very little of their own. If one reads the story of Psyche and Eros in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass one will have a good general introduction to the HS II and III point of view as expressed in Grey’s Gentile characters such as Lassiter and Venters. As said the Mormons reflect the Semitic view on women.
The Semites on the other hand, exaggerted the importance of the Animus in favor of suppressing or subordinating the Anima which has been passed on to the HS IIs and IIIs through the adoption of aspects of the Semitic religions. In a Hungarian myth of the Christian Era the Anima is portrayed as being entombed in the support of a bridge. Thus imprisoned on one side of the river or brain it is denied its rightful function.
The Semitic attitude is reflected in the way the two peoples treat their living females who stand as a symbol and only a symbol of the X chromosome of the male. In both existing Semitic relgions, the Judaic and the Mohammedan, the females are treated as property no different than cattle. Some of these attitudes have been temporarily weakened through contact with the HS II and IIIs. They haven’t gone away or changed.
The Semitic attitude infiltrated the HS II and III consciousness through their religion which was amalgameted into the HS-Semitic hybrid called Christianity.
Then in 1930 in the Unied States a man named Joseph Smith created a religion called Mormonism based on the extreme Patriarchal notions of the Semites. As Grey puts it the religion was based on the notion of ruling women. Smith devised rules by which women were completely subordinated to the Animus much as in the Hungarian myth while the men were required to take multiples wives. Smith himself racked up 30 plus.
According to Grey the women were not happy with the arrangement but in the thrall of religious belief they thought it their god assigned role.
As polygamy is not part of HS II and III culture Smith and the Mormons came into conflict with constituted society in Smith’s home base of Fayette, New York being driven out. They encountered the same opposition in their new homes which led finally to Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith, who apparently overplayed his hand was murdered in 1844. In 1847 Brigham Young led the new Chosen People from Nauvoo to the Promised Land on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. By 1871 when Riders takes place they must have multiplied exponentially because they occupy all of Utah and parts of adjacent states. This prologue of the diptych is placed before the passage of the 1882 law of the United States outlawing polygamy. The denouement of the novel will take place as the US attempts to stamp out the practice.
The action of Riders-Trail takes place on the border of Utah and Arizona and parts of adjacent states with the Grand Canyon of the Colorado as a backdrop.
As with the other Semitic religions the Mormon Bishops and Elders with untempered Animi have made their will the law. Thus, according to Grey, the Churchmen have become criminals willing to commit any crime to achieve their personal desires which they equate with the will of God.
As Riders opens a Mormon woman, Jane Withersteen, against all the rules of Mormon society is living as an independent woman in Cottonwoods on the Utah-Arizona border, Gentile Law on one side, Mormon law on the other. She does this in defiance of Bishop Dyer (die-er?) who has ordered her to marry and end her independent status. She has her own duchy among the Mormons owning her own town, the water, aparently several counties, a magnificent bunch of horses (emblematic of the Anima) and six thousand head of cattle divided into two herds, the red and the white. (emblematic of the male and female.)
Her independence is a standing affront to the Mormon Elders and Bishops. Having been ordered to marry Elder Tull as one of his many wives she has no wish to submit to the Bishop’s will. Read- Will of God.
These men are not to be balked. The woman Withersteen has no actual rights under Semitic law. As these men have a crazed Animus untempered by the acknowledgement of the female principle or Anima which they deny they have lost all sense of justice, or rather, they equate justice with their desires which they believe are supported by divine law. They are going to use every concealed criminal means to break Jane Witherspoon down. As their will is law they can’t see the difference between subjective criminal methods and objective legal ones.
Jane is already having trouble hiring Mormon riders, riders are the same as cowboys in Grey’s lexicon, to manage her herds so she has resorted to hiring Gentiles.
The Mormons must be seen as a species of Semite and in the Semitic manner they punish Gentiles, or unbelievers as the Moslems would put it, destroying any attempts at their prosperity. If you read the first few lines of the Koran you will find it plainly stated that unbelievers must be punished. Hence all the Gentiles are kept uneducated and impoverished. Jane’s ramrod, is a young Gentile named Bern Venters. Venters at one time had been a prosperous cattle rancher but the Mormons had emasculated him by lifting his cattle. Venters was rescued by Jane from complete impoverishment by offering him a job.
The Elders hate her for this. They have warned Jane to get rid of him and her other Gentile employees but as a sort of Great Mother figure, an active female principle opposed to their male principle, she has refused. She is sort of a Matriarchal throwback among these Patriarchs. As the story opens Elder Tull has dragged Venters out of Jane’s house where Tull gives Venters the choice of hightailing it out of the Territory, Utah being a territory from 1850 to 1895 when it became a State, or being whipped to an inch of his life. Now, Tull means this, they are going to whip Venters nearly to death for being a Gentile in Mormonland.
Having already been emasculated by the lifting of his cattle which, in reality, he couldn’t prevent, Venters now chooses to take the whipping rather than emasculate himself further by hightailing it. Difficult choice.
Tull is about to have him stripped when the Hammer Of The Mormons, Lassiter, appears out of the purple sage riding a blind horse- you heard right- a blind horse. This guy is Bad Blood personified. Boy, they’ve heard about him but how. Black hat, black leather chaps, two massive black handled pistols worn very low, apparently at his ankles, his reputation as a Mormon Killer is well established. Tull gets the cold shivers just looking at him on his blind horse. The blind horse probably indicates that at this point Lassiter is oblivious to female charms, the horse being a symbol of the female and he’s riding a blind pony.
Lassiter makes a few mild mannered inquiries then orders the Mormons to let Venters go. We’re talking Animus to Animus here, cojones to cojones, whoever backs down is emasculated in relation to the other, and Lassiter’s twin pistols make him the master Animus. The Mormons have to eat dirt or die. The Mormons powerful as a collective cannot be so man to man. Tull gives a hint of throwing an iron on Lassiter but the latter goes into his famous gunslinger’s crouch so he grab one of those guns around his ankles, intimidating the dickens out of the Mormons who retire leaving this field to him while muttering threats that he’d better watch his back.
As we said, all the Gentiles are stricken in there relationship between their Animas and Animi. Between Riders and Rainbow they will be healed.
Grey handles the symbolism starkly and masterfully. Jane Withersteen is a masterful Matriarch. Her independence and relationship to the Gentile men has left the impression that she is sexually loose. It isn’t clear to the reader whether she is nor not. She is more the Great Mother rather than the Siren.
Her role seems to be the womanly one of tempering the raging Animus of the male. While she has no effect whatsoever on the Mormon men she is successful in emasculating the stricken Gentiles. She had persuaded Venters to abandon his six gun which made it possible for Elder Tull to seize him while it was only Lassiter’s two black handled six pistols that freed him.
In a rather sexually explicit scene Jane would stand in front of Lassiter to seize a gun in each hand in an attempt to dissuade him from carrying them thus emasculating him. This at a time when Mormons were trying to gun him down. Her role seems to be one of civilizing society although her method seems backward.
Lassiter is a wronged individual seeking his personal justice in a vengeful way. He has shot up several Mormon towns being now known as a Mormon slayer or, in other words, the equivalent of an anti-Semite.
The reason for his anti-Semitism is that a Mormon kidnapped his sister, Millie Erne, holding her captive until she consented to become one of his wives. Hint, hint. Her remains are buried on Jane Withersteen’s property.
Lassiter’s horse was blinded when men held it down then placed a white hot iron alongside the eyes searing them. The horse as a female mother symbol represents Lassiter’s striken relationship with his Anima.
If one reads this novel in a literal sense then many of its incidents are improbable if not ridiculous. What notorious gunslinger would ride a blind horse? Grey has been criticized for wooden characters which is womewhat unjust. These are archetypal characters who are fully developed and can’t change. As allegories there is no need to change. This is mythology.
The Mormons lift Jane’s red herd. This may represent her female Animus as in iconography the male is usually represented as red while the female is white. They next try to stampede her white herd by devious means which they believe are undetectable such as flashing a white sheet from a distance. As a Chosen People they even have to convince themselves that what happens was not caused by them but was the will of God.
Lassiter notes this taking Jane with him to show her. As they watch the cattle begin to stampede. Three thousand on the hoof they stream down the valley. Lassiter on his blind horse races full speed down the slope, obviously no blind horse could do this, out on the flat to single handedly mill the cows. As the lead cows enter the center of spiral Lassiter disappears in the dust. He emerges sans horse to appear before Jane: ‘My horse got kilt.’ he announces. Jane’s response is ‘Lassiter, will you be my rider?’ Pretty clear sexually I think. Not exactly changing horses in midstream but obviusly the transition from a blind horse to a sighted jane is an improvement in Lassiter’s relationship with his Anima. ‘You bet I will Jane.’ Lassiter promptly and positively responds.
Whether you want to consider this stuff ‘high literature’ or not read properly it is not much different from the Iliad or Odyssey.
As a mother figure Jane is a keeper of horses, a symbol of the mother and female. The blinding of Lassiter’s horse was the equivalent of separating him from the mother figure. Jane not only has a full stable of horses but she has the prized horses Night, Black Star and Wrangler. As Grey makes clear these are the devil’s own mounts. In the big chase scene Grey has Wrangler close to breathing flames as he compares the horse to the devil.
The Mormons steal Jane blind while she refuses to allow Lassiter to defend either himself or her. Seems to be the Great American Dilemma even today.
Remember this is a war between Gentiles and Semites qua Mormons. The Gentiles hands are stayed while the Semites are allowed to run wild. Maybe Grey is making a social comment. Also remember that Jane is a Mormon so that while she is powerless to control her own aging maniac men the only men she can influence are the Gentiles whom she emasculates. As soon as the emasculated Venters gets away from her while pursuing the rustlers he immediately begins to revert to full manhood.
The Mormons set both Mormon men and women to steal from her. They take her bags of gold, this woman is prodigal, rich, her deeds and anything of value. They steal her six thousand cows. They want to kill Lassiter, dozens of Mormons lurk in the cottonwood groves (female places) but something stays their hands; they can’t shoot him either from behind or in front.
The only thing Jane worries about is her horses. Black Star and Night. It is possible that in this instance Jane represents the moon goddess. Finally the Mormons steal these symbols of her power. The independent woman is now completely violated. She has a man who could shoot down all the Mormons in Utah but she won’t let him use his guns.
So why should we care?
The myth switches to an alternate plot. Young Bern Venters goes in search of the rustler gang. Once again, Jane attempts to emasculate her men by pleading with Venters not to go, to stay beside her. Why anyone would want to hang around such a loser woman isn’t clear.
Venters goes in search of the rustler gang which is led by a man named Oldring. Old Ring. I’m sure the name has significant meaning but I can’t place it. The wind soughing through the caves is known as Old Ring’s Knell. Even though Oldring’s gang consists of a couple dozen men who have punched a herd of three thousand red cows they have somehow left no trail. Over all the years they have been rustling and pillaging there is no one who has been able to find this robber’s roost.
Venters has traced them to the foot of a waterfall where he loses track. While he is mulling this over a group of desperadoes return from pillaging plodding up the stream. Lo and behold they ride right through the waterfall into yet another hidden valley. Big enough to hold three thousand head of cattle. The West was a big country.
Venters rides off to relate this discovery to Jane and Lassiter when he encounters a despearado with the famous Masked Rider, reputed to have shot down dozens of men. He is dressed from head to toe in black wearing a black mask. This Rider is credited with shooting down any Mormons Lassiter overlooked.
Venters takes out his ‘long gun.’ You know how riders despise the long gun or rifle preferring six shooters, and by dint of long practice he shoots the lead rustler dead and wounds the Masked Rider. While examining the Masked One’s wound he unbuttons the shirt to discover the ‘beautiful swell of a female breast.’ Boy, howdy. You got it, the Masked Rider is a woman, a mannish girl. The image of Venter’s Anima.
Stranded in the desert while trying to nurse this girl back to health Venters chases a rabbit up a slope where he notices ancient steps cut in the rock. Following these he comes into ‘Surprise Valley.’ Formerly the home of cliff dwellers the place is a vitual paradise, green and verdant. No one would ever discover him and the Rider there. Carrying the slight figure of the Rider up hill and down for maybe ten miles or so Venters secretes themselves in the Valley which abounds in game and delightsome frolics.
About this time I recognized some teen fantasies of my own. Shooting and wounding a woman while having to tend her wounds in a secluded place where she has to be eternally grateful when healed was just too obvious. In my case, just after the onset of puberty, I think, when the Anima would be making itself known, I came up with the daydream of having this woman I could keep in a milk bottle until I wanted her. When I let her out of the bottle she became full sized and did whatever I wanted then she willingly went back into the bottle until the next time I wanted her.
As a thirteen year old before the advent of universal pornography I didn’t know what I wanted the woman for but I knew it would be fun. Grey here creates his version of the same fantasy. The Rider, who turns out to be Bess, apparently has a past. I say apparently because nearly everyone in this story has an apparent history which turns out to be false. As a member of the gang she was thought to have been, um…the piece…of Oldring. He kept her in a cabin up on a ledge in his valley behind the waterfall. He was gone a lot so we’re not clear that he ever laid a hand on her but Venters believes she is not ‘pure’ which in his great love for her he is willing to over look but it rankles him.
If you want to know the wonders of Surprise Valley read the book yourself. Comes a time when Venters has to go into Cottonwoods for supplies. There he realizes that he and Bess can’t stay hidden away forever. He has enough money for supplies obviously but not enough to flee from Mormonland.
They don’t call it Surprise Valley for nothing. When he returns Bess hauls out a big bag of gold to give to him. This must be the treasure that the female brings the male. The whole several mile length of the river which runs through this valley is lined with pebbles of gold which Bess has collected. Shades of Opar, huh? In her girlish gratitude she wants Bern to have the lot.
‘Gosh,’ says Bern. ‘Now I don’t have to get a job.’ (He didn’t put it quite that way.) ‘We can leave this valley and go far away from Mormonland.’
Far away from Mormonland, by the way, is either Quincy or Beaumont (beautiful mountain) Illinois. Not too far from Nauvoo which was the Mormon stronghold jumping off place for the long march to the Great Salt Lake into the fantastic scenery Grey either describes or imagines. Certinly the West of Grey’s imagination is as fantastic as anything Burroughs created on Barsoom.
Even though Grey refers to the desert this is certainly the lushest desert anyone has ever seen. The purple sage is the equal to Burroughs red moss of Mars.
Grey wrote an essay about what the desert meant to him. His desert with its plentiful water complements his vision of the Anima and Animus. The desert may answer to Grey’s subconscious which appears to be missing in his analysis of Anima and Animus, so that perhaps the desert stand for the subconscious.
His desert reminds me of a dream I used to have with some frequency. In my dream I was walking across this immense barren desert spotted at invervals with small oases in which I wasn’t allowed to remain. Off in the distance I could see this great brain shaped mountain. On approaching the mountain I found a small stream of water leading down into the mountain. As I descended I noticed that the stream ran through a bed of solid salt which rendered the water bitter.
Descending further the water disappeared beneath a steel chute. Unable to turn back while unwilling to go further I was nevertheless pushed into the chute where dropping into a steel lined entry I was pushed into a steel walled laundry room as the steel door slammed behind me. There was plenty of water but no way out. There was a ventilation shaft along the ceiling of the back wall. I conceived a plan of drinking to repletion then urinating into the ventilation shaft creating such a smell that they would want to find the source.
My plan worked. Three maintenance men opened the door and I dashed out so fast they didn’t know I had been there. Still in a steel lined area I saw a bank of elevators which would take me back to ground level. A door opened but the elevator was filled with classmates from my high school who pushed me back refusing to allow me to enter.
I don’t know how but I gat back to the surface where once again I approached the back side of the mountain which I ascended this time rather than descended. Now, the mountain was deep in a frozen snow but starting from the low grade at the back I had no trouble climbing, walking on top of the snow. The sun was shining brightly but all was frozen white. When I reached the top I found I was standing above the brow of the face of a great idol carved in the snow. Thousands of feet below terified and intimidated people were kneeling in the desert worshipping the great snow face. From where I stood I couldn’t see the face but I conceived the notion of destroying the snow god to free the people. Leaping into the air I came down on the god’s forehead creating an avalanche. The great face slid away as I descended thousands of feet on a cushion of snow to alight unharmed.
As I hoped, the destruction of the god freed the minds of the people from the domination of their morose god. The melting snow created numerous streams watering the desert among which the people danced and sang as the desert bloomed, while I looked on admiringly.
I don’t know enough about Grey’s background to say how unhappy his childhood had been but since his plot of Riders/Rainbow roughly follows my dream I suspect what the desert meant to him was the barrenness of his early life. The appeal of the novels to Burroughs must have been of the same order.
When Venters leaves the Valley Grey begins to lose control of his story. The clarity and focus of the first half becomes jumbled. He finally just crams the ending through as Burroughs so frequently does.
Venters, riding Wrangler, crosses trails with the men who stole Night and Black Star from Jane. A sort of running joke throughout the novel is whether Wrangler is faster than the two blacks. Wrangler proves his mettle in this chase overtaking the two even though they were ridden by the best rider on the range, Jerry Card. Card is sort of a puzzle, at least for me. His horsemanship was so great that racing at full tilt leading one horse he could keep both horses side by side at full pace; in addition he could hop back and forth from horse to horse. Whether Grey was making a joke or not, I can’t really tell, he describes Card’s appearance as froglike. Hop-frog of Poe? Card is a little misshapen runty man. Whatever Grey had in mind for him he forgot to develop.
Card abandons the horses as the race ends disappearing into the purple sage. Wrangler gets away from Venters to be captured by Card. In a rather spectacular scene Card is trying to guide the horse by biting it on the nose. He is actually being dragged with his teeth in Wrangler’s nose. I’m no horseman but I’d really have to have the fine points of this maneuver explained to me.
Unable to hit the small fragile Card with a rifle shot as rider and horse rode alongside an escarpment rather than let Card get away, Venters shot the horse who leaped off the edge in what Grey describes as a fitting end for the greatest horse and greatest rider of the purple sage. I can’t follow his reasoning here but he must be trying to say something.
Venters rides the remaining two horses down the main street of Cottonwoods with apparently no more reason than to enrage Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull and announce in stentorian tones that Jerry Card is dead. Reminds me of the myth in which it is announced that the great God Pan is dead.
Venters packs some saddlebags with provisions then, in what seems a comic touch, since Jane’s wonderful stable of horses is now empty, mounts a burro to return to Surprise Valley. Riding one and leading a string of burros he looks behind him to see if he being followed by men on horses I presume he would have hopped off the burro and started running. The burro appears to represent severe emasculation.
Another essential subplot has been the arrival of a small child still annoyingly gushing babytalk- muvver for mother and oo for you- by the name of Fay Larkin. Fay is going to be the heroine of the sequel. She was the daughter of a Gentile woman who died. The woman asked Jane, who was ever kind to the despised Gentiles, to take the child which Jane did. She now ‘cannot live without the child.’
Having stolen everything else of the woman in the name of God, the Mormons now steal Fay.
This is too much for Lassiter who coldly disregards Jane’s imploring to disregard this insult and injury too, even though a moment before she ‘couldn’t live without the child.’ While it seems that Mormon men emascualte their women, Mormon women in turn emasculate their men. Maybe that’s what the story is about: the conflict between the sexes. Lassiter disregards her, strapping on not only his big blacks but an extra brace that he hides beneath his coat. The extra brace doesn’t figure into the story so it isn’t clear why two gun Lassiter became four gun Lassiter.
Lassiter shoots the Mormons up pretty good killing Bishop Dyer. Elder Tull is out of town at the moment. Lassiter and Jane know they have to get a move on so, packing enough to stagger any ten horses , including bags of gold, they skedaddle riding Night and Black Star.
Somewhere in here Grey must have become stymied in his story not having the progression to Rainbow Trail figured out. Something like the odd ending of Burroughs’ Princess Of Mars. Venters still thinks Bess was Oldring’s girl hence something only his great love for her can make him overlook. Loading up their burros they leave Surprise Valley. Out in the purple sage who should appear much as he had at the beginning of the story but Lassiter, this time with Jane.
It now comes out that Venters thinks Oldring is Bess’ father. Jane lets out the fact that he had then killed his future wife’s dad. Bess is revolted at the thought, calling off the wedding. Lassiter to the rescue. He produces a locket with a picture of his sister Millie Erne and her husband Frank. Lassiter explains that Millie was pregnant by Frank when Millie was kidnapped and that Frank Erne is her real father. The obstacle that had appeared between Venters and Bess now disappears as he hadn’t killed her father, just the guy who reared her. At the same time Bess is no longer the daughter of a low rustler but of a respectable man.
But wait, there’s more. Grey can produce as many twists as Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was the literary fashion of the day.
Not only is Bess the daughter of Millie Erne but the Mormon kidnapper of Millie had been no ther than Jane Withersteen’s father. The ever-forgiving Lassiter, now Uncle Jim to Bess, mutters something like ‘Aw shucks, Jane, I don’t pay thet no nevermind.’ and sister Millie is forgotten. nearly two decades of bad blood goes up in smoke with a shrug.
Venters and Bess head off for the safety and security of civilization in Beaumont, Illinois, while Lassiter and Jane depart for the security of Surprise Valley. Two problems remain for the next ten pages or so, Fay Larkin and Elder Tull.
Just like Tarzan, Lassiter can apparently smell a white girl because there is no other way that he could have located her. She was being held by some Mormons in a side canyon. Setting Jane to one side, Lassiter enters the canyon from which after firing every cartridge in his four guns and belts- Grey didn’t actually make it clear that he was still wearing the extra set up under his coat but he didn’t say he took them off either- of’ four guns Lassiter kills all the varmints, emerging from the canyon with little Fay in his arms and ‘five holes in his carcase.’
As they glory over little Fay, who was problem number one, problem nuber two, Elder Tull and his band of Mormon riders appear on the horizon. Leaping on their burros, did I mention Jane and Uncle Jim swapped Night and Black Star with Venters and Bess for their burros?- the Hammer Of The Mormons and Jane jog off with the Mormons in hot pursuit on horses, but tired ones.
One would think that even tired horses would have the advantage over burros but it is a very tight race. You see why Grey’s stuff translated to the movies so well. Getting all safe within Surprise Valley on the other side of balancing rock (did Grey borrow this detail from the She of Rider Haggard?) Uncle Jim lacks the nerve to roll that stone because Jane has pretty completely emasculated him. ‘Roll that stone’ Jane commands restoring Lassiter’s will. He does just as Elder Tull ad his Mormon band reach the cleft. The stone falls eliminating Tull and his Mormons while sealing off Surprise Valley ‘forever’ with Uncle Jim, Jane and Little Fay Larkin inside. Of course they are well provided because Venters has stocked the Valley with burros, fruit tree stock and plenty of grain seed. At the same time he had eliminated coyotes and other beasts of prey so that jackrabbits, quail and other small food animals have mutiplied exponentially. It’s going to be a long twelve years in the valley so the bunch has to be well provided. Without his gun though Lassiter is going to have to catch those jackrabits with his hands. During their long stay Lassiter and Jane apparently have no sexual relations as there were no additional children when the valley was reentered by the Mormons. Jane must truly have been a mother figure.
On this incomplete note Grey ends his novel.
Indeed, from the Enlightenment to the present has ben a period of intense religion formation, especially the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Utopian and Scientific Socialism may both be considered forms of religion, especially the latter in its Semito-Marxist form.
Mormonism itself, which has no basis in science, orginated from the brain of Joseph Smith in 1830. Madame B’s Theosophy, Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, Ron Hubbard’s Scientology and the Urantia religion all have a basis in science as do most religions formed after Darwin. With the emergence of science none of the old religions were satisfactory. Hence it should come as no surprise that writers like Grey and Burroughs were intensely concerned with the problem.
As I have mentioned in Something Of Value no adequate myth for the scientific age developed, leaving men and women whose faith in the Semitic gods was undermined with a stricken religious consciousness such as in the case of John Shefford, the protagonist of Rainbow Trail, and probably both Grey and Burroughs.
So the search for meaning was endemic in this period not being confined to Burroughs and Grey who were merely symptomatic.
Another attitude that both authors share is a yearning for the wide open spaces of their youth that, while we may look back in envy, were rapidly disappearing before their eyes. Somehow this yearning was also connected to a feeling for the prehistoric past, perhaps as a Golden Age.
Both men were charmed by the notionof cliffdwellers. It would seem that Americans of the period were also absolutely charmed and enamored with the Anasazi of the American Southwest. Burroughs was very nearly obsessed with cliffdwellers. Novel after novel is replete with cliffdwellings whether in Pellucidar, various terrestrial locations or even on Mars.
The inhabitants of the skyscrapers of Chicago were nicknamed cliffdwellers; a replica of Southwest cliffdwellings was built for the Columbian Expo of 1893 that apparently made a great impression on 17-year 0ld ERB. The premier literary club of Chicago was known as the Cliff Dwellers which was on the 8th floor and roof of Orchestra Hall. I think Burroughs had a yearning to be a member of this club.
Thus there were many cliffdweller influences on ERB’s life , whether he had ever seen the Anasazi dwellings before 1920 is doubtful, it would be interesting to know if Grey had before 1910.
At any rate cliffdwellers had carved out homes in Surprise Valley in some distant prehistoric time. Thus both Venters and Bess and Uncle Jim Lassiter and Jane were actual cliffdwellers utilizing the old dwellings. Lassiter, Jane and Fay Larkin would be cliffdwellers for twelve years. This must have had a very romantic appeal for Grey’s contemporary readers.
During that period they dressed in skins living as close to a stone age existence as was possible. So one may compare the Surprise Valley of Lassiter and Jane with the cliffdwellers of Burroughs’ Cave Girl.
As all these themes were in the air of the period it is not necessary for either of these two authors to be influenced by each other to this point but it is probable that both were influenced by the stone age stories of Jack London and H.G. Wells among others.
I doubt Burroughs was influenced during this period by Grey although he did have a copy of Rainbow Trail in his library, one of only two Grey titles. We can’t be sure when he bought Trail. Grey’s stories complement Burroughsian attitudes but only after this formative preriod around 1912. ERB’s Western and Indian novels probably owe something to Grey but they were written after 1920.
Riders Of The Purple Sage sets the scene for its denouement which is The Rainbow Trail. Riders was a wonderful romantic vision of the West which answered the needs of the period when for the first time the percentage of Americans living in cities surpassed that of those living on farms. Indeed, very like these authors, modern cliffdwellers had a heartsick longing for the Paradise they had lost. For decades it would be a crazy dream of city dwellers to buy a farm and ‘get back to the land.’ The movie ‘Easy Rider’ was a good laugh in that respect.
Both Burroughs’ and Grey’s novels addressed that need.
Burroughs’ interest in Rainbow Trail would stem from religious aspects and the perfect union of the Anima and Animus when John Shefford and Fay Larkin unite. It might be noted that a fay is a fairie. Cliffdwelling and the purity of Grey’s noble savages, the Navajos, would have been compelling for ERB.
Before continuing on to The Rainbow Trail let us take a brief interlude to examine some aspects that would have interested ERB from the other Grey title in his library- The Mysterious Rider.
January 13, 2009
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
The Chessmen Of Mars
The Dance Of Barsoom
See Post I for Intro.
The twenties were a difficult financial period for ERB, indeed, as was the rest of his life to be. The substantial sums he had made in Chicago were spent before he left. ERB had saved nothing. He arrived in LA with no other resources than his current income. That income was very substantial by any measure but unequal to ERB’s massive spending capabilities so that at the time he wrote Chessmen he was already strapped for cash and headed for deep debt.
Always envious of the fabulous sums paid Zane Grey by the slick magazines ERB wanted to sell this story for ten thousand dollars to one of the big slicks. There were no takers so that the story went to the pulps for thirty-five hundred. Adding insult to injury he was told that the stories were too preposterous to be considered.
Part of ERB’s literary problem was that genre categories were not yet well developed. H.G. Wells’ early sci-fi efforts were labeled Fantasias, a term that could be understood by the literary arbiters, while still considered what we would call today, literary fiction. Even George Du Maurier’s trilogy of essentially science fiction novels- Peter Ibbetson, Trilby and The Martian have never been considered anything but literary fiction. They are three terrific stories of psychological dissociation while it would seem certain that Burroughs read them and was probably influenced by them. I can heartily recommend them. Very choice.
So the genres were taking shape at the period but had not yet evolved as they would during the thirties, forties and fifties until today fantasy, horror and sci-fi dominate the fiction best seller lists. If Chessmen was thought preposterous in 1920 one wonders what his critics would have thought of such movies as The Exterminator or The Predator. God, those people were so awkward and unevolved. Well, it’s the price you pay for being an innovator. Remember what the Pope told Galileo.
So, ERB was stuck in the pulps. Perhaps smarting from this rejection ERB would try to break out of his pulp rate with several realistic novels. the first was The Girl From Hollywood, a very decent attempt at a literary novel, that ERB’s long time publisher refused to publish. Following in the burro tracks of Zane Grey ERB wrote a couple of Westerns only one of which he could get published at the time. I read a lot of Westerns in the fifties while a kid. I thought ERB’s efforts were as good as what I read then. They’re all potboilers, even the so-called classics.
He even attempted a couple of Indian epics that I found so-so but I know other people who liked them a lot. Not so critical as myself, I guess. Oh, right, he couldn’t get Marcia Of The Doorstep published either. So he was type cast as a sci-fi/fantasy writer. At least he knew he could do that very well.
Zane Grey wrote some pretty strange Westerns. He himself was quite a womanizer and his novels pander quite successfully to the distaff side. He knew women well. Probably that was why he was paid those great prices by the Saturday Evening Post et al. Oh heck, ERB was just too outre for the Post.
In Chessmen ERB gives feminine appeal his best shot. I would imagine he was trying to reach the ladies when he describes Tara’s fabulous bath. Either that or he was trying to titillate us boys. Worked with me. But let’s assume he was trying to broaden his appeal as the title was offered to the slicks.
Chessmen was based on his three favorite novels as are all his books- The Viginian, Prince And The Pauper and Little Lord Fauntleroy.
Thus Tara teases Papa John as her ‘Virginian.’ We are then introduced to Gahan of far Gathol. ERB presents him first in his princely guise as, indeed, he is a prince of Gathol. ERB chooses to present him as a fop dressed all in diamonds and platinum. Tara forms an ill impression of him as she thinks no real fighting man would dress in such a fashion. Shortly Gahan will exchange his dress duds for the plain leather gear of the Martian mercenary thus changing from prince to pauper. Of course he will resume his role of Prince by novel’s end.
Fauntleroy was born to the manor in England but spent his youth learning what it meant to be a real American boy before reassuming his English title. Ah, American dreaming.
Recalling his battle for Emma’s favors with Frank Martin Tara has been betrothed since at least young girlhood to Djor Kantos whose father is friends with the family. So like ERB Gahan has to overcome this parental resistance. Speaking of Frank Martin Chessmen is the only novel I can recall in which the hero doesn’t get bashed on the head two or three times.
At the ball being given Djor Kantos fails to claim Tara in time for the first dance so that Gahan leads Tara in the Dance Of Barsoom. Some sort of Grand March. ERB explains that before Barsoomian youths can attend balls they have to first have learned three formal dances- The Dance Of Barsoom, that of their country and that of their city. After that they can take up stuff like the Martian equivalents of the Grizzly Bear, Bunny Hug, Charleston and Black Bottom. Kids being kids on Barsoom the same as on Jasoom.
While the concept is quite charming one wonders of the source. Burroughs himself was no slouch concerning the hit parade.
I think we can trace the rigamarole back to the patron saint of old timey music, Henry Ford.
Amongst all his many other enterprises Henry was revolted by the music and dances of the Jazz Age as the twenties are sometimes known. Even though his very own flivver is billed as being responsible for some new objectionable habits and traditions Henry clung stubbornly to the old. Thus in full revolt against the Jazz Age Henry was promoting the dances and music of his youthof around, oh say, 1880 or so.
Ford had begun his publication of the Dearborn Independent in 1920 making him a newspaper man also. It seems clear from internal references in Marcia Of The Doorstep that ERB was following developments in the Independent. He would then certainly have learned of the evils of the new music and the virtues of the old.
Just as Henry Ford was trying to rivive the old dances on Jasoom, on conservative, behind the times Barsoom Jazz has never even been given a chance. The Dance Of Barsoom is just as fresh and lovely as the first time it was danced millennia before. Martian kids didn’t mess with tradition so much so Gahan led Tara in that lovely old relic of Mars- The Dance Of Barsoom.
Pledging his love during the dance Gahan was sternly rebuffed by Tara.
The preliminaries finished the story begins in earnest.
The following day Tara is fascinated by a cloudy stormy sky which is such a rare occurrence on Mars that she had never seen one before. As I mentioned in the intro ERB borrows the next sequence from Baum whose Dorothy was wafted to Oz on a tornado. Tara ascends into this tornado like storm where her flier is caught by the winds and she is driven before them. When she lands she had been driven like Dorothy to Oz to a far land that has been all but forgotten if it had ever been thought of.
The hero and heroine of Chessmen are Tara of Helium and Gahan of far Gathol, or rather, they are the Anima and Animus of ERB. ERB always writes Anima and Animus novels. As dreamers will he may have recognized the X chromosome or Anima in the green pastures of his sleep or, it is quite possible that as a Latin scholar at Chicago’s Harvard School he was required to read the myth of Psyche and Eros from Apuleius’ The Golden Ass. I only mention a couple of possibilities. He may or may not have been familiar with Psyche and Eros but he was certainly familiar with the fairy tales derived from it such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
While Apuleius is given credit for the story his version is certainly only a redaction of the tale or philosophical speculation dating much further back in history. The Ancients were well familiar with the concept of both the male and female versions of the Anima and Animus. In popular mythology the male chromosome is represented by the Goddess as X chromosome and the Bull as the y. The female is represented by the two snakes as in the pictorial representations of Crete. It will also be remembered that the Greeks imported Cretan priests to manage the Apollonian shrine at Delphi.
The myth is that the two aspects were once united then driven apart wandering the world in search of each other. Duly at long last they do find each other are reconciled and allowed by the Goddess of Love to reunite. Thus the stories of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty evolved from Psyche and Eros and who knows how many other stories besides those of Burroughs.
The question is was Burroughs only following a plot line, a pattern he had absorbed or was he consciously aware of what he was doing? Had he thought the problem out? Just as Tarzan and Jane were apparently mismatched in Burroughs’ dreamscapes so were ERB and Emma in real life. In Tarzan And The Golden Lion Tarzan and Jane had no sooner returned home from Pal-ul-don than Tarzan fled to his Anima in far off dreamland Opar leaving Jane/Emma to more or less shift for herself in a very dangerous world. Misfortune usually hit her too.
In ERB’s dream couple of John Carter and Dejah Thoris the Anima and Animus seem to be united although we see little of Dejah Thoris in the series and not at all in this novel. Even their son who may represent ERB is not present at all. Even with Carter and Dejah Thoris the classic separation and reuniting form a major part of the Martian Trilogy.
In this dream tale with Tara and Gahan ERB follows the classic formula- separation, the long pursuit and final reconciliation. He appears to know what he is talking about but since he never discussed his ideas on the subject we can only infer that he did or doubt or deny that he did. The psychological motifs he expresses throughout Chessmen leads me to believe he did.
What are dreams and what is a dream story? Freud originated the rational approach to dream interpretation. ERB gave some thought to the problem. Once can’t be sure he had read Freud’s Interpretations Of Dreams although in his short story Tarzan’s First Nightmare ERB used elements contained in Freud’s theory to explain the causes of Tarzan’s nightmare. At the very least we can say that dreams and nightmares from which ERB suffered all his life were of great interest to him. In the thirties he would buy at least one book on scientific dream interpretation.
What is the basis of dreams? It can only be experiences combined with memory. That’s it. Think about it. You don’t have to look any further. Nothing mysterious about them. The basic problem can be expressed in the question of what is the unconscious or subconscious. Is it some ultra mysterious process of the mind that can’t be penetrated, understood or accurately located? Is it as Freud believed an organ independent of the body and mind yet which somehow controls the actions of the individual from outside him? Or, once again, is it merely a combination of experience and memory, a faculty for interpeting the experiences of the day?
Freud touched on a key concept when he realized that the mind, which never rests, processes the incidents of the previous day in the sleeping and dreaming state. Burroughs also takes this approach in Tarzan’s nightmare whether he picked it up from Freud, Sweetser or realized it himself.
In point of fact experience happens to us so rapidly and from so many angles at the same time that it is impossible for the conscious mind to process it all as it is happening. Can’t be done. So, it follows that the subconscious or back up mind retains, as it were, photographs of the day’s activities that it reviews in sleep for either discarding, repression or action. How many times have you awakened with possible solutions to problems facing you?
The problem with the subconscious mind is that analysis of situations is affected by fixations, more expecially by the central childhood fixation. Childhood is that perilous time of life when the inexperienced mind is subject to being presented with challenges for which it has no programmed or immediately adequate response. Defeated in analysis the challenge is encrypted and encysted in the subconscious where it interprets all similar challenges through the lens of the defeated challenge and response. Thus all those strange compulsive behaviors we have.
As it chances we know Burroughs’ central childhood fixation. That was when he was eight or nine and he was challenged on a street corner on the way to school by a twelve year old Irish bully. Terrified ERB broke and ran apparently thereafter branded as a coward. Thus the central theme of his work is fight or flight and the state of cowardice. He examines the matter endlessly throughout the entire body of his work. These elements are all especially prominent in Chessmen.
We know that ERB was stressed to the breaking point as he wrote in 1921. Whenever he was stressed his personality fragmented, splitting at least once. In Chessmen the Kaldanes are two separate entities, the physical Rykors and the mental Kaldanes. Tara and Gahan, the ritual Burroughs’ surrogates are driven apart by the terrific storm.
This is a dream story abounding in dream images. One can provide an analysis of the storm scene based on the incidents occurring in ERB’s life at the time.
The image presented to us is of this very rare Martian storm of very high winds as in a tornado. Tara although warned against it takes her flier up. Perhaps ERB was warned against buying Tarzana, I would certainly think that Emma was at the least apprehensive. Tara navigates well beneath the clouds but wants to be in a cloud where she has never been before, i.e. Burroughs buys Tarzana. Here she is buffeted about so to escape she rises above the cloud or storm where the winds abate. But she has to get back down so she must reenter the storm. She is then taken by the winds tumbled head over heels by their extreme violence arriving half dead in the land of the Kaldanes.
Now, how does this represnet ERB’s actual situation in dream images.
ERB left Chicago under one presumes, sunny skies. His original intent was to buy twenty acres to raise hogs. Instead he bought over five hundred acres. He then began a massive building and improvement program with what appears to have been a substantial payroll and a not very well thought out plan. He overspent his income so that by 1921 his bills must have been greater than his income forcing him to borrow. He found he had neither the skills nor the talent bo be a ‘Gentleman Farmer’ so that he was forced to auction off most of his tools, implements and livestock in an effort to raise money and cut expenses. Also at this time his sources of income came under attack as the movies refused to film his intellectual properties while his royalties also came under attack.
In what I consider a purely defensive move he was forced to incorporate himself assigning all his income, copyrights and what not to the corporation in an effort to secure the means of his livelihood by putting his income beyond the reach of his creditors. In what I consider a questionable move he subsequently transferred a portion of Tarzana to the corporation. So, shortly after this storm broke on his head he became merely an employee of his corporation.
At the time he wrote Chessmen then he was caught in the turbulence of this storm he had created. Unable to get back down as with Tara he tried to rise above it in some way but was forced back into the problem where he was being blown along head over heels no longer in control of his affairs.
In the relative calm of 1924 he wrote Marcia Of The Doorstep that chronicles and looks back at this period.
Tara’s flight then is ERB’s day to day situation presented in dream images.
The rest of the book deals with past and present in a series of dream images to which we proceed.
The Low Brow And The High Brow
An In Depth Study Of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Novels
The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doorstep
Marcia Of The Doorstep ERB’s Serious Literary Attempt
The ten year interval from the writing of The Mucker to Marcia Of The Doorstep were momentous years in the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs. When one looks back on those years from ERB’s personal side and from the societal side one is astonished at the changes both were going through. Both had changed greatly; neither ERB nor the world was the same as it had been before 1920.
While ERB evolved rapidly on the psychological side he was rather slow on the emotional side. He seems to have been slow to adjust to the new demands placed on him. On one level ‘Marcia’ records ERB’s inability to handle his newly minted money. ‘Marcia’ will record in metaphorical terms, ‘highly fictionalized,’ ERB’s running through a fortune to end in debt by 1924.
The story retells the history of the period from say 1900 when he married Emma to 1924, or his present. He is no longer the person who wrote ‘The Mucker.’ That book had wallowed in the low brow. The whole milieu of the story was set in low brow locations from the beginning in the great West Side of Chicago to the boxing milieu of New York City. The story is sort of an ode to the grungy side of life.
The following two novels of what is actually a quartet showed ERB evolving from a completely vulgar low brow guy through the Bridge of ‘Out There Somewhere’ tramping in search of himself and the ‘found’ Bridge of ‘Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid’ who returns to his aristocratic Virginian origins reunited with his Anima. Now returned to polite society in a Bohemian fashion in ‘Marcia Of The Doorstep’ ERB is writing a high brow version of ‘The Mucker.’ The coin has flipped from tails to heads.
The milieu has changed from Chicago streets and New York gyms to the parlors of wealthy New Yorkers and the conforts of middle class LA. ERB’s alter ego is now the grandson of a wealthy ex-Senator.
Whereas Byrne felt completely alien on entering Barbara Harding’s New York mansion Dick Steel, a lower class but aspiring to better things suitor of Marcia is introduced by her into the upper class environment where he is quite comfortable and at ease, chatting amiably with no faux pas. So, perhaps the trip from Grand Avenue to Riverside Drive within one lifetime is possible. In this sense perhaps Dick and Marcia are alternate personas for ERB and Emma. I think ERB was struggling to adapt himself to his new circumstances during the previous decade; perhaps the character of Marcia was meant to create his new persona for him. A second beginning as it were.
At the same time, if Marcia’s foster-father Marcus Aurelius Sackett is a version of himself, as he certainly is, then he sees himself as an impractical wastrel who even when handed the means for a prosperous life manages to lose the money. This easily parallels ERB’s own life as he was on the edge of ruin in 1924 when he wrote the story.
He defiantly says of Sackett that he had never learned the value of money and never would which was an accurate prediction of his future course. One has the feeling that despite present hardships ERB thought the money would never run out and that Emma’s financial worries were unfounded. Indeed, this proved to be the case as phenomenal income did continue to come in as comic strips, radio and a new lease on movie life for his Tarzan in an improvement on the film medium in the form or sound that was unthinkable in 1924. Tarzan money came in at a pace more slowly than he could spend it. Until late in life when he became too ill to spend ERB remained one step from the crest of the hill leading to the poor house.
His preposterous attempt to make a fortune as a hog farmer was ending in disaster. Rather than making money on his grade Duroc Berkshires he lost as much as thirty-nine thousand dollars in a single year.
At the same time he had managed to antagonize Hollywood so badly that after a very promising start in films, from 1921 to 1927 no movies of Burroughs novels were made. Thus ERB was cut off from a very lucrative stream of revenue at this critical time. Network radio wa just coming on stream in the twenties while ERB would earn nothing from the medium until the thirties. The comic strip which produced a handsome income stream also came at the end of the decade. As these forms of entertainment were incomparably more lucrative than publishing ERB’s income depending solely on books and magazines was severely curtailed during this period. The twenties then were a comparatively lean period for Burroughs.
I have never seen any evidence as to how the Otis Estate was paid for. The price of $125,000 seems a bargain in the burgeoning LA real estate market even today. Indeed, a friend of Herb Weston’s from LA speculated that ERB paid half a million for it. Whether ERB paid cash or what period of time he made payments so far as I know has never been revealed. Whether he had clear title to the property before he mortgaged it is unknown.
Originally looking for about twenty acres according to his correspondence with Herb Weston, within a couple weeks of arriving in LA he had purchased 540 acres. Typical Burroughs. And what an estate it was. In a letter of 3/14/19 to Weston ERB describes the ranch which was apparently renamed Tarzana from its inception. Thusly, p.83, ‘Brother Men.’
Tarzana is a delightful place. We have 540 acres on the State Highway (Ventura Blvd.) – a boulevard running from Los Angeles to San Francisco- in the San Fernando Valley foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. The place is 23 miles from L.A. shopping district and 13 miles from the ocean- by auto road. The house stands on the top of a hill about half a mile from the boulevard and has- as nearly as I can count them- eighteen rooms & six baths. It is of Spanish architecture built around a patio in which are many flowers and shrubs. The hill comprises some fifteen acres set out in flowers, shrubs and trees. I think there are some two thousand trees of several hundred varieties- many of which were brought from Asia and Africa.
Half a mile up the canyon are the foreman’s house, bunk houses, barns, corrals, etc. I acquired five hundred head of pure bred Angora (mohair) goats, five horses, a cow, forty hens and a bum dog, beside farm implements and $8000.00 worth of iron and concrete piping. There is an abundance of water and I almost forgot a 12 acre grove of olive, lemon, apricot & orange trees, besides 250 English walnut trees.
In addition, during prohibition, the estate came with a fully stocked cellar of the finest liquors and wines.
ERB kept telling Weston Tarzana had drawbacks while Weston kept repeating incredulously: What drawbacks?
Within weeks of purchasing this Garden of Eden developers arrived at his door wishing to develop the City of Tarzana for him.
All the elements of prosperity were there for him. He had five producing orchards plus a large herd of Angora goats. Both the orchards and the goats should have been able to produce a substantial income if managed wisely. Not only was Tarzana a bargain but it should have been nearly self-supporting from day one not including being able to relax with a bottle of old vintage wine at day’s end.
Within two years of Tarzana’s purchase ERB was on the verge of bankruptcy deep into schemes to develop country clubs and sub-divisions in an effort to raise cash. Perhaps such efforts were merely schemes to display his business talents. If so they were nearly as ill-advised as his attempt to commercially raise hogs.
In his attempt to be high brow ERB seems to have been highly influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Beautiful And Damned. The choice of the model is interesting. ERB’s first role model, Jack London, had died in 1916; his second, Booth Tarkington was still going strong strong winning Pulitzer Prizes in fact, one for ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ and another for ‘Alice Adams.’ But Tarkington’s mindset belonged to the earlier era. After the sea change of the Bolshevik Revolution and the end of the War a new mood characterized society. The Flappers, the Roaring Twenties and the New Era were coming into prominence.
I find this interesting. ERB picked up on the change immediately attempting to adjust his writing to the New Era. His earlier ‘The Girl From Hollywood’ can also be seen in that light. ERB also honed in on the writer who epitomized the era. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel ‘This Side Of Paradise’ appeared in 1920. The Beautiful And Damned was published in 1922. A short two years later then ERB had recognized that Fitzgerald represented the new direction, bought his book soon after issue and immediately incorporated the book into his work. Between 1922 and ’24 then ERB had recognized that Fitzgerald represented the new direction. Remarkably, rather than condemning the new or rejecting it he readily accepted it trying to emulate it in Marcia. I don’t know about you but I admire that.
If ‘The Girl From Hollywood’ was a hybrid attempt in 1922, in 1923 ‘Marcia’ was conceived and delivered on the new model a year later. Of course ERB was still ERB but ‘Marcia’ is very interesting.
One can’t say for certain how Burroughs saw the progression of his writing career but by 1924 he was no longer stunning the world with creations like John Carter of Mars or Tarzan Of The Apes but was a more predictable quantity. After all, how could anyone actually know what the future held so he was trying to carve a new niche. Originally his puplisher McClurg’s wanted only to publish the Tarzan series, reluctantly beginning to publish the Mars series late in the second decade, so that none other of Burroughs huge output of the teens found its way to book form until the twenties. McClurg’s grudgingly put them in print, then sneeringly sold the plates to him as worthless toward the end of the decade as if to say, we told you so.
As publishers they may have evaluated the other titles as too rough for publication which opinion has some merit. Perhaps without movie revenues to flesh out his income during this period ERB put a lot of pressure on McClurg’s to publish the stuff in a desperate attempt to boost his income. That could explain some of the developing friction between the two.
Of all the titles published in the twenties ‘Marcia’ wasn’t one of them. The book didn’t see print until 1999 when Donald M. Grant took the risk. I find the book fairly interesting;, as a Bibliophile I could do no other, and while not a great novel I think that as a Burroughs title it would have made money without damaging his reputation. There is a great deal to it. I like ‘Out There Somewhere’ and ‘Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid’ better but I might give ‘Marcia’ the edge over ‘The Mucker.’ In fact, I would. I didn’t think ‘The Mucker’ was among ERB’s best.
Compounding Burroughs’ publishing problems was the fact that he was impetuous in his reaction to the Bolshevik Revolution rushing the condemnatory ‘Under The Red Flag’ to publishers. The novel, or possibly tract, was universally rejected. As originally written the story may have been a polemic which was not suitable for the magazines to which he submitted it. The story may have been too shrill in any event.
As if by magic the Red/Liberal faction appeared from nowhere to dominate publishing, the arts, education, religion and innumerable little rivulets of society. All of a sudden the previously dominant Republican administrations that had been so solidly entrenched since the Civil War was in a minority. They were able to hang on through the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover administrations but then their ideology was completely overturned by the twenty years of treason of the FDR-Truman administrations.
Thus Burroughs identified himself with the minority counterrevoltionary party. Already ridiculed by the publishing world he would find it increasingly difficult to publish over the next two decades. He would be under constant attack both at home and abroad. As he owned the magnificent intellectual property of Tarzan- and really, all his other work pales beside the Big Bwana- he couldn’t be completely disposed of although it should not be forgotten that as the decade of the twenties closed he turned to self-publication. This may have been from greed as he publicly said but it should be remembered that a few blackballed writers like Upton Sinclair who were denied publication through the regular channels also turned to self-publication about the same time.
ERB’s novels of the early twenties apart from the Tarzan and Mars series were 1922’s ‘The Girl From Hollywood and 1923’s ‘The Bandit From Hell’s Bend.’ He complained that ‘The Girl From Hollywood’ was sabotaged, taken off the market, that it was selling well and could have sold better which is undoubtedly true. The novel while not great, is on a par with Harry Leon Wilson’s ‘Merton Of The Movies’ or the Graham Bros. ‘Queer People.’
All three novels were early examples of the Hollywood novel at the time TInseltown was in its infancy and did not yet glory in its immorality. The movies were assuming a central place in American culture. Novel and novel of the times makes reference to the movies or Hollywood. The Grahams’ ‘Queer People’ was a completely negative vision of the movie capitol and is still worth reading. The Queer in the title does not refer to homosexuality but to strange and weird such as Weston referred to ERB. The novel was the Grahams’ way of saying sayonara, as they were run out of town after the book was published. There’s a tribute for ya.
ERB’s ‘The Girl From Hollywood’ falls in between ‘Merton’ and ‘Queer People.’ ERB’s book may have displeased the moguls but because of his standing he couldn’t be run out of town. It is possible they were the people who were interfering with the publication of ‘Girl’ behind the scenes forcing its discontinuation. The filming of Tarzan movies did end about the time of ‘Girl’s’ publication. The hiatus in Tarzan films may have been a result as a punishment. The second half of ‘Marcia’ which is also a Hollywood story is all sweetness and compliments to the film industry so probably ERB was trying to make amends.
His ‘Bandit From Hell’s Bend’ was the first of his two Westerns. As Westerns go it is a good book. Set in Arizona ERB was writing about country he knew. Contrary to his protestations that he wrote as well or better of places he had only imagined rather than seen he writes better of the seen. You can’t take public statements at face value.
Then in 1924 he took up his pen to write ‘Marcia Of The Doorstep.’ This may have been an attempt to write a blockbuster that would alleviate his financial distress. Also he tired of being called a low brow and a hack writer. He put his heart and soul into the book but he was never able to sell it. The book was rejected by every publisher until he finally gave up. Once again, he was possibly denied publication as a punishment.
Is it any good? Well, it’s characteristically Edgar Rice Burroughs. He manages to compress what should have been the final two hundred pages into fifty. Still, while perhaps not great literature, after you’ve read a number of novels of the era I don’t think it compares unfavorably. I think the book could have been published profitably which in business is all that counts. If the public liked ‘The Girl From Hollywood’, ‘Marcia’ should have sold OK. As it is it’s historically valuable.
I don’t regret having read it once nor as a Burroughs scholar do I regret having read it four times. It does improve with each reading. Being no fan of Scott Fitzgerald I don’t consider it much inferior to ‘The Beautiful and Damned’ on which the main frame of Marcia is based.
In discussing ‘Marcia’ I would like to break the book down into components. The first is the cast of characters. ERB obviously intended the book to break him into the big slicks like Collier’s or the Saturday Evening Post. He had heard of fifty thousand dollar paydays to people like Zane Grey. The money would have been especially welcome in 1924. I think the book was good enough for those magazines myself but I wasn’t the editor.
In writing about the New York theatre and Hollywood it was inevitable that Jewish characters should have a central part. Both the New York stage and the Big Screen were controlled by that ethnic group. ‘Marcia’ has a fairly large cast of Jews. Abe Finkel and Max Heimer, both early bi-coastals. And there was Judge Berlanger the attorney from New York. Jews are also discussed by the characters Della Maxwell and the Sacketts. Della is especially caustic.
The immigrant scene was in a state of rapid transition. The dialect comedy had not yet disappeared although with the cessation of unrestricted immigration and the establishemnt of the ADL the type of story was in decline, however the dialect joke persisted into my boyhood when we were suddenliy forbidden to laugh. In 1955-56 my class was assigned reading from Leo C. Rosten’s ‘The Education Of Hyman Kaplan’ which is about a Jewish immigrant in night school. Rosten not only wrote this book as late as 1937 but he rather belatedly wrote a sequel ‘The Return Of Hyman Kaplan’ in 1959.
In ‘Marcia’ ERB makes mention of the Jewish comedy characters Potash and Perlmutter in relation to Finkel and Heimer as movie producers. Potash and Permutter was the creation of Montague Glass from 1909 to 1914. Glass ceased writing the stories in the latter year at the request of the AJC and ADL. The stories appeared in the Saturday Evening Post where ERB undoubtedly saw them. While no book exists in ERB’s library they were collected in a couple volumes of which I have obtained one. For whatever reason Samuel Goldwyn revived the characters for the movies in 1923, 1924 and subsequently.
The first was titled ‘Postash And Perlmutter.’ The second was ‘In Hollywood With Potash And Perlmutter.’ It was undoubtedly this last film that inspired ERB to bring his character Abe Finkel out from New York and unite him with Max Heimer as movie producers. He either reviewed the dialogue in Glass’ stories or remembered it.
ERB grew up with dialect comedy as the immigrants integrated themselves into American society. He would have been familiar with many stage dialect acts including many Jewish ones. The stage was full of plays like ‘Abie’s Irish Rose’ and ‘Potash And Perlmutter.’
These times of his youth were when immigrants were especially greenish. They spoke with accents and characteristic phrasing. They couldn’t be accurately produced without replicating the accents. The great story of the period is that when an Italian push cart vendor was asked: You have no bananas? replied: Yes, we have no bananas today. The phrase was overheard, turned into a popular song and for some reason caught the fancy of America.
The Jews of the period had their verbal mannerisms and ERB copied them in the character of Max Heimer, a shyster lawyer. He is careful to designate Max as ‘Jews of this type.’ His other Jewish lawyer, Judge Isaac ‘Ike’ Berlanger, is meant to balance the Jewish characterization as he is the epitome of respectability speaking perfect English. But balance isn’t the issue.
The anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith had been organized in 1913. The organization then began to censor the media to remove any comment tthat could possibly be considered derogatory to Jews. It is not improbable that Montague Glass stopped writing the ‘Potash And Permutter’ stories at the request of the ADL. He thereafter concentrated on other ethnic groups.
It seems remarkable that ten years later Goldwyn revived the stage play for his movie. As Janis Garza in the NYTimes review comments:
In 1923 he (Goldwyn) decided to make a film of the play (also written by Glass and Charles Klein), which went against the preference of most moguls of the day- they shunned anything Jewish, although most of them were Jewish themselves. The ethnic comedy was Goldwyn’s first as an independent producer.
The moguls didn’t so much as shun Jewish subjects as that the ADL was closely monitoring their activities. Perhaps Goldwyn bucked the ADL because in his insecurity as an independent producer he felt such Jewish self-deprecation would be well received by the gentiles and his own people. If so, he was right.
Is it to be wondered then that ERB probably thought he was on safe ground in his own comic characterization since he was only doing what Jews were doing? After all the immigrant culture in this diverse, multi-cultural paradise was as much his as it was theirs. What does multi-culturalism mean if the cultures can’t be shared by everyone? Exclusivity is not the way.
Still, as I said, balance isn’t the issue. One was supposed to depict jews only of the Berlanger type. So I’m sure one of the principal reasons the book wasn’t published was the character of Max Heimer and his partner Abe Finkel.
At this time the concept of the Melting Pot, which itself was a Jewish invention, was still the immigration ideal although the vision had been all but shattered for the Old Stock side by the Great War. The period through at least 1925 was that of 110% Americanism as a reaction to perceived immigrant disloyalty during the war and since the Bolshevik Revolution. The period also saw the flourishing of the second Ku Klux Klan which was nearing its apogee at this time. Great pressure was being put on immigrants to be ‘American.’
The Jewish battle with Henry Ford had not yet been settled so I imagine Max Heimer drew some unwanted attention to Burroughs.
The beginnings of the concept of the Diversity were taking form in a shift away from the concept of the Melting Pot. Elements of the immigrants who didn’t wish to merge their ethnic identity in a Melting Pot fought back to impose their ethnicity on the old stock, which, after all was only to be expected.
The leaders of the movement were the Jews and Italians both of which the old stock had always feared were unassimilable. Their fears were justified as neither group have been assimilated to this day. Witness the Sopranos.
If one is to have a concept of diversity then perforce each element must have a character of its own; they must be different to a degree that is obvious. If no one is different then there is no diversity. Ergo- don’t you think? Therefore it would be wrong not to depict these differences. Well, it is. Except in the movies for some reason.
At this particular time the Jews were especially sensitive. Hollywood, as Neal Gabler said, was an empire of the Jew’s own. All the important studios were under Jewish ownership. The American Jewish Committee, the B’nai B’rith and its terrorist unit the anti-Defamation League patrolled the corridors of publishers and studios to prevent anything they didn’t want published or filmed. I think ERB’s portrayal of the shyster lawyer Max Heimer fell within the prohibition.
That ERB was innocent of any attempt to defame Jews, or anyone else for that matter, was irrelevant. However in response to accusations his portrayal of the worthy Jewish gentleman in his ‘Moon Maid’ may have been an attempt to conciliate the AJC and ADL.
ERB had previously been contacted by the AJC on May 10, 1919. (See Hillman-Burroughs Bio Timeline 1910-1919). The American Jewish Committee is a killer watchdog outfit operating in conjunction with the ADL. The latter was six years old in 1919. The AJC thirteen. The ADL was already disliked and feared as the Jewish enforcer. The AJC isn’t particularly well known. My aunt who has been active in all kinds of Jewish protests hadn’t even heard of it when I mentioned the agency to her so I’m surprised the AJC itself contacted Burroughs rather than the ADL. I wonder why.
The letter was not addressed to him in Tarzana but forwarded from his old address at 700 Linden in Oak Park, so the contact may have originated at the end of 1918 or the beginning of 1919. These two years would have been critical for the Jews who became very active in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The letter requests (demands) that ERB sign a card endorsing a ‘Jewish Bill Of Rights.’ I’m a student of Jewish history but I had never heard of the Jewish Bill Of Rights before reading of it in the Timeline. The Jewish Bill Of Rights was an appeal to end the persecution of and discrimination against Jews. Now, in fact, this ‘request’ was a threat. If you did not sign and return it one must therefore be considered an ‘anti-Semite.’ As an anti-Semite one would need your own Bill Of Rights.
Apparently the AJC sent a copy of the Jewish Bill Of Rights for ERB to read which, according to Hillman and Danton Burroughs ERB did, in some detail. In his reply ERB was ambivalent enough to mark him as at least a latent anti-Semite who bore watching.
On May 21, 1919, fairly promptly, ERB replied that ‘he had always peen perplexed by the intolerance and inhumanity that all religions- Jews, Christians, Moslems, Pagans, etc.- had exhibited toward each other.’ This was not the appropriate response. First, he compared Jews to other religions as equals: secondly, he said that Jews also were guilty of intolerance and inhumanity and thirdly, ERB excludes himself from any religious category speaking down to them as some misguided souls of an inferior mentality. As one of a Scientific Consciousness ERB could do no other- he was above the Religious Consciousness, but his reply must have branded him as a latent or real anti-Semite. There is no freedom of conscience in the Religious Consciousness.
Let me repeat, the AJC is top Jewish watchdog. While the ADL whose director is perforce high profile as the Enforcer, no one is aware of who the director of the AJC is. That ERB was contacted, then, is significant. Either he wrote something the AJC objected to or possibly the agency was winnowing out writers in its postwar offensive. If the Jewish Bill Of Rights was sent to all writers then their replies would identify them as philo- or anti-Semites.
ERB then compounded his error by objecting to clause 6 of this Jewish Bill Of Rights. He found the clause unclear ‘as he always believed that every alien should be expected to read and write in the language of the country to which they were immigrating.’
Every ‘alien.’ Oops!
Without having read this Jewish Bill Of Rights, based on my studies, I opine what clause 6 probably meant was this: At that time, as now, the Jews were seeking complete autonomy in the US, as they had been in Czarist Russia. In 1918-19 they thought they had attained their goal in the Soviet Union. In Russia they had always wanted to make Yiddish an official second language on a par with Russian. This meant that the Russians would have to learn Yiddish. Eventually then Yiddish would displace Russian as the premier language. From Yiddish to Hebrew would then be a short leap. Sound far fetched? Consider, within a hundred years the Jews had wiped the name of Russia from the map. The country was then known as the Union Of The Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics. Not bad work, huh?
They also hoped to make Yiddish the official other language of the US, much as the Mexicans are working toward doing with their language today, which would eventually displace English to be replaced in turn by Hebrew. In the long run then Yiddish would become the lingua franca of the West eventually the whole world to be succeeded by Hebrew and the triumph of the Revolution. Not as difficult as it might look.
This may be what ERB refers to as being unclear to him. Once again, by questioning, even denying, Jewish goals he made himself a marked man. He had failed the AJC test. He would be carefully watched. Thus his characters of Max Heimer and Abe Finkel probably made his book unpublishable. (See my ERB and FLA Exit The Twenties on ERBzine). As he never tried to publish Marcia under his own imprint that would imply that he finally got the message. The message was forget ‘Marcia.’
As Max Heimer is the male protagonist, Della Maxwell is the female protagonist. She has an importance that might go unnoticed by the casual reader. Della is actually a finely drawn character integrated into the story in a meaningful way. Della represents the Chicago aspects of ERB’s origins. She was from Chicago although her antecedents aren’t clear.
A significant category of books in the library are Chicago novels. One that that isn’t there but which ERB may have read is Theodore Dreiser’s ‘Sister Carrie.’ In Dreiser’s novel Carrie was a young girl down from Wisconsin who was seduced by an older man named Hurstwood. They left Chicago for New York where he slowly disintegrated while Carrie became a star of of the stage.
Della not only had an illicit romance with a married man in Chicago but the fellow was a bigamist also marrying Della. So while Marcia was a doorstep child she was legitimate after a fashion. Della was only seventeen or eighteen when Marcia was born so she couldn’t have older than fifteen or sixteen when she began her relationship with her ‘husband.’ As Della was an experienced actress when she hit the Big Apple she must have been on the stage by at least fifteen at the time she was filling that long engagement in Chicago.
Learning that she was her husband’s second wife she left him going to NYC shortly before Marcia was born. Thus Burroughs duplicates the story of ‘Sister Carrie’ approximately which could be just a coincidence or he might be influenced by Dreiser here.
It doesn’t seem plausible that she could have known the Sacketts before as Burroughs indicates but she apparently did. Knowing them as the finest of the fine she left Marcia on their doorstep.
The next day she arrives as a long lost friend to take rooms with them. Thus while she never identifies herself as the baby’s mother she lives with and has a hand in rearing her child. While Max Heimer gets the story moving on the Animus side Della does the same from the Anima side.
Now, Della bears a great resemblance to a number of Burroughs’ other representations of his Anima figure. For instance, Maud the nursemaid of ‘The Outlaw Of Torn’ or Hetty Penning, the girl thrown from the car in ‘Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid among others who represent the failed Anima of Burroughs. It is not surprising then, that Della gives birth to the replacement Anima figure of Marcia and is around until Marcia is able to unite with the Animus figure Chase III. Della’s dying letter is responsible for removing the barrier to Marcia and Chase III’s marriage.
In terms of Burroughs’ psychology Della represents the Anima betrayed in his confrontation with john The Bully. Marcia then represents his new Anima (Barbara Harding, Gail Prim, Marcia to match John Chase I, II and III) born from the dishonor of his old Anima- in other words Marcia was born of an illicit romance between Della and a married man.
Marcus Aurelius Sackett as ERB then lives in his house with his wife Clara (Emma), Marcia Aurelia, named after himself, and therefor an integral part of his existence as his replacement Anima and his old failed Anima, Della Maxwell. An interesting solution to ERB’s problem.
This also brings up numerical problems. Marcia is explicitly said to have been left on the Sackett doorstep on 4/10/06. The numbers add up to twenty. Twenty is the age ERB’s Anima replacements have to be. Why isn’t clear. Thus Marcia won’t be twenty until 1926. On 4/6/27 when Marcia would have still been twenty ERB began his play ‘You Lucky Girl.’ The commencement of the play coincides with his meeting of Florence Gilbert so Marcia now twenty coincides with Florence who may very well have been intended as the ‘Lucky Girl.’
I don’t know the reason why but numbers in the corpus are significant.
Della is the equivalent of the golden hearted prostitute who first appears in ERB’s work in 1913-14’s ‘The Girl From Farris’s. Della is a hard case but with the good sense Sackett lacks. Psychologically this would be in keeping as, when John The Bully emasculated Burroughs making him a dependent personality he lost the ability to act in his own self-interest always deferring to the wishes of others at critical junctures.
Always the great good friend of the Sacketts Della saves the day from the grave for Marcia and Jack Chase III.
The story’s not bad although the execution may not be up to the highest standards of literary fiction which this story attempts to be. I’ve already given my opinion of Scott Fitzgerald’s influence and I might add that to Edith Wharton of ‘The House Of Mirth’, also in Burroughs’ library, was another signficant influence on Marcia.
The Sacketts while central figures in the book are passive. Things happen to them but they do little to make things happen. The couple is obviously based on ERB and Emma. ERB accurately portrays himself as an unrealistic, good hearted, bumbling wastrel without one shred of common sense. In the splitting of his personality common sense remained with his old Anima which was no longer of any use to him.
Clara Sackett is portrayed as his long suffering but devoted and loving wife. It is easy to imagine that her worries about financial matters were those of Emma herself. Beginning in 1913 when ERB first came into money the stuff had been water in his hands. He had literally gone through a million dollars from 1913 to the time this story was written and was actually deep in debt near bankruptcy. If ERB really wanted to be a businessman he should have gone to night school.
In the story when Mark Sackett receives the money from Chase I Clara is nearly beside herself in fear he will squander this very large sum. In fact the first thing Mark does is draw out some old blueprints for a yacht which he has been cherishing. Clara shudders when she comes upon him studying the plans. She is desperate because the couple is getting older and they have no other savings to fall back on.
Her worst fears are realized when Mark uses the money to organize a Shakespearean touring company. I think we can equate this with ERB’s purchase of the Otis Estate. However the tour is a great success but Sackett is cheated out of not only the earnings of the tour but his original twenty thousand dollars by Max Heimer who he had retained as his business manager. Thus stranded in LA, symbolically, the couple is again penniless.
This was precisely ERB and Emma’s own position in 1924 when Burroughs through his own mismanagement had all but lost Tarzana. I think, then, that Clara Sackett is a fairly accurate idea of how Burroughs perceived his wife.
As in real life the couple begins well but a long decline in their fortunes begins which leaves them destitute. Clara’s jewelry is gone. Pawned and lost just as Emma’s had been in the couple’s dark hour around 1910. The jewelry also figures importantly in ‘Tarzan The Untamed.’ Then Max Heimer extorts the twenty thousand dollars from Chase I which at least get the couple to LA.
Nineteen thirteen’s ‘The Mucker’ had been a low brow novel dealing with low brow themes in low brow millieux. Marcia, a decade later, psychologically light years later, is meant to rehabilitate ERB as a high brow. He has spent the last ten years trying to realize his ambition to be a prince. However as he wrote at the end of ‘The Mucker’, it takes more than one lifetime to travel from Grand Avenue to Riverside Drive. ERB wasn’t going to be allowed to make that journey in this lifetime.
Thus he makes Sackett, which is to say himself, a Shakespearean actor, the ultimate in high brow, of the old cultured school who abjures the low brow flicks. In Chicago Emma had acquainted Our Man with the stage which obviously completely entranced him. I don’t know for sure who ERB modeled Sackett on but in Marcia he trots out his knowledge of the stage by mentioning such stellar lights as Henry Irving, Forbes-Robertson, Julia Marlowe, E.H. Sothern and a few others. Wherever he acquired his knowledge of the stage, I haven’t been able to locate any such books in his library, either the books have been lost or he himself made use of the public library; no computers in those days. On the other hand they’re just names.
Of course, there is one other possible source, always overlooked, that source would be his wife Emma. As a voice student in Chicago Emma would have become steeped in the lore of the theatre. For instance while performing aboard ship Marcia sings ‘The Jewel Song’ from Faust followed by Gottschalk’s ‘The Girl I Loved.’ I could be wrong but personally I don’t believe ERB knew Gottschalk from Yellin. If he had ever heard ‘The Jewel Song’ from Faust it was from Emma’s lips. I will return to this topic in a moment but if this novel doesn’t betray an influence from Emma I don’t know what does.
Yet, again Burroughs amazes by the range of his knowledge. One should always bear in mind that nothing can come out of your brain that isn’t in it. Creativity doesn’t mean that you can invent knowledge, knowledge is the substance of creativity, thus ERB had to do some studying to be able to write this book as well as his others. He must also have had an excellent memory without which study is useless.
In addition to presenting the great names of the theatre ERB is allowed to present himself as a learned and cultured high brow fella. He has spent the last ten years attempting to shed himself of his post-confrontation origins, to return to his interrupted destiny as a prince.
You can feel his yearning for respectability, for an entrance into polite society or at least the pages of Collier’s or The Saturday Evening Post. Hollywood, the then unoffical porn capitol of the world, now officially, was no place to look for polite society but as there are affected people everywhere, it may have seemed so. As the publishers tossed ‘Marcia’ back in his face he wasn’t going to make any grand entrance into society as a result of this book.
After the rejection of ‘Marcia’ Burroughs would be allowed to write nothing but Tarzans and science fiction. Even though his two Apache novels were published in this decade his second Western, which is more than good enough for the genre, was rejected.
ERB was condemned to continue as a low brow writer.
In 1923-24 ERB was treading financial deep water as was Sackett not knowing whether he was going to sink or swim. The move to LA was becoming a financial disaster. His ill-advised plan of becoming a pig farmer was draining him of cash. The hiatus in the production of Tarzan movies meant that he was cut off from the easy movie money which made his intellectual property so valuable. During this period he had to rely exclusively on magazine sales and book royalties which were inadequate for his inflated life style.
As is common with artists who pursue the glamour rather than the substance and as usual with ERB he had spent his earnings as he had gotten them. As Hillman points out in his 1920 Timeline Burroughs incurred phenomenal expenses immediately after acquiring the Otis Estate which was also immediately renamed Tarzana as though ERB had been planning it a long time.
For the year 1920: Tarzana undergoes major renovations: central heating, a three car garage, servants rooms, workshop, a study that doubles as a home school room, a ballroom/movie theatre/playroom, projection booth, swimming pool, golf course, lion and monkey cages, riding trails, hen house, hog pen, dairy barn and horse stalls, maintenance etc.
And that doesn’t include three cars for the garage, his pedigreed grade Duroc Berkshire swine, horses and other live stock which consumed enormous amounts of money with no return as ERB knew little or nothing about farming or stock raising.
ERB went into this with the romantic notion of getting back to the land. Herb Weston warned him about the attitude advising him that if he himself were to go into farming he would run the farm as a factory with strict cost/return controls. One wonders whether ERB ripped out the fruit and nut orchards to make room for the golf course. I suspect so.
As was predictable by mid-year 1922 ERB was seeking a loan to cover his losses. He realized he lacked the know how and skills to run a profitable working farm so in January of 1923 as per Hillman’s Timeline he ‘…disposes of his livestock and farm equipment in an auction.’ It is also significant that a couple months later on March 2nd he incorporated himself as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. The move may have been for the economic reason of reducing taxes but perhaps an even more compelling reason was the defensive one of placing his most valuable assets beyond the reach of his creditors in case he had to declare bankruptcy. As all his copyrights and literary assets as well as the other properties of the corporation would be beyond the reach of his creditors.
The strategic move may also have prevented his creditors moving on him as what was left as assets was more trouble than it was worth. His creditors may have thought it better to let him try to dig himself out since the property would ultimately be theirs anyway than to incur the expense of disposing of the real property themselves.
However as Burroughs could no longer use the income accruing to the corporation the question is where did he get the money to retire his personal debts. You know, the problem really needs some explanation.
Burroughs was desperate for cash. Looking longingly across LA to Santa Fe Springs and Signal Hill with their spectacular oil strikes ERB attempted to find oil in Tarzana. Unfortunately there isn’t any in the San Fernando Valley.
It is to be noted that Chase III gets involved in oil schemes in ‘Marcia.’ This aspect of ERB’s finaglings should be examined more closely too.
In what I would call near desperation ERB came up with schemes for his El Caballero Country Club and subdividing Tarzana. He was renting sites on the ranch to movie companies for productions. This sort of income would have been separate from his salary as an employee of ERB, Inc. All such oil or real estate income could be applied to his personal debt.
Turning his home into a clubhouse necessitated his moving from the ranch to LA. By early 1925 he was forced to borrow $200,000.00 to stay afloat. Thus ERB could tailor John C. Fremont’s quip: ‘When I came to California I was penniless…now I owe two millions of dollars.’ to his own situation.
Incredibly ERB’s magnificent earnings of the last ten years of a million or so had been turned into a debt of 200,000 dollars. That’s some work; not everyone can get loans of that magnitude.
‘Marcia Of The Doorstep’ rather faithfully portrays this course of events. The Sacketts begin moderately prosperous sinking into some real povery when they are rescued by the virtual gift of Max Heimer. One can read that as his first income from novels. Sackett, like Burroughs, has little idea of the value of money. He spends it as fast as he gets it then loses everything. The Sacketts are dead broke.
Interestingly they learn of their impoverishment in San Francisco the town from which Billy Byrne was shanghaied. I am unfamiliar with ERB’s connection with Baghdad By The Bay. While Byrne went to sea the Sacketts find their way to LA. ERB talks of leaving the land of fog for the Sunny Southland so he must have had some experience with SF.
Sackett is too proud to go into movies so he exhausts his few resources being ultimately turned out of lodgings by his landlady in a fictionalized account of ERB’s actual situation in Tarzana.
Now arises a problem with Emma that probably contributed to ERB’s divorcing her. P. 222:
Marcus Aurelius Sackett found that three hundred dollars did not go very far in Los Angeles. Even a modest room was expensive and food was as high as in New York- also Marcus Aurelius Sackett had not yet learned the value of money. He never would. After he had invited several old friends to dine with them at the Montmartre Clara had taken what was left from him and put him on an allowance that was barely sufficient to cover cigars and carfare. It was the first time in their married life that Clara had taken the reins into her own hands; but as she told Marcus, she didn’t purpose being thrown on the charity of a strange city any sooner than was absolutely necessary.
After having watched her new husband gamble away their last forty dollars in 1904, gone through the first real money they had seen in 1913 and now watching their assets disappear in 1924 it appears that Emma took matters in hand to take control of finances from ERB.
While ERB was probably confident that the money would always come in they couldn’t have been sure of it nor guessed at the substantial amounts that would always be on the horizon. Are to this day. Besides giving money to ERB was like giving matches to a pyromaniac. The guy didn’t even put it in his pocket before he spent it. Also I’m not sure that Emma wasn’t entitled to a little more sayso than ERB allowed her.
Clara Sackett is portrayed by ERB as an inveterate reader of novels. She is always putting a novel down. He makes a point of indicating this. This was probably true of Emma also. So, let us assume that Emma had good literary sense. ERB always gave his stories to Emma to read before he submitted them. She was kept on the payroll after the divorce as a reader. Further, let us assume that an ERB manuscript looked something like ‘Tarzan And The Forbidden City’ which an uncharitable reviewer might say was a collection of notes. There is a noticeable decline in the quality of ERB’s writing after the divorce.
Now suppose that, while not actually taking a hand in the writing, Emma provided editorial skills to whip a manuscript into shape. Every writer can use a good editor and I suspect ERB more than most. Thus if Emma had provided editorial skills and services, I don’t say she rewrote anything, over the years she may have had more of a hand in ERB’s success than one thinks. Bear in mind I don’t say she did any of the writing or affected the imaginative quality of the stories, only that she was active possibly as a contributing editor.
So, Marcia is a highly fictionalized account of ERB’s exodus from Chicago and the four year debacle to 1925.
I think that if you squint your eyes and let your imagination view the story you will find a fairly accurate portrayal of ERB and Emma. Of course he left out the squabbles. Emma comes off extremely well. Perhaps ERB’s subconscious appreciation of the woman got the truth from him.
Within the context of Burroughs, ‘Marcia’ is really an incredible story. The amazing thing is that with all these financial worries ERB was able to not only continue to turn out his two books a year but to keep up on his reading. The library contains a large number of books that were purchased in these years and read.
Apparently the strain was great enough that ERB didn’t have time to maintain his correspondence with Herb Weston. From June 1919 to August 1926 there is a hiatus in the correspondence. Either Weston lost the letters or ERB was too stressed to write.
Central to the story are the Chases- John Hancock Chase I, II and III. The initials JC are the same as both John Carter and John Clayton. Here we have a total of five Johns so ERB’s fixation with John The Bully is given a positive twist. If ERB didn’t change his own name to John he gave it to his supreme heroes.
John Hancock Chase I as the name implies is of fine Old Stock. John Hancock was one of the preeminent heroes of the American Revolution who wrote his name large on the Declaration Of Independence so that King George could read it without his spectacles. Thus the Chases are connected with the Puritan founding fathers. He was also originally from the South, Baltimore, and lives in New York thereby uniting the country from New England and the Middle States to the South.
How old he is isn’t clear. He lost his wife in childbirth forty-six years previously which would have been c. 1875-76 depending on whether the story commences in 1922 or not. If he maried at thirty that would make him eighty-nine in 1922. Probably still had that old ramrod military bearing but definitely an Ancient Mariner. In 1924 he would have been 91. If one assumes he married young at twenty make it 81 which is also plausible. An element of Chase I’s character may be that of George T., ERB’s father. He was born in 1833 so that if Chase I was born in 1833 he was eighty-nine. A little old but I’m betting on a birth date of 1833.
Still another source may be that fine old Southern gentleman portrayed by Thomas Dixon, Jr. in his novels. Chase I is from Maryland so that he is from the South living in New York City. That ERB does not make him a Virginian may mean he was not of the first water as was John Carter. Anent Carter, the Carter’s were in real life one of the first families of Virginia. However it is interesting that his antecedents cover the Puritans, the Cavaliers, and the middle colony of New York. Thus in a Dixonian sense he has reunited the country, ‘The Birth Of A Nation’, in the person of Chase I, healed all those Reconstruction wounds.
Another possible interpretation is that while ERB professed to love his father there was enough resentment to demote him to Maryland. As Baltimore appears frequently in the corpus while there is no indication that Burroughs visited the city its importance may be simply as the place Poe died. Burroughs would likely have been familiar with the poem ‘The Streets Of Baltimore’ commemorating Poe by the ever prolific Anon. The poem, by the way, can be found in the collection entitled ‘The Best Loved Poems Of The American People’ available since 1936.
Burroughs was probably familiar with most of the poems, athough perhaps not the book, as the poems are written mostly in the galloping rhythmic style of Kipling that ERB himself emulated. While Burroughs was influenced by novels and non-fiction one should never forget the cornpone verse and song lyrics he loved that may have had as much or more influence on him than anything else. He indirectly references many poems such as Will Carleton’s ‘Over The Hill To The Poor House.’ At about the time he was writing this book he was honored by a visit from ‘Uncle’ Walt Mason who wrote prose poems in the same galloping rhythm. He was apparently so infatuated with Mason’s stuff that he visited the writer at his home in Emporia, Kansas on his 1916 cross country trip. Thus poets like Mason and H.H. Knibbs, who he also made a point of looking up- Robert W. Service, Kipling and others may have been as influential on his development, or moreso, than writers like London or Tarkington even. He could have looked up Zane Grey who had a place in Pasadena but he never did. I am convinced he would have looked up London but for the latter’s untimely death.
In ‘Marcia’ he names the captain of the Lady X ‘Danny’ Dever after Kipling’s poem of the same name. It is quite possible that many of his characters can be traced back to well known poems or those that are obscure or forgotten. Verse was everywhere in thos days from the pages of pulps to newspapers. ERB had a copy of Edgar A. Guest’s newspaper verse, which was syndicated, in his library so the guy obviously loved paperly verse. Eugene Field. Get yourself a copy of ‘The Best Loved Poems Of The American People’ and familiarize yourself with them.
The Boy stood on the burning deck,
Whence all but he had fled:
The flames that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round over the dead.
Felicia Hemans- Casabianca
Think about it.
If Chase I was influenced by ERB’s father while being a Southern Gentleman from Maryland where did the Southern influence come from: Very popular at this time was Thomas Dixon, Jr. and his Reconstruction novels- The Leopard’s Spots, The Clansman and The Traitor. ERB had a copy of ‘The Traitor’ in his library, while it would seem likely he had read the first two volumes of the trilogy and certain that he had seen D.W. Griffith’s 1915 movie adaptation of the trilogy- The Birth Of A Nation.
A large part of the Southrons alive would have experienced Reconstruction and its Jim Crow aftermath. the victors hadn’t yet written the censored history of the period so opinion was as yet quite varied as ‘The Birth Of A Nation’ indicated.
Chase I resonates the fine old Southern Gentleman in Dixon’s novels. It is quite possible then that Burroughs has moved one of Dixon’s Southern gentlemen North to New York City. This may possibly have been meant to humanize the Northern industrial magnate of whom Dixon is as caustically critical as any Gustavus Myers. And on sounder grounds too.
Chase I may then have been a portrait of the type of father ERB would have liked to have had. Cultured, wealthy, kind and generous but stern.
Chase II, who as a married man, lives in his father’s house along with his young son, Chase III, gets into a problem with a woman that isn’t explained very well. Chase II at some celebration drank so much that he blacked out for nine hours. Max Heimer somehow picked him up in this drunken condition taking him to his own apartment. Heimer had apparently been living with the woman Mame Myerz for several years. Although she later states that she wasn’t home that night Heimer concocts a scheme in which she was supposed to have conceived a child by Chase II. Nine months later Heimer returns to begin blackmailing Chase II. Unable to bear the shame Chase II shoots himself.
Obviously Mame Myerz is Jewish. The correct spelling of her name must have been Meyers or Meiers but perhaps ERB didn’t have the courage to make both her and Heimer clearly Jewish or perhaps she changed the spelling of her name to avoid appearing Jewish as was commonly done.
Ever on the qui vive it is this story that Heimer exploits sixteen years later when he learns Marcia was left with the Sacketts on about the same date, 4/10/06. If you note, those numbers add up to 20. Pretty Freudian, huh?
Chase II then, represents ERB’s failed Animus on the street corner with John the Bully while Mame Myerz blends with Della Maxwell as the failed Anima. Burroughs despises his failed Anima but as part of himself he can’t hate it. His Anima representations always start out as ‘bad’ girls but he then rehabilitates them. Perhaps by separating out Mame Myerz from Della Maxwell he can vent his hatred twice removed.
Chase III born of his failed Animus represents ERB as he would like to have been. Tall, clean limbed, clean living, thoroughly clean. The emphasis on clean is probably because John The Bully besmirched ERB’s Animus making him feel dirty as did Norman in ‘The Outlaw Of Torn.’ Rather than making Chase III an Army officer, for some reason ERB makes him a Naval officer. However, stationed in Hawaii. The Islands were becoming a fixation of Burroughs probably influenced by Jack London’s stories of the Islands. The Islands will figure importantly in ERB’s later life. All roads are trending toward Hawaii.
Thus, Marcia, his Anima replacement and Chase III, his new Animus, meet in paradise on the waters of his subconscious. Marcia first sees Chase III rising from the waters, as it were, as he climbs over the side of the yacht. I asume the yacht is anchored in Pearl Harbor although ERB makes it appear to be on the open ocean. Chase III then takes Marcia to the land for her first time. Thus ERB and Florence honeymooned in Hawaii while they later lived on the Honolulu side of Pearl. There is an interesting passage in Marcia on pp. 237-8 where the sailor Crumcrow, the name indicates his worthlessness, soliloquizes as he spies on the pirate camp:
“That Bledgo…Say, that guy’s the toughest nut I ever seen. Talk about hard boiled! Gee! Hard boiled is soft alongside o’ him. I wonder what he’d say if I walked in there right now. Probably knock my block clean off. Wisht I’d kept my bazoo shut. They’re havin’ a good time there an’ we ain’t never had a good time in our camp- nothing but watch and work. I’m sick o’ work. that guy Chase gives me a pain. Nothin’ but work and watch, an’ you can’t kick ’cause the damn boob does it himself. I’d like to be an officer. You’d bet your pants I’d not work or watch either. What do I have to work for him for? I ain’t in the army no more. And say, wouldn’t it give you a swift pain the way I say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir’ him an’ salute him. Every time I see that guy’s mug I snap to attention. Gee! It makes me sick. I don’t know what makes me do it, and he hit me once, too, knocked me coo-coo- the dirty —–.”
That’s a quick encapsulation of ERB’s life between John The Bully and his brief army career. Bledgo here represents John The Bully beside whom a hard boiled egg is soft. Forty years later the memory of his confrontations with John is as green as the day it happened. And rightly so, John changed his life.
ERB also changed the status of his own life when he entered the Army forsaking his chance to be an officer. Thus Chase III represents ERB as he would like to have been who orders the shadow of his former self around. ‘You used to be in the army?’ Chase asked Crumcrow.
Crumcrow then deserts to John/Bledgo’s side passing out of ERB’s life, hopefully.
By 1924 ERB was rebooting his life and able to see his earlier character from a distance.
ERB put a lot of loving care into the creation of Marcia. Late in the book he actually describes her as Cinderella. That fairy tale figure began life well but was dispossessed being turned into a servant girl who swept the ashes from the fire. Her innate role of a princess was discovered by the Prince because of her unique foot which retored her to her true position. Something like the unique birthmark that identifies the real Prince.
As ERB’s Anima figure there can be no doubt that ERB is recapitulating his own history. He makes Marcia impossibly sweet and beautiful but then novels are filled with these sweet and beautiful women who are so difficult to find in real life.
Everyone loves Marcia while she fits in everywhere, perhaps as ERB wished he did. Only sixteen when she is adopted by the Ashley’s, grown men like Banks von Spiddle and Chase III fall head over heels in love with her. Although she came from an impoverished stage actors background she is able to adapt to high society manners in a trice and without any glitches, unlike Billy Byrnes. Born to the manner and manor as they say. The Ashleys invite her to take a trip with them on their yacht where it seems as a tyro sixteen year old she might be slightly out of place. Marcia however has the social aplomb and sophisticated patter of a woman much older than herself.
As with Billy Byrne and Barbara Harding, Marcia and Chase III are marooned on a desert island. Chase III and Harding change places while Marcia assumes in her relationship to Chase III that of Byrne to Barbara.
The Samurai are replaced by Bledgo and the IWW malcontents. Bledgo is the shadow of John the Bully who continues to haunt ERB’s imagination. He is knocked unconscious as Marcia and Chase III try to evade him. His end is unknown as it is not known whether he sailed with the pirate crew or not nor is it any concern. Thus ERB hopefully disposes of the hateful memory of John and his former self in the shape of Crumcrow; maybe he has exorcised their files from his memory banks. He hopes so.
ERB’s Anima an Animus are reunited climbing the slopes of the mountain spiritually cleansed by the torrential driving rain. The rain storm of course remains a symbol for sexual passion. This is terrific stuff; ERB has his moments.
Across the crest they are reunited with the society people from whom they had been separated by John the Bully, symbolically represented by their taking different boats during the disaster at sea. The people of his former existence had landed on the other side of the island.
Marcia’s seeming happiness is delayed when in Manila she receives Berlanger’s letter advising her that she and Chase III are brother and sister.
Fleeing her lover on the eve of their reunion/wedding she takes ship to California on which is a movie director who…
But I will save that for the play by play description of the book in Part V.
The essentials of her role have been dealt with.
The writing of Marcia was a virtual financial disaster for ERB. He had taken a whole year to write it while the fifty thousand that he hoped to receive never materialized. The year returned nothing to him at this very critical juncture in his finances. The experiment was so costly he never tried it again.
In 1066 and succeeding centuries the Norman conquerors enslaved the Anglo-Saxons of East Anglia which was an affront deeply resented. Take a lesson.
In the sixteenth century when the printed Old Testament became universally available the East Anglians identified with the enslaved Hebrews of Exodus. They elected themselves as a Chosen People and developed the compensatory Utopian attitude of inherent virtue as a Chosen People of God.
In the seventeenth century New England (Anglia) was settled by emigrants from East Anglia. Not just English but East Anglians. Virginia was settled by descendents of the Norman conquerors of 1066. The Virginians once again chose slavery as their method of labor. First indentured White people then Africans.
While Utopian ideals developed in New England the abolitionist movement began which resulted in the Civil War/War Between The States, war between regions or actually war between ideologies. There was no chance the South was going to discontinue slavery anytime soon no matter what anyone says.
In revenge for 1066 the Cavaliers (Whites) of the South were absolutely crushed giving up all rights by surrendering unconditionally.
The nascent Liberal Party of Puritans elevated the Africans over the Cavaliers thus establishing a protectorate over the ‘victims’ which is characteristic of the faith while establishing their power over dissident Whites. Thus the Liberals ultimately aligned themselves with all colored revolutionary movements in the world against White European conquerors.
Within the United States they viewed immigrants as ‘victims’ of the Old Stock pathologizing the Old Stock as ‘bigots’ no better than Cavaliers of the Old South. All opponents to their Liberal religious ideology which included the intellectual mindset of Science thus became wrong headed vile ‘bigots’ who had no right to live. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 the utopian Communist ideology became their politics; call it Socialism it all comes out the same.
As Edgar Rice Burroughs was not a Liberal, not a Communist and not religious but Scientific he unwittingly placed himself in opposition to the Liberal Coalition. On that basis a serious attempt was made to abort his career while subsequently an attempt to erase his name and work from history is being conducted.
Thus the twenties ushered in a new changed era fraught with new adjustments which were misunderstood or not understood at all. Burroughs’ career after 1920 has to be seen in the light of this concealed antagonism that he had to counter without being clear as to the causes.
Part V of The Mucker and Marcia Of The Doorstep follows in another post.
September 11, 2008
The Low Brow And The High Brow
An In Depth Study Of Edgar Rice Burroughs’
The Mucker And Marcia Of The Door Step
Background Of the Second Decade Social And Political
I have been criticized for discussing material that seems to bear no relationship to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The social milieu in which a man lives and works directly affect what and how he writes. He will react within that milieu whether he can understand and articulate it or not.
ERB understood much. He understood the main conflict of his times- that between the Religious and Scientific Consciousnesses. How he understood it is one thing, its exact nature is another. The battle was not necessarily put into the terms of science versus religion. On the objective level science had more prestige while on the subjective level religion had the upper hand creating a dualistic conflict. As Voltaire said: No one ever willed himself an athiest. The same can said of Science. The usual terms employed in the conflict was that of spirtiualism versus materialism. So those two words were supercharged masking the real conflict.
While religion retained great strength in this period science was so strong that religions had to adapt to science, thus one had the ecumenical Congress Of Religions in Chicago in 1893 during which a common plan of resistance was discussed.
One reaction to Science was American Liberalism. Liberalism is in fact a religion founded on beliefs rather than facts. American Liberalism developed out of the Puritan faith of New England. The Puritans believed themselves to be the successor of the Hebrews of the Old Testament as the Chosen People of God.
Two very interesting studies have appeared in the last couple decades which illuminate the English background of the United States. One is David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed; the other is Kevin Phillips’ The Cousins Wars. Both illustrate the continuity of behavior of the colonists between England and the Colonies. That continuity began with the Norman invasion of England in 1066 and continues through the strange Liberal mentality of today. Burroughs who was of the ‘Conservative’ mentality had to struggle with the forces of Liberalism in his day.
When the Normans invaded England they enslaved the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants. Anyone who has read Ivanhoe by Walter Scott has the image of Gurth with his iron colar inscribed on his memory. This piece of arrogance was to have serious consequences in both England and America.
The Normans occupied the Southern counties of England which Thomas Hardy caled Wessex, while the brunt of slavery fell on the East Anglian counties. The insult of slavery was burned into East Anglian memories along with a desire for revenge made more savage by the the religious certitude that they were the Chosen People of God.
The East Anglians, of course, revolted against the Norman Church Of England, emigrating to North America where they settled in the States of New England. New England = New Anglia. In England they fought the English Civil War against the Normans. Puritan Roundheads against Norman Cavaliers. It then became the turn of the defeated Cavaliers to emigrate to North America. They chose to go to Virginia where they gave the colony its Norman Cavalier character and nickname. The ancient enemies were now divided North and South.
As Fischer points out, slavery by the Norman descendents in England had disappeared only about a hundred years before the English Civil War. The Cavaliers now revived slavery in their Southern colonies. First they brought indentured servants from England who were slaves subject to the whims of their masters for a stated period of years that could easily be extended. Then African slavery was introduced. For a period of time both White and Black slaves worked side by side in the fields with the Blacks gradually displacing the Whites.
The New Englanders looked with fear and loathing on the Norman Virginians, who as they saw it, now resumed their old habits. It was here that the American Civil War was conceived. The Puritan New Englanders after having first rejected the king in the American Revolution which their East Anglian forebearers had failed to do in England then turned to agitating a war against the Norman Cavaliers of the South, whose ancestors had enslaved them, on the basis of an anti-slavery abolitionist program.
Just as they had succeeded against the Crown where their forebearers had failed they succeeded in absolutely crushing the descendents of the Normans. This punishment of the Cavaliers was the most severe of any since 1066. Thus subsequent US history with its notion of unconditional surrender was formed. This was a vicious attitude formed from the same feeling of defeat.
To return to the East Anglians in England to explain the American Liberal mindset. Shortly after printed books became readily available the East Anglians bought Bibles adopting the Old Testament notion of the Chosen People by substituting themselves for the Hebrew Children. A British Israelite group formed calling the English people the new Chosen People. Indeed, the British throne is believed to be in lineal descent from that of King David of Old Israel.
Thus there were at least three Chosen Peoples in existence from the fifteenth century on- Jews, the English and the Puritan New Englanders. New England became Greater New England as the Puritans multiplied spreading across the Northern tier of States.
A psychological characteristic of Chosen Peoples is that they upload their needs and wishes to an imaginary god in the sky then download the same needs and wishes back to themselves as the Will Of God. Thus they say not my will but they will be done, O Lord. The faithful thus become justified sinners. Any criminal act can be justified as the Will of God which it is the duty of the faithful to perform This also creates a double standard because what is right for themselves in the eyes of the Lord is forbidden to others. The children of Israel can exterminate other peoples with impunity, but it is wrong for other peoples to even defend themselves against the children of the Lord. Serious stuff.
These ends and desires are accepted then as a messianic or utopian goal. It is the duty of the Chosen People to impose God’s Will on the rest of the world. To resist that Will is evil making the non-believer a dastard, a heretic, an infidel, an anti-Semite or whatever.
In the United States the Will of the god of the Puritans was transformed into Manifest Destiny, which in turn metamorphosed into the triumph of Democracy as defined by the Chosen People of America, who in turn metamorphosed from Puritans into Liberals.
As a chosen people and as a result of the Civil War the Liberals identified with the victims who needed their help. Thus the Civil War was fought in their minds by a virtuous people acting out the Will of God to rescue unfortunate victims from a malevolent White minority. In the case of the Civil War it was the Negro slaves. As the century and Liberalism developed the umbrella of help was extended to all the ‘enslaved’ or colonial peoples of Europe which is to say all the colored peoples of the world. It was not enough that injustice as perceived by the Liberals should be corrected, but that the perpetrators should be condignly and brutally punished unconditionally in the name of and by the Will of their God, which is to say the projected desires and wishes of a self-appointed Chosen People.
Utopian literature which flourished after the Civil War is the direct result of this Messianic fervor. Utopian literature abounds in England, Greater New England and with the jews.
Having then succeeded in crushing the Cavaliers of the South the Liberals attempted to demean, belittle and abuse the White South in the most draconian manner. The period of Reconstruction is the blackest hour in American history. The Whites were stripped of civil rights having the Negroes placed over them as masters. The Whites, so far as possible, were expropriated of all property through taxation when not stolen outright. The Whites, of course, reacted by forming the first Ku Klux Klan to protect their lives and interests. Reconstruction lasted until 1877 well nigh into the twentieth century. The South was impoverished and set back for at least a century and may still be recovering today if such is possible under the present Liberal regime.
All factual references to Reconstruction have been obscured by references to the KKK but in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries memories of Liberal crimes in the South were fresh and bleeding wounds. As is well known Jim Crow was the inevitable result of the attempt to crush and bury the White South.
As the nineteenth century progressed and utopian literature flourished the Puritans, now Liberals, identified with all the ‘oppressed’ which is to say colored peoples of the world against the European conquerors. Everywhere America sided with the natives against Europeans. In a feeling of total frustration Charles De Gaulle would remark: America is a White country, but it acts like a colored country.
At about mid-nineteenth century Jewish utopian messianists under the direction of Karl Marx formed the Communist Party. Thus Jewish utopian messianism spread from England- Marx was based in London- throughout Europe to the world. As Communism also opposed Western colonialism, although not Communist colonialism, these two powerful agencies worked to upset the Western hegemony of the world. As someone will always have hegemony of the world what appears on the surface as ‘justice’ is merely the transfer of power to another agency and hence new ‘injustice.’ As of this writing it appears that the beneficiary of American and Communist efforts will be the Chinese. This shift has already happened but has not yet been officially acknowledged. Thus the result of the Liberal and Communist quest for ‘social justice’ will be merely to place Europe and America’s neck under a Chinese yoke rather than the other way around. Obviously the Chinese god is not the same as the Utopian God.
During the period of Reconstruction as the Liberals were punishing the Southern Whites and rewarding the Negroes immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe began in earnest. While the Irish and Germans had created their own set of problems yet culturally they were close enough to the original Anglo-Saxon colonists to be, after a fashion, readily assimilated.
But with the congeries of nationalities from East and Southern Europe came many and diverse customs and languages. Assimilating them into Anglo-Celtic-Teutonic America was not so easy. Thus groups of Americans resisting immigration arose. The Know Nothings fought the Irish but this was different.
The Liberals could then pathologize the anti-immigration people as ‘nativists’, later White Supremacists and other derogatory terms. They could afirm their own virtue against these people as they had against the Southern Whites. When the power base of restrictionists took form in the South as the second Ku Klux Klan this only served to show the perfidy of Southern Whites in a new shade.
The Liberals then allied themselves not only with the interests of Negroes but with the immigrants to form the Liberal Coalition which was to dominate American society from the Second Decade to the present.
Already British and Puritan utopianists, they were now joined by the Jews who from 1870 to 1914 represented the largest nationality of immigrants. Both the Liberals and the Jews were Bible based. Liberals considered Jews as the successors to the Biblical Hebrews if not Hebrews themselves. While Roman Catholics distanced themselves from Hebrewism the Protestant sects derived directly from the Old Testament considered themselves neo-Hebrews so they were quite willing to defer to what they considered paleo-Hebrews. Thus the two versions of utopianism were joined. Both forms of Hebrewism accepted anti-Semitism as the greatest vice. The foregoing discussion has been a good account of what Semitism is: that is a belief in one’s own divinely appointed role as the arbiter of the world’s fate.
So far as I know neithr Semitism or anti-Semitism have ever been adequately defined so for the purposes of this paper anti-Semitism will be defined quite simply as the denial of the Semitist’s self-appointed role as the agent of God on earth.
As one of a Scientific Consciousness such a denial seems hardly necessary but as most people are of a Religious Consciousness there it stands.
Needless to say Burroughs was of the Scientific Consciousness therefore per force an anti-Semitist although he would never have understood his position in those terms.
As can be seen Judeo/Liberal/Utopianism is a religious matter that will defy reason. It is a matter dependent upon a subjective, spiritual belief system. It is beyond the reach of logic. Never argue with them. The adherents cannot be argued with, they must humored. Reigions are revealed not thought out.
The nineteenth century also saw the rise of Science which is an objective materialistic sysem, conscious not subconscious, based on facts and reality. It doesn’t take a genius to spot that the religious systems and the scientific systems are incompatible; one must subordinate or destroy the other. Now, seriously folks, this is war to the knife.
Knowledge is hard won and built up slowly while revealed religion is complete and entire at conception. While the former is subject to trial and error the latter is seemingly pat- it is God’s own Word.
As Freud pointed out the religious consciousness received three main blows. The first was that the Universe was heliocentric rather than terracentric; the third was the malleable construction of the human mind as defined by psychoanalysis. These two could be religiously managed; nothing had been revealed that couldn’t be manipulated to religion’s use. The middle blow could not. That was the concept of Evolution as enunciated by Charles Darwin. Thus it was clear except to the most entrenched religionist that the world was not created by God in 4004 BC as Bishop Ussher stated but evolved beginning somewhat over four billion years ago. There’s an incompatibility there that cannot be swept under the carpet or even ignored.
Make no mistake: science and religion are at odds in the struggle for the human mind. Writing in 1829 the incomparable Edgar Allen Poe expressed the problem in his brilliant poem:
Sonnet – To Science
Science! true daughteer of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Who preyest thus on this poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Has thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
In addition to driving the Hamadryad from the wood, science also pulled God down from the heavens and exposed the fraud. Freud showed God to be merely a projection of human desires. How could religion counter the claims of Science?
I do not single out any specific religion whether Christian, Jewish, Moslem or whatever. All religions evolved in human consciousness and represent a phase of development in that evolution. A phase of evolution but not its end. Dig it!
It then became necessary for religionists to absolutely deny Evolution. In their favor was the fact that Darwin not merely but only enunciated the concept, but had no infallible proofs of the process. Thus relgionists could say silly things like: Do you really believe human being, you, actually descended from an ape? and be fairly convincing. Most people were ashamed of such an ancestry. Nobody asked the monkeys how they felt about the comparison.
Inherent in Evolution is the idea of speciation. Thus every time a species evolved there was a chance that it was an improvement on previous manifestations. Between the Chimp and Homo Sapiens I are innumberable steps which have since disappeared. If that were true then religious concepts which insisted that God created Man whole and entire without evolving were false. If Creation was false than Religion was false. There were many who empowered by the concept of Evolution and reasoning from appearances made the claim that was called ‘race’ rather than species. The genetic differences between the ‘races’ were not yet clear.
Until fairly recent times and the rise of genetics there was no infallible evidence to indicate speciation. Today there is. From 1859 when Darwin enunciated Evolution through the period under examination here, the second decade of the twentieth century, anyone asserting speciation could be ridiculed and destroyed as a bigot by the religionist. Evolution itself was attacked and undermined in the thirties by the Boasian school of Anthropology which is still vital today. (See Kevin MacDonald, The Culture Of Critique, 1998, 2002).
In this period the Evolutionist was in a minority position. Thus when Burroughs came down so strongly on the side of Evolution in his Tarzan series it is very surprising he created no uproar and there is no evidence the series was noticed on that account.
It appears that Burroughs took the broad approach to these social problems. He could see both sides of the issue deciding on the merits of the case rather than the ideology of the situation. As has been noted he was quite capable of changing his mind on vital issues when presented with convincing evidence, i.e. life on Mars. He was a true scientist.
Perhaps around 1910 it began to dawn on a significant number or people for the first time that unlimited and unrestricted immigration was causing unexpected and irreversible changes in the social fabric. The war on Anglo-Saxon ideals, institutions and customs was well underway. Such reactions had been a recurring feature of American society but now there was no West to escape to. In addition industry had reshaped the cities. Farm machinery was reshaping farming practices reducing the need for farmhands so that country boys migrated to the cities. By mid-decade for the first time more people lived in the cities than on the land.
These changes were unwelcome and uncomfortable to a lot of people creating a malaise. Those who viewed Reconstruction for the horror it was as well as those who considered themselves Old Stock were pathologized by the Liberals but their views found expression in books and articles but usually on the defensive side as with Jack London’s Valley Of The Moon and not on the aggressive side which would be visited by condign punishment as heresy.
If one mentioned immigrants at all it was possible to discuss only positive attributes. The Liberal turned a blind eye to the aggression of home countries preferring to see these home places too as victims who needed their protection. As Chosen People the Liberal sees himself as naturally superior to the ‘victims’ but does not perceive his supposed superiority as ‘racism.’
An honest and well meaning writer like Homer Lea who had actually been in the Orient and learned of Japanese plans first hand was pathologized and dismissed as a crank although his prognostications were based in fact as Pearl Harbor was to show.
Some feelings are vague and can’t be articulated. Even as a child I was disquieted by the notion that everyone came to america to escape oppression or to seek religious freedom. I saw but couldn’t articulate the two facedness of this notion. Only in the last decade or so have I found the means to acquire the necessary knowledge and developed modes to express it.
Quite frankly the US was used as a haven for many, many revolutionary groups. Perhaps the American Revolution caused most Americans to look upon all revolutions as beneficent. I couldn’t and can’t see it tht way.
American ‘malcontents’ were told to shut up while a malcontent could come from anywhere else in the world and be honored for resisting repression. I mean, criminals, murderers, mere disturbers of the peace in their own countries. Cranks. East Indian malcontents gathered in San Francisco to plot against the British Raj. Sun Yat Sen lived in LA where he raised funds and was lionized. Homer Lea was recruited by Sun Yat Sen to serve as a general in the Chinese Army. Lea’s story may have been the influence that charmed Burroughs into seeking a place in the Chinese Army.
The United States not only knew of the malcontents’ activities but even tolerated them perhaps abetting them. The US role in European history has been that of a spoiler. Looking upon all colored peoples as victims needing their help Liberals could do no other than work for their interests against the Europeans.
One of the more disastrous actions was John Hay’s Open Door policy in China. At the time in the 1890s the European States were about to partition China into spheres of influence. What the result would have been is anybody’s guess however the world would probably be much different today. Hay’s Open Door policy scotched the partition with the result that China remained a unified State. Of all the turning points one can find in history this is undoubtedly a turn in the tide of fortunes for the West. Subsequent to the Hay policy Chinese revolutionaries were hosted in California. Mexican gun runners operated from the US during the Mexican Revolution as Zane Grey records in novels like The Light Of Western Stars and Desert Gold.
Of course the Irish who called Ireland the Ould Sod and America the New Island acted as one people divided by an ocean. Funds and guns were raised in America and used in Ireland against the British. In the unrestricted immigration of the time Irish revolutionists moved back and forth across the Atlantic. If arrested in Ireland they claimed American citizenship and were released to return to the US.
In 1919 a most egregious example occurred which received no reprimand from the US, while England didn’t even bother to file an objection. Eamon De Valera, the future premier of Ireland escaped the British to be smuggled to the US where he functioned openly. William K. Klingaman tells the story in his popular history ‘1919’ of 1987:
Eamon De Valera, meanwhile, had been smuggled out of Ireland and into the United States, where he was touring the major cities along the East Coast, drumming up financial support for Sinn Fein and the Irish Republic. His reception was nothing short of spectacular. De Valera was given the presidential suite at the Waldorf; the Massachusetts state legislature received him in a special joint session; forty thousand wildly cheering supporters turned out to hear one of his speeches in Boston; and the press seemed to love him wherever he went. After all, he was excellent copy, and news of English injustices in Ireland always sold plenty of papers. As the Nation noted with bemusement, “He gets a front-page spread whenever he wants it, with unexampled editorial kindliness thrown in.” The tall, very thin, dark Irishman brought no message of peace and goodwill to the United States, however. Now that the Peace Conference was over and freedom-loving Irishmen still remained enslaved under the British yoke, De Valera told an enthusiastic audience in Providence, “the war front is now transferred to Ireland.”
So, while the Irish were embattled on the Ould Sod, the Irish of the New Island had enough influence and power to baffle any objections either in the US or England. They were truly functioning as a state within a state in the US and as revolutionists on the Ould Sod. Thus the US influence in international politics was unique indeed.
The Italians also functioned as emigrant workers of Italian citizenship before the War and were an irredentist population within the United States with many colonial beach heads. After the war, assuming the continuance of unrestricted immigration Mussolini attempted to shift the cost of medical treatment for wounded Italian soldiers by sending them to the US for free medical treatment. This is astonishing stuff that gets no notice in history books.
Of course, the most famous instance of dual citizenship of a divided homeland is that of the Jews.
A ship landed in the seventeenth century in New York City, New Amsterdam as it was known then, bearing a hundred plus Sephardic Jews from Brazil. The next immigrant cadre were the German Jews mainly from 1830 to 1850. These two immigrations were small compared to the influx of millions of Jews from the Pale of Settlement usually known as Polish or Russian Jews. From 1870 to 1914 they came in increasing numbers. As I have detailed elsewhere the intent to transfer the whole population of Jews from the Pale to the United States was aborted by the outbreak of the Great War.
Jews had always been forbidden Great Russia. However during an expansionist phase Russian annexed the Ukraine, Byelorussia and the North. The annexed areas became the Pale Of The Settlement along with the Polish Jews acquired by the first partition of Poland. Thus Jewish nationalism came into conflict with Russian assimilationism. The Russians, of course, were sovereigns of the land while the Jews were a stateless nationality. The Russians along with the rest of their acquired peoples attempted to Russify the Jews. These along with Poles, Letts, Estonians, Lithuanians and whatever resisted Russification. In point of fact, the Czars had bitten off more than they could chew.
Had the Russians been facing mere dissident peoples they may have been able to manage them. But, along about mid-nineteenth century the political ideology of Communism provided a framework within which all peoples could combine thus submerging their national identities for their political goals. It is true that fifty to sixty percent of all Comunist parties were Jewish but the remainder which was substantial, wasn’t. As part of its ideology Communism discouraged nationality so it was possible for numbers of all nationalities to work together.
The Russians became the adversaries of the Jews, the Czar their bete noir. Thus a remendous undeclared war existed between the Communist Revolution, usually called just The Revolution and the Russian government and people.
By the time the Jewish emigration to America began in earnest in the 1870s the Jewish mind was conditioned by this warfare. Now, all Israel is one. Therefore the German Jews who had preceded the Jews from the Pale prepared the way for those from the Pale. Whole industries were immediately controlled by Jews. The male and female garment industries being the prime example. The work force of these industries was almost entirely Jewish. Thus the infamous sweat shop may be said to be of Jewish origin although it is usually used to defame the United States.
The whole garment industry of the country then was controlled from New York City. We’re talking big money with a lot of it flowing into Jewish agencies sometimes euphemistically called charities. This money in turn fueled worldwide Jewish warfare on Russia.
The Equitable Insurance fraud for instance was caused by the international banker Jacob Schiff who as administrator looted the Equitable of a couple hundred million dollars to finance the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war of 1903-05. The Japanese could not have fought the war without that money. Thus Schiff and his people paved the way to Pearl Harbor.
While the Russians had their hands full in the East Schiff and his fellow Jews engineered and financed the First Russion Revolution. The signing of the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty was done at Portsmouth, New Hampshire ostensibly by then US President Theodore Roosevelt but under the watchful eyes of Schiff and his fellows.
As I have said simply because a people emigrated doesn’t mean they renounced their original identity. Witness the Irish. As is clear from their intent to evacuate the Pale in favor of America the Jews retained their Eastern European interests. This would be even more manfest after the restriction of immigration at the end of the War.
Like the Irish who used American citizenship to negate the laws of England the Jews used their American citizenship to thwart the interests of Russians, or the Czar as they put it.
The Russians forbade Jewish traffic over their borders in an attempt to contain Jewish subversion. If you were in, you were in, if you were out you were out. In line with European concepts of nationality this was workable. But Jews resident in America using their US citizenship, in this instance, demanded to be treated strictly as US citizens but of the Jewish ‘religion.’ Thus, they said Russia could not refuse them entrance on the basis of their ‘religion.’
The US with its polyglot population all with US citizenship whether Irish, Jewish, Italian or whatever had to insist on the rights of all US citizens. Thus Jews were able to travel freely across Russian borders to coordinate Jewish actions to subvert the Russian State. As I have pointed out, after the Revolution the name Russia was dropped from the State name as it became the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics governed almost exclusively by non-Russians.
The B’nai B’rith had been around since 1843. Then the American Jewish Committee was created in 1906. Within seven years Jewish influence had increased so signficantly that they were able to direct US policy to the extent that diplomatic relations were broken off between Russia and the US in 1913 the year the Liberal Coalition elected Woodrow Wilson as its first president. From 1913 to 1933 the US had no diplomatic relations with Russia/USSR. It is interesting that relations with a legitimate government were discontinued by Woodrow Wilson and resumed with an illegitimate government by his disciple Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On of his first acts as President.
In 1913 the B’nai B’rith created its terrorist arm the Anti-Defamation League. So there was actually a dual drive to acquire control of the USSR and the USA which one might add came very close to succeeding. And this be a very small but dedicated number of people.
As I point out in Part IV in 1919 the AJC contacted Burroughs undoubtedly amongst a host of others to endorse a Jewish Bill Of Rights. The program was in place by 1920 when this segment of my study ends.
As can be seen the unofficial role of the United States in world affairs was an unsettling and disturbing one of the inactive aiding and abetting of revolutionary movements from China to India, across the border into Mexico while actively aiding if not abetting the Irish against England and aiding and abetting if not supporting the Jewish war on Russia.
To the American Liberal all these revolutionary efforts were being conducted by victims. Hence Liberal efforts at directing American policy were in the interests of any revolutionary group which includes the Socialist and Communist parties. This Liberal attitude continues worldwide to the present time.
Within the United States these ‘victims’ were gathered together under the aegis of the Liberal Coalition. All dissenters whether anti-immigrationists, nativists or whatever were pathologized as mentally unstable people. Insanity then becomes a religious attitude complementary to terms such as heretic, infidel or anti-Semite; terms not to be taken seriously.
Liberalism is a religion thus assuming control over institutions of hgher learning. The University system of the United States was turned from one of educational insitutions into religious seminaries. The American university system of today is a religious system of Liberal seminaries. Only the correct religious view is permitted, any other is penalized.
Now, the Liberals who derived from the Puritans were an Old Testament biblical group who considered themselves the successosrs of the Hebrews as a Chosen People. Beginning in 1870 the original Chosen People began their invasion. It was like two Napoleons meeting in an insane asylum. Each considered the other an imposter. But the Jews had the whip hand over the Liberals as they quickly controlled the communiations media gradually eliminating anything seditious to its belief system. As I explained earlier any writing that casts doubt on the claims of Judaism is anti-Semitist. Americans were conditioned to view anti-Semitism as the worst possible crime deserving imprisonment or expulsion from the body social. What we really have is the reimposition of the medieval Catholic Church in the form of Judaism. Having seized control of the political system of the United States by 1920 the other important object was the discrediting of Science.
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from the flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
And Poe might have added: God from his heaven/ pleasant summer dreams of chosenness from our minds. Yes, Science was the great enemy, the great anti-Semite. It is not particularly well known but Jews are more anti-evolution than even the Christian fundamentalists of Tennessee in the twenties or the Kansans of today. Evolution absolutely denies the fact that the world was created by god 4004 years before Bishop Ussher or the year 5778 or whatever of the Jewish calendar. Make no mistake the notion of the world having been created by god recently is fundamental to Semitic religions. Once it is disallowed the basis of the Semitic religions ends. You can see why they fight so hard against Science.
Science still being the problem religion was cloaked in its guise. The scienfific Socialism of Marx is little more than Talmudic Judaism. Freud’s exaltation of the subconscious is little more than an assault on the conscious rational thinking that makes Science possible. Einstein’s preposterous notion of the ‘fabric’ of Time and Space among others is a disguised attempt at imposing faith.
All of these movements came to fruition in the Second Decade. Einstein’s theories were supposedly proven during an eclipse of the sun in 1919 during which it was ‘confirmed’ that the light of distant stars streamed around immovable bodies. I mean, the Greeks said it: What happens when an easily resistible force meets an immovable object? It flows around it just like water around a rock suspended in a stream. Boy, you have to be a genius to figure that one out- wrap it up in the facric of Time and Space and send it as present to God.
So, the problem still remained what to do with the ‘pathological’ types who gave the lie to the Judeo-Liberal doctrine? Science and Religion cannot co-exist. This is a sea change in human consciousness comparable to the transition from the Matriarchal to the Patriarchal. Good will is not the problem and cannot solve the problem. In 1943 Gustavus Myers devised the current method of interpreting American history in his book The History Of Bigotry In The United States. He thus provided the means to pathologize the non-Judeo-Liberal people. They became irrational, insane, evil bigots. So then one has the people of the book the Judeo-Liberals on one side and ‘bigots’ on the other. So, Moslem-Infidels, Semites-anti-Semites, and Liberals-Bigots. It isn’t rational, it’s religious. Virtue goes with the one; criminality with the other. Once you are accused there is no argument. Confess your heresy and take your punishment. The role model is the Inquisition of the Catholic Church.
Myers began from the beginning hitting his stride with the Know Nothing Party of the 1850s. He essentially made all immigrants victims in the Liberal sense by depicting them as virtuous innocents insanely treated by American ‘bigots.’ Hence the title of his book. His school took root and flourishes today. Oscar Handlin, John Higham, Richard Slotkin.
Handlin’s stuff is irrational. John Higham’s Strangers In The Land is valuable but skewed. The skewing can be easily unscrambled. But Richard Slotkin’s Gunslinger Nation is of importance to Burroughs and our theme here. The first 225 pages of Slotkin’s book lead up to a denunciation of Burroughs as the premier bigot of American literature actually making him responsible for the My Lai massacre in Viet Nam. The first 225 pages are worth reading although you can throw the rest of the book away.
I’ll get back to the scientific aspects of the issue in a minute but, first, as Slotkin concentrates on the Western movie in American culture let’s take a look at one of the premier efforts in the genre, John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. The movie was scripted by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck or, since this is Hollywood, men who would answer to those names. They are probably jewish. The film perfectly inllustrates the Liberal dogma.
John Wayne plays the Liberal lead as Tom Doniphon, strange name, along with his noble Negro sidekick, Pompey. Lee Marvin plays a deranged psychopathic Anglo named Liberty Valence. Jimmy Stewart plays the long suffering representative of the Law, Ransom- Rance- Stoddard. Rance is an adjunct to Tom Doniphon. Liberals = The Law, Bigots (Liberty Valence) = the outlaws.
Tom can be seen as the abolitionist, justice seeking Liberal aiding the victims. He is on the side of the victims of Liberty Valence (read, say, the KKK) which is the whole town except himself. Tom has his negro valet while he helps all the cute immigrants in town still being aloof from the Southwest town’s sizable but segregated Mexican population.
The scripters assigned the odd name of Liberty Valence to Lee Marvin. Liberty is a positive virtue while Valence means strong- strong for freedom. There is little positive about Valence. He is in fact a psychopathic killer who terrorized the town of law seeking innocent sodbusters. He actually becomes insane when he extends his whip handle just beating the tar out of his victims. Valence is employed by the evil cattlemen (read, say, The South) above the Picket Wire (a river). Why the cattlemen have sent Valence to the town isn’t clear.
As the representative of the Old South and also any stray anti-Semitic clans who may happen to be about, Valence is especially offended by the peaceable but effeminate Rance Stoddard, who at one point actually wears an apron, the man who is bringing THE LAW West of the Pecos or at least below the Picket Wire. Apparently the ranchers don’t need no law above the Picket Wire. Valence harasses and bullies Stoddard who is usually protected by the omnipotent Tom Doniphon but comes a time when Stoddard realizes he has to fight. After all a man’s a man for all that. Don’t know what for though, either his honor or life or maybe to move the plot along. Liberty is goading Rance into a gunfight that will be plain murder, as quite frankly, Rance don’t know how to handle a gun and Liberty does, oh boy.
As the gunfight is filmed from behind Rance it appears that he actually guns Liberty down freeing all the victims of his menace. (The Law vs. The Outlaw; The Liberal vs. The Bigot, The Semite vs. the anti-Semite.) Thus Rance brings the law to Shinbone, that’s the ridiculous name of the town. You can see why Liberty terrorized it.
Later we will see the same gun battle rotated ninety degrees to the right. Ol’ Tom isn’t going to let Liberty gun down Rance, and also he doesn’t want Rance to be guilty of bloodshedding so he takes the guilt on hisself as he knowed he would. He and his faithful Negro sidekick cum African gunbearer Pompey (This may be the reason Cassius Clay changed from his ‘slave’ name to Mohammed Ali, another slave name) are standing in an alley opposite Liberty’s left side. Tom is in the middle of the side street, Pompey bearing the gun, stands against the side of the building. With breathtaing precision just before Liberty shoots, Tom, in that awe inspiring quitet uncontradictable authority of his says like the Great White Hunter of Africa: Gun, Pompey. The ever faithful Negro flips the rifle across to Tom who snatches it from mid-air with is right hand, puts it to his shoulder and snaps off a head shot through the temple that killed Liberty Valence. (Evil disappears from the town.)
In order to kill Valence Tom had to shoot him in the left side of his head yet none of the dumbheads of the town wonders how Stoddard accomplished this miraculous feat.
At any rate Rance is known as the man who shot Liberty Valence. The old peace loving legalist is carrying his burden of blood guilt pretty well until he is nominated to be the new Congressman from the Picket Wire/Shinbone district (There’s a joke in there somewhere isn’t there?) and from whence he can put those damnable evil, bigoted ranchers in their place. But damn it, he’s got blood on his hands; how can he serve the people in Washington since he is impure? This mght have ruined a very promising and lucrative career and perhaps a good movie but Tom takes this moment to tell Rance the True story of the man who shot Liberty Valence. Rance had to be told this.
‘Hot diggity-dog!’ Exclaims Rance trampling over Tom in his hurry to be the next and first representative for Picket Wire. There may have been gold in them thar hills but it was as nothing compared to the gold to be found in Washington D.C.
Like a good myth the movie can viewed on several different levels. At face value the story is the story. It doesn’t take much to view the film as a satire while on another level as a black comedy, or a wry commentary on the difference between the way things appear and the way they really are.
But on the allegorical level in which I am viewing the story it allegorized the Judeo-Liberal vision of America. Tom/ Rance represents their vision of themselves while Liberty is ther vision of bigots/anti-Semites. I don’t know about the writers but John Ford was certainly able to see it that way.
As a religious metaphor the movie expresses the Judeo-Liberal vision of itself. That vision can only be realized if science can be disposed of because science, the truth, is the greatest anti-Semite of all. As Poe realized Science disposes of the idea of God. Without god there is no Judaism or Liberalism. One or the other has to go.
As I have said technological applications of science weren’t actually a threat but Evolutionists like Gall, Darwin and Dalton were. Gall was the man who first enunciated a theory that the different areas of the brain controlled different actions or responses. In Steven Pinker’s terms he discovered the brain was more than a meatloaf.
Darwin proposed the idea of evolution while Francis Galton proposed the idea of Eugenics. As I said before, revealed Religion arrives complete and entire being a product of the imagination no different than Tarzan Of The Apes. Science has to be built up step by step. Gall, Darwin and Galton took the first developmental steps and while true in their limited way were easy to attack.
Gall’s exploiters developed the theory of Phrenology which is of course unsupportable so If anyone has heard of Gall he is immediately discredited for Phrenology, something he didn’t do.
Going into the Second Decade Darwin and Galton had great credibility, if being in minority positions, although Eugenics was very well received by every shade of the political spectrum from far left to far right. Richard Slotkin bases his attempts to discredit Edgar Rice Burroughs and all non-Coalition writers over Evolution and Eugenics.
Edgar Rice Burroughs is usually considered a fantasy writer. One could hardly consider the writer of the Mars, Venus, Pellucidar and Tarzan series anything else. Fantay writers are not usually taken very seriously being relegated to the non-literary end of of the fiction spectrum. So then, one asks, why does a Myerian Judeo-Liberal like Richard Slotkin devote so much effort to prove that Edgar Rice Burrughs was ultimately responsible for the My Lai Massacre?
The simple answer is that Burroughs is one of the most influential mind forming writers of fiction, worldwide, of the Twentieth Century…and counting. There have been serious efforts to designate Burroughs as a bigot and an anti-Semitist. The editions of the copies you read have actually been bowlderized. Slotkin’s Gunslinger Nation is a serious attempt to pathologize Burroughs.
Gunslinger Nation Is the third volume of a trilogy on violence in America, a never ending tiresome concern of the Coalition. Slotkin is more at home in the nineteenth century of the two first volumes than he is in the twentieth century of this volume. He should have suspended his pen after the second volume.
He not only has a shallow appreciation of his theme but he admits it. The remaining 400+ pages succeeding those on Burroughs are based, I suspect, on one time viewings of several hundred Western movies. At least he says he’s seen them. His analysis of categories within the genre and individual films leaves much to be desired.
He admits that he read no, or very few, Western novels from 1900-1975 because the field is so vast no one could be expected to do it.
His nineteenth century material, if skewed in interpretation, is admirably presented. By rotating the images 180 degrees one can obtain a fairly accurate picture of his subjects. His presentation on Buffalo Bill and his Wild West was really quite good. His views on Fenimore Cooper and the Dime Novelists were attractive if prejudiced.
By the time he gets to Burroughs of whom he has cursorily read a dozen novels or so he is both uncomprehending and imcomprehensible. He has made no effort to understand the man yet he comes to preposterous conclusions. As Burroughs was of the Scientific Consciousness which gives the lie to the Religious Consciousness Slotkin attacks on the scientific level.
He attacks through Gall, Darwin and Galton. The Liberal Coalition using its religious mentality is able to condemn in others what it applauds in itself.
The mentality is quite capable of including Burroughs, Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler in one breath as though all three men were on the same level. What they call crimes in others they call virtues in themselves.
Thus, during the French Revolution a factory was organized in Paris to make footwear from the skins of murdered aristocrats. The fact has been suppressed while the story of the lampshades made from the skins of enemies of the Fascist State is held as inhuman.
The great hero of the Revolution, Victor Hugo, writing in his novel 1793 during the 1860s about the massacres in the Vendee quite bluntly states that those people were in the way of the realization of the Utopian Communist State and had to be removed. What was fact in 1793 was true in the 1860 mind of Victor Hugo, exercised by the Communists after 1917 and by extension is still applicable today. Yet all other exterminations are evil in the Coalition mind. Their own religion justifies their actions as justified sinners.
During the second and third decades Galton’s ideas on Eugenics had become the vogue. The use of Eugenics by Hitler and the Nazis is used to discredit the concept and yet Reds of all hues including H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were enthusiastic Eugenicists.
Joseph Stalin, the greatest Red who ever lived, rather amusingly embraced Eugenics. (see: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/print.cfm?id=2434192005 )
In the 1920s before Hitler, Stalin ordered his scientists to breed a new super warrior. “I want a new invincible human being, insensible to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.”
You can see where this leading I’m sure. Apparently Stalin had been reading Burrughs’ Beasts Of Tarzan because he ordered the scientists to cross a human and an ape to create his New Order warrior. Imagine a couple divisions of these shaggy haired ape men trudging through the snow behind a line of tanks with a AK 47 in one hand and a frozen banana in the other.
At any rate Slotkin wishes to link Burroughs up with these ideas that Liberals themselves promoted. As the second decade wore on a number of writers dealt with these emerging problems of the age. The two most prominent American bete noirs of the Judeo-Liberals are Madison Grant and his Passing Of The Great Race of 1916 and Lothrop Stoddard and his The Rising Tide Of Color of 1920. As these men are scientists they were labeled ‘bigots’ which is to say heretics or anti-Semites by the Liberal Coalition.
It is not impossible that Burroughs may have read these books but there is no indication he did so so that there is no confirmed connection between he and Grant and Stoddard. As I read Slotkin he believes that Burroughs is complicit with both Madison Grant and Stoddard. Further there is no doubt Slotkin believes all three men are bad with evil intent. As the Scienfific findings of these men contradict the religious tenets of the Myersian Liberal Coalition I suppose Slotkin can do no other. How he manges to lump Burroughs in as an evil malicious bigot seems a stretcher.
In the first place although the findings of Grant and Stoddard are offensive to Slotkin and the Liberal Coalition they nevertheless show the honest unbiased scientific results of the research of honest scholars who are no less decent and honorable than any of the Liberal Coalition. Grant’s work is an essay into proto-genetics for which subsequent learning shows no fault. Stoddard’s work is an excellent faultless political analysis which has been borne out by subequent developments.
While the Liberal Coalition has chosen to pathologize and demonize all three of these writers their opinion should just be waved aside, disregarded as irrelevant. Their opinions should be marginalized. Grant and Stoddard are good and honorable men.
When I first read Slotkin’s analysis of Burroughs I was outraged and then baffled. I rejected the criticism but as Slotkin obvously believes this stuff although he poorly documents it his notions were filed in the bck of my brain while I began to search for his reasons.
From a scientific point of view Slotkin has no basis for his claims but when one lays the Judeo-Red-Liberal matrix over the science all becomes clear. This is a conflict betwen Arien Age religion and twentieth century science.
If one looks closely at Burroughs one will find he has embraced science and rejected religion thus immediately becoming classified as a bigot/anti-Semite in their eyes.
While Burroughs was from the North he is not in full sympathy with abolitionist and Liberal ideals. he appears to reject the harshness of their attitude toward Southern Whites. As in Marcia, John Hancock Chase from Baltimore living in New York City seems to be an attempt to reunify the country according to the ideas of Thomas Dixon, Jr. and his Reconstruction novels and D.W. Griffith’s movie The Birth Of A Nation. To merely be sympathetic to Southern Whites is to deny the victimhood of the Negroes which arouses the animosity of Liberals. Burroughs has thus identified himself as a ‘bigot, heretic, anti-Semite’. He is plainly the enemy of the Liberal Coalition.
And, then, while Burroughs didn’t join organizations like the A.P.A.- American Protective Association- still, like his fellow writers Jack London and Zane Grey he regretted the passingof Anglo-Saxon dominated America. He hated to see the Old Stock in decline. Thus in the Myersian sense he becomes pathologized as a ‘bigot.’ From the Liberal point of view Burroughs is clearly guilty and should be banned from literature. Put on the Liberal Index. However one has to accept the Liberal point of view to think so.
He rejects all religion but as to whether he specifically singles out Catholics, Jews or any other sect I don’t believe that there is a shred of evidence.
One can’t read with his contemporaries eyes so perhaps what isn’t so clear now leaped out of the page then. Burroughs ruminations on Eugenics, especially in the pages of Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar, may then have been more obvious to them than to us. But at the same time his opinions wouldn’t have been offensive to them. As the Liberals accepted Eugenics then as readily as anyone else it would seem that the present emphasis on Burroughs’ fascination with the subject arises primarily from the Liberal rejection of their own past although it is still possible that what contemporary Liberals accepted in themselves they rejected in others as they do today.
While I originally rejected the notion that there was any reason to suspect Burroughs of being an ‘anti-Semite’ I think that if one is looking for indications from the Coalition point of view one can find them. As I point out in Part IV the American Jewish Committee contacted him in 1919 while there are passages in Marcia Of The Doorstep that the Coalition could construe as anti-Semitism and for which Burroughs was possibly punished.
Finally Burroughs as a follower of Teddy Roosevelt rather than Woodrow Wilson might have been suspect. The period after the Great War when it became evident that a very large percentage of the immigrants did not really consider themselves American’s caused TR to remark that America had become merely an international boarding house. Quite true but who would have thought anything else was possible? Today the term ‘international boarding house’ might be interpreted as Diversity or multi-culturalism. TR was head of his times.
The period ending in 1919 also represented the changing of the guard. Buffalo Bill died in 1917 taking hs mythic Wild West with him to the grave. He also represented the end of the first America. The Anglo-Saxons who had won the West. Of course the winners of the West were not nearly so Ango-Saxon as represented but in general it was true. There are almost no non-Anglo-Saxon names in the novels of Zane Grey other than Mexican.
Also in 1919 TR himself passed away just as he was scheduled to be the Republican Presidential candidate for 1910. His loss was keenly felt by Burroughs and his friend Herb Weston. I doubt TR could have adapted to the new problems America was facing even as well as Warren G. Harding did. How TR might have interpreted the challenge to American Democracy of the Liberal Coalition isn’t too obvious.
In 1066 and succeeding centuries the Norman Conquerors enslaved the Anglo-Saxons of East Anglia which was an affront deeply resented. Take a lesson.
In the sixteenth century when the printed Old Testament became universally available the East Anglians identified with the enslaved Hebrews of Exodus. They elected themselves a Chosen People and developed the compensatory Utopian attitude of inherent virtue as the Chosen People Of God.
In the seventeenth century New England was settled by emigrants from East Anglia. Not just English but East Anglians. Virginia was settle by descendents of the Norman conquerors of 1066. The Virginians once again chose slavery as the method of labor. First indentured White people then Africans.
While Utopian ideals developed in New England the abolitionist movement began which resulted in the Civil War-War Between The States. War between regions or actually a war between ideologies. There was no chance the South was going to discontinue slavery anythime soon no matter what anyone says.
In revenge for 1066 the Cavaliers (Whites) of the South were absolutely crushed giving up all rights by surrendering unconditionally.
The nascent Liberal Party of Puritans elevated the Africans over the Cavaliers thus establishing their protectorship over the ‘victims’ which is characteristic of the faith while establishing their power over dissident Whites. Thus the Liberals ultimately aligned themselves with all colored revolutionary movements in the world against White European conquerors.
Within the United States they viewed immigrants as ‘victims’ of the Old Stock pathologizing the Old Stock as ‘bigots’ no better than the Cavaliers of the Old South or the Europeans. All opponents of of their Liberal religious ideology which included the intellectual mindset of Science thus became wrong headed vile ‘bigots’ who had no right to live. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 the utopian Communist ideology became their politics; call it Socialism it comes out the same.
As Edgar Rice Burrough was not a Liberal, not a Communist and not Religious but Scientific he unwittingly placed himself in opposition to the Liberal Coalition. On that basis a serious attempt was made to abort his career while subsequently an attempt to erase his name and work from history is being conducted.
Thus the twenties ushered in a new changed era fraught with new adjustments which were misunderstood or not understood at all.
Burroughs career after 1920 has to be seen in the light of this concealed antagonism that he had to counter without being clear as to its causes.
Thus the contrast between The Mucker and Marcia Of The Doorstep can be seen as a response to two different challenges united by Burroughs personal psychological development.
Go To Part IV:of The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doorstep
September 6, 2008
The Low Brow And The High Brow
And In Depth Study Of The Edgar Rice Burroughs Novels
The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doorstep
By the time Burroughs took up his pen to write at the age of 36 he had a lifetime of frustration and humiliation behind him. Born into an affluent family, their means had petered out by the time young Burroughs reached manhood. Thus he who had been born a prince had become a pauper. ERB felt this keenly. His problem became how to regain his position, his exalted destiny.
The most direct and possible approach was to become an officer in the Army. Burroughs closed that avenue early in life by botching his relationship with Colonel Rogers and Charles King of the Michigan Military Academ.
He began a promising career at Sears, Roebuck but he found success there would be of a very anonymous sort as the member of the team. Fearing to disappear into mercantile obscurity he aborted that career abruptly quitting his job with no prospects.
In what may have been one of the most important decisions of his career he joined up with a patent medicine manufacturer named Dr. Stace. This phase of his career has not been properly investigated. Reasoning from inferences in the Corpus it seems reasonable that he and Stace ran afoul of the law.
A Pure Food And Drug Act had been passed in 1906 which temporarily at any rate made the sale of patent medicines illegal. A few years later the Supreme Court would once again legitimize their sale provided the contents were properly labeled. For the time being there was a problem with the law. Erwin Porges’ Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Invented Tarzan briefly discusses the relationship in this manner. p. 105:
Stace, whom Ed found very likable, had grown ashamed of the patent medicine business and was casting about for a more reputable type of livelihood. His qualms may have been reinforced by the dubious attitude of the United States Government: “Alcola cured alcoholism all right, but the Federal Pure Food And Drug people tooke the position that there were worse things than alcoholism and forbade the sale of Alcola.”
The portion in quotes is presumabley from Burroughs although Porges fails to properly identify it if so.
Since the Pure Food And Drug people acted against Dr. Stace it is only fair to assume the police were involved and depending on how far Dr. Stace fought it, probably a Grand Jury. It is probable then that Burroughs’ seeming intimate knowledge of police methods and Grand Juries was learned at this time.
As Stace’s office manager it is possible that ERB bought into the company and was therefore more intimately involved. Certainly he did not sever his relationship with Dr. Stace as a result of these legal actions, but instead formed a corporation or partnership with him immediately after to sell courses in salesmanship. Hardly more respectable than patent medicines.
As one usually found advertisements for such courses in the back of pulp magazines one can conjecture the status of the enterprise and also its chances of success. The company bearing the name Burroughs-Stace did fail quickly. Notice that Burroughs name came before that of Stace.
Now, Alcola being an illegal product it could not have done ERB’s reputation much good to be associated with it. Continuing his relationship with Dr. Stace in another questionable business would only confirm ERB’s rputation for operating on the legal borderline. In later years Burroughs, while not denying that he had been associated with Stace, claimed to have never seen those people since the time thus attempting to dissociate himself from them.
Thus ERB’s prospects loomed shakily. As these events occurred in 1909-10 he was facing a lifetime of marginal jobs leading ever downward or taking the million to one chance of becoming a successful author. Not too long after terminating his relationship with Dr. Stace he took up his pen. Fate began to blow a strong wind into his sails, so to speak.
However, if I am correct, he was now looked at askance by ‘polite’ society.
His first writing efforts were a success. So successful that he could get anything he wrote into print. this began to bear fruit in 1913, two years after he began writing, when he could throw over his day job and become a self-supporting writer.
Thus he was able to realize his ambition to regain his status of a prince after an interim of nearly thirty years.
He still had to explain himself to himself and Emma as well as to Chicago in general. Much of his output of 1913 would attempt to do just that; especially the first of the two works under consideration here: The Mucker.
The psychological baggage Burroughs brings to his writing to exorcise is considerable. When H.G. Wells portrayed ERB as insane in Mr Blettsworthy Of Rampole Island there was an element of truth while the case was overstated. ERB was apparently able to disappear into himself whiie he was writing thus living an alternate reality which is what Wells was talking about.
The ability to do so is probably why Burroughs’ writing has such immediacy, why his improbabiities are so believable. One wonders what would have become of his mind if he hadn’t become a successful writer. Perhaps the pseudonym he adopted for his first book, Normal Bean, was more to convince himself than others. Bean as slang for head or mind. Certainly his reaction to his success appears to border on the irrational.
His psychological compression was so great that he nearly went off the rails in 1913 in his first blush of success. It is impossible that he wasn’t being observed by others. It is impossible that others didn’t consider him a phenom. The Mars Trilogy and Tarzan were such strange creations for the times that he had to be viewed with wonder. While one can never be sure when he is being referred to in the fiction of other writers it seems to me that there are resonances of Burroughs in such writers as John Dos Passos and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
If he had designed his actions to get talked about he couldn’t have come up with anything more spectacular than his trip to California mid-1913 after a successful half year. For the full year he would earn over ten thousand dollars. This sum in 1913 was reaching the lower limits of super affluence. You couldn’t add much to your comfort with more than ten a year, the rest was conspicuous consumption. It all depends on which multiplier you use but the one I use brings the income out in today’s dollars as between three and five hundred thousand dollars.
Sudden affluence after years of scrabbling for a living can do strange things to your mind. ERB’s was rocked to its foundations. He went crazy in his rush to spend his money. A clothes horse like his wife Emma came into her own. In his rush to spend ERB spent his income before it was earned. He was literally broke between checks from his publishers.
Then in mid-1913 an event occurred which might have triggered his flight from Chicago to California. The Black boxer, Jack Johnson was conceded his title in 1910 when he defeated the White favorite, Jim Jeffries. He had actually won the title in 1908 when he defeated then champion Tommy Burns. Whites were reluctant to acknowledge his claim to the title until he had fought Jeffries who the Whites thought was the ‘real’ champion because he had retired undefeated.
Having disappointed White hopes by defeating Jeffries, Johnson was then set up on a morals charge and convicted in what amounted to a kangaroo court. About to lose his appeal Johnson skipped the country in July of ’13 rather than go to jail as an innocent man.
The Affair Jack Johnson had had a tremendous effect on Burroughs who was an ardent boxing fan. Thus his novel The Mucker deals extensively with the Johnson Affair. I believe that since his assocition with Dr. Stace Burroughs was considered quasi-legit at best and hence in the same boat with a Johnson.
When Johnson split it seemed to cause an equal reaction in Burroughs. Johnson went East to Europe while ERB went West to California. In july of ’13 ERB began work on his realistic Chicago novel The Girl From Farris’s. This work was undoubtedly intended to explain his actions between 1899 and 1911. Once he got started he immediately ran into writer’s block being unable to continue the novel. Before he could continue he had to work out several issues. Thus he did what was for him a very unusual thing. He began the book in July of ’13 only finishing it in March of ’14. In between he wrote five other novels in his usual rapid fashion. the were, in order The Mucker, The Mad King Pt. 1, The Eternal Lover Ptl 1, Beasts Of Tarzan and The Lad And The Lion. The entire set of six stories then are all closely related and should properly be understood only as aspects of the same novel- The Girl From Faris’s.
We are going to consider only the first of the inner five, The Mucker, here. Thus the trip to California begins to work out the redemption or Salvation of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The whole set might be titled: Edgar Rice Burrougs In Search Of Himself.
One must not underestimate the influence of the two or possibly three central events in Burroughs’ life; his confrontatin with John The Bully in 1884-85, the 1899 trip to New york with the Martins and his dramatic relationship with Dr. Stace. One cannot devalue his relationship with his father or Charles King, nor the very influential visit to Idaho where he came under the influence of Lew Sweetser, but his first three seem to dominate his life and work.
A major consequence of his confrontation with John The Bully is that it declassed him. ERB’s Animus became part prince, part pauper; part outlaw, part orthodox as demonstrated in The Outlaw Of Torn. The trip in the private rail car showed him how far down the economic scale he was and how far he had to climb. Although he won the hand of Emma from Martin I think it very likely that when he and Emma returned from Idaho Martin renewed his attentions to Emma. He undoubtedly drove one of the big new automobiles with which the impoverished ERB could not compete. About all he could do if he thought Emma’s affection were wobbling was to get her pregnant. In 1908 and 1909 the couple had two children in rapid succession although they could afford them no more than in their first eight years of marriage.
Thus ten years after had taken Emma to Idaho, for reasons that are unclear to us, he took her to California. Always the wastrel he made the trip in the most expensive way possible. The family went first class.
As Porges quotes him ERB says: “I had decided I was too rich to spend my winters in Chicago so I packed my family, all my furniture, my second hand automobile and bought transportation to Los Angeles.
This was not the most rational move for a man who had written an “Ode To Poverty” not too long before. He had no assurance of being able to write or sell stories, without the sale of which he would be stranded, broke twenty-five hundred miles from his home. Of course he still had all his furniture. There was no one who could help him financially. It is interesting to speculate on what sort of job he would have applied for.
Why would a man do this? ERB had apparently bought his used car, a Velie, at the beginning of 1913 when for all practical acounts he was still broke. Why the urgent need to hop a train? I think the reason can be traced back to Frank Martin. The humiliation of the trip East in a private railcar in 1899 and the subsequent stay in the Bowery while the Martins lived on Riverside Drive had to be compensated. While ERB couldn’t afford a new car he rushed out to buy a used one which was apparently as much as he thought he could afford at the time. On the other hand as his characters always say of themselves: For me. to think is to act. if the Martins among other ‘plutocrats’ wintered in Florida then as ERB could still not compete with them financially he went West.
Arriving in LA he and family drove the second hand Velie down to San Diego with the furniture apparently entrained for the same destination.
During this period ERB’s behavior is absolutely zany. Unable to stay put in LA he moved to Coronado which is a sand spit on the west side of San Diego Bay. North Island Naval Air would be built on the North end of it. The Carriers used to be docked on the ocean side as their draft was too great for the Bay. Disliking Coronado he moved back across the bay to the first low ridge of hills that separates the city proper from the Bay. He apparently was near the crest as he said he could look over it to the East. When I was in the Navy in San Diego I thought this small ridge only a couple miles in length had the most deligthful climate on Earth. I still think it does. So, in 1913-14 before 101 became a major noisy highway at the base of the hill ERB was living in as close to paradise as anyone in this world can ever get.
It was here he explored his psychological problems.
Burroughs because of his encounter with John The Bully, had been rendered susceptible to ‘low brow’ influences. His subsequent life with its constant moving from school to school, from Illinois to Idaho, to Connecticut, to Michigan, to Arizona and back to Illinois had not put into contact with too many ‘high brow’ influences.
In constrast, his wife Emma Hulbert, had been trained to high brow avocations from childhood. I’m sure that one of the objections of her parents to ERB was that he was so detestably low brow. Emma, afer all, had been trained to the opera which is the epitome of high brow. Emma often referred to ERB as a low brow during their marriage which can be somewhat trying. If one contrasts The Mucker with Marcia Of The Doorstep it will become immediately apparent that the former is low brow and the latter is intended to be high brow. So the dominating theme of The Mucker is between the low brow Billy Byrne and the high brow Barbara Harding. The problem as it surfaces when the two come into contact is how Barbara is to turn the low brow mucker into a high brow or at least into a low brow with good speech and mannerisms. This may have been a daily conflict between ERB and Emma in real life.
The first question is how far ERB identifies with Billy Byrne. It is my contention that Billy is an alter ego conditioned by ERB’s confrontation with John The Bully.
I have explained elsewhere that terror may be used to introduce a hypnotic suggestion. Terror opens the mind to suggestion. In ERB’s case when he was in terror of John he accepted the suggestion that because John was terrorizing him he was an admirable person to be emulated. Of course this went against the teaching of his family so that ERB now divided his Animus nearly equally between his father/family and John. Even though his family training commanded his first allegiance, John declassed him so that he mentally assumed the traits of this hoodlum Irish boy. In a sense ERB split his personality.
As would be expected the assumption of John’s characteristics caused a personality conflict which it was necessary to resolve. One must assume that by 1913’s Mucker ERB was aware of his peronality conflict and began the attempt to write it out.
For those new to the term a mucker was one who wallowed in the muck of society, a low class person with very little or no redeeming social value. Thus Burroughs is dealing very harshly with both himself and Byrne/John.
It may be assumed beyond doubt that John was first generation immigrant. As he was twelve when he confronted ERB in 1884-85 he must have been born in 1872. He may actually have been born in Ireland or was at least the son of immigrants hence his Irish prejudices against the English would be very strong while the Irish at the time were considered on a social and racial par with the Negro or perhaps even below. Combining these social disadvantages he was raised in Chicago’s great West Side which ERB with undisguised horror describes.
He also very carefully indicates that Byrne was not an inherently bad person but was strictly a product of his environment. He could have been anything raised in a different social setting. Nurture over nature. An interesting liberal opinion in an age when heredity was accredited to a criminal type. By explaining Byrne as a product of his environment Burroughs was also justifying himself. Indeed, how could he have learned the social graces to which he was entitled by birth having been brought up viewing the underbelly of society. Probably ERB did not become acquainted with the social graces or high brow point of view until he married Emma.
If his social education began with his marriage to Emma then Byrne’s begins when he and Barbara Harding are brought into close contact on ‘Manhattan Island’ in the river of their Pacific island locale where they ‘play house.’ Thus there is more than sufficient evidence to indicate that Byrne and Burroughs are similar. Both names even begin with a B.
As he is part of Burroughs’ psyche ERB has to exonerate Byrne as well as rehabilitate him into someone at least that Burroughs can respect. This is the burden of the book.
After a youthful life in which Byrne makes the best of a bad situation, during which he became competent to survive and dominate in a difficult environment, Byrne takes a step up by becoming involved in boxing. Thus he goes from a no brow to a low brow. Already a fearsome street brawler Byrne becomes a formidable scientific boxer as well. He is good enough to be a sparring partner with the Big Smoke himself. This must have been before July 1913 but no earlier than say 1911.
Sometime in 1912 or early 1913 Byrne is falsely accused of murder by one Sheehan who Byrne had defeated in a fight when they were twelve. Billy had earlier saved a policeman’s life who was being savagely beaten by a rival gang on Byrne’s turf. The policeman now returns the favor by advising Byrne to get out of town which advice Billy take seriously not unlike Jack Johnson. Thus Johnson goes East, Byrne goes West at exactly the same time. Coincidence?
Billy bobs up in San Francisco about the same time that ERB shows up in the sunny Southland. They both reach California at the same time. Another coincidence?
Unfortunately for Billy he gets shanghaied by the guy he intends to roll. He is taken aboard the Half Moon. The ship on which Henry Hudson explored New York’s Hudson River was named the Half Moon so there is a little joke here as Barbara and Byrne reside on a Manhattan Island in their Pacific location.
Being shanghaied wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to Byrne for while he is aboard he is forced to learn discipline- putting a little organization into his chaotic mind. The Half Moon might also stand for the MMA in ERB’s memory. He was more or less shanghaied into attendance when his father made him return after he had run away from the school. Then, under the tutelage of Charles King who he respected he learned the rudiments of self-discipline.
Even though Byrne is a sort of wildman Burroughs shows the greatest respect for him.
Byrne’s next civilizing lesson comes when the Half Moon pretending distress captures the Harding yacht aboard which Byrne is transferred.
The yacht named the Lotus, perhaps after Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lotus Eaters.’ The Lotus Eaters sat around all day in idle forgetfulness which was a pretty good description of the Harding party and another joke. Burroughs had a copy of Tennyson’s poems in his library so the association is probable, besides which as Burroughs had a strong grounding in Greek mythology he would have been familiar with the Lotus Eaters from his Homer.
Burroughs, who had never been to sea, knew nothing of the ocean. His source for sea matters most probably was Jack London. ERB was a great admirer of London but as he had nothing in his library one can only guess at what he had read. There’s pretty good evidence for The Call Of The Wild and The Sea Wolf. He may have picked up his South Seas lore from London’s Son Of The Son (The Adventures of Captain David Grief in my edition). The last book was published in 1911 but Burroughs probably had read it. As he would project the making of Melville’s Typee into a movie in the ’30s it is possible that he was already familiar with that book and Melville’s other South Sea romance, Omoo at least as early as 1913.
Both myself and other researchers are pretty liberal about ERB’s reading list but as I have cautioned before the bulk of his reading for these early stories had to be done between 1900 and 1911 when he was a very busy man with troubles in mind not to mention excruciating headaches. Along with newspapers and magazines he surely couldn’t have read more than two or three hundred books if that many. He may have read a number of sea stories in various magazines at any rate, but his sea lore is second hand, unreliable and unknowledeable.
He has the Lotus tending Southwest toward the Philippines having begun in Hawaii. The Philippines is a large archipelago blending into the massive archipelago just South of it, the Lotus should have been in Equatorial waters where the trade winds blow. Most of your monster storms are further North or South. I was in the Navy making one tour from California in the East to China in the West, South to Australia and North to Japan. I had the terrifying experience of passing through a typhoon off Japan which if it wasn’t the storm of the millenium I can’t imagine a greater. Quite seriously, we all thought we were going to die. My only thought was that the water was going to be awfully cold when I hit it.
I do not jest when I say the waves were seventy-five feet high, you’re right, why not make them a hundred, maybe they were a hundred, two would be stretching it. I was standing on the bridge twenty-five feet above the water line looking straight up at the crest of the waves when we were in the trough. OK. A hundred twenty-five then. We were so far down in the trough there was no wind, nor did the waves break over us, they just slid under the ship raising us to the crests and then we slid down the other side. I kid you not.
Then, as we came down from the crest, way up there, at the bottom of the trough the ship slammed into a current bringing it to a complete halt left and right and fore and aft. These troughs were not rows of waves and troughs, no no, but huge bowls perhaps a mile or more long. Our ship was three hundred six feet long so there we were a speck, an atom, a proton sitting quietly in the midst of this huge bowl waiting for the swatter of fate to fall.
I had been thrown across the deck from port to starboard when we slammed into the current. I scrambled to my feet, noticed that the starboard watch, Engelhardt, was on the way over the side for a tete a tete with Davy Jones. I knew that Jones didn’t have the time for an ordinary Seaman like Engelhardt or me so I grabbed his belt and pulled him back aboard, then ran over to port to wait to die.
Now that was a storm. I don’t know how we rode it out, I thought the end had come, was past. So, why did I tell that? Because ERB’s storms are ludicrous and in the wrong place. A cloud appears, the next thing you know a few indeterminate big waves show up and the ship sinks but the lifeboats survive. All this in equatorial waters. Well, if you’ve never been in it, it might sound alright.
It doesn’t matter because those sudden squalls in ERB’s stories represent his confrontation with John The Bully. Within the twinkling of an eye ERB’s whole direction of life changed.
His had been for the worse but Byrne’s was for the better. This then reflected the change in Burroughs’ own fortunes.
Byrne and the crew are thrown up on an unidentified island somewhere in the South seas but a fairly large one. In those years one could believe that there were islands yet to be discovered. This one has a river big enough to allow for a largish island in the middle. It is here that Byrne will get his introduction to the finer side of life. However not before some very exciting and exotic adventures showing Burroughs at his best.
Apart from Jules Verne, who might also be an influence on this book through his The Mysterious Island that had a tremendous influence on Burroughs though the book was not in his library. ERB seems to be familiar with a number of French authors. He had The Mysteries Of Paris by the incredible Eugene Sue in his Library, while it is fairly obvious he had been suitably impressed by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The sewer scene in his next book, The Mad King, is indicative of that while Theriere in this book may be a variation on Thenardier. He was also familiar with Dumas’ The Three Musketeers as there are several references to that one including the sequel to The Mucker, Out There Somewhere, when he indicates an intent to create his own three Musketeers in Byrne, Bridge and Burke.
As indicated in my Only A Hobo, ERB was probably immersed in US-Japanese relations that were fairly hot at this time as well as remembering the Japanese exhibit at the Columbian Expo of 1893. He gets his facts right too.
In this case the island is populated by an indigenous population that has been blended with a group of Samurai warriors from Japan. Burroughs correctly indicates that the Samurai had come to the island just before Japan was closed to the world in the early seventeenth century. From about 1620 to about 1860- Perry opened Japan in 1853- no one had been allowed to enter or leave Japan so ERB has been doing his homework. Over the three hundred years a degenerate society of militant Samurai had combined with the indigenes to create a culture of savages. An interesting anthropological notion not too unlike The Lord Of The Flies that has been a literary staple for the last sixty years.
Byrne and Theriere engage in a terrific conflict to rescue Barbara Harding from the Samurai during which Theriere is killed and Byrne seriously wounded. Barbara Harding nurses him back to health in an idyllic glen by a babbling brook.
At this point Byrne is reunited with his Anima ideal. Barbara is going to rehabilitate this guy. He has made some few steps toward his own redemption but the following is the quality Barabara had to work with as described by ERB p. 17:
…Billy was mucker, a hoodlum, a gangster, a thug, a tough. When he fought he would have brought a flush of shame to the face of His Satanic Majesty. He had hit oftener from behind than before. He had always taken every advantage of his size and weight and numbers that he could call to his assistance. He was an insulter of girls and women. He was a bar-room brawler, and a saloon corner loafer. He was all that was dirty, and mean, and contemptible and cowardly in the eyes of a brave man, and yet, notwithstanding all this Billy Byrne was no coward. He was what he was because of training (conditioning) and environment. He knew no other methods, no other code.
As Burroughs says, up to this time Byrne had been an insulter of women, abusive to the whole female sex, probably including his mother. It is only now that his eyes begin to open to what Jack London would call the wonder of woman. How far Byrne reflects ERB’s general attitude toward women isn’t clear although by the end of his life his misogyny was becoming pronounced. He was certainly no ladies man prior to is marriage to Emma. I am not certain he would have married if it hadn’t been for the competition with Martin. The suddenness of his marriage after the Toronto incident indicates a Martin influence or else he was bonkers after the blow. When he later said Tarzan should never have married he was undoubtedly talking about himself. He certainly never placed Emma first, being always ready to accept an army commission, fight in Central America, seek a commission in the Chinese army or become a war correspondent all of which would have left Emma and the kids at home.
At the same time Barbara who had detested Byrne becomes softened to him preparing her to love him once they moved downstream to Manhattan Island. This may be some romanticized version of ERB’s relationship with Emma after Toronto although she seems to have been fixed on Burroughs from childhood. At any rate the relationship comes to fruition downstream where the high brow Barbara attempts so raise the brow level of Byrne.
If one takes high brow, low brow seriously being thought of as a low brow, that is inferior, can be annoying. Since Burroughs has chosen in his first novel within the cocoon of Girl From Faris‘s to write around the theme of a low brow hero I think it fair to believe it irritated him to be thought of as a low brow; especially so as in most instances he was much better educated than those who so named him. Chief among these was his wife Emma. Whereas she had been trained ot operatic arias ERB played the hillbilly tune Are You From Dixie? over and over again on his phonograph. Hillbilly music really irritates the operatic type. There must have been constant conflict in the household.
Emma especially looked down on boxing as low brow. ERB was an ardent boxing fan, while here he chooses a low brow boxer as hero. ERB could have some startling opinions on what was high brow. He thought auto races were high brow. I don’t know what the crowds were like back then but I’ve been to the stock car races where I found high brows conspicuous only by their absence.
But, to the Mucker. Moving downsteam after his recovery on this rather large river coming closer to the estuary they hit an island. Being bounded as it were by a Hudson on one side and East River on the other they named the island Manhattan. There’s a nice Expo twist and joke here as in Chicago on the Wooded Island one came upon a Japanese settlement in the middle of the city; here on a Samurai Island in the Pacific one comes upon a Manhattan Island of Americans. Kind of cute reversal, don’t you think?
As Billy has to know some details about Manhattan to keep the story moving, Burroughs rather lamely invents a couple trips Billy had made to New York with the Goose Island Kid. As the boxing scene Burroughs describes, with the exception of the Big Smoke is entirely Irish one might note the origin of the name of The Goose Island Kid. Goose Island was an area in the Chicago River inhabited by the poorest of the Irish, so the Kid comes from the bottom of the social scale even below Byrne’s origins. One should contrast this with Burroughs prized English ancestry.
Burroughs is writing from experience either psychological or real. Thus one asks when was ERB in New York to acquire his knowledge of the city. Well, let’s see: He had an extended stay in 1899. That was the trip when he got bashed in Toronto. Then he had a short stay at the the invitation of Munsey. Most of what he knew must have come from the 1899 trip.
On their desert Manhattan Island Barbara, who up to this time had been repelled by Byrne makes an attempt at deconditioning Byrne from a Mucker and reconditioning him as an upper class New Yorker. the conditioning consists of ridding him of the horrific characteristics attributed to him by ERB while teaching him to speak in an educated manner. As there was no tableware she couldn’t teach him which fork to use.
Possibly this scene may reflect on the first couple years of Burroughs’ married life. Remember that ERB hadn’t been much around polite society from the years of twelve to twenty-five during which he was conditioned to his low brow attitudes. Emma had been brought up in a high brow environment so that she may have felt the need to isntruct her new husband in some of the finer points of good manners.
When Frank Martin (see my Four Crucial Years) asked ERB to go to New York with him in 1899 he did so with a heart full of malice. He was competeing with Burroughs for Emma Hulbert’s favors and, as is commonly believed, he felt all’s fair in love and war.
The evidence points to the fact that he intended to have ERB murdered in Toronto to clear his path to the woman. Along the way he must have done his best to humiliate his rival- the mucker Ed Burroughs.
ERB was moving in much faster company than he was used to. While coming from a once affluent family his people had fallen on hard times. ERB’s income was little more than sixty dollars a month while Frank Martin the son of a millionaire could blow that much on dinner every night of the week.
Riding in Martin’s father’s private railcar one imagines that ERB’s suit compared to the fabulous duds of Martin was laughable. The contrasts between their two stations must have been even more laughable and very satisfying to Martin. Martin would have considered himself a high brow to Burroughs’ low brow.
Once in New York Martin’s hospitality didn’t extend to living quarters. ERB gives no indication of how much money he took along or where he got it. I should be surprised if he had so much as two hundred dollars, certainly no more. However much he had there was no way he could have kept up with the Martins.
His address while in New York was down on the Bowery while the Martin’s was in a better part of town, perhaps Riverside Drive. Danton Burroughs has a picture of the three of them- Burroughs, Martin and Martin’s other companion, R.H. Patchin, on Coney Island. One hopes Danton will release the photo to ERBzine along with any other information he may have. Coney Island would be good low brow entertainment to offer Burroughs, something he could afford.
A possible account of how Burroughs felt during his dependency on Martin can be found in one of the volumes in ERB’s library: The House Of Mirth by Edith Wharton. The reading of it must have brought pangs of recognition to ERB.
In The Mucker Billy Byrne speaks of Riverside Drive and the Bowery in this way:
“Number one, Riverside Drive,” said the Mucker with a grin, when the work was completed: “an’ now I’ll go down on the river front and build the Bowery.”
“Oh, are you from New York?” asked the girl.
“Not on your life,” replied Billy Byrne. “I’m from good old Chi but I been to Noo York twict with the Goose Island Kid, so I knows all about it. De roughnecks belong on de Bowery, so dat’s what we’ll call my dump down by de river. You’re a high brow, so youse gotta live on Riverside Drive, see?’ and the mucker laughed at his little pleasantry.
In 1913 the only real experience Burroughs had with New York was the 1899 trip so that one can guess that when the Martin party detrained Burroughs as a ‘roughneck’ went to the Bowery while Martin and his group went to Riverside Drive or its equivalent. Surely Burroughs realized he had been duped at this point and felt it keenly. Or, perhaps, he didn’t catch on until much later having thought about it for a while. Referring to the Irish Martin as The Goose Island Kid who took him to New York may be a belated disguised slap in the face. If Martin read the book I’m sure he would have understood.
At this point is the novel Barbara begins Byrne’s deconditioning teaching him the Riverside patois thus giving him true English as a second language to his native Muckerese. Thus Byrne is to some extent rehabilitated as a human being; this follows fairly close that of Jean Val Jean of Les Miserables, however as Billy ruefully learned there is more to reconditioning than language.
At this point Byrne has a dual personality. He is the low brow mucker and a high brow mucker in that he has learned certain mannerisms and he can speak both forms of English.
If the scene on Manhattan Island to some extent reflected the relationship between ERB and Emma then the seeds of his discontent which will result in divorce have already been sown. The parting from Barbara at the end of the story may be the first prefiguration of his divorce.
On the other hand Byrne has been temporarily reunited with his Anima figure somewhat in the manner of Eros and Psyche in Greek mytholotgy which makes him a complete being, his X and Y chromosomes being reconciled. They are soon split apart again as he and Barbara find their separate ways to NYC.
Upon Byrne’s return to NYC Burroughs begins to wrestle with the problem of the displacement of a White heavyweight boxing champ with a Black one. In our age when boxing has become a totally Black sport it is difficult to see the real significance of Jack Johnson’s assumption of the championship for both Whites and Blacks. The success of Johnson also came at a time when in competition with immigrants the Anglo ‘old stock’ was being displaced from a feeling of rightful preeminence in a country it had made.
This displacement by immigrant’s also occured at the time when the ranks of the European conquerors of the world had reached their limitations and the conquered began to roll them back. Thus one has such volumes of the period as Madison Grant’s The Passing Of The Great Race and Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide Of Color. The world was mysteriously changing slipping from beneath the White Man’s feet.
Complementary to the works of Grant and Stoddard, but not influenced by them, was the world of such writers as Zane Grey, Jack London and Burroughs. A common thread in the world of all three is the displacement of the ‘old stock’ by immigrants. London has a telling phrase in his excellent and highly recommended Valley Of The Moon when his character Billy Roberts is told that the ‘old stock’ had been sleeping and that now like Rip Van Winkle they were awakening to a new world that had changed while they slept. This theme would reappear in such works as Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Amerberson’s and Burroughs’ own The Girl From Hollywood of the next decade.
The social conflicts are treated almost identically by all three authors.
Richard Slotkin in his Gunslinger Nation attempts an exhaustive treatment of the problem from the Gustavus Myers’ immigrant/unskilled labor point of view which may be contrasted with that of our three masters. I will discuss this a little later.
Great changes were in progress. To try to characterize them from a single point of view as the Myers’ school does is both foolhardy and pernicious. While the immigrants and unskilled labor have their story it is only their story, a small part of the whole. While one can sympathize with anyone, anywhere, one cannot necessarily accept their point of view as definitve on which point they do insist. My heart goes out to everyone but does not rule my head.
The argument then breaks down broadly between the Liberal Coalition and what name is appropriate for the other side? -the rational? the realistic?, the conservative?. Why not settle for the Conservative with all its limitations. Yes, I am unapologetically conservative. No more limitating actually than calling the irresponsibility of the Coalition liberal. I fail to see the liberality.
The argument devolves into the two factions of the ‘old stock’ with the convervative wing being hopelessly outnumbered when the liberal wing aligned themselves along national and racial lines with the immigrants and Blacks and along poltical and religious lines with the Judaeo-Communists or more conveniently- the Reds. Reds is shorter.
That writers of the bent of Burroughs, London and Grey have survived at all, let alone remained popular, in such an environment is remarkable indeed.
From 1910 to 1919 major events that affected our writers occurred and typified the decline of Euroamerica from its pinnacle of self-satisfaction. The Great War which ran from 1914 to 1918 shattered the image of Euroamerica before the rest of the world Successful resistance not only appeared possible to the defeated peoples but probable. Note the advantage Japan took of the debacle.
A second event almost prefiguring the Great War was the sinking of the great ship RMS Titanic in 1912. Billed as unsinkable it represented the peak of Euroamerican scientific and technological skill. When that Grat Ship went down on its maiden voyage it took a great deal of the West’s confidence down with it. While the West watched in dismay and horror the rest of the world cheered the West’s discomfiture. Unsinkable indeed!
But perhaps the single most disastrous blow to the pride of Euroamericans was when the Black Jack Johnson laid the pride of the Whites, Jim Jeffries, down in the fourteenth on July 4, 1910. The might Casey, Jim Jeffries, had struck out. The much despised Negro, Jack Johnson, walked away wearing the world heavyweight championship belt.
The Whites howled, they rioted but they had shot their best shot and there was no backup. No contender. No hope.
Jack London actually reported the fight. He was there. Ringside. Nor was he charitable toward Jack Johnson. He said things that might better have remained unsaid. We have no indication as to what Burroughs thought at the time. By the time he spoke publicly in The Mucker he had had time to mature his thoughts.
The effect on London was traumatic. In 1911 he published his book The Abyssmal Brute, his first thoughts on the fight. The fight not yet out of his system London expressed himself still further in his 1913 novel The Valley Of The Moon. I’ve said it before. I’m no Jack London fan. I’ve only read him more or less at the insistence of ERBzine’s Bill Hillman. If I had gone to the grave without reading The Call Of The Wild or The Sea Wolf I wouldn’t have considered it a loss. Not the same with Valley Of The Moon. This book along with ERB’s Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid is one of the neglected masterpieces of twentieth century American literature. It alone justifies London’s excellent reputation.
The story is that of two Oakland, California young people, Billy Roberts and his sweetheart Saxon Brown. While lamenting the displacement of the ‘old stock’ by the immigrants London also makes this a boxing story along the same lines as The Mucker.
In fact the stories are quite similar in conception. If one didn’t know that the authors were writing at the same time 2500 miles from each other one would think they may have written on the same theme as a bet. London, too, must have been influenced by the midnight flight of Johnson from Chicago. London makes Roberts an outstanding boxer in the Bay Area. Roberts gives up boxing because of the fate of boxers and because of the low brow fans. Later in the book London says that Roberts sparred with both Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson.
After a long period of unemployment in an attempt to win a hundred dollar prize to relieve his and Saxon’s poverty he agrees to go back in the ring, the squared circle, as Burroughs always refers to it. The fight with the Chicago Terror is very reminiscent of the Jeffries-Johnson battle. Like Jeffries Roberts hadn’t fought for a long time. Like Jeffries he was out of condition. After retiring in 1905 Jeffries had taken up farming, blossoming out to three hundred pounds. When the call came to redeem the honor of the White species sometime after 1908 Jeffries had to quickly get into condition losing all the extra tonnage.
He had certainly not regained his top form, timing and mental focus when he climbed into the ring to face Johnson. I make no excuses for him but as Jeffries said he saw his openings but his unconditioned reflexes didn’t allow him to take advantage of them. His failure broke the hearts of his followers.
The battle between Roberts and the Chicago Terror, johnson must have been intended, is probably a replay of the 1910 fight as seen by London. Out of condition and rusty Roberts gets mauled from start to finish. In an attempt to salvage special pride London has Roberts at least stay on his feet till the twentieth unlike the fourteenth round fall of Jeffries.
Toward the end of Valley Of The Moon London has Roberts climb nto the ring again, this time against a Big Swede, sort of polar to the Big Smoke. In the second of two bouts Roberts has difficulty putting the Big Swede away until the fourteenth. Also a replay of the Jeffries-Johnson fight with Roberts/Jeffries winning this one, if only in Jack’s dreams.
Thus the anguish of the loss surfaces three years after. Now, that the two events, the Titanic and fight get confused in this shuddering defeat of Euroamerica is interestingly made evident in the song Jack Johnson and the Titanic. In the song Jack Johnson goes down to the steamship line in England to buy passage for his White wife and himself. He is told that no Black Folks are allowed on the Titanic. As some sort of divine punishment for refusing him the Great Ship sinks.
Obviously Jack Johnson couldn’t have been refused as in 1912 he was still in Chicago fighting to stay out of jail. But the two White disasters became mingled in imagination.
While London was wrestling with the Johnson Affair in Valley Of The Moon, Burroughs was doing the same in his Mucker. One wonders what a further seach of popular literature would reveal.
In The Mucker Burroughs has gotten Byrne back in New York City. Broke and with no means of a livelihood the big man-beast turns to the only thing he can do which is boxing. While London, who had witnessed the fight essentially retold it in Valley Of The Moon, Burroughs who didn’t prepares Byrne to redeem the Whites by fighting and defeating the Big Smoke. Burroughs doesn’t mention Johnson by name. He uses Big Smoke, big dinge.
Burroughs immediately places Byrne in the role of the next hope. At the time these Whtie boxers were known only as hopes, the term Great White Hope in the completely derogatory sense evolved later. Like London Burroughs minces no words about Jim Jeffries being his favoirte. Not only does Byrne imitate Jeffries by fighting from a crouch but ‘Professor’ Cassidy his trainer says:
For a few minutes Billy Byrne played with his man, hitting him when and where he would. He fought, crouching, just as Jeffries used to fight, and in his size and strength, was much that reminded Cassidy of the fallen idol that in his heart of hearts he still worshipped.
Winning the fight Byrne went on to meet the #1 contender who he handily defeated. Having evoked the ghost of Jim Jeffries Burroughs brings in his other hero, Gentleman Jim Corbett.
The following morning the sporting sheets hailed “Sailor Byrne” ( tribute to Jack London whose hobo moniker was Sailor Jack) as the greatest white hope of them all. Flashlights of him filled a quarter of a page. There were interviews with him. Interviews of the man he had defeated. Interviews with Cassidy. Interviews with the referee. interviews with everybody, and all were agreed that he was the most likely heavy since Jeffries. Corbett admitted that, while in his prime, he could doubtless have bested the new wonder, he would have found him a tough customer.
Jeffries, Corbett, Byrne, a combination with so much magic in the names couldn’t help but win back the title to salve the wounded pride of the White species.
Cassidy wired a challenge to the Negro’s manager, and received an answer that was most favorable. The terms were, as usual, rather one sided but Cassidy accepted them, and it seemed before noon that the fight was assured.
Assured in dreams, of course, as this is only a novel.
It would be quite easy to pass over this part of the tale without realizing its significance but it shows the pain and suffering, the loss of pride that occurred when the championship went Black. While Burroughs has no difficulty invoking the names of the fallen idol, Jeffries and Corbett, he cannot bring himself to name Johnson referring to him only as The Big Smoke, the big dinge, or the Negro. The White world was in a deal of pain.
One can only guess how Burroughs intended to resolve his dilemma of having the fictional Byrne fight the living Johnson or perhaps the story was only a magic incantation to arouse the true hope. At any event when Byrne next appears in story in 1916’s Out There Somewhere, Jess Willard had already taken the championship back although under dubious circumstances. By 1916 Byrne’s boxing career is forgotten; there is no mention of it in the sequel.
Having solved the problem of the championship Burroughs returns to his Anima problem in the romance with Barbara Harding. Billy remembers she lives in New York City and decides to call on her. But…
…a single lifetime is far too short for a man to cover the distance from Grand Avenue to Riverside Drive…
While the above words were spoken about Billy, Byrne too came to the same conclusion:
But some strange influence had seemed suddenly to come to work upon him. Even in the brief moment of his entrance into the magnificence of Anthony Harding’s home he had felt a strange little stricture in the throat- a choking, a half-suffocating sensation.
The attitude of the servant, the spendor of the furniture, the stateliness of the great hall and the apartments opening upon it- all had whispered to him that he did not “belong.”
So Byrne feeling his inability to fit in walks away in bitter pride forswearing his love for Barbara Harding. Still, he could remember her saying back on that other Manhattan Island:
I love you Billy for what you are.
Thus the epic of the low brow Billy ends as he walks down the street a study of dejection with Barbara’s words ringing through his mind.
The question here is how much the relationship between Byrne and Barbara is a ‘highly fictionalized’ account of ERB’s own relationship with Emma. We can’t know for sure how hurt Burroughs may have been by Emma’s calling him a low brow. Perhaps he longed to hear her say: I love you, Ed, just the way you are.
Certainly the stories enveloped by The Girl From Faris’s all deal with his relationship with Emma as his Anima ideal. The Mad King which follows this story details the problems of the hero getting on the same wave length with the Princess Emma. He even uses his wife’s real name. The following title – The Eternal Lover – speaks for itself, Beasts Of Tarzan features a wild chase with Tarzan trying to find Jane who is lost in the jungle, while the last of the series, The Lad And The Lion, details the troubles of the Lad finding his desert princess. After the Lad he got past his mental block being able to close The Girl From Faris’s.
So if these stories are read consecutively they record the struggle going on in ERB’s mind to reconcile Emma to his Anima ideal and his Anima to his Animus. This is a task for not any but the most dedicated Burroughs scholar but I would interested in learning the opinion of any who might attempt it.
Read only Book One of Mad King and the first part, Nu Of The Neocene, of Eternal Lover in this context.
Ten years later ERB tackled the problem from the high brow point of view in Marcia Of The Doorstep.
Go To Part Two
Background Of The Second Decade- Personal