Analysis, Critical Theory And Greil Marcus


R.E. Prindle


     Through the moral and political rhetoric of John Winthrop, the Declaration Of Independence and the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, America explained itself to itself as a field of promises so vast they could only be betrayed.  The attempt to keep the promises- of community, liberty, jutice, and equality for all, because once let loose the genie could never be put back in the bottle- in face of the betrayal became the engine of American history and the template for our national story.

-Greil Marcus


     The problem I have with Mr. Marcus’ writing is that it is all skewed.  His vision is distorted by his ideologies.  Mr. Marcus purports to write about the US using terms like ‘our’ when he is in fact an Israeli citizen and places the interests of Israel above those of the United States.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that he is an adherent of the Jewish Critical Theory or Frankfurt School while being a leader of the Situationist Internation.  Both organizations are subversiive of the ideals and goals of the United States seeking to supplant those goals with those of Israel or, in another word, Judaism.

     Mr Marcus is not clear and honest in his intentions, seeking to mislead his readers into believing that he is objectively analyzing America rather than denouncing it in favor of the Israeli point of view.  He refuses to admit that his intent is the supremacy of Israeli/Jewish interests.  I find this both dishonest and offensive.

     Further in his zeal to demonstrate that the United States is a failed society he refuses to take into account any social or scientific developments since, essentially, John Winthrop of the seventeenth century.

     Winthrop is essentially a religious bigot who because of his historical era was necessarily devoid of any scientific knowledge.  His spoutings originate in the ignorance of the Jewish Bible written some two thousand or so years before his present which he takes as the literal truth and the word of ‘God.’

     While his views may be of interest to explain his times and while his views were influential in forming New England with its inherent bigotry they in no way reflect the views of Jefferson and others who were responsible for the formulations of the DOI and Constitution.  There were worlds of difference between the East Anglian Puritans and Cavaliers of both the South of England and the US.  Further Jefferson was a Revolutionary and Freemason learning his Freemasonry in the France of the Revolution.  Whether he was a Jacobin I can’t say but he has been so accused.

     While the Framers of the founding documents used the same words such as equality that we use today they undoubtedly did not undersand them as we do today.  To refuse to understand and take that into account is willful obtuseness on Mr. Marcus’ part.  The phrase ‘all men are created equal’ was gainsaid by their counting Negroes as only three-fifths of a man.  Quite obviously they did not actually believe that all men were created equal.  Whether ‘all men’ is meant to include women is also conjectural as women were denied the attributes of citizenship being considered appendages of men as per the Biblical creation myth.  So clearly the Founders understanding of equality is quite different from that of, at least, Mr. Marcus.  On that basis his views can’t help but be skewed.

     The African in America was an insoluble problem to the society then as it is to society today.  While counting Negro men as three-fifths of a human certainly sounds ridiculous yet modern evolutionary science has proven what was evident to observation then that the Africans as the first Homo Sapiens to evolve from the Last Hominid Predecessor was necessarily left behind by future evolutionary species of Homo Sapiens or sub-species if you prefer.  Mr. Marcus and his fellow Liberals insist that equality of Blacks and Whites is denied solely on the basis of skin color.  This is nonsense.

     If Africans were equal or superior to Whites, Semites and Mongolids there could be and would be no denying the status of the African.  Furthermore such superiority would be self-evident as it must.  Instead of the so-called White Skin Privilege there would be Black Skin Privilege and then black skin would indicate superiority and be desirable.  There isn’t and the reason why is because that while equality is a fine sounding ideal it does not exist in fact in either the macro or micro example.  It cannot be made to exist by legislattion so long as differences between the five human species exist.

     So, I would object to Mr. Marcus’ characterization of ideals as promises, they are two different things, that have been betrayed.  There has been no betrayal.  Mr. Marcus misleads us with his approach of Critical Theory.  The Founding Fathers set high ideals to live up to, perhaps impossibly high ideals but ideals worth striving to realize nevertheless.  The problem now has been complicated by the scientific reallization of the incompatible differences between the species so that the original meaning of equal of the DOI seems to be the correct one.

     The Negro problem, bedeviling America from its origins, was the rock on which those ideals first foundered resulting in the Civil War between Whites, Reconstruction and the current New Abolitionist Movement proclaiming the need to exterminate Whites by any means necessary.  So, over the hundred fifty years since the Civil War Africans and their Liberal and Israeli/Jewish handlers are in a position to realize the goals of post-war Radical Reconstruction which was the elimination of Southern Whites by Africans in a larger version of the San Domingo Moment.

     As the Whites struggled to come to some resolution of the Negro Problem that has always bedeviled American history large, even huge, numbers of Southern and East European immigrants flooded the country.  It is useless to use racial arguments and say that antipathy to these peoples was somehow racial when there was no difference in color which is the only thing Liberals recognize as a barrier to assimiltion.

     Rather these peoples were culturally unable to understand the ideals that underlay the American attitude, disdained them and sought to replace them with their own.  Thus we have a tremendous criminal underworld led by Sicilians and Israelis while the Israelis seek to subvert the ideals Mr. Marcus notes as ‘promises’ to replace them with a State resembling that of Israel in which the Israelis are paramount while all others are denied humanity much as Mr. Marcus accuses the Europeans of the US in relation to the Blacks.

     One therefore has to believe that as an Israel citizen Mr. Marcus is hypocritical in his criticism of American ‘racism’ and the ‘betrayal’ of the the ideal of equality.

     Unless Mr. Marcus can reconcile his ostensible beilief with actual Israeli actions I, for one, find it impossible to take him seriously.  Critical Theory and the SI are antipathetic to the ideals he seems to be espousing.

     I too believe that we have fallen short of the ideals expressed in the Founding Documents but for different reasons than those mentioned by Mr. Marcus.  I find no betrayal of those ideals but rather the sabotage of them by competing social systems such as the Sicilian, the Israeli and the African.

     Mr. Marcus may be an expert in Critical Theory but he is no analyst.  Analysis is Science; Critical Theory is religion.  Oil and water and the two don’t mix while Science trumps Critical Theory every time.


A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 10 of 10 parts


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

Tarzan’s Excellent New York Adventure


     Sound movies were a unique cultural addition.  The Studios had little or nothing to do with ‘artists.’  The Studios were entertainment factories organized along the same lines as Ford’s assembly plants.  Like Ford’s factories their interest was mass production.  There was a tremendous investment in theatres and distribution.  The theatres could not sit idle waiting for the next picture hence a studio’s goal was to porduce fifty-two A movies a year, or one a week to change the marquee.

     Unlike Broadway theatres where the production and performance would hopefully last a year, two, or three or publishing where a bestseller would take a writer quite some time to compose, usually, and would take a year or two to sell through, the writers, actors, directors and such were merely employees.  ‘Workers’ in Communist terminology.  This was a major departure in the ‘arts.’

     The only entity taking a risk was the Studio or corporation hence each and every film was organized and supervised from the top down.  Once the executives determined on a project the necesary ‘workers’ were assembled.  With the amount of money involved in each production the Studio could ill afford to let projects originate in any other way.

     Thus as industrial units writers were not allowed sole authorship of any movies.  One writer might work up the idea which was then assigned to other writers to add to, change and polish until the executives thought they had a money maker.  And then the movie was taken for a test  drive for audience reaction and underwent other changes.  Few original ideas were used.  Usually a project was based on a a proven entity like a novel, old play or tried and true plot line.

     Naturally in such a situation any group could be disciplined to follow one of any number of tacks.  The jobs were highly paid and desirable.  To not go with the flow, to not follow orders was to lose a very lucrative employment.

     The executives were in control.  When Burroughs was in the employ of MGM for those five weeks he had a chance to view the system in operation.  As he observed in Lion Man, p. 8:

     “There ain’t no tigers in Africa, Milt,”  explained the director.

     “Who says there ain’t?”

     “I do.”  replied Orman, grinning.

     ‘How about it, Joe?”  Smith turned toward the scenarist.  (Writer)

     “Well, Chief, you said you wanted a tiger sequence.”

     “Oh, what’s the difference?  We’ll make it a crocodile sequence.”

     Quite clearly the writer is not an originator but an employee who works up material to order.  This quite natural consequence of mass production, then, played into Communist hands.

     The Communists arrived in Hollywood almost simultaneously with sound while Communism was already the normal way of Jewish collective thinking.

     Thus the collective mindset of Judaism and Communism was already in place.  It remained only for the Communists to organize the ‘cultural workers’ as in any other indistry which they immediately set to do.  The cultural clash between individualistic actors and writers as ‘artists’ was already undermined by the studio system but some ‘cultural workers’ were still offended by becoming mere ciphers in an industrial machine.  Nonetheless the Communists organized the culural workers into units such as the Screen Actors Guild- SAG-and Screen Writers Guild-SWG.  IATSE covered the technical people.

     Once a collective is formed, whether a guild, a religion, a corporation or political party, an executive committee is necessary to handle affairs and set policy.  Anyone who doesn’t accept policy must be disciplined until he does or he is expelled, denied work, blacklisted or in the extreme case of  Stalin’s USSR, eliminated.

     So the Communists set their ideals against those of the studios.  In a few years this would create a conflict between the Communists and the Studio heads when HUAC came to Hollywood.  The Communists denied guilt acccording to John Howard Lawson, one of the leaders.  (Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund: The Inquisition In Hollywood:  Politics In The Film Community, 1930-1960, University Of California Press, 1983.)

(Ceplair and Englund speaking)

      Communist screenwriters could not themselves, directly improve or change content through political inserts- whistling the “Internationale”, speeches about democracy- or by writing Communist films stressing the importance of collectivity over the individual and graphically depicting the plight of the dispossessed, the nature of their struggle, and their inevitable class triumph, or by imitating Russian Marxists aethetics.  (John Howard) Larson, for one, was very forthright about the lack of success in those directors:

     Ceplair, Englund quote Lawson:

     As a matter of undeviating practice in the motion picture industry it is impossible for any screen writer to put anything into a motion picture to which the executive producers object.  The content of motion pictures is controlled exclusively by producers; {all aspects of  a film] are carefully studied, checked, edited and filtered by executive producers and persons acting directly under their supervision.

     While I would disagree with Lawson that a clever writer couldn’t slip quite a few items past any censor or censors I think the point has been clearly made that the final film product reflects the wishes and attitudes of the Studio executives.  Thus whatever the process, the content and apparent meaning of the six MGM Tarzan films reflect the intent of the MGM executives from Lous B. Mayer on down.  Thus Judaeo-Communists are forming the popular image of Tarzan to reflect their own ends.  The chief caveat is that the films must make money so any motives on the screen must be ulterior so as not to destroy the entertainment value.  Ceplair and Englund’s idea of making bloated politial speeches as the only way of injecting political or social content is absurd.

     Perhaps in those days people weren’t as yet so sensitive to multi-culturalism and Diversity as society is today.  For that reason I am reevaluating the era in terms of modern Multi-Culturalism  and Diversity.  It’s like hitting the Saturation button, if you know what I mean.

     Before moving on from the background of the situation to the actual analysis of MGM’s last Tarzan effort it will be necessary to update the Jewish Cain and Abel play to the United States.

     As mentioned previously the thirties brought a tremendous influx of Central European Jews to Hollywood.  While Freud himself remained in Vienna until well past the last moment then choosing to emigrate to England as his 1909 visit to Clark College in Massachusetts left a worse taste in his mouth than those horrid cigars, huge numbers of psychoanalysts and psychologists found their way to the West as well as a large percentage of the Jewish film colony of Germany.  Accompanying these Europeans west were the Jewish criminals attached to the Outfit of Chicago.  These were all Jews from the Pale born c. 1900-10.

     The earlier German Jews who arrived after the 1848 Revolution were now being absorbed by the Jews from the Pale or dying out.  They had been responsible for establishing the first Jewish occupation when they aligned themselves with the Woodrow Wilson Administration of 1913-21.  There they established the classic Abelite relationship with higher authority.  President Wilson gave them pretty much the same latitude as the Spanish kings of the pre-Inquisition or any number or early rulers.  This has gone unnoticed but they established their traditional role of ‘tax farmers’ or overseers of the goyim cattle under Wilson.

     The WIB or War Industries Board, was a key instrument in the attempt to subordinate the goyim.  Wilson himself was a self-absorbed simpleton who was easily manipulated; I doubt if he had any idea of what was really going on.  He placed the Jewish speculator and financier, Bernard Baruch, at the head of the WIB.

     Baruch then under the guise of the ‘war emergency’ required each and every business of each and every industry to submit their confidential data so they could be reorganized as a component of the war effort.

     This sounds reasonable enough but there was no war emergency in the United States.  War hysteria perhaps, but no emergency.  Wilson himelf, beneath his outward calm, was an hysteric.  He was not emotionally qualified for the presidency.  Interestingly Teddy Roosevelt perceived this without any difficulty.  The stringency of the measures taken to ensure uniformity were not based on war necessities but on a socialistic program to render everyone ‘equal’ or the same while at the same time bringing industry under Jewish control.

     Industry protested vigorously against the measures taken by Baruch and his WIB only to be called anti-Semites.  Foremost of these were Henry Ford and the Dodge Brothers.  The Dodge Brothers who were less temperate than Ford in denouncing the WIB and Baruch correctly identified the problem as the Cain and Abel syndrome.  For this they were murdered in 1920.  Ford went into strong reaction buying the Dearborn Independent which ran his series of articles denouncing the syndrome thereby being characterized by the Jews as ‘anti-Semitic.’

      The ‘war emergency’ ended just as some of the more remarkable edicts of the WIB were about to be put into effect.  Wilson was run out of office in 1921, he would have run for a third term had his health permitted, thus the Jewish cultural program was put into abeyance until 1933.

     Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an under Secretary Of The Navy during Wilson’s last term.  Roosevelt became a disciple of Wilson’s so that when he was elected President in 1932 the whole Wilson program was reinstated.  The Jews returned to government in unprecedented numbers under the shelter of the higher authority of Roosevelt.  Punitive income tax rates were established to emasculate men the Jews considered enemies such as W.R. Hearst.

     Twentieth century Amrica was different from fifteenth century Spain in that the executive role was considerably reduced as Governmental functions had become institutionalized.  The executive was now subject to a consitution and the rule of law.  Secure under the wing of the executive it was necessary for the Cain and Able Syndrome, the Culture, to subvert the law.

     Woodrow Wilson had appointed the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis.  He had been canonized by the media as would be his successor to the ‘Jewish’ seat on the Supreme Court, Felix Frankfurter.  These two men were put forward as secular saints although it is difficult to imagine why when one examines their careers in the light of today’s multi-culturalism and diversity.

     The agents of Jewish culture would make many decisions to undermine the British based legal system to convert it to a Semitic based system favoring the culture of the Jews.  Today’s ‘hate’ laws promulgated under the cover of a mistaken version of multi-culturalism and diversity are an impostion of civil disabilites on dissenters and are an example of what evolved.

     Thus working above board legally and below board criminally the Jewish culture sought to realize the age old Cain and Abel dream in the United States.  While Gus Russo in his Supermob concentrates on arch criminals like Sidney Korshak and other crooks looting the American industrial system he passes lightly over the career of one who seems very significant by the name of David Bazelon, also from Chicago’s Lawndale.

     Bazelon functioned as an enabler while being a civil servant.  In this way he was able to direct certain opportunities to his mob contacts in the Chicago Outfit.  All the Jews connected to the Outfit were lawyers.  They used their legal knowledge and skills to circumvent the law rather than applying it.

     Bazelon later almost made the Supreme Court.  In the year or so following the confiscation of Japanese property in California in 1942 he used his position in the Office Of Alien Properties disposing of that property.  In a very corrupt manner he sold the properties at bargain prices to his associates in the Outfit, both Jewish and Sicilian.  Thus they were not only able to utilize the immense proceeds from their criminal activities but were able to bilk from the upper world legal profits from these properties.

     Thus Bazelon violated the trust placed in him by the American government but at the same time was able to sabotage that same government.

     To return to Mr. Netanyahu’s complaint about the Jews in Spain.  A Spaniard by the name of Marcos Garcia who was a leader of the insurrection against the Jews felt that the crimes of the (Jews) embrace all spheres of life.  They are manifest in religion, economy, government, and of course in all personal relationships between the (Jews) and the (Spanish.)  Thus they gnaw at (Spanish) society from all angles and undermine all its institutions.

     Thus Mr. Netanyahu unconsciously states how ‘anti-Semitism’ comes into existence.  He doesn’t seem to be aware of the Cain-Abel Syndrome but that is what he is explaining.  From the origins of the Hebrews through Spain to the contemporary situation in the Central and Eastern Europe and the United States of then and today the story is always the same.

     Just as the Spaniards he is describing were attempting to exterminate the Jews, so as in Burroughs’ time both Nazis and Communists were doing the same.  That is the inevitable programmed result of the Cain-Able Syndrome.  Mr. Netanyahu should diligently study Sigmund Freud’s The Future Of An Illusion.

     In the multi-cultural sense the Jews then and now were trying to establish their cultural supremacy.  I do not argue against this per se as the inevitable result of the clash of cultures is and must be the dominance of one.  The inevitble result of diversity is the destruction of all cultures but one.  I have demonstrated this in the Darwinian evolutionary sense repeatedly.  The point is there is no reason for me or anyone else to supinely allow their culture to be destroyed for the benefit of another.  Or course, if a culture doesn’t have the backbone to defeat another then so be it.

     I have also quoted Rabbi Schneerson’s ‘scientific’ argument for the innate superiority of the Jews.  In Spanish times a religious argument demonstrating such superiority was used.  Quoting Juan de Torquemada, the uncle of the Inquisitor, Mr Netanyahu argurs thusly, pp. 481-82:

     …it is a fact that the gentiles, to elevate their status, had to be “grafted” onto the “tree” of the Jews.  As the Apostle said, “You gentiles, (this word is added to Torquemada), who are an oleaster” (namely a wild olive tree which cannot bear good fruit), you had neither the Law nor the Prophets, or even the worship of God, as you were dedicated to idolatry, ought to remember that you “were grafted among them”- that is, among the standing branches (ramis stantibus), which are the apostles and the other faithful Jews, “and with them you aprtake of the root”- that is the faith of the Patriarchs and the Prophets, “and the fatness of the olive tree”- that is, of the doctrine and grace of Christ which came from the Jews.

      So, the context changes but the argument always remains the same.  As George Santayana said:  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Since the Illusion has not changed the result must ever be the same whether Spain, Europe or the United States.  Mr. Russo in his Supermob without realizing it was replicating the description in the United States of Mr. Netanyahu’s description in Spain.

     So now, with a grasp of the underlying strategies we can return to Burroughs and MGM.  The purpose of MGM was to discipline a ‘loose cannon’ like Burroughs.

     There had been recent renewed activity in Tarzan films after a hiatus of several years, however MGM’s interest seems to have been catalyzed by their interest in Trader Horn.  Perhaps the story showed them the way.  All the MGM Tarzans would bear the imprint of Trader Horn.  It appears that MGM first considered a Trader Horn series with Tarzan as a subsidiary character.  Cyril Hume’s first script was a Trader Horn sequel in which Tarzan appeared only as a supporting character having little or no relationship to the literary Tarzan.  There wasn’t even a Jane as Tarzan was paired up with a female scientist.  That’s an interesting subliminal association.  As Hume was undoubtedly trying to fulfill suggestions from the executives we don’t know why the screenplay was scrapped.  As Burroughs got his paychecks for those five weeks probably attending planning sessions in Thalberg’s office it may be that he objected.

     The finished product clearly reflects the first script although the emphasis is changed to make Tarzan more prominent but not clearly the central character.  Jane actually is the more dominant personality.

     The entire series takes place on the MGM invented Mutia escarpment which would have been above the Murchison Falls of the Nile.  As is well known the name Mutia comes from the first name of the actor playing Renchoro in Trader Horn. 

     The first two movies which were either pre-Lion Man or unaffected by the novel don’t seem to refer to any of Burroughs’ works being a free interpretation of the character.  The last four movies have references to Lion Man while Tarzan’s Secret Treasure reflects the Opar theme, Tarzan And The Leopard Men as well as Lion Man.  Both the latter novels make reference to Trader Horn as MGM seems to date the beginning of Tarzan to the post-Trader Horn period.  Tarzan is introduced as a grown man in the movies whle as an infant in the novels.

     The movies attempted to denigrate and belittle the character which if you’re familiar with the literary Tarzan they do.  The magnificence and appeal of the character is so great that even the MGM Tarzan defeats their efforts remaining an entrancing character for the movie going public.

     As a boy I can’t be sure which movies I saw other than Tarzan Triumphs although I must have seen all the Lesser films.  On reviewing the MGM Tarzans they don’t ring any bells.  Perhaps the movies were forgettable but Tarzan wasn’t.  As a young boy I was entranced seeing nothing negative in the ape man’s portrayal so perhaps most of the audience didn’t either.  Of course neither they nor I knew what to look for.

     After five profitable successes MGM decided to abandon the series which must be unique In Movieland.  For the final film the location was moved to New York City.  In Trader Horn the location was moved from the US to Africa; in the final Tarzan episode Africa came to the US.  In this episode Tarzan is subordinated to civilization and stripped of his jungle mystique.

     By this time Burroughs himself had been exiled from Hollywood to Hawaii.  There he separated from his young wife while sinking into alcoholism.  His son had to go to Hawaii in an attempt to win ERB from the bottle.  I don’t mean to be unkind but it is true.  From MGM’s point of view he may have appeared a shattered wreck of a man who no longer merited their attention.  As they were done with the Lion Man so they were done with his alter ego.  ERB might have drunk himself to death if the war hadn’t intervened.  The movie obviously has a lot of references directed at Burroughs; some I picked up but I may not have interpreted correctly while many have probably gone over my head but I’m sure that as ERB sat watching they didn’t go over his.

     The reference to the Mutia Escarpment immediately refers to the Trader Horn connection.  I can’t get the exact relationship between Trader Horn and Tarzan but it obviously existed to MGM.  The Escarpment is said to be so high that it reaches to the stars.  Stars may be a reference to MGM which boasted ‘more stars than there are in Heaven.’  Thus the reference would be mocking ERB.

     One of the key goals of both the Reds and Jews would be to subordinate Tarzan.  One has to keep Freudian concepts in mind at all times.  A culture is a group and must obey the laws of its group psychology.  That group psychology can be scientifically analyzed just as individual psychology can.  There is no escaping the evidence of your behavior or its consequences.

     Both groups, the Jews and Reds were into collectivism.  Independent thought is not allowed.  Tarzan was the supreme individualist.  He is in fact a loner among humans although on very good terms with the animals.  Tarzan was a law unto himself; he was not subject to any external law.  thus he had to have his independence destroyed and brought within the Law and the collectivity.  Let’s deal with jewish aspects first.

     The movies were made in 1932, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941 and 1942.  The New York adventure was conceived and finished before Pearl Harbor so that event had no effect on the movie.  So the spacing is two, two, three, two and one in years.  Burroughs lamented that MGM wasn’t producing at least one movie a year.  MGM might have chosen to have done this.  As the Charlie Chan movies, on which ERB commented were being popped out at the rate of three or four a year to a profitable tune it is obvious that the same could have been done with Tarzan.  One imagines that ERB urged MGM to do so.  MGM chose to pass on the profits.  One asks why?

     As the decade wore on ERB became more and more dependent on the movies for income.  Book sales must have lagged overall while he had no major successes after Tarzan And The City Of Gold.  Lion Man’s sales were disappointing while it is difficult to see its successors doing any better.  He was off the radio after 1935 while the comic strip was not a major contributor to his income.  Thus MGM controlled his purse strings.

     ERB’s finances were desperate after his movie venture if 1935-36.  He had those notes oming due.  MGM might have helped him along by putting out two or three quick Tarzans, instead at this crucial moment there was the long hiatus from 1936 to 1939.  With no movie money coming in for three long years the spendthrift writer must have been driven to the wall contributing to his decision to exile himself to Hawaii where he lived on a pittance.

     The appearance in Hawaii is that he was a broken man seeking solace in alchohol.  In ’41 and ’42 in quick succession Tarzan’s Secret Treasure, note the mocking tone of the title, and Tarzan’s New York Adventure were made.  As they intended to drop the series, the release of one per year for those two years may have been a calculated insult, both could be viewed as mocking films.  A great deal of work has to be done to determine how Burroughs was perceived in Hollywood.  I suspect as somewhat of a joke. 

     In the early novles when Tarzan needed money he made another run on the gold of Opar.  Now living in actual poverty in Hawaii MGM made a movie where large gold nuggets lay at the bottom of a pool while Tarzan knew of a place where gold could be scooped out of veins by the bucketful.  But ERB’s ability to turn a buck now depended on MGM, so the notion could be viewed as a mockery, especially as the mine was Tarzan’s but it was to be exploited by others i.e. MGM.

     As it is possible that MGM now saw ERB as a wreck, totally defeated, they decided to wrap thier involvement up with the succeeding movie.  Their object of the destruction of Burroughs having been realized, they lost interest abandoning the series.

      They certainly had not exhausted the possibilities of story lines.  Nor had the series become unprofitable as Sol Lesser proved for a decade or more.  The probable reason is simply that with Burroughs out of the  picture their intent was realized.  So as a farewell gesture they lectured Tarzan on his attitude toward the Law by which I mean to say the Jewish Law.

     As the New York Adventure begins some circus types abduct Boy to perform as an animal trainer in their circus.  As I watch the picture from this vantage point it is easy to see how MGM is ridiculing the ape man.

     After ten years of living with Jane, during which her good cooking has fattened the feral boy up Tarzan still can’t put together a complete sentence.  He’s still at the Me Tarzan, you Jane stage or the even simpler, Tarzan, Jane.  Boy, who was found in the jungle two years previously, has learned a great deal from the very literate Jane, even being able to write cursively although weak in orthography, But then the kid’s big for his age of three.

     So if Boy could learn to speak intelligently from Jane why after ten years of living with Jane is Tarzan still grunting?  Not only grunting but he appears to be simple minded, purely a natural savage.  He doesn’t even act like he knows his way around the jungle.

     But Jane and Tarzan set out to find Boy in the big wide world with a twenty-five or fifty pound bag of nuggets slung over the Big Fella’s shoulder.  Let me say here that the average viewer is not nearly as critical as I am here.  The animal scenes are actually pretty thrilling while Boy’s fight with the lion using a stick must have bowled the kids over.  So, while my point of view here is to understand how MGM mocked Burroughs and disparaged Tarzan, as a theatre experience New York Adventure is not a bad movie.

     MGM’s attempt to ridicule Tarzan in the first film was not nearly so successful as in this one.  Tarzan and Jane in clothes lose all their charm.  Jane although dressed stylishly becomes just an ordinary looking woman.  A little on the frumpy side, actually.  Although Maureen O’ Sullivan was a beautiful woman in any circumstances the insouciance and verve of her jungle raiment and demeanor is completely gone in a suit and hat.  Not the same.

     Tarzan, or Weissmuller in a double breasted suit while handsome is not commanding.  So, right away Tarzan and Jane are demi-gods brought to earth.  The scene in the tailor’s shop with the Chinese tailors might also be a joke on Burroughs bringing to mind Charlie Chan.  Tarzan’s primitive manner of speech just becomes ludicrous and oafish in New York city.  You can take the feral boy out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the feral boy.  Here the contest becomes one of Tarzan’s law versus the law of the legal system and by extension the Jewish Law.  Tarzan fights the law and the law wins just as the Jewish Law did over Burroughs.

     Thus the crucial part of the movie begins in the ludicrous scene in the courtroom.  The trial is being held for the custody of Boy.  On the one side are Buck and his circus associate who have kidnapped and actually enslaved Boy; they have no claim on him legitimate or otherwise.  On the other side are his apparent parents, Tarzan and Jane.  Tarzan had wanted to handle the situation  according to his own law but Jane, as usual in the movie version , dissuaded him, telling him to rely on the law of the legal system and by inference the Jewish Law.  I hope Tarzan hadn’t forgotten how vilely Jane betrayed him just the previous year.

     Jane lets slip that she and Tarzan ‘found’ Boy in the jungle.  Boy is not the issue of Tarzan or Jane.  In this zany courtroom scene the ‘ownership’ of Boy thus becomes unclear.  It seems that the kidnappers and enslavers who are about to sell Boy to a Brazilian circus have as much claim to the kid as his ostensible parents.  This is apparently ‘law.’

     Tarzan reacting in the tried and true jungle manner grabs the opposing attorney and dumps him bodily into the jury box.  The act of violence proves him an unfit parent.  The trial is interrupted.  Waiting for the trial to resume Jane concedes to Tarzan that as usual she was wrong, his law is better than the Law.  Coming to life Tarzan announces in amazing pidgin English:  Tarzan find Boy.  Slightly obscene in its application actually, but why nitpick?  Tarzan crashes through a twelfth story or so window which luckily has an ample ledge.  If logic isn’t essential to your enjoyment of an ‘action’ film the next few sequences are quite thrilling.

     The end result is that Tarzan is taken into custody and delivered before the kindliest judge who ever graced the bench.  Now, there can be no doubt that Tarzan offended the Majesty of the Law by rioting in court.  Under Jewish Law the accused is guilty until proven innocent but is supposed to gratefully accept any verdict just or not.

     He is then duly convicted of what is apparently considered a misdemeanor or even an offense rather than a felony as his crime only carried a sentence of thirty days and sentenced as guilty, which he was.  It is important to remember at this point that Tarzan has been convicted as a criminal.  He has a criminal record from this point on.  The judge generously suspends the sentence but remember Tarzan is still guilty.

     Tarzan mutters some more memorable pidgin English to the effect of ‘Tarzan bad, law good.’  Thus Tarzan is subsumed to the collective culture giving up his independence.  No longer as the Invincible or Triumphant will he pass judgment on jungle offenders or Stalinites.

     The judge even invades his territory up there on the Escarpment as a right and as the Law assuming paramountcy in Tarzan’s former Jungletopia.  The judge advises Tarzan that he will visit him on a fishing trip.  Tarzan says something like: ‘Judge come’, rather than ‘Bring money.  Tarzan bailiwick.  No license, no fishee.’  Or he could simply have arrested the judge, convicted him of the offence of fishing wihout a license, make him a criminal, and then suspend the sentence, appropriating the fish and iviting the criminal to a fish fry.

     Tarzan wasn’t that quick and from this point on he has a criminal record in Tinseltown.  MGM successfully emasculated Burroughs and his Big Bwana.  After ten years  MGM succeeded in its goal.  It is probably for that reason they abaondoned this profitable series.  It wasn’t that they had run out of ideas which is an absurd supposition with a couple hundred writers on the lot but that they had said what they meant to say.

     It would seem that this part of the series was the primary concern of the MGM executives.  If as John Howard Lawson said, that nothing found its way into a movie unless it was approved by the executives, then this long ten-year persecution of both Burroughs and Tarzan must have come from the top- that is Louis B. Mayer.  Mayer who undoubtedly to the ADL/AJC would then be acting as an agent of the Jewish people, religion, race, species or however they would have it.

     While it is true that 50-60% of the US Communist Party was Jewish the remaining 40-50% weren’t.  Thus the Jewish supremacy was not part of their goal.  Even in the Socialist Homeland of the USSR where anti-Semitism was an actual crime, the Jews were systematically slaughtered by the Central Committee under the direction of Stalin.  Thus the goy Communists had a program of their own differing from that of the Jews.  This became clear and obvious after the establishment of Israel in 1948 when the two factions began to drift apart.  The Left is also immune to charges of anti-Semitism.

     Communism was nothing new in the nineteenth century, it was merely a reformulation of ideals that can be traced back to the dawn of consciousness.  The great Swiss mythologist, J.J. Bachofen, on whom too much praise cannot be heaped, is the earliest student of human consciousness known to me.  Unfortunately with the exception of a volume of excerpts his work has not been translated into English.  The excerpts speak volumes, however.

     Bachofen, very likely the first, recognized that the Matriarchal Age preceeded the Patriarchal Age and the developing Scientific Age but he also discerned an age preceeding the Matiarchal that he called the Hetaeric.  A large number of modern minds have never made it past the Hetaeric.  Thus all four ages of consciousness exist side by side with the five different human species.

     Once again the Top Dog enters the picture.  Which consciousness will prevail?  It will readily be seen that the highest form of consciousness’ the Scienfific- is in the most danger.  One only has to look at the developments in France and Belgium to shudder.

     The modern form of the Hetaeric developed in Medieval Europe with such groups as the Beghards and Bequines, the Anabaptists and the Free Spirits.  These beliefs were incorporated into those of the LIbertines and Jacobins and thence into Communism.  The program may be sloganized as Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.  Like all such organizations the slogan is developed with more malice toward the established order as one moves up the ladder of initiation.

     In many ways the ideas of Edgar Rice Burroughs are not in conflict with the Communists whole ideals do reflect universal longings in one form or another.  Like them he sees civilization as an imposition on the individual.  One of the charms of New York Adventure is the contrast between the natural ‘good’ ideals of the Mutia Escarpment and corruption of civilization.  One’s heart aches for the lost paradise.  Louis Prima humorously summed it up in a post-war comic song:  Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo.  It may be coincidence but then it’s possible the songwriter at least had Tarzan’s New York Adventure in the back of his mind.

     Actually New York Adventure may have had the largest audience of all Tarzan movies.  According to IMDb: Trivia this was the first film shown free to servicemen overseas.  So there’s a good chance that a few millions of all those men in uniform saw the movie for nothing plus the theatre distribution on the home front.

     Now, when the Communists say equality they mean just that, they don’t mean equal rights but no evidences of distinction whatsoever.  Race (or species), income, sex, education or anything else.  The ideal is a page full of rows of zeroes.  Communism is the rule of pure envy, a terror that one may not be able to compete on an equal basis.  On a practical level this translates into the Soviet and Chinese models where the brutal seize power and follow a program of to the victors belong the spoils.  This is because the human mind cannot function in an equal manner.  The Scientific model is beyond the capabilities of the untutored mind.  Hence one has the deplorable state of affairs of today where the scientific  demands of society crumble before the stunted religious expression of the human mind whether it be Moslemism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or whatever.  Freudianism has allowed the basic criminality of the human consciousness to dominate.  There is today no criminal attitude that is not dominant or in the process of becoming dominant.  The dormancy of resistance to criminal develpements is nothing less than startling.  The human consciousness seems to be paralyzed.  This naturally would be the end result of equality to the Communist mind.

     The movie Tarzan fits this ideal.  MGM’s Tarzan is quite frankly, stupid.  He is not a commanding figure, but a lovable clown.  His love for Jane allows him to be led by the nose until her counsels become disastrous at which point Tarzan beats her out by mindless violence, never with any planning, always an impulsive knee jerk reaction.  Thus this duncelike Tarzan is always correct over the educated civilized Jane.  There is a subtle message there that Communist writers say they weren’t clever enough to get past the executive censors who we are led to believe wanted such sentiments censored.  I doubt both posits.

     We then get to Communist notions of sex, sexuality and family.  There can be no doubt that Tarzan and Jane were doing what was then known as ‘shacking up.’  Their romance was a version of ‘free love.’  A common access to women is the Communist ideal.  They were opposed to marriage and the ideal of the family, preferring communal living with free access to every woman.  Any notion of female ‘liberation’ always gets down to the notion that every woman should make herself available on demand to any man after the homosexual manner; a guick bang and we’ll see you around.

     Had Cyril Hume had his way there would have been no movie Jane.  He had already written her out in his first draft.  If he had had his way Tarzan would have had a succession of brief affairs.  Wham! Bam! Thank-you Ma’am! and off swinging into the jungle again .  Thus the movie Tarzan would have realized the Communist ideal completely but for reasons that remain unknown.

     One should note that Hume tried to kill Jane off in Tarzan Finds A Son so that Tarzan could live a more libertine existence.  By then the family role of Tarzan, Jane and Boy became established but the writers were always trying to break it up going so far as having a court award Boy to his kidnappers and enslavers.

     As I say, it isn’t clear why the Studio made the decision to include Jane from the beginning.  the Jewish attitude toward women was and is as brutal as that of the goy Communists.  From the White Slavery days to the present Jews have exploited the women of Central and Eastern Europe without either shame or mercy, whether goy or Jewish.  Prostitution of women on the Lower East Side of NYC showed a psychology of complete lack of self respect.

     On the other hand, as intermediaries between God and mankind, Jews feel they are entitled to whatever they want which includes free access to women.  Thus one has the sexual morality of Hollywood.  That morality has been propagated around the world by movies, such as for instance, the Tarzan series.  While you can talk women into any fashion, the women are always the losers, the victims; as Yoko One said- the niggers of the world.

     The psychological damage being inflicted on humans by the brutal approach to living is astounding.  No matter what you tell yourself the effects of evil living are murderous.  You cannot lie to yourself.

     Consider the words of one of Stalin’s mass executioners, G.G. Yagoda as he himself was about to be executed.  Simon Sebag Montefiori: Stalin: The Court Of The Red Czar, pp. 220-223:

     Yagoda told his interrogator:  “You can put down in your report to Yezhof that I said there must be a God after all.  From Stalin I deserved nothing but gratitude for my faithful service; from God, I deserved the most severe punishment for having violated his commandments thousands of times.  Now look where I am and judge for yourself; is there a God or not?”

     Yagod’as plight doesn’t prove the existence of God nor does his ‘punishment’ which was so richly merited and for which deeds he shows no remorse do anything for his victims, but his attitude does indicate the conflict in his mind as he carried out his orders.  The conflict found expression in his need for pornography and violating the innocence of very young prepubescent girls.  Unhealthy mental states always find expression in sexual obsessions.  Once again, look at the world today.  Such perversions male and female are rampant.  And don’t think they aren’t perversions.  The propaganda today that would make you think they’re normal is just the sort of denial Yagoda experienced.

     Some say the Victorian role of woman was negative but I’d rather have a mother who had self-respect than one who was at the beck and call of any scuzbag with a hard-on.

     So, in their subtle way the Tarzan films were anti-marriage and anti-family while being for female promiscuity.

     These ideals were placed in an African utopia, a place that appears on no map, the Mutia Escarpment.  the place is such a parallel universe pilots can’t even see it until they apparently pass through an interface and are suddenlyconfronted by it.  Using what appears to be identical footage the scene is replicated in both Finds A Son and New York Adventure.

     Both Burroughs and Communists are aligned in their views of the evils of civlilization.  Civilization, but not science or technology.  It seems that Tarzan has some Rube Goldberg genius for inventing 1930s technological items like dishwashers, fans, etc.  In fact, for being an inarticulate boob without the ability to use verbs his inventive genius is nothing less than startling.  I don’t believe the MGM Tarzan had even seen a wheel, yet astoundingly he has mastered the concepts of wheels, pulleys and leverage from scratch.  That’s as good as the literary Tarzan teaching himself to read.  Well, Henry Ford was nearly inarticulate too and look how he changed the world.

     Further, the screenwriters, once Boy is introduced, try to break up the familiy.  In Finds A Son one has the bizarre situation where Jane lures Tarzan into an inescapable pit while she, supposedly a mother, gives Boy to the adventurers.

     One may wonder at Hume’s own childhood and upbringing.  Not only is Hume sending Boy off to England, but he attempts to kill Jane off thus completely destroying the family leaving Tarzan alone in the jungle.  Jane takes a spear in the back, square on the spine.  IN the original script she was then dead.  Burroughs politely, even apologetically, explained to MGM that eliminating Jane was not wise as he himself had discovered when he tried to kill Jane off.  After consideration MGM agreed, so that when Tarzan forgives Jane for her betrayal she miraculously recovers.

     Bear in mind that as John Howard Lawson says, nothing went into the script that was not either suggested from above or approved by them.  Compare ERB’s scene with the producer Milt Smith/Thalberg and his scenarist.  That writer was Cyril Hume.  So it is reasonable to assume that the scene was dictated to him.  For whatever reason then, Mayer and his executives wanted the family broken up.

     In Tarzan’s New York Adventure not only is there a threatened abduction but an actual one.  Boy is taken to New York City by his kidnappers.  This time not only is Jane near death but the script leads us to believe that both Tarzan and Jane have died from a hundred foot or so fall when the vine they are swinging on is severed by a Jaconi native.  Thre grass around them is set afire so that they will be burned beyond recognition much as Jane was in Tarzan The Untamed.  Just as Burroughs had a death wish for Jane so, it appears, do the MGM execs for both she and Tarzan.  Fortunately displaying superb equality with his human counterprts the chimp has more brains than anyone else involved rather miraculously rescuing the pair.

     You may argue that this is the story.  Yes, but it doesn’t have to be the story.  Lesser’s stories were quite different.  the stories of each represent subliminal values.  Dream wish fulfillments a la Sigmund Freud.  If I have been the script writer at MGM able to do my own writing the stories would have been completely different reflecting my own psychological interests and needs.  The point is both MGM and the Reds wished Tarzan and Burroughs dead.  Of course, if they had died they wouldn’t have had a movie.

     Now, whenever Tarzan and Jane are visited up there on the Escarpment they are invariably visited by greedy capitalists seeking ivory, gold or riches of one sort or another.  One may take the Escarpment as the Socialist Homeland where everything is equal, simple and perfect.  Anarchy of the highest order.  Civilization is represented by New York City and the circus as the Capitalist Homeland.

     This contrasts the Communist version of a time of human perfection when the need for government will disappear and a perfected anarchy will come into existence.  Freud touched on this problem somewhat in his Civilization And Its Discontents.  Before Freud J.G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough went into the problem extensively while Burroughs dwells on the problem throughout the corpus.  Indeed, in this scene, ERB and the Communists are in agreement, as were many, many people who were discontented with civilization.  Tarzan, Jane and Boy are actually living out the Communist ideal up there in Cloud Cuckooland on the Escarpment.  This fact causes a problem for both executives and Communists, where they don’t coincide, as they are in love with Tarzan ideal also as, indeed, who wouldn’t be?

     While their original intent may have been to ridicule Tarzan into extinction his powerful appeal to the ‘masses’ undoubtedly prevented this.  No kidding, folks, the NO. 1 Commissar in the entire free or enslaved world loved the character.  That must have counted for something in Hollywood.

     So, in a way, the movie Tarzan was a symbol of Communism for the Party faithful, in contrast to the greedy capitalists who invaded Cloud Cuckooland up on the Escarpment much as the Reds invaded ERB’s dreamland of Opar.  There are many conflicts in life as we wander through this lonesome valley.

     It follows then that Communists had no problem injecting Red ideals into whatever movie they chose whether the executives approved each and every scene, as we are told by Lawson, or not.  The Studios themselves were fashioned after the USSR government with the Party leader on top surrounded by a Central Committee that ruled with an iron fist.  The jobs paid so well that rather than lose them one constantly looked to the top for direction.  To err was to be cast into relative poverty blacklisted by every studio.  HUAC didn’t invent the Hollywood blacklist, the studios did.

     Burroughs was essentially blacklisted while MGM played cat and mouse with him until they tired of it in late 1941 or early 1942.

     The War then changed the direction of the game as ERB finally became the war correspondent he had always wanted to be.  No matter what MGM might do, he would always be Edgar Rice Burroughs to his public.



1. Communist oppostion probably forced ERB into self-publication.

2.  Tarzan The Invincible his first self-published title attacked the Communists.

3.  The sequel Tarzan Triumphant did the same with a probable covert criticism of the Jews.

4.Trader Horn was released by MGM which somehow led to their signing Burroughs and Tarzan to avenge imagined wrongs.

5.  Completely taken by Trader Horn Burroughs wrote Tarzan And The Leopard Men.  He had premonitions of error in signing away the movie rights to Tarzan.

6.  MGM released Tarzan, The Ape Man turning a cosmopolitan Tarzan into a feral boy.

7.  ERB countered with Tarzan And The Lion Man ridiculing MGM

8.MGM continuing on its program released Tarzan And His Mate but seemed to let the contract lapse.

9.  In this hiatus Ashton Dearholt lured Burroughs into producing his own Tarzan movie.

10.  Driven deep into debt by Dearholt Burroughs was all but bankrupt, now dependent almost entirely on MGM for income.

11.  Burroughs was relieved suspiciously by a man who was most certainly associated with ERB’s enemies.

12.  ERB continued to live at the limit or beyond the limit of his income which was now derived largely from MGM.

13.  Unable to sustain hs life style Burroughs exiled himself to Hawaii where he became a heavy drinker.

14.  MGM released Tarzan’s New York Adventure in which Tarzan is brought within the Law losing his independence much as Burroughs lost his.

15.  MGM sells its contract to Lesser abandoning the series and its interest in Burroughs.

16.  Beginning in 1943 Lesser’s movies are very successful restoring Burroughs’ prosperity.

17.  Burroughs becomes a war correspondent for the duration all but abandoning his literary career as he returned from exile in post-war years dying shortly thereafter.



A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

No. 9 of 10 parts


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

Conclusions And Prospectus


     A careful reading of the output of the ’30s reveals a developing antagonism, war if you will, between the Communists, the Jews and ERB.  The attempt to shut down non-Communist writers appears to have been extended to ERB, forcing him into self-publishing in 1930 with Tarzan The Invincible being the first title.  this was followed by its sequel Tarzan Triumphant.

     The two titles would seem to indicate he met that challenge successfully.

     Then in a seemingly unrelated event MGM released the movie version of Trader Horn in 1931.  Trader Horn seems to have led MGM to sign Burroughs on for his Tarzan character shortly after the movie’s release.  MGM would then go on to film six Tarzan features over a ten or eleven year period from 1932 to 1942.  All the movies were profitable yet after the release of Tarzan’s New York Adventure MGM sold a stellar property to the Sol Lesser Company even allowing Johnny Weissmuller and Sheffield to go with the sale.  O’ Sullivan chose to abandon the series.

     The entire MGM series used Trader Horn footage transferring it to the Tarzan series as Tarzan’s home base.  Over the years they incorporated scenes relying on Tarzan And The Leopard Men and Tarzan And The Lion Man.  It would appear they sudied the series closely.  Compare this description of Lady Barbara Collis’s flight in Tarzan Triumphant with the scene used twice in MGM movies of the plane approaching the Escarpment.  Triumphant, p. 10:

…and when there loomed suddenly close to the tip of her left wing a granite escarpment that was lost immediately above and below her in the all eveloping vapor…

     There can be little doubt that the intent was to defame the character of Tarzan with the release of Tarzan, The Ape Man, first of the series.  Ten years later in Tarzan’s New York Adventure he is still the ignorant lout he was as the feral boy of the first film after having been the ‘mate’ of the seemingly well bred, well read, intelligent Jane played by Maureen O’ Sullivan.  After ‘finding’ a son in 1939, three years later, ‘Boy’, as he was generically named, speaks intelligently and is able to write a note telling his mother he will be gone for a day.  At the same time Tarzan is still going around speaking pidgin English like ‘Tarzan kill’ or ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane.’  There’s a guy who isn’t even listening to Jane talk to him.  I personally find this amazing.  The question then is why didn’t MGM develop the character in a more intelligent manner.

     Also, the question arises as to why the character wasn’t made a profit center for MGM as Charlie Chan was for Twentieth Century Fox.  As Burroughs notes in ‘Writer’s Markets And Methods’ in 1938 in reference to the Chan movies, the public was hungry for the serialization of popular characters during the thirties.  There were nearly fifty Charlie Chan films made, some years at a clip of four.  The astonishingly strong and continuing appeal of Tarzan would certainly have justified the attept to produce two or more a year.  Certainly an annual film.  After assuming the license from MGM beginning in 1943 Lesser released a film a year in a very profitable manner.  So, as he found plenty of ideas the argument that MGM exhausted the story potential of the character doesn’t hold up.  Something else was going on.

     That something else was the role of Burroughs as an anti-Communist and in Jewish eyes, an anti-Semite.

     It is important to have an idea of the Jewish role in history as they are invariably in antagonism to the citizens of their host country.  One need look no further for an explanation than the Old Testament story of Cain and Abel.  The story encapsulates the Jewish attitude toward the other peoples of the world.

         The story involves God or in other words, a higher authority, Abel who becomes the the higher authority’s favorite and Cain who is rejected by the higher authority.  Abel presents his offering to God or the higher authority and Cain his.  Abel’s offering is an exploitation of the natural increase of the flocks.  In other words cattle do all the labor while Abel harvests them.  Cain labors in the fields offering the produce of his labor which is rejected as unworthy.

     Once the higher authority chooses the offering of Abel he makes him his favorite.  Abel then lords it over Cain who quite naturally resents this.  Cain then invites Abel into the field where he kills him.  Eh voila!  The origins of Semitism and anti-Semitism.  The problem of anti-Semitism is solved.

     Now, the Jews will compulsively repeat the story of Cain and Abel after the Freudian manner endlessly over the millennia as the story is encoded in their brains.

     Now for the application.  In 1995, BenZion Netanyahu published his mammoth volume titled, The Origins Of The Inquisition In Fifteenth Century Spain.  BenZion is the father of Benyimin the former Prime Minister of Israel.  Mr. Netanyahu’s large sized, eleven hundred pages, book investagates the problem in excruciating and verbose detail.  Mr. Netanyahu chats on interminably in an attempt to deny the obvious.  It’s as though he believes that if he talks long enough the truth will go away.

     Mr. Netanyahu notes that in every instance over the last twenty-five hundred years the Jews have at first been warmly received by the host nation only to have this affection turn to such a hatred over a period of time that the Jews are either killed or thrown out.  He examines the problem in fifteenth century Spain.  His conclusion is that the cattle, or anti-Semites as he styles them, are at fault while his Jews are as blameless as Abel.  Thus he avoids answering the question of why this is the invariable result of Jewish cohabitation in a society.

     For Jewish historians there are two versions of Jewish history.  One is the annals of the Jews and the other is the history of anti-Semites.  This is how the Jews organize their story.  Any thing critical of Judaism automatically falls into the category of the History of anti-Semitism.  One of the most persistent objections to Judaism over the last twenty-five hundred years is that the Jews see the non-Jews or Cainites as cattle meant to contribute to Jewish welfare.  Even though the idea is clearly contained in the story of Cain and Abel the Jews have always considered the charge what they call an anti-Semitic slur.  However Mr. Netanyahu describes the system perfectly in his overlong essay.  This isn’t history. This is one long whine.

     Skipping a repetitious millennium or two let us skip along with Mr. Netanyahu to fifteenth century Spain.

     Our author erroneously established the origins of anti-Semitism in the Hellenic and Roman periods of the Middle East.  He chose to completely ignore the blueprint of Semitism and anit-Semitism as presented in the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  For him he has the inexplicable paradox of every people warmly receiving the Jews into their midst while after a period of time universally and brutally rejecting them.  He appears to be genuinely so obtuse as to be unable to understand this.

     The history of the Jews in Spain goes back at least to the Roman transportation to Spain after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

     While the usual tradition of the Jewish historian, Heinrich Graetz and others, is to portray the Spain before the expulsion as an idyllic sojourn in ‘The Land Of The Three Religions,’ Mr. Netanyahu presents a picture of cultural conflict under the Visigothic kings down to the expulsion.

     Of course the Moslems occupied Spain from c. 700AD until they were completely expelled in +1492.  The Reconquest began almost immediately, while by c. +1100  when Mr. Netanyahu reaches the beginning of his central story was successful over most of Spain.  Following the scenario of Cain and Abel the Jews were able to insinuate themselves into the role of middlemen between the kings of the various kingdoms, or higher authorities, and the indigenous Spaniards, or cattle who Mr. Netanyahu disparages as Christians as though the conflict were of a religious nature rather than a cultural one.  Spain was a multi-cultural society that functioned as all multi-cultural societies must until one culture establishes itself as the Top Dog.

     We have the classic situation of the Abelites farming their Cainites as  a human herd of cattle.  The cattle produce the wealth, the middlemen reap the harvest.  Thus the kings appointed the Jews tax collectors and tax farmers.

     There is no more vicious or unopular job than that of tax collector.  Even today when governmental functions are institutionalized and no longer personal the resistance is still strong.  The Jews had the advantage of segregating themselves as a distinct culture so that they escaped the opprobrium they would have felt if they had been native tax farmers living amongst their brethren.

     In the nature of tax farming per se there is no reason to believe that the Jews were any more honest or gentle than any other tax farmers.  Exploiting their human cattle as tax farmers the Jews then dug deeper by acting as loan sharks after having expropriated the wealth of the Spaniards as taxes.  Interest or usury as it was called was forbidden the faithful by the Catholic Church so miraculously, almost, the loan sharks had the field to themselves, not ever a shard of competition.  And they took advantage of it.  So for roughly two or three hundred years the Jews exploited their human kine unmercifully.  Mr. Netanyahu acknowledges this although with a different characterization.

     As Abel exploited his position as favorite of God with Cain who, becoming exasperated, killed Abel so in 1391 driven past their endurance the Spanish cattle rose up, as Mr. Netanyahu puts it, to virtually exterminate the Jewish population.  As exaggeration no doubt.  Mr. Netanyahu virtually equates the uprising with the Stalin-Hitler period in Central and Eastern Europe.

     In the interests of brevity we will now skip another four hundred years or so to the post-Revolutionary period of 1913 to the present.  The story was the same in every society the Jews infiltrated; one of expulsion or slaughter during this intervening period.  There is no aberration in history over the period from 1913 to 1945; it is all a continuation of the Abel and Cain story; Semitism and its inevitable reaction.  Underline the word inevitable.  The United States will not be immune to this reaction.

     From 1300 to the French Revolution Jews had been expelled from every Western European country while being placed under civil disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe.  The French Revolution reestablished opportunities for them.  They quickly reestablished their role as middlemen.

     By the time of the Revolution State functions had been depersonalized and institutionalized.  The law of fiat by the king had been replaced by the ‘Rule of Law.’  Thus, while individual rulers who remained goyim were still important, they functioned under the higher authority of the ‘Law.’  The term Majesty indicates the concept of The Law had replaced the Royal authority.

     Thus to regain their position of middlemen Jews had to subvert the Law.  This has been all but completely accomplished in our own time.  In the interim between 1913 and 1953, actually, the Jews fully exasperated their Central and Eastern European host States, thus during the Stalin-Hitler period from 1928 to 1953 Nazis and Communists took the psychological solution of inviting Abel out into the field and killing him.  Both Stalin and Hitler began to systematically exterminate the Jews.  This should surprise no one familiar with the Cain and Abel story and history.

     Stalin was assassinated on the eve of the execution of the order to round up Eastern European Jews for transportation to the gulags in the far North.  Not only a virtual but an actual death sentence.  Thus the Jews in Europe would have been all but destroyed.

     I hope this is suffiecient background for us to now return to the story of Burroughs, Tarzan, MGM and the Judaeo-Communists of Hollywood.

     it is an accepted fact today that the various national CPs were all 50 to 60% Jewish.  Insofar as Jewish Cultural ends coincided with Communist goals, which were not entirely synonymous, all Jews may be said to be Communist sympathizers.  After the establishment of Israel in 1948 a rift occurred between the two cultural factions that resulted in a rejection of the Jews by the Communists.

     We know that ERB became suspect as an anti-Semite after 1919 and I suspect a confirmed one in AJC/ADL eyes, at least by 1924’s Marcia Of  The Doorstep, reinforced by Tarzan Triumphant a few years later.  :Little is known of ERB’s attitude toward the Jews before 1919.  He must have been aware of the Jewish presence in Chicago.

     Gus Russo in his volume Supermob describes their arrival in Chicago in this manner. p. 4:

     This community…was centered around the intersection of Halsted and Maxwell Streets, where the population was 90% Jewish.  Over the next twenty years (after 1871) an estimated fifty-five thousand Eastern European Jewish immigrants crowded into this tiny locus.  So dense had this ghetto become that one social scientist determined that if the rest of the city were similarly clotted, Chicago would boast, instead of two million residents, over thirty-two million people, half the population of the entire country.

     We know that ERB was familiar with the area because Billy Byrne, the Mucker, came from the area, so ERB must have observed the Jewish community in this habitat.  With further arrivals that brought the Jewish population of Chicago to 350,000 the area of Lawndale was colonized.

     Hollywood in the thirties was rapidly changing.  (When wasn’t Los Angeles rapidly changing?)  Beginning in the thirties a remendous influx of revolutionary and conspiratorial Jews arrived from Germany, especially after 1933.  At the same time the Outfit began to annex California as its own crime colony.  As part of this organized crime influx came the generation of Jews from Lawndale in Chicago as the so-called financial wizards of the Chicago Outfit.  Thus the whole charater of LA Burroughs knew from the teens and twenties changed much for the worse.  It will be remembered that ERB was a neighbor of the Sicilian mobster Johnny Roselli in the late thirties while gangsters became prominent in his work beginning with Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick of Tarzan Triumphant and the assassins of The Swords Of Mars.

     As far as I know ERB was too discreet to discuss his opinions of Jews other than what can be gleaned fromt the novels.  It does seem clear that he knows who he was dealing with.

     We know he was an anti-Communist which was enough to have him shut down as an author, while it is probable that the Jews considered him an anti-Semite which is another reason for him to be brought into line.  The means of doing this was to control him economically while subverting his character of Tarzan.  It was a fairly easy matter to break him financially, but the strength of the appeal of Tarzan was such and the means applied so covert, that when MGM gave up after Tarzan’s New York Adventure the ape man had been too strong for them.

     So, when the string of six MGM Tarzans began in 1932 the intent was to diminish Tarzan to a laughing stock, but the character was too much for them while the movies became extremely profitable.  Even then the Studio abandoned the lucrative series in 1942.  This is inexplicable unless something is going on behind the scenes.

     For the next essay I am going to concentrate on the last of the MGM movies, Tarzan’s New York Adventure primarily because it seems to be directly related to the situation around Tarzan And The Lion Man.  It is highly improbable that Lion Man was not read by those involved with this project at MGM.   They must therefore have reacted to it.  The novel very likely has concealed messages that escape us but which they would have picked up.  The movies also have concealed messages which were directed at Burroughs.  If I am right Tarzan’s New York Adventure is a lecture tha was directed at the old Lion Man, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Go to part 10 of 10 Tarzan’s Excellent New York Adventure



A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 8 of 10 parts


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

More Stars Than There Are In Heaven


     The last two chapters are titled ‘Goodby Africa; and ‘Hello, Hollywood.’  Burroughs thus complements Ring L1 with Ring R1 completing the circle.  If one reads the book with this structure in mind rather than the linear one leading to a climax at the end the story will make more sense and be much more pleasurable.

     ERB had had a rocky road in Hollywood since his arrival in 1919.  The purchase of the spectacular Otis estate immediately called attention to him, an attention that he would have to fulfill.  ERB obviously failed to live up to the expectations he had created while souring the relationship further by writing the muckraking Girl From Hollywood in 1922.  In Lion Man he once agains ridicules Hollywood and actually the movie colony, as well it should have been.  The first and last chapters are direct attacks.  Comments of this sort are always resented and seldom forgiven.  MGM was not in a forgiving mood.

     Burroughs opens the chapter with a description of Tarzan.  p. 180:

     A year had passed.

     A tall, bronzed man alighted from the Chief (Santa Fe RR passenger train called The Chief) in the railroad station of Los Angeles.  The easy majestic grace of his carriage; his tread, at once silent and bold; his flowing muscles; the dignity of his mien; all suggested the leonine, as though he were, indeed a personification of Numa, the lion.

     Yes indeed, the Lion Man had hit Tinseltown, flowing muscles, whatever flowing muscles may be, and all.  Hollywood had come to Africa and now Africa had come to Hollywood with a silent but bold tread, whatever that is.  MGM would make merry over the Lion Man.

     Just by coincidence Tarzan arrives at the same time as Balza, The Golden Girl, who had already found fame and stardom in the movie capitol is returning.  She now has green hair and has learned to say Mahvelous, in true Hollywood fashion.  After all she had a human brain.  All Hollywood stars said Mahvelous at the time which was a source of some amusement and derision.  ‘That’s mahvelous, darling.’

     The Freeman Lang Burroughs mentions was a real person, the Hollywood greeter.   ERB had obviously listened to or seen several such spectacles- a nice snapshot of a bygone era.

     With the trace of a smile Tarzan continues to downtown Hollywood and the Roosevelt Hotel.  Named after TR obviously.  The Roosevelt was real and so far as I know is still in use, although I haven’t been to Hollywood for twenty years or so now, so I can’t say for sure.  The Hotel was frequented by the movie crowd while having a somewhat seedy reputation according to my sources.

     While checking in, one of the local sharpers watches him sign his name- John Clayton of London.  ERB has been around, he knows what’s happening.  When Tarzan comes down from his room the sharper accosts him in the lobby with a ‘Say, aren’t you John Clayton from London?’

     The sharper claims to have met Tarzan in London, although he doesn’t specify the major island of Africa or the lesser island England.  Obviously he could never have met John Clayton on the lesser Island.  He attaches himself to Tarzan as a guide.

     He guides Tarzan to the then famous Brown Derby, an actual restaurant.  Hollywood and LA are much different today than they were in the thirties,forties and fifties.  All the garish wonder and splendor is gone.  The Brown Derby was actually shaped like a brown Derby hat.  I saw it before they tore it down but I never ate there; I did eat at the one over in Beverly Hills but it wasn’t the same.  Burroughs makes some very unflattering remarks about the movie folk eating lunch there, which probably didn’t help him socially during the rest of the decade.

     ERB then offers another slice of Hollywood life portraying the premier of Balza’s new film at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which I am sure everyone is familiar with.  Freeman Lang again officiates at the mike.  I’m sure everyone has seen such a depiction in either newsreels or movies.  The Day Of The Locust would be a good example.

     After the movies Reece, the sharper, suggests that he, a friend, and Tarzan attend a party.  He fails to mention that they’ll be crashing it as they have no invitations, indeed, don’t even know the hosts. 

     Here ERB is giving an excellent portrayal of a Hollywood type who persists today, although much rougher now that cocaine and other drugs have been introduced.  Formerly merely audacious and crooked, now they are vicious and criminal, using drugs as an entree.

     Tarzan is not aware of what’s going on as Reece brushes past the doorman.  While Tarzan makes himself amenable in small talk Reece and friend set about to rob the hostess of her jewels.

     Tarzan is appraised by some studio types as a suitable condidate to play a jungle god.  One of the men may be meant to represent Louis B. Mayer although if so, ERB is too cautious to mention his real name.

     We also learn that Rhonda has been married to Orman and is now in the South Seas making another movie.  If La and Rhonda did represent ERB’s Anima figure, then he has abandoned her which means that as Tarzan is now one undivided person he has no Anima and no woman.  Strange situation.

     About this time the screams of the hostess announce that Reece and his friend are doing violence to the lady.  Tarzan rescues her then jumps through a window into a conveniently placed tree as the cops arrive.

     Surprisingly he runs into Reece the next day.  Asked why he isn’t in jail Reece casually says that his friend has a contact who fixed it.  He feels no remorse or shame secure in the knowledge that nearly any crime can be fixed.

     The party and the fixing are realistic portrayals of Hollywood.  ERB must have attended such parties, while as a man about town he was familiar with the various Hollywood types.

     BO Studios call asking him to come in for an audition.  ERB does some flim flam about an adagio dancer playing the Lion Man, gives Tarzan a minor role because he isn’t the type to play the Lion Man, then Tarzan muffs his chance by killing a trained lion.  Rather weak from my point of view.  Tarzan then turns his back on Hollywood asking for directions back to Africa.

     So the novel Tarzan And The Lion Man ends ‘not with a bang but a whimper.’  The duel with MGM has already begun.

Go To Part 9:  Conclusions and Prospectus


A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18, Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 7 of 10 Parts


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

The Storyteller

The City Of God

7 a.


     The first to the Falls, Rhonda was then spotted from the plateau by some of the Apes of God.

The Reviewer

     Now begins the story within the story.  A long short story or novelette that is as fine as anything in Fantasy or Science Fiction.  This story is the eighteen caret ruby in the diadem of the Tarzan series.  That this story should have gone unrecognized for over seventy years is incredible.

     Not only is it objectively stunning but the subjective richness is beyond measure.  Just as some background on the number of influences on the story let us begin with two, both of which are interconnected in ERB’s mind.

     The novel by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, had a profound effect on ERB’s mind.  He apparently read it early which is to say before 1900.  The possibility of creating life had interested him from the beginning of his corpus while references to it are interspersed throughout.  One of the greatest of his creations, the great physician and scientist Dr. Ras Thavas, will succeed in creating life five years hence in The Synthetic Men Of Mars but will botch the job terribly.

     In this story Burroughs’ character, God, doesn’t create life but he manipulates genes to create a whole new species.  Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818 and in 1931 Universal made the definitive movie.  That was two years before Burroughs wrote Lion Man so it is reasonable to assume the movie had an effect on him.

     IMDb provides a quote from the movie that may have inspired ERB; I don’t think there is any doubt that he saw this seminal horror film.

     Henry Frankenstein:  Look! It’s moving.  It’s alive.  It’s alive….It’s alive, it’s moving, etc.

     Victory Moritz:  Henry- in the name of god!

     Henry Frankenstein:  Oh, in the name of God!  Now I know what it feels like to be God!

Frankenstein's Monster

     The 1931 Frankenstein is stil an overwhelming experience to watch over seventy years later.  For the audiences of 1931 it must have been overpowering.  The fabulous castle of Dr. Frankenstein was surely an inspiration for the castle of Burroughs’ God.  What Burroughs did with the inspiration is as astonishing as both the Shelley original and the movie.

     In the news also at the time for over a period of a decade or more was the spectacular career of John R. ‘Goat Glands’ Brinkley.  This is an astonishing story.  I rely mainly on two accounts:  Vishwas Gatitonde’s excellent article “Magic Men’ in BB New Series #59 and the account in Wlofman Jack’s autobiography.  Wolfman Jack’s autobiography slipped by unnoticed but is one of the great autobiographies of the second half of the twentieth century, probably the twentieth century and possibly of all time.

Also see on the internet:

Dr. John R. Brinkley- A Story You Should Know

Grift, Goats and Gonads by Scott McLemee

Kansas State Historical Papers- John R. Brinkley

Border Radio Quackery by Gene Fowler and Bill Crawford

The Goat Gland Doctor by Joe Schwarcz, PH.D

     The medical practices of God involve gland transplants along with genetic implanting or splicing.  Over the years based on a foundation of Frankenstein ERB had built up a magnificent fantastical scientific edifice of life creation based on Evolution.

     There can be no doubt that he read and thought about the subject a great deal.  He was very well informed on evolutionary matters.  He was a well educated, thoughtful, intelligent man contrary to nearly every opinion about him.  His ideas as presented in Lion Man are probably as far as he could take them based on the knowledge of his time.  The discovery of DNA was only a little over a decade away, actually made a few years before he died.  One wonders what he would have made of it.  Even then ERB’s notion of ‘germ cells’ with their indestructability contains the essence of DNA so ERB was on the right track in his thinking.  I’m going to handle this out of order as the ideas explain what follows better.

     ERB was familiar with the use of cannibalism to ingest certain qualities of slain warriors.  Thus it was thought that to eat the brains of especially intelligent people transmitted that intelligence to oneself.  To eat the flesh of a brave man made oneself also brave, etc.

     From there to cellular therapy is a short step.  Even though there was probably no one who believed in the physical benefits of human cannibalism this side of Africa when it came to animals parts intelligent men threw common sense out the window.

     Cellular Therapy arose at the end of the nineteenth century.  Joe Schwarcz explains:

     Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard, a noted French physiologist, had shocked the medical community by injecting himself with the crushed testicles of young dogs and gunea pigs.  Afterwards he claimed that he had regained the physical stamina and intellectual vigor of his youth.  Many men availed themselves of ‘La Methode Sequardienne’, but once the placebo effect was filtered out little remained.  In Vienna physiologist Eugen Steinach proposed that youthful vitality could be restored by increasing levels of testosterone.  the easiet way to do this, Steinach said, was through vasectomy.  Sperm production wasted testosterone, and if the channel leading from the testes to the ejaculatory duct were tied off, then blood levels of testosterone would rise.  Brinkley may also have heard of the work of Serge Vorenoff, a French doctor who was stirring u a storm of controversy with his experimental gland transplants.  Vorenof had been a physician in the court of the King of Egypt, and there he had spent a great deal of time treating the court eunuchs, who suffered from a variety of illnesses.  He hyposthesized that maintaining active genital glands was the secret of health.  As proof, he cited his experiments with an aging ram into which he transplanted the testicles of young lamb.  the ram’s wool got thicker, and his sexual vigor returned.  Voreneff then went on to transplant bits of monkey testes into aging men; he claimed success, although he could offer no scientific validation of his claim.  In America the stage was set for the meteoric rise of J.R. Brinkley.

     Brinkley began to transplant goat glands into the testicles of his patients.  As he began his career in the early 1920s radio made its appearance as a commercial entity.  On the qui vive Brinkley realized its potential to increase his business and spread his gospel.  He bought the first radio station in Kansas in 1923, his practice was in Melford, His call leters were KFKB- Kansas First-Kansas Best- as bold a claim as his medical ones.  He was actually a fine broadcaster transmitting Country Music, weather, farm reports and other items of interest as well as infomercials for his medical practice.  This notoriety brought the AMA and government down on him.  By 1930 he had had both his medical and broadcasting licenses revoked.

     Now, here’s where the man showed his innovative brilliance.  This really got him attention.  Nothing daunted he moved down to fabled Del Rio, Texas, Brinkley created the fable, across the Rio Grande from Villa Acuna.  His radio station in Kansas was small, a mere 1000 watts, although probably non-directional.

      In Mexico without US regulations he was able to build a boombox of 75,000 to 100,000 non-directional watts.  This was later incresed, if this is believable, to 500,000 watts and tahen to1,000,000 watts according to Fowler and Crawford who really should know.


Clap For The Wolfman

   Alright.  When I grew up in Michigan in the 1950s I could clearly pick up the successor Del Rio station after dark when its power was only 250,000 watts.  Wolfman Jack who worked the station tells an amusing story of his arrival.  Driving through the desert to the transmitter he noted that all the cars parked there had left their headlights on.  This mystified him but then he learned that the wattage was so powerful that headlights glowed in consequence.  The air crackled around him.  At a half million and a million watts people must have levitated.

     So, Dr. Brinkley was much in the news all these years so that ERB as Gaitonde suggests couldn’t have missed him.  While in our time there is no reason to mention La Methode Sequardienne yet with Brinkley being reviled it is quite possible ERB came across a discussion of cellular therapy in his reading which did mention these earlier experiments.

     ERB has God, a formerly handsome Englishman, create a hybrid hominid between a gorilla and a human.  God himself has regressed being a hybrid human/gorilla.  p. 133:

     “What is this strange purpose we are to serve?”  asked Rhonda.

     “It is purely scientific; but it is a long story and I shall have to start at the beginning,” explained God.

     In the beginning.  God appears to have been a medical student back in England with a strong interest in biology.  p. 134:

     “I had always been intrigued by Lamarck’s investigations and later by Darwin’s.  They were on the right track, but they did not go far enough; then shortly after my graduation, I was traveling in Austria when I met a priest at Brunn who was working along lines similar to mine.  His name was Mendel.  We exchanged ideas.  He was the only man in the world who could appreciate me, but he couldn’t go all the way with me.  I got some help from him; but doubtless, he got more from me; though I never heard anything more about him before I left England.”

     ERB gives us a fair amount of information here.  He is familiar with the Frenchman Lamarck of the eighteenth century who centered on heridity.  A red flag goes up on Darwin because if God left England in 1859 he would have known nothing of Darwin who published that year.  In any event while Darwin’s Origin Of Species sheds light on the mechanics of the variations among a species I can’t find any evidence of how species themselves evolve.  ERB is also familiar with the genetics of the monk, not priest, Gregor Mendel, who published in 1866 sending a copy to Darwin which the latter dismissed as irrelevant.  However, Burroughs through God seems to have taken Darwin less seriously than Mendel.

     He imples that Mendel was on the right track with his peas but that following the same line of reasoning God went well beyond him which indeed he did.  Mendel was disregarded in 1866, his revival beginning in the year 1900.  So Burroughs in 1930 is keeping up his reading.

     Burroughs then goes on to explain God’s theory of heredity.  His theory is not all that bad.  It shows Burroughs obviously doing some reading and thinking on the subject.  p. 134:

     “In 1857 I felt that I had practically solved the myster of heredity, and in that year I published a monograph on the subject.  I will explain the essence of my discoveries in as simple language as possible, so that you may understand the purpose you are to serve.

     “Briefly, there are two types of cells we inherit from our parents- body cells and germ cells.  these cells are composed of chromosomes containing genes- a separate gene for each mental and physical characteristic.  The body cells, dividing and multiplying, changing, growing, determine the sort of individual we are to be; the germ cells remaining practically unchanged from our conception, determine what characteristics our progeny will inherit, through us, from our progentors and from us.

     “I determined that heredity could be controlled through the transference of these genes from one individual to another.  I learned that these genes never die; they are abosolutely indestructible- the basis of life on earth, the promise of immortality through all eternity.

     It appears that ERB’s main concern is heredity and indeed genealogy was important to him.  While his information is a clumsy account compared to what has been learned since then, given the times ERB was quite advanced.  He doesn’t have the handle on DNA which is a decade or so in the future, Watson and Crick published in 1947, but in the germ cells he’s on the track of the right idea.  The notion of the body cells is, of course, superfluous.

      But now God runs up against a brick wall when he publishes his theory in 1857.  Remember Mendel’s discoveries were still eight years in the future while so far ahead of their time that they will be disregarded for thirty-four years.

     I don’t know what horror films have been released by this time, Dracula and Frankenstein for sure, but here the plot seems very familiar, possible Burke and Hareish.  Unable to proceed in a legal manner because of society’s obtuseness God turns to criminal means, but quite novel crime.

     As he has detemined that germ cells are immortal he raids the tombs of Westminster Abbey extracting germ cells from Henry VIII and his court and entourage.  Thus he has a little time capsule when he is discovered and flees England to avoid blackmail.  He decides to conduct his experiments on gorillas in Africa.  He finds the greatest concetration of gorillas in Africa, and hence on earth, in the valleyof diamonds.  In something like seventy years he converts pure gorillas into a hybrid of gorillas and humans capable of speech and human cognition.  They build his magnificent City of God for him which must have been quite new when Tarzan arrived.

     As they are bred from the genes of medieval Englishmen  the effects of Lamarckian heredity are evident as they speak a medieval form of English and replicate the City called London after its medieval progenitor.  Following Burroughs’ earlier thought in Opar the gorillas accept only beings born in gorilla form with human attributes.  Sports and mutations are expelled.  the other are, of course, the result of Mendelian genetics that are beings with odd combination of genes.

     God was born in 1833, the same year as Burroughs’ father, thus in 1933 he is one hundred one years old.  Some forty years back or so as he realized he was aging so he decided to splice in the body cells of young gorillas in a form of cellular therapy to rejuvenate himself.  This worked well in preserving his youth but unfortunately the more gorilla body cells he spliced in the more gorilla-like he became, so that when Tarzan and Rhonda meet him he is a grotesque hybrid, more intellignet than the gorilla hybrids, but reverting rapidly to pure gorilla.  Serious problem.

     God is very pleased to capture two such fine looking human specimens as Tarzan and Rhonda because by splicing in their body cells he will be able to resume his human shape in some style.

     So Burroughs has been developing his ideas in a creditable scientific way.  While it’s true his actual science is speculative he is employing some fairly sound reasoning on the matter that may not have been too dissimilar from the tack taken by Stalin’s scientists, while creating a human-ape hybrid has apparently been a timeless fascination.  It is said that our own scientists have succeeded in actually creating a chimp-human hybrid but that the specimens have been destroyed. I haven’t any confirmed proof that such has been done but rumors are around.

     Having given a reasonable scientific explanation of the gorilla hybrids and God’s purpose for Tarzan and Rhonda, Burroughs with his usual ghoulish delight introduces his favorite topic of cannibalism.  He informs the two that after satisfying his need for body cells he intends to eat them thus imbibing their characteristics.  He also says that he will extract several glands from Rhonda for some special purpose.

      I’m not exactly clear on what cannibalism meant to ERB.  It seems he associates it with his father who was particulary hard on Burroughs in his youth which ERB may have interpreted as being eaten alive by his father.  As we have God, cannibalism and his father associated here his father may be the reason for the recurring  reference to cannibalism is his work.

     The female glands recur again in Tarzan’s Quest where the Kavuru chief Kavandavanda requires female glands for his immortality pills and Vishwas Gaitonde finds the subject mentioned again in Tarzan The Magnificent. 

     So when Rhonda arrives at the Falls and is spotted from above by the seeming gorillas, she is actually spotted by a clone of the real fifteenth century Lord Buckingham in his gorilla guise.

     Now begins a series of astonishments, jokes and twists such as are found in few novels.  As I mentioned, today much of this is old hat, but in 1933 this was startling fresh and new.  At this point we are unaware of the hybrid nature of the gorillas.  The following passage then was not only startling to Rhonda but to us.  p. 94:

     (Rhonda) felt very small and alone and tired.  With a sigh she sat down on a rounded boulder and leaned against another piled behind it.  All her remaining strength seemed to have gone from her.  She closed her eyes wearily, and two tears rolled down her cheeks.  Perhaps she dozed, but she was startled into wakefulness by a voice speaking near her.  At first she thought she was dreaming and did not open her eyes.

     “She is alone,”  the voice said.  “We will take her to God- he will be pleased.”

     it was an English voice, or at least the accent was English, but the tones were gruff and deep and guttural.  The strange words convinced her she was dreaming.  She opened her eyes, and shrank back with a little scream of terror.  Standing close to her were two gorillas, or such she thought them to be until one of them opened his mouth and spoke.

     “Come with us,” it said; “we are going to take you to God;” then it reached out a mighty, hairy hand and seized her.

     There’s a shocking opener to the twilight zone between R2 and R3 as ERB prepares the curiosity of the reader for what is perhaps the most amazing story he ever told.

King Kong

     Rhonda, physically and emotionally exhausted by the terrific events of the past few days, slips into a trance in the middle of Africa only to be brought out of it by voices speaking Enalish saying they are taking her to God.  What can that possibly mean?  When she opens her eyes she sees two gorillas are doing the speaking.

     That’s something else, isn’t it?  Had they been on the screen could they have competed with King Kong that was released in that year of 1933?   Out of King Kong came 1949’s Mighty Joe Young while the public’s fascination with gorillas continued until Planet Of The Apes which, if it doesn’t owe anything to Burroughs’ story, develops the theme ad absurdam.  Kong, Young and Planet Of The Apes, Stalin’s experiments all owe their origins to the Tarzan oeuvre.

     Burroughs raises the theme to heights that have never been surpassed.  Combining the human gorillas with the City of God was incomparable genius.

     With the background clear let’s take a leap into the future.

The City Of God

God At Work


7 b.

The whole thing seemed like a hideous and grotesque nightmare,

yet it was so real that she couldn’t know whether or not

she was dreaming.

Lion Man p. 95

     In taking the ‘germ cells’ of individuals from the time of Henry VIII, as the cells were cloned with those of the gorillas the hybrids cloned the environment they knew.  While clones have no mermory of a previous existence, in the popular imagination they do.  Thus in the paranoid classic movie The Boys From Brazil of 1978 the number of clones of Adolf Hitler all exhibited the supposed conditioned responses of the original which they could not have experienced themselves.

     At the same time ERB cleverly replicates the political situation between God, Church and Henry VIII.  When Rhonda was captured, two gorillas named the Dukes of Buckingham and Suffolk quarrel over whether she is to be taken to Henry VIII or God.  As we still have no idea of what is going on we are as mystified as Rhonda.

     And then as Rhonda tries to order her bobbled brain she realized she could communicate with these improbably English speaking apes.  p. 96:

     Now she had an instant in which to think clearly, and with it came the realization that she had the means of communicating with her captors.

     ‘Who are you?”  she damanded.  “And why have you made me a prisoner?”

     ‘The two turned suddenly upon her.  She thought their faces denoted surprise.

     “She speaks English!” exclained one of them.

     There’s a neat turnabout similar to when Tarzan addresses Buckingham in Mangani and the gorilla answers him in English.  The gorilla exclaims, “She speaks English.”

     Then follows an explanation of God, Henry VIII and Cranmer that only succeeds in confusing Rhonda further as she seems to be in some costume play in which for some inexplicable reason actors clad as gorillas are acting out a play  about Henry VIII.  She pinches herself to no avail.  She is awake.  This isn’t theatre, although Hamlet soon would be played in Nazi uniforms which is just about as ridiculous.

     The gorillas take her to Henry VIII where we will leave her until she is joined by Tarzan.

     While Rhonda escaped theArabs Naomi had been recaptured.  In company with the Arabs she is brought to the canyon that leads to an easy ascent of the plateau according to the map.  As the ascent becomes steep they leave the horses with Eyad going ahead on foot.  Awaiting them at the crest is Stalin’s dream corps.  Throughout the oeuvre one is always amazed at the disregard for their own well being the apes exhibit.  They  charge in story after story with complete disregard for their own well being.  Always a signficant portion are left on the field of battle but the survivors never complain while Tarzan complacently accepts their sacrifice as his due.

     So here, barehanded against the Arab firearms the gorillas launch a wave attack reminiscent of the Chinese in Korea that doesn’t stop until all the Arabs are dead.  No regard at all for casualities.  No wonder Stalin thought Burroughs was on to something.  While the apes perform as they have always performed in Tarzan stories the difference here is that these are not mere apes but hybrids with human intelligence.  If Burroughs was aware of Stalin’s experiments was he laughing at the Great Commissar?  Is this battle a reference to Stalin?  One can’t be positive of course but I am sure that the character of God-the formerly handsome Englishman- is partially based on H.G. Wells who was associated with Stalin.

     Naomi was with the Arabs.  She is captured by Buckingham  who asks her how she got away from God;  she is identical to Rhonda so Buckingham naturally confused her for the latter.  The Apes sense of smell was not as developed as Tarzan’s.  I’m sure the Big Bwana would have smelled the difference immediately.

     ERB is now dealing with his sexual problems.  Of the three women involved with the City of God- Naomi, Rhonda and Balza, it is necessary to sort out which woman represents what to ERB.  As Naomi is weak and vacillating she obviously represents Emma.  Rhonda who is strong and self-willed seems to represent ERB’s Anima ideal or in other words, La of Opar.  La disappears from the oeuvre after Tarzan The Invincible of 1930 but as Tarzan and Rhonda in God’s prison replicate Tarzan and La in the Lion’s den of Invincible it seems probable that ERB has transported La from the fantasy world of Opar to the mere imaginary world of the movies.  This leaves Balza- The Golden Girl- who probably represents Florence, but we will deal with her in the appropriate place.

     ERB has now gotten the two women, the Arabs and Tarzan to the Falls.  Orman, West and the safari are assembling at the base of the Falls so, having dissolved his story after the Bansuto attack ERB has now reintegrated it.

     After a series of adventures during which Buckingham kills Suffolk, Tarzan appears to rescue Naomi killing Buckingham.  At this point in Burroughs’ psychology he assumes the identity of his ordinary self and that of Tarzan into one being.  As the movie people have never seen Tarzan they assume that he is Stanley Obroski his identical twin.  Tarzan does not correct anyone but allows them to believe he is Stanley.

      As I perceive it then ERB has now deluded himself into believing that he is Tarzan.  Those who know him still perceive him as Ed Burroughs.  He has no choice but to let them believe that because if he attempted to impose his delusion on them he might have been committed.  Thus for a period of about five to six years from 1934 to 1939-40 Burroughs perceives himself as Tarzan but  capitulates  in Tarzan And The Madman giving up his illusion of being the Big Bwana.  In Lion Man he describes Tarzan as a madman so the two novels are linked by the concept of madness.

     After writing Madman Burroughs left California for Hawaii where he forced Florence away from him.  WWII came along which saved him from himself.  After the war he went back to LA to die.  It is interesting that he didn’t choose to live in Tarzana but bought a house in Encino that backed against the Promised Land.  thus like Moses, with whom there was a connection made in Tarzan Of The Apes, ERB was destined to view the Promised Land but not enter it.

     In Lion Man he is flush with the hope of being able to live out his fantasy.  He is now a few months from abandoning Emma so symbolically he returns Naomi to the safari at the Falls from whence she disappears from the story.

     Only Rhonda and Balza will figure in the rest of the story.  Emma is no more although Jane will appear again in Quest probably as Emma’s replacement Florence.  In Magnificent Florence is mentioned only anonymously as Tarzan’s ‘wife.’  ERB is definitely struggling.

     Having delivered Naomi to the safari Tarzan then reascends the plateau in search of Rhonda and the City of God.

The City Of God

7 c.

Every one of us, I believe, is possessed of two characters.

Often time they are so much alike that the duality is not noticeable,

but again there is a divergence so great

That we have the phenomenon of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

in a single individual.

E.R. Burroughs- The Swords Of Mars

     Tarzan And the Lion Man was followed at the end of 1933 by the Mars story The Swords Of Mars which features the return of John Carter.  ERB had taken a vacation from Emma returning to the scene of his own early adventures- Arizona.  Not coincidentally in the White Mountain of Apache country.  ERB’s motivations are sometimes obscure.  He was in the Army in Arizona in 1896-97 which was before he married Emma.  So he took his leave of absence from Emma to a place before he married her.  Setting the clock back, so to speak, somewhat reminiscent of The Eternal Lover.

     Just as Tarzan and Stanley met in Lion Man so while about to go to sleep, O.B.- The Other Burroughs- hears the door open, the clank of a man in war gear walking across the floor; terrified like an adolescent in a bad dream, O.B. is relieved and pleased when John Carter, back from Mars, greets him.  A real Jekyll and Hyde situation.  Thus as with Tarzan and Stanley the two Martian aspects of Buroughs are reunited but not melded.  John Carter then tells O.B. a bedtime story as though Burroughs were a child again.  I’m not that familiar with the Mars stories but there must be a connection to Lion Man and the MGM situation.  This must be true because this is the novel in which the opening letters of each chapter spell- TO FLORENCE WITH ALL MY LOVE, ED.  One assumes then that although the decision to leave Emma was difficult to make, ERB made the final decision in the Arizona mountains.

     So now a few months earlier Tarzan/Stanley makes the journey to the City of God where he will be reunited with his Anima ideal, Rhonda -La of Opar- in prison.  Thus his whole person both Anima and Animus are locked up by MGM.

     Rhonda had been taken to Henry VIII by Buckingham and Suffolk.  The city was called London, the country England and the river The Thames.  As ERB jokingly smirks- The English always take a little bit of England with them wherever they go.  Pretty funny, actually.

     Here the events of Henry’s reign are being reenacted.  As the apes are clones of Henry and his court who replicate their times one wonders whether each succeeding generation will be stuck in this one period of history reenacting it over and over until the end of time.  Once again I am reminded of The Eternal Lover.  ERB seems to be obsessed by the idea of time.

     Rhonda was first placed with the wives of Henry, a week later being moved to a cell in God’s castle where Tarzan found her when he too was captured.

     For now he was moving through the night until he came up against the ten foot high wall surrounding the City of London and within it the City of God.  Here we have the historical confrontation between the spiritual and temporal powers.  At the least the story is a very humorous parody of the religious situation of Henry VIII.  Once again ERB ridicules religion and this is done so cleverly and with such genius.

     But there are many levels of meaning.  Earlier I mentioned that the capture of Tarzan may have been meant to replicate ERB;’s capture by MGM.  In that sense then the City of God might represent MGM which boasted that it had more stars then Heaven.  So there is probably a joke there too.

     On the other hand, God is described as a formerly handsome Englishman.  The only candidate for that role I can come up with is ERB’s bete noir, H.G. Wells.  I think that I have adequately documented the literary feud between Wells and Burroughs.  Wells began well with his scientific romances.  While not as fresh and stunning as they were at the time of issue they still hold up well today.  Even though ERB denied having ever read Wells I think that claim can be dismissed out of hand.  ERB, then, would have been as impressed with Wells’ early romances as anyone else.  Then when Wells began his campaign of defamation and ridicule which is most clearly represented in his Mr. Blettsworthy On Rampole Island  he fell from favor in Burroughs’ eyes, hence the grotesquely deformed ‘formerly handsome Englishman.’

     As much as I like Wells he does pontificate.  Like all Liberals he has a difficult time distinguishing his opinion from truth, right and wrong, or reality.  While he does sometimes make a hit in his prophesying he is mostly wrong.  Backing the Worker’s Paradise of Stalin’s USSR was certainly wrong and more than enough to discredit him in the staunch anti-Communist Burroughs’ eyes.

     Wells probably shook Burroughs’ faith in the glory of England which had been a keystone of his secular faith fromt he beginning.  Thus, combining MGM, Stalin and the USSR and Wells, Burroughs packages all the troublemakers of this perilous time for him into one big box with a bigger bow on top.

     As his story could have no effect on his situation let us hope it was at least cathartic for him.  When Tarzan ends up in the cage with Rhonda that about epitomizes Burroughs’ situation vis-a-vis MGM, Stalin and Wells.  There are so many coincidences here that the brain revolves like a turret.  Was it wholly coincidental that Wells showed up in Hollywood at the end of ’35 to visit fellow Red Charlie Chaplin just as Burroughs was completely boxed in because of his Guatemalan adventure?

     Isn’t it amazing that Burroughs met his fate in Guatemala, the scene of the adventures of his early hero General Christmas and also the scene of some of the adventures of Ogden McClurg who was killed shortly after this return from the area in 1926?  It may be truly coincidental but the further one digs very often the more dirt one turns up.

      Burroughs may have felt confident he could write his way out of this box just as he was able to escape by self-publishing in 1930; perhaps he thought he could escape this time by making his own movies.  If so, a little analysis would have shown him that the rules had drastically changed.  Especially as he had signed the rights to represent his character Tarzan away.

     Coincidental with the release of the MGM Tarzan movies which preempted the nature of Tarzan from literature came the decline in Burroughs’ own literary powers.  Whereas in 1930 he was able to respond to the challenge with a series of top novels, after Lion Man there is a preciptious decline in the the quality of is work.  While the later novels have their charms for Burroughs’ admirers they do lack commercial appeal.

     By 1935 also Burroughs had antagonized radio which had become the major source of his income so that that medium was closed to him during his lifetime.  With publication revenues declining and the comics by Burroughs’ own admission producing a pittance, ERB had only one major source of income left and that was the moves.  MGM had him over a barrel.

     MGM might have produced a whole series of Tarzan films along the lines of the Charlie Chan movies as Burroughs reuefully remarked but they chose instead to issue only four movies between 1932 and 1939.  Obviously the makret would have borne more.  The limited release schedule kept EBB on a short financial tether.

     It is said that events cast their shadow before them so that it is possible, if not probable, that Burroughs foresaw the shape of things to come even as he wrote Lion Man.

     In 1930 when the Reds invaded his dream land of Opar ERB abandoned that fantasy.  The fabled city ceased to exist in his imagination while disappearing from the oeuvre.  Now in Lion Man it appears that the enemy had captured the castle while building a ten foot wall around it with Tarzan/Burroughs on the outside.  Thus Burroughs’ dream of separating himself from the world by a tne foot wall has been inverted in his imagination.  He wasn’t keeping the world out; the world was keeping him out.

     In the novel succeeding Lion Man, The Swords Of Mars, when the mad inventor Fal Sivas quails at taking hsi invented spaceship to the Martian moon Thuria the following exchange takes place between he and John Carter:

     “But you built this ship to go to Thuria,:  Carter cried.  “You told me so yourself.”

     “It was a dream,” he mumbled; “I am always dreaming, for in dreams nothing bad an happen to me.”

     Fal Sivas can be taken as an alter ego of Burroughs.  The Sivas probably refers to the Hindu god Shiva or Siva with whom Burroughs had become a devotee or developed a fascination for.  Thus while his heroes Tarzan and John Carter are men of action Sivas/Burroughs or any other combination is not.

     So in Lion Man Burroughs is desperately trying to become the man of action rather than the dreamer.  The problem now is that ERB himself is past the point of no return.  He has been walled out from the City of God.

     In dreams however Tarzan enters the Heavenly City by a fantastic feat of strength that recalls Burroughs’ 1890-1920 infatuation with the Strong Men such as the Great Sandow.

     The wall which Tarzan fancies was built to keep out lions i.e. the Lion Man has sharpened stakes pointing downward.  p. 124:

     …he leaped for the stakes.  His hands closed upon two of them; then he drew himself up slowly until his hips were on a level with his hands, his arms straight at his sides.  Leaning forward, he let his body drop slowly forward until it rested on the stakes and the top of the wall.

      That seems to be an impossible feat of strength except in dreams, but then by this point Tarzan thinks he is dreaming.  This might as well be an MGM movie lot such Burroughs spent five weeks on.  Here the dream faces a sort of reality.  As though pasing through a movie set as ERB must have done during those five weeks Tarzan comes to the steps leading to the Heaven of God.  this Stariway to Heaven, Jacob’s Ladder.

     As if to accent the relationship to MGM he passes the Apes of God who are dancing and partying.  The scene will be replicated at the foot of the Falls when the movie company duplicates this scene thus strengthening the connection with MGM.

     Tarzan begins the long climb up the Stairway to Heaven.  The fire flares illuminating him on the steps but the apes below don’t notice- high above on a parapet of Heaven, God does.  Note the resemblance to the move castle of Frankenstein.  A man of action God quickly prepares a trap.

     In real life the trap was probably the promise of the contract and money.  ERB blames the movies for being duplicitous, which is definitely true, still, he had had a dozen or more years to work out the conditions prevailing on his own.  After all, by 1932 he had proven product to sell.  The public had even given a profit to some pretty crummy movies so that had he taken the time, acted on his own conditions, rather than just signing for a few quick bucks he might have retained a position of some control, made himself an equal partner.  So, while MGM did betray him he might have been able to manage the situation.

     Tarzan enters the castle to be confronted by six doors of which only #3 is open.  Depending on how you count them there were six to eight major studios, thus the six doors may represent the Studios of which only MGM was willing to deal with him.  Remember he had been blacklisted since 1922, the blacklist having been broken in 1928 by Joseph Kennedy.

     Tarzan descends the stairs as heedlessly as Burroughs signed the contract and like Burroughs he finds himself trapped.  The nose of noses sniffs the air and detects the delicate scent of a White woman.  He has found she whom he sought, Rhonda.

7 d.

The Confrontation With God

     Now Tarzan is reunited with his Anima ideal in the person of Rhonda formerly La of Opar.  That Rhonda can be associated with La is because this scene is a replication or double of Tarzan and La in the lion’s den of Invincible.  There La and Tarzan were imprisoned in a cell beneath Opar.  They escaped the cell in a duplication of their escape from this prison.  In Invicible there was a runway within which the lion fed.  A shaft led upward to a room in a tower.  There the old man who betrayed them discovered them.

     In this case a breeze passing over the floor indicates an air shaft to Tarzan.  This is probably borrowed from Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines although it will soon if not already be a staple of the movie genre.  Tarzan locates the shaft in the ceiling in a corner of the cell.  He and Rhonda ascend it to the opening in front of which God is talking to some gorillas.  Thus the scene virtually duplicates Invincible.  La and Rhonda must be associated in ERB’s mind.

     As an aside Burrughs uses a variation of this scenario in The Swords Of Mars when John Carter is imprisoned.  There are beams some twenty feet ot so above the floor to which Carter leaps.  He takes a position above the door dropping on his keeper when he enters.

     At this point in the story Tarzan and Stanley Obroski may be considered to be reunited as one persona.  Rhonda, who has never seen Tarzan, addressed the person in Stanley’s guise as Stanley.  ERB has a little fun as he has Tarzan play along.

      As he says in Swords, he is convinced that every man has a dual Animus, that is two different aspects, sometimes nearly identical but sometimes as different as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Thus at this point his mind is impressed with Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.  He had read both novels before 1900  while both stories were released as movies in 1931.  So the stories are very fresh in his mind.

     Tarzan/Obroski may be considered of the Jekyll/Hyde variety.  There is little doubt that Burroughs saw the pair and himself that way.  Thus Carter and Fall Sivas in Swords may also be seen as two sides (Jekyll/Hyde) of the same persona.  Tarzan does not try to convince Rhonda that he is not Stanley, but in the Jekyll side of the persona he astounds here with Hydelike feats compelling her to reevaluate him.

     There are undoubtedly snippets of other horror movies here that ERB has seen also but I can’t remember the titles or dates.  There was one about two Scottish body snatchers Burke and Hare which I think I can detect here and another about a mad doctor who operated on the brains of abducted victims that shows up here and in Swords that was called the Black Sleept or somesuch.  The latter would have had a castle along these lines as well as Frankenstein.  Of course, which of that ilk of movie didn’t?  Burroughs is combining an astounding number of influences here both literary and cinematic but both combined.

     Thus, having availed himself of ‘such a God given opportunity’ to find Rhonda he is imprisoned with her.  The joke was ERB’s.  You know, God left the doors open- God given opportunity.  I chuckled softly to myself as I read.

     After an exchange of repartee between Stanley/Tarzan and Rhonda God makes his appearance.  Not exactly what one would expect God to look like.  In fact it is almost amazing that the fundamentalist Christians didn’t create an uproar.  After all according to the Old Testament man was created in God’s image.  There’s a laugh.  Here’s the image.  p. 128:

     It had the face of a man, but its skin was black like that of a gorilla.  Its grinning lips revealed the heavy fangs of an anthropoid.  Scant black hair covered those portions of its body that an open shirt and a loin cloth revealed.  The skin of the body, arms, and legs was black with large patches of white.  The bare feet were the feet of a man; the hands were black and hairy and wrinkled, with long, curved claws; the eyes were the sunken eyes of an old man- a very old man.

     The Scopes Monkey Trial had only been about seven years before.  So here Burroughs is making sport of God with a sort of reverse evolution.  God is a cross between a man and a gorilla.  Yet ERB led such a charmed life that his mockery or parody of God created no comment.  If he wanted to start a ruckus to promote his book sales he failed miserably.

     God might have been half ape but he had a whole hearted sense of;humor.  Overhearing Tarzan say that he had come for Rhonda his opening comments are mock injury.  p. 128:

     “So you are acquainted?”  He said.  “How interesting! And you came to get her, did you?  I thought that you had come to call on me.  Of course it is not quite the proper thing for a stranger to come by night without an invitation- and by stealth.

     “It was just by the merest chance that I learned of your coming.  I have Henry to thank for that.  Had he not been staging a dance I should not have known, and thus I should have been denied the pleasure of receiving you, as I have.

     “You see, I was looking down from my castle into the courtyard of Henry’s palace when his bonfire flared up and lighted the Holy Stairs- and there you were!

     Burroughs is justly criticized for the occasional bit of wooden dialogue but I find the confrontation with God very well written.  The constantly mocking tone of God is carried off very well.  Tarzan’s indignation is very well executed.  The influence of Shelley, Stevenson and the various movies is seamlessly blended into a very tightly executed scene.

     All this is done in a very few pages while it is a remarkable bit of writing.

     God hints at his motives for their use for him.  p. 129:

     “…I shall keep you for a while for the pleasure of conversing with rational human beings.

     “I have not seen any for a long time, a long, long time.  Of course I hate them nonentheless, but I must admit that I shall find pleasure in this companionship for a short time.  You are both very good looking too.  That will make it all the more pleasant, just as it increases your value for the purpose which I intend you- the final purpose, you understand.  I am particularly pleased that the girl is so beautiful.  I always did have a fondness for blonds.  Were I not already engaged along some other lines of research, and were it possible, I should like nothing better than to conduct a scientific investigation to determine the biologial or psychological explanation of the profound attraction the blond female has for the male of all races.”

      Burroughs doesn’t tell us how blonde Rhonda and Naomi are, whether they are platinum blondes like Kali Bwana or merely blondes.  Of course today ERB would be censored for his handling of the sexual and racial preferences for blondes but it is a recurrent theme in his writing and one worth studying.

     Having piqued our curiosity as to his purpose for the couple God leaves to check up on Henry.  p. 130:

“Come back here!” (Tarzan) commanded.  “Either let us out of this hole or tell us why you are holding us- what you intend doing with us.”

     The creature wheeled suddenly, its expression transformed by a hideous snarl.  “You dare issue orders to me!”   It screamed.

     “And why not?” demanded the ape-man.  “Who are you?”

     The creature took a step nearer the bars and tapped its hairy chest with a thorny talon.  “I am God.”  it cried.

     There you go.  The cat’s out of the bag.

     The scene is dramatically successful while the reader is now left to guess the model for God.  We are told that he was a formerly handsome Englishman now deformed as a hybrid ape-human.  The city is London, the territory is England and the river is the Thames.  A reasonable place to look would be among the English.  Who among the English is bedeviling ERB?  H.G. Wells is the only one I can think of.  Regardless of whether Wells considered himself a Communist or not he is sailing his craft so close to the wind that it is impossible to distniguish between the two.  At the very least Wells is throughly subversive.  If anything he resents not being in Stalin’s place.  So Burroughs must consider him Communist.

     To my mind then, Burroughs is mocking Wells much as Wells mocked Burroughs in ‘Blettsworthy.’ God has delusions of grandeur and so does the highly pontificating Wells.  My vote for the model is Wells.

     One also notes that in the last of the MGM Tarzan movies, 1942’s Tarzan’s New York Adventure, Tarzan is captured by the circus roustabouts and thrown into a mobile cage.  The camera then pans around to front which identifies the cage as a lion cage.  One thus has the joke of the Lion Man in a lion’s cage.  A final thumbing of the nose at Burroughs exiled in Hawaii.  MGM then dropped what had been a very lucrative series.  Strange behavior indeed.

     God then returns to give his history as detailed earlier in the essay.  While for some reason everyone, fans and detractors alike, wants to think of Burroughs as a semi-literate boob who is coincidentally a ‘master of adventure’ yet both in content and exposition, God presents his story in a masterly way.  In 1930 there may have been few of his readers who had ever heard of Mendel and possibly Lamarck, although one hopes all had heard of Darwin.  So it is possible that a reader might have been puzzled by the inclusion of Darwin while dismissing Larmarck and Mendel as fictitious.  Of course if you’re reading strictly for fast-paced adventure you may not notice the details even though they are far from concealed.

     God also clears up the mystery of the map.  Surprisingly the map is not a stage prop but authentic.  In fact, God made it about seventy years previously.  It seems that he had been in love with a women back in England but she preferred wealth to being the wife of an impoverished scientist.

     This may be a coincidence but that is the premise of the plot of H.G. Wells’ In The Days Of The Comet.  Perhaps it was a message to Wells in case he hasn’t gotten it yet.  But then God discovered the immense number of diamonds in the valley so he wrote the girl promising her riches beyond imagination.  He had employed a native runner to take the letter to the coast to mail it but since he had never had a reply he wondered if it had ever been received.  Now it came back to him.  A simple but inventive twist.

     When God leaves this time Tarzan sets to work to escape.  Following the draft across the floor he finds the air shaft.  Just as in Invincible he sends La up first now he sends Rhonda up first.  As in the earlier story they are trapped at the top.

     Looking through the entrance to the shaft they spy God and some gorillas in front of it.  Their escape is spoiled.  Now begins the Gotterdamerung.

The City of God

7 e.

The Gotterdamerung

      Burroughs now has both aspects of his Animus with his Anima trapped in the tower unable to go foward or backward.  God and his gorillas stand in anticipation before the opening.  Burroughs has been stalemated.  At this point one aspect of God must be MGM and its contract.

     ERB has spun out his fantasy in a plausible way to this point, but now he has to find a way to resolve his dilemma.  As he is daydreaming and this is a mad dream, as Fal Sivas says in Swords, in dreams nothing bad can happen to you.  In this bind something bad can happen to ERB.  He can lose his grip on reality.  In that way he becomes mad or insane which is what the story is about.

     In speaking of Henry God might also be speaking of ERB. p. 143:

         “You all forget,” (God) cried, “that it was I who created you; it is I who can destroy you.  First I shall make Henry mad, and then I shall crush him.  That is the kind of gods humans like- it is the only kind they can understand.  Because they are jealous and cruel and vindictive they have to have a jealous, cruel and vindictive god.”

     There’s a lot information in that quote.  It refers to the ancient Greek saying:  Those who the gods would destroy they first make mad.  So we have an excellent joke here.  The incredible mind of Burroughs can conceive humor in the midst of the blackest despair.

     He is talking of the Yahweh of the Old Testament while he quite soundly understands that god is a psychological projection of the mind of his creator.  In a masterly grasp of Freudian group psychology, whether he knew it or not, he realized tha the people have created a god in their own image and not vice versa.  Trapped in the tower this is a real agonized cry of despair before losing his grip on reality.

     I don’t mean to say that ERB went stark raving mad but he edged into a fantasy world at least once removed from the fantasy he had been living since 1912.  For the period of his marriage to Florence he can only be described as spaced out.  Bear in mind that it’s going to get worse as he gets trapped into his movie production experience.

     The Masenas in The Swords Of Mars make the threatening moves on John Carter who keeps backing away.  Only too late he realized he had maneuvered himself where they wanted him.  The Masenas were cat-men, i.e. lions who had two mouths.  In a sly way Burroughs is caricaturing the Jews of MGM and their mascot Leo the Lion.  The upper mouth which is sort of pursy and purring to seduce one, is above a lower mouth that is all teeth and no lips to rend one.  So he is saying that he is dealing with two-faced people.  While the upper mouth is assuring, the lower rending mouth is ever ready to destroy you.

     Tarzan realizes that he has no choices left but to stay put or rush God and the gorillas.  Alone he would have had a chance of success but with Rhonda in tow he is lost.  This is an interesting reflection on the relationship of the Animus to the Anima.  I’m at a bit of a loss to explain this.

     God had sent for Rhonda to be told that she was not in the cell.  Knowing that Tarzan was in the air shaft it followed that Rhonda was too as neither could have escaped the cell otherwise.  He orders smudge pots to be  lighted to smoke them  out.  Thus Burroughs acknowledges that his own situation is untenable while he has no solution.  The only one left is the Samson like effort of pulling the temple down on his own head destroying both himself and his enemies.

     God’s plan backfires as he sets his own castle afire.  Unable to stand the smoke any longer Tarzan rushes out to be felled by a blow from one of the apes.  At this precise point ERB goes mad or loses his mental balance.  I don’t believe there is a Tarzan novel in which the Big Bwana isn’t knocked on the head at least once.  In this case when he gets up he won’t have lost his memory but he will be a different man, another round of emasculation.

     Once again he is separated from his Anima.  Rhonda is spirited off to Henry.  God and Tarzan are trapped on the patio as the castle becomes engulfed in flames.

     This chapter is appropriately titled ‘The Holocaust.’  In its way everything that ERB had hoped and dreamed goes up in flames with God’s castle.  Heaven is reduced to ashes.

     Tarzan has his trusty rope so he can escape over the parapet to the roof of a lower level.  God begs him to save him which Tarzan reluctantly does.

     Tarzan, one has difficulty in styling him the Big Bwana in this emasculated state, reverses the actual situation between Burroughs and MGM by placing the rope around God’s neck putting him on a short tether.  Henry is now in full revolt.  Tarzan agrees to help God in exchange for his help in recovering Rhonda and letting them leave.  Perhaps Burroughs was asking MGM for a release from his contract.  Let by Tarzan the forces of God defeat Henry.

     I’m not clear who Henry represents or if he is meant to represent a real individual.  Aware of his defeat Henry abandons his wives for the blonde White woman, Rhonda.  He has a secret subterranean escape route.  Thus Burroughs, who through Tarzan stormed the gates of Heaven, the heights of consciousness, has first returned to earth and now slips back into the subconscious.  In all probability then, his attempt to integrate his personality  had failed while coming so close.

     Henry had followed his tunnel to emerge into the valley of diamonds and mutants.  Here he encounters a lion.  Throwing Rhonda down he runs from the lion which we all know is the exact wrong thing to do.  Rhonda then escapes.

      Tarzan emerges from the tunnel just as the lion is rending Henry.  So Henry perishes.  Tarzan sets off into the valley of diamonds in pursuit of Rhonda or, in another word, his Anima.

The City Of God

7 f.

The Golden Girl

     While one is astonished that there was no uproar because of ERB’s treatment of God, Heaven and the gorillas, one is even more astonished that at no time since 1912 was ERB ever under attack for his views on evolution.  The oeuvre is a veritable compendium on the various possible results of evolution yet no one ever said a word nor has to this day.

     In LIon Man which treats of evolution in perhaps his most daring way yet, his effort is met with stony silence.  God, in his creation of the hybrid gorillas according to the logic of Gregor Mendel, had a large number of sports and variations.  The ‘normal’ hybrid apes refused to accept these either killing them or driving them from their society.

     God laments that the tendency to exclusivity, or like to like, was such a strong characteristic of the new species that he could do nothing to break the hybrid’s attitude.  This must be a wry comment on those who wished to break down racial and special barriers.

     Apart from the role of White women in racial politics, which ERB through God has already commented on, there is not, nor will there ever be, inclusivity of different races on the pshysiological level nor even on the intellectual level of religion.

     Thus the theme of separation in this spurious London, England was a variation on Opar where normal males were killed producing the ape-like male Oparians, while only the beautiful females were preserved.  In this case the rejected hybrids, who bear some resemblance to the Hormads created by Ras Thavas, have taken up residence across the Thames.  Among them, as one might suppose, Mendelian genetics predicts, were two human looking specimens.  The male who was perfectly human in form had a gorilla mind; the female although rumored to have a gorilla mind in fact was a perfect human in mind while also possessing a normal human form.

     She is the mate of the human looking male as kind mates with kind.  Tarzan, having recovered Rhonda, finds Balza, which means Golden Girl, being abused by her mate.  He rescues her but the trio is set upon by the whole tribe of mutants.

     Balza explains to Tarzan that having defeated her former mate Tarzan has claimed her for his own.  She is his, will-he or nil he.  She then becomes hostile to the Anima figure of Rhonda.

     So now we have a difficult psychological situation.  Burroughs, who believes that every man is of a dual personality, has first united the two Lion Men and has now killed off one half of the duality leaving Tarzan as a single psychological unit.  Not integrated but half a man so to speak.  This is in violation of his stated belief which he has clarified no further.  At the same time Balza seems to be driving his old Anima figure of La/Rhonda away, replacing her.  Thus this Wild Thing becomes both Burroughs’ Anima ideal and human woman.   We have single with single, or half with half.  Now we have a single Animus, the Lion Man, Tarzan and Wild Thing as his Anima and woman.  This is quite a combination.  That would certainly explain the nature of the next several years of ERB’s life when he seems to run completely off the rails.

     He expresses this in his work of the thirties in different ways.  The Venus series is born out of this conflict in the second half of 1932 subsequent to the release of the movie Tarzan, The Ape Man.  John Carter does reappear at the end of 1933 in  The Swords Of Mars but Burroughs in the Venus series creates a much lesser man than either Carter or Tarzan; Napier is a pale shadow reflecting Burroughs neo-emasculated state.

     In the first venus volume Napier heads for Mars in his rocket ship.  Mars or the Greek Ares is the manly planet.  But now suffering from his further emasculation Burroughs no longer feels capable of competing with men on Mars.  Thus Napier has miscalculated the influence of the Moon, or female influence,  which bends his trajectory sending him to the female planet Venus instead.  In terms of classical mythology with which Burroughs was very familiar the Moon represents the feminine principle, while Venus, the Roman form of the Greek Aphrodite, represents the force of Love.  Thus in symbolical  terms ERB/Napier is diverted from the Manly principle of Mars by the female principle of the Moon and sent to the planet representing domination by the feminine principle of Love.  Napier is not a warrior.

     In Lion Man, written a  few months after The Pirates Of Venus Tarzan follows his female Anima principle, Rhonda, into the valley of diamonds, where he is attached to The Golden Girl, Balza.  In Burroughs’ terminology diamonds represent the realization of his sexual hopes.  So Rhonda in this instance can be taken to represent Napier’s moon who leads him to Balza, the planet Venus or Florence.  Burroughs is now severely handicapped in his conflict with MGM.  In this chapter of Lion Man when he catches up with Rhonda  comes across Balza being beaten by her man, the sport with the human appearance and gorilla brain.  Balza had been misrepresented earlier, actually having a human brain.  She now attaches herself to the emasculated Tarzan.

     In their flight from the mutants- Tarzan running away again- they discover a pit full of diamonds.  Presaging Tarzan And The Forbidden City in which the father of diamonds is a piece of coal, the huge pile of diamonds has lost any value to him.  Thus Burroughs senses in 1933 that love is going to be a serious disappointment.

     As a matter of fact in his psychological malaise Balza/Florence seems to have lost any value to him.  He leads the women to the foot of the Falls where they rejoin the movie company who are living riotously.  Their dance is a double of the Dum Dum like dance of the gorillas.  Not a favorable comparison, perhaps indicating that man has not advanced much from the apes.  Leaving Balza to become a movie star Tarzan returns to the jungle to find Stanley dead, thus the dead Stanley is rather unaccountably accepted by the movie company who return to LA.  The whole story becomes a sort of mirage which, while we know it did happen, never happened.

     ERB as a writer has now completed Ring 2.  He completes his Ring construction by returning to the site of Ring Left 1, Hollywood as Ring Right 1.  As Holtsmark notes he has followed the classical mode of Homer.  He has not only done that but written his most perfect example.  I find Lion Man masterly on all levels, in fact, ERB’s Magnum Opus.

     A year after the movie company returned to the US Tarzan himself undertakes a visit to the film colony of Hollywood.

Go To Part 8, More Stars Than There Are In Heaven








A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18  Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 6


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

The Center Of The Circle


     Burroughs does a remarkable thing in this ring that clearly shows the Greek classical influence per Erling Holtsmark in his Tarzan And Tradition.   ERB disolves his story and cast of characters after the last Bansuto attack.  The cast is dispersed in several directions but ERB will deliver them all to Omwamwi Falls as he begins the three right hand rings:  3-2-1

     In fact this does follow the Homeric tradition.  The story of the Trojan Wars was actually a massive story of which only three parts survive, the Iliad, which concerns the central part of the epic and th two Returns, The Odyssey and The Oresteia.  All the rest has been lost or survives only in fragments such as ‘The Judgement Of Paris.”  Originally the epic was thousands of pages long.  There were undoubtedly few scholars who had ever read the story in its entirety and fewer still who understood it.

     It seems incredible that a very young ERB could have grasped the structure so completely while seeming to understand it so thoroughly.  Holtsmark quotes ERB as saying that he was rereading Plutarch’s Lives in 1923 when he discovered that Numa was the name of a Roman emperor, actually one of the Republican kings,  To that point he had believed that he had made up the name.

     Thus we learn that ERB did some rereading and his subconscious supplied material.  He could have, it is plausible, read the Iliad and Odyssey a number of times over his life.  Along with other classical reading the basic method was established in his subconscious which he was able to consciously manipulate.

     The Trojan War was the first of the three great sprawling European epics, unmatched in any other literatrue.   The second was the Arthurian Saga also huge, sprawling through many thousands of pages and many different variations.  The story has its roots in Greek mythology as well as in the Christian ethos.  The Lancelot-Grail alone is several thousand pages.  Burroughs doesn’t seem to have been much concerned with it.  Indeed, most of it would have been untranslated in his time thus being unavailable to him.

     The third great cycle was the strange nineteenth century English pursuit of the Grail in the search for the source of the Nile.  In my estimation a rather peculiar obsession.  This story too occupies several thousands of pages as all the participants recorded their efforts in copious detail.  Livingston, Stanley, Burton, Baker and Speke have written magnficent narratives.  Speke walking the Nile North after just having discovered the source actually ran into Baker following the Nile South.  A remarkable accidental encounter that goes unnoticed.  The best overview and history of the quest is Alan Moorehead’s The White Nile of 1960.  He provides an adequate background for these modern knights in seach of an unlikely Grail.  The Tarzan oeuvre might be indluded as a fourth cycle based on cycles one and three.

     The first and third epics then involved ERB intimately.  The Tarzan series is based on the Africa of the Nile Quest while framed in the literary construction of the first.

     Burroughs then dissolves his story after the Bansuto attack then telling the story of the several participants on the way to Omwamwi Falls in the manner of the Homeric Returns.  He then reassembles them less Obroski at the Omwamwi or Murchison Falls on the Nile.  Thus the river cascading from the plateau is actually the Nile.  What he calls the Thames on the plateau of the City of God must be indeed a substantial stream.

     We have already dealt with the fate of Stanley Obroski and Tarzan.  After the last Bansuto attack the Arabs agreed to take the midnight to six watch.  During the night they folded their tents and silently stole away taking Rhonda, Naomi and the map with them.

     Orman decides to go off in pursuit of them alone.  Bill West convinces him to take himself along so the two abandon the safari to pursue the girls and Arabs.

     Tarzan neutralizes the Bansuto by having them promise to be kind to Whites so the remaining safari members are able to somehow get their trucks and equpment to the Falls unmolested,  that leaves the girls, the Arabs and Orman and West.

     After leaving Obroski shivering with fright in a tree Tarzan comes upon Orman and West as they are being attacked by a lion.  Plummeting from the convenient tree Tarzan dispatches the lion, immediately disappearing back into his tree.   This is the first incident of the cast mistaking Tarzan for Obroski.  I happen to think Burroughs handles this confusion extremely well.  After all, Burroughs has firmly established Obroski’s cowardice with the safari members.

     Orman and West’s astonishment at the seeming Obroski feat is very genuine.  Later when Tarzan supplies them with a buck while translating Arabic from Atewy their astonishment can’t be more complete.  Very effectively handled.  Having supplied them with food Tarzan points them in the right direction and gets them started with a swift kick so that leaves the Arabs and the girls to account for.  This also begins the comparison of the qualities of Rhonda and Naomi.

     The Arabs have the map to the valley of diamonds that they believe is genuine and indeed it is.  Unable to read English, the language of the map, they make promises of freedom to gain the cooperation of the girls.  Rhonda scoffs at the genuineness of the map believing it a movie prop.  However they can locate their position according to the landmarks provided by the map.  Astonishingly they are able to locate all the landmarks which lead them to the Omwamwi Falls.

     Naomi accepts her captivity while Rhonda plans escape.  She effects this by saddling a couple ponies at night  while driving the rest of the herd off.  This episode is also well handled and quite believable given that this is a fantasy novel.  The net result is that Naomi is recaptured while Rhonda makes it to the falls where the story is forwarded by her capture by the Apes of God.  Another little joke, I presume.

     Following both the map and Rhonda the Arabs and Naomi arrive at the Falls.  The action then finishes the parallel story to Tarzan and Obroski  of the girls and begins the right second ring story of The City Of God.  This is a magnificent story full of many twists and surprises.  In our day this stuff has been used over and over so that the imaginative feat is diluted or lost.  If one places one’s imagination back in 1933 one can marvel at Burroughs; ingenuity while seeing how disappointed ERB was that the novel fell flat.  Such is life.


A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 5


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

Tarzan, Obroski And Burroughs


     Burroughs has been ridiculing Obroski right along as an arrant coward.  Wherever the action is, Stanley isn’t.  When it’s over he shows up ready to fight.  When a call for the safe job of kitchen help is made after the porters desert Stanley raises his hand.

     The cowardice is in contrast to his magnficent physique.  Standing 6’8″ or 9″  in his bare feet while his strength is as prodigious as that of Tarzan.  No one in the safari has yet seen Tarzan but he and Stanley are as identical twins.  When Stanley becomes fever stricken and disappears from the story the movie cast will confuse Tarzan for Obroski providing some amusing moments.

     Over the oeuvre Burroughs uses the divice of a Tarzan double a number of time  times.  Esteban Miranda in Tarzan And The Golden Lion/Ant Men, here as Stanley Obroski and again in Tarzan And The Forbidden City  as Brian Gregory stand out.  The doubles are quite obviously aspects of Burroughs’ own character.  As the doubles are all cowardly, inept or both one has to assume they represent Burroughs as he perceived himself before becoming a success while Tarzan represents Burroughs as a success.  There was obviously a constant psychic tug of war between the two Burroughs.  This was something ERB was desperately trying to resolve in favor of the Tarzan persona.

     The quesiton is, was he ever successful in resolving the problem by psychologically integrating his personality?  At several times in the corpus he seems to have succeeded even to the extent of killing off his old persona.  But then there are doubts and Brian Gregory appears a few years later.

     If I live long enough I will try a comparison of Miranda, Obroski, Gregory and Burroughs.  Notiice the progression of the double from Spanish to Slav to Anglo. The Spaniard was the epitome of worthlessness at the turn of the century while the Slav though higher was despised.  Gregory as an Anglo would indicate that Burroughs may have reconciled his self-esteem at least.

     As a more or less irrelevant aside it is known that Tennessee Williams (1911-83) was a Tarzan fan.  He was twenty-three years old when Lion Man was issued while A Streetcar Named Desire was staged in 1947.  It may seem tenuous to make the connection between the names of Stanley Obroski and Stanley Kowalski but there it is.  There are resemblances between Stanley-Naomi and Stanley-Blanche allowing for the fictionalizing powers of Williams.  There is no proof that Williams specifically read Lion Man that I know of but it is neither impossible or improbable given his admiration for the character.  Perhaps the germ of Stanley-Blanche was placed in Williams’ mind in 1934-35 germinating away in his subconscious to blossom eleven or twelve years later.  I don’t say it’s so but it is worth investigating.

     In the construction of this novel the story of Obroski and Tarzan forms Ring Three.  The story moves from Ring Two, The Safari and will segue into the inner ring.

     In Chaper 8, The Coward, Burroughs devotes six pages to explaining or rather justifying the character of Obroski.  In justifying Obroski Burroughs is justifying himself which is why he took such pains with this book.

     During the last Bansuto attack in Chapter 8 Obroski panicked.  As the Bansuto attacked from one side Obroski ran off in the opposite direction.  Unfortunately the Bansuto were on both sides and Obroski ran into their open arms.  Now cornered Obroski fought from reflex:  pp.  46-47:

     Death stared him in the face!  Heretofore Obroski’s dangers had been more or less imaginary; now he was faced with a stark reality.

     Terror galvanized his mind and his giant muscles into instant action.  He seized the black and lifted him above his head; then he hurled him heavily to the ground.

     The black, fearful for his life, started to rise.  Obroski fearful for his own, lifted him high overhead and again cast him down.  As he did so a half dozen blacks, closed upon him from the tall surrounding grasses and bore him to earth.

     His mind half numb with terror, Obroski fought like a cornered rat.  The blacks were no match for his great muscles.  He seized them and tossed them aside, then he turned to run.  But the black he had first hurled to the ground reached out and seized him by an ankle, gripping him; then the others were upon him again and more came to their assistance…In all his life Stanley Obroski had never fought before.  A good disposition and his strange complex had prevented him from seeking trouble and his great size and strength had deterred others from picking quarrels with him.

     So, while Obroski was a coward when he had time to consider, in the grip of terror he was quite capable of using his great strength and size to fight back.

     His cowardice was not his fault or part of his nature.  Burroughs reflects further.   p. 45:

     We are either the victims or beneficiaries of heredity or environment.

     Obroski was obviously the result of nurture.  Thus we have no responsibility for what we are and can take no credit as we are either victims or beneficiaries.  This is a fairly serious position statement.

     Stanley Obroski (Burroughs) was one of the victims.  Heredity had given him a mighty physique, a noble bearing and a handsome face.  Environment had sheltered  and protected him throughout his life.  Also everyone with whom he had come in contact had admired his great strength and attributed to him courage commensurate with it.

     Never until the past few days had Obroski been confronted by an emergency that might test his courage, and so all his life had been wondering if his courage would measure up to what was expected of it when the emergency developed.

     He had given the matter far more thought than does the man of ordinary physique because he knew so much more was expected of him than of the ordinary man.  It had become an obsession together with the fear that he might not live up to the expectations of his admirers.  And finally he became afraid- afraid of being afraid.

     It is a failing of nearly all large men to be keenly affected by ridicule.  It was the fear of ridicule, should he show fear, rather than the fear of physical suffering, that Obroski shrank from, though perhaps he did not realize this.  It was a psyche far too complex for easy analysis.

     It is impossible to know for certain at this time what psychology texts Burroughs had been studying but ‘a psyche far too complex for easy analysis’ points in the direction of Freud, Jung or both.  ERB seems to have been involved in Depth Psychology of some sort.  David Adams finds traces of Jung.  I am not prepared to concede so much at present but David may be much more sensitive on that score than myself.  I don’t rule it out although I would lean more to Freud as the better known.  Still, as I find ERB to be a very inquisitive guy there is no reason he couldn’t have known of both.  Either would likely have been mentioned in his varied reading and we know he was an omnivorous reader.

     At any rate it seems clear that Obroski’s heredity was overridden by the conditioning of environment.  Unable to overcome the conditioning or hypnotic suggestion he became as we find him.

     There seems little doubt that here ERB is explaining himself.  Obroski and Tarzan are identical in stature and abilities but in order to realize his Tarzanic potential he must overcome his environmental conditionings and assume his proper being.

     Whether the emergency Tarzan/Burroughs is facing in his difficulty with MGM or something else it seems likely MGM as the struggle is placed in the context of the MGM/BO Studios filming Trader Horn/Tarzan, The Ape Man.

     So Obroski is captured by the Bansuto and made prisoner in their village.  Here he encounters Kwamudi, captain of the safari Blacks and a couple porters who had been captured after deserting.  Obroski learns that the Bansuto are cannibals and that he will be the man who came to dinner.

     Burroughs gets in some sly humor here.  Bound and starved Obroski complains about his treatment.  p. 51:

     “This is no way to treat people you’re going to eat.”  grumbled Obroski.  “You ought to get ’em fat, not starve ’em thin.”

     ERB has already given notice that he is in psychological mode.  He says that Obroski’s psyche is too complex for easy analysis, whatever that might be.  That’s what we all say and it’s bosh.  When I was younger I thought my psyche so unique and complex I wanted to offer myself to science as a specimen.  As my own self-psychoanalysis evolved I realized the only thing that made it so complex was the resistance involved in facing the fixations.  So with Burroughs.  In a few pages he lays out out completely the problem he is facing in symbolical or dream imagery.  Only resistance anf fear prevent him from breaking on through.

     A psychoanalyst could lay your whole problem before you but if you weren’t ready to deal with it, in other words, overcome the resistance, you wouldn’t be able to see it.  You’d think he was talking about someone else.  So here ERB lays out his whole problem before you but if you weren’t ready to deal with it, in other words, over come the resistance, you wouldn’t be able to see it.  You’d think he was talking about someone else.  So here ERB lays out his whole problem.  Whether he resolved it is a matter of debate.  David Adams thinks not while I have not yet made up my mind.

     The problem he is dealing with is his central childhood fixation of John The Bully.  I have already gone into this in Doubles and Insanity but it won’t hurt to give a variant interpretation as this very key incident meets with a lot of resistance from Bibliophiles  on its own.

     As has been noted Burroughs was plagued by dreams of appearing naked in public.  Nakedness is a significant theme in the oeuvre.  Tarzan himself runs around naked except for a skimpy g-string; so Tarzan’s natural condition and Burroughs dream fears mesh.  He has made a virtue of necessity.

     In psychological terms John The Bully so emasculated Burroughs that he lost his offensive and defensive armor which is to say to the civilized man his clothes.  Burroughs always says of Tarzan that his veneer of civilization went no deeper than his clothes.  Nothing could be clearer than the relationship to ERB’s situation on the corner.  ERB explains the nature of nakedness to the civilized man.  p. 58:

     “He says for you to take off your clothers, Bwana.”  said Kwamudi,   “he wants them.”

     “All of them?” inquired Obroski.

     “All of them, Bwana.”

     (Note the excruciating deliberateness as ERB painfully drags this scene out.)

     Exhausted by sleeplessness, discomfort, and terror, (Here ERB makes excuses for himself.)  Obroski had felt that nothing but torture and death could add to his misery, but now the thought of nakedness awoke him to new horrors.  To the civlilized man clothing imports a confidence that is stripped away with his garments.

     So, in real life, Burroughs had been psychologically stripped naked by John having lost his self-confidence.  This is an accurate understanding.  When he constructed his alter ego, Tarzan, he made him naked in his uncivilized state, hence full of self-confidence though naked, but then clothed him handsomely in his civilized state in which he was uncomfortable.  Thus ERB attempted to resolve the problem.

     Now when John bullied ERB he forced a split in his personality.  while his physical self was humiliated his psychological self split off symbolically taking to the trees for refuge.  Hence Tarzan’s fabulous arboreal exploits while he views so many scenes from above in a tree.

     Now comes the very interesting scene in Rungula’s village where Tarzan suffers the shock of recognition as he looks down on his own replica from the tree to the ground.

     Tarzan is in no rush to visit Rungula’s village, perhaps indicating resistance.  Here’s how ERB describes it.  p.61:

     Tarzan of the Apes was ranging a district new to him, and with the keen alertness of the wild creature he was alive to all that was strange or unusual.  Upon the range of his knowledge depended his ability to cope with the emergencies of an unaccustomed environment.  Nothing was so trivial that it did not require investigation: and already, in certain matters concerning the haunts and habits of game, both large and small, he knew quite as much if not more than many creatures that had been born here.

     For three nights he had heard the almost continuous booming of tom-toms, faintly, from afar; and during the day following the third night he had drifted slowly in his hunting in the direction from which the sounds had come.

     Surely an old jungle baby like Tarzan could understand the language of the drums?  That is called procrastination.

     And so on the third day ‘He was arisen.’  Hmmm.  In Tarzan Of The Apes the birth of Tarzan replicated that of Moses and now Obroski is to die while a new Tarzan arises a la Jesus.

     I had my attention called to this Moses part while visiting a Jewish site.  The writer was marveling that Superman was Jewish and that his birth replicated that of Moses which it does.  I had always thought that the two teenage Jewish boys who created Superman were replicating Tarzan’s birth and that may be equally true.

     In the Moses story he is born to a Jewish woman who places him in an ark  then puts it in the Nile on which  he floats downstream to be rescued by an Egyptian princess who rears him among a different people.  This story presupposes that heredity overcomes environment which is nonsense.  One is not born a Jew one is educated into the identity.

     Superman is born a Kryptonite, placed in a rocket ship that crashes into this goyish earth couple’s backyard.  They then rear the Kryptonite child as their own who then has a double identity as an ineffective Earthman while retaining his Kryptonite powers.  Thus the Jew represents himself as superior to the goy.

     Tarzan too is born to a human mother who dies.  He is lying in his cradle when the ape, Kala, snatches him up rearing him as her own.  The different people Tarzan grows up with are apes.  Thus he too has a double identity.

     All three stories are identical while Moses is first, Tarzan second and Superman third.  Thus in his first incarnation Tarzan appears to be a Moses figure.

     In Lion Man Tarzan apperas to be born again when he absorbs his other split off half- Obroski.  Thus on the third day Tarzan assumes a Christ like identity.

     Many have noted that the intitials of John Carter and John Clayton are JC and they call attention to the fact that they are the same initials as Jesus Christ.

     So, here we have Tarzan, a walking dead man so to speak, who after three nights -Good Friday to Easter Sunday- looks down on the other half of his split personality and recognizes himself.  The two halves then begin a process of amalgamation becoming one again.  So Tarzan/Burroughs is born again or arises from the dead.

     Tarzan then unites the Old  and New Testaments being at one and the same time both Moses and Jesus Christ.  The old Adam and the new Adam.  Fairly astonishing stuff.  What does it mean?

     Tarzan then hauls Rungula up into his tree i.e. John the Bully is brought up to Burroughs split off personality where Tarzan demands that he release Obroski i.e. John restore Burroughs other half to himself while at the same time making him promise to be always kind to Whites.

     Obroski then leaves Rungula/John’s village where he joins Tarzan.  Thus Burroughs symbolically reunites his split personality or in other words appears to integrate his personality.  At least he makes the attempt.

     At the very least he has analyzed himself to the threshold of integration.  Whether he actually stepped over the threshold is open to doubt.  As a comparison let us examine Feodor Dostoievsky’s great nineteenth century novel Crime And Punishment.  There is no direct evidence that Burroughs might have read the book but the possibility exists that his curiosity led him to this very famous 1866 novel.  If so, Dostoievsky’s analysis of Raskolnikov might have influenced ERB on the unconscious level.  I had to read the novel three times to get a conscious grasp of it.

     The novel concerns the character’s dependence on women.  Raskolnikov is dependent on his mother and sister who make tremendous sacrifices of their own well being to put him through law school.  Raskolnikov resents his dependence yet can’t tear himself from it even when offered a simple and easy opportunity to do so.  His solution to his psychological problem bypasses analysis for an impossible external one.  He decides to symbolically kill his mother and sister hoping thus to free himself.  Psychologically this is not a viable method.

     As his victim he selects an old female pawnbroker.  This woman has large assets stored in her apartment.  Thus Raskolnikov takes valuables from her in lieu of the money he is receiving from his mother.  In the process he kills the old woman and when her daughter appears he kills her too.  Thus he has killed surrogates of his own women.   The pawn broker’s  body lies before him.  To free himself, according to Dostoievsky it is necessary for him to step over the body thus completing the crime.  Raskolnikov cannot do this, walking around the body instead thus negating the benefits of his murder.

     In Burroughs’ case his imaginary alter ego, Tarzan, convinces Rungula/John to release Obroski/Burroughs from custody.  In other words, exorcise the fixation.  However, psychologically Rungula/John cannot do this.  It is necessary for Burroughs to confront his fixation and recognize it thus negating the hypnotic suggestion that made it his fixation that he is a coward thus freeing himself.  That is the only way it can be done.  Thus as Raskolnikov did not step over the pawnbroker’s body so Burroughs does not cross over the threshold of integration at this time.

      Instead his imaginary self, Tarzan, attempts to teach his temporal self, Obroski, to be brave and fearless.  Hence, in what might be seen as high comedy, Tarzan introduces the Faux Lion Man to the real lion.  However Tarzan advises Obroski to be careful around Jad-Bal-Ja’s new love of whom Tarzan has no experience.

     As soon as Tarzan disappears Obroski/Burroughs who had been freed by John scurries for the security of the lower terrace where he cowers until the Big Bwana’s return.  Subsequently he catches fever not unlike Raskolnikov, if Burroughs read Crime And Punishment.   Tarzan entrusts the unconscious Obroski to a native chief to nurse.  From that point on Tarzan assumes both identities as the movie company who have never seen him and are unaware that he and Obroski are twinlike mistake him for Obroski which Tarzan lets them do.  Obroski then dies.

     If Burroughs thought he had solved his problem by wishing himself into the role of Tarzan he had to be mistaken.  As Jung pointed out in Mysterium Coniunctionis one cannot will one’s fixations away.  No matter what temporary success you may enjoy the fixation will out.

     In the role of Tarzan Burroughs set himself an impossible task to perform.  Tarzan is an ideal to hold before oneself for emulation’s sake but an impossible role to fill.  Burroughs admitted this in his posthumously published novel Tarzan And The Madman in which in the end he simply gets into a plane and flies off into the sunset.

     The story of the two Lion Men forms the third ring in the story.  We will now examine the inner ring, the center of the storm, and then the other side of ring three, the parellel story of the two female lookalikes, Naomi and Rhonda.

Advance to Part 6: The Center Of The Circle




A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 4 of 10 parts


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine


The Safari To The Capture Of Stanley Obroski


     I consider this novel to be the magnum opus of the Tarzan series.  If it doesn’t have everything it’s not lacking anything essential.  Like most of Burroughs’ stuff the story expands in the transition from the page to the mind.  This one blossoms into a giant bouquet.  The enormous spectacular story is condensed into a hundred eighty-five pages.  As always the pace is astonishingly rapid while entirely coherent; nothing is left our nor is the story jumpy.

     Do the critics condemn ERB?  Well, he was somewhat of the same mind as H.G. Wells of whom it was said:

“…he…had a horror of being ambushed in the grove of academe.  ‘Better the wild rush of the Boomster and the Quack,’  he told Henry James in 1912, ‘than the cold politeness of the established thing.’

As quoted by W. Warren Wagar, H.G. Wells:

Jouranlism and Prophecy 1893-1946, Houghton Mifflin Co. 1964, p. 12

     ERB put it a little differently when he explained that every once and a while an important novel came along but that those were few and far between.  Even time erases that significance except for the specialist.  Burroughs is still read both by the specialist and the hoi polloi.

     That this book was important for the author is evident by the extended period of time of writing, for him, of 110 days that he took to write the novel.  He wanted it to be his major best seller in which hope he was disappointed.

     After a very amusing, even funny, first chapter ERB got his story rolling in the chapter titled ‘Mud’ in which in a masterful five and a half pages he introduces his story in media res, places the scene and introduces several key characters.  The atmosphere is terrific.  In just five and a half pages!

     The amount of content in the first paragraph is actually astonishing.  p. 11:

     Sheykh Ab El-Ghrennem and his swarthy followers sat in silence on their ponies and watched the mad Nasara sweating and cursing as they urged on two hundred blacks in an effort to drag a nine-ton generator truck through the muddy bottom of a small stream.

     The quote features a unique spelling of Sheykh which ERB didn’t use again reverting to the usual Sheik  An oddity.  Plus he couldn’t have gotten more letters into the Sheykh’s title.  That the Sheik and his followers are not good guys is indicated by the word ‘swarthy.’  If you’re swarthy you’re bad.  ERB confirms this as he contrasts the idle Arabs on their ponies with the ‘mad Nasara sweating and cursing.’

     Arabs don’t do the work of the world, they get others to do it for them.  Thus for a thousand years they had depopulated Africa in the search for slaves to fetch and hew.  Their contempt for the mad Nasara, or White people, who are working alongside the Blacks is apparent and accurate.  ERB is a superb multi-culturalist who has studied cultural attitudes, in fact, he could have invented the term.  He is not of either the utopian or sentimental multi-cultural schools however but of the factual kind.

     In the next two pages ERB instroduces the female leads Naomi Madison and Rhonda Terry while quickly establishing their characters.  Then he quickly brings attention back to the Arabs.  p. 12:

     Naomi: …It is no more your fault that you can’t act than it is the fault of that sheik over there that he was not born a white man.”

     “What a disillusionment that sheik was!”  exclaimed Rhonda.

     “How so?”  asked Blaine.

     “When I was a little girl I saw Rudolph Valentino on the screen, ah, brothers, sheiks was sheiks in them days!”

     “This bird doesn’t look much like Valentino,” agreed Blaine.

     “Imagine being carried off into the desert by that bunch of whiskers and dirt!  And here I’ve been waiting all these years to be carried off.”

      Once again we are advised of the unsavoriness of the Arabs while ERB evokes the sentimental memory of Valentino, the female hearthrob whose funeral in 1926 was swamped by adoring admirers.

     He contrasts the film variety to the real thing by portraying the real thing as ‘whiskers and dirt.’  In the novelistic manner he also gives the premonition that Rhonda will be carried off by this repulsive speciment.  We are alerted to watch for when.

     Then the spotlight is turned on the Sheik who explains the Arab presence:

“Which of the benat, Atewy, is she who holds the secret of the valley of diamonds?”

     Thus we are advised again what to expect but not when.  The secret is, of course, a map of doubtful authenicity.  The map serves the function of the Jewels Of Opar, the locket of Ant Men and Kali Bwana of Leopard Men.  It is full of astonishing surprises not least of which is that it is an authentic map.  Working all that out must be part of the reason the book took 110 days to write.

     ERB then once again denotes cultural differences between the Arabs and Whites.  Not in any sense derogatory to the Arabs but merely noting cultural differences in interpretation.  Once again this novel will be an exploration in multi-culturalism

     ERB then introduces the director, Tom Orman.  p. 14:

Sweating, mud covered, Mr. Thomas Orman stood near the line of natives straining on the ropes attached to a heavy truck.  In one hand he carred a long whip.  At his elbow stood a bearer, but in lieu of a rifle he carried a bottle of Scotch.

     Well, that’s quite a description.  Orman is down in the mud ‘working’ which might be commendable by Western standards but not Arab and the long whip indicates he is a cruel taskmaster, once again by Western standards, and the bottle of Scotch gives the reason why.  After some quick but comprehensive scene setting and character sketching the safari gets underway.  By now we know everything we have to know to get a complete image of the story in our minds.

     There may be people who say ERB can’t write but I defy anyone to do a better job in as few pages.  Henry James would have taken a hundred fifty and accomplished no more.

     In the next seven pages ‘Poisoned Arrows’ ERB rings the story to a crux, even a mini-climax.

     ERB once said that he learned Greek and Latin almost before English and that it affected his writing.  I found that difficult to understand until I recently read Erling Holtsmark’s  Tarzan And Tradition.  Holtsmark points out that Burroughs used the ring construction of the Iliad and the Odyssey  of Homer rather than the current construction of a sequence of events leading up to a grand climax and out.  As one is used to the modern usage of the climax the ring construction makes Burroughs read awkwardly.   If one bears in mind the ring construction the stories become more comprehensible.

     In Lion Man ERB constructs a perfect ring novel.

     The opening and closing Hollywood scenes form the outer ring.  Thus once Burroughs wrote The Conference he was obligated to write a closing Hollywood scene.  The safari sequence is balanced by the story of God.  The story of the twin Lion Men is balanced by the story of the twins Naomi and Rhonda just before the story of God.  The inner ring of the concentric circles is the transition from Bansuto territory to the Omwamwi Falls.  If one reads the novel with this construction in mind it reads very smoothly.

     In addition it appears that ERB was writing a movie scenario as each chapter represents a scene in a movie.  After all ERB appears to be telling MGM how to write a truly imaginative movie quite superior to the rather commonplace story of Cyril Hume.  Hume essentially wrote an H. Rider Haggard story based on The  Ivory Child leaving out the imagination.  ERB even supplies snappy dialogue that would come across well on the screen.

     So, in this scene the Bansuto of Rungula begin a series of guerilla attacks to set up the next scene ‘Dissension’ while allowing ERB to develop characters and internal tensions.  In Dissension the porters warn that they will desert if Orman doesn’t retreat and take the longer way around.  Also ERB develops the relationship between Obroski and Naomi while once again contrasting the characters of Naomi and Rhonda.

     ERB makes an interesting comment in this chapter.  On p. 26 he says:

     “No,” (Naomi) acquiesced thoughtfully, “that wouldn’t be good.  He’s (Orman) got a nasty temper, and there’s lots of things a director can do if he gets sore.”

     “In a piture like this he could get a guy killed and make it look like an accident.”  said Obroski.

     She nodded.  “Yes.  I saw it done once.  The director and the leading man were both stuck on the same girl.  The director had the wrong command given to a trained elephant.”

     Here ERB must be alluding to Kamuela Searle who appeared in the 1921 film Son Of Tarzan.  Accounts vary but according to Porges, Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan, p.20:

     Kamuela Searle, handled roughly by the elephant that was carrying him, sustained injuries which resulted in his death.

     If that is true ERB is explaining why Searle, bound to a pole, was dropped.  ERB may be giving us some very pertinent inside information.

     The chapter also shows Obroski and Naomi in the girl’s tent when the drunken Orman bursts in.  Naomi is shown as cowering while Rhonda with presence of mind orders Orman out of the tent.

     Chapter 5, Death, introduces Tarzan into the story in a rather unusual way for the Big Bwana.  p. 20:

     While the camp slept, a bronzed white giant, naked but for a loin cloth, surveyed – sometimes from the branch of overhanging trees, again from the ground inside the circle of sentries.  Then, he moved among the tents of the whites and the shelters of the natives as soundlessly as a shadow.  He saw everything, he heard much.  With the coming of dawn, he melted away into the mist that enveloped the forest.

      This seems more like a movie stunt than the real Tarzan.

     A number of porters desert and the column is attacked once again.

     In Chapter 6, Remorse, in three and a half pages the Arabs learn the whereabouts of the treasure map, setting up the abduction of both Rhonda and Naomi because the two are identical in appearance.  Orman gives up drinking.

     In chapter 7, ‘Disaster’, the next to worst thing that could happen happens, the porters all desert during the night.  The company slogs on with tensions increasing.  They leave the forest into a grassy area in which they feel safe.  This corresponds to the scene in Trader Horn when the Blacks chase Horn’s party after they leave the village with Nina T.  Instead the safari is attacked by the Bansuto in force.  Fearing the grass might be fired they push on into the forest.  Here they discover that Stanley Obroski is missing.

     This is the transition point from the second ring into the third ring.  Chapter 8, The Coward, is devoted to examining Obroski’s state of mind which we will consider in a moment.  While in Chapter 9 the Arabs abscond abducting Naomi and Rhonda while stealing the treasure map.

     Thus Chapter 8 sets up the third ring dealing with the adventures of Stanley Obroski and Tarzan while Chapter 9 leads into the inner ring or center of the story.

      Up to this point following the classical ring model ERB has ordered Ring 1:  The conference in Hollywood, 2.  Brought the safari to the center of Africa, set the stage for Ring 3 and the center of the ring, all in thirty-eight pages.

     Further he has created a viable movie scenario with both story and dialogue.  It was apparently common usage for one writer to create the story and another to write the dialogue.  So in Tarzan, The Ape Man Cyril Hume had written a commonplace story while Ivor Novello wrote some limp dialogue.  Here Burroughs has written an exciting story with much snappier dialogue than Novello.  He seems to be taking MGM by the hand to show them how.

Now to part 5, the story of Stanley Obroski and Tarzan.



A Review

Themes And Variation

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18  Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 3 of 10 parts


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine- ERBzine


Part 3: The Source


     Unlike the rest of Burroughs’ novels you don’t have to look very far for the main source of this one.  While Tarzan And  The Leopard Men was heavily influenced by the MGM movie Trader Horn Lion Man is the story of the famed MGM expedition to Africa to film it.

     In Chapter 1 ERB provides  a fictional account of the decision to make the expedition.  In the next few chapters he gives a fictional account of the safari.  Excising the story within the story Burroughs’ account is reasonably accurate, allowing for a little authorial license that is.

     The safare was active for seven months in 1929.  The safari was a cause celebre in Hollywood as the expedition ran up what were enormous costs for the time.  While they were in Africa Black Friday, the collapse of the stock market, occured plunging the nation into depression so that money became of more consequence to MGM.  There was speculation that the dirctor, W.S. Van Dyke would bankrupt the company.  Like Howard Hughes’ famous difficulties with Hell’s Angels of 1930 the bills kept rolling in but when the receipts were counted like Hughes’ movie there was a tidy profit left over.  If nothing else the hullabaloo was mere advance publicity and cheap at the price.

     MGM even liked the movie so much they did it again in 1953’s Mogambo.  While I see Mogambo as a remake of Trader Horn the movie site lists its antecedents as Red Dust, 1932 and Congo Maisie of 1940.  Haven’t seen either. 

     The 1929 expedition was incredibly audacious.  On the liner notes of my VCR copy of Trader Horn MGM describes the expedition like this:

     When this landmark film ws made, parts of Africa were still uncharted.  The savannahs teemed with big game, the rivers with crocodiles and snakes.  Few Europeans or Americans dared enter what was then called the Congo.

     That was true and still is, MGM rushed in where few Europeans and Americans dared to tread.  Africa was to transit from the stone age to the age of science in the blink of an eye.  As Van Dyke noted, barely pacified, already the Kikiyu or Kukuas as Van Dyke called them were organizing resistance.  A mere savage like Jomo Kenyatta was attending Oxford University in England.  Truly astonishing that a stone age African with no familiarity with either techonology or science could be listened to attentively by the most highly educated Europeans.  What could Kenyatta actually understand?  Would they have given equal attention to the mutterings of an Appalachian farm boy?  The mind boggles.

     It had been a mere forty years since Henry Morton Stanley had covered the same ground to relieve Emin Pasha.  Only Forty years earlier Stanley had been the first Euro-American to penetrate the Ituri Rain Forest  Only forty years earlier Stanley could claim the discovery of the fabled Mountains Of The Moon.  In the interim few Euro-Americans had been there.  Gosh, even the great beast the Okapi had just been discovered in the Ituri..

     Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda were now occupied by British governors.  The ancient kings of Uganda and Unyoro were no more.  As Van Dyke states, the Africans were held down by the few Europeans with an Iron Hand.  Ah, you say, the European Iron hand.  Abominable.  But when weren’t the African tribesmen held down by an Iron Hand.  But then it was Black or Moslem and not White.  The venerable ancient kings of Uganda wanted to hold a funeral for some distant relative during the time of Stanley so they selected a couple thousand Ugandans, slit their throats and dumped them in the grave as company for their dead relative.  The Ugandan king slaughtered a few of his own people in an attempt to amuse Stanley.  TV had not reached Uganda back then.

     King Mteses’ gangs roamed the countryside after dark murdering any citizens they met.  Well, that was normal.  Now White Bwanas arrested troublesome tribesmen and threw them in jail for a period rather than killing them.  That wasn’t normal.  Dead men file no complaints.

     So a benign rule in White hands was less desirable than a malign rule in Black hands.  Such is the way the human mind works.  In the African case the native king owns everything including oneself and that is acceptable.  In another invaders occupy a few thousand acres producing food that makes you better fed than ever you were on your own and that is bad.  Better savagery among equals than civilization as an inferior.

     Africa was not yet familiar with the wheel when a guy with the nickname ‘Woody’ shows up with nine-ton genearator trucks.  Sound trucks!  The talkies had been around only two years and they already had sound trucks.

     Van Dyke in his justification of himself to MGM in his Horning  Into Africa has this to say.  p. 212:

    On the screen we had over thirty-five varieties of African big game, with our actors working in the scenes with them.  We had the dances, the songs, the native life of over fifteen African tribes, and on our film was a thin dark strip running down the edge which constituted the sound they made in all their different activities.

     …on our film we had a thin dark strip running down the edge which constituted the sound they made in all their different activities….  Think of it.  Stone age Africans captured as stone age people by equipment of which the Africans could have no concept, no possible way of accounting for, let alone understanding it, that might have as well have been the work of aliens beamed down from outer space or one of Bertie Well’ visitors slipped through the plane of a parallel universe.  Was there any difference between Wells’ English visitors to his utopia of 1923 when he viewed the men of a parallel universe as gods and the Hollywood Mutia and Riano saw when transported from or ‘beamed’ down from Africa?  Not much I would say.

     If the Africans thought Henry Morton Stanley was supernatural what in the world did they think of Woody Van Dyke, his cameras and fleet of trucks.

     What did Van Dyke think about, talk about, such an excellent adventure?  p. 26:

     I did not realize what he meant by the adjective “amazing”.  It made me think of certain American film producers.  The only thing about it that had been amazing, to my mind, was its inception.  After all, for a Hollywood producer (Irving Thalberg) to conceive the idea of sending twenty-five or thirty Hollywood motion picture actors with ninety-two tons of equipment into the center of Africa, to go prancing around over the thorn bush terrain, considering the great cost in dollars and cents involved was a rather amazing idea.  Nobody but an adventurer would have thought of it, no one but a goof would have tried to do it, and no but a clown could have gotten away with it.

     Van Dyke considering the term ‘amazing’ further:

     Previous to our debut the largest safari to enter Africa had been that of Prince Edward, a stupendous undertaking with about a dozen whites, fifty blacks, ten or twelve cars, and possibly seven or eight tons of equipment.  His safari had not been underway many days when his Royal Highness was called home by the illness of his fathr, King George, but the fact that the white hunters had maneuvered such a large safari over several miles of Africa without a casualty and with no one dying from fever was considered remarkable.

     We had been in Africa more than seven months with thirty-five whites, one hundred ninety-two blacks, thirty-four cars, one generator truck and two sound wagons.  The speedometers on the cars showed that we had traveled over nine thousand miles of African soil, to say nothing of rail, lake and river travel and distances covered on foot, and we had brought everyone back- black and white.

     And furthermore they not only had it on a film strip, which was old technology by white standards but unimaginable by African standards and running down that strip of film was a thin black line indicating sound.  What would a stone age African think seeing and hearing himself on film going around and around on reels like wheels which in themselves had been but recently seen in Africa.  Jomo Kenyatta was at university in England.  They would have laughed at that Appalachian farm boy if he showed up for registration.

     So, MGM and Van Dyke provided ERB with a readymade story of epic proportions.

     We know he read the book.  The question is did Van Dyke regale him with other stories and details during ERB’s five week stint on the MGM lot, a little additional color not found in the book.

     Now we can turn to Burroughs’ story and align it with that of Van Dyke.  ERB is writing a novel so he doesn’t have to stay too close to the facts, he can play fast and loose with them.  Let’s see how he does.

     In the first place he converts the story from that of Trader Horn to Tarzan, The Ape Man.  Rather than filming Trader Horn they are filming the story of a feral boy who was raised among the lions.  p. 9

     “Joe’s written a great story- it’s going to be a knock-out.  You see this fellow’s born in the jungle and brought up by a lioness.  He pals around with the lions all his life- doesn’t know any other friends.  The lion is king of beasts; when the boy grows up he’s king of the lions; so he bosses the whole menagerie.  See?  Big shot of the jungle.”

     “Sounds familiar.”  Commented Orman.

     Yes, it does sound familiar, ERB says with tongue in cheek and a wink at we readers.  It sounds familiar to us too.  As the Lion Man the studio has picked Stanley Obroski, a giant cowardly fellow.

     As Harry Carey, a bete noire of ERB, played Trader Horn Burroughs may be projecting a little Carey into Obroski’s cowardice as vengeance although one assumes that Johnny Weissmuller is the model but Obroski isn’t that similar to him either.

     As a leading lady ERB creates Naomi Madison.  I’m sure there are a lot of insults and jokes about MGM in the book.  A lot or most of them may be lost on us today.  However Naomi may have been modeled on Irving Thalberg’s wife Norma Shearer.  Naomi=Norma.

     Some say Shearer made it on her own while there are those backbiters who say she got all those plum roles because she was married to the producer, Irving Thalberg.  I’m not too hep on early thirties films but it is possible a little favoritism may have been involved.  In the novel Burroughs casts Naomi in a rather unfavorable light as the lover of Director Orman.  Perhaps Thalberg saws such things in a negative light.

     It may be possible that Shearer was or was reported to be seeing someone on the side.  If so, ERB was taking some chances.

     He does have her down as having been a hash slinger before becoming The Madison.  There was a period in New York when the Shearer family was down at the heels when Norma was seeking theatrical work that she waited tables.  Bringing up that fact would not have endeared ERB to the Thalbergs or MGM.  Norma would probably have been more dangerous than Irving.

     The Thalbergs wouldn’t have mattered too much because Irving had a heart attack in 1933.  When he returned to work several months later Mayer had stripped him of his position.  He became just another producer for a couple years before he died in 1936.  Shearer got no more roles, plums or otherwise.  So as it turned out ERB wouldn’t have had to worry about either.

     ERB doubles Naomi with a stunt woman named Rhonda Terry.  As no comparable figure was on the safarie she must have been only necessary for the story.

     Van Dyke organized and led the expedition being the supreme authority, the actual Big Bwana.  As might be expected of a safari of this size and complexity there were numerous problems naturally occurrring while Van Dyke himself as a Hollywood director trying to realize his vision of the movie was rather cavalier with the landscape.  The native hierarchy was in disarray from the time of Stanley now having a Birtish hierarchy overlain on the native.  But the British had only been there for a couple decades while the native revolt led by Kenyatta and his Kikiyu was already underway.  As Burroughs indicates Leopard Men were roaming Africa while the Kikiyu would erupt as the Mau Mau only twenty years hence.

     The African chiefs considered every human, every animal, every stick or tree on their territory as their personal private property.  There hadn’t been enough time as yet for that understanding to die out.  And now we have a real muilti-cultural conflict brewing.  Van Dyke shows up with a fleet of cars and trucks such as was new to the sight of the Africans.  Van Dyke proceeds to drive these trucks all over Kenya, Uganda, the Congo and Tanganyika as they were then known.  Along the way he chops down trees that don’t belong to him, if you see what I mean, as though he was the sovereign of the land and not the chiefs.

     From the African point of view the man was contemptuous of Africans and disrespectful.  Van Dyke, in what we must assume was his innocence, was completely unaware of his desecrations.  His culture was not only White American, which would have been insult enough to the Africans, but he was of the fiilm capitol of the world, Hollywood, which respects no man or mountain in making a movie.  Van Dyke’s mind functioned on one premise alone- make this movie.

     At one point he wanted to shoot a scene near Lake Albert, probably didn’t even make the final cut.  At that point of the lake a volcanic dyke serveral feet high formed a barrier preventing access.  There was no way to get the trucks and equipment over the barrier.   The solution seemed rational to Van Dyke.  When no one was looking he got some dynamite and blew a big hole in this barrier.  Problem solved from Woody’s point of view.  I don’t know what the Africans thought about this desecration of the landscape but Van Dyke does report what seems to be a fair amount of unrest among the African bearers.

     In Burroughs’ story the movie company goes directly to the Ituri Rain Forest but Van Dyke began his filming at Murchison Falls where the  Nile flows from Lake Victoria.  After having brought his crew and equipment to the railhead at Jinja he crossed the lake to Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda.

     He wanted to film at Murchison Falls where, as he says, the entire flood of the Nile passing from Lake Victoria passes through a gorge only fifteen feet wide.  As he said a good broad jumper could leap the Nile at that point.  If he wanted to take the chance.

     Now, the British had determined the area at the foot of the falls to be so infested with the sleeping sickness bearing Tsetse flies that they had made it off limits to man and beast.  Well, Woody had a movie to make and wanted to make it in that exact spot.  In fact several scenes in Trader Horn are filmed there.

     Disregarding what we must assume were the real dangers of the place Van Dyke cajoled an exception for this safari taking his cast and bearers into this Tsetse infested area.  It will be remembered that Edwina Booth, the female star, was incapacitated for life because of diseases contracted in Africa.

     What seems normal to a movie maker may seem bizarre to a less interested observer.  Van Dyke wanted a crocodile scene involving an island.  There was no island where he wanted so he loaded the spot with fill until there was one.  Another neat job of problem solving.  Then he wanted a large nuber of crocodiles around the island so he slaughered game as lure for the crocs.  They came, they saw, the ate, but they wouldn’t spend the night as Woody wanted.

     So now Woody shoots some more wild life to lure the crocs to the island while he built a large barrier.  Once the crocs were within he closed the gate.  Well and good from Woody’s point of view but from the multi-cultural point of view of the crocs they either just broke through or climbed the six foot barrier.  Wasn’t high enough.

     W.S. Van Dyke was one determined guy.  He had a movie to make.  His next step was once the crocs got inside and they wanted out at, oh say, 2:00 AM, Woody got his whole crew of actors armed with torches and poles to place themselves between the crocs and freedom to force them to stay inside.  In a quite thrilling description he tells of stuffing burning torches down the throats of crocodiles.  When he said stay, he meant it.  Harry Carey, apparently some sort of testosterone driven madman, was a stalwart but Van Dyke even had Edwina Booth on the barrier torch in hand.  Van Dyke lauds his crew as well he should have but one is struck by a certain degree of lunacy.  Or, perhaps, Scotch.

     Burroughs draws inference away from Van Dyke by making Tom Orman a different physical type but as ERB was working from Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa and possibly personal communication from Van Dyke, or members of his crew it is impossible for Orman not to reflect W.W. ‘One Shot’ Woody Van Dyke.

     Burroughs makes Orman a drunk or at least a real tyrant when he has been drinking.  Van Dyke records some heavy drinking of his own.  He slipped right into the colonial practice of’Sundowners’, that is when the sun went down the bottle came out.  There may be some factual basis then for Orman’s behavior.

     Orman heads for the Ituri through an area he has been warned not to go that would correspond to Van Dyke’s insistence on filming at the Murchison Falls where he ws forbidden to go but overcame the injunction.

     The attack of the Bansutos is ERB’s invention however there were a couple serious native disaffections in the safari.  Late in the expedition the Kikiyu show up, which I would think meant that they were unhappy with the expedition while Van Dyke describes them as a surly lot.

     In Burroughs’ story the safari falls apart after the Bansuto attack but then at the end of the story he reforms the safari at the Omwami Falls in the story or Murchison Falls in fact.  The party atmosphere at the Falls may reflect his impression of Van Dyke’s account.

     It was probably with a sigh of relief that the British bid farewell to this troublemaking Hollywood film crew.  Or perhaps, just perhaps, they wired MGM to get these people out of here.  I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised.

     So far as I know the only two accounts of Van Dyke’s excellent African adventure are his own and that of Burroughs.

     It is a pity MGM didn’t have the foresight to compile an extended account of the safari with hundreds of pictures.  In the liner notes to my VCR copy they say:

…director W.S. Van Dyke and his heroic cast and crew camped there for a year, hauling eighty tons of equipment through the equatorial jungle.  They battled disease and predators, to risk their lives to film this story of two men- legendary trader Alfred Aloysius Horn (Harry Carey) and his naive protoge Peru (Cisco Kid Duncan Renaldo)- and their struggle to reclaim a beautiful woman (Edwina Booth) who was lost in the jungle as a baby and raised by indigenous tribes.

     True enough as far as it goes.  Van Dyke’s obviously sanitized narrative takes it a little further, Burroughs’ fiction may reveal a little more, but Edwina Booth who was never able to work again adds another detail.  She petitioned MGM for compensation but MGM refused to consider it for this heroic, crocodile battling member of the cast who battled predators and disease and lost.

     What a fabulouss story.  ERB had a lot to work with and turned out a fabulous effort.

Next Part four of ten parts: The Safari To The Capture Of Stanley Obroski





Part 2 Tarzan And The Lion Man


Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

Part 2 of 10 parts

by R.E. Prindle

Doubles And Insanity

First published on the ezine- ERBzine


Sometimes I feel like I’m dreaming.


Penguin Dictionary Of Symbols p. 306

Doubles:  In every culture artists have depicted double-headed creatures, SERPENTS, DRAGONS, BIRDS, LIONS, BEARS and so on.  This is due neither to mere love of ornamentation nor to some Manichean influence, the creatures so depicted all have a bipolarity, both benign and malign, and this is described in their individual entries in this dictionary.  It is very likely that it is this double aspect of the live creature which is suggested by its depiction with two heads. For example, the lions strength symboizes both sovereign power and a consuming lust, whether it be for justice, or for the exercise of absolute authroity in a bloodthirsty tyrant.  Similarly, ribbons or wreaths depicted round a person’s head may symbolize, if they form a CLOSED circle, confinement in difficulty and misfortune, but if broken, release.

Sometimes duplication serves merely to re enforce and redouble the meaning attached to one of the POLES of the symbol.

Traditonal religions generally thought of the soul as being the double of the living owner, able to leave the body at death, in dreams or through magical practices, and to return to the same or some other body.  Mankind thus provided its own self-portrait in duplicate.  In any case, instances of hysterical or schizophrenic duplication of personality are well known to psychotherapy.

German Romanticism endowed this notion of a person’s double (Doppelganger)  with tragic and fatal overtones….It may sometimes be our complement, but it is more often the foe with whom we are lured to fight….In some ancient traditons, meeting one’s double is an unlucky occurrence, and is sometimes even a presage of death.



Edgar Rice Burroughs

Lion Man is overwhelmingly a novel of doubles or duplicity.  The number of things doubled is bewildering.  I deal only with the most obvious here.  The reason Burroughs concentrates on doubling, I believe is because he discovered the double meaning of the terms of the contract he signed with MGM.  He was stunned by the duplicity.

On p. 154 Burroughs comments on duplicity such as he found at MGM.  Remember he names them BO or Stinky studios in the novel.

Tarzan was suspicious.  He saw a trap, he saw duplicity in every thing conceived by the mind of man.

Thus having been betrayed Burroughs is now alert seeing doubling or duplicitness everywhere.

St. John, the illustrator of the book also picked up on the aspect of doubling.  This novel was so extremely important to Burroughs, he even issued it on his birthday, September 1st, 1934, that he asked St. John for something different for a jacket illustration.  St. John concentrated on the Obraoski/Tarzan doubling, producing a Janus like cameo of Tarzan/Obroski facing in opposte directions.  As in the Penguin definition representing both characters of the Lion Men Tarzan and Obroski.

In this case the two faces represent the earlier cowardly Bureroughs who has to die and the strong masterly Tarzan figure Burroughs wishes to be.

Thus, before considering the story it would be fruitful to examine ERB’s use of doubling and confusion of reality, or in other words craziness, madness or insanity.

It is obvious that when ERB is passing rhough a period of extreme stress Tarzan loses his memory and/or doubles- that is to say splits his personality in a hysterical or schizophrenic way.  At this point in his life Burroughs is enduring the stress of sexual conflict – the change in affections from Emma to Florence- as well as the extreme stress of having lost control of his creation and actual alter ego to MGM as representatives of his Judaeo-Communist enemies.  In point of fact, as Burroughs may have realized, the battle, even the war, was lost.  As MGM’s 1936 movie Tarzan Escapes, indicates Tarzan/Burroughs had been captured.  Hence the tenuous grasp on sanity in this book.

In Burroughs’ mind and in fact he had been trapped by duplicity, itself a form of doubling.  When Tarzan, having climbed the Stairway To Heaven finds the front door standing open he scents a trap but as his intention was to enter anyway he enters.  He is now only in the antechamber of fate, he could still back out.  He notices six doors of which Door #3 is standing open.  He does try the other five doors but they are locked.  Entering Door #3 he begins the descent down a dark stairwell.  He encounters another door.  Rather than checking the door first he merely enters to have the door click shut behind him.  The wall is smooth, there is now no way out.

This scene may well be a fictionalized account of his negotiations with MGM.  The Studio, perhaps representing Door #3 was offering him a contract which no other studio, doors 1,2,4,,5,6 was willing to do.  Granted not everyone can spot a sterling opportunity that is staring them in the face but it does seem odd that no other studio was interested in a proven character.  After all Twentieth Century-Fox was working Charlie Chan movies hard and doing well.  But all doors were closed to Burroughs/Tarzan except Door #3, MGM.  Not a bad thing on the surface of it as MGM was far and away the best studio in Hollywood.

So Burroughs entered into negotiations with MGM in the same manner as Tarzan descended the dark staircase in which he couldn’t see very well, i.e. Burroughs didn’t understand the clauses.  Like Tarzan ERB didn’t exercise caution and while the door snapped shut trapping Tarzan so Burroughs signed the contract which he represented as the prison Tarzan found himself in.

The reader may find the above farfetched but remember the first third of the story is an account of MGM’s Trader Horn expedition that he ridicules.  This book is about MGM.

Before dealing with the main doubles of the story let’s consider the story within the story- a form of doubling itself.  We have God on Earth doubling God in Heaven.  This becomes the source of many jokes.  Stress or no stress Burroughs doesn’t lose his sense of humor.  God’s castle is known as Heaven thus doubling Heaven.  The Stairway to Heaven doubles Jacob’s Ladder thus calling to mind the biblical story.  Tarzan then doubles Jacob.  That’s just part of sly old Burroughs’s humor.

God himself has created a parallel universe doubling England, London and the Thames.  Thus the gorilla plateau is called England while they live in London on the Thames River.  Thus a doubling of Africa and an island off the coast of Europe.

Just as God in Heaven in the biblical story created Man so God in this story has hybridized gorillas into a new species of gorilla men.  The hybrid gorillas are doubles of both gorillas and men while God is a double of man and Gorilla.

In this dizzying array of doubles the gorillas are not just a doubling of men but a doubling of the fifteenth century court of Henry VIII of England.  They have been altered by the use of deathless genes  or, atually, DNA, which was unknown to Burroughs at the time but the nature of which he dimly perceives.  The DNA has been inserted or spliced into the genes of the gorillas, thus the gorilla Henry VIII is actually, Henry VIII.  The Fifteenth century is doubled in the twentieth century while the political scene of the twentieth duplicates that of the fifteenth.  ERB may here be influenced by Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stanger with his notion of ascending and descending staircases of time.

During this phase of the story within the story Tarzan is actually himself while posing as, or doubling, Stanley Obroski thus actually being self contained twins; in other words the personality formerly split between he and Stanley Obroski is reunited with Tarzan dominant.  Thus Tarzan redeems Burroughs’ former shamed self.  At this moment Stanley is dying of fever and when he does the double disappears leaving Tarzan or Burroughs then undivided.  The dead body of Obroski is shipped back to the States while Tarzan remains in the jungle.

The story within the story is a stunning achievement whose genius has gone unrecognized.


The most obvious examples of doubling is in the main characters.  As incredible as it may seem not only are Tarzan and Stanley Obroski so close they can’t be told apart but so are the female leads Naomi Madison and Rhonda Terry.

I’m sure there are doubles I’m missing here but even Tom Orman, the Dirctor, is a double of himself when he’s under the influence of alcohol.  Drunk he becomes a different Tom Orman than when sober.  Obroski himself is two people.  An errant coward when he has time to think he become ferociously brave when his back is against the wall and there is no time for reflection.

Naomi Madison who has become a prima donna or an artiste was at one time a waitress in a cheap restaurant which role she is forced to assume again which is another form of doubling.  In this joke Naomi is an insult to Irving Thalberg’s wife, Norma Shearer, whose early career is duplicated.

Also this movie Tarzan is a doubling of the literary Tarzan so both Obroski and Tarzan are doubles of Johnny Weissmuller who played the MGM Tarzan.  As Burroughs suggests in this novel he was half out of his mind from the terrific stresses.  The stress did produce however a terrific novel.

It would seem that Burroughs was Tarzan and Obroski as twin aspects of his own Animus while Naomi and Rhonda represented the twin aspects of his Anima.  Naomi obviously represents Emma while Rhonda is an extension of La of Opar combined with Florence.  Naomi disappears from the story apparently replaced by Balza, The Golden Girl, while Burroughs marries Rhonda to Orman.

As regards the doubling of Tarzan who is actually a double of Burroughs himself, Bibliophile David Adams has emphasized that Tarzan usually views from above so that it might be the time to look into this aspect of the character.  In Lion Man Obroski is captured and held prisoner by Rungula, chief of the Bansuto.  this whole scene of Obroski with the Bansuto is one of the numerous variations of the theme of Burroughs humiliation by John the Bully.

Burroughs was plagued with the dream, as he notes the dream frequent among dreamers, of going naked in public.  It is a frequent dream because multitudes of people have suffered similar humiliation as his.

ERB has Obroski stand before Rungula who demands his clothes, in other words his defensive and offensive armor, that without which Obroski is exposed defenseless to the world, he loses his ‘front.’  John had symbolically stripped young ERB.  Burrughs describes his humiliation in excruciating detail as Obroski does a virtual striptease.  First his shirt on down until Burroughs makes a joke of his gaily printed boxer shorts.  While the Bansuto would not have understood the signficance of the shorts ERB takes a certain pleasure in humiliating himself further.  To cover rhis nakedness Obroski pleads for the proverbial fig leaf and is given a skimpy dirty g-string.  Thus when he is led out for torture he fights the Bansuto naked but in a Tarzan guise.  Heck, Tarzan, who is not civilized in the jungle, walks around naked anyway.  Although the natives themselves are naked Obroski is civilized while they are savages.  Having been subdued Obroski is lain before Rungula.  By this time Tarzan is in a tree, apparently planted there for his convenience.  He looks down on Obroski in amazement to see a replica of himself.  p. 104:

In the light of a new day Tarzan of the Apes stood looking down upon the man who resembled him so closely that the ape-man experienced the uncanny sensation of standing apart, like a disembodied spirit, viewing his corporeal self.

What Burroughs is describing here is the splitting of the personality.  He may have the correct psychologically sequence, first the stripping of the armor- i.e. emasculation, and then the disembodiment, the dissociation of the mind and body.  The mind unable to deal with the reality seems to leave the body rising above and looking down on the humiliation of his poor self.  This theme runs all through Burroughs work although this is his most exact and detailed description.

Obroski has been led out to be tortured to death and eaten by Rungula the cannibal chief.  Usually Tarzan is placed in an arena to fight one or more wild beasts.  In a normal confrontation Obroski is a coward which is to say he is unable to defend himself.  In other words his subconscious mind has been conditioned to accept the dominance and authority of hte oppressor.  In still other words in a state of terror his subconscious had been accessed to accept certain hypnotic suggestions.  But, with his back to the wall his instinct of self-preservation overrules the hypnotic suggestion and he fights like the proverbial cornered rat.

In this instance he used his full potential to fell a whole battalion of Rungula’s men, performing authentic Tarzanic feats like lifting men above his head casting them among his foes.  At the time Tarzan is looking down at him he has finally been subdued lying at Rungula’s feet.

You know whre I’m going , don’t you?  Right.  that street corner in Chicago where John the Bully confronted young ERB.  Burroughs didn’t fight like a berserker though, he ran.  (Chief Run-gu-la?) But that was when he split his personality being able to look down on his corporeal self like a disembodied spirit.

As the Penguin Dictionary says:  Instances of hysterical or schizophrenic duplication of personality are well know to psychotherpy.  There are many examples of this phenomenon.  Here are a couple to show how it works.

When a person is enduring an unbearable situation in which he is powerless to resist, rather than believe the situation is happening to him he does split off a psychological projection of himself as a disembodied spirit who sympathetically views his now alter ego’s humiliation.

For instance when Jean Genet, the author and playwright was at the Mettray Reformatory he was caught out by a gang of homosexuals and gang raped.  As the rape progressed, escape being impossible while becoming so unbearable for him, to retain his sanity he split off a projection, a disembodied spirit, if you will, that floated above the scene.  Thus Genet was able to actually observe his rape without participating in it.  As he watched he muttered ‘Poor Jean, poor poor Jean.’  Thus the mind provides a somewhat feeble defense but one that allows one to keep one’s sanity after a fashion.  Of course the hypnotic suggestion  from this terrifically shameful event caused him to relinquish his will to the oppressor, part of the deal to keep one’s sanity.  Genet’s character was changed for life; he became a homosexual who had no will to resist that of men while becoming an active agent in his future degradation.  He was always able to rationalize his actions so that they seemed right.

I will use my own experience as a second example.  In kindergarten the elite group forced a confrontation with me in which they lost and looked bad.  Circumstances removed me to a different school before they had a chance to relaliate on me.   But then in second grade I was returned to that school.  At that point they were waiting for me.  This situation is more analogous to Burroughs than Genet but all three involve a rape of the mind which is what emasculation is.

The general conclusion is that my and Burroughs situations are normal, they happen to everyone.  Perhaps.  And everyone reacts in their individual way but everyone reacts.  A few years later and I would have been able to handle this situation without a problem as would have been true with Burroughs.  Remember with Burroughs however that while John the Bully only threatened him in 1884-85 fifteen years later in a similar to identical situation he had his head broken thus reinforcing the original situation.

In my case the situation formed my central childhood fixation as did Burroughs’.  My subconscious was opened to admit certain hypnotic suggestions which were fixed in my subconscious.  It then closed but refused to allow me to remember which of course is why the situation became a fixation, or suggestion I could not refuse to observe.

At recess in the second grade a group of, shall we say, twelve formed a semi-circle around me.  Like Burroughs I am compelled to make excuses for myself.  For the previous year I had been shuttled between foster homes and thus I had no support or defense.  I was alone.  In kindergarten the boy, the leaderof the pack, had ordered two new kids, the first Negroes in the school, to sit on the sandbox and not move during recess.  I took the Blacks’ side offering to fight the leader.  He, standing at point, declined combat stepping back into the support of his crowd gathered behind him.  That was his mistake.  He and his crowd had realized this.  Now in the second grade the boy still refused to challenge me individually.  Now they formed a semi-circle around me while their leader stood at keystone, still enveloped by his gang so that, I presume, they could fall on me if I resisted.

They all beamed hatred and contempt at me.  I was unable to resist the projected hatred of the boys and girls while at this date having only the vaguest or no notion of what I was guilty of, I was ordered to take a step forward which to my eternal shame I did.  In midstep I was ordered to stop and stay in that suspended step throughout recess.  To my shame, I did.  He said:  You’re going to have to be our nigger now.  The shame killed my personality, my identity, my ego.  I assumed the role of ‘nigger.’  Terror opened the way to the subconscious and the suggestion, you are a nigger, among others was entered.  Like Jean Genet a projection of myself arose above to say something like:  Poor kid, poor poor kid.’

The suggestion was so horrific to me that I immediately forgot it or, perhaps since that ego died the incident was not part of the life of the survivor.  The memory was accepted and encysted in my subconscious what Freud and Jung would call the unconscious.  I not only forgot the situation but I forgot the faces and names of the kids involved.  I could not remember them from that day forward although I could talk to them as though I did know them.

The consequence was that I had to do what I was told to do by nearly anyone.  Much the same as Burroughs who wrote a medieval story, of which he knew nothing, at the suggestion or command of Metcalf and wrote Son Of Tarzan which he later regretted, and Tarzan And The Ant Men at the suggestion or command of Bob Davis.  Buroughs became a variation of the dependent personality as did I.

On the one hand my conscious mind understood the proper means of defense but as I began to do so my subconscious mind overruled or shoved my conscious mind aside and obsequiously obeyed.

This plight was only changed when I succeeded in integrating my personality in the year of around forty-two.  That is to say the subconscious contents of my mind centered around the cyst of my central childhood fixation was made manifest to my conscious mind allowing the subconscious to be integrated into consciousness.  Where the ‘Id’ was ‘Ego’ shall be, as Freud put it.

Burroughs in  Lion Man at fifty-eight is describing the same situation as that experienced by Genet and myself but in a different way.  Like myself and Genet he would have been easy to direct.  So at that age he had not yet exorcised that particular demon.  As ERB kills Obroski off in this novel assuming both identities while discarding that of Obroski, returning the corpse to Hollywood, becoming solely Tarzan of the Apes one wonders if he succeeded in integraing his personality at that point.  That is what he is describing.

His experiences with John The Bully, the splitting of his personality explains why Tarzan observes from above rather than as a participant on the ground. In Lion Man perhaps agitated by the movie duplicate of the literary Tarzan he brought the situation of John the Bully to consciousness. Rungula the Bansuto taking John’s place while the aspect of Tarzan or his split off alter ego watches from above while Obroski fought like a berserker on the ground but was overcome by numbers or in the John situation, size.

Thus Tarzan spies on the safari from the trees by day while walking rhough the camp at night.  Having dealt with his humiliation in some way in Rungula’s village, when Orman and West are threatened by a lion Tarzan plummets from his tree to kill the lion on the ground then without a word vaults back into the tree.  Orman and West mistake him for his lookalike Obroski.  Thus we have the beginning of the reuniting of the split personality which will continue in the Heaven of the gorilla god.

Burroughs was under such extreme stress from both his sexual desires and the MGM betrayal that he must have felt half mad.  While he and Rhonda are captive in Heaven he says:  Sometimes I think I must be dreaming.  A statement that seems to be out of character for the Big Bwana.  The scene might be interpreted as ERB’s Anima and Animus being imprisoned while on one level God might represent MGM.

Tarzan comes into contact with Stanley Obroski which Tarzan finds amusing and lets them do.  Both women pinch tmeselves to see if they are dreaming or mad as well they might.  Tarzan rejects Naomi which must have confused her as she and Obroski were in love with each other.  Having ditched Naomi Tarzan/Obroski goes back for the wise cracking Rhonda.

Then too Burroughs actually describes Tarzan as a madman at one point.  This would be tantamount to describing himself as mad.  Indeed the whole novel centers on mad or insane happenings.

The madness or insanity would be an aspect of Tarzan’s viewing from above as a disembodied spirit.  The splitting off of the aspect from his and ERB’s personality would be the result of the extreme stress of the moment that produced the feeling of dizzying  madness.

Burroughs handling of the stress in what I consider a very extraordinary novel is abolutely masterly.  I can’t think of a finer science fiction story that the story within the story of God’s in his Heaven and all’s wrong with the world.


David Adams who had an advance copy of this piece brought up the point that perhaps Tom Orman in his drunken state was a comment on Emma’s drinking problem.  A scenario instantly suggested itself.

Imagine Orman in his drunken state as a personification of John Barleycorn.  Imagine sweet sober Naomi as Emma in her sober state and Obroski as Burroughs in his non-Tarzan, actually Obroski state.

John Barleycorn claimed Emma as his own as Orman claimed Naomi.  Barleycorn is a jealous man and won’t tolerate Burroughs as a lover of Emma.  So the couple have to sneak a moment or two when John Barleycorn isn’t around.  In other words, when Emma is sober.

As Burroughs fictionally represents the situation Obroski/Burroughs is visiting Naomi/Emma in her tent.  they appear to be in love and accord.  Orman is drunk in his tent and isn’t expected to be abroad.  Then Obroski hears the drunken Orman approaching the tent.  Unable to stand up to Orman Obroski obsequiously flees.

So in real life Burroughs and Emma are getting along fine until Emma hits the bottle conjuring up John Barleycorn.  ERB can’t compete with the bottle while Emma becomes verbally abusive under the influence just as Orman used the lash on bearers while drunk.  ERB can’t take it so like the bearers he vanishes into the night.

I think it may be a viable scenario although obviously ERB’s version of the truth.

End of Part II.  Part III, The Source follows.