A Review: Pt. IV, Tarzan And The Leopard Men By Edgar Rice Burroughs

November 4, 2011

A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tazan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs



R.E. Prindle

Part IV

Cast Of Characters

The Shaggy Man Of OZ


The Shaggy Man

     This novel is fairly rich in well conceived and well executed characters.  Even though an obvious adventure novel it is certainly at the top of the list of the genre.  All novels, even historical novels, reflect the time in which they were written.  The novels of ERB are no exception.  In addition they always reflect his state of mind at the time.  In this first section I will deal with the three big characters- Oldtimer, Kali Bwana and The Kid.  This story does not seem to have political connotations but is a pure reflection of ERB’s sexual trauma.

Jerome K. Jerome

   ERB always writes on several diffent levels and this one is a humdinger of the kind.  I have already mentioned the concealed jokes in the names of Jerry ‘The Kid’ Jerome- Jerome K. Jerome- and Old Timer’s given name -Hi- probably related to Lewis Carrol’s Hunting Of The Snark.  Old Timer’s real last name is never given, he is actually nameless.  Kali Bwana is called that by the natives while her name is Jessie Jerome of which I can make nothing.  Following the idea of the author Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat this story could be titled Three People In A Boat.

     All three characters are based on the Peru, Trader Horn and Nina T. of Ethelreda Lewis’ book Trader Horn  and the movie version of W.S. Van Dyke.  Thus the scene in Chapter 4 which Burroughs couples with the story of Sobito the witch doctor, replicates the opening scene of Van Dyke’s movie when Peru and a grizzled old timer of a Horn portrayed by Harry Carey, sit around a campfire discussing life.

     As Bill Hillman points out there is a certain irony in Old Timer/Burroughs assuming Carey’s role.  In the early twenties ERB requested his movie rental agency to never send him Carey movies.  Perhaps he had had a run in with Carey upon his arrival in LA where Carey insulted him.  According to Van Dyke’s record of the filming of Horn, Horning Into Africa, Carey was an aggressive sort of guy.  Ye olde so-called Alpha male.  You can read that ‘unspeakable boor.’  Perhaps by this time ERB had made up with Carey or maybe he was satirizing him.  At any rate it is interesting to see ERB assume the Carey role, or even to have gone to see  Trader Horn.

     In keeping with the very dark themes of this novel Old Timer is very despondent.  He had met the Kid a year previously teaming up with him.  The Kid, who probably is modeled on Ashton Dearholt, plays the minor role of essentially giving Old Timer his sister, Kali Bwana.  So Dearholt must have relinquished his wife Florence.  If the woman wants to leave what are you going to do about it?

     Suspense isn’t really ERB’s long suit so he could have explained why the Kid was on the lam at the beginning but he saved it for the end where the ‘surprise’ which the reader is waiting for is pretty lame.

     Back home in Indiana or wherever the Kid came from he thought he had killed a man.  In what seems rather cliche Burroughs explains on p.190 of 192, he really saved that surprise for the last, didn’t he?  Kali Bwana speaking:

     Jerry thought he killed a man.  I am going to tell you the whole story because you and he have been such close friends.

     Jerry was in love with a girl in our town.  He learned one night that an older man, a man with a vile reputation, had enticed her to his apartment.  Jerry went there and broke in.  The man was furious, and in the fight that followed Jerry shot him.  Then he took the girl home, swearing her to secrecy about her part in the affair.  That same night he ran away, leaving a note saying he had shot Sam Berger, but giving no reason.

     Berger didn’t die and refused to prosecute…

     Personally I think Berger was in the right and Jerry in the wrong; he was lucky Berger didn’t want to prosecute.  It a man invites a woman up to see his etchings and she goes she obviously is not in love with a feller like Jerry.  My sympathies are with Berger.  It would be reasonable to think from the name that Sam Berger was Jewish so the sharp eyed boys down at the ADL/AJC would probably take that as an anti-Semitic reference.  Names are important.  As Kali Bwana says of Old Timer:  She loved this nameless man of rages and tatters. (p. 180).  It might be interesting to see the ADL/AJC file on Burroughs.

      All we know of this nameless man of rags and tatters is that he answered to Old Timer, Hi or any loud cry, and that he has been exiled into the forest far from the haunts of men by ‘what that woman did to him.’  Nor are we allowed to know what that one woman did do to him.  Old Timer is a misogynist.  And the woman made a ‘bum’ of him.  One might also refer to the Shaggy Man Of Oz by Baum as a reference.

     We don’t know how long he’s been on the run from society but he’s been poaching ivory for two years and teamed up with the Kid for one.  We are advised that it were better for us not to be curious and ask no questions.  P. 33:

     People who ask questions should be taken gently, but firmly, by the hand, led out behind the barn and shot.  It would be a better world to live in.

     Alright.  I’m not going to ask any questions.  I’m just going to form conclusions from the evidence.  The world would probably be a better place to live in without me too and someday in the not too distant future it will be.  However, like the Dalai Lama, my successor has already been chosen and he’s not going to be as nice as me.

     Having settled that let us ask the question of how closely is Old Timer pattered on ERB?  I think following ERB’s ‘highly fictionized’ manner the two are identical.

     ERB specifically calls his character a ‘nameless man of rags and tatters.’  Since he’s nameless he has a serious identity problem.  That means he’s been taught to be ashamed of himself.  This is not unusual.  A great many people have had their identities destroyed.   When the Bibliophiles began publishing my essays I had five identities I hid behind.  Over the intervening years I have come to assume my proper identity of R.E. Prindle.  In this novel of personal crisis ERB is grasping for his own proper identity, his name.  Will he be able to stand tall as the real Edgar Rice Burroughs?  The issue still seems unresolved at novel’s end as Old Timer still answers only to ‘Hi!’ or any loud cry as he and Kali Bwana stand looking downstream toward ‘civilization’ which he may or may not be able to join and regain his identity. One can’t be nameless in civilization only out in the jungle.

      As ERB is now 57 at novel’s end he has been struggling to resolve this problem for some time.

     We are reasonably certain as to the women in ERB’s life.  Until the age of 53 there was only Emma and his mother.  Those are the only two women who could probably have affected his attitude toward real women.  There doesn’t appear to be anything Emma actually did to him to make him a misogynist.  I sense a lack of warmth and closeness to his mother but I can’t pick up any references to her and she wouldn’t have ‘done’ any womanly thing to make him a misogynist.

      That leaves only the Anima.  As I have pointed out, in the bilateral arrangement of the human body the male has an X and y chromosome while the female is XX.  This fact is of great significance.  It means the female has no male component but still has an active X provided by the male which serves as her Animus while the passive X provided by the female contributor forms her Anima.

     Therefore the male always carries within his mind an ideal woman which no living woman can do more than approximate.  Freud and Jung picked this up as ‘bisexuality.’  In the sixties we were admonished  to ‘get in touch with our feminine side.’  If this is understood outside the notion of sexual intercourse with other males both the psychologists’ notions are approximations of the truth.

     Over the course of life the relationship between a male’s Anima and Animus will become estranged and/or perverted.  Hence it is indeed necessary to get in touch with your female side or in other words to reconcile your Anima and Animus to form a healthy mind to go with your healthy body, if you have one.  One of the reasons why an unhealthy mind means an unhealthy body is the psychosomatic reaction.

     Now let us review the definition of rags and tatters from the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, p. 782:

     (rags and tatters) are the symbol of anxiety and lesions of the psyche.

     I know from personal experience the above definition is true.

      It seems that in this novel ERB is using a volume such as the Penguin as a guide.  Perhaps he was studying with the Theosophists or Vedantists or some related esoteric discipline.  Let us assume that he had a nearly identical definition of ‘rags and tatters’ to work from so that his understanding is identical to Penguin’s and mine, if not yours.

     Thus ERB is admitting to anxiety and psychic lesions.

     What could have caused this anxiety and these psychic lesions?

     Yes, you’re right, his confronation with John the Bully at the age of eight or nine.  ERB’s Anima had failed him making a ‘bum’ of him from age eight or nine.  His father from a very early age said the ERB was ‘no good.’  We know very little about his childhood so from the time we know him he has always been a ‘bum’ and ‘no good.’

     Therefore if a ‘woman’ did it to him she did it when he was eight or nine.  That’s as close an analysis as I can do.  If it doesn’t satisfy you it satisfies me.

     Being a ‘bum’ is a man’s confession that he can’t deal with life.  For whatever reason he would rather voluntarily renounce his mahnood rather than compete and try.  ERB learned of bums and hoboes firsthand while working at his father’s office down on the Main Stem of Madison Avenue in his native Chicago.  He may have met and talked to a great many of them.  He was a ‘bum’ before he married Emma.  She had nothing to do with his feelings of inferiority although she may have amplified them over the years.

     During the first two decades of the twentieth century ERB was fascinated by hoboes.  He writes of them extensively including his hobo trilogy The Mucker, “Out There Somewhere’ or The Return Of The Mucker and Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid, or The Oakdale Affair.  After the last title the hobo recedes or disappears from his corpus to reappear here in Leopard Men at this sexual and psychological crisis in his life.  The psychic lesions have split his mind asunder.

     He has become the Shaggy Man.  The notion of the Shaggy Man had probably been working away in his mind since 1910’s The Emerald City Of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  David Adams has gone to pains to point out that Baum was extremely influential on Burroughs.  As the two men not only knew each other but were familiar while ERB reverenced Baum it follows that Baum must have imparted some authorly wisdom to Burroughs.  The Emerald City Of Oz was the last Oz book Burroughs read before going West in 1913 to meet his hero.

     As David points out Baum was an esotericist and Theosophist in particular.  Thus Baum’s rather extraordinary character of the Shaggy Man in Emerald City is worth examining in relation to ERB.  Leopard Men could be interpreted as an ‘adult’ version of Emerald City.

     It would appear that Baum knew what the image of the Shaggy Man, a man of rags and tatters, meant.  To give a slightly different reading to Baum’s character, Penguin, p. 782:

     (Rags and tatters) denotes as well a disguise by princes, princesses and wizards or cloaks inner riches under an appearance of wretchedness…

     The Shaggy Man of Baum is a wizard while under his frightful appearance he disguises his great inner worth.  Rather remarkably Baum has him lure the little girl Dorothy away from Aunt Em’s farm down the Road to Anywhere.  One wonders how many little girls were led astry by strange bums because of the Emerald City Of Oz?

     So in a sense Leopard Men had been gestating in Burroughs’ mind since his 1910 reading of Emerald City.  Now, in 1931, he is able to combine it with Trader Horn, book and movie.  So in the complex makeup of Old Timer, who is the Shaggy Man, he also has to be seen as Burroughs’ version of Trader Horn.

      The Kid and Old Timer go off on their separate ways in search of ivory.  Old Timer hears a shot and goes to investigate.  He comes upon Kali Bwana who has been abandoned by her safari after she refused to ‘be good’ to her Negro headman, Golato.  ERB puts together a strange scenario here in that the safari is composed of ‘low browed’ West African Blacks.  That would mean that Kali Bwanan began her trek from somewhere on the West Coast.  Congo or Gabon.  She must have been out there for months as the safari was now in the heart of the Ituri Rain Forest.

     When the Old Timer broke camp after grousing about the horrors of women the Kid joked that he would fall for the first ‘skirt’ he met.  Now, here in the middle of the Ituri Rain Forest Old Timer does just that.  A little humor.  He is stunned at the sight of Kali whose hair is of the platinum blonde variety.  As mentioned she is certainly based on Jean Harlow who had recently starred in Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels.  ERB must have been knocked out by the movie.

     Old Timer is gruff and offensive openly insulting to all women.  Kali dismisses him as ‘an unspeakable boor.’  This was a major conflict for him as the fires of lust burst into flame in his heart.  He immediately conceived the notion of rape.  Rape seems to be Kali’s fate although she does manage to avoid it.

     As evidence of the lesions of the psyche associated with the Shaggy Man Kali thinks Old Timer is crazy.  He himself thinks maybe he is.  So, in this period of stress one alter ego, Tarzan, characteristically loses his memory while his other walks around mumbling that maybe he is crazy while he’s making plans to rape a woman.  Leopard Men is definitely not a children’s book.

     Old Timer leaves a man behind to look after Kali while he goes off in search of ivory.  On the way back he has an unusual soliloquy.  P. 51:

          When he turned back toward camp at the end of his fruitless search for elephant signs a new determination filled him with disquieting thoughts and spurred him rapidly upon the back trail.  It had been two years since he had seen a white woman, and then Fate had thrown this lovely creature across his path.

What had women ever done for him?  “Made a bum of me,”  he soliloquized; “ruined my life.  The girl would have been lost but for me.  She owes me something.  All women owe me something for what that one woman did to me.  This girl is going to pay the debt…

Old Timer was saved from this unspeakable crime because in his absence the Leopard Men had abducted Kali Bwana.

From this point to her rescue from the Pygmy village the story of Old Timer and Kali Bwana does not seem to relate to Burroughs’ personal life.

The abduction by the Leopard Men may relate to Dearholt’s decision to take Florence land yachting.  Dearholt probably noted with alarm the developing relationship between Florence and Burroughs so he pitted one adage against another: Out of sight, out of mind vs. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  The latter won.

There is no question as to how the romance between ERB and Florence began.  On the one hand Joan thought she was used by Florence to inveigle her way into proximity to ERB.  After the divorce Joan refused to speak to Florence.  On the other hand ERB is said to have fallen in love with Florence at first sight for which the Leopard Men offers some evidence.  The question is when was this first sight?  Astute ERB researcher Woodrow Nichols believes it may have been as early as 1922 when she made a Western with Ashton Dearholt.  If so, Burroughs must have been carrying the torch for her for a few years when chance threw her in his way when Ashton Dearholt, since married to her, asked ERB to finance a movie project.   As the saying goes ERB chased Florence until she caught him.

While land yachting Florence may have been so yearning to return that Dearholt just threw in the sponge and came back notifying Burroughs that they had returned.  The return was more than Burroughs could bear hence we have this novel redolent of symbols of sexual desire at which Kali Bwana/Florence is the center.

The combination of the Scottsboro Boys, Trader Horn, the MGM contract and the return of Florence evidently made ERB/Old Timer crazy and ran Tarzan off the tracks.  One wonders how Emma was taking this other than walking out during the showing of Trader Horn.  Actually as her drinking escalated at this period we do know how she took it.  Make no mistake on my position, drinking is not a reason to violate the for better or worse clause of the marriage contract especially when you’re the reason for the drinking.

So between Kali’s abduction by the Leopard Men and her abduction from the Pygmys’ by Old Timer was the time Florence was land yachting.  The abduction by Old Timer then must represent the serious beginning of the affair which would result in ERB’s walking out on Emma two and a half years later.  These two and a half years would be some of the most traumatic of his life.

ERB hoped or thought that Florence would redeem his life even as he was intent on hurting her as he felt he had been hurt.  He apparently thought that Florence could cleanse his soul restoring him to princely status from a man of rags and tatters.  Thus as he is still harboring evil rape thoughts he seizes Kali roughly forcing a kiss upon her.  Having learned to trust this disreputable looking man she is hurt and astonished.  Her reaction wakes him from his ‘boorishness’, he becomes contrite and like the frog redeemed by the kiss of the princess in the story, Old Timer is redeemed becoming ‘uncrazed.’

A neat little story with a moral if you follow the symbolism.

The tale then ends with the implication that the two will live happily forever after as they leave the forest of iniquitous desire for the trading posts and civilization down river.  Very pretty.

Buy, you know, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.  Extricating oneself from previous commitments is neither easy nor pretty:

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

To pick up on one and leave the other behind?

It’s not often easy,

And not always kinds,

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

–John Sebastian and Lovin’ Spoonful


The Goddess Kali

There was no science of social processes at all.

People were not trained to remark

The correlations of things.

For the most part they were not aware

That there was any correlation between things;

They imagined this side of life might change

And that remain unaltered.

–H. G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come p. 78

     One sees ERB as a lone individual without any connection to the world scheme; this vast struggle against the forces of oppression by the forces of freedom.   Put another way the struggle of knowledge against the forces if ignorance, the unconscious versus the conscious, fear versus confidence, timidity versus daring.

      Will there be a retreat to the cocoon of religion or will mankind dare the metamorphosis to the butterfly?  This is the serious question of our times.

     Ever since the two species clashed in Ur of the Chaldees and the ignorant Semitic religons overwhelmed the emerging science of the Sumerians the great culture clash has been between science and religion.  Europe versus the Semites.  The great Greek upsurge toward knowledge and intelligence led by Aristotle  had been thwarted by the Semitic takeover of the intellect of Europe, not unlike that of the former  takeover of the Sumerian intellect.  Slowly all intelligence was crushed in the name of Semitisim.  The fertile developing intellectual life of Greek science and the alternate religious speculation of the Middle East and Egypt was outlawed, crushed beneath the Iron Heel of Semitism.  The great library of Alexandria was burned to the ground in contempt of all secular learning.  Desperate to save any part of learning alternate religious tracts and scientific papers were buried in the sands to be discovered millennia later.

     Intelligence was driven underground.  Any who dared to challenge the religious orthodoxy of Semitism were murdered, imprisoned or forced to recant, their minds closed by the iron jaws of bigotry, not unlike today.

     But resistance to tyranny works forever beneath the surface.  Sabotage of Judaeo-Christian systems of repression came from the Moslem world as a result of the Crusaders attempt to impose Judaeo-Christian beliefs on the Middle East.

     Outside the reach of Judaeo-Christianity the great Hindu system of mythology waited to fructify Western religious thought.

     And so science and esoterica overthrew Judaeo-Christian oppression as the eighteenth century drew to a close.  The Judaeo-Christian reaction set in immediately, weakly flickering at first but gaining strength slowly even in the teeth of the rapidly developing scientific knowledge which laid bare the intellectual folly of revealed religion.

     By the time Burroughs began writing in 1911 the religious reaction was nearly on a parity with the scientific revolution.  The so-called Russian Revolution of 1917 tipped the scales once again in favor of religion.  Now the impetus was once again in favor of Judaeo-Communism as the Semites discarded their outworn cover of Christianity.

     By 1930 Edgar Rice Burroughs was clearly enmeshed in the coils of his personal struggle in the five thousand year old war between Europeans and Semites now in its new guise of Judaeo-Communism.

     A German-Swiss student of mythology, J.J. Bachofen, a former lawyer, was always amazed at how two different lawyers could analyze the same facts to arrive at opposing conclusions.  For that reason I hesitate to recommend any books.  However as background for the ’30s is necessary may I suggest Eugene Lyons’ The Red Decade.  This is a contemporary history written as the decade closed.  Up front and personal.

     A word about Lyons.  Eugene Lyons is of course not his real name.  He was born in 1898 into a Jewish household.  He found it convenient to assume a goy disguise.  He beame an ardent Communist serving as a correspondent in Russia from 1927-34.  He claims to have become an apostate to the Communist faith, a sort of proto-neocon.  One needn’t take his apostasy at face value.  His first loyalty was always to his Jewish Culture while as his later career demonstrates he never gave up his Communist faith.

     He probably was only revolted by the goy Stalin who gave up on International Communism, the Jewish version of the faith, for Communism in one country, a version of fascism as Lyons notes, which at this time was almost as successful at purging Jews as Hitler.  That may have influenced Lyons while it is also possible that Lyons was merely a paid Stalinist agent posing as a renegade so that he could bore from within.  He tells us nothing new.  Reading his book is like talking to God; you aren’t going to learn anything you don’t already know or couldn’t surmise.  Lyons merely confirms speculations.

     However, it is clearly stated while coming from an inside source.  A student of his times like Burroughs either was or could have been aware of everything Lyons says so one may assume that ERB was fighting the good fight in awareness.  One can hardly believe otherwise when one follows the story from Invincible through Quest.

     Lyons was one of a number of so-called apostates or renegades all of whom were well rewarded for their apostasy, probably from both sides.  Lyons himself received good paying jobs from ‘conservative’ magazines running the gamut from American Mercury to a plum at Reader’s Digest to his founding of the neocon magazine National Review with William Buckley as an Anglo-Saxon figurehead.

     The Digest rewarded a number of renegades such as Lyons and Max Eastman with terrifically good paying jobs that might better have gone to loyal Americans.  Thus the reward for Communists came from both sides of the fence.  I have no doubt they were all still on the Soviet payroll as Stalin laughed up his sleeve at us.

      From the Digest Lyons was intrumental in launching the National Review.  Which nation was never made clear.  As a complete greehorn of 22 in 1960 it took me about three issues to tear aside the veil of the phony conservatism of the National Review.

     But to return to the thirties.  A couple of key chapters of the Red Decade are X: The Liberals Invent A Utopia through XVI: The Incredible Revolution Spreads.

     If one equates the cult of the Leopard Men with Judaeo-Communism, as I do, then one of the more striking images in the book is that of the Leopard Men leading Kali Bwana as the goddess Kali through the steaming jungle with a rope around her neck.  This could be interpreted to symbolize the Semitic capture or supordination of Hindu mythology in the West.

     One may argue that Burroughs wouldn’t have been conscious of such an intent which while it may possibly be true is irrelevant.  The point is that ERB had the knowledge in his brain to conceive such an idea whether consciously or unconsciously.  One cannot get out of a brain what isn’t in it while anything in it will inevitably come out.  For instance, I first read Lyon’s book twenty years ago.  The info went in but I couldn’t recall the source or even the specific info.  On the rereading I recognized a great many facts and ideas that had gone into forming my own opinions.  Thus while I couldn’t have acknowledged Lyons as a source he, in fact, was one.  So whether consciously or unconsciously Burroughs used what he read or observed to form his images.

     In addition Kali Bwana is not only named after the Hindu goddess of birth, death and regeneration but she serves the same functions for Old Timer.  At the same time that Judaeo-Communism was taking over Hollywood and LA the great esoteric religious tradition was also firmly seated in LA and the suburbs.  This novel is clear evidence that Burroughs was familiar with one or even all of them.  He was an open minded and curious kind of guy.

     There was plenty to be curious about in the Southland too.  There were more esoteric outfits there than you could shake a stick at.  There were the Rosicrucians down in Oceanside, Aleister Crowley’s Golden Dawn out in Barstow, Manly Hall was advising the studios on esoteric matters, the Theosophists had their university but perhaps most important were the Vedantists.  It will be remembered that the founder of Vedantism, Swami Vivekananda, probably came to the young ERB’s attention during the 1893 Columbian Expo.  Vivekananda went back to India to teach after founding the Chicago temple which still exists.  In the year of the Fair by coincidence a man was born in India who undoubtedly left his mark on the ERB of the current period.  The Swami Prabhavananda was born in the year of the  Fair. ( http://www.vedanta.org/vssc/prabhavananda.htm )   He graduated from Calcutta University and then joined the Ramakrishna Order.  In 1923 he began his mission in the United States, serving first in San Francisco then migrating North to Portland.  In 1929 he established the Vedanta Society of Southern California.  There was a monastery in Hollywood.

     If we cut to 1936’s Tarzan’s Quest we will find ERB’s character Swami Kavandavanda and his monastery.  It would seem that between 1930-31 and 1936 that ERB was involved with the Vedanta Society.  In later years Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood would be involved with the Vedantists.  One wonders who ERB may have met in his years with the Vedantists.  Harry Carey?  Wouldn’t that have been a good joke.

     With the appearance of the goddess Kali in this book along with the wealth of female symbolism it would seem certain that by sometime in 1930 ERB became interested in Vedantism.  This means that the Broadhurst/Adams faction of the Bibliophiles who noted ERB’s esotericism whether Theosophical or not are right.

     Once within the temple of the Leopard God Kali Bwana is surrounded by the priestesses who are wearing only the skimpiest of g-strings.  They tear at Kali’s clothes until as ERB says she was wearing less than they were.  Must be totally naked as Mickey Spillane would say, here’s where we learn whether Kali Bwana is a true platinum blonde or not.  I’m betting she was.  Throughout most of the rest of the novel Kali Bwana was walking around nude.

     Once naked the priestesses dress, or adorn her, in the most barbaric but gorgeous fashion.  The goddess Kali is portrayed with a necklace of skulls.  ERB doesn’t give Kali Bwana a necklace of skulls but he does give her one of human teeth which is almost the same thing.  I don’t think there can be any mistaking that Our Man has been talking to Swami Prabhavananda.

     Decked out Kali Bwana is stood beside the Leopard God gazing out over a spectacular image of drunken dancing Africans leaping about.  As the Africans fall into a drunken stupor Chief Bobolo offers to help Old Timer and Kali Bwana escape.  At this point she becomes the universal White Woman under threat of rape by the Black hordes.

     As we clearly saw from Tarzan The Invincible the desirability of the White Woman for the other races or species was a sore point for ERB.  The fear of miscegenation apparently occupied his mind.  The gang rape of the two White Women by the Scottsboro Boys undoubtledly confirmed his worst fears.

     While Kali was undoubtedly influenced by Edwina Booth of the movie Trader Horn in which she was sensational ERB combined her with Jean Harlow to make her the whitest, blondest woman ever seen in the jungles of Africa.  She is so white she glows in the dark.  She is under threat of rape from the Africans not to mention Old Timer.

     Probably this protective attitude toward White Women is a large part of the reason Liberals denounce Leopard Men as Burroughs’ worst book.  Their purpose is to eliminate the White species; to wipe Whites off the face of  the earth by having White women subjected to ‘coloreds’ bearing colored children.  So that Burroughs attitude represents everything they hate.

      There are a couple sites on the internet that explain this issue quite bluntly.  Though they are ‘hate’ sites I’m not going to obscure the issue in name calling.  The facts speak for themselves.  One Peoples Project outrightly advocates violence against people who disagree with this viewpoint.  This attitude is, of course, sound Liberalism as attested by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.  The other, more academically inclined site is called Race Traitor.  Their motto is- treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.  Such a slogan could be construed as anti-Semtitic.  They make no bones about eliminating Whites from the face of the earth.  In a paper delivered at UC Berkeley over 4/11-13/97, what I’m quoting must be a condensed version, the founder of Race Traitor, Noel Ignatiev, formerly of Harvard since transferred to the Massachusetts College of Art, explains his position thusly:

     Various commentators have stated that their aim is to identify and preserve a white identity.  Abolitionists (of the Whites species) deny the existence of a positive white identity.  We at Race Traitor, the journal with which I am associated, have asked some of those who think whiteness contains positive elements to indicate what they are.  We are still waiting for an answer.  (From whom, specifically, Professor Ignatiev does not indicate.)  Until we get one, we will take our stand with David Roediger, who has insisted that whiteness is not merely oppressive and false, it is nothing but oppressive and false.  As James Baldwin said, “So long as you think you are white, there is no hope for you.”

     …Whiteness is not a culture…Whiteness has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position.  It is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no other reason than to defend it.

     (Here comes the clincher.)  Either America is a very democratic country where cab drivers beat up city councilmen with impunity…(or what?

     It goes on like that.  One doesn’t argue with such logic even if the speaker is a Harvard educated professor and intimate of Rabbi Schneerson.  It goes without question that the professor is of the Jewish Culture.  He is also associated with Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African-American Research as well as with his own Race Traitor.

      The question here is as an abolitionist how does one abolish a human species?  Prof. Ignatiev twists logic here, which should surprise no one, from abolishing a thing- slavery- to abolishing a people- genocide.  How does an abolitionist go about committing genocide of a billion, never mind six million, people or so?  What in his mind makes eliminating a billion more just than eliminating six million.  Liberals can talk like this without the least hint of shame.

     Very likely he will employ the time honored manner– kill the men, appropriate the women.  In this case convincing White Women it is their duty to pair with non-White men.  Burroughs’ worst fears realized.

     If White women bear colored children ‘whiteness’ disappears.  Easy enough.  Convincing them isn’t that hard.  The males, whether they pair with colored women or not will die out.  If they do, more colored children.  It’s a dream but not that far fetched.  It will be noted that Prof. Ignatiev of Harvard has not paired with a black woman however so as not to dilute his Jewish ‘genes’ per Rabbi Schneerson.

     One can plainly see an ideological basis for condemning Tarzan And The Leopard Men as well as Burroughs in general as Prof. Slotkin does.  Thus when one reads that Leopard Men is Burroughs’ worst one has to ask on what basis.  I’ve read it very carefully and find it certainly no worse than the rest of the oeuvre while on many levels I find it better.  People like Prof. Ignatiev aren’t going to say the real reason they don’t like the book is because Burroughs is intent on preserving women of the ‘White race’ because that does sound bad but just that the book is ‘bad’ in general.  No reasons needed.  But their distaste is because of ‘race’ because this is the most racially conscious novel in the oeuvre.

     A main source of tension is whether Kali Bwana will have Black men forced on her.  Burroughs was horrified at the prospect.  He expects that the reader will share his revulsion also.

     While I have not found the reason that Leopard Men was not released in 1932, possibly because the publishing program was already set in Burrough’s mind, City of Gold being next, a probable reason for its being released in 1936 was the continued agitation for the release of the Scottsboro Boys by the Communists.  It would be intgeresting to note any changes made in the story between the magazine edition of 1932 and the book version of 1936.


Tarzan, The Utengans And The Leopard Men

Why have historians, sociologists and economists

Nothing to tell us now?

There may indeed be some excuse

For the failure of politicans under democratic conditions

But have our universities

Been doing nothing about it?

Is there indeed no science of these things?

Is there no knowledge?

Has history learnt nothing of causes,

And is there no analysis of the social processes that are destroying us?

–H.G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come pp. 122-23

          There is little more obvious than that Leopard Men was a spur of the moment inspiration that Burroughs acted on.  At the same time hsi mind became marvelously focused.  Overall he wrote four books in 1931.  And he wrote very quickly.  Tarzan Triumphant was written in 82 days.  He took 47 to knock out Tarzan And The Leopard Men, 34 days to write Pirates Of Venus and another 47 days to set down Tarzan And The City Of Gold.   That’s a lot of material.  I’m not here to discuss literary quality; suffice it to say that all four are still being read today.

     I have already discussed several probable inspirations for Leopard Men.  We will examine religious matters in some detail here.  There is a curious dissociation here between the story of Tarzan as Muzimo and the story of Old Timer and Kali Bwana.  For most of the book they are two stories running side by side that only begin to blend about halfway through the book and then with very little emotional involvement on the part of Tarzan.  In the sort of split personality of Burroughs it is as though Tarzan has no interest in Burroughs extra-marital affairs, perhaps even revolted by them.

     That Burroughs himself was struggling with his problems is evident from the fact that Tarzan is bashed once again suffering amnesia yet another time.

     If one has read only one or two of the Tarzan books the problem of repetition does not come up but if one has read the complete oeuvre at least once several themes and variations present themselves with enough regularity to be troublesome if one doesn’t try to penetrate their meaning.  As is evident from the title of this series of reviews I try to understand this repetition as various themes and variations with meaning that is signficant to ERB’s psychology.

      The single most frequently used motif is the bashings that Tarzan suffers from novel to novel while in this novel he takes two incredible blows to the head while being stunned unconscious falling from a tree in the Pygmy viillage.

     In a variation of the blows received in Ant Men when a blow to the forehead makes Tarzan smaller and it is facetiously suggested that a blow to the back of the head would make him larger, in Leopard men one blow makes his lose his memory while a second causes him to regain it.

     One has to question the consciousness changing nature of these blows to the head.  They obviously all refer to the blow to the forehead ERB received in Toronto which caused him so much trouble.  The blow was obviously the kind one never forgets.  The closest I can come for comparison is when I fell on the back of my head while ice skating during high school.  I don’t think I was out but I might have been for a few seconds.  I literally saw stars.  I can  relive the experience today and I can still visualize the stars, so there is every reason to believe that ERB relived the Tornonto incident every day if not every moment of his life.  If one counted the bashings in the corpus they would probably number in the thousands.  many, many authors have written stories without one such incident.

     In this novel Tarzan loses his memory at the very beginning when a tree falls on his head.  Yes, a tree.  This gives some indication of how the Toronto blow felt.  It too was a life changing experience.  In this story even though unconscious of the purpose of his visit to the Utenga country Tarzan fulfills his purpose destroying both the village and temple of the Leopard Men.  One wonders if that isn’t how Burroughs saw his life, a sort of unconscious realization of his hopes and dreams so that like Tarzan he was thankful for the blow.  I think it unlikely but perhaps his literary career did stem from the blow in Toronto.

     He does say that he was able to get lost in his storyline for periods of time returning only after having written them.  What sort of dual life was the man living while lost in the ozone?  I think the problem bears some examination.  ERB may be giving clinical details of his own plight after Toronto.  Read Girl From Farris’s carefully.

     When he awakens he encounters the Utengan Orando who is out hunting.  Orando was named afer a dead ancestor.  Each Utengan had a a guardian angel called a muzimo who he was named after.  So Tarzan who Orando mistakes for his muzimo is actually named Orando in the story although his descendant Orando calls him Muzimo.  Probably saves a little confusion.  As Tarzan has no other identity he accepts Orando’s evaluation at face value becoming Orando the Muzimo.  ERB refers to him only as Muzimo during this part of the story.  ERB skillfully blends the natural deeds of Muzimo into a supernatural matrix in Orando’s mind.  Thus the natural and supernatural become one.  I’m sure we can all see that ERB is heading in the direction of another of his religious analyses.

     In a fashion Tarzan returns from the dead.  As the ancestor of Orando he has come back.  Without committing myself to the notion one still recalls that at this time there was a great interest in spiritualism.  A sound intellect like Conan Doyle’s played seriously with notions of communicating with the dead on the ‘other side.’  Seances were a social event.  H.G. Wells wrote a novel disparaging the idea a couple years previously so it is possible that ERB is weighing in with his little joke.

     Of interest is the fact that Harry Houdini ne Ehrich Weiss died Halloween night of 1926 vowing to return if it was possible.  People believed that if anyone could do it this great escape artist was the man.  Ever since seances have been held on Halloween night in the hopes of contacting Houdini.  It is also interesting to note that Houdini and his then partner performed at the Columbian Expo in 1893 so it is possible that ERB saw Houdini then and may have remembered him.  It’s a stretcher I know to even hint that ERB had Houdini in mind for a background for Muzimo but in Orando’s mind Muzimo does break on through from the other side.  I would  seriously argue that there is a reference to spiritualism.  I think it clear that ERB is once again ridiculing supernaturalism.

     Let us analyze the scene when Muzimo meets Sobito.  As the story opened a Utengan, Nyamwegi, had been murdered by the Leopard Men.  He was Orando’s friend.  Just as Orando projected the identity of muzimo on Tarzan so he projected the spirit of Nyamwegi on the monkey, Nkima, who was Tarzan’s companion.  These identities were accepted by Orando’s fellow tribesmen with the exception of the witch-doctor Sobito who was also a secret Leopard Man hence disloyal to the Utengas.

     ERB describes the encounter thusly:

     There was one skeptic, however.  It was the village witch-doctor, who doubtless felt it was not good business to admit too much credence in a miracle not of his own making.  Whatever he felt, and it is quite possible that he was as much in awe as the others, he hid it under a mask of indifference, for he must always impress the laity with his own importance.

     The attention bestowed on this stranger irked him; it also pushed him entirely out of the limelight.  This nettled him greatly.  therefore to call attention to himself, as well as reestablish his importance, he strode boldly up to Muzimo.  Whereupon the Spirit of Nyamwegi screamed shrilly and took refuge behind the back of his patron.  The attention of the village was now attracted to the witch-doctor, which was precisely what he desired.  The chattering ceased.  All eyes were on the two.  This was the moment the witch-doctor had awaited.  He puffed himself to his full height and girth.  He swaggered before the spirit of Orando’s ancestor.  Then he addressed him in a loud tone.

     “You say that you are the muzimo of Orando, the son of Lobongo; but how do we know your words are true words?  You say that the little monkey is the ghost of Nyamwegi.  How do we know that, either?”

     ‘Who are you, old man, who asks me these questions?”  demanded Muzimo.

     “I am Sobito, the witch-doctor.”

     “You say you are Sobito, the wtich-doctor, but how do I know that your words are true words?”

     “Everyone knows that I am Sobito, the witch-doctor.”  The old man was becoming excited.  He discovered that he had suddenly been put on the defensive, which was not at all what he had intended, “Ask anyone.  they all know me.”

     “Very well, then,”  said Muzimo:  “Ask Orando who I am.  He alone knows me.  I have not said that I am his muzimo.  I have not said that the little monkey is the ghost of Nyamwegi.  I have not said who I am.  I have not said anything.  It does not make any difference to me who you think I am.  But if it makes a difference to you, ask Orando,” whereupon he turned about and walked away, leaving Sobito to feel that he had been made to appear ridiculous in the eyes of his clansmen.

     Fanatical, egotistical, and unscrupulous, the old witch-doctor was a power in the village of Tumbai.  For years he had exerted his influence, sometimes for good, sometimes for evil, upon the village.  Even Lobongo, the chief, was not as powerful as Sobito, who played upon the superstitions and fears of his ignorant followers until they dared not disobey his slightest wish.

     What we have here is the clash of two religious systems one led by Tarzan and that of the Leopard Men led by Sobito.  It should be remembered that Sobito has infiltrated Utengan society and in Communist terminology is ‘boring from within’.  His first loyalty is to the Leopard Men so that he advises Lupingu to betray Orando’s expedition against the Leopard Men.  Thus he betrays his ostensible people while sabotaging their ends.

     Tarzan, or Muzimo, on the other hand works loyally to defeat the enemy of Orando and his Utengans.

     As I maintain one cannot separate Burroughs or his writing from the political and religious trends of his time.  Nor should his understanding be distorted by today’s religious or political evaluation of his times.  ERB acted according to the knowledge and understanding of his time.

     Thus the Leopard Men must represent the Judaeo-Communists.  There is no accident that Sobito is a religious figure more powerful than the temporal figure, Chief Lobongo.  Sobito has been able to conceal his identity as a Leopard Man.  Only Muzimo (Tarzan really has no other identity in this part of the story) is able to ferret out the true identity of Sobito.

     So in American society Judaeo-Communists preferred disguises to being identified in their true guises.  Exposure would have led to discreditization.  It was somewhat like the Arthurian romances when knights wore other men’s armor so that they could only be identified by people familiar with their characteristics.  Or in contemporary society being exposed as a racist or anti-Semite.

     Tarzan, as we learn later, came into this country to discover the Leopard Men’s haunts.  Working from within Utengan society in the disguise of Muzimo he is able to destroy them.  Very much, one imagines as ERB wanted to do with the Judaeo-Communists in Hollywood.

     One can almost envision Rabbi Schneerson in all his magical paraphernalia as the witch-doctor Sobito.  Indeed there isn’t much difference between the two and this was probably ERB’s intent.  Of course he had his own models as Schneerson came later.

     In an effort to ‘expose’ Muzima as a fake, equivalent of anti-Semite, Sobito has performed a number of magical rites, p. 40:

     Suddenly he halted and stooping low tossed some powder from his pouch upon the fire and then with the root of the Hyaena tail he drew a rude geometric figure in the dust before the blaze.  Stiffening, he closed his eyes and appeared to be listening intently, his face turned partially upward.

     In awestruck silence the warriors leaned forward, waiting.  It was a tense moment and quite effective.  Sobito prolonged it to the utmost.  At last he opened his eyes and let them move solemnly about the circle of expectant faces, waiting again before he spoke.

     “There are many ghosts about us,”  he announced, “They all speak against this war, those who go to battle with the Leopard Men will die.  None will return.  The ghosts are angry with Orando.  The true muzimo of Orando spoke to me, it is angry with Orando.  Let Orando beware.  That is all; the young men will not go to war against the Leopard Men.”

     The warriors gathered behind Orando looked questioningly at him and at Muzimo.  Doubt was written plainly on every face.  Gradually they began to move, drifting immperceptively away from Orando.  Then the son of the chief looked at Muzimo questioningly.  “If Sobito has spoken true words,”  he said, ‘You are not my muzimo.”  the words seemed a challenge.

     “What does Sobito know about it?”  demanded Muzio.  “I could build a fire and wave the tail of Dongo.  I culd make marks in the dirt and throw powders on the fire.  Then I could tell you whatever I wanted to tell you, just as Sobito has told you what he wanted you to believe; but such things prove nothing.  The only way you can know if a war against the Leopard Men will succeed is to send warriors to fight them.  Sobito knows nothing of it.”

     Surprisingly reason triumphed here.  The Utengans did fight the Leopard Men and with the ‘more powerful magic’ or reason of Muzimo they succeeded.

     One notices the similarity between the magical methods of Sobito and those of Rabbi Schneerson.  They date nearly from the same psychologcial period of evolution as do those of Sobito.  Rather than a hyaena’s tail the Rabbi has more attachments than a computer on his body.   The box on his head is supposed to put him in direct contact with not only his Muzimo or god, but what he fancies is the universal god.  His coat of colors is arranged just so, straps and fringes, all with their special magical meanings abound.  In the old pre-scientific days his people were ‘chosen’ by their god; in the light of subsequent scientific knowledge the Rabbi has created out of whole cloth the notion that there is a genetic difference between his people and all others, indeed, that they are a separate and superior species.  Thus, by his reckoning there are two species of humans in the world, us and them.  Nothing has changed but the justification.

     You can hear Burroughs laughing through Tarzan’s mouth.  Religious blather is religious blather.

     Having thus set up a conflict between the Utengans and the Leopard Men on a religious basis replicating the Judaeo-Communist situation  of the West and Hollywood ERB then has Muzimo set about destroying them.  The rest of the story of Muzimo among the Utengans is the story of the conflict between the two religions in which, of course, the Leopard Men are destroyed and the Utengas triumph.

     Once Tarzan regains his memory  the Big Bwana becomes involved in solving the problem of Old Timer and Kali Bwana.

     But that can be dealt with in relating that plot in Part V.

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