A Review

The Novels Of George Du Maurier

Peter Ibbetson, Trilby, The Martian

Part I

Introduction

by

R.E. Prindle

Contents:

Part I: Introduction

Part II:  Review of Trilby

Part III:  Review of  The Martian

Part: IV:  Review of Peter Ibbetson

     Occasionally a book finds it way to your hand that seems as if the author had you in mind personally when he wrote it.  This one’s for you, Ron.  It is as though his mind is communicating directly with yours over perhaps centuries.  A couple two or three decades ago one such work that came to my hand was The Secret Memoirs Of The Duc De Roquelaure.  I never would have bought it myself, never even suspected its existence, but it came in a bundle of books I bid on at auction containing another book I wanted.

    I had the four volumes of the Duc’s life so I read them.  The memoirs were ‘Written by himself now for the first time completely translated into English in four volumes.’  Thus in 1896-97 an intermediary on the same wave length as the Duc and myself provided the means for me to read the Duc’s mind.  Believe it or not the edition was limited to 1000 copies, privately printed of which 500 were for England and 500 for America.  Mine is number 424 of the English set.

     There could have been few who had ever read the Duc and I may very well be the only man alive at the present to have shared the Duc’s thoughts.  Truly I believed he was speaking directly to me over the 400 intervening years.

     I had the same feeling when I read George Du Maurier’s three volumes published from 1891 to 1897.  Curious that the Duc de Roquelaure should have been translated in 1896-97 isn’t it?  Like the Duc George Du Maurier seemed to speak out to me over more than a hundred years to communicate directly with my mind.

     I probably never would have sought out his books except for my Edgar Rice Burroughs studies.  I wanted to check out whether there may have been a connection to Burroughs through the second of the novels- Trilby.  Then browsing the store I came across a Modern Library 1929 edition of the first of Du Maurier’s efforts- Peter Ibbetson.  At that point, I thought, I might as well get the third- The Martian- which I did.  This time over the internet.

     I have now read each title three times as is my habit if I’m going to review a book.  Before moving on to the novels it might be appropriate to say a few words about Du Maurier who may be an unfamiliar name to the reader although he or she may be familiar with the name of his very famous creation, the hypnotist and musician Svengali of the Trilby novel.

     Du Maurier was born in 1834 and died in 1896 so he was ideally situated to view the whole Victorian era.  Indeed, in his own way he was a symbol of it.  As a most famous illustrator of books and an artist satirizing the era for the humorous magazine Punch, he in many ways interpreted English society for itself for nearly fifty years.

     He died of heart disease so when he turned to writing to begin what is his virtual literary epitaph in 1891 it may have been with the premonition of his imminent death.  He sensed that it was time for a summing up of the life he loved so well.  Heart ailments figure prominently in his work.  Indeed he died of a heart attack just after finishing The Martian which began publication shortly after his death.  Thus while portraying the scenes of his life in Punch and other magazines and books he summarized his life and times magnificently in his three novels.

     They are magnificent works.  As every man should Du Maurier loved his life and it was a life worth living.  The novels are wonderful examinations of exotic altered states of consciousness.  In Peter Ibbetson the protagonist is insane, committed to Colney Hatch or some such.  At night in his dreams he finds a way to link his dream with the dream of a married woman on the outside.  She and his dreams meld into one dream in which they live actual alternate dream lives that are as real as their daytime existences.  This went on for a couple decades or more until the lady died.  Very eerie.

     In Trilby in a love contest between the protagonist Billy and the musician Svengali for the hand of Trilby Billy is denied his love for societal reasons while after a sequence of events Trilby falls into the clutches of Svengali who through hypnotism turns her into a Diva.  After his denial Billy becomes temporarily deranged falling into a deep depression which then turns into an equally severe melancholia when he emerges from the mania.  So once again we have a description of two altered states of consciousness.

     In the third and last novel the protagonist is possessed by an alien intelligence named Martia from Mars.  Over the last century she has inhabited thousands of people but only with the hero, Barty Josselin, has she been able to establish contact.  In an absolutely astonishing twist she occupies the body of Barty’s daughter.  Both Barty and the daughter die enabling Martia to unite pshysically, in the spirit world, with her love.  Thus the father and daughter are united which I suppose is the dream of many a father and daughter.  The effect on the reader, this one anyway, is ethereal and eerie.

     Du Maurier injects real life figures into his fiction.  The real personalities of the day lend credibility to the fiction.  Du Maurier involves himself in the stories in ingenious ways.  While one can’t definitely say that Burroughs learned to inject himself into his stories from Du Maurier yet the framing devices in which Burroughs plays himself are very reminiscent of Du Maurier.

     For instance in the Martian the story is  a biography of Barty Josselin told by his friend Robert Maurice who then asks George Du Maurier the famous Punch illustrator to illustrate and edit his book.  So the biography is ostensibly told in the first person by the fictional Robert Maurice while it is illustrated by the real life George Du Maurier who posing as the editor is actually writing the book.  Du Maurier even inserts a long letter of acceptance in which he recapitulates his memories of Barty.

     When one realized this the effect is almost supernatural, especially as with a little background on Du Maurier one realizes that the histories of the protagonists are virtually fictionalized histories of Du Maurier himself.

     Thus while I haven’t discovered a direct connection to Du Maurier ERB is always telling a fictionalized account of his mental states along with a virtual chronicle of his life.  A few points in ERB’s The Eternal Lover bear a very close resemblance to the love themes of Du Maurier especially in Peter Ibbetson and The Martian.

     The Martian itself may have been a major influence on Burroughs’ own Martian novels.  When John Carter, who was always attracted to Mars,stands naked on a cliff face in Arizona with his arms outstretched toward the Warrior Planet the scene is very reminiscent of Barty Josselin leaning with out stretched arms from his window staring at Mars and imploring Martia for her assistance.

     Carter is magically transported to Mars in some unexplained way that may have been no more than an altered state of consciousness much as in the same way Martia inhabited Barty’s mind and body.  Once on Mars Carter finds his lady love, Dejah Thoris, in a manner reminiscent of Barty and Martia.  Obviously other literary influences abound in ERB’s Martian series but at the core very probably is Du Maurier’s story of Martia and Barty.  By 1911 the influence was coming from ERB’s subconscious and he may not have been aware of the resource he was drawing on.

     The question is when did Burroughs read, as I believe he did, the three Du Maurier novels?  As ERB’s first novel, A Princess Of Mars, had to be built on the Martian it follows that ERB read Du Maurier before 1911.  Du Maurier wrote from 1891 to 1896.  His novels were serialized in Harper’s Magazine in the US either before or at publication so Burroughs had the opportunity to read them in magazine format as well as the books.

     Of the three novels, Trilby was an absolute smash being one of the biggest sellers of the nineteenth century.  The sensational story of Trilby and Svengali that everyone concentrated on would certainly have brought Du Maurier to ERB’s attention.

      At the time his own life was in turmoil.  At the time Trilby was published ERB was in the process of leaving the Michigan Military Academy at which he was employed for what he thought was a career in the Army.  Once at his assignment, Fort Grant in Arizona, he would likely have had the odd idle moment to either read the magazine installments or the book.

     As Carter’s transfer to Mars takes place in Arizona there is an association with ERB’s army days and Du Maurier’s The Martian.  Not proof positive, of course, but not impossible or improbable either.  He must then have read the last volume in Idaho when he owned his stationery store there in 1898 and could obtain any book or magazine he wanted, either English or American.

      So these wonderful other worldly stories of Du Maurier gestated in his mind for twelve or thirteen years before emerging from his forehead beginning in 1911.

     I will now review the novels in detail.  These are spectacular, wonderful stories.  First the middle volume- Trilby- then the last of Du Maurier’s works- The Martian- followed by the first, Peter Ibbetson.

The review of Trilby is Part II, call that up.

 

The ERB Library Project

Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Animus And Anima

Part III

The Rainbow Trail

Bad Blood In The Valley Of Hidden Women

by

R.E. Prindle, Dr. Anton Polarion And Dugald Warbaby

Texts:

Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Corpus 1911-1940

Grey, Zane:  The Riders Of  The Purple Sage, 1912

Grey, Zane:  The Rainbow Trail, 1915

Grey, Zane:  The Mysterious Rider, 1921

Prindle, R.E.:  Freudian Psycology Updated To Modern Physics, ERBzine, 2004

Prindle, R.E.:  Something Of Value Books I, II, III, Erbzine, 2005.

     The protagonist of this continuation of Riders Of The Purple Sage is named John Shefford.  The appeal of this book and Mysterious Stranger to ERB is evident since John Bellounds and John Shefford are both Johns which was ERB’s favorite male name for both heroes and villains.  Shefford is the hero here while Bellounds was a villain.

     Symbolical of the religious problems of the period Shefford had been pushed into the ministry, some undefined sect, by his parents.  But  he had his doubts.  These doubts found expression in his sermons to his flock.  This may have been just after the Civil War to keep time periods straight.  Not sharing his doubts the faithful threw him out of their church.  So on the religious level Shefford is searching for a belief system.  His old one had been ruined by Science.  So we have the science-religion dichotomy here.

     Shefford’s congregation was in Beaumont, Illinois which is where Venters and Bess of Purple Sage took Night and Black Star and their bag of gold.  They had told their story to Shefford who found Bess strange and wonderful deciding that where she came from there must be others and that he was going there to get him one.  In my youth, they called it Kansas City but this is not the case here.

     When they told him the story of Fay Larkin he decided to go in search of her himself and locate this duplicate of Bess known as Fay Larkin.  We should note that a fay is a fairie, so Fay Larkin is in essence a fairy princess.  Thus Shefford is not only looking for redemption for his Animus but he seeks to reconcile his Anima.  This is not much different from the Hungarian myth where the Anima was imprisoned in bridge footing, here the Anima is imprisoned in Surprise Valley just over the Arizona line in Utah.  Get this, at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge.  How elemental can you get.

     With the blessing of Venters and the unmasked Rider, Bess, Shefford sets out for the desert in search of redemption.  So, we have the religious dilemma of the period caused by Darwin and other scientific advances as the foundation of the story coupled with the Anima-Animus problem of the male.

     The book was published in magazine form as The Desert Crucible.  For the meaning of this metaphor for Grey check out his 1910 novel The Heritage Of The Desert.  For Grey the desert tries a man’s soul either making or breaking him.  The hero of Heritage, John Hare, was a ‘lunger’, that is tubercular, who was healed both physically and mentally in the desert crucible.  In Shefford’s case he tapped his breast and said:  ‘I’m sick here.’ meaning his heart or soul.  I haven’t read a lot of Grey but of what I have read he never deviates much from his basic story; it’s all pretty much the same told from different perspectives.  Shefford will have his heart or ‘soul’ healed just as Hare had his lung healed while finding himself as a man ‘way out there.’  Out There Somewhere as Knibbs and Burroughs would say.

     Pretty much the same notion as Burroughs who believed a return to nature was the solution of the urban problem.  Neither writer was unique in this respect but symptomatic of the times.

     Whereas the desert was lush in Purple Sage under the dominion of the Great Mother, now under the control of the Patriarchal Mormon men viewed through the heartsick eyes of John Shefford the desert is dry as a bone, the water and the Great Mother are gone, all is barren and bleak.

     Even the old landmarks have disappeared.  No one has ever heard of Deception Pass although they think it may have been what is now known as the Sagi.  Amber Spring has dried up.  The town of Cottonwoods razed, only a few walls standing, while nobody reallys wants to discuss it.  Verboten.  No one has ever heard of Surprise Valley, which after all was sealed off from the world.  But the name Fay Larkin does ring a bell.  Hope in the wilderness.

     Purple Sage took place in 1871, this is twelve years later, hence 1883.  The United States Government, interfering in both religious and sexual matters, declared polygamy illegal in 1882 in response to this Mormon threat.  In the background then is the US tribunal trying to root out the Mormon vice of polygamy.  Time is moving right along on the last frontier.

     In Grey and Burroughs’ real time, this book was published in 1915, the problem would have been a different Semitic intrusion, the Jews, who were manipulating US policy, certainly vis-a-vis Czarist Russia, for their own ends.  Both writers would have been aware of Jewish political activities as well as the Great War that broke out in 1914.  The Mormon-US confrontation may very well be also an examination of the Jewish-Gentile situation which was felt more keenly by contemporaries than the history books wish to tell as well as concern for the Big One in Europe.

     The consequences of the situation described by Grey in Purple Sage would have been a serious one for the Mormon government.  Clearly the situation had been allowed to get out of hand by Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull.  Direct action should never have allowed to develop; it should have been kept more covert as any well managed operation should be.  My god, the number of Mormons and others who died should have been a scandal.  Wars have reported fewer deaths.  The fact that Cottonwoods was destroyed, Amber Spring stopped up, and whatever indicates it was the Mormons who were trying to wipe the past from the history books.  No need to talk about this one.  One may compare this incident to Egyptian history.  When the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut died her name was chiseled off every monument in the land.  The idea that you can change the past by chiseling it out of the history books is current as well today.

     The Mormons did not forget Lassiter and Jane walled up in Surprise Valley but there was no entry to get at them.  Grey, a better writer than astute geologist, hastens erosion in the valley.  More erosion occurred in these twelve years than in the previous two or three thousand.  There were constant landslides and then the really Big One occurred when the canyon wall opposite the cliff dwellings gave way allowing for an entrance but still too formidable for an escape.

     A watching Piute, Navajos are Grey’s noble savages, the Piutes his ignoble savages, Twain excoriated them too, informs the Mormons who invade the Valley seizing Lassiter and Jane.  Lassiter had, of course, left his empty guns outside the Valley eleven years before and was unarmed or, in other words, emasculated.

     The Mormons were going to string the Hammer up from his own sour apple tree when they decide to spare him if he and Jane will give them Fay Larkin for a fate worse than death, that is being given to a Mormon as one of his multiple wives and educated to the faith.  It’s not clear why they asked as Jane and Uncle Jim had no power to refuse.  At any rate, they considered it a square deal.  The Mormons took the girl, apparently leaving Uncle Jim with his hands tied and the hempen noose still around his neck.  Rather ludicrous vision when you think that he was attired in a fairly loose fitting garment made of  jackrabbit hides.

     Thus as the story begins Lassiter and Jane are alone in Surprise Valley, Fay Larkin is being educated to be the youngest wife of a Mormon Elder but as yet untouched, the US Government  is pursuing the Mormons to prevent polygamy and John Shefford is in search of god and himself slogging knee deep through sand dunes in search of an obliterated past.

     Do you believe in magic?  You’re going to have to.

     Because of US pressure the Mormons have gotten very devious.  They have moved their extra wives across the Utah border into Arizona in a village of hidden women called Fredonia which means Free Women, are you laughing yet, apparently in the sexual sense.  An oxymoron if there ever was one as these women were definitely not free.  I find it difficult to follow Grey’s thinking here.

     The Mormons forbid men to visit here while they themselves make periodic visits to their wives and children.  That these are quality time visits is evidenced by the large numbers of children and no resident men.  Hmm, freaky, Fredonia huh?

     Of course supplies have to be brought in by men but these are men the Mormons ‘trust.’  Shefford links up with the trader Willets who is one of the trusted ones who vouches for the stranger Shefford so that he is allowed into the Valley Of Hidden Women.

     Grey is incredible, in Purple Sage there was only one woman in Surprise Valley, now in Fredonia there is a whole village of delectable females.  Willets encourages Shefford to mingle with them, get to know them, make them like him, but don’t touch.

     On his way to the ladies Shefford has to pass through the crucible of the desert.  It’s hard work but, boy, your muscles feel good, the air is great too.  On the way Shefford is befriended by the Navajo, Nas Ta Bega, the navvy actually making him his brother.  Say Nas Ta Bega rapidly three or four times and it almost comes out Nasty Beggar. Coincidence.  This is the beginning of Shefford’s new religion.

     For the Navajos religion was material, they worshipped the sun, the rocks, the winds, anything they see or feel.  The natural rock formation, Rainbow Bridge, is their greatest terrestrial god, none daring approach it.

     Shefford meets Mary his first day in Fredonia.  We all know Mary is Fay Larkin and really so does Shefford but he has to make her say it.  As she is his Anima figure they naturally love each other at first sight but as she is the affianced of Elder Waggoner he has to get her away from him.

     This is not 1871, there is no longer any wild gunslinging.  The law is here.  In fact a court of inquiry is taking place in Stonebridge just across the border in Utah.  Interesting how closely Grey follows ancient legends of which he probably had no knowledge.  The Mormon wives are immured in a hidden valley on the other side of the border from Stonebridge not unlike the Anima figure entombed in the bridge foundation on the other side of the river in Hungarian myth.

     The US judge has no luck in making the women admit to being other wives, in fact, to Grey’s horror, they allow themselves to be thought of as prostitutes rather than admit to polygamy.  Apparently the US was unable to prove one case of polygamy anywhere in Utah.  Them Mormons was close lipped.

     Shefford still has to get Fay Larkin away from her prospective Mormon husband.  As with all of Grey’s protagonists Shefford procrastinates and vacillates.  Fay Larkin invites him into her house, obviously on a sexual pretext which he is slow to pick up.  While he is allowing for the information to seep into his brain bootsteps are heard on the porch.  It is not the milkman.  Fay wants Shefford to kill Waggoner but Shefford has strong moral principles against killing for any reason.  As Fay looks imporingly to him for protection her husband is opening the door.  Shefford dives through an open window running as fast as his legs will carry him.

     Grey seems to consider this natural as Shefford has an aversion to killing; strangely, Fay Larkin does not seem to resent his hasty departure leaving her to the mercy of her husband whose intent is to impose a fate worse than death on her.

     In fact, Shefford’s will seems to be paralyzed from here to the end of the story not unlike the paralysis Jane inflicted on Lassiter.  Something about those Withersteen women.  Fay has after all been renamed Mary after the Mother Mary.  Everyone else does things for Shefford as he wanders about in a daze; he seems to be able to do nothing for himself.

     Fay’s husband is found dead on her doorstep the next morning.  She thinks Shefford did it and is pleased; he thinks she did it and is horrified.  Actually the Navajo, Nas Ta Bega, Shefford’s Bi Nai, or blood brother,  did it for him.  Is Grey thinking about the contemporary Jews?  Bi Nai is awfully close to the B’nai of  B’nai B’rith.  B’nai means brother or brotherhood.  B’nai B’rith means Brothers of the Ceremony.  I can’t say for certain but it is the little details that give you away.

     Nas Ta Bega has been doing the legwork for Shefford all along.  He actually discovered that Mary was Fay larkin for certain.  Whereas no one had ever heard of Surprise Valley Nas Ta Bega had found it.  Shefford is too paralyzed to kill Waggoner so n=Nas Ta Bega does it for him.  While Shefford himself could never shed blood and he was horrified that Fay Larkin might have done it he is relieved that Nas Ta Bega did it accepting the gift without any qualms.  Grey is a strange one.

     There is some resemblance here to Daddy Warbucks of Orphan Annie fame where Warbucks himself kills no one but his confederates the Indian Punjab and indeterminate Asp eliminate people by the dozen for him.   Thus Warbucks’ hands are always clean but the job gets done anyway.  Here Shefford remains innocent of the murder shuffling the guilt off to Nas Ta Bega his blood brother.

     The bunch heads to Surprise Valley to get Lassiter and Jane out.  It requires pegs and ropes to get into the valley but there they find a very relaxed, one might even say, comatose, Uncle Jim who says ‘Shore’ to everything, for shore.  Very amiable guy for a man with the blood of dozens of Mormons on his hands.

     He and Jane are released and now begins a very complicated escape plan down the Colorado River then through the rapids to safety on the Arizona side.  The Mormons at this stage of history thought that Utah extended to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon although the US authorities thought differently.

     The story effectively ends with the release of  Lassiter and Jane from Surprise Valley.  Shore, it does.  But Grey throws an extra forty pages in the ending mainly to give a description of a boat ride down the rapids of the Colorado which he has apparently taken.  Lassiter and Jane are reunited with Venters and Bess, Night and Black Star back in Beaumont, Illinois.  Shefford finds his Anima, redeems his soul, finds a true religion and lives happily ever after.

2.

     G.M. Farley, the editor of Zane Grey Collector, in his charming appreciation of Zane Grey for the ERBzine says that Grey wrote no fantasy, but these two novels, Purple Sage and Rainbow, are just that, pure fantasy.  Lassiter, Venters and Shefford are archetypes.  Surprise Valley nor anything like it ever existed nor did the Valley Of The Hidden Women.  Both these books are pure fantasy.  If appreciated properly these two books should stand as the cornerstones of Grey’s literary legacy.  Much better than his ordinary cornpone Westerns.  When it come to Westerns I will take those of Burroughs over Grey every day.

     Burroughs is absolutely learned compared to Grey.   The former’s insatiable curiosity is very evident in his writing while Grey gives the impression of having read nothing.  Of course if you’re writing several months out of the year and out to sea for the rest perhaps there isn’t much time for reading.  The contrast between land and water in Grey’s fiction was lived out in his real life.  Psychoogically land represents the hard, dry Animus while water is representative of the creative Anima.  As Roger Miller said, he had too much water for his land which is to say that he was subject to wild flights of fantasy but unable to govern his life.  He also said quite correctly, Squares, that is people with a lot of land, make the world go ’round.  Thus the Mormon squares controlled the situation while ‘hipsters’ Jane and Lassiter ended up buried in the canyon.

     Thus Grey’s concentration on the desert as compared to farmland or the forest is signficant.  The opening scenes of  Rainbow when Shefford slogs through the sand drifts to arrive at a bitter waterhole is significant of his inner barrenness; a nonfunctioning Anima.  Contrast the bitter water with the sweet water Amber Spring of Purple Sage.  When Shefford is united with his Anima figure, Fay Larkin, they travel through harsh desert to leave finally on a raging  torrent washed over with water until they are nearly drowned to land on a hospitable South shore of the Colorado in Arizona not Utah.

     Likewise Grey lived his life between the desert and the sea.  On the sea angling for the big fish a la Jonah or perhaps the fish of wisdom of Sumerian Oannes.

     Certainly the epic is a search for both wisdom and redemption.  Having been disowned by his church Shefford has been set adrift without any new guidelines or directions home.

     As Shefford explains to Fay Larkin:

      “So when the church disowned me…I conceived the idea of wandering into the wilds of Utah to save Fay Larkin from that canon prison.  It grew to be the best and strongest desire of my life.  I think if I could save her that it would save me.  (Right.) I never loved any girl.  I can’t say that I love Fay Larkin.  How could I when I’ve never seen her- when she is only a dream girl?  But I believe if she were to become a reality- a flesh and blood girl- that I would love her.”

     So that Shefford hopes to find redemption in Fay Larkin.  He might indeed love her- if she were a flesh and blood girl as well as his Anima ideal- but the Anima ideal can never become a real flesh and blood girl.  Real women are different.

     Shefford’s situation seems to be that of the Hungarian myth with the Anima trapped in a sealed in valley rather than the buttress of a bridge.  As it doesn’t appear that Grey read or studied much, this understanding must have been a realization of his own situation which he was able to objectify on paper.

     In many ways this then is exactly what Burroughs was searching for as most of his novels are Anima/Animus novels although ERB did not have such a clear grasp while being much more involved with the psychoses of the subconscious.

     And then there were the other two themes: the search for the realization of manhood, or the escape from emasculation , and finding a new religious identity.

     As noted, Grey thought the desert brought out manhood.  His trip West with Buffalo Jones a few years before Purple Sage must have been a real eye opening experience.  The Grand Canyon with its contrast between desert and water must have really inspired the author.

     Thus Shefford, before he finds his Anima first learns to be a man ‘way out there.’  The test of manhood involves the carrying of a large stone that proved Navajo manhood.

     A few passages:

     “Joe placed a big hand on the stone and tried to move it.  According to Shefford’s eye measurements the stone was nearly oval (egg shaped), perhaps three feet high, but a little over two in width. (Big egg)  Joe threw off his sombrero, took a deep breath and, bending over, clasped the stone in his arms.  He was an exceedingly heavy and powerful man, and it was plain to Shefford that he meant to lift the stone if that were possible.  Joe’s broad shoulders strained, flattened; his arms bulged, his joints cracked, his neck corded, and his face turned black.  By gigantic effort he lifted the stone and moved it about six inches.  Then as he relaxed his hold he fell, and when he sat up his face was wet with sweat.

      Lucky he lived through that.

            “Try it,” (Joe Lake) said to Shefford, with his lazy smile.  “See if you can heave it.”

            Shefford was strong, and there had been a time when he took pride in his strength.  Something in Joe’s supreme effort and in the gloom of the Indian’s eyes (Nas Ta Bega) made Shefford curious about this stone.  He bent over and grasped it as Joe had done.  He braced himself and lifted with all his power, until a red blur obscured his sight and shooting stars seemed to explode in his head.  But he could not even stir the stone.

“Shefford, maybe you’ll be able to lift it some day,”  observed Joe.  Then he pointed to the stone and addressed Nas Ta Bega.

     The Indian shook his head and spoke for moment.

     “This is the Isende Aha of the Navajos.” explained Joe.  “The young braves are always trying to carry this stone.  As soon as one of them can carry it he is a man.  He who carries it farthest is the biggest man.  And just so soon as any Indian can no longer lift it he is old.  Nas Ta Bega says the stone has been carried two miles in his lifetime.  His own father carried it the length of six steps.”

     So, manhood consists of lifting a stone, carrying that weight.  It would seem to me that pale-faced education would have less to do with being built like Louis Cyr or Man Mountain Dean.  I, myself, don’t feel any less a man because I can’t lift a 350 lb. rock.

     Talking about fantasy:  If the stone were moved two miles in Nas Ta Bega’s lifetime while his mighty father movied it six toddling steps, if only ten percent  of the Navajos were big enough to move the stone then the Navajos should have been as populous as the sands of the desert.

     As as a Patriarchal Mormon Joe Lake could lift the stone, as a Matriarchal Gentile Shefford couldn’t and it was impossible for the completely emasculated Indian, Nas Ta Bega, what we have here is a lesson in masculinity.

     For myself, I’ve carried that weight for decades but I wouldn’t waste my time and kill myself by trying to lift some rock.

     The search for manhood and faith went on but we’re getting closer if no less ridiculous.  Another quote,  Shefford to Fay Larkin:

     “Listen,” his voice was a little husky, but behind it there seemed a tide of resistless utterance.  “Loss of faith and name did not send me into this wilderness.  But I had love- love for that lost girl, Fay Larkin.  I dreamed about her till I loved her.  I dreamed that I would find her- my treasure- at the foot of a rainbow.  Dreams!…When you told me she ws dead I accepted that.  There was truth in your voice, I respected your reticence.  But something died in me then.  I lost myself, the best of me, the good that might have uplifted me.  I went away, down upon the barren desert (Oh Dan, can you see that great green tree where the water’s running free…) and there I grew into another and a harder man. Yet strange to say, I never forgot her (Water) though my dreams were done.  (Clear) As I suffered and changed I loved her, the thought of her- (Water) more and more.  Now I have come back to these walled valleys- to the smell of pinon, to the flowers in the nooks, to the wind on the heights, to the silence and loneliness and beauty.”

“And here the dreams came back and she is with me always.  Her spirit is all that keeps me kind and good, as you say I am.  But I suffer and I long for her live.  If I loved her dead, how could I love her living!  Always I torture myself with the vain dream that- that she might not be dead.  I have never been anything but a dreamer.  And here I go about my work by day and lie awake at night with that lost girl in my mind.  I love her.  Does that seems strange to you?  But it would not if you understood.  Think.  I have lost faith, hope.  I set myself a great work- to find Fay Larkin.  And by the fire and iron and the blood that I felt it would cost me to save her some faith must come to me again…My work is undone- I’ve never saved her.  But listen, how strange it is to feel- now- as I let myself go- that just the loving her and the living here in the wilderness that holds her somewhere have brought me hope again.  Some faith must come, too.  It was through her that I met the Indian, Nas Ta Bega.  He has saved my life- taught me much.  What would I have ever learned of the naked and vast earth, of the sublimity  of the the vast uplands, of the storm and night and sun, if I had not followed the gleam she inspired?  In my hunt for a lost girl perhaps I wandered into a place where I shall find a God and my salvation.  Do you marvel that I love Fay Larkin- that she is not dead to me?  Do you marvel that I love her, when I know, were she alive, chained in a canon, or bound, or lost in any way my destiny would lead me to her, and she should be saved?’

      Wow!  You get old Zane wound up and he’s hard to stop.  This guy must have been a terror with the girls.  Dazzled ’em.  Stars in their eyes.  Remember from eight to seventeen Fay was locked up in Surprise Valley where with the passing years Jane and Uncle Jim spoke less and less as they slowly became as clams.  Now as an eighteen year old girl with absolutely no human intercourse and Jane and Jim weren’t speaking  she has been undergoing a heavy course of indoctrination in Mormonism while being isolated in her cabin.  Could she understand this torrent of words from Shefford?  Think about it.  She’s a nature girl from the Stone Age moving into the nineteenth century in the twinkling of an eye.

     It seems pretty clear to us, astute in varying degrees, that Shefford is going to find salvation in Fay but how about religion.  Once again, bear in mind that Grey has displaced the contemporary situation in 1915 back to 1883.  In that way he doesn’t have to deal with all those troubling immigrants while the major religious war between the Semites and Gentiles can be discussed under cover of the conflict between the Mormons and the Gentiles.  Polygamy might be compared to the Semitic concept of the Chosen People.  End either one and the source of conflict would disappear.

     Just as Jane and Lassiter have reverted to the Stone Age so Grey goes to his noble savages, the Navajos, to find Shefford’s religious solution:

     The Navajo, dark, stately, inscrutable, faced the sun- his god.  This was the Great Spirit, the desert was his mother, but the sun was his life.  To the keeper of the winds and rains, to the master of light, to the maker of fire, to the giver of life the Navajo sent up his prayer:

Of all the good things of the earth let me always have plenty.

Of all the beautiful things of the earth let me always have plenty.

Peacefully let my horses go and peacefully let my sheep go.

God of the Heavens, help me to talk straight.

Goddess of the Earth, my Mother, let me walk straight.

Now all is well, now all is well, now all is well, now all is well.

Hope and faith were his.

     Hope and faith may be the essence of religion.  As I say, I doubt if Grey read much but he has certainly captured the essence of mythology.  The bit about the sun as keeper of the wind and rains is astute.  As Grey said, the Navajo religion was materialistic.  Pantheistic too, perhaps.  There is nothing spiritual here just a prayer for plenty of what makes life enjoyable for the Navajo combined with the essence of morality which is to talk and walk straight.  Quite admirable really.  I can imagine the ERB was very nearly in awe as he read it.  Of course, by 1915 ERB had already smashed the old religious system on Barsoom supplanting it with his own vision of the man-god but I’m sure he concurred with Grey.

     Then Grey sums up the turbulent Colorado:

“Life was eternal.  Man’s immortality lay in himself.  Love of a woman was hope- happiness.  Brotherhood- that mystic ‘Bi Nai” of the Navajo- that was religion.

     Yes, as they passed under the Rainbow Bridge at the foot of the rainbow it all become clear.  What happened later when reality hit I don’t know.

     Grey’s formula reads well:  Life in the general sense, in whatever form, will last for a long time but hardly eternally.  ‘Man’s immortality lay in himself’ is difficult to parse.  Not exactly sure what that means.  ‘Love of a woman was hope- happiness.’  Possibly, if he’s talking about a reconciliation of the X and y chromosomes into a unified whole but for an old philanderer like Grey he should amend his statement to love of any or many women, a quick one in other words.  And the mystic and grand “Bi Nai.’  Yep.  That was religion.

     I imagine ERB was goggle eyed when he finished this one and lovingly patted it back on the shelf.

     The good things of this world had come the way of Grey and Burroughs in abundance.  Grey was able to ‘get back to the land’ six months of the year while testing his manhood like Ahab landing the big fish on the seas the other part of the year.  I used to love those travelogues on Saturdays when they showed those heroes trolling the seas for swordfish off Florida proving that had to be a real man to land those big fellas.

     Then they would show the little woman standing proudly by her catch towering over her.  They fished ’em out by the time I was in a position to prove my manhood.  I’ll have to take up skydiving or bungee jumping; to heck with climbing Everest.

     Burroughs also got back to the land in a big way.  Some of the letters in Brother Men, the collection of his and Herb Weston’s letters are quite delightful as ERB exults about planting every known species of vegetable while raising most of the better known food animals in great quantities.  Just that he couldn’t figure out how to make a profit at it.  All expense the way he went about it.  That wasn’t according to plan.

     In their own way both Grey and Burroughs retreated from the social realities of their day both in their fiction and in their lives.  Depending on how one defines fantasy both men retreated into fantasy rather than deal with an uncomfortable reality.  At the same time both tried to come up with solutions to the pressing social and relgious problems of their times in fiction.

     Of the two I much prefer Burroughs because of his wider ranging intellectual interests as well as his highly developed sense of humor.  There isn’t one grain of humor in Grey; the man is deadly serious all the time; he must have played shortstop in baseball.

     Times change.  I find nothing enduring in Grey save the Purple Sage/Rainbow diptych and that because of his amazing portrayal of the Anima/Animus problem.

     Burroughs has a certain quality to what he does.  Herb Weston in Brother Men seemed put off by ERB’s Mastermind Of Mars.  the novel first appeared in Amazing Stories; Weston thought the story was truly amazing.  So do I.  I can’t explain exactly why I think Mastermind is an enduring story because on one level it isn’t a very good book; yet on another, while Ras Thavas is a great character there is something being said which still escapes me but seems important.

     As Grey and Burroughs are representative of the period 1890-1910 just let me say that I really love this period of history in the United States.  I like most of the writers and Burroughs and Grey are two of my favorites.  They probably read each other but their intellects were so disparate that I doubt if they could have gotten along if they had met.

     Fortunately this is a moot point as they didn’t.

     Happy trails to you hoping that if you look you can find Surprise Valley and The Valley Of The Hidden Women.  Just don’t take your guns to town, Son, leave the Bad Blood at home.

 

    

    

 

    

 

 

 

 

Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Anima And Animus

by

R. E. Prindle And Dr. Anton Polarion and Dugald Warbaby

Bad Blood In  The Valley Of The Hidden Women:

Thoughts On Riders Of The Purple Sage And The Rainbow Trail

Texts:

Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Corpus 1911-1940

Grey, Zane:  The Riders Of The Purple Sage 1912

Grey, Zane:  The Rainbow Trail, 1915

Grey, Zane:  The Mysterious Rider, 1921

Prindle, R.E. Freudian Psychology Updated To Modern Physics, ERBzine 2004.

Prindle, R.E. Something Of Value Books I, II, III.  Erbzine 2005

Zane Grey

Intro.

     Anton and I had never read Zane Grey before reviewing the library of Edgar Rice Burroughs as published on ERBzine by Mr. Hillman.  Nor probably would we have but for the Bill Hillman series of articles comparing Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Anton and I dismissed any such connection as being relevant but then Prindle read The Rainbow Trail and said we should check it out.  Prindle is a close friend of ours; a little on the independent side but alright.

     Grey refers to The Rainbow Trail as a continuation of The Riders Of The Purple Sage so Anton, he’s a psychologist became intrigued by the manner in which Grey treated aspects of the Anima and Animus.  We both then read Riders in which we discovered a full blown theory of the Anima and Animus.

     It should be noted here that Grey had passages excised by his editors that they thought dealt too explicitly with the sexual aspects of the Anima and Animus while reducing the commerical viability of the story.  The unexpurgated version of the story was published under the title The Desert Crucible in 2003. I have the Leisure Historical Fiction edition in mass market paperback.

     Grey’s ideas were presented in a very pure manner with complete and intact symbolism so there could be no mistaking that Grey was presenting a well thought out theory.  Anton became very excited as he said Grey’s theory certainly rivaled the ideas of Freud and Jung and must have been developed independently of their thought much as Burrughs’ ideas of psychology were.

     Although Riders Of The Purple Sage wasn’t among the books listed by Hillman as being in the Library we have to assume that Burroughs read it along with a number of other Grey titles although he must have found Rainbow Trail and The Mysterious Rider the tales of Grey he found most significant for his needs.  We will assume that this is so. To understand The Rainbow Trail originally titled The Desert Crucible which was in ERB’s library it is necessary to also review Riders Of The Purple Sage.

1.

     Grey in this book examines the nature of the Animus and the Anima  of the male as well as the relationship between the living male and female.  The micro study of the Anima and Animus is placed in the macro study of Mormon society and law of 1871 versus Gentile society and law.  This is also a study of the nature of religion.

     The Gentiles- I follow Grey’s thought here- Mormons refer to themselves as the Chosen People and ‘others’ as Gentiles- are all of a stricken Anima which paralyzes their Animus while the Mormons have a strong Animus but disturbed by a stricken relation with the Anima which they completely repress not unlike the Jews and Moslems.

     Thus Mormons have a strong affinity with the Semitic religious systems from which they derive their religion in part.  Anton, the psychologist, avers that the problem of the Animus and Anima has been known for at least five or six thousand years. Anton is close to Prindle who is a historian, so much of the historical part comes to Anton through him although Anton is well versed in the history of human consciousness.

    

Edward Borein: Six Riders Of The Purple Sage

 Historically the struggle of the male to come to terms with the X chromosome and the y chromosome or Animus is central to history  and psychology.  During the Matriarchal Age, which is to say a sub- or unconscious age, the X chromosome or Anima ruled the mind of man.  As consciousness evolved and the conscious mind emerged from the subconscious the nature of  the y chromosome or Animus became apparent.  The Patriarchal Consciousness evolved.

     To reconcile or not to reconcile?

     The Egyptians developed their own theories but here we are not concerned with HS II and IIIs and the Semites.  Suffice it to say that the Semites borrowed from the Egyptians while adding very little of their own.  If one reads the story of Psyche and Eros in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass one will have a good general introduction to the HS II and III point of view as expressed in Grey’s Gentile characters such as Lassiter and Venters.  As said the Mormons reflect the Semitic view on women.

     The Semites on the other hand, exaggerted the importance of the Animus in favor of suppressing or subordinating the Anima which has been passed on to the HS IIs and IIIs through the adoption of aspects of the Semitic religions.  In a Hungarian myth of the Christian Era the Anima is portrayed as being entombed in the support of a bridge.  Thus imprisoned on one side of the river or brain it is denied its rightful function.

     The Semitic attitude is reflected in the way the two peoples treat their living females who stand as a symbol and only a symbol of the X chromosome of the male.  In both existing Semitic relgions, the Judaic and the Mohammedan, the females are treated as property no different than cattle.  Some of these attitudes have been temporarily weakened through contact with the HS II and IIIs.  They haven’t gone away or changed.

     The Semitic attitude infiltrated the HS II and III consciousness through their religion which was amalgameted into the HS-Semitic hybrid called Christianity.

     Then in 1930 in the Unied States a man named Joseph Smith created a religion called Mormonism based on the extreme Patriarchal notions of the Semites.  As Grey puts it the religion was based on the notion of ruling women.  Smith devised rules by which women were completely subordinated to the Animus much as in the Hungarian myth while the men were required to take multiples wives.  Smith himself racked up 30 plus.

     According to Grey the women were not happy with the arrangement but in the thrall of religious belief they thought it their god assigned role.

     As polygamy is not part of HS II and III culture Smith and the Mormons came into conflict with constituted society in Smith’s home base of Fayette, New York being driven out.  They encountered the same opposition in their new homes which led finally to Nauvoo, Illinois.  Smith, who apparently overplayed his hand was murdered in 1844.  In 1847 Brigham Young led the new Chosen People from Nauvoo to the Promised Land on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.  By 1871 when Riders takes place they must have multiplied exponentially because they occupy all of Utah and parts of adjacent states.  This prologue of the diptych is placed before the passage of the 1882 law of the United States outlawing polygamy.  The denouement of the novel will take place as the US attempts to stamp out the practice.

     The action of Riders-Trail takes place on the border of Utah and Arizona and parts of adjacent states with the Grand Canyon of the Colorado as a backdrop.

  

Edward Borein: Riders On The Mesa

   As with the other Semitic religions the Mormon Bishops and Elders with untempered Animi have made their will the law.  Thus, according to Grey, the Churchmen have become criminals willing to commit any crime to achieve their personal desires which they equate with the will of God.

     As Riders opens a Mormon woman, Jane Withersteen, against all the rules of Mormon society is living as an independent woman in Cottonwoods on the Utah-Arizona border, Gentile Law on one side, Mormon law on the other.  She does this in defiance of Bishop Dyer (die-er?) who has ordered her to marry and end her independent status.  She has her own duchy among the Mormons owning her own town, the water, aparently several counties, a magnificent bunch of horses (emblematic of the Anima) and six thousand head of cattle divided into two herds, the red and the white.  (emblematic of the male and female.)

     Her independence is a standing affront to the Mormon Elders and Bishops.  Having been ordered to marry Elder Tull as one of his many wives she has no wish to submit to the Bishop’s will.  Read- Will of God.

     These men are not to be balked.  The woman Withersteen has no actual rights under Semitic law.  As these men have a crazed Animus untempered by the acknowledgement of the female principle or Anima which they deny they have lost all sense of justice, or rather, they equate justice with their desires which they believe are supported by divine law.  They are going to use every concealed criminal means to break Jane Witherspoon down.  As their will is law they can’t see the difference between subjective criminal methods and objective legal ones.

     Jane is already having trouble hiring Mormon riders, riders are the same as cowboys in Grey’s lexicon, to manage her herds so she has resorted to hiring Gentiles.

     The Mormons must be seen as a species of Semite and in the Semitic manner they punish Gentiles, or unbelievers as the Moslems would put it, destroying any attempts at their prosperity.  If you read the first few lines of the Koran you will find it plainly stated that unbelievers must be punished.  Hence all the Gentiles are kept uneducated and impoverished.  Jane’s ramrod, is a young Gentile named Bern Venters.  Venters at one time had been a prosperous cattle rancher but the Mormons had emasculated him by lifting his cattle.  Venters was rescued by Jane from complete impoverishment by offering him a job.

     The Elders hate her for this.  They have warned Jane to get rid of him and her other Gentile employees but as a sort of Great Mother figure, an active female principle opposed to their male principle, she has refused.  She is sort of a Matriarchal throwback among these Patriarchs.  As the story opens Elder Tull has dragged Venters out of Jane’s house where Tull gives Venters the choice of hightailing it out of the Territory, Utah being a territory from 1850 to 1895 when it became a State, or being whipped to an inch of  his life.  Now, Tull means this, they are going to whip Venters nearly to death for being a Gentile in Mormonland.

     Having already been emasculated by the lifting of his cattle which, in reality, he couldn’t prevent, Venters now chooses to take the whipping rather than emasculate himself further by hightailing it.  Difficult choice.

Rainbow Bridge

     Tull is about to have him stripped when the Hammer Of The Mormons, Lassiter, appears out of the purple sage riding a blind horse- you heard right- a blind horse.  This guy is Bad Blood personified.  Boy, they’ve heard about him but how.  Black hat, black leather chaps, two massive black handled pistols worn very low, apparently at his ankles, his reputation as a Mormon Killer is well established.  Tull gets the cold shivers just looking at him on his blind horse.  The blind horse probably indicates that at this point Lassiter is oblivious to female charms, the horse being a symbol of the female and he’s riding a blind pony.

     Lassiter makes a few mild mannered inquiries then orders the Mormons to let Venters go.  We’re talking Animus to Animus here, cojones to cojones, whoever backs down is emasculated in relation to the other, and Lassiter’s twin pistols make him the master Animus.  The Mormons have to eat dirt or die.  The Mormons powerful as a collective cannot be so man to man.  Tull gives a hint of throwing an iron on Lassiter but the latter goes into his famous gunslinger’s crouch so he grab one of those guns around his ankles, intimidating the dickens out of the Mormons who retire leaving this field to him while muttering threats that he’d better watch his back.

     As we said, all the Gentiles are stricken in there relationship  between their Animas and Animi.  Between Riders and Rainbow they will be healed.

     Grey handles the symbolism starkly and masterfully.  Jane Withersteen is a masterful Matriarch.  Her independence and relationship to the Gentile men has left the impression that she is sexually loose.  It isn’t clear to the reader whether she is nor not.  She is more the Great Mother rather than the Siren.

     Her role seems to be the womanly one of tempering the raging Animus of the male.  While she has no effect whatsoever on the Mormon men she is successful in emasculating the stricken Gentiles.  She had persuaded Venters to abandon his six gun which made it possible for Elder Tull to seize him while it was only Lassiter’s two black handled six pistols that freed him.

     In a rather sexually explicit scene Jane would stand in front of Lassiter to seize a gun in each hand in an attempt to dissuade him from carrying them thus emasculating him.  This at a time when Mormons were trying to gun him down.  Her role seems to be one of civilizing society although her method seems backward.

     Lassiter is a wronged individual seeking his personal justice in a vengeful way.  He has shot up several Mormon towns being now known as a Mormon slayer or, in other words, the equivalent of an anti-Semite.

     The reason for his anti-Semitism is that a Mormon kidnapped his sister, Millie Erne, holding her captive until she consented to become one of his wives.  Hint, hint. Her remains are buried on Jane Withersteen’s property.

 

Edward Borein: Lassiter on his blind horse?

    Lassiter’s horse was blinded when men held it down then placed a white hot iron alongside the eyes searing them.  The horse as a female mother symbol represents Lassiter’s striken relationship with his Anima.

     If one reads this novel in a literal sense then many of its incidents are improbable if not ridiculous.  What notorious gunslinger would ride a blind horse?  Grey has been criticized for wooden characters which is womewhat unjust.  These are archetypal characters who are fully developed and can’t change.  As allegories there is no need to change.  This is mythology.

     The Mormons lift Jane’s red herd.  This may represent her female Animus as in iconography the male is usually represented as red while the female is white.  They next try to stampede her white herd by devious means which they believe are undetectable such as flashing a white sheet from a distance.  As a Chosen People they even have to convince themselves that what happens was not caused by them but was the will of God.

      Lassiter notes this taking Jane with him to show her.  As they watch the cattle begin to stampede.  Three thousand on the hoof they stream down the valley.  Lassiter on his blind horse races full speed down the slope, obviously no blind horse could do this, out on the flat to single handedly mill the cows.  As the lead cows enter the center of spiral Lassiter disappears in the dust.  He emerges sans horse to appear before Jane:  ‘My horse got kilt.’ he announces.  Jane’s response is ‘Lassiter, will you be my rider?’  Pretty clear sexually I think.  Not exactly changing horses in midstream but obviusly the transition from a blind horse to a sighted jane is an improvement in Lassiter’s relationship with his Anima.  ‘You bet I will Jane.’  Lassiter promptly and positively responds.

     Whether you want to consider this stuff  ‘high literature’ or not read properly it is not much different from the Iliad or Odyssey.

     As a mother figure Jane is a keeper of  horses, a symbol of the mother and female.  The blinding of Lassiter’s horse was the equivalent of separating him from the mother figure.  Jane not only has a full stable of  horses but she has the prized horses Night, Black Star and Wrangler.  As Grey makes clear these are the devil’s own mounts.  In the big chase scene Grey has Wrangler close to breathing flames as he compares the horse to the devil.

     The Mormons steal Jane blind while she refuses to allow Lassiter to defend either himself or her.  Seems to be the Great American Dilemma even today.

      Remember this is a war between Gentiles and Semites qua Mormons.  The Gentiles hands are stayed while the Semites are allowed to run wild.  Maybe Grey is making a social comment.  Also remember that Jane is a Mormon so that while she is powerless to control her own aging maniac men the only men she can influence are the Gentiles whom she emasculates.  As soon as the emasculated Venters gets away from her while pursuing the rustlers he immediately begins to revert to full manhood.

     The Mormons set both Mormon men and women to steal from her.  They take her bags of gold, this woman is prodigal, rich, her deeds and anything of value.  They steal her six thousand cows.  They want to kill Lassiter, dozens of Mormons lurk in the cottonwood groves (female places) but something stays their hands; they can’t shoot him either from behind or in front.

     The only thing Jane worries about is her horses.  Black Star and Night.  It is possible that in this instance Jane represents the moon goddess.  Finally the Mormons steal these symbols of her power.  The independent woman is now completely violated.  She has a man who could shoot down all the Mormons in Utah but she won’t let him use his guns.

     So why should we care?

2.

Edward Borein: The Three Caballeros

     The myth switches to an alternate plot.  Young Bern Venters goes in search of the rustler gang.  Once again, Jane attempts to emasculate her men by pleading with Venters not to go, to stay beside her.  Why anyone would want to hang around such a loser woman isn’t clear.

     Venters goes in search of the rustler gang which is led by a man named Oldring.  Old Ring.  I’m sure the name has significant meaning but I can’t place it.  The wind soughing through the caves is known as Old Ring’s Knell.  Even though Oldring’s gang consists of a couple dozen men who have punched a herd of three thousand red cows they have somehow left no trail. Over all the years they have been rustling and pillaging there is no one who has been able to find this robber’s roost.

     Venters has traced them to the foot of a waterfall where he loses track.  While he is mulling this over a group of desperadoes return from pillaging plodding up the stream.  Lo and behold they ride right through the waterfall into yet another hidden valley.  Big enough to hold three thousand head of cattle.  The West was a big country.

     Venters rides off to relate this discovery to Jane and Lassiter when he encounters a despearado with the famous Masked Rider, reputed to have shot down dozens of men.  He is dressed from head to toe in black wearing a black mask.  This Rider is credited with shooting down any Mormons Lassiter overlooked.

     Venters takes out his ‘long gun.’  You know how riders despise the long gun or rifle preferring six shooters, and by dint of long practice he shoots the lead rustler dead and wounds the Masked Rider.  While examining the Masked One’s wound he unbuttons the shirt to discover the ‘beautiful swell of a female breast.’  Boy, howdy.  You got it, the Masked Rider is a woman, a mannish girl.  The image of Venter’s Anima.

      Stranded in the desert while trying to nurse this girl back to health Venters chases a rabbit up a slope where he notices ancient steps cut in the rock.  Following these he comes into ‘Surprise Valley.’  Formerly the home of cliff dwellers the place is a vitual paradise, green and verdant.  No one would ever discover him and the Rider there.  Carrying the slight figure of the Rider up hill and down for maybe ten miles or so Venters secretes themselves in the Valley which abounds in game and delightsome frolics.

     About this time I recognized some teen fantasies of my own.  Shooting and wounding a woman while having to tend her wounds in a secluded place where she has to be eternally grateful when healed was just too obvious.  In my case, just after the onset of puberty, I think, when the Anima would be making itself known, I came up with the daydream of having this woman I could keep in a milk bottle until I wanted her.  When I let her out of the bottle she became full sized and did whatever I wanted then she willingly went back into the bottle until the next time I wanted her.

     As a thirteen year old before the advent of universal pornography I didn’t know what I wanted the woman for but I knew it would be fun.  Grey here creates his version of the same fantasy.  The Rider, who turns out to be Bess, apparently has a past.  I say apparently because nearly everyone in this story has an apparent history which turns out to be false.  As a member of the gang she  was thought to have been, um…the piece…of Oldring.  He kept her in a cabin up on a ledge in his valley behind the waterfall.  He was gone a lot so we’re not clear that he ever laid a hand on her but Venters believes she is not ‘pure’ which in his great love for her he is willing to over look but it rankles him.

     If you want to know the wonders of Surprise Valley read the book yourself.  Comes a time when Venters has to go into Cottonwoods for supplies.  There he realizes that he and Bess can’t stay hidden away forever.  He has enough money for supplies obviously but not enough to flee from Mormonland.

     They don’t call it Surprise Valley for nothing.  When he returns Bess hauls out a big bag of gold to give to him.  This must be the treasure that the female brings the male.  The whole several mile length of the river which runs through this valley is lined with pebbles of gold which Bess has collected.  Shades of Opar, huh?  In her girlish gratitude she wants Bern to have the lot.

     ‘Gosh,’ says Bern.  ‘Now I don’t have to get a job.’  (He didn’t put it quite that way.)  ‘We can leave this valley and go far away from Mormonland.’

Edward Borein: Four Navajos Crossing The Desert

     Far away from Mormonland, by the way, is either Quincy or Beaumont (beautiful mountain) Illinois.  Not too far from Nauvoo which was the Mormon stronghold jumping off place for the long march to the Great Salt Lake into the fantastic scenery Grey either describes or imagines.  Certinly the West of Grey’s imagination is as fantastic as anything Burroughs created on Barsoom.

      Even though Grey refers to the desert this is certainly the lushest desert  anyone has ever seen.  The purple sage is the equal to Burroughs red moss of Mars.

     Grey wrote an essay about what the desert meant to him.  His desert with its plentiful water complements his vision of the Anima and Animus.  The desert may answer to Grey’s subconscious which appears to be missing in his analysis of Anima and Animus, so that perhaps the desert stand for the subconscious.

     His desert reminds me of a dream I used to have with some frequency.  In my dream I was walking across this immense barren desert spotted at invervals with small oases in which I wasn’t allowed to remain.  Off in the distance I could see this great brain shaped mountain.  On approaching the mountain I found a small stream of water leading down into the mountain.  As I descended I noticed that the stream ran through a bed of solid salt which rendered the water bitter.

     Descending further the water disappeared beneath a steel chute.  Unable to turn back while unwilling to go further I was nevertheless pushed into the chute where dropping into a steel lined entry I was pushed into a steel walled laundry room as the steel door slammed behind me.  There was plenty of water but no way out.  There was a ventilation shaft along the ceiling of the back wall.  I conceived a plan of drinking to repletion then urinating into the ventilation shaft creating such a smell that they would want to find the source.

     My plan worked.  Three maintenance men opened the door and I dashed out so fast they didn’t know I had been there.  Still in a steel lined area I saw a bank of elevators which would take me back to ground level.  A door opened but the elevator was filled with classmates from my high school who pushed me back refusing to allow me to enter.

     I don’t know how but I gat back to the surface where once again I approached the back side of the mountain which I ascended this time rather than descended.  Now, the mountain was deep in a frozen snow but starting from the low grade at the back I had no trouble climbing, walking on top of the snow.  The sun was shining brightly but all was frozen white.  When I reached the top I found I was standing above the brow of the face of a great idol carved in the snow.  Thousands of feet below terified and intimidated people were kneeling in the desert worshipping the great snow face.  From where I stood I couldn’t see the face but I conceived the notion of destroying the snow god to free the people.  Leaping into the air I came down on the god’s forehead creating an avalanche.  The great face slid away as I descended thousands of feet on a cushion of snow to alight unharmed.

     As I hoped, the destruction of the god freed the minds of the people from the domination of their morose god.  The melting snow created numerous streams watering the desert among which the people danced and sang as the desert bloomed, while I looked on admiringly.

     I don’t know enough about Grey’s background to say how unhappy his childhood had been but since his plot of Riders/Rainbow roughly follows my dream I suspect what the desert meant to him was the barrenness of his early life.  The appeal of the novels to Burroughs must have been of the same order.

     When Venters leaves the Valley Grey begins to lose control of his story.  The clarity and focus of the first half becomes jumbled.  He finally just crams the ending through as Burroughs so frequently does.

    

Edward Borein: The Apaloosa

 Venters, riding Wrangler, crosses trails with the men who stole Night and Black Star from Jane.  A sort of running  joke throughout the novel is whether Wrangler is faster than the two blacks.  Wrangler proves his mettle in this chase overtaking the two even though they were ridden by the best rider on the range, Jerry Card.  Card is sort of a puzzle, at least for me.  His horsemanship was so great that racing at full tilt leading one horse he could keep both horses side by side at full pace; in addition he could hop back and forth from horse to horse.  Whether Grey was making a joke or not, I can’t really tell, he describes Card’s appearance as froglike. Hop-frog of Poe?  Card is a little misshapen runty man.  Whatever Grey had in mind for him he forgot to develop.

     Card abandons the horses as the race ends disappearing into the purple sage.  Wrangler gets away from Venters to be captured by Card.  In a rather spectacular scene Card is trying to guide the horse by biting it on the nose.  He is actually being dragged with his teeth in Wrangler’s nose.  I’m no horseman but I’d really have to have the fine points of this maneuver explained to me.

     Unable to hit the small fragile Card with a rifle shot as rider and horse rode alongside an escarpment rather than let Card get away, Venters shot the horse who leaped off the edge in what Grey describes as a fitting end for the greatest horse and greatest rider of the purple sage.  I can’t follow his reasoning here but he must be trying to say something.

     Venters rides the remaining two horses down the main street of Cottonwoods with apparently no more reason than to enrage Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull and announce in stentorian tones that Jerry Card is dead.  Reminds me of the myth in which it is announced that the great God Pan is dead.

     Venters packs some saddlebags with provisions then, in what seems a comic touch, since Jane’s wonderful stable of horses is now empty, mounts a burro to return to Surprise Valley.  Riding one and leading a string of burros he looks behind him to see if he being followed by men on horses  I presume he would have hopped off the burro and started running.  The burro appears to represent severe emasculation.

     Another essential subplot has been the arrival of a small child still annoyingly gushing babytalk- muvver for mother and oo for you- by the name of Fay Larkin.  Fay is going to be the heroine of the sequel.  She was the daughter of a Gentile woman who died.  The woman asked Jane, who was ever kind to the despised Gentiles, to take the child which Jane did.  She now ‘cannot live without the child.’

     Having stolen everything else of the woman in the name of God, the Mormons now steal Fay.

     This is too much for Lassiter who coldly disregards Jane’s imploring to disregard this insult and injury too, even though a moment before she ‘couldn’t live without the child.’  While it seems that Mormon men emascualte their women, Mormon women in turn emasculate their men.  Maybe that’s what the story is about: the conflict between the sexes.  Lassiter disregards her, strapping on not only his big blacks but an extra brace that he hides beneath his coat.  The extra brace doesn’t figure into the story so it isn’t clear why two gun Lassiter became four gun Lassiter.

     Lassiter shoots the Mormons up pretty good killing Bishop Dyer.  Elder Tull is out of town at the moment.  Lassiter and Jane know they have to get a move on so, packing enough to stagger any ten horses , including bags of gold, they skedaddle riding Night and Black Star.

     Somewhere in here Grey must have become stymied in his story not having the progression to Rainbow Trail figured out.  Something like the odd ending of Burroughs’ Princess Of Mars.  Venters still thinks Bess was Oldring’s girl hence something only his great love for her can make him overlook.  Loading up their burros they leave Surprise Valley.  Out in the purple sage who should appear much as he had at the beginning of the story but Lassiter, this time with Jane.

     It now comes out that Venters thinks Oldring is Bess’ father.  Jane lets out the fact that he had then killed his future wife’s dad.  Bess is revolted at the thought, calling off the wedding.  Lassiter to the rescue.  He produces a locket with a picture of his sister Millie Erne and her husband Frank.  Lassiter explains that Millie was pregnant by Frank when Millie was kidnapped and that Frank Erne is her real father.  The obstacle that had appeared between Venters and Bess now disappears as he hadn’t killed her father, just the guy who reared her.  At the same time Bess is no longer the daughter of a low rustler but of a respectable man.

     But wait, there’s more.  Grey can produce as many twists as Edgar Rice Burroughs.  It was the literary fashion of the day.

     Not only is Bess the daughter of Millie Erne but the Mormon kidnapper of Millie had been no ther than Jane Withersteen’s father.  The ever-forgiving Lassiter, now Uncle Jim to Bess, mutters something like ‘Aw shucks, Jane, I don’t pay thet no nevermind.’  and sister Millie is forgotten.  nearly two decades of bad blood goes up in smoke with a shrug.

     Venters and Bess head off for the safety and security of civilization in Beaumont, Illinois, while Lassiter and Jane depart for the security of Surprise Valley.  Two problems remain for the next ten pages or so, Fay Larkin and Elder Tull.

     Just like Tarzan, Lassiter can apparently smell a white girl because there is no other way that he could have located her.  She was being held by some Mormons in a side canyon.  Setting Jane to one side, Lassiter enters the canyon from which after firing every cartridge in his four guns and belts- Grey didn’t actually make it clear that he was still wearing the extra set up under his coat but he didn’t say he took them off either- of’ four guns Lassiter kills all the varmints, emerging from the canyon with little Fay in his arms and ‘five holes in his carcase.’

     As they glory over little Fay, who was problem number one, problem nuber two, Elder Tull and his band of Mormon riders appear on the horizon.  Leaping on their burros, did I mention Jane and Uncle Jim swapped Night and Black Star with Venters and Bess for their burros?- the Hammer Of The Mormons and Jane jog off with the Mormons in hot pursuit on horses, but tired ones.

     One would think that even tired horses would have the advantage over burros but it is a very tight race.  You see why Grey’s stuff translated to the movies so well.  Getting all safe within Surprise Valley on the other side of balancing rock (did Grey borrow this detail from the She of Rider Haggard?)  Uncle Jim lacks the nerve to roll that stone because Jane has pretty completely emasculated him.  ‘Roll that stone’ Jane commands restoring  Lassiter’s will.  He does just as Elder Tull ad his Mormon band reach the cleft.  The stone falls eliminating Tull and his Mormons while sealing off Surprise Valley ‘forever’ with Uncle Jim, Jane and Little Fay Larkin inside.  Of course they are well provided because Venters has stocked the Valley with burros, fruit tree stock and plenty of grain seed.  At the same time he had eliminated coyotes and other beasts of prey so that jackrabbits, quail and other small food animals have mutiplied exponentially.  It’s going to be a long twelve years in the valley so the bunch has to be well provided.  Without his gun though Lassiter is going to have to catch those jackrabits with his hands.  During their long stay Lassiter and Jane apparently have no sexual relations as there were no additional children when the valley was reentered by the Mormons.  Jane must truly have been a mother figure.

     On this incomplete note Grey ends his novel.

Edward Borein: Grazing Cattle

     3.

     Indeed, from the Enlightenment to the present has ben a period of intense religion formation, especially the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

     Utopian and Scientific Socialism may both be considered forms of religion, especially the latter in its Semito-Marxist form. 

     Mormonism itself, which has no basis in science, orginated from the brain of Joseph Smith in 1830.  Madame B’s Theosophy, Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, Ron Hubbard’s Scientology and the Urantia religion all have a basis in science as do most religions formed after Darwin.  With the emergence of science none of the old religions were satisfactory.  Hence it should come as no surprise that writers like Grey and Burroughs were intensely concerned with the problem.

     As I have mentioned in Something Of Value no adequate myth for the scientific age developed, leaving men and women whose faith in the Semitic gods was undermined with a stricken religious consciousness such as in the case of John Shefford, the protagonist of Rainbow Trail, and probably both Grey and Burroughs.

     So the search for meaning was endemic in this period not being confined to Burroughs and Grey who were merely symptomatic.

     Another attitude that both authors share is a yearning for the wide open spaces of their youth that, while we may look back in envy, were rapidly disappearing before  their eyes.  Somehow this yearning was also connected to a feeling for the prehistoric past, perhaps as a Golden Age.

     Both men were charmed by the notionof cliffdwellers.  It would seem that Americans of the period were also absolutely charmed and enamored with the Anasazi of the American Southwest.  Burroughs was very nearly obsessed with cliffdwellers.  Novel after novel is replete with cliffdwellings whether in Pellucidar, various terrestrial locations or even on Mars.

     The inhabitants of the skyscrapers of Chicago were nicknamed cliffdwellers; a replica of Southwest cliffdwellings  was built for the Columbian Expo of 1893 that apparently made a great impression on 17-year 0ld ERB.  The premier literary club of Chicago was known as the Cliff Dwellers which was on the 8th floor and roof of Orchestra Hall.  I think Burroughs had a yearning to be a member of this club.

     Thus there were many cliffdweller influences on ERB’s life , whether he had ever seen the Anasazi dwellings before 1920 is doubtful, it would be interesting to know if Grey had before 1910.

     At any rate cliffdwellers had carved out homes in Surprise Valley in some distant prehistoric time.  Thus both Venters and Bess and Uncle Jim Lassiter and Jane were actual cliffdwellers utilizing the old dwellings.  Lassiter, Jane and Fay Larkin would be cliffdwellers for twelve years.  This must have had a very romantic appeal for Grey’s contemporary readers.

     During that period they dressed in skins living as close to a stone age existence as was possible.  So one may compare the Surprise Valley of Lassiter and Jane with the cliffdwellers of Burroughs’ Cave Girl.

     As all these themes were in the air of the period it is not necessary for either of these two authors to be influenced by each other to this point but it is probable that both were influenced by the stone age stories of Jack London and H.G. Wells among others.

     I doubt Burroughs was influenced during this period by Grey although he did have a copy of Rainbow Trail in his library, one of only two Grey titles.  We can’t be sure when he bought Trail.  Grey’s stories complement Burroughsian attitudes but only after this formative preriod around 1912.  ERB’s Western and Indian novels probably owe something to Grey but they were written after 1920.

     Riders Of The Purple Sage sets the scene for its denouement which is The Rainbow Trail.  Riders was a wonderful romantic vision of the West which answered the needs of the period when for the first time the percentage of Americans living in cities surpassed that of those living on farms.  Indeed, very like these authors, modern cliffdwellers had a heartsick longing for the Paradise they had lost.  For decades it would be a crazy dream of city dwellers to buy a farm and ‘get back to the land.’  The movie ‘Easy Rider’ was a good laugh in that respect.

     Both Burroughs’ and Grey’s novels addressed that need.

     Burroughs’ interest in Rainbow Trail would stem from religious aspects and the perfect union of the Anima and Animus when John Shefford and Fay Larkin unite. It might be noted that a fay is a fairie.  Cliffdwelling and the purity of Grey’s noble savages, the Navajos, would have been compelling for ERB.

    Before continuing on to The Rainbow Trail let us take a brief interlude to examine some aspects that would have interested ERB from the other Grey title in his library- The Mysterious Rider.