A Contribution To The Erbzine Library Project

The Beau Ideal Trilogy Of

P.C. Wren

Beau Geste, Beau Sabreur, Beau Ideal

Review by R.E. Prindle

Part   I: Introduction

Part II: Review of Beau Geste

Part III: Review Of  Beau Sabreur

Part IV: Review Of Beau Ideal

P.C. Wren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FFL 1939: Life Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The ERB Library Project

Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Anima And Animus

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 Psychology Updated To Modern Physics, ERBzine, 2004

Prindle, R.E.: Something Of Value Books I, II And III, ERBzine, 2006

by

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

Part II

The Mysterious Rider

     Two of the more popular musical groups of the 1980s were Culture Clash and Boy George’s Culture Club.  They were from England which was being invaded by peaceful infiltration by a number of different cultures.  The popular response of these groups divined that the issue was not ‘race’ or skin color but one of cultures.

     In any clash of cultures the most intolerant must win- that is the culture that clings to its customs while rejecting all others.  To be tolerant is to be absorbed by the intolerant culture.   This was the meaning of German term Kulturkampf of the pre-Great War period.

     Historical examples are too numerous to mention, suffice it to say, that the ancient Cretan culture was defeated by the Mycenean while both were supplanted by later Greek invasions.  Eventually Greek culture supplanted the Cretan which was lost to history.

     The English being the most tolerant people will lose their culture to a Moslem-Negro combination which will undoubtedly be absorbed by the Chinese.  This is an incontestable evolutionary fact, it has nothing to do with anyone’s opinion.

     While the movement of peoples may be an unavoidable fact of life it is folly for a superior more productive culture to sacrifice itself to a lesser, misguided by notions of tolerance.

     Evolutionarily the problem is not the cosmetic one of skin color as most HSIIs and IIIs imagine.

     Apart from the evolutionary problem of genetics the social problem of cultures is of prime importance.  Not all cultures are of the same quality nor is this a matter of relativity.  For instance it is generally agreed that female circumcision is an evil to be avoided but among the Africans where it is prevalent their culture stoutly defends the procedure along with polygamy.  In France where large numbers of Africans are invading French culture denies the validty of both female circumcision and polygamy hence the culture clash between the two nations the society will be determined by numbers and will.  Given the increasing numbers of Moslems and Africans in France among which polygamy is an established custom and given their superior will and intolerance of the HSIIs of France, it is merely a matter of time before polygamy and female circumcision  become permissible thus changing French society as the French themselves adopt Semitic and African customs.

     Only a small percentage of the French, English or Americans recognize the danger to their cultures.  They must naturally be as intolerant of the culture of the invaders as the invaders are intolerant of theirs.  As a minority among their respective peoples they are derided by the majority as bigots while the, perhaps, benign and tolerant opinion of the majority can lead only to their own elimination as history and evolution clearly shows.

     America in the nineteenth century with its open and unrestricted immigration was the first country, other than Russia which was also involved with these difficulties, to come to grips with the problem of clashing cultures.  The official American position was one of tolerance.  Absorption of the large African population was a poser, but among the HSIIs and IIIs the cultural differences were not so great as to be an insuperable obstacle although assimilation as between the Anglos and the Irish, for instance, was painful and slow while still incomplete to this day as large numbers of Irish consider themselves Irish first and Americans second but generally Northern Europeans blended reasonably well.

     Then in the 1870s just at the time that both Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs were born the focus of immigration shifted to Eastern and Southern Europe.  This influx continued unabated up to 1914 when it was interrupted by the Great War.  While earlier immigration might be characterized as troublesome the Eastern and Southern European immigration presented a real culture clash.

     The cultural differences between Northern Europeans and Eastern and Southern Europeans are actually quite striking.  Rightly or wrongly, as you may choose to see it, contemporaries of Burroughs and Grey believed that, at least, the Jews and Italians were unassimilable, which is to say, they were not prepared to abandon their customs to blend into the whole but wished to impose their customs on the whole.  Indeed this has proven to be the case as witness the Jewish attempt to abolish Christmas.  If you don’t object there is no problem.  If you do, you have a culture clash that the most intolerant will win.

     As representatives of the founding culture of the United States men like Burroughs and Grey could not but see the new immigration as a threat to their ideals which has proven to be true.  Thus the American generation of Teddy Roosevelt who was born in 1858 were the heroes of the younger generation.  When TR died in 1919 a vision of hope flickered out for Burroughs’ and Grey’s generation.

     The poem ‘The American’ reprinted in Part IV of my Four Crucial Years published in the ERBzine will give some idea of the frustration experienced by the Burroughs/Grey generation just as they were coming of age.

     Burroughs grew up in one  of the most polyglot centers of the world.  The Anglos in Chicago were in a distinct minority being no more than 10% of the population in 1890.  Grey practiced his dentistry in New York City in which Anglos were as small a percentage of the population.

     Neither man was a hateful bigot which is not to say that they couldn’t help but be affected by the diversity of languages and customs which they encountered everyday in what they considered to be their own country.   It would be silly to say that they or any rational Anglo didn’t regret the situation.  That the absorption of all this diversity into a semblance of homogeneity was made without undue violence must always to be the credit of the American social organization.  That organizations of frustrated individuals like the American Protective Association or the KKK arose is not to be wondered at especially  in the  face of very aggressive and terrorist immigrant organizations such as the Mafia and the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith which was being advised by Sigmund Freud.

     Both Burroughs and Grey began writing at the very height of unrestricted immigration.  There is every reason to expect the influence of immigration to be reflected in their writing for the period of the teens no matter how they sublimated it.  After 1920 conditions changed which is reflected in Burroughs’ writing although I am unread in Grey after the teens.

     Burroughs of course transposed his social and religious conflicts to Mars,  Pellucidar and his vision of Tarzan’s Africa where they were fought  on an allegorical level much in the style of Jonathon Swift.

     Grey on the other hand transposed the problem to an earlier period in the American West where he avoided the problem of foreign activities concentrating on culture clashes of Mormonism, cattle and sheep ranching and matters of the like.  He’s an acute observer of the Mexican-American clash also.  Thus the Mormon-Gentile clash of mid-nineteenth century could be compared to the Jewish-Gentile confrontation of the teens which Grey would have been facing but would have been unable to discuss without being labeled an anti-Semite or bigot.

     Both writers could also translate social problems into psychological terms as they did.  Both men suffered from a fair degree of emasculation which is most notably represented in Grey’s work especially the three of his novels under consideration.

     In The Mysterious Rider he examines the same Animus problems that he did in Riders Of The Purple Sage but under different conditions.

     His protagonist, Hell Bent Wade of Mysterious Rider, answers to that of Lassiter In Riders.  Wade possessed a violent and ungovernable tempter as a young man which led him to murder his wife and a man he mistakenly believed to be her lover.  Discovering his error he brought his temper under control becoming mild mannered like Lassiter but helpful and with more character; still his youthful reputation follows him, blighting his life.

     Wilson Moore may be seen as another version of Venters while the Mormon Animus is represented by the rancher, Bill Bellounds and his son Jack.  His Anima figure in this story is an orphan girl named Columbine, Collie, as after the flower.

     Old Bill Bellounds (Hounds Of Hell?) is a big rancher in Colorado who took Columbine ( in good conscience I can’t call her Collie, which is the name of a dog) in as a child and raised her as his own.  This is a recurring motif in Grey.  Now he wants her to marry his son Jack.  Jack is no good.  Bad man.  As an Animus figure he is the wild ungoveranble aspect.  He is crazed having no behavioral controls.

     Columbine is placed between what she considers her duty to the man she had always known as dad and her own desire which is a love for Wilson or Wils Moore.

     Moore is just the opposite of Jack Bellounds.  He is gentle, sensitve, conscientious, hard working, kind, loving, just an all around great guy of the emasculated Animus sort.  Grey, who has all the attributes of the emasculated man, including the middle hair part,  may have thought of him as a sort of self-portrait.  Grey always holds up as his model of the virtuous man the long suffering type who endures injustices to the point of being crippled or even killed before he retaliates, if he does.

     In this case Wilson Moore is crippled for life by Jack Bellounds with barely even a thought of self-defense.  Hell Bent Wade, the protagonist who had the ungovernable temper as a youth, a reformed Lassiter, is now feminized to the point where he is willing to serve as a male nurse.

     Thus he nurses Moore back to physical health, but mutilated, while he keeps Moore’s mind straight.

     He is unable to do anything with Jack Bellounds who although he wants to win the love of Columbine is incapable of reforming.  His drinking and gambling lead him into a situation where he is rustling cattle from his father.

     A showdown occurs between him and Hell Bent in which by giving Jack every chance he is shot by Jack while at the same time killing the latter.  We are expected to admire this self-sacrifice.  Thus Wils and Columbine are united.  Mutilated virtue prevails.

     Grey always manages an interesting tale with good detailing so the reading of the novel as OK qua story but written after the Great War it is evident that Grey is hauling up nuggets from an exhausted mine.

     The appeal of the story for Burroughs seems clear as it is a virtual symbolic retelling of his courtship of Emma.  Alvin Hulbert, Emma’s father favoring another suitor who was quite privileged, while denying ERB the house, the crippling struggle with the suitor in Toronto and the eventual successful denouement as Emma chose him over the other ‘owner’s son’ and the marriage.

     Published in magazine form in 1919 and in book form in 1921 its appearance coincided with a low period in ERB’s life as represented in Tarzan And The Golden Lion and Tarzan And The Ant Men.  This was also the period when when Warner Fabian’s ‘Flaming Youth’ appeared followed by the apparently sensational movie.  The book, which is in ERB’s library and, the movie made a terrific impression on him.

     As this is one of only two Grey books still in his library when it was catalogued we must assume that he felt the content was applicable to himself.  Other than that I found the novel of negligible value.

     Now let us turn to The Rainbow Trail which was the other Grey novel in ERB’s library.  This will be a fairly signifcant book.