A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN

by

R.E. Prindle

Part V

How The Story Is Told

Obscure but persistent workers in these decades of disaster

Pieced together the puzzle bit by bit.

There is a scale of fantastic disproportion

Between the scale of the labourers and the immense consequences

They released.

The psychology of association,

group psychology,

Was a side of social biology that had been disregarded

Almost entirely before the time of which we are writing.

People still had only the vaguest ideas

of the social structure in and by which they lived.

They accepted the most arbitrary and simple explanations

Of their accumulated set of relationships

And they were oblivious even to fundamental changes in that set.

Wild hopes, delusions and catastrophes

Ensued inevitably.

–H.G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come, pp. 245-46

Possibly The Real Thing

     This is actually an interesting story.  If you search for references they are there aplenty.  I’ve already referred to some but another that might be overlooked is the apparent reference to Edward Bulyer-Lytton’s famous opening sentence to his 1830 novel Paul Clifford.  The original goes:

     It was a dark and story night, the rain fell in torrents- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for this is in London our scene lies), rattling along the housetops and fiercely agitating the scanty flames of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

There is even an annual contest to see who can write the most successful parody.  The  line has such a reputation that many writers seek to write a variation on it to open one of their own stories.  ERB has successfully replicated the feel as this story opens on a dark and stormy night.

The lurid horror of the story is set in this opening scene in which the headman of Kali Bwana’s safari attempts to rape her.  She shoots him but only wounds him in the arm.  Her safari then deserts her leaving her alone in the middle of the Ituri Rain Forest where even on a bright sunny day the gloom is never lifted.  Now, that was a dark and stormy night.

She is discovered by Old Timer who himself takes it into his mind to rape her.  He is prevented from shaming himself by the abduction of Kali Bwana by the Leopard Men in his abscence.  The story of Kali Bwana and Old Timer is set in motion then as he sets out to rescue her from the deplorable fate of being Leopard Goddess to the Leopard God.

The complementary story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men is set in motion by A. The murder of an African swain, Nyamwegi by the Leopard Men during the story.  B.  The felling of Tarzan by a blown down tree with subsequent amnesia and C. his rescue by Nyamwegi’s friend Orando and his assuming the identity of Orando’s guardian angel or muzimo.

We are first introduced to Old Timer as he sits around the campfire with his partner, The Kid.  They are ivory poachers, very disreputable.  They split up to search for elephant in two different areas which leads to Old Timer’s discovery of Kali Bwana.

The protagonists of the story are the Leopard Men.  They are an African clandestine religious cult who terrorize all the tribes over a large but unspecified area although they originated in a far away  place, probably the Calabar Coast as in real life.  They have been active as far away as among Tarzan’s Kenyan Waziri which has drawn his attention to them.  He doesn’t want that kind of trouble on his estate.

The Leopard Men were a real phenomenon although not too much is known about them.  Burroughs was apparently working from newspaper or magazine articles about them, National Geographic maybe.  If he had a book or two they don’t appear in his library.  To accentuate their horrific nature ERB makes them not only murderous but cannibalistic.  They probably were both.

Cannibalism is a theme which recurs throughout ERB’s corpus not just in his African novels.  Whether he leaned on the ntion for horrific effect or whether it has some deeper psychological meaning for him I have yet to determine.  The fate of the Donner Party with its alleged cannibalism has always been discussed in hushed tones in California so he may have picked up the theme from that although the theme was prominent in earlier novels like The Mucker and Marcia Of The Doorstep.  Burroughs has a way of working it in.

It becomes necessary for the Old Timer to rescue Kali Bwana from the Leopard Men.  The Utengans wish to destroy them while Tarzan’s goal for coming to the Utengan country in the first place was to seach out their ‘fabled village and temple.’  As ERB explains coincidence allowed Tarzan not only to discover them but to destroy them.

Old Timer in his attempt to rescue Kali Bwana is led to the town of Gato Mgungu who is the political leader of the Leopard Men.  Old Timer who has traded with Mgungu never knew his connection with the Leopard Cult.  Whereas before he was welcomed  now he is made captive to become the feast at the Leopard cult orgy.  Then to the temple where he discovers Kali Bwana decked out in the regalia of the Leopard cult presiding at the festivities.

Burroughs introduces some wonderful details such as that the high priest is a ventriloquist who has deluded the Leopard Men into believing that the Leopard God actually speaks in their dialect.  Tarzan, watching from the rafters, on behlaf of the Utengans although he has neither heard or seen ventriloquism before applies his mighty intellect, this guy learned to read an unknown language from a picture book, to the problem of divining the secret.  Of course Tarzan had been to Paris and was familiar with London music halls so ERB may be laying it on a little thick here.  Tarzan was surely sophisticated enough to know of ventriloquism.  In his defense, however, he was suffering from amnesia so that while he did know of ventriloquism he had to work it out anew.  I do detect a slight inconsistency here nonetheless.

Let us retrace out steps to recover Tarzan’s story after he was released by Oranda the Utengan.  Tarzan has absolutely no recollection of who he is or where.  Thus when Orando suggests to him that he is his muzimo Tarzan readily accepts the role.  His companion, Nkima the monkey, who has not lost his memory can’t understand why Tarzan doesn’t accept the information when he tells Tarzan that Tarzan is Tarzan and Nkima is Nkima and not the spirit of Nyamwegi.  Tarzan is unconvinced and even Burroughs refers to Tarzan only as Muzimo until he regains his memory.

Muzimo and Orando then set out on the trail of the Leopard Men to avenge Nyamwegi.  Four Leopard Men were involved.  Muzimo and Oranda kill three while the fourth escapes.

The next task is lunch.  For this Tarzan, who only kills for food, never for sport, dispatches an Okapi described as bigger than a cow.   The two hunters cut off a couple pounds for lunch and leave the rest for roving scavengers.

The Okapi would have been unknown to most of Burroughs’ readers.  The beast was a native only to the Ituri.  Its existence was only confirmed in 1900, so definitely an exotic touch to the story for its time.

The next task is to organize an army to attack the Leopard Men.  The Leopard Men were much feared so this was not only difficult but nearly impossible.  Only a hundred men showed up for the summons including the secret Leopard Man, Lupingu.  Orando also has to counter the influence of the witch-doctor, Sobito, another secret Leopard Man.   Even though Sobito’s influence is enormous Muzimo is able to counter it with his own seeming supernatural influence.

Sobito and Lupingu have a conference from which Lupingu is sent to betray Orando’s force to the Leopard Men.  While Orando attends to the details of marshalling his force Muzimo acts as the intelligence wing reconnoitering Gato Mgungu’s village.  Gazing down from the large lower branch of the ubiquitous tree Tarzan detects Lupingu betraying the force.  The Leopard Men arrange a 300 man force within minutes attacking the Utengans while meeting Muzimo on their return.

The Utengan force had been decimated which is to say one in ten had been killed which is what  decimated means.  As someone interested in military matters one wonders if this is an inside joke of ERB’s.

Reconnoitering further Tarzan attends the installation ceremony of Kali Bwana.  He is surprised to find the two white people there, Old Timer was there as a prisoner, but as a Utengan Muzimo, in fact as in name, has no racial interest in Whites.

He returns to Orando to tell him that the Leopard Men will be returning completely hungover so a perfect opportunity has presented itself.  Orando takes advantage of the opportunity completely routing the returning Leopard Men while exterminating the men, women and children of Mgungu’s village and appropriating their left over beer.  To the victor belongs the spoils.

In the battle Muzimo is knocked unconscious who when he comes to is Tarzan once again.  Muzimo disappears from the story.  Tarzan informs the awestruck Utengans that he is really the legendary Tarzan of the Apes whose exploits are the stuff of the campfire tales of the Utengans.  Yes, friends, even in the depths of the Ituri Rain Forest the legend of Tarzan is a huthold word.  The goddess Kali must have been running a close second.

Apparently when amnesia strikes one forgets one’s life prior to the attack but when one regains one’s memory one can remember the amnesicac details because Tarzan now remembers the two White people at the Leopard temple deciding to check up on them because of some faint racial affinity.

In the meantime without the aid of Tarzan Kali Bwana and Old Timer manage to escape with the bumbling aid of the African chief, Bobolo.

They manage to appropriate a gigantic dugout that Old Timer is able to manipulate on his own.   Leaving the mysterious and silent river of death they enter the main river, one presumes  the Aruwimi.  While they are thus engaged the Leopard Men between them and downstream at their village are defeated and the survivors flee back to the temple.  Old Timer perceives the first batch of canoes, steering his lumbering craft into the shadows of the bank where he is perceived.  Rather than waiting to see if any others are following he immediately heads to center stream where he encounters Bobolo’s contingent.  Old Timer is captured while Bobolo captures the glowing white Kali Bwana.  Raising a warning cry he is able to detach himself from the little flotilla carrying Kali Bwana back to his own village to be his White wife.

Old Timer is taken back to the Leopard temple to serve the noble function of lunch.  All this is convincingly well described by Burroughs with his usual economy.  All this takes fewer pages than one might imagine.

Tarzan returning as Tarzan to the Leopard temple sends all the canoes save one downstream.  He reenters the temple in the nick of time to save Old Timer who he sends downstream in the single canoe.  Apparently all those canoes he released didn’t form a log jam on that narrow nearly stagnant slow moving mysterious and silent river of death.

As Old Timer poles his pirogue laboriously downstream Tarzan demands the Leopard Men give him Sobito who he had recognized behind his mask as a hostage.  He then leaves carrying Sobito through the otherwise trackless and impenetrable swamp and jungle.  The Leopard Men find all their canoes missing seeing only rows of crocodile eyes facing them.  They have no way to escape the temple and…they are all cannibals, if you know what I mean.

So now Tarzan has destroyed this whole Leopard Man contingent.  He leaves Sobito with Orando.  Sobito contrives to escape himself heading downstream to his old friend Bobolo.  So the whole crew is moving toward an assemblage at Bobolo’s village.

Now, when Bobolo showed up with this White wife his Black wives objected especially the Mduze like older wife.  Bobolo is compelled to remove Kali Bwana.  Rather than giving her up he transfers her to the Betetes, a tribe of Pygmies, for safekeeping intending to visit her on the sly.  He promises to send food in recompense for her keep to the hapless Pygmies.  Before he can the escaped Sobito shows up placing himself under Bobolo’s protection.

Old Timer who has been treed for several hours notices the canoe of Sobito coming along just behind him while from his tree he hears some native women discussing the fate of Kali Bwana.  From them he learns Kali Bwana has been transferred  to the Pygmy village.  He sets out to the rscue.  If you notice, through this whole story there has been nary a lion.  Tarzan hasn’t killed his usual half dozen nor  has Jad-Bal-Ja made an appearance.  Instead Nikima has spent the book complaining about the overwhelming aroma of Sheeta.

Burroughs during his long career has made several errors of fact concerning the fauna of Africa.  One of them is placing lions in the jungle.  Lions are savanna dwellers.  In Invincible Burroughs acknowledged there were no deer in Africa by changing Bara the deer to Bara the antelope.  In this volume the antelope is known as Wappi.  As there are no lions in the jungle Tarzan finds a savanna in the middle of the Ituri full of lions.  While there are no lions in the jungle there are also no savannas in the Ituri but one assumes it will take his critics some time to discover the fact.  You always have to be one step ahead.

Apparently Burroughs cannot write a book without a lion kill or two by Tarzan so he gratuitously throws in Chapter XVII: Charging Lions.  This is a completely unnecessary episode that adds nothing to the story.  It is interesting nonetheless.

Tarzan is hungry.  Game is scarce.  He reaches a savanna in the forest.  The grass is tall, over his head.  he spots a herd of herbivores off in the distance.  Tarzan has eaten carnivores in the past when necessity dictated it but he much prefers herbivores.

Leaving the cowardly Nkima in a tree quaking because of the smell of Sheeta that pervades the forest Tarzan starts out over the savanna.  He hasn’t gone too far when the aroma of lions assails his sensitive nostrils.  But, he can smell that they have just fed so he is  not worried.  Well fed lions never charge.  However worse than being unfed he has stumbled upon a mating pair which did escape his sensitive nostrils.    Bad news, because a lion disturbed in copulation will always charge.  Information like this has prevented me from making reservations for the Serengeti.    Now the story actually gets not only improbable but a little bit on the looney side.

Disturbed In This State A Lion Will Always Charge- E.R. Burroughs

Apparently ERB is psychologically compelled to include this episode that adds nothing to the story while being difficult to understand.  Tarzan and the lions which include the copulating pair and another four or five males are in tall grass so they can’t see each other.  Only the grass waves indicating the seven lions.  Tarzan has carefully kept a tree within fifty feet which with his lightning speed he can reach before any lion.  However Tarzan is irked at having to run.  He doesn’t mind a dignified advance to the rear but he resents having to make a headlong flight.  Thus as the great male head appears through the grass the Big Bwana decides to kill him.  His giant muscles rolling like molten steel beneath his bronzed skin he launches his heavy war spear at the charging lion.  Muscles, weight and charge add up to a skewered lion.

Tarzan hasn’t counted on the female who is right behind her lover so he has to make his undignified  pell mell flight anyway.

The female is plenty sore.  She won’t go away.  Just hangs around, waiting.  The other male lions sit in a semi-circle first looking up at Tarzan, over the at the female and then at each other.  A very peculiar and incongruous image.

The reluctance to flee and the brutal killing of the male are easy to understand.  The male obviously represents John the Bully on the Chicago street corner.  Burroughs was ashamed of having run so he stands his ground killing the image of John.

What of the enraged female and other males?  Don’t know.  Possibly the female represents his failed Anima.  The strange image of his Anima and John the Bully copulating is very difficult.  The four male lions looking on might easily be imagined as four boys watching ERB’s humiliation on the street corner.  As Caz Casadesus points out Tarzan in the tree pelting the lions may represent the story of Kit Carson treed by a bear.  The story must have tickled Burroughs so much he often places Tarzan in a tree tormenting the beasts below.  Caz is probably correct in making Kit Carson a hero figure to ERB as Carson Napier of Venus is obviously named after him

I will get into this next section but as David Adams points out much of these stories are reported as viewed from above.   We may have the reason explained here as John symbolically ran ERB up a tree causing dissociation or a splitting of the personality.

About noon of the next day the female gets tired of waiting, moving off.  Tarzan retrieves his spear, which in itself was a great feat of strength withdrawing it from the carcass of the lion, returning to Nkima.

After this strange, irrelevant episode Tarzan is heading for Bobolo’s village because Old Timer had said Bobolo took Kali Bwana there when he passed near, not too near, Betete’s village.  In Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa he mentions that the Pygmies he dealt with had an overwhelming stench.  Tarzan is downwind so this stench is wafted by Usha the wind right to him.  Amidst this stench he detects a more delicate aroma that reminds him of something.  Oh yes, a White Woman.  Not bad work even for so sensitive a nose as his.  Could there be two White women in the same patch of the Ituri Rain Forest?  Not likely.  Tarzan will peek in.

Now, Kali Bwana’s situation is getting desperate.  No supplies have arrived from Bobolo and these cannibals are pretty darn hungry.  You get the idea.  Both Tarzan and Old Timer arrive at this particular spot in the Ituri at the same time.  Fortunately the Leopard Men had overlooked a jackknife in Old Timer’s pocket so he is able to cut through the hinges of the gate in the nick of time.  His daring attempt of rescue is about to fail when a shower of arrows from ye olde overhanging bough cinches his opportunity.  Chucking the naked Kali Bwana over one shoulder he hightails out the gate as he hears a crash behind him.

As Tarzan turned to leave the branch he was standing on sheared from the bole.  Stunned by the fall, like Lilliputians the Pygmies bound him and tossed him in a hut.  ERB uses a device he has fine tuned several times, most recently the previous year in Invincible.

Burroughs always establishes these things.  On his way to Bobolo’s Tarzan chanced  to run into some great apes he knew who had only recently moved into the Ituri.  Zutho and Gayat were old acquaintances for the wide roaming ape man.

Nkima is waiting in a tree trembling in fear of Sheeta.  The fear of the feminine is very pronounced in our little monkey.  Nevertheless Tarzan gets him to direct Zutho and his fellow tribesmen to the village for his relief.  These apes are seven and eight foot giants so when they scramble over the wall the Pygmies move back.  Tossing Tarzan over a shoulder they scramble away.  An entertaining page or two.

The diabolical Betetes had not only bound the Big Guy with thongs but they had also used copper wire.  Nkima could chew through the thongs but neither he nor the apes could manipulate the copper wire.

Tarzan tells Goyat to go find him a Gomangani to unwind the wire.

Back again to Kali Bwana and Old Timer.

Having been gotten safely into the jungle Kali Bwana is surprised that her new abductor is Old Timer.  As she wearily says she is getting used to being abducted.  As the two tramp through the jungle Old Timer gains his redemption while Kali Bwana falls in love with him.  They are busy building a shelter when who shows up but Gayat.  His instructions are for a Gomangani but his primitive brain figures a Tarmangani will do just as well.  Not only do all the humans in this comedy want the delectable White Woman but Old Timer figures the apes do too.  ‘Run, Kali,’  he exlaims, ‘he wants you.’  Old Timer was wrong there as he discovered as Gayat tucks him under his arm.

Old Timer releases Tarzan who hurries back to Kali Bwana.  Not only do the humans and apes want Kali but so does a Leopard who now crouches for the leap.  Employing a new variation on an old theme as the Leopard leaps Tarzan launches landing on his back in each’s mid leap.  Work the geometry out on that one.  Although unarmed the Mighty One wrenches the Leopard’s head breaking his neck.  Boy, would I have liked to have been there to see that one while sneaking a peek at the voluptuous Kali Bwana at the same time.  She doesn’t faze Tarzan though.

OK.  We’re almost there.  Only a few paragraphs to go but with Burroughs a few paragraphs are always a near lifetime.  Tarzan is leading his party through the forest with his unerring nose as a compass when they come upon an army detachment searching for them.  The native contingent is led by a couple White French officers.  The French are invariably good in Burroughs for some strange reason.  With them is the Kid, Jerry Jerome.  Old Timer feels out in the cold until Jerry explains that Kali is his sister.  ‘Your sister,’ ejaculates the incredulous Old Timer.  Why not?  Coincidence is coincidence but if Burroughs strains anything in the oeuvre it is coincidence.

Well, you know, it only take another couple paragraphs but everything ends happily.  Tarzan takes Sobito back to his just deserts, Bobolo and the remaining Leopard Men are arrested and Old Timer is not only redeemed but gets the girl.  What a story, hey?  Almost too incredible to believe.  Well, it is too incredible to believe.  This issue is not the issue though and it’s the other issue that is believable.

Ready, Set...

Next the sixth and last part.

A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN

by

R.E. Prindle

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Part III

This Silent River Of Mystery And Death

In our hour of darkness,

In our hour of need…

–Trad.

A.

     Leopard Men is an exceptionally dark novel.  There is nothing about it that isn’t horrific, a sort of Gotterdamerung.  There are probably more people killed in this novel than any other of Burroughs’.  The threat of rape hangs heavy in the air.  Old Timer/Burroughs is going through more major changes trying to burst his chrysalis.

     Through it all runs the thread of religion; and not just one religion but three religious systems.  There is the animistic religion of the Africans; a Semitic style religion of the Leopard Men and an esoteric interpretation  concealed in a gorgeous wealth of symbolism.  I will consider the last in Part B.

      ERB’s life was reaching a crisis, he had the MGM contract to worry about, his ongoing war with the Reds and now his sexual crisis that had been roiling beneath the surface for nearly fifty years and was about to bubble over.  Hence the novel is filled with murky, rasty sexual symbolism welling up from the subconscious disguised as religion.

     For supposedly being an escapist writer without either serious purpose or intellectual content when one parses out any of his stories one is amazed that such serious purpose can be successfully disguised as escapist.  ERB shares this ability with Homer of the Iliad.  Since no one seems to have penetrated beyhond the surface glitter from one hundred years ago to this day I hope I will be pardoned for making the attempt.

     ERB’s style of plotting is so diffuse that it is very difficult to grasp the focal point which unites the various strands of his story.  In some incredible way he has half a dozen stories running concurrently each with a different point  and different conclusion.  One has to follow the bouncing ball.  In Jewels Of Opar the uniting theme is the story of what happens to the Jewels.  In Ant Men one has to follow the trajectory of Tarzan’s locket.  In this one the key is Kali Bwana.  ERB seems to favor this linking approach.

     Leopard Men has two main stories, that of Old Timer and Kali Bwana with its subplots as well as the story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men.  As the story opens Tarzan is in Leopard Men territory far from home.  One wonders what Tarzan is doing in this country?  Naturally Burroughs presents his information on a need to know basis.  We apparently don’t need to know until p. 108 when after Tarzan regains his memory from yet another crushing blow to the skull we are told:

     During the long day Tarzan’s mind was occupied with many thoughts.  He had recalled now why he had come into this country, and he marveled at the coincidence of later events that guided his footsteps along the very paths he had intended on trodding before accident had robbed him of the memory of his purpose.    He knew now that depredations by Leopard Men from a far country had caused him to set forth upon a lonely reconnaissance with only the thought of locating their more or less fabled stronghold and temple.  That he should be successful in both finding these and reducing one of them was gratifying in the extreme, and he felt thankful now for the accident that had been responsible for those results.

     Thus as Tarzan regains his memory he discovers that he had destroyed the stronghold of the Leopard Men.  In rescuing Old Timer and Kali Bwana he will also destroy their temple.  A good day’s work.

     With this story of his quest and triumph we have a second examination of religion, a continuation of the exploration begun in Tarzan Triumphant in the first half of 1931.  The reference to the accident that led to these results may be a reference to the incident in Toronto in 1899.  He and Emma both believed it resulted in his writing career.  Perhaps the signing of the contract with MGM in April may also be inferred to as an ‘accident.’  Much research into his relations with MGM and these critical five or six years of his career is necessary.  Certainly by late July and August as he was writing this story the realization of the meaning of the contract he had signed was seeping in.  By 1933’s Tarzan And The Lion Man he was fully aware.  Subsequent to that discovery he formed an ill advised alliance with his new wife’s ex, Ashton Dearholt, to film the ‘real’ Tarzan.  That in its place.  For now his troubles were not on the laps of the gods but on the desks of Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer.

     If negotiations began on April 4 and were completed and signed on April 15 that means that neither ERB nor Rothmund read the contract very thoughtfully.  They certainly didn’t take it to an attorney.  As in Lion Man ERB complains of the duplicity of men; he was finding out what the terms of the contract meant.  Perhaps in Leopard Men he was getting glimmers of the shape of things to come.

     As in Triumphant the two Midian peoples obviously represent Jews and non-Jews, us meaning the Jews and them meaning the rest of the world as per Rabbi Schneerson’s division of mankind into two different species, us and them.  I will treat the Utengans as us and the Leopard Men as them  which is what ERB intended.  The connection of the Leopard Men to the Jews can be established by two references connecting them to Hollywood:

     Gato Mgungu had never had the advantages of civilization.  (He had never been to Hollywood.)

     And on p. 66:

     Perhaps his reasons might be obvious to a Hollywood publicity agent.

     I’m sure you moved out of the way so ERB’s sarcasm didn’t splash on you.

     His letting his contempt for Hollywood which he had suppressed since 1922’s Girl From Hollywood show now and his associating it with Thalberg, Mayer and MGM is evidence of his frustration.

     When Van Dyke returned from Africa he brought his gun bearer Riano and the actor who played Renchoro, Mutia, with him for the finishing scenes.  It seems likely that ERB would have sought an introduction to these two ‘real’ Africans.  One can only imagine what these two bush Negroes who had never conceived a world larger than their own Jungle thought of the twentieth century in the bizarre world of Tinseltown.  How did these minds that had probably never seen a wheel prior to Van Dyke’s expedition react to what must have seemed to them a parallel universe straight out of Wells.  Place yourself in their position and your head will spin.  One wonders, even, having lived naked all their lives, how they reacted to dressing every morning and wearing Western style clothes all day.  Did Tarzan’s experience in the shower in Tarzan Goes To New York have anything to do with these two noble savages introduction to civilization?  Possibly the reference to Gato Mgungu’s never having been to Hollywood may refer to ERB’s observation of Riano and Mutia.

     There is some wonderful stuff going on here.  If Hollywood wasn’t centered on pornography and its concomitant degraded sadistic violence with a little imagination they might be able to put together a good movie or two from this material.  Do I digress?  Ah, then I digress.  But back to the story.

     As with ‘them’ elsewhere the Utengans are good men going about their business while the ‘us’ or Leopard Men are a destructive force in society.  ERB has displaced the two religious systems to Africa where he presents two rather derogatory versions of Africans.  He is uncharacteristically derogatory of the Blacks.  Perhaps his concentration on so portraying the Africans was the result of his rage at the Scottsboro Boys.  On p. 92 he says of the orgy of the Leopard Men:

     He saw that religious and alcoholic drunkenness were rapidly robbing them of what few brains and little self-control Nature had vouchsafed them, and he trembled to think of what excesses they might commit when they passed beyond even the restraint of their leaders; nor did the fact that the chiefs, the priests, and the priestesses were becoming as drunk as their followers tend but to aggravate his fears.

     ERB in his evolutionary mode had always considered the African to be less evolved but this is subjective observation and not an objective one.  The bold statement ‘what few brains  and little self-control’ may have been his personal opinion but doesn’t look well in print.  I can’t imagine how it got beyond the Ballantine censors.  I think it probable that his anger over the Scottsboro affair caused him to lose his customary discretion.  In doing so he would be giving fuel to his detractors which it is never wise to do.  When it is said that this is his worst novel I believe it is because of passages like this.

     One wonders why the delay in the book issuance until 1936 and why then.  Among other reasons one may have been that by 1936 the Communist campaign to embarrass the United States over the alleged injustice to the Boys was reaching a peak.  Perhaps one intention of ERB was to show by the African example that Negroes were by nature of feeble intelligence and little self-control.  If so, risky business for ERB.  However throughout the novel a series of Black men is slathering at the mouth to rape Kali Bwana, recalling the train incident of the Scottsboro Boys.

     ERB also introduces the concept of religious drunkenness which can exist quite independently of alcohol.  Indeed there are many who can maintain a perpetual religious high.  The bizarre statements of Rabbis Schneerson and Ginsburg can be attributed to religious drunkenness.  In their religious enthusiasm they have certainly set aside reason.  So once again a greater depth of thought is revealed than is usually attributed to Burroughs.  Just two words- religious drunkenness- reveal a fair amount of thought and study.

     During the great storm the Leopard Men catalyze the story by the ritual killing of a Utengan named Nyamwegi.  While the storm is raging Tarzan who has taken refuge beside the bole of a great tree has it blown down with one of its great lower branches landing on his head.  One admires the tensile strength of the Big Bwana’s skull.  Apparently a big eighteen wheeler laden with thirty tons could roll over his head, the only possible result being a temporary loss of memory.  Burroughs is going through another period of great stress so Tarzan does wake up in a world he doesn’t recognize.

     A Utengan passing by notices the Big Bwana pinned to the ground on his back by the tree, not on his head, thank goodness, but somewhere over his body.  No broken bones, luck is still with the Big Guy.  As he had his bow and quiver slung over his back as he was pinned one has to think he’s in a fair amount of discomfort.  Orando, the Utengan, is about to eliminate Tarzan from the story, which would have left a gap, when he has the suspicion that this might be his Muzimo.  Orando had just been praying to his Muzimo to aid him in his hunting, perhaps Muzimo is the hunter after whom this chapter is named, and lo, he now appears.  ERB goes to some lengths to demonstrate the superstitious nature of African religion.  He really seems to be making an effort to belittle the African in this novel.  Orando’s suspicion is confirmed a few moments later when by a series of coincidences  Tarzan seems to answer when Orando  calls him Muzimo.  As Tarzan has no memory of another identity he assumes the role of Orando’s Muzimo.  This is really quite well done.

     A Muzimo is a sort of guardian angel, a spirit of an ancestor who looks after you.  Tarzan really fills the role performing natural- for him- feats that Orando believes are supernatural.  Tarzan, or Muzimo, directs the entire successful attack on the Leopard Men’s stronghold.

     Tarzan’s role of Muzimo is a story within the story within the story which based on Trader Horn.  If one keeps diving we might even find another story within the story.  The story of Tarzan as Muzimo is quite independent of the story of Old Timer, the Kid and Kali Bwana.  As we will learn when his role of Muzimo ends, Tarzan’s reason for coming to Utenga was to search out the Leopard Men.  The fact that Old Timer, Kali Bwana and the Kid are there is mere coincidence.  Their stories only become meshed at the Leopard Men’s temple which inadvertantly brings all together.  Even then, after regaining his memory, as Burroughs explains, they are of little interest to Tarzan.  The connection is only racial which is very weak.  Really the devil is in the details; a whole lot of devils.

     ERB has established the conflict between the superstition based animistic religion of the majority  culture and the horrific satanic religion of his minority culture.  He may be ‘fictionizing’ here the real life situation between the Western dominant culture of Christiantity, which he would still believe superstitious, and its recessive Jewish sub-culture.  I’m not clear how closely he intends the comparison.  At first sight Orando’s mistaking Tarzan for his Muzimo or guardian angel seems ridiculous yet even at this moment seventy percent of Americans believe in guardian angels.  The figure would probably have been a few percentage points higher at that time.

     Also, the Scopes Monkley Trial in Dayton, Tennessee was as recent as 1925-26, so the conflict between science and superstition in the US was by no means a settled matter.  The analogy between African and American culture may be sardonic.

     Just as the Utengans probably represent the Christian culture of the West so the Leopard Men may represent the minority Jewish Culture.  Just as the Leopard Men had adherents functioning secretly within the majority culture directing affairs so did the Jewish Culture in the West.  Just as the Leopard men had organizatonal representatives distributred amongst all the tribes across Africa functioning toward a common goal so Jewish Culture was represented in every culture of the Western world.  Just as the witch doctor Sobito manipulated the affairs of the Utengans from within for the benefit of the Leopard Men so the Jewish Culture through the ADL/AJC  manipulated Western Culture for its own benefit.

     In the twenties and thirties the International Jewish Conspiracy phase of Jewish manipulation was the prevailing fear.  The struggle to deny the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion had not yet been effected although well along.

     It seems clear to me that Burroughs always has ulterior motives in his novels.  He is not simply telling a story for entertainment.  Burroughs must have been puzzled by the attitude of the majority culture.  While Science was daily discrediting the supernatural yet the majority of the majority clung to, not so much outmoded religious beliefs, as a religious cast of mind.  The belief in Christianity was being steadily eroded as based on superstition yet rather than abandoning religion Americans frantically tried to incorporate science into religion.  Thus one has the strong religious quality of Liberalism that encourages the defamation of Christianity yet pursues a religious agenda based on wishful thinking.

     It is very strange, more than passing strange, that while Westerners reject Christianity they have reverence for Judaism and Moslemism.  While Christianity represents an anterior stage in the psychological development of mankind, the former two are even more primitive, magical and superstitious.  One has to laugh out loud at Rabbi Schneerson’s attempt to incorporate genetics into his religious system while the Moslem clerics are unfathomable by both Scientific and Liberal ideas and notions.  Yet Liberals attack Christianity while endorsing Judaism and Moslemism.

     Burroughs pits his alter-ego Tarzan and the majority against the minority religion launching an all out attack.  Tarzan, whose memory is gone, accepts his role as Orando’s Muzimo.  Curiously Burroughs describes Tarzan’s tan as so deep that he is the same skin color as Orando yet retains his status as ‘White.’  Possibly Orando was better able to accept Tarzan as his Muzimo because of the skin color.  Tarzan becomes Muzimo being in fact Orando’s guardian angel until he regains his memory at which point he becomes again his own man pursuing his own interests.  While he is Orando’s Muzimo he is a spectacular guardian angel directing Orando’s quarrel with the Leopard Men to a successful conclusion which as we are told his original intention was the suppression of the Leopard Men.

     Tarzan foils the Leopard Men’s advantage in Utenga by exposing the witch doctor Sobito as a Leopard Man as well as the spy Lupingu.  He is instrument in the deaths of both.  His task is made easier because Orando believes implicitly in whatever his Muzimo says.  Thus, while there is a natural explanation for what happens the results appear as genuinely supernatural to Orando and his tribesmen.

     This is all handled very cleverly by Burroughs as he lets the reader see what is happening as he also shows Orando’s superstitious interpretation.  It’s actually pretty funny.

     By following Tarzan/ Muzimo’s advice the Utengans catch the Leopard Men coming back from a ritual orgy while hung over and either kill or scatter them, men, women and children.  There was no one left alive in their village.  Thus the majority expel their troublesome minority or sub-culture from their midst, perhaps as ERB wished the majority culture of the United States might do with its troublesome minority culture.  He may have used Africa as a metaphor for the United States.  In any event Leopard Men seems to be a continuation of Triumphant on the religious level while being perhaps the most detailed examination of religion that ERB ever did.  But you can see why his Liberal detractors would call this his worst novel.

     At the time of writing Leopard Men the most recently issued story was Tarzan The Invincible.  Tarzan Triumphant had been written and probably submitted to Blue Book but it wouldn’t be published until 1932-33 while the book edition was published in 1932 so there couldn’t as yet have been a reaction to his portrayal of the two Midian cultures and Abraham son of Abraham and his followers of Paul.

     Perhaps ERB found his religious portrayal of Triumphant too clumsy so he refined it in Leopard Men.

B.

The Goddess Kali

Riders On The Storm

     If  you don’t enter as an initiate you won’t get the story.  The symbolism in this story is so strong and complete that it should be a standard psychological textbook.  Burroughs writes as though he had just come from a course in esoteric symbolism.  He continues this throughout the story too.  I don’t know if I can do this justice but I will try.

     Burroughs has entered the defining crisis of his life, thus the novel is full of symbols of life, death, sex and regeneration.  ERB feels that he is being born again, the butterfly emerging from the cocoon.  The very name Kali Bwana is the primary symbol.  Kali is the Hindu symbol of life, death and regeneration.  Her image is as dark as this story.  This story, as it were, emerges from the very bowels of the pit, the viscera of frustrated desires and hopes of their fulfillment.  Very frightening actually.  I can see how on one level so many people would consider it ERB’s worst.  It isn’t easily understandable..  The story deals with primal needs and desires that would drive a man insane.  Indeed, Kali Bwana considers Old Timer insane.  He himself says that maybe he is crazy.  He makes psychotic statements and is on the verge of criminal sexual behavior throughout the book until the very end when he is reformed.  This is an extremely violent but regenerative story.  Sort of like Walt Disney on steroids.

     Kali Bwana is the joy of man’s desiring.  A platinum blonde, her beauty apparently disintegrates all men’s self control as she inspires dreams of rape rather than courting.  Old Timer himself has rape in mind all through the book.  No man or animal in the story every thinks of honoring her femininity; their only thoughts are to violate her beauty to gratify their illicit lustful desires or, perhaps, to cannibalize her beauty and make it their own possession.  This is serious stuff.

     As Kali she is the mate of Shiva.  while Shiva is usually depicted as a handsome young man serenely playing the flute while all goes to hell around him Burroughs represents him as the Leopard god of the cannibalistic, criminal animist or nature cult.  Thus, Kali Bwana is captured by the Leopard Men to serve as high priestess to their Leopard god thus forming an Anima and Animus.  Burroughs does an excellent job of presenting both the barbaric splendor and degradation of the cult or religion.

     The story is set by the book’s opening,  one of attempted rape and violence set amidst a terrific storm  in a sort of swamp like atmosphere.  One feels this is not an ordinary storm but one fraught with significance and meaning.  It is a life changing storm.

     The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols which I use here for reference is readily available.  It discusses storms on p. 941:

     The storm is a symbol of a theophany, the manifestation of the awesome and mighty power of God.  While it may herald a revelation, it can also be a manifestation of divine anger and sometimes of punishment. 

     Creative activity is also unleashed in a storm.  In a cosmic upheaval beyond the power of words, life itself was born. 

     And then Burroughs refers to the storm as a hurricane.  The Penguin dictionary says this of that, p. 533:

     Hurricanes are almost Dionysiac orgies of cosmic energy.  They symbolize the ending of one period of time and the beginning of another as tireless Earth repairs the damage.

     So now we have the figure of the eternal female, the symbol of birth, death and regeneration coupled with storm and hurricane symbols also denoting major epochal changes.  The impact is increased by the whole being expressed in a half dozen pages, very compressed.

     It should be noted that Florence Gilbert represents Kali Bwana and Old Timer is obviously ERB.  the changes are happening to him.  Florence/Kali is both repelled and passive.  Perhaps because of the ripening romance between his wife and ERB Ashton Dearholt had taken her on a motor tour removing her from the scene probably hoping separation would end the affir.  According to the ERBzine 30s Bio Timeline the Dearholts returned to LA in May just as ERB was completing Triumphant and before he began Leopard Men.  If he had been fighting his feelings for Florence her return was obviously more than he could deal with hence this terrific storm and the overwhelming number of female symbols in the novel.

     At the same time as the rape attempt the Leopard Men corner Nyamwegi, a Utgengan returning from a date with his girl friend.  Amidst the multiple bolts of lightning which illuminate the entire sky and tremendous crashes of thunder the Leopard Men gruesomely and bloodily murder the boy removing body parts.

     ERB accentuates the ferocity of the storm and hurricane by saying that the lightning bolts were numerous and continuous, filling the entire sky.  The Penguin dictionary, p. 606:

     Lightning symbolizes the spark of life and powers of fertilization.  It is fire from Heaven, vastly powerful and terrifyingly swift, which may be either life giving or death dealing.

     And on p. 607:

     As the weapon of Zeus, forged in FIRE (symbol of the intellect) by the Cyclops, lightning is the symbol of intentive and spiritual enlightenment  or the sudden flash of inspiration.  However, while it enlightens and stirs the spirit, lightning strikes down the drive of unsatisfied and uncontrolled desire…

     So after this storm all will be changed; there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  Kali Bwana has averted personal disaster while Nyamwegi has met his end.  Nearby in another part of the forest Tarzan and Nkima crouch beside a forest giant to wait out the storm.  Here the hurricane topples the tree uprooting it.  Tarzan tosses Nkima out of the way but is himself struck by a branch, one assumes one of the big ones of the lower terrace.  Once again the Big Fella is given a case of amnesia so that he is not aware of his racial affinity to the Whites aligning himself with the Blacks.

     In another part of the forest, not too far away, Old Timer and the Kid are discussing their fortunes apparently unaware of this massive storm.  As Old Timer sets out on the trail of ivory on the morrow he hears a shot which leads him to Kali Bwana.  All the elements of the New Day are in place.

     The action takes place not only in the forest but in the Ituri Rain Forest, the forest of forests.  In Western symolism the forest is where the lost man wanders in search of his redemption.  One has to find one’s way out of the forest for personal redemption.  Thus Old Timer and Kali lose their way wandering around in the forest hopelessly lost.  At one point Old Timer can’t see the constellations to navigate at night.  At another the forest is so dark he can’t see the sun to navigate by it.  Both he and Kali have to be rescued by Tarzan after he regains his memory.

     As David Adams has pointed out Sheeta the panther is always associated with the Anima or female.  Usually Sheeta is described as a panther but in this novel Sheeta is the Leopard.  The smell of Sheeta is overwhelming throughout this novel.  In this case I think we may be sure that Sheeta represents the fear of the feminine.  Tarzan and Nkima are inseparable in this novel.  Throughout the entire novel Nkima complains about the small of Sheeta who wishes to devour him, in other words, to emasculate him.  So Burroughs is afraid of what is happening to him in regards of Florence.  When Tarzan recovers consciousness after the battle with the Leopard Men the first thing he does is call Nkima.  The little monkey in his place on Tarzan’s shoulder reminds one of the Egypian Ka or double.  Tarzan the fearless and Nkima the fearful.  Burroughs as a child confronted by John the Bully.

     As an aspect of Tarzan’s- and Burroughs’- character Nkima probably represents his more chicken livered side.  There is no record of Tarzan ever having fear, he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word, but Burroughs did hence Nkima who knows nothing but fear.  Neither Tarzan nor Burroughs have ever been what one would call ladies men hence if not fear of the feminine at least an apprehension of it.  As Burroughs is now reaching a major crisis of his life having now to choose either Emma or Florence it is not to be wondered that the forest reeks of Sheeta.  Indeed, the Leopard Men themselves are symbols of the feminine and they intend to sacrifice Old Timer.  Thus one has the leopard as Leopard god and Kali Bwana as his Leopard goddess.

     The tremendous rainfall, itself a symbol of regeneration and fertility from the male sky god would create a steaming swamplike atmosphere as it fell on Mother Earth while the temple of the Leopard God itself was in a crocodile infested swamp.

     First the Crocodile as symbol, Penguin p. 244:

     The crocodile which carries the Earth on its back, is a divinity of darkness and the Moon, whose greed is like that of the NIGHT which each evening devours the Sun.  From civilization to civilization and from age to age the crododile exhibits a high proportion of the countless links in that basic symbolic chain which belongs to the controlling forces of death and rebirth.  The crocodile may be a formidable figure, but this is because like all expression of the power of fate, what he displays is inevitable- darkness falling so that daylight may return, death striking so that life may be reborn.

     In other words, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.  Poor Emma.  Obviously for ERB he is killing his past so that his future may be born.

     The temple is in the center of a swamp so deep withing the forest that the sun never shines on it.  The swamp is the quintessential female symbol.  It is in the Lernean swamp where Heracles has to battle with the Hydra.  Hydra=the water of the feminine and the irrational.  Each time Heracles cuts off one of the seven heads another grows in its place until he cauterizes each severance with fire, that is the power of the male intellect.

     Thus, one has crocodiles, leopards, water, swamp, the river and Stygian darkness.  if you can’t rise above the fear of the feminine, you will be swamped, drowned in her waters.  The only entrance and exit is this slow moving river is obscured by the forest.  This river of mystery and death, this impenentrable forest.  The River is the last of the great symbols we will consider, Penguin p. 808:

     The symbolism of rivers and running water is simultaneously that of the ‘universal potentiality’ and that of the ‘fluidity of forms’ (Schuan) of fertility, death and revewal.  The stream is that of life and death.  It may be regarded as flowing down to the sea; as a current against which one swims; or as something to be crossed from one bank to another.  Flowing into the sea it is the the gathering of the waters, the return to an undifferentiated state, attaining Nirvana.  Swimming against the stream is clearly returning to the divine source, the First Cause.  Crossing the river is overcoming an obstacle, separating two realms or conditions, the phenomenal world and the unconditioned state, the world of the senses and the state of non-attachment.

     Then this from Burroughs, p. 191:

     The sun was sinking behind the western forest, its light playing on the surging current of the great river that rolled past the village of Bobolo.  A man and a woman stood looking out across the water that was plunging westward in its long journey to the sea down to the trading posts and the towns and the ships, which are the frail links that connect the dark forest with civilization.

     If one looks at this novel from an esoteric symbolic point of view the symbols tell their own story.

     As Old Timer says Kali means Woman.  At the beginning we have Woman and the Shaggy Man.

     I haven’t given the symbolism of the Shaggy Man yet so using the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols again under the heading Rags and Tatters, p. 782:

     (Rags And Tatters) are the symbol of anxiety and lesions of the psyche as well as that material poverty which, in folktale, is sometimes adopted as a disguise by princes, princesses and wizards.  It denotes simultaneously poverty and anxiety or cloaks inner riches under an appearance of wretchedness, thus displaying the superiority of the inner over the outer self.

     Thus Kali- the Woman- the symbol of death, birth and regeneration, and The Shaggy Man or the Frog Prince, the Hero in disguise, waiting to be regenerated by the kiss of the ultimate Woman.  A classic fairy tale, actually, with a tip of the hat to David Adams for insisting on the fairy tale connection.

     The Man, the Woman, the Storm with a tremendous display of  Lightning, Thunder, Wind and Rain completely transforming both the physical and psychic landscapes bringing the Man and the Woman together.

     The Woman is then captured by the repressed sexual desire of the Leopard Men who wish to install her as their Goddess.  The Woman or Kali is stripped Naked and then adorned with various attributes of the Leopard Cult.

     As in various myths, fairytale and folklore stories the Man and the Woman (the Anima and Animus) have been separated by Fate and must fight through all obstacles to be reunited.

     Kali (Woman) is led through the teeming, steaming forest with a rope around her neck to the big river down which she is canoed to a smaller stream, ‘the silent river of mystery and death’ in the darkest, swampiest, most crocodile infested part of the darkest of dark forests.

     Abandoning all other concerns the Shaggy Man pursues Kali to the village of the Leopard Men where he is taken prisoner, then taken down the silent river (the Styx?) to be sacrificed.  By a miracle the two escape only to be separated again while the Shaggy Man is taken back to the temple of the Leopard Men.  Kali, Woman, is captured by a Black chief to serve his sexual needs.  Rape again.  White=Light, Black= Darkness.  Thus the ever present threat of rape seems to be about to be fulfilled.  But no, the elder wife of the Black chief objects to the White Woman.  Out of the pot and into the fire.  The Woman is left with Pygmies who are even more vile than the Blacks.

      But now a Deus ex-machina, Tarzan, has released the Shaggy Man.  Hot in pursuit he follows Woman to the Pygmy camp.  He madly attempts rescue which is successful once again because of the Deus ex machina.

     It’s not over yet folks.  ERB can make any 192 page story go on for a near eternity.  Together again Kali and the Shaggy Man are once more torn assunder when the Deus ex machina sends an ape who captures the Shaggy Man.  Makes you breathless, doesn’t it?  Deus once again reunites the Woman and Shaggy Man.  Now, if you will notice the Shaggy Man forces a kiss on Woman.  His act of violence shames him so that he finds redemption in his remorse.  Thus the kiss of Woman has returned the Frog Prince to his rightful form.

     As the story ends the two are about to leave the dark forest for the light of civilization down river.

     Thus one has the classic myths- Psyche and Eros, Perseus and Andromeda and many others, numerous fairy tales -Cinderella, one which ERB has used before, and much folklore.  It is done very well, too, if you’re following the bouncing ball.

     It is noteworthy that the work of another great author is misunderstood too.  I refer to the ancient poet Homer.  While Homer’s reputation is very great no one understands the Iliad.  The adventures of the Gods and Goddesses are beyond the comprehension of classical scholars.  Thus they prefer the Odyssey which is written in a more comprehensible if pedestrian style.  If I remember correctly the Five Foot Shelf excludes the Iliad while containing the Odyssey.  While both are attributed to Homer they must have been written by two different mind sets.  The psychology of each is too different to have been written by one mind.  Besides the Iliad concerns the middle part of the Siege of Troy while the Odyssey skips all the way to the story of only one of the Returns.

     There are similarities in the way Burroughs and Homer tell their stories but to avoid argument Homer is incomparably the greater.

     Nevertheless Burroughs has masterfully used a set of symbols to supply a very rich subtext to this story and he has done it intentionally.  He does know whereof he speaks.  I don’t think there is any doubt that he has studied Esoterica.  Probably the topic was of life long interest both in the old kook capitol Chicago and the new kook capitol of Los Angeles.  (Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb.)

     There was a lot of esoterica going on in LA.  The Golden Dawn of Aleister Crowley was out in the desert at Barstow, Manly Hall was advising the movies on estoteric matters, the Vedantists were established and the Theosophists had a terrific college in LA.

     Anybody who thinks ERB wasn’t interested in such things doesn’t know how to spell Edgar Rice Burroughs.

     While ERB wouldn’t touch a religious theme unless ‘highly fictionized’ he managed to highly fictionize all manner of religion in this great novel of his mature period.  He was working at break neck pace too.

     Love this stuff.

     On to Part IV which will deal with the cast of characters.  Inevitably there’s a certain amount of repitition but I try to cast the stuff in different highlights, crosslights and aspects.  This stuff deserves a thorough examination.

 

A Review

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

Themes And Variations

#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN

by

R.E. Prindle

Introduction

Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    While Tarzan And The Leopard Men is not well thought of by Bibliophiles being considered the worst of the series, I can’t find any reason to believe this.  I couldn’t place it in the top five but the book is on a general par with the rest of the series, perhaps a little better.

     I think the problem arises because it is thought to portray the African in a negative light.  As with the Mafia there are those who deny the Leopard cult because it is offensive to their sensibilities.  They prefer to see the African as a ‘noble savage.’  I have no problem with this attitude but I prefer historical accuracy to anything I might wish to believe.

Trader Horn

    The existence of the Leopard cult in no way diminishes the character of the African.  Secret societies are part of every culture in this multi-cultural world.  Many of them are murderous.  The Assasins of Hasani Sabah of Persia are a notorious example.   The Illuminati who were responsible for the worst atrocities of the French Revolution are another.  The Freemasons who while perhaps not so violent function, have functioned and do function as a secret brotherhood who help each other against society.  The Mafia and Organized Crime in general are secret societies on a par with Leopard Men.  During the thirties Lepke Buchalter ran the infamous Murder, Inc.  So I see no reason to lower one’s opinion of the book because it may seem to certain sensibilities, by no means shared by all,  to  disparage the Negro.  The events in the Congo after independence and the events in Shonaland happening now are so horrific they make the Leopard Men seem like novices.

     The book Tarzan And The Leopard Men was written over July-September of 1931; a trifle of a rush job even for a fast writer like Burroughs.  The story was published in Blue Book from Auguast 1932 to January 1933.  Book publication was delayed until 1936 so there may have been some editing to reflect personal events over that period.

     As the novel shows a rather direct influence from both the book and movie of Trader Horn Burroughs may have received some criticism from the magazine publication hence delaying book publication until time had dimmed the memory.

     When Burroughs formed his publishing company he had expected to write a Tarzan novel a year.  That schedule would have been adhered to except for this novel that was interjected into the series out of order of its writing.

     The cause of the disturbance is very easy to find.  In February of 1931 MGM released it great African epic Trader Horn.  According to the ERBzine Bio Timeline for the 1930s, on February 23 ERB and Emma drove into Hollywood to catch the show.  So we do know exactly when he saw the movie, or, at least, the first half of it.  At intermission Emma remembered that they were to babysit for daughter Joan drawing her husband from the theatre.  I’m sure ERB steamed over that for more than a day.

     At that date he was in the midst of writing Tarzan Triumphant but Trader Horn aroused him so much that he began to plan a rejoinder.  After completing Triumphant in May he conceived Leopard Men and rushed it through.  Perhaps ERB thought Horn infringed on the Big Bwana’s African domain as Leopard Men is a virtual reformulation of Horn using elements from both the book and movie.  Of course ERB ‘adapted’ Horn for his own needs.  Trader Horn was to be an influence on the rest of the series.

The African Chief

     Trader Horn as a book first appeared in 1927.  It was a non-fiction best seller in both ’27 and ’28, in the top five for both years, a tremendous success.  That alone might have aroused ERB’s jealousy.  Whether he read the book between its issue date and his viewing of the movie isn’t known but that he had read it by the time he wrote Leopard Men is clear.  The title does not appear in his library although Director W.S. Van Dyke’s 1931 story of the African filming, Horning Into Africa,  does.  ERB undoubtedly used Van Dyke’s book as background for his 1933 effort, Tarzan And The Lion Man.

     Don’t look for a copy of Van Dyke in your library; the book was privately printed and distributed.  Copies are available on the internet but at collector prices of from one to several hundreds of dollars.  Thus it will readily be seen how large a space Trader Horn formed in ERB’s consciousness.

     I’m sure that when Emma dragged him from the theatre to babysit, ERB had no idea how influential Trader Horn was going to be in his life.  For at least three years his career centered around it.  In 1931 he saw the movie, possibly read the book for the first time and wrote Leopard Men.  In ’31 the contract with MGM surrendering the rights to the portrayal of his Tarzan characters was signed.  Then Van Dyke and Hume fashioned Tarzan, The Ape Man after Trader Horn.  Tarzan, The Ape Man was a major success changing the public’s understanding of the character of Tarzan from a literate cosmopolite to feral child.  In answer Burroughs wrote a parody of Van Dyke’s African filming of Trader Horn.  When the screen Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, gave up the role in the late forties he put on some clothes and became Jungle Jim who might very well have been modeled on Trader Horn.  Perhaps an inside joke.

2.

Trader Horn and Ethelreda Lewis

     At the time Alfred Aloysius ‘Wish’ Smith otherwise known as Trader Horn told his story to the woman who wrote it up and got it published, Ethelreda Lewis,  he was a seventy year old derelict living in a doss house in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Etheldreda Lewis was a well-known South African novelist.

     Horn made his meager living by making wire gridirons and selling them door to door.  He had developed a sad sack routine meant to induce housewives to buy his gridirons out pity.  It worked with Mrs. Lewis.

     She engaged him in conversation.  As a novelist she realized he had a story to tell, she encouraged him to do so.  Horn wrote up a chapter a week bringing it to her on Mondays.  As she treated him respectfully offering him tea and cakes and a last chance at self-respect before he peeled off for the other side of the river he managed to prolong his story over twenty-six chapters and one presumes as many weeks of tea and cakes.  Trader Horn the book is indicated to be Vol. I.  There is a volume two telling of his other adventures.  Vol. I is currently in print for 16.95, probably less on Amazon.  Highly recommended.

     In addition to Horn’s story Mrs. Lewis also recorded their weekly conversation which she appends to each chapter.   Horn makes some very interesting and timely observations, a little sad but on the knowing side.  I’m sure ERB was sympathetic as Horn confirmed his own beliefs.  Altogether a very interesting and entertaining book  which should have been a best seller not only for two years but more.

     Horn’s experiences were so wonderful that naturally the question has arisen as to how accurate his recollections may be.  I have read a number of vulgar opinions stating that Mr. Horn was a liar.  I take offense at such an assertion.  The man was relating his life.  He may possibly have gotten a few details wrong but, as they say in Hollywood, his life was based on a true story.

     I have read the book five times now within the last four years.  My opinion as to Horn’s veracity is this.  He very much wants to please and prolong a pleasant interlude to a rather grim life at the time.  He had read a number of books including Burroughs and Du Chaillu.  He claims to have known the French explorer De Brazza.  He was an educated, intelligent and experienced man.  He had apparently always had literary leanings.

     Everyone has to be somewhere every moment of their lives and I have no doubt that Horn was on the Ogowe River in Gabon  at the time he says he was.  As a reader I hope I can perceive the ring of authenticity in a man’s reminiscences .  Also I have been around myself enough to have seen some things, even seen some repeatedly, for which I get looks of incredulity, so just because I haven’t seen some things doesn’t mean they aren’t true.  I reserve the right to question them to myself but stranger things have happened than I’ve ever seen.

     While Horn is telling his own story I think he tries to make a good story better combining fiction with a factual tale.  One questions his story of the White Goddess, Nina T.  That story just doesn’t ring true.  It seems like he borrows a little from ERB.  Nina T. has been the Egbo goddess since the age of four, five or six being now in her twenties.  She was the daughter of an English trader George T.  who died when amongst the Blacks.  They then appropriated her to groom as their White Goddess.

     While Horn is plotting to spirit her away he has to communicate with her in writing, one imagines cursive.  He has to explain how she can read, write and understand English.  Nina T. and Tarzan should have gotten together.  Horn explains that before George T. died he taught the very young Nina how to read and write using a picture alphabet book.  Over the intervening twenty years or so Nina never forgot, itself a great feat of memory.  Not quite as amazing an accomplishment as Tarzan teaching himself to read and write from possibly the identical picture alphabet book but still very impressive.

     The natives also have a giant ruby as a fetish that Horn says he lifted by having a replica made solely from a description he sent to his friend Peru.  As he was the first White man to be initiated into Egbo such a betrayal  of his oath doesn’t speak well for his integrity or trustworthiness.

     Thus, while I don’t have any trouble believing his trading and hunting adventures I have to conclude that as Burroughs would say, he was ‘fictionizing’ the rest.  Nevertheless it makes a good story and if relating it  made him feel good so much the better.  No reason to call him a liar and his story lies.

     One has conflicting reports on his subsequent life.  On one hand there is a story he lived well off the proceeds of the book in England.  When he was about to die the story goes that he said:  Where’s me passport, boys, I’m off to Africa.  Famous last words, indeed.  On the other hand it is said that he died in 1927 in SA before he received the fruits of his labor.  I would like to think he lived long enough to see a version of his story on the silver screen.  If he had one imagines he would have been brought to Hollywood for the premier.  He wasn’t.

    So, whichever way he went, a tip of the hat for you Trader Horn.

Filming Trader Horn

3.

Horn, Van Dyke, Hume and Burroughs

     Had ERB known of Trader Horn in far off South Africa turning in his weekly installments to Mrs. Lewis I doubt if he would have realized how large a part Horn’s story was to play in his own life.

     When the book was published and became a bestseller, something which Burroughs must have heard of, there must have been a glimmer of interest but still no recognition of Horn’s future impact on his life.  When he saw Van Dyke’s movie he was duly impressed  and was influenced but still probably had no idea of what loomed ahead.

     By 1932’s MGM movie, Tarzan, The Ape Man, he had begun to realize the significance of Trader Horn to his own life.  When he sat down to write Tarzan And The Lion Man the Old Campaigner was aware.  While no copy of Trader Horn found its way into his library we know for certain he read it.  A book that did find its way into his library was W.S. Van Dyke’s account of the filming of Trader Horn, Horning Into Africa of 1931.  This book was used as the basis for Tarzan And The Lion Man.

     It seems certain that Van Dyke read Trader Horn shortly after issue.  By 1929 as the book was moving down the charts Van Dyke, a cast of many and several tens of tons of equipment were moving to Africa to form a safari to end all safaris.  Not since Henry Morton Stanley in his quest for Livingstone had Africa seen such a spectacle.

     Trader Horn was the first entertainment  film shot on location in Africa.  All the footage was authentic except those scenes shot on lot in Hollywood.  I’m learning to talk Hollywood…all, except.  The movie was a mind blower when it hit the theatres being one of the biggest grossers of all time.  Burroughs saw it, picked up his pen, dictaphone or whatever, and following the script and book closely dashed off Tarzan And The Leopard Men leaving out the bit about the music box.  Let’s compare the three versions of Trader Horn.

     In the book Horn is the central character.  He is a young man of seventeen or eighteen who has run away from school.  Peru, his schoolhood chum, does not enter the story until the very end.  His faithful Black companion, Renchoro, plays a very secondary auxliary role.

     In the movie Horn is a grizzled Old Africa Hand tutoring his young pal, Peru.  In the opening scene they are sitting around the campfire before setting out for the interior.

     Burroughs follows the movie  in having Old Timer teaming up with his young pal, The Kid.  Even though the character of Old Timer seems to be based on a man of Burroughs’ age it is explained that he is under thirty while the Kid is twenty-two.  Maybe ERB looked old but felt young.

      In Horn Nina T. is a dark haired beauty the daughter of an Englishman George T. and an octaroon which means Nina is one sixteenth Negro but not so’s you could tell.  She is literate, after a fashion, being able to read Horn’s handwritten notes in English.  Horn buys her European clothes which she wears while yet a goddess.

     In the movie Nina is a real primitive with the brain of an ape.  Burroughs may have been thinking of her when he created Balza of Lion Man.  She is astonishingly well played by Edwina Booth who has a mane of blond hair that would have gained her entrance as the queen of the Hippies in the sixties.  A very exciting appearance.  Just as Van Dyke and Hume made Tarzan an illiterate they show no favors to Nina.  She couldn’t have begun the the alphabet let alone recite it.

The White Goddess And Her Subjects

   In the book her mother died before her father.  In the movie Horn and Peru encounter her mother walking through the jungle in search of a daughter lost twenty years previously.  I laughed.  I wouldn’t know if anyone else did as I was watching alone in front of my TV.  By the way the VHS I was fortunate enough to buy new for twenty dollars, now out of print, is advertised on Amazon for up to one hundred seventy-five dollars.  What a strange world.  I hope they issue it on DVD.  Maybe this essay will spur enough interest.

     Horn coyly refused to give Nina’s last name as she is an heiress to the T. fortune which had been claimed long before.  The movie boldly proclaims her as Nina Trent.

     As Burroughs tells it, the future White Goddess is known as Kali Bwana, a name the natives gave to her.  Her real name is Jessie Jerome.  Her brother is Jerome Jerome.  This is probably a coy reference to the English writer Jerome K. Jerome whose classic Three Men In A Boat was in ERB’s library as well as Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow.  Three Men is supposed to be one of the most comic books in the English language.  If so, it was too subtle or too broad for this reader.  I didn’t find it amusing.  ERB must have liked it.  Jerry Jerome covers the Jerome Jerome parts of the name while the K of Kid provides the middle initial.   Jerome K. Jerome.

     The names are conceald from us until the very end of the book so there must be a haw haw there for the knowing reader.  ERB calls Jerome Jerry never calling him Jerome Jerome.

     Kali Bwana or Jessie Jerome is ‘what is known as a platinum blonde.’  So the goddess has gone from dark hair to the blondest.  Jean Harlow had starred in Howard Hughes 1930 production of Hell’s Angels making her the Blonde Bombshell of Htown so ERB was duly impressed.

     In the book Horn was a bright young man, in the movie, an old African hand.  In Burroughs although ‘not yet thirty’ he is an Old Timer, a bum because of what a woman done to him.  Since Kali Bwana/Florence redeems his attitude toward women we are free to assume that Emma was the woman what done it to ERB.

     Kali Bwana is deserted in the jungle by her safari because she refuses to submit to the embraces of her Negro headman.  Old Timer discovers her camp where she tells him she is looking for her brother Jerry Jerome, in yet another parody of Stanley and Livingstone.  Old Timer and the Kid have never asked each other’s names so Old Timer has never heard of Jerry Jerome, even though he is Old Timer’s partner.  Thus the rest of the story need never have happened had they known each other’s names.  ERB likes this sort of thing, using it often.

     Old Timer puts Kali Bwana under his protection which proves ineffective against the Leopard Men who seize her and carry her away to their Josh house to be their goddess.

     In the book Renchoro is merely an associate of Horn.  In the movie Renchoro becomes virtually a romantic interest of Horn.  Several scenes are tinged with homosexual overtones, especially Renchoro’s death scene while when Peru and Nina T. board the paddle wheeler for the return to civilization and Horn remains behind a big balloon containing a picture of Renchoro appears as a hearthrob for Horn.  Horn returns to the jungle presumably to find a substitute for Renchoro.  Interesting comment on the Black-White relationship.

     In the Burroughs’ story the Black-White relationship is removed to one between Tarzan and Orando.  Tarzan has a tree fall on his head as the story opens not unsurprisingly giving him another case of amnesia.  Orando happens along.  He is about to put an arrow through the Big Bwana  when Tarzan speaks to him in his own dialect.  A handy thing to not only know every dialect in Africa, human and animal,  but to know when to employ the appropriate one.  Probably has something to do with a refined sense of smell.

     Speaking of ape languages, Spain is about to vote on a measure  giving apes human status in the country.  So not only is the human species to be counted politically in Spain but leaping the Last Hominid Predecessor, an entirely different evolutionary strain is to be accounted human.  It will be interesting to see how the Spanish ape population votes.

     Orando then mistakes Tarzan for Muzimo or his guardian spirit.  Thus for most of the book the relationship between Muzimo and Orando is that of the movie between Horn and Renchoro.  And also between God and Human.

     Horn traded on the Ogowe River in Gabon.  Much of his story concerns his navigation of the Ogowe and its tributaries.  Unlike every other African explorer I have read Horn makes Africa seem a wonderland.  Every other writer makes Africa dark and forboding with piles of human skulls laying around, walkways lined with skulls.  Horn’s Africans are laughing back slappers who are merry even as they are shooting and killing each other.  The rain forest along the Congo depresses all other explorers but Horn finds the Ogowe otherwise.  The skulls are still there but Horn apparently finds them amusing.  The river Horn navigates unlike those of Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness or Stanley’s Through The Dark Continent and In Darkest Africa is a  bright cheery place.  Maybe it’s all a state of mind.

     Van Dyke has only one river and that does not play a central role while it is on the dark side, a river of death.  It is also the Nile in East Africa.  Most of the movie takes place on terra firma.

     Burroughs makes the rivers central to his story but they are dark, violent rivers of death.  ERB borrows more heavily from Stanley on this score than he does from Horn.  Actually, if one is looking for similarities there is some resemblance of Horn’s story to the Beasts Of Tarzan, but the latter is based on Edgar Wallace’s Sanders Of The River.  We don’t know what of Burroughs Horn read; it is quite possible that he read a few of the six or seven Tarzans available in his time.

     Horn has the Egbo fraternity practicing their rites in a long building quite similar to that employed in Burroughs’ Cave Girl of 1913.  Horn would have had to have read that in magazine form which is possible but seems a stretch.

     Van Dyke has his rites practiced in the open.  Horn originates the idea of crucifying the victims upside down so that when the head is cut off the blood drains into a pot for ritual uses.  Van Dyke includes an upside down crucifixion but leaves out the more grisly details.

     Burroughs dispenses with the crucifixion scene entirely relying on his often used cannibalism.  This may be one of the reasons the book is disliked.  In the sixties the traditional cannibal cooking pot was derided as a false stereotype of the African.  It was denied that cannibalism had ever been practiced in Africa.  Black musical groups in the US like Cannibal And The Headhunters ridiculed the facts.  Thus imputing cannibalism to Africa became bad taste.  Perhaps when Leopard Men was reprinted in 1964 its heavy reliance on such rituals prejudiced a certain mental outlook against it so the story was derided as the worst of Burroughs novels.  While very dark and even gruesome the story isn’t noticeably inferior to any of the others.

     In the book Horn is not only on good terms with the various tribes but he was the first White man initiated into the Egbo society.  Egbo is at its most innocent a sort of Freemasonic society and at its worst on a par with the Leopard Men.  Horn describes Egbo as a sort of vigilante society who do in anyone  any member has a grievance against.  Neither Egbo nor Leopard Men figure into Van Dyke’s movie.  As I understand it , Nina T.’s people merely practice savage primitive rites.

     Burroughs who has moved his story from the Ogowe of Gabon to the Aruwimi of the Ituri Rain Forest with which he was familair from Stanley’s account in his In Darkest Africa relates the Leopard cult that was notorious at the time.  Horn does have a lot of leopards in his story giving a detailed description of how their talons leave cuts looking like they were sliced by knives.  His natives wear a lot of leopard skins.  There isn’t much on Egbo available on the internet except a notice that it originated on the Calabar Coast which, if I’m not mistaken is where the Leopard cult comes from.

     Fellow Bibliophile David Adams gives a good short account of the Leopard Men.

     Burroughs undoubtedly  had sources so that his presentation is based on facts of the Leopard Men but adapted for his own purposes.  Thus he makes the Leopard Men  the central idea of the story.  Tarzan becomes involved with the Leopard Men through his role as the Muzimo of Orando.  As an ally of Orando’s Utenga people Tarzan engineers the destruction of the Leopard Men’s village and cult in that part of his domain.

     In Horn’s book as a member of Egbo he is familiar with the Negroes, a member of the cult and has full access  to the ldge and, in fact, Nina T.  He has no difficulty in rescuing her whatever.  He had just previously defeated the Egbo chief in battle so that worthy was thoroughly cowed refusing to even give chase.

     In Van Dyke’s movie Horn and Peru wander into an African Chief’s village attempting to trade.  The chief is uninterested in trading seizing them as victims for his sacrifical rites.

     Horn and and Peru as trade goods offer the chief a music box that the chief scorns.  In the book the music box is known as Du Chaillu’s Music Box.  At some earlier time Du Chaillu while researching gorillas had left a music box and compass behind that enthralled the Africans.  Peru shows up with another that they leave behind, presumably in payment for the monster ruby.

     Van Dyke apparently thought the music box ridiculous while Burroughs doesn’t use it at all although he does follow the movie scene with the African chief closely.

     In his version the Old Timer in pursuit of Kali Bwana learns that she was abducted by Gato Mgungu and taken to his village.  Gato means cat so perhaps the name has some reference to leopards.  Gato Mgungu is chief of the Leopard Men.  Old Timer who has traded with Mgungu before barges into his village alone demanding he release Kali Bwana.  In the movie the chief is a tall, extremely well built, handsome fellow.  Quite astonishing actually, while Burroughs gives Mgungu a huge pot belly.  Old Timer is given as short a shrift as the movie Horn.  He is seized, dumped in a canoe and taken down river to the Leopard Men’s lodge also, as in the movie, destined for the stew pot.

     In the book Horn and Nina T. are well acquainted.  She trusts him and is eager to be rescued.  They easily escape down river in Horn’s boat.  In the movie Horn and Peru are shown o Nina T. who falls in love with Peru.  Somehow an escape plan is concocted that she more or less leads.  They are hotly pursued by her people.  The band finds its way to the trading post on the river although Renchoro is killed.

     Burroughs has Kali Bwana taken to the lodge where with titillating details involving gorgeous nudity she is prepared to serve as chief goddess of the Leopard King who is a real leopard along the lines of the various lion kings of Burrough’s stories.

     Old Timer is held captive among the crowd of Leopard Men gathered for the rites.  As Kali Bwana is led out they both recognize  each other and gasp.  Unknown to everyone the Big Bwana is up in the rafters observing everything.  From then on he becomes the agent of deliverance.

     In the book Nina T. having been rescued, Horn provides the happiest of endings.  Horn and Peru have only one goddess between them.  She must go to one or the other.  The happy-go-lucky goddess is willing to take either the one or the other so they flip a coin for her.  The outcome is obvious since Horn didn’t marry her.  Peru wins the toss and gets the goddess.  Peru is the son of the owner of one of the richest silver mines in the world in his namesake Peru.  He has just come of age so he is one Porfirio Rubirosa.  Nina T. has left the jungle to fall into unimaginable wealth.  As I see her as nearly a feral child I do not envy Peru.

     The two are married aboard ship by the captain then after a pleasant interlude in Madeira Peru and Nina go their way while Trader Horn and his ruby go another.  Horn sells his ruby to Tiffany’s from whom he does quite well.  The stone while large has flaws so he didn’t do was well as he might have.

     In this volume at least Horn doesn’t mention ever hearing from Peru and Nina T. again.  He may mention them in volume two but I haven’t read it.

     In the movie with Nina’s tribesmen hot on their trail Nina and Peru go off in one direction while Horn and Renchoro lead the tribesmen on a wild goose chase.  Renchoro is killed but Horn makes it back to the trading post.  Peru and Nina are now an item.  She has either quickly picked up enough English to understand a proposal and say yes or she just likes the color of Peru’s eyes.  They offer to take Horn with them but that balloon of Renchoro pops up with the implication that Horn can find himself another African ‘boy’, which he seems to prefer.  The paddlewheeler steams down the river with Nina and Peru while Horn turns back toward the jungle presumably in search of another ‘boy.’

     Burroughs version is much more involved.  Suffice it to say that after many tribulations the French army shows up to suppress the remnants of the Leopard Men who were destroyed by Tarzan and the Utengas.  Jerome K. Jerome locates Old Timer and the goddess Kali Bwana.  The latter two have been reconciled and now are in love with each other.  When Old Timer learns that her real name is Jessie Jerome he fears the worst.

     In one of Buroughs, name games Kali Bwana had refused to give him her real name insisting he should call her Kali.  Old Timer refused to give his last name but confessed to being named Hiram.  Perhaps his last name was Walker.  Kali could him ‘Hi.’ Just as there is a joke in the Kid being Jerome K. Jerome there is probably a joke in Old Timer being called Hi.

     I refer you to Lewish Carroll’s Hunting Of The Snark:

There was one who was famed for the number of things

He forgot when he entered the ship- but the worst of it was

He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to “Hi!” or any loud cry,

Such as “Fry me!” or
Fritter My Wig!”

     There is a copy of The Hunting Of The Snark in ERB’s library so he must have read and reread the poem, as well as, one might note, The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam, so I think telling Kali Bwana she could call him Hi or any old thing is another of his literary jokes which are sprinkled throughout the novels.

     Old Timer is overjoyed when he learns that Jerry and Jessie are brother and sister instead of husband and wife.  As they are about to board the old paddle-wheeler, as in the movie, Jessie asks Old Timer to come with her.  (Old Timer plays coy.)

     The sun was sinking behind the western forest, the light playing on the surging current of the great river that rolled past the village of Bobolo.  A man and a woman stood looking out across the water that plunged westward on its long journey to the sea, down to the trading posts and the towns and the ships, which are the frail links that connect the dark forest with civilization.

“Tomorrow you will start,” said the man.  “In six or eight weeks you will be home.  Home!” There was a world of wistfulness inn the  simple, homely word.  He sighed, “I am so glad for both of you.”

She came closer to  him and stood directly in front of him, looking straight into his eyes.  “You are coming with us,”  she said.

“What makes you think so?”  he asked.

“Because I love you, you will come.”

It can be plainly seen how all three versions of this scene are related while being derived from the original of the novel.  As Burroughs adapted the movie version of the relationship between Horn and Peru he followed the movie ending.

Thus the novel and movie reoriented his own approach to Tarzan novels.  The relationship of the three stories has literary repercussions.  While it is plainly seen that Burroughs was, shall we say, highly inspired by Horn’s novel and Van Dyke’s movie, what might not be so apparent to the untrained eye is the extent to which both Horn and Van Dyke were influenced by the work of Burroughs which preceded theirs by a couple decades.

Horn admits to being familiar with the Tarzan stories.  He was a first time writer here, while he had his own story to tell, he needed a format.  He has chosen to emphasize many characteristics of the few Tarzan novels he could have read by 1925.  While the Ogowe River figures in his life he probably would have been excited by the river scenes in Beasts Of Tarzan.  He treats elephants and gorillas that he had actually seen in the wild differently than Burroughs but includes generous doses of both because they have worked for Burroughs.

Viewing from a distance as we are compelled to do one loses the savor of the times.  A Burroughs reading Horn carefully might easily have picked up many references that slip by us.

Van Dyke and Hume on the other hand had been exposed to Tarzan movies for a dozen years or so.  What they read can’t be so obvious.  But the very format of the jungle thriller would have derived from previous Tarzan movies.  ERB may have felt he was entering a turf war as the Big Bwana’s domain was being invaded.

Timber Raft On Ogowe River

He may have believed himself justified  in expropriating the expropriators.  If Horn died in 1927 his opinion no long mattered.  What Ethelreda Lewis may have thought isn’t known.  She apparently had a hand in writing the movie script for Swiss Family Robinson.  Whether she came to Hollywood to do it I am not informed although she was around the movie capitol for a number of years.  A meeting between her and ERB would have been interesting.

What Van Dyke and Hume may have thought I am equally uninformed, however between the release of Horn in February 1931 and the release of Tarzan, The Ape Man in March of 1932 was a year during which a contract was negotiated between MGM and Burroughs for the use of his characters but not of any of his material on April 15 of 1932.  (Erzine Bio Timeline, 1930s).  Within nine months then the movie Tarzan, The Ape Man was in the theatres.

The generally expressed view is that Hume first wrote up a script involving a combination Horn and Tarzan story.  This was before they might have seen Leopard Men in print.  To quote William Armstrong from ERBzine 0610:

     Cyril Hume who had turned the filming of “Trader Horn” in Africa into a suitable story outline, was given the assignment of writing the script for Tarzan The Ape Man, Hume’s original script had Trader Horn leading an expedition to Africa to search for a lost tribe.  En route, they discover Tarzan, who kidnaps the woman scientist member of the safari.  She eventually returns to the safari and they are captured by the tribe they seek (who worship the moon), and are to be human sacrifices to a sacred gorilla.  Tarzan leading a pack of elephants, arrives in time to save the safari.  The woman scientist decides to stay with Tarzan while Trader Horn and his party return to the trading post.

Map Of Gabon And Ogowe River

This script may give some idea of how conventional Hollywood minds viewed both Horn and Tarzan.  Apparently the relationship between th two was very close in their minds.  This script leaves little room for the development of the Tarzan yell while it gives the feel of making Tarzan a subordinate character to Horn.  Tarzan might or might not have been a part of the next Horn movie.  If MGM continued to use Harry Carey in the Horn role he may very likely have had a stronger film presence than Tarzan who, one imagines would still have been portrayed as a feral boy as he essentially was in Tarzan, The Ape Man.

It would be interesting to know when MGM decided to film a Tarzan movie and in what connection to Trader Horn.  The success of Horn may have prodded them but one is astonished at the speed at which the project was conceived and executed especially as we are led to believe that they had no actor to play Tarzan in mind when the contract with ERB was signed.

As Leopard Men was probably not even fully conceived in ERB’s mind when he signed it could have had no effect on the signing.  The release of Tarzan, The Ape Man in 1932 did have an effect on Burroughs.  After writing Tarzan And the City Of Gold from November of 1931 to January of 1932 he was stunned by the MGM characterization of his great creation.

That shock resulted in early 1933’s novel  Tarzan And The Lion Man.

As influential as Horn was for the main frame of the story of Leopard Men ERB had all his usual themes and variations to employ which he lavishly did.  This is a very dark story that I do not fully understand.  The Trader Horn connection was the easy part.  Now to the hard stuff.