The ERB Library Project

Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Animus And Anima

Part III

The Rainbow Trail

Bad Blood In The Valley Of Hidden Women

by

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

Texts:

Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Corpus 1911-1940

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

Grey, Zane:  The Rainbow Trail, 1915

Grey, Zane:  The Mysterious Rider, 1921

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.

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

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

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

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

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

     As Shefford explains to Fay Larkin:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     A few passages:

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

      Lucky he lived through that.

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

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

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

     The Indian shook his head and spoke for moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God of the Heavens, help me to talk straight.

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

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

Hope and faith were his.

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

     Then Grey sums up the turbulent Colorado:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

    

    

 

    

 

 

 

 

Men Like Gods

Tarzan Pays Homage To Heracles

by

R.E. Prindle

First published in the online Magazine: ERBzine

Cover of The Mighty Atom

Cover of The Mighty Atom

 

The Golden Age of Strongmen had captured the imagination of the world between 1890 and 1910….Into the 1920s the strongman continued as a living wonder and inspiring vision that could be had for the modest price of admission

-Ed Spielman: The Mighty Atom:

The Life And Times Of Joseph L. Greenstein

 

     When I was a child and youth in the 1940s and ’50s the legendary strongmen of the turn of the twentieth century were, if no longer living, living legends.  At least one, Bernarr Madfadden, the father of American bodybuilding, was still going strong.

     The most legendary of the strongmen was Frederick Mueller who was known professionally as the Great Sandow.

     In his heyday Sandow was so strong that he was capable of ‘exploding’ or breaking the ‘Test Your Strength’ machines in the arcades of Vienna, Austria.  There were so many broken machines that it was thought a vandal was destroying them but when apprehended it was discovered that Sandow was not only testing his own strength but the strength of the machines.  He flippantly suggested that they be made of better materials.

     On stage as Spielman relates, Sandow, who was trained as a turner, could do a back somersault over a chair with a thirty-five pound dumbbell in each hand.  He could do a one arm chin-up with the grip of any of his fingers of either hand, including his thumbs.

     He could…wait a minute!  I’ve heard something like that before.  Oh yea, I remember now.  In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan And The Lion Man he has Tarzan leap up to seize stakes pointing down from a ten foot high wall, then draw himself straight up until his torso was above the stakes, then roll over the top defeating the purpose of the stakes.  Was he thinking of the Great Sandow when he wrote that?

     I think he was.

     Burroughs was a fan of boxing and a great admirer of the strongmen of the Golden Age, although he didn’t like the bulky physiques.  He repeatedly denounces the physical build of the Strongmen in preference for Tarzan’s ‘smooth rippling muscles.’  In my day the bodybuilders were ridiculed as being ‘muscle bound.’  But the ladies panted when they said it.  Tarzan is as strong or stronger than the strongmen but sleek.

     Next one asks is there any place that it can be shown that Burroughs ever saw Sandow?  yes, and where else?  The Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893.  The Expo was a life changing experience for 17 year-old Ed Burroughs.  Bill Hillman of ERBzine has written a wonderful series on the influence of the Fair on young Burroughs.

     The influence of the Fair was as moving for the rest of America and the World as it was on Our Man.  There apparently has never been so influential a World’s Fair as that of Chicago of 1893.

     One of the best attended features of the Fair was put on by the Great Sandow.  Bodybuilding had already gotten started in England.  Sandow was a student of the innovative Professor Attila in London.  He came to the attention of Florenz Ziegfeld while performing in New York.  Ziegfeld brought him to Chicago for the Expo.  Sandow was a sensation.

The Great Sandow

The Great Sandow

     He created quite a stir at the fair.  Not only did Burroughs see him there but so did a man named Bernarr Macfadden.  At the time he was known as Bernard McFadden but he chose Bernarr because it sounded more like a lion’s roar and Macfadden because he thought it looked more distinguished in print.  As a result of seeing Sandow Macfadden became the father of bodybuilding and the health movement in the United States.  John Dos Passos spoofs him in Vol. III, The Big Money, of the his USA Trilogy.

     Macfadden was the discoverer of isometric exercises, which his student, Charles Atlas, renamed Dynamic Tension and made a fortune.

     Unless I’m mistaken Macfadden would cross ERB’s path sometime between 1908 to 1912.

     Sandow made bodybuilding a rage after the Fair while Macfadden organized the sport around his magazine ‘Physical Culture’ which he began publishing in the wake of the Fair.  Sandow also opened the way for a number of strongmen to build careers on their physiques.

     They all passed through Chicago.  How many of them ERB paid the modest price of admissio to see we can’t know, but as he always speaks of the strongmen in the plural one assumes that he saw several.

     Anyone who has watched the Strongest Men In The World competition on cable TV will understand how impressive both the feats and the physiques of these men were.

     In ERB’s day a man called Warren Travis Lincoln could lift a platform that held twenty-five men with his back.  That was a weight of about 4200 pounds.

     G.W. Rolandow could stack three decks of playing cards and tear them in two.  One assumes that was before they were plastic coated.

     Emil Knaucke who weighed in at five hundred pounds, a spectacle in itself, could hold a car above his head with one hand.  Spielman doesn’t specify make or model.

     Louis Cyr, one of the most famous strongmen, could restrain a team of horses on either side at the same time.  Really spectacular stuff.

Bent Press Arthur Saxon

Bent Press Arthur Saxon

     A man like Arthur Saxon of the Saxons was considered to be the strongest man in the world.  He could do a bent press of nearly five hundred pounds.  As in the photo, in the bent press a lifter raised a barbell above his head with one hand in a bent posture then raised another weight with his other hand.

     Eighteen ninety to nineteen-ten were formative years for ERB.  He would have from fifteen to thirty-five so that when he saw Sandow in ’93 at seventeen he was at a most impressionable age.

     ERB turned 40 in 1915 and 50 in 1925.

     By the twenties vitamins and food supplements had been discovered and were being developed for commercial use.  Vitamins were still novel when I was kid in the late forties.  Not everyone knew of their value as late as then.

     The Great Sandow, Louis Cyr, and a trio of German strongmen called the Saxons were all naturally strong but by the 20s it was possible to build muscular Adonae from the scratch of a 98 lb. weakling.  With vitamins, food supplements and a rigorous regimen for bodybuilding a normal body could be turned into as mammoth a specimen as Tarzan, as witness Arnold Schwarzenegger and his contemporaries who emerged from New York City gyms in the 1960s.

     In point of fact you didn’t even need all that gym equipment.  If you followed the body building plan of the most famous Adonis of the 40s and 50s, Charles Atlas, all you needed were your own opposed muscles.

     Atlas took Macfadden’s isometric exercises and called them the more commercial sounding Dynamic Tension.  By pitting one muscle against its opposite fantastic results could be achieved.

     Charles Atlas, who changed his name from Angelo Siciliano, was voted the world’s most perfectly developed man in 1922 by his mentor, Macfadden and Physical Culture magazine.

     Angelo, born in 1894 in Acri, Sicily came to the US in 1904, thus he would have been 18 in 1922, 18 in 1912.

     Siciliano actually had been a 98 lb. weaking who had sand kicked in his face by a bully.  His girl friend actually did walk away from him.  Siciliano then built himself up into what I’ve always considered to be the image of Tarzan and changed his name to Charles Atlas.

    I was not as successful with the Dynamic Tension plan Chuck sold me in the 50s but then I didn’t try that hard and I couldn’t afford the food supplements which are indispensable.  Nevertheless it had become possible to turn out ‘Men Like Gods’ on an assembly line basis.

     It is more than likely that Burroughs was very familiar with the bodybuilding or fitness program of Macfadden.  That photo of him flexing his muscles on the dock at Coldwater is that of a man who has been working out.  I can’t beleive that a man who was interested in magazines as Burroughs was couldn’t be familiar with Physical Culture Magazine.  Not only would he have the living memory of the Great Sandow in his mind from the Expo but Bernarr Macfadden had moved his headquarters from Battle Creek to Chicago in 1908.  He had a very prosperous looking facility.

     During these years from 1899 when ERB was bashed in the head in Toronto to 1910 at least, he complainedof excruciating headaches that began when he got up in the morning and lasted through half the day.  These would have been very enervating affecting his ability to work.  In The Girl From Farris’s he has his hero Ogden Secor suffering from the same headaches going from doctor to doctor ‘tinkering with his skull’ in hopes of finding relief.  The doctors could do nothing for Secor so he undertook a fitness regime which eased his situation.  So must have ERB.

     Once again, the picture of ERB standing with his legs apart flexing his muscles on the dock at Coldwater in 1916 shows that he was either proud of a moderate physique or he was trying to develop those ‘rippling’ muscles like Tarzan and Charles Atlas.

     At fifty in 1925 ERB probably thought himself beyond the age when he could develop his physique into a semblance of his creation, Tarzan.  Ten or twenty years younger and you might have seen Burroughs as another Charles Atlas or Tarzan.

     There is every reason to believe that sometime between 1908 and 1912 he developed an interest in Macfadden’s program.

      When he sat down to begin his Tarzan series at the end of 1911, Burroughs’ mind must have been filled with the feats of Sandow and the other strongmen.  Anent this, Tarzan’s leopard skin loin cloth was borrowed from the strongmen.  Leopard skin shorts were de riguer for the bodybuilding crowd.

     Of course the role models for these strongmen were Samson and Heracles.  The latter is better known in his Roman usage as Hercules.  For the purposes of this essay I will refer to him as Heracles in hs Greek manifestation.

     Especially in his original manifestation Heracles was a Sun god as the companion of the Earth Mother, Hera.  When the Patriarchal system was imposed on the Matriarchy Hera was wed to Zeus while her former consort, Heracles- The Glory Of Hera- was demoted to the role of Holy Fool and the strngest man in the world.

     ERB often refers to Tarzan as a Jungle God and a latter day Hercules.  Burroughs had a good Greek and Latin education so one might asume that he had some familiarity with the cycle of myths devoted to the feats and tribulations of that ancient type of all strongmen, Heracles.

     In fact, without stretching the point unduly, one can posit a relationship between the Pelasgian Sun God, Heracles and the Flaming God of Opar and through them to Tarzan; they can be construed as one.

     Whether ERB was conscious of what he had done in conflating the three cannot be determined for sure but as he was manipulating valid historical data why shouldn’t he have been conscious of what he was doing?  The Aztec ritual of tearing the heart out to offer to the sun god is implicit in scenes where Tarzan lies across the sacrificial block, pardon me, altar.  The annual sacrifice of the queen’s consort is implicit once again as La raises the sacrificial knife.  A blatant resemblance to Cybele and Attis.

     While the subconsious is always important it is the conscious mind that organizes, plots and writes.  As a writer I may have subconscious motives which may emerge but assembling and organizing my material is a conscious intellectual act.  It is axiomatic that one cannot write what one does not know.

     One of the great mysteries of mythological studies has been the relationship of Heracles to his namesake the former Matriarchal Earth Goddess, Hera.    I noted just previously, during the matriarchy as the Sun, Heracles would have been appropriately called ‘The Glory Of Hera’ or of the Earth.  The same notion can be applied to Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology.  For instance, as David Adams points out somewhere, the lion is a symbol of both the sun and the matriarchy.  It is a fact that the body of the Sphinx at Memphis is older than the head.  The head of the original has been replaced by that of a man.  It therefore follows that the Sphinx was carved during the Matriarchy having either a lion’s or a woman’s head.  After the succession of the Patriarchy the head was changed to reflect the New Order.

     In the Greek Oedipus myth the Theban Sphinx was still represented as the original matriarchal symbol of a lion with a woman’s head.  Woman-lion/sun/Heracles.  The answer to her riddle after which she committed suicide was ‘man’ which denied the Matriarchy, hence she had to kill herself as the Patriarchy thus symbolically replaced the Matriarchy.  Apply that to the Egyptian Sphinx and the change of heads.

Theban Sphinx

Theban Sphinx

     Now, the original Egyptian Sphinx was exactly the same as the Theban Sphinx: a woman’s head on a lion’s body.  the Sphinx is positioned to be looking due East at sunrise in the Age Of Leo.  Thus, perhap, the secret of the Sphinx is simply that as Mother Earth she sat waiting for her consort Heracles (or his Egypian counterpart) to appear on the horizon each morning.

     The notion has simplicity to recommend it.

     As we all know, Oparians were a group of Atlanteans isolated from the main body when mythical Atlantis broke apart and sank beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  The worship of the Flaming God was inherited from the parent civilization by Opar.

     Thus whether Burroughs knew what he was doing or not he always gets the sequence of events right.

     Without getting into any discussion of if, where or when Atlantis may have existed, let me say, neverttheless, that all the evidence points to a predecessor civilization anterior to Crete, Pelasgian Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia in much the same way Atlantis preceded Opar.

     The predecessor civilization must have existed in the Mediterranean Basin during the last ice age when ocean levels, scientists tell us, were several hundred feet lower than they are today.  There are evidences of quarrying several hundred feet below sea level on the flanks of the island of Malta for instance.  Given this as a fact, then when the ice melted and the waters rose during the Great Flood to their present levels any society or civilization that existed in the Mediterranean Basin was forced to move to higher ground which is to say above the present sea level.

     One thing is certain, if the Basin was habitable it was inhabited.

     The disruption caused a long dark age from which mankind only slowly recovered.  At the same time these relatively highly developed people moving into less developed savage societies had a fertilizing influence introducing more sophisticated ideas and methods such as agriculture.

     Lower Egypt, one of Two Lands, was obviously settled by the displaced Libyan dynasty.  After centuries of warfare the Upper Egyptians succeeded in conquering Lower Egypt uniting the Two Lands.  The Third Dynasty was a Libyan Dynasty so that the warfare was translated from an external one to an internal one in which the Libyans defeated the Upper Egyptians.  During the Libyan Dynasty the great pyramids were built reflecting in some way the the flooded predecessor civilization.

     So Crete and Pelasgian Greece received survivors also.  The Sumerians of Mesopotamia attribute their civilization to the advice of Oannes, John in English, who came from the sea.

     Often ignored by classical scholars but obviously part of this great Mediterranean culture is ancient Spain.  Now, Spain has one of the great traditions of the worship of Heracles as a Sun god.  This tradition preceded and was uninfluenced by any Patriarchal tradition from Greece.  In point of fact the Patriarchal Heracles went West to annex the Spanish traditions to the Patriarchal cause.  In the process he rounded up the cattle of the Sun i.e. the Matriarachal Heracles to bring back to Greece.  Throughout history, including modern Africa, lifting another man’s cattle transferred his authority to oneself.  See the great cattle raid of Cooley in Irish mythology.  It therefore follows that the Greek Patriarchal myths of Heracles are built on an earlier Matriarchal mythological cycle while being perverted or converted to Patriarchal needs.

     Heracles was originally a sun god.  He was the original of the Flaming God.  I can’t say Burroughs knew this either consciously or subconsciously, however as we will see there is substantial evidence to indicate that he was consciously manipulating the material.

     The city of Seville in Spain is built over a Sun Temple in which Heracles was the sun deity.  This site beneath Seville can still be vistited today.  Assuming that the history of the Spanish Heracles developed independently of the Greek Heracles which after all is a Greek interpretation of a Pelasgian god then it follows that the two traditions must have come from a common source.  That source cannot have been other than the ante-deluvian civilization of the Mediterranean Basin.

     It follows then that whatever names they were known by in this anterior civilization Hera was the Great Mother Goddess while her ‘Glory’ Heracles must be no other than the Flaming God, the Sun.  What else could the ‘Glory’ of the Earth Mother be?

     Thus when the Great Flood, which must be the same as that spoken of by the Sumerians who would have gotten the story from Oannes, destroyed the civilization of the Mediterranean Basin the inhabitants fled to the former highlands surrounding them taking their traditions with them.  The Spanish Heracles was yet identical to the Pelasgian and Cretan models which later became variant.

     When the Greeks entered Pelasgia at the beginning of the Arien Age, the Zodiac dates back to the anterior civilization, they found this remnant of the ante-deluvian civilization with immemorial religious traditions occupying the land.  As the Arien Age began a great shift in the mental and social organization of man progressed in its evoltuion.  The shift was from a Matriarchal consciousness to a Patriarchal consciousness.  In other words, the God replaced the Goddess as the most important sex.  Fecundation became more important than actual reproduction.

     This meant that all the divine myths had to have all the sexual relationships reversed so that the God took precedence over the goddess.  Hera could no longer be allowed to have a male god as her subordinate ‘Glory’, the roles had to be reversed. Hera would have to become the dependent of Zeus.

     Homer’s Iliad is one key in the story of this reversal.

     As Hera was unwillingly made subordinate to her Lord and Master, Zeus, Heracles had to be appropriated by the God.  The Patriarchy then turned Heracles into a scourge of Hera and she his enemy in ridicule of the previous dispensation.  Kind of a Burroughsian style sly joke.

     The meaning of the name Heracles as the glory of Hera was thus lost.  Heracles lost his identification with the Sun becoming a buffoon as the greatest of men; a physical giant of somewhat dim intelligence.  Hera’s glory was turned into a laughing stock but still a good sort of fellow who could aspire to godhood at death.

     In the Patriarchal myths Heracles destroyed various Matriarchal cult centers such as the Hydra at Lerna, the Stymphalian Swamps, the Stag of Artemis, the Nemean Lion and others.  His cycle of adventures was involved in replacing the Matriarchal with the Patriarchal sarcastic ‘Glory’ of Hera.

     To make a feeble Patriarchal attempt at accounting for the meaning of Heracles’ name Homer tells the following story in book XIX of the Iliad.  Zeus, influenced by the goddess Folly, announced to the assembled Gods on Olympus that before the day was out a descendant of his lineage would be born to a mortal woman who would be the greatest man in the world.

     Hera, who hated the infidelities of Zeus, heard his proclamation with scorn.  She knew her husband but too well.  She knew he referred to Alcmene who was bearing Heracles but she also knew that a son was to be born to the wife of Sthenelus who was only seven months pregnant.  Sthenelus was of the lineage of Zeus.

     Hera rushed off to visit Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to ask her to hasten the birth of Eurytheus while delaying that of Heracles.  The former having been born first became the greatest monarch of the age after the Patriarchal fashion but by Matriarchal means.

     Hastening back to Alcmene Eileithyia uncrossed her legs allowing Heracles to be the younger son of Zeus born on that day.  While Heracles was the bravest and strongest of men he was nevertheless compelled by Hera’s resourcefulness and prompt action to be subservient to Eurystheus.  Thus the will of Zeus which could not be averted was perverted by Hera to thwart the Big Guy’s will.

     Heracles was still the strongest man alive but he was subordinate to the will of Hera through Eurystheus, portrayed as one of th weakest and most cowardly men of his time hiding behind his mother’s skirts but by the grace of Hera and the matriarchy, the greatest ruler.

     Zeus, appalled by his lapse of judgment threw Folly off Olympus from which she is still banned.

     In that sardonic manner Homer explained the meaning of Heracles as the glory of Hera.  She had used him to Ace Zeus.  Heracles had been stripped of his role as the glorious Sun companion of Hera.  He comes down to us as the strongest man who ever lived.  In the Roman nomenclature of Hercules he became the role model of every strong man who ever lifted a dumbbell.  Yet they all wore leopard skin shorts, the leopard being a symbol of the Matriarchy.  You can’t fool Mother Nature.

     To Burroughs who was a student of Greek mythology the great strongmen of the Golden Age must have appeared as men like gods.  Their feats of strength, their marvelous physiques, were so far beyond the abilities of ordinary men that they must have seemed to be in a class by themselves far above mortal men.

     In that sense Tarzan is the greatest of the strongmen, above Sandow, Arthur Saxon and even Heracles.

     Heracles himself had been demoted to a mere mortal although his legend was so great that he was allowed immortality by the Patriarchy after his mortal death.  Unwilling to grant him too much credit he was allowed to be the doorman of Olympus.  He held this position throughout the Arien Age being replaced by St. Peter in the New Dispensation of the Piscean Age.

     Burroughs, familiar with the mythic cycle of Heracles, however he understood it, plays with both identities of Heracles in the person of Tarzan at Opar.  He also brings in a number of elements from H. Rider Haggard’s novel She.  There can be no doubt of the influence of Haggard.  Burroughs even names his heroine La which is what ‘She’ is designated as in French translations of Haggard’s novel.  The palance of Opar is also based to some extent on the labyrinthine caves of She.

     There are many literary influences for the creation of Tarzan not least of which are the real life H.M. Stanley and Haggard’s fictional heroes Sir Henry Curtis and Allan Quatermain.  I would now like to direct attention to a third, that of the heor of She, Leo Vincey.

     If one closely examines Vincey it will be discovered that he too was a Sun King whose death had been caused in an earlier incarnation by She.  The cartouche which contains the name of Leo’s distant Egyptian ancestor was translated as ‘The Royal Son Of Ra’ or son of the Sun as in Egyptian mythology Ra is the sun.

     Leo also translates from the Latin as Lion so we have the Son of the Sun who also is a Lion Man which is how Burroughs refers to Tarzan in ‘The Invincible’ and undoubtedly as how he always thought of his creation.

     Haggard translates Vincey as the Avenger.  Tarzan is the ‘Avenger’ or guard of Africa.  Haggard describes Vincey as almost inhumanly beautiful while Tarzan is the most handsome man in the world not unlike Charles Atlas.

     Haggard’s She is indescribably old kept forever youthful by having bathed in the fire of eternal youth.  Hera was also eternally youthful and a virgin queen.  She restored her youth and virginity by bathing annually in a holy spring.  Hera’s bath obviously refers to the Spring rains which inundated Mother Earth just prior to vegetation springing forth in virgin birth.  After the summer heat the vegetation dies down and Earthy Hera becomes barren once more to await her bath and return to virginity.

Mr. Dynamic Tension- Charles Atlas

Mr. Dynamic Tension- Charles Atlas

     So a connection can be made between Sun>Heracles>Vincey>Tarzan and Mother Nature>Hera>She>La.

     Burroughs La was neither ancient nor immortal in the personal sense although she was the latest in an immortal line of Priestesses.  She is a priestess of the Sun or Ra, The Flaming God.

     Haggard’s Leo Vincey was the direct descendant of Kallikrates She’s great love of two millennia past.  She, or Alyesha, to use her name, had killed Kallicrates in a rage.  Kallikrate’s descendants were sworn to avenge the murder.  Thus Vincey travels from England to far off Africa to locate this fabulous woman.

     Kallikrates was the love of Alyesha’s very long life.  When she recognizes Leo Vincey as her lost lost love she saves his life while offering him eternal youth if he will only bathe in the flames of eternal life.  He hesitates to do so.  To encourage him Alyesha steps once again into the flames which was a serious miscalculation.  She crumbled to dust.  Thus while Leo Vincey doesn’t actually avenge the death of Kallikrates she is nevertheless his victim.

     Tarzan while actually born in Africa was conceived in England so he made the trip to Opar from England although he is ignorant of La.  When Tarzan is captured in Opar he is laid on the altar of the Flaming God, La with the sacrifical knife raised, looks down on this Jungle God, this man like a god, and falls in love.  Thus we have a replay of the She-Kallikrates situation.

     Unable to take Tarzan’s life, La releases him begging him for his love.  Alyesha’s full title was She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed in the Matriarchal sense.  The old conflict arises, Tarzan is more on the Patriarchal side, he has his moly in the waistband of his loin cloth, monagamous we are led to believe, happily married, so the Lion Man Sun King declines the honor of being mated to La>Hera.  He asserts his Patriarchal prerogative to disobey although he always has a soft spot in his heart for La.

     In a fairly masterful way ERB conflates the legend of Heracles, the fiction of H. Rider Haggard and the incredible strongmen of the Golden Age and his own little bit to write a charming and beautiful story which is fairly simple on the surface but one which becomes immensely rich with a deeper understanding of the sources.

     Ernest Hemmingway once said that before one sat down to write one should have ten time the information in your possession as you put on paper else the story will seem shallow and contrived.  It would seem that the sources upon which Burroughs was drawing, from the bodybuilding strongmen of his day to the legendary cycle of Heracles to the adventures of H.M. Stanley and the fiction of H. Rider Haggard might well fulfill Hemingway’s dictum.

     When one searches for the sources of Burroughs one finds layer after layer of golden riches while discovering that in fact ERB did indeed create a man like a god- Tarzan The Magnificent.

Addendum

      This is a quote taken from Bonzo Dog’s song Mr. Apollo.  I don’t know whether the reader is familiar with the Bonzos but they were one of my favorites.  Several glorious LPs.  Neil Innes came from them as well as the great but tragic Viv Stanshall.  Leave those drugs alone, boys.

Follow Mr. Apollo,

Everybody knows a healthy body

Makes a healthy mind.

Follow Mr. Apollo,

He’s the strongest man the world has ever seen.

If you take his courses

He’ll make you big and rough.

And you can kick the sand right back in their faces.

 

 

A few years ago I was a four stone apology-

Today, I am two separate…Gorillas.

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

Long may they wave.