Edgar Rice Burroughs


The Accreted Personality


R.E. Prindle

Edgar Rice Burroughs Searching For The Answers

The Sea In Which He Swam


“I will tell you my history!

And you, excellent agnostic as you are,

‘Shall minister to a mind diseased,

And pluck out the memory of a rooted sorrow!’

What a power of expression there was in Shakespeare,

The uncrowned but actual King of England!

Not the rooted sorrow alone was to be ‘plucked out’;

But the very memory of it.

The apparently simple here holds complex wisdom;

No doubt the poet knew,

Or instinctively guessed

the most terrible fact in the universe…’

“And what is that?”

“The eternal consciousness of Memory,…God cannot forget- and, in consequence of this, His creature, may not!”

Marie Corelli- The Sorrows Of Satan

Miss Marie Corelli- The Soul Of Confidence


There can be no mind without memory. While I personally believe that the unborn infant does have inchoate memories obtained in the womb, let us just say that the memory banks begin to fill with birth. With memory comes an ability to analyze, that is compare, memories. As an example when I was lying on my back in my crib looking at the room for a long time (read, a couple months ) and all I saw were incoherent geometrical forms, angles and triangles, circles and whatever one moment as I looked on in amazement these geometric forms cohered into three dimensional objects forming walls and ceilings, While I didn’t know the names for lamps and lampshades, the lamp in the corner became one. And that was by unaided instruction.

Then they stood me on my feet and my education began in earnest. From that point an infant has to memorize vast amounts of information while somehow learning how to manipulate it for use. By the time you get to school they’re cracking your brain with masses of information.

The basis of mind is memory, that is to say the mind is nearly vacant at birth like an unprogrammed computer. The matrix for memorization is there but the content has yet to be loaded. While loading a computer is a matter of minutes filling a mind takes a lifetime with the crucial years being the first twelve. Zeus in the Iliad had a mind of infinite power and it is the duty of every individual to develop the power of his mind to as close an approximation as Zeus according to his ability.

George Du Maurier

Strangely the psychologists of the period failed to realize this, although the philosopher Carus came close. Freud himself seems to ignore the basic role of memory while some novelists of the last quarter of the century grasped it. George Du Maurier’s wonderful novel, Peter Ibbetson, is a marvelous exposition on the nature of Memory. Marie Corelli’s Sorrows of Satan is likewise built on the nature of memory. In short, without memory we are nothing, without the ability to remember as a child we can amount to nothing, while in old age if we lose our memory we become a vegetable without any purpose. Our existence is really a story of how we accumulated our memories and what we did with them.

There are also kinds of Memory. Experiential memory forms the basis of which much of the content is what the nineteenth century American sociologist Graham Sumner called Folkways. The ways one’s people do and see things that we begin to acquire at birth naturally, or perhaps unconsciously. This memory is supplemented at age five or six with organized education- school. Education is a very hard and painful thing requiring periodic restructuring of the brain when enough knowledge is acquired to demand a change of scale. No wonder fair numbers of people fail this rite of passage. Education gives or should give one a means of interpreting one’s acquired knowledge and experience, hence the importance of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Matters have changed a great deal since the nineteenth century with the development of various forms of media so that the child is bombarded with propaganda that he probably can’t evaluate properly so that the pre-school years have become very dangerous to him. Burroughs didn’t have that problem.

Ed was born into the world in 1875 so that his youth and young manhood was lived in the horse and buggy world shaping his ideas of reality. This would force a severe adaptation to the changes of scale, folkways and technology after 1900. In the sense of H.G. Wells’ novel Men Like Gods the world passed through an interface into a parallel universe where horses and buggies disappeared to be replaced by motor cars and an unparalleled wonder- the airplane. I get ahead of myself. Ed’s mind had assumed its form by 1900 so let’s see, if we can, what he saw, as his memory received its input.

H.G. Wells- Men Like Gods

Today we look at his novels of lost world after lost world and sneer at it as an overused literary device. But consider:

To give it a convenient date, the Western consciousness went through a change of scale about 1795. Philip Farmer, the American sci-fi writer picked this date to begin his fictional Wold Newton Universe. The change was the beginning of what might be called speculative fiction. Mary Shelley’s influential book, Frankenstein, would possible be the earliest or very early example.

Oddly enough this very period saw the introduction of the historical novel in the works of the Scotsman, Walter Scott, perhaps the greatest novelist who ever lived. In my book he is. Thus we have a sense of the past and vision of the future emerging as the Western mind set. The historical novel itself is an exercise of racial memory so that along with the change came a realization of the racial self as well as the individual self, an expanded consciousness.

The Western mindset was changed, had been changing, the changes of which took shape during the French Revolution, preceded by the Age of Reason which melded into the scientific outlook.

Hence, when Napoleon, for whatever quixotic reason , invaded Egypt in 1799, he took along a contingent of scientists, who did not exist before that time, to catalog the wonders of that ancient civilization. This was the first of the Lost Empires to be discovered by Europeans only 76 years before Ed was born. And what a Lost Civilization. All had been hidden from Western eyes by the veil of the Moslem occupation of what were traditionally Western lands. But now, the Pyramids, Luxor, the Great Sphinx! The last was celebrated by Shelley’s mind in his great poem Ozymandias nineteen years later:.

The Great Romantic- Percy Shelley

I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert…Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And whose wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my work , ye Mighty and despair!’

Nothing besides remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.


The European mind was astounded, dumbfounded, amazed beyond measure. This was also the time that the Arabian Nights or alternatively The Thousand And One Nights of Scheherazade was placed in the European canon of literature. And the Egyptian hieroglyphs, so inscrutable, concealed the mystery of this amazing ancient people that preceded the Israelites of the Bible. Yet thirty years later Champollion of France decoded the hieroglyphics and revealed their meaning to the amazement of the world.

So vast were the Egyptian treasures of memory that year by year more astounding tombs were opened, hundreds and hundreds of mummies were discovered, legend after terrifying legend revealed this amazing past until the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in the 1920’s more or less put an end to this terrific hundred and twenty year voyage through mankind’s memory. The curse of the Pharaohs haunted the Western imagination well into the thirties with many movies, the technology unheard of in 1799, exploited the fantasy. Marvel of marvels. The curse of the Pharaohs.

Heinrich Schliemann

Nor did archaeology stop in Egypt. Heinrich Schliemann, a German enthusiast, defied the experts and uncovered the site of Homer’s fabled Troy, the lost civilization of the Iliad. The Iliad that incredible legend of 800 BC turned out to be based on fact. The Greek Myths themselves shape shifted from incredible fantasies to be myths based on actual events. So actual that Schliemann leaving Troy traveled to the Argolid of Greece and unearthed the marvelous lost civilization of Mycenae, revealing a shaft tomb containing what might have been a death mask of the fabled King Agamemnon of the Iliad.

Oh yes, this is old hat to us now but imagine the gasp of astonishment then. And, it didn’t stop with Schliemann’s discoveries either. The walls of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire too were exposed to the light of day with their thousands of cuneiform tablets that once again were almost miraculously translated to reveal that amazing civilization thought to be a figment of the imagination of the Jews but now found real.

These discoveries went on an on and on. Even impoverished Africa contributed the memory of the Malagasy Empire of South Africa with its remains of Zimbabwe.

The British captains returned from India bearing tales almost too marvelous to be comprehended. Read General Forlong’s magnificent Rivers Of Life. The jungles of Southeast Asia gave up many incredible remains including Angkor Wat.

Burroughs is thought to have taken the concept of the lost civilization from that great English author Rider Haggard and while he read Haggard’s works, definitely influenced by them, he really only needed his newspaper to be astonished on, shall we say, a daily basis?

Thus year by year Ed’s memory banks filled with truths made even more incredible by having been the stuff of repressed memory for centuries even millennia.



And then there was the War Between The States and Reconstruction. The Indian Wars post States Rights. How to take all this in. This was not a static period or a simpler happier time as many so fondly imagine.

Ed’s father George T. was an officer in the Civil War serving from the first Bull Run to Lee’s surrender at Appomatox. While soldiers don’t like to talk about their experiences surely little Eddie must have gotten some stories while the Grand Old Army of the Republic, the GAR, would have been prominent marching in parades and having a general political presence at a time when the politicians waved the bloody shirt as having fought.

Ed himself was born two years before the crime of Reconstruction, with all it attendant horrors for the Southerners, so while not having any real memories of the period he would have been aware of it as the following Jim Crow period developed. Romancing the South was prominent through the First World War dissipating in the twenties and thirties and disappearing after WWII. On his 1916 cross country auto tour on which Ed took a portable record player along one of three songs he played over and over was Jack Yellin’s Are You From Dixie?, a favorite of mine. Yellin himself was a Lithuanian Jew who came to the country at five in 1900 and by 1915 was able to write a song reflecting the feeling of the country such as this:

Jack Yellin- Master Songwriter

Hello there Stranger, how do you do,

There’s something’ I want to say to you,

You seem surprised that I recognize

I’m no detective I just surmise,

You’re from the place that I’m longing to be,

Your smiling face just seems to say to me,

You’re from my homeland, my sunny homeland,

Tell me, can it be?


Are you from Dixie, I say from Dixie, where the fields of cotton beckon to me,

I’m glad to see you, tell me, I’ll be you and the friend I’m longin’ to see.

Are you from Alabama, Tennessee or Caroline

Any place below that Mason-Dixon line.

Are you from Dixie, I say from Dixie, ‘cause I’m from Dixie too.


It was way back in old ‘89,

When I first crossed that Mason-Dixon line,

Gee, but I long to return

To those good old folks I left behind.

My home was way down in ol’ Alabam’

On a plantation close to Birmingham,

And there’s one thing for certain, I’m surely flirtin’

With those southbound trains.


Pretty incredible for someone who probably still spoke with a Jewish accent. Goes to show how pervasive the sentimental vision of the South was. The Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris kept the vision alive until it ended shortly after WWII when Walt Disney produced his remarkable Song Of The South. That movie is now banned because Negro objectors wish to deprive us of our cultural heritage even though the movie presented Blacks as so adorable you just had to love them running counter to all the facts as evidenced today.

Ed’s attitude is probably best expressed in the War Between The States/Reconstruction novels of the great Thomas Dixon Jr. and reinforced by D.W. Griffiths’ great movie The Birth Of A Nation.

The Great Thomas F. Dixon, Jr.

Because Dixon points out several unpalatable facts about Northern conspirators who fomented the War and almost certainly conspired to assassinate Lincoln after the War because he wouldn’t crucify the Southern Aryans and attempted to impeach Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson for the same reason, who also resisted their villainous genocidal schemes. Dixon has been slandered to the point of being a veritable non-person, however he wrote very good novels. His diptych The Southerner and The Victim about Lincoln and Jefferson Davis respectively is really must reading for the period.

So John Carter of the Mars series was a Virginian as well as most of Ed’s heroes while he also translates his ’father’ from the Union ranks to those of Virginia. Probably based on memories of Massachusetts’ Phillips Academy he invariably excoriates New Englanders.

Ed’s memories of the War and Reconstruction while learned second hand were a very important part of his mental furniture.



Not inferior to Lost Civilizations and the Civil War to Ed’s mind were the very exciting events of the Scramble For Africa of the last quarter of the century. The Scramble of the European States for colonies in Africa also involved the stories of the searches for Livingston and the sources of the Nile, H.M. Stanley, Richard Burton, and King Leopold of the Congo Free State and many, many exciting stories, real life adventures and adventurers that wouldn’t be believable is they weren’t documented. The imaginary adventures of John Carter on Mars pale before them. I’m sure the character of Carter owes more to them than has been recognized. Certainly the Tarzan adventures couldn’t have been written except for the memory of these great explorers and the events of the Scramble which ended only a few years before Ed began writing.

King Leopold- Man Of Destiny

The incredible story of King Leopold of Belgium is certainly one of the most amazing stories of all time. Originally the Congo was not a colony of Belgium but the personal property, private domain of Leopold, thus Tarzan’s claim to hegemony of all Africa. In addition to the Congo Leopold annexed Katanga while also acquiring Rwanda-Burundi and almost the whole of the Southern Sudan otherwise known as the Anglo-Egyptian province of Equatoria. Unlike most of the other colonies, once the bicycle and its wheel was developed, the discovery of rubber in the Congo made the Congo a cash cow.

Rubber at that time was collected in the wild, later grown on plantations in various locations, then replaced by synthetic rubber made from garbage during WWII. The methods of collecting the rubber were brutal as the Negroes were forced to search the wilds and punished in they didn’t make their quota.

While it’s true that Leopold sanctioned this, Whites anywhere in Africa regressed from civilization to the level of native cannibals. Kurtz of Heart of Darkness was based on a real person. Thus the French in what became French Equatorial Africa were guilty of as heinous crimes as those in the Congo but Leopold took the brunt of the criticism. The Congo Free State was given to Belgium as a gift after the turn of the century. The Tarzan series thus is a memory of the period. The attitude prospered until the thirties when realities obviated the colonial past.

In the post-MGM series of Tarzan pictures filmed by Sol Lesser all the stories take place in Lost Civilizations while the actors, savages and all are White, no Black Africans at all.

Sol Lesser- Tarzan Producer



Another building block of memory not inferior to the others was the development of science in the nineteenth century. The key event for Ed Burroughs was the introduction of Evolution by Charles Darwin in 1959. Ed uses several strands of biology in his corpus. He knows the earlier work of Lamarck as well as that of Darwin and later evolutionary contributions of Gregor Mendel and the germ theory of August Weismann and his contribution of the Weismann Barrier that Ed apparently rejected.

Thus contrary to the popular conception that Burroughs was some sort of idiot savant. He kept up on current developments well aware of the Curries’ discovery of radium when he began to write. The awareness of radium poisoning was not yet known as he seems to be unaware of it.

Although it is not generally accepted he was also very well informed on the development of psychology. There is no reason that he couldn’t have known of Charcot while he was well up on hypnotism, an essential part of Charcot‘s method. Psychology before Freud preempted the discipline which was a fairly broad loosely defined subject. The field was also open to any and all investigators not yet preempted by the medical profession.

While it is generally believed that Freud discovered or invented the unconscious, this is not so; he merely defined the unconscious to suit his purposes and then by dint of shouting loudly and continuously managed to impose his view as orthodox driving all other understandings off the field. In fact he managed to make his interpretation, almost fabrication of psychoanalysis, the gold standard of psychology.

Sigmund Freud- Dream Weaver

Psychology was split off from philosophy rather late gaining momentum only during the eighteen eighties.

Robert Louis Stevenson

The most significant aspect of psychology that Ed exploited was that of the split personality which

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

he embraced to an astonishing degree. He seems to have gotten the notion from Robert Louis Stevenson’s great little novelette, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson got there before H.G. Wells or otherwise Wells would likely have appropriated the genre as well as interplanetary warfare, vivisection, invisibility, time travel and futuristic dystopias, all of which were of inestimable influence on the plastic memory of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

While Ed certainly tried to out-wow these amazing writers perhaps the closest he came was the little recognized story, The Eternal Lover, the title of which is often changed to the Eternal Savage, which completely misses the point. This story was even answered by Kipling and Haggard in their Love Eternal. Eddie was moving in fast company.

He was familiar with many novelists writing in psychological genres including George Du Maurier with his three incredible novels, William Morris of Notes From Nowhere fame and several other interesting but not compelling novels, as well as, I believe, some few novels of Marie Corelli who was working the psychological memory games.

Thus, by the time Ed began writing in earnest in 1911-12 he had a well defined notion of contemporary psychology. One must always bear in mind that Ed read continually and was omnivorous in his choice of reading material. While not of the University he had the more random reading habits of the autodidact.



Having two remaining topics of memory to cover, literature and immigration I think I’ll deal with that of literature first saving immigration for last.

The nineteenth century was the unfolding of the Aryan mind, an age of self-realization and the beginning of the effort to attain full consciousness. This is the story of psychology from then to now. The search for awareness was carried on in medical circles, philosophical circles and literary circles. Psychology was transferred from philosophy into medicine and science in the last half of the century. The quest for awareness was no more prominent than in literature. The German Romantics were the first in the field to explore the nature of the mind. Men like E.T.A Hoffman, La Motte De La Fouque and Charles Nodier represented psychological ideas in their fiction. These are significant but overlooked works.

Friedrich De La Motte Fouque- Wonderful Novels

There have always been stories and storytellers. First in poetic form then evolving into prose. The Greek novels of the Hellenic period are just great. Papryus was expensive and copying by hand was laborious and also expensive. With the invention of paper and moveable typeface and the printing press, books became more economical and multiple copies into the hundreds or thousands feasible. This meant that more people of diverse backgrounds could find their way into print. The key form of expression was poetry but prose gained ground. Then in the mid-eighteenth century the modern novel form took shape to explode after 1795.

Sir Walter Scott- Number One

Perhaps the first great novelist was Walter Scott who, himself began as a poet. His long poems such as The Lady Of The Lake and Marmion are still great reading although out of style along with Scott himself. What do I care about what’s out of style? Do you? Nevertheless Scott became the model for such mid-century greats as Alexandre Dumas, Balzac and Eugene Sue.

Scott and the great French novelists were also influenced by the Gothic novelist Mrs. Ann Radcliffe who wrote her romances in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

There are a myriad of authors, now forgotten except by the scholar or enthusiast who seeks their charm. George Borrow while an eccentric turned out a few worthwhile novels, Thomas, Peacock, Pierce Egan, G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries Of The Court Of London is a fabulous five thousand page, ten volume novel of the period. Everything you’ll ever need to know. Charles Dickens and all the great novelists of the mid century wrote scores of interesting worthwhile novels now nearly slipped through memory. Of course there is only time and room in the mind of we moderns who are bombarded daily by radio, songs, film and TV plus tens of thousand of books appearing annually, for so many old books. The need for selection is paramount while the changing social and political situations are relegating the world of pre-9/11 to the historical dust bin. Still the treasures are there buried like Long John Silver’s gold for those who care to dig. Let’s hope you’re one.

As I have noted, after Darwin in 1859 and the rise of psychological sensibilities, of which Darwin was ignorant, changed for the upcoming generation who took the stage in the eighties. The great modern genres were in embryo. Jules Verne had already begun his scientific romances that were influential while he continued writing into the twentieth century. His books are now heavily bowdlerized because his acute observations of the reality he perceived are no long thought proper by our modern social Mrs. Grundys.

Camille Flammarion, the very great French scientific neo-romantic writer made the space travel and planetary romance popular beginning in the sixties at the same time as Verne.

In 1880 Percy Gregg published Across The Zodiac which is erroneously credited as the first Martian romance beginning the long fascination with the Red Planet for which Burroughs was for so long credited. It was in the mid-eighties that a major influence of Ed’s began to publish and continued to publish at the rate of two or three volumes a year for nearly forty years, the great, wonderfully imaginative Henry Rider Haggard. A most versatile writer now known mainly for his African novels as the Scramble was in process. Haggard also wrote a half dozen great ancient Egyptian lost civilization romances that are well worth reading along with a couple Hebrew volumes of the Roman wars that are exceptional. It appears that Ed read most or all of Haggard.

The year after Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, Stevenson published his great scientific psychological thriller, Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. A key fact for Ed’s mental development is that these novels that are considered classics today were published during Ed’s lifetime or the decade or two before his birth so these really startling and amazing novels were as fresh in their impact as, say, a Rolling Stones record in the sixties and seventies. One imagines schoolboys gathering in knots and talking about them excitedly, much as we did about the latest sci-fi pieces in the fifties. While we know that Burroughs read these books we can’t be sure when but I imagine that to have read these books he must have done most of them close to the publishing date or they couldn’t have been part of his mental furniture by the time he began to write in 1911-12. And he had a lot of reading to do.

The Sherlock Holmes of Conan Doyle who began his career in 1886 also which continued intermittently for twenty-five years or so dazzling Ed’s mind. Doyle as I see it was also dealing with a split personality. Holmes and his alter ego are essentially two aspects of the same personality. Watson belongs to the pre-scientific past while Holmes is the scientific thinking machine devoid of sympathy. Watson takes the sentimental side. In addition Doyle introduces a third personality element in the criminal mastermind Moriarty who is a sort of Hyde to Holmes Jekyll, hence his is the social negative to Holmes positive.

Jekyll and Hyde and Holmes and Watson were introduced in the same year of 1886 as Marie Corelli’s Wormwood that also deals with the splitting of personality. As these books couldn’t have been influenced by each other one has to assume that the notion of split or multiple personality was being bruited about. Corelli seems to have attended Charcot’s demonstrations so that all psychological roads lead back to the Salpetriere.

There is no clear evidence that Burroughs read Corelli but as she was among the best selling and most sensational authors of the period I have little doubt myself that Ed followed his unerring instincts at least sampled her work.

Another author plowing the same furrow that Burroughs read for sure was George Du Maurier whose first novel, once again dealt with a split personality. In his novel, Peter Ibbetson of 1891, his character has a childhood in France which was very happy. Through the death of his parents he was sent to an uncle in England who while providing generously for Peter’s education nevertheless was cold while being disgusted at Peter’s rejection of his ideas of manhood. Peter’s glowing childhood expectations were dashed throwing him into a deep depression. Now let’s catch up on Burroughs’ development and I’ll return to Du Maurier later in another context.

Mark Twain

Now, Burroughs’ loved three novels that he read and reread six or seven times by 1920. They were Mark Twain’s The Prince And The Pauper, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy and Owen Wister’s The Virginian. Ed was led unerringly to the three novels that dealt most explicitly with his mental fixations. The first two were published during Burroughs’ childhood while the last was published shortly after the turn of the century in 1902.

Two of these three books relate to Burroughs life from birth to age twenty in 1896 with the last relating to the next period. One’s favorite books, songs or music are always going to relate to psychological needs developed during your early years. You may or may not have realized their psychological importance. It can’t be said whether Ed knew why the books were his favorites or not. All three relate to the blighted hopes of his youth. As far as I can recall all of Ed’s books tell the same story as these three in variation.

All three tell of a young prince who is disinherited and then after a series of adventures comes into his own again. In Twain’s Prince And The Pauper we have the double, or split personality of the Prince and the Pauper. Identical in appearance. By some literary magic the two exchange places with the Prince trading roles with the Pauper. In the end the Prince reassumes his proper role.

In Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy one has the boy who is the son of a Lord, thus being a little Prince, growing up in America in straitened circumstance who then is discovered and comes into his inheritance and true identity. He has a sort of double in a newsboy who follows him to England before moving to California where he becomes the successful manager of a ranch thus foreshadowing Ed’s flirtation with and move to California where he bought the Tarzana estate.

The Virginian of 1902 does not properly belong to his childhood but follows the same theme with the addition that the hero meets his true love and has an idyllic wilderness honeymoon. Shortly after reading the book he took his young wife Emma West to Idaho in what seems like an attempt to live the book. Emma was the wrong girl and the wilds of Idaho the wrong place.

It would seem then that Ed was highly influenced by what he read. He was also able to retain an accurate remembrance of the stories in his memory. The period from 1896 to 1911 was also filled with literature that furnished his mind for the literary tasks ahead of him.

So, in addition to the truly great literature of Dumas and Sue, Verne and Haggard, he was drawn to the interplanetary adventure. Like Freud who appropriated the long history of the Unconscious to himself so Burroughs absorbed and transcended the thirty years or so of previous interplanetary adventure to himself. Just as one erroneously thinks Freud invented the unconscious so one thinks Ed Burroughs invented the Martian interplanetary romance. No so. Earlier examples are constantly being discovered. At this time the earliest Martian novel is considered to be the one by Percy Gregg entitled Across The Zodiac published in 1880.

Greggs’s novel is written in the high Victorian style reminiscent of Anthony Trollope or just any of the crop of English writers of the 1820 or so generation so that the emphasis is sort of pre-scientific and stuffy unlike Burroughs’ writing which began after the invention of cars and airplanes, movies, phones and the whole works. Probably for that reason Burroughs displaced all other Martian writers with the exception of H.G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds. Even that which was on the edge between the Victorian and Edwardian periods relates more to the past than to the future.

There is a question as to which of these books Ed may have read. I think it not improbable that if he had heard of them he would have sought them out. Nor would, say, Percy Greg’s Across the Zodiac be as obscure in Ed’s day as it is now. There would have been not a few people who were familiar with such a book to refer Ed to it. As an inveterate magazine and newspaper reader there is no reason he might not have come across a reference. After all he did read Popular Science and Popular Mechanics both of which originated in the last quarter of the century. So, while it cannot be said for certain I think it probable that he was familiar with most of the Martian literature so that when he began A Princess Of Mars he knew what the landscape should and shouldn’t look like and knew what to avoid.

He was early introduced to the idea of the double and multiple personality through Jekyll And Hyde. The book was a clear cut example of split personality. The puzzle of a divided personality fascinated Ed while the literature of the subject is fairly extensive with numerous writers discussing it in various manners of doubling. From 1886 to 1900 many outstanding examples appeared that given Ed’s attraction to the sensational he would definitely have heard of while when reading those works and Ed’s works the same themes and even details are recurrent in both. Thus, while I have never read of Marie Correli’s name being mentioned in connection with Ed’s work she manages that same dark, murky sensibility in connection with personality dissociations. She was one of the best selling authors from 1886 to 1900 so there is no chance Ed hadn’t heard of her.

While he may have read Corelli it is certain that he read all three of the novels of George Du Maurier- Peter Ibbetson, Trilby and The Martian.

The first, Peter Ibbetson, 1891, follows Ed’s usual formula of a happy childhood disrupted by an untoward event. In this case having been brought up in France, his parents died and he was sent to an uncle to be brought up in England, thus a personality divided by French and English identities with the latter unhappy.

Now, Du Maurier concentrates on the need for memories. As he says, quite rightly, without memories what is a man. Nothing. Just a vegetable. Ibbetson, then, chronicles his childhood French memories while abhorring his current English situation. The crisis comes when Uncle Ibbetson insults Peter’s mother; Peter then murders his uncle.

Before he did Peter meets his childhood sweetheart, Mimsy, now married as Mary, the Duchess Of Towers. The childhood affection was sincere but she is now a married woman. Peter would have been hanged for the murder except for the intervention of Mary and her powerful friends and then is given life without parole.

Before Freud appropriated the topic for his own ends the Unconscious was thought to be a source of great intellectual riches with incredible paranormal, that is to say supernatural powers. At the same time dreams were improperly understood while also thought to have paranormal powers attached to them. Du Maurier invented something called Dreaming True while at the time Lucid Dreaming was a hot topic. Lucid Dreaming is when you consciously invade your dreams without waking and direct the dream’s course. Robert Louis Stevenson, who died in 1894, said that he wrote many of his stories while dreaming lucidly. They read like it too. Ed Burroughs, also, was interested in Dreaming True and Lucid Dreaming and said that he too took his stories from his dreams. If you read Burroughs with Lucid Dreaming in mind you can trace those influences too.

So, and now this seemed possible at the time and may seem possible to some today, Peter and Mary agreed to establish mental contact and Dream True. That is to say that they would each enter into one another’s dream together. This they succeeded in doing thus each led a double life. Now, in the very nature of things, they could not dream of anything that was not in their memories. Thus, they could only dream for instance of chairs they had seen, places they had been, only that of which they had memories. Du Maurier intuited that mind was wholly memory. Nothing comes out that didn’t go in.

As they had read of prehistory they could travel back through time into prehistoric situations. Everything went well for twenty-five years until one day the dreamgate was closed. Peter couldn’t enter from his end. His worst fears were realized. Mary had died.

His disappointment unbalanced his mind so that he went insane. He was removed from the prison to the asylum, his memories in disorder. I suppose Du Maurier meant shizophrenic in which one’s memories are so painful they became confused, working against each other so that the mind can’t function properly.. Over time he became reconciled to the reality and regained the use of his memories. And then one night while Dreaming True he sat by a dream river when Mary, released from heaven as a very special dispensation, appeared to him, explained the situation and told him they would meet in heaven.

The second novel, Trilby, one of the most celebrated of its time deals with the iconic hypnotist, Svengali, evil but potent, who exploited Trilby, a memory creation Du Maurier borrowed from the novel of the same name by Nodier, the Romantic. Hypnotism will play a significant role in Ed’s work. And finally the third novel, The Martian, inspired Ed, and his mind focused on Mars.

Du Maurier’s Dreaming True meshed with Stevenson’s Lucid Dreaming as a source for obtaining material unconsciously. It is clear that Ed was heavily influenced by Stevenson having read most if not all his fiction. It seems probable that he would have read articles about his hero who spoke freely of his Lucid Dreaming technique. Thus when Ed said he found his stories in his dreams there is no reason not to believe that he was familiar with these dream theories and their source in the unconscious.

The Fantastic E.T.A. Hoffman

Lin Carter believed and I concur that Ed also read novels by William Morris of News From Nowhere fame who writes dreamlike stories bearing some relationship to those of Ed.

I intend to pause at 1900 continuing on with Ed’s life experiences to 1911, but to close on this theme, this next book appeared shortly after 1900 but is very much a product of the pre-industrial period before 1900 so I include it here.

In England during the last quarter of the century the spiritualist movement gravitated from the US to England and even Germany where it was treated as a science to be investigated, hence the plethora of novels like those of Du Maurier and Marie Corelli.

Not only was the unconscious thought of as a repository for multiple personalities but even the fantastic notion of past lives. Thus people sprang up who believed, or said they did, that they could remember previous incarnations. This notion was also helped along by the appearance of Hindu and Buddhist missionaries in Britain and the US with their notions of reincarnation.

Among these imposters was a Swiss woman using the name of Helene Smith whose supposed lives were recorded by the psychologist Theodore Flournoy. Now, he conducted a serious scientific investigation of the woman’s claims. That Flournoy could allow himself to be so deluded demonstrates the psychological novelty of the Unconscious.

Miss Smith was a shop girl who was much displeased with her situation so she began to fantasize. Using the spiritualist movement as a stepping stone Flournoy made her famous. She would have done much better to turn her fantasies into novels much like Ed would but she enjoyed the attention her past lives claims got her. She chose three past identities, one as an Indian Princess, another as a Martian and the third as Marie Antoinette. Of interest here is that she invented a Martian vocabulary that only she could translate. Burroughs himself followed a few years later with his own vocabularies of various provenance including African Ape, the first and once universal language.

There is no reason to go into the details of her debunking, the point here is that it is thought that Ed read Flournoy’s account: From India To The Planet Mars. Certainly he would create three ‘past lives’ as identities to explore his own fantasies- Mars, an imaginary Africa and the Earth’s Core. The late life Venus stories can be discounted. By c. 1900 then the foundations of his novels had already entered his memory banks where they bubbled under his conscious mind where he could work on them both consciously and unconsciously letting them slowly ferment.

Terminating the nineteenth century were two works by the deviser of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. The first was his Interpretation Of Dreams and the other, The Psychopathology Of Everyday Life. The true significance of these books are overlooked but they both deal with the primacy of Memory as the basis of mind. Reminiscences as he would say.

As Freud noted that the problem hysterics suffered was not biologic but the distortion of memories or reminiscences, so both his two volumes deal with the distortion of Memory in ‘normal’ people. Freud must have thought he was normal as he used himself as a subject in both books.

As Freud grasped, dreams are based not only on memories but the distortion of memory by one’s fixations. That is, a fixation of a memory too hurtful to face so that it is fixated in the form of the hurt from which point it constellates similar subsequent memories and even shapes them and one’s actions to conform to its fears. So, from reminiscences of hysterics Freud had moved on to the memories of dreams and parapraxes.

Even more prescient was the study that followed a couple years later: The Psychopathology Of Everyday Life. The book is ill-titled, being somewhat off putting although very easy reading, but of even more significance than his dream book. This was the study that gave rise to the term ‘Freudian slip’. It is a study of parapraxes and how one’s memory interferes with another memory to blot it out. Strangely Freud missed the import of the significance of Memory taking it more or less for granted.

Freud’s analysis of parapraxes such as forgetting a word you commonly use was superb. He demonstrates significantly, from his own example, how unpleasant memories that one might associate with a word cancels out the ability to recall the word. In other instances one means to say one thing but let out one’s true intent by saying another.

Thus the subconscious whether in dream distortion or waking distortion affects one’s life, clashing with the conscious. The memories one has, the subconscious, one’s true desires emerge against one’s will. Of course, practice can eliminate or reduce word substitutions which is done by sharpening one’s conscious efforts to deny entrance to the sub- or Unconscious. In the struggle to unify one’s consciousness, that is, as Freud would put it, have your ego fill the space occupied by the Id- a later name for the Unconscious one must eliminate the interface. The only successful method is to integrate one’s consciousness so that the mind functions as one unit however perfectly or imperfectly. This is rare but it can be done by searching for and recognizing the significance of one’s fixations. Forget the term Depth Psychology; that’s a misnomer.

Barring that the choice is to recognize the influence of the unconscious and try to pose an impervious barrier to its influence in the sense of W.E. Henley’s famous poem, Invictus (The Unconquerable) Henley wrote the poem in 1875 although the title was added later by an editor, so that one may be sure that Ed knew the poem and used it as bedrock as so many of us have. There are interpretations, I give mine:

W.E. Henley



Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeoning of chance,

My head is bloody but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishment the scroll,

I am the master of my fate.

I am the captain of my soul.


There is a temporal interpretation as well as a psychological one. I am interested in the latter. D.H. Lawrence is quoted by Rudiger Gorner in his essay ‘The Hidden Agent Of The Soul’: “The novels and poems come unnoticed out of one’s pen.” This is true. One has conscious intentions but as one writes trancelike, hidden meanings emerge from the pen allowing for different interpretations of the words. Whether Henley had a conscious understanding of the unconscious psychological meaning of his words, the psychological interpretation fits. That’s all I can say.

‘Out of the night that covers me…’ In Greek mythology the night is construed as female, that is, the unconscious, the unknown, as with the depths of the sea, another female symbol. Daylight was considered as conscious and male as one can clearly see. The Night, is uncertainty and darkness when the goblins come out. It was feared. Henley clearly interprets night that way: …black as the pit from pole to pole. In other words he is in the grip of the unconscious with not a glimmer of light from one end to the other, he might have added, and from East to West.

But Henley is defiant of the darkness. He thanks whatever gods may be for his unconquerable soul. In other words, come what may he will not tamely submit. ‘Black as the pit…’ In my own hour of darkness, one of them, in my own hour of need, sometime in my teens, I gathered courage from Henley’s pen to fight that mountain of despair. I’m sure that Burroughs did too.

‘In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeoning of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.’ I’m not sure of the wincing but I have been strong enough not to cry out loud. Henley had his problems. He contracted tuberculosis of the bone and at seventeen had a leg removed at the knee. The doctors wished to take his other leg too but Henley stoutly refused. Thus he lost a leg but rather than succumb to despair his ‘head was bloody but unbowed’ under the ‘bludgeoning of chance.’

The first two stanzas were all there was of significance for me at the time while, for myself, I have considered it a two stanza poem but it continues with Henley’s rejection of the gods and of heaven and hell, both subconscious projections. ‘Beyond this place of wrath and tears, looms but the horror of the shade’. I interpret shade as nothingness. ‘And yet the menace of the years find, and shall find me, unafraid.’ A fine show of bravado just in case. Henley certainly spoke for Burroughs and I suspect for a great many of you, us.

And then a dismissal of consequences: It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll… It don’t bother me none, he says. And why? Here comes the clincher, that line that gets ya, because: I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. Damn right! And that’s called Positive Mental Attitude. Life isn’t worth living without it.

So Ed hangs in there, head bloody but unbowed, waiting for the turning of the tide. As the proverb goes: It’s a long road without a turning.

In closing this part let me remark that Ed was very fond of popular poetry of the Kipling kind. For those interested, I’m sure someone may be, there is a compilation called The Best Loved Poems Of The American People compiled by Hazel Felleman first published in 1936, in print since then, of which every poem I am sure was known to Burroughs. A poem couldn’t be too schmaltzy for him, he even has the collected Edgar A. Guest in his library. These bits of poetry were as essential to furnishing his memory as anything else he read.



The history of immigration in the US is the least understood and most misrepresented topic in US history. The history of immigration has invariably been written by Liberals or immigrants themselves so the story as taught in schools is rather one sided. The Key text is Gustavus Myers The History Of Bigotry In The United States. If you’ve read that you’ve got the official story. Just for the record, on my mother’s side I’m Polish and Pennsylvania Dutch; on my father’s side solid Scotch-Irish from the Kentucky hill country, both grand parents. I’m a hillbilly boy with a Polish accent. My name, Prindle, is usually thought of as English so I have the field covered. I have been subject to the all the discrimination currently employed against the English.

In discussing Ed’s point of view he thought of himself as pure English while on his father’s side he was English with an Irish admixture and on his mother’s side, Pennsylvania Dutch. Amusingly in the twenties he wrote his mother-in-law asking for Emma’s genealogy. Mrs. Hulbert, aware of Ed’s vanity on the issue, sniffed that Emma was English on both sides.

The first immigration problem was, of course, the Irish and if I may say so, with good reason. I rather favor the Know Nothing side of the argument. The animosity during Ed’s youth between English and Irish was intense. Apropos of Ed and John the Bully who was Irish I think the following probable. The Burroughs had two Irish maids, young women, before whom I suspect Ed put on airs about being English and therefore superior to the Irish. I think this got on the girls’ nerves so that they got an Irish kid to terrorize Ed and put him in his place. Otherwise I don’t see John waiting on a corner for a kid four years his junior who he couldn’t possibly have known. The consequences were more than the girls could have imagined.

After the Irish came the Socialists of the failed Revolution of ‘48- The Forty-eighters, another of Ed’s bete-noirs. Mostly German they contributed to Ed’s disgust of Germans when he saw them marching through Chicago under their red flag. The Haymarket Riot of 1887 also made a big impression on him especially as his father attended their execution.

Up to 1871, post-Civil War immigration had been Northern European which was thought to be compatible with the Old Stock, at least in retrospect. Prior to the Civil War, industry in the US had been more or less of the cottage variety, recalled by Longfellow in ‘Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stood…’ But, with the invention of the steam engine on steel rails in 1830 a much larger scale of industry was required. Bessemer process steel, rolling mills and what all that also called for a greater concentration of labor.

To obtain that the industrialists moved further East into Europe recruiting from other than Nordics. At the same time the Jews of the Pale (the prototypical ’Eastern European’) discovered America quickly advancing from a trickle of immigration to a flood. Thus during Ed’s youth the character of Chicago changed year by year, unnoticeable consciously until the Great War. Then in the nineties the Italians added the US to their migratory circle. For at least a hundred years the Sicilians had been migrant labor in Europe, going North during the summer and returning South in winter.

Their first Western addition was Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. In the days of sail the circuit lasted a year or two as they could follow the sun North into Brazil, and Central America. With the reliability of steamships it was possible for them to return home more frequently and cheaply in steerage. Then in the nineties the Sicilians discovered New York and the US, which they added to their circuit.

They were never true immigrants being more of what were disparagingly called Birds Of Passage. They came for the money. In most years prior to the Great War nearly as many returned to Sicily as arrived. The Great War stranded them in the US but post-war Mussolini still considered them Italian citizens and so did they.

The Americans, never a very realistic people, believed that all these immigrants were on the same political and psychological wavelength as themselves, hence that the immigrants would assimilate overnight. The world war was an eye opener when all loyalties overrode American sympathies. A howl of pain went up from Teddy Roosevelt when he realized the reality and exclaimed against the ‘American boarding house.’

Of course, the history books tell it quite differently but, in fact, there was as much sympathy as not for Germany. Not everyone saw the English as innocent. The Irish who sided with the Germans in both wars were on the side of whoever was fighting England, hence if the US officially sided with England they were less than loyal to the New Island.

Chicago itself during Burroughs’ time as now had a remarkably low percentage of Old Stock, on the order of only 15 to 20%. So the babel of other tongues and accents must have offended him more than they did John Rocker of our time who was sent back to the minors for observing the fact in New York City. The second Black List one might say, but unbacked by a rehearsed voice of objection such as the Communists had in the forties and fifties.

Ed had his prejudices as every man must, Old Stock, immigrant or what. He observed the Revolutionary activity in Eastern Europe with a wry eye taking the side of neither the Jews or Russians. He definitely added the Russians to the Germans as objects of distaste. The villains of the first four Tarzan novels would be Russian. The early novels have been heavily censored so his attitude toward the Jews requires early editions to unravel. There appears to be no animosity to them but as an anti-religionist he had to find their religious beliefs as ridiculous as any of the three Semitic religions. There doesn’t seem to be any problem with the Jews until they caused it in the aftermath of the War but that’s slightly in the future and will be dealt with at that time.

It is enough to say that Ed was proudly Anglo-Saxon as he should have been and that whatever his beliefs on immigration he endured the immigrant nations stoically. At present there is no evidence that he took an aggressive stance toward them as many of his countrymen did. But, listen, I was in the orphanage and I have a very good idea of what aggression is and it didn’t just come the Old Stock. My immigrant brothers were in there too. We were told to take the alleys and stay off the city streets or take a beating. These were seven, eight and nine year kids these grown men were threatening and some of the kids did take a beating although I never did. I know where discrimination is at. So what.

Part IV will continue Ed’s temporal life from 1886 to 1911-12. Part V will review his reding from 1900 to 1920. Part VI will pick up from where Burroughs Rides the Rocket Pt. I left off. There will probably be four or more additional parts but I don’t have blocked out yet.








A Review



Marie Corelli

Essay by

R.E. Prindle

And Essay On Dual Personality From 1886 To The Present

Saginaw Bay In Winter

Key texts:

Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Corpus

Corelli, Marie: Wormwood, 1886

Ouida: Under Two Flags, 1867

Stevenson, Robert Louis: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, 1886


When I grew up in Michigan not too far from the Saginaw Bay, in a good, cold winter the Bay froze over several feet thick.  People drove their cars far out over it to laboriously dig holes through the ice in hopes of catching a fish.  Then one day in late Spring when the warmer weather relaxed the bond of the frozen H2O molecules, if you happened to be there at the right time, a loud sharp crack not unlike thunder rose from the ice as the grip of winter ceased its hold and the tens of thousands of acres of ice began their metamorphosis back to water

As the water of the Bay began once more to heave they inexorably drove floes back on the beach in an incredible mountain or ridge of ice twenty feet high stretching for miles that began slowly to dissolve until in the early summer the beach was clear.

In Europe in the eighteenth century a similar process began in 1789-93 when the old social order with a similar loud noise began to dissolve until after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815.  A new world order became discernable as different as the ice and water on Saginaw Bay, yet clearly recognizable as the Bay under its two regimes.  The reign of the fabulous nineteenth century had made its appearance.  Now, at least Western Man had emerged from the cocoon able to assume its powers but first going through a growth period.  This was a necessary but difficult period that produced differing results.

A number of conflicting dichotomies arose.  Science struggled to be born while its religious antagonist refused to die.  Old gods trying the swallow the new.  The agrarian basis of wealth began to be supplanted by the Money Trust as the nouveaux riches paired off against the landed nobility.  The money managers quickly became the new lords of the earth.

The old standard of slavery began to disappear with the end of the agrarian supremacy as after the American Revolution White Slaves were freed first, then the Black Slaves, the serfs of Central and Eastern Europe were liberated to a freedom they scarce knew how to use.  Populations left the countryside to migrate to cities  to work in industries as wage slaves until Henry Ford gave them independence and dignity in 1914.  Change was everywhere as singers and dancers and fine romancers rose from being members of ignoble professions to become the most admired and wealthy members  of the new world order far surpassing in wealth the old landed aristocracy.

The son of a servant and a cricket player, H.G. Wells, became a famous author and savant.  Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes from nothing but his imagination and made fortunes while directing the future course of the world.  Robert Louis Stevenson wove dream portraits and became a playboy of the western world.  Reality as it had been known dissolved like the ice of Saginaw Bay.

Naturally all this very rapid change caused intolerable stresses on society and the personalities  of its members as it and they struggled to understand the changes and organize the consequences of those flying changes.  As a fact, the last known witness of Waterloo where Napoleon lost his bid died on 5/10/1904.  She had witnessed it all from Waterloo to the Wright Bros. flight, if she paid attention to what was going on.

In 1886 two remarkable novels made their appearance on this incredible stage.  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde and Marie Corelli’s Wormwood.  Perhaps the subject of split personalities had been suggested to their intellects by the multitude of dichotomies  cast up on the beach from the old world order to exist in conflict with the new.  Perhaps it was the discovery and investigation of the unconscious mind as the unconscious was first exposed by Dr. Anton Mesmer just before the cataclysm began.  Whatever it was, before Freud, it began the long investigation of dual and multiple personalities surviving to this day.

I concern myself here with the novelists Marie Corelli, Ouida and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Ice On The Move- Saginaw Bay


     As much as the revolutionaries would have liked to smash the Catholic Church and religion in general they only succeeded in ending its dominance of European culture which was indeed a good thing.  In the process the heresies formerly suppressed by the Church were released to flower in all their glory plus a whole catalog of new ones created by Science.  The more ancient heretical sects springing from the destruction of the Knights Templar such as Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism and, even, Satanism rapidly spawned a host of related sects not least of which was Spiritualism.  Hindu and Buddhist missionaries began to proselytize Europe and the Americas.  Related to these were the various Theosophical groups.  Thus the Church had to contend with all these plus the Jews who were emancipated with the Revolution and thus placed on a par, as it were, with the Church and hence actual competitors for the soul of Europe.

Science had destroyed the intellectual basis of both Christianity and Judaism at the first blow; Darwin gave both sects a body blow in ‘59 so that after 1859 all was in a state of religious confusion.  One consequence of the shattering of religious pretensions was that life after death was put in doubt.  This loss was more than most people could bear who cherished an afterlife even if heaven had disappeared in smoke hence the efflorescence of Spiritualism which promised at least contact with the dear departed in some Great Beyond.  At the same time psychology initiated by the discoveries of Dr. Anton Mesmer with the recognition of an unconscious was making inroads on ancient views of the mind.  Scientists worked with Spiritualists in such organizations as the English Society For Psychical Research in the hopes of demonstrating life after death.  While we today minimize the significance of Spiritualism at the time it was quite a serious matter.  The writers who began their careers sometime after Darwin’s announcement of Evolution dealt with what we would call occult phenomena as a distinct scientific possibility if not probability.

Arising out of this intellectual milieu was Robert Lewis Stevenson (1850-1894).  Coming aware shortly after the Origin Of Species was published he came to maturity during this important era of rapid scientific development.  He captured the tone of the period magnificently in his novella Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.  While not the first split personality story, Poe had explored the idea in various stories during the 1830s and 40s, his was the story that riveted world attention then and now.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Most of us I’m sure base our ideas of the story on the 1930s’ movie which differs significantly from the book being more involved with the sexual exploits of a sadistic Edward Hyde.  His other side, Henry Jekyll, was in his fifties which means he would have been born about 1830, post-Napoleonic but wholly within the reign of Queen Victoria and the height of the Empire.  While something of a rake in his youth Jekyll believes he has his wild side under control but longs for his rowdy ways.  He would have been about twenty-nine in ‘59 so that he is more or less au courant in scientific ideas, apparently a chemist of some merit.  Employing that skill he concocts a beverage that made LSD look as weak as tea, definitely more powerful than any single malt whiskey, which not only releases him from the restraints of conventional morality but physically converts him into a monster.  Thus he splits his personality in two becoming alternately Henry Jekyll or Edward Hyde.  While as mild mannered as Clark Kent when Dr. Jekyll he becomes the devil incarnate as Edward Hyde.  But, of course you know the story, at least the movie version.  Eventually Jekyll devolves from the civilized Jekyll into the demonic Hyde permanently.

Jekyll And Hyde

The dichotomy of Jekyll-Hyde symbolized and was probably suggested by the many dichotomies of nineteenth century society not least of which was the huge gap between the affluent and the impoverished, the educated and the brutalized, Science and Religion- Jekyll and Hyde.

The story electrified the English speaking world.  Indeed two years later a real Edward Hyde stalked the East End killing women along the way. He was known as Jack The Ripper.

Perhaps at the same time in far off Chicago a thirteen year old Edgar Rice Burroughs read the book which made an indelible impression on him as we shall see.


     Something that is seldom mentioned is that Europe had quite a drug problem in the nineteenth century.  The opiates were quite common.  Laudamun may have been the first of the opiates, apart from opium itself, which was first created by the great Paracelsus sometime in his life between 1493-1541 which went through many changes before being marketed in England as a cough depressant.  In order to calm babies mothers gave them a little dollop.  So, perhaps a sizable proportion of the population had known opiates from babyhood.

Morphine was reduced by Friedrich Suternus in 1804, distributed by him beginning in 1817 and marketed by Merck from 1827.  It came into its own in 1857 when the hypodermic needle was invented.

By the time of Marie Corelli’s novel, Wormwood, morphine was a recreational drug for society ladies.

Heroin was synthesized in 1874 being marketed by Bayer from 1895 to the time it became a controlled substance in the second decade of the next century.  Bayer originally sold Heroin as a non-addictive replacement for morphine.  Missed the boat on that one.  Hard to believe that mankind was so backward in recognizing addictive drugs for what they are.

Cocaine was first isolated in 1855 from which point it began its career.  Perhaps its most famous user was the fictional Sherlock Holmes and his 7% solution.  He made his first appearance in 1886 along with Stevenson’s and Corelli’s novels.  Cocaine’s most famous pusher man was the deviser of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, who turned everyone within reach on during these same 1880s.

And while it little effect in the nineteenth century, amphetamine was isolated in 1885.  Subsequently famously used by Adolf Hitler and Jack Kennedy.

In 1886 then, the thirty-one year old Marie Corelli (1855-1924) published her novel Wormwood in which morphinism took a minor role while the novel was

Marie Corelli

essentially a polemic against the use of  absinthe, an alcoholic drink with apparently hallucinatory side effects while being essentially addictive.  Marie Corelli while not being a household word today was one of the best selling authors in the world from 1886 to the Great War.  I am newly introduced to Corelli’s work with her novel Wormwood hence can say nothing of her as a possible influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs.  It isn’t obvious from Wormwood.

The relation of the novel to the split personality occurs when midway through the novel the hero, Gaston Beauvais, having been shocked out of his senses by disappointed expectations falls into a deep depression which is then abetted by his becoming an absintheur or, essentially, a drug addict thus assuming a second personality not unlike that of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde also caused by drugs only more dramatically.

While absinthe didn’t seem to make much of an impression in England, although Ouida in her 1867 novel, Under Two Flags, does mention its use, according to Corelli in 1886 the liqueur was devastating the manhood of France.

As this novel opens Gaston is the prosperous son of a banker for whom the future seems to be clear sailing.  Gaston is the proverbial good boy who is outstandingly proper in dress and ideas.  He and his father are great friends with the De Charmilles family whose daughter Pauline of eighteen years has just emerged from convent school much as Corelli had in her own life.

Gaston is charmed by the female beauty of Pauline undertaking to win her hand.  Being almost a total innocent, although she does not love- i.e. have a grand passion- for Gaston, she accepts.  Gaston is elated as he pins his life hopes on this whimsical girl.

Corelli, who is believed to have been a lesbian, was certainly a man hater while placing womanhood on a pedestal higher than any man ever thought of.  Thus the snake in the grass arrives as the aspirant priest, Silvion Guidel.  While Corelli paints Gaston as a sort of humdrum fellow, Silvion is electricity itself, every girl’s vision of passion painted in high colors.

Despite his fair exterior and the apparent virtue of his calling Silvion is the devil in disguise, a seducer and a cad.  Although herself aware of the psychological ideas of the time as evidenced by her references to the contemporary psychologist Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Janet Corelli merely draws her picture in such a way that eschews explicit explanations  leaving only inferences to the reader to interpret.  For instance she casually mention Janet’s idea of the Idee Fixe  with which both Pauline and Gaston are possessed but says nothing about it.  Thus I am uncertain whether I am reading into the story rather than interpreting her intent.

Guidel, and this interpretation is left open, arriving from the provinces to Paris, introduced into this society quickly sizes up the situation.  In his hauteur he despises the simple trust of Beauvais and more to spite him than anything else charms and seduces the lovely airhead, Pauline.

This is not enough.  Gaston and Pauline’s wedding date had been set.  Within a few weeks of the wedding Gaston is allowed to learn of the romance between Pauline and Guidel.  Further which Pauline who has always played the virgin with Gaston we have the first hint of an inference that she is with child by Guidel.

Corelli now poses a moral dilemma in which through her character of Helisie, Pauline’s cousin, she sides with Pauline because every woman lives for a grand passion that no man can possibly understand and hence must be forgiven and forgotten.  Gaston is just an average guy; he expects Silvion to step up and assume his responsibilities.  He has renounced his right to be a priest and should take Pauline off his hands.  Having worked his evil Guidel is satisfied.  Rather than face a duel with the enraged Beauvais he flees Paris for the safety of the Church and Brittany where he immediately takes orders placing him out of reach of Beauvais’ vengeance.

Corelli does not see the betrayer and seducer of Pauline as the cad he is but she sees Gaston who has no intention of now marrying Pauline who has distributed her ‘passion’, as the ununderstanding cad.  Gaston is between the proverbial rock and the hard place which seems to escape Corelli.  He must choose to either marry the girl or shame her by renouncing her.  Horrible position for any man but Gaston gets no pity from Corelli, not where a woman’s grand passion is involved.

As Guidel makes no appearance or communication before the wedding day Gaston exposes Pauline’s shame and denounces her at the altar.  The consequences are of course horrific.  All the blame falls on Gaston’s shoulders who immediately not only loses the girl but all social caste.  Having had the greatest expectations of happiness he is now plunged into the deepest of depressions.  As the rain pours down he rushes from the altar to find himself a place on a bench in the Champs Elysee where he sits for hours drenched to the bone in the downpour.  Very symbolic.  There can be no more accurate description of his absolute despondency.  His personality splits, he becomes a different man as completely as Jekyll and Hyde.

As the title Wormwood indicates the novel is meant by Corelli to be a denunciation of the drinking of absinthe in France.  She equates absinthe drinking as a manly vice while she equates morphinism as a female vice.  Thus these two twin addictions are destroying the flower of France in her eyes.  In point of fact both absinthe and morphine became controlled substances within a decade or two.

As Gaston wallows in his despondency in the downpour an impoverished artist he had helped out a few times discovers him on his bench.  The devil’s helper is always at hand.  This fellow in his cynical way consoles Gaston while taking him to a bistro in which he introduces the susceptible Gaston to– absinthe.  Absinthe takes the place of Jekyll’s chemical concoction.  The result is the same as in all drugs as all sense of social responsibility is dissolved and what remains is a pure sense of self and – anarchy.  As Shelly put it:

Last came Anarchy: he rode

On a white horse, splashed with blood;

He was pale even to the lips,

Like Death in the Apocalypse.

And he wore a kingly crown;

And in his grasp a scepter shone;

On his brow this much I saw–

‘I am God and King, and Law!’

And so the course of the last half of the story is worked out as Gaston took his vengeance.

Of course there are consequences to drugs and the exaltation of self and the personation of anarchy.  One loses one’s discipline and then one loses the trust of friends and family.  And so Gaston neglected his responsibilities while naturally being unable to render a justification of his actions to his father.  The end result is that he is cast away by his father.

But the beauteous Silvion Guidel, he of the fair face and lax morals has unleashed a train of horrors that can’t be avoided.

Pauline’s father, old De Chamilles, commits suicide- it was either that or challenge the innocent but increasingly debauched Gaston Beauvais to a duel.  The shamed young thing Pauline also cast into a depression because her grand passion is balked leaves home to take up a life on the streets of Paris.  Guidel having taken orders, because of his good looks is called to Rome to delight the Cardinals with his handsome presence.

This tale of degradation and woe moves rapidly on in a supremely well told fashion by Corelli.  And then comes the denouement.

Gaston’s descent takes only three or four months from August to the onset of cold weather.  Taking a turn through the Bois de Boulogne Gaston chances on Silvion and Pauline’s trysting place where his trust had been betrayed.  There he finds Silvion who had taken unauthorized leave from his duties in Rome, in other words, he just disappeared, no one knows where he is.

Silvion, who in what he must have known was a mortal insult, asks how Pauline is.  ‘You married her, didn’t you?’  Obviously his intent is to resume his liaison behind Gaston’s back.  Once again Corelli lectures us on the necessity of this passionate affair before turning Gaston loose to throttle Silvion which he does to my immense satisfaction at least.  I find my own moral judgments in direct opposition to those of Corelli.

Having now gratified his sense of injury on Silvion, Gaston still seeks vengeance of Pauline.  She has successfully eluded all detection although Gaston has caught a couple of fleeting glimpses of her on the streets.  Now, driven by the imp of the perverse, he determines to track her down.  He comes across her singing for her supper on a street corner, a real Edith Piaf.  By this time after several months of being an absintheur he is reduced to total anarchy.  Being told that she is still in love with Silvion he goes into a grand passion of his own telling her that Silvion is dead and when she wouldn’t believe him he informs her that he murdered him with his own hands in their old trysting place.

Of course Corelli takes this opportunity to expatiate further on the grand passion every woman needs and the anarchic precedence this passion takes over everything else not unlike the absinthe or morphine.  Pauline has a locket around her neck that she had worn when she and Gaston were engaged which he now discovers contains a picture of Silvion and a lock of his hair.  Enough to drive a guy to any violence.

Pauline escapes his rage fleeing for that repository of souls, that which had taken Silvion’s, the Seine, and throws herself in.  Good riddance of bad rubbish was my thought while Gaston was much gratified.  One doesn’t have to guess Marie Corelli’s thoughts on this point in the history of a grand passion.

At that point Gaston’s anger is rectified so while the story effectively has climaxed an ending is needed.   Like many a writer Corelli had her story supremely elaborated until her own psychical crisis was reached, her hysterical grand mal described by Charcot and then she has to limp along for fifty pages or so until she wraps things up.  Still, the novel was a very satisfying read.  Four and a half stars.  If Corelli had studied her Ouida a little more she might have brought the prize home.


Under Two Flags

In all the dichotomies of the nineteenth century none split the public psyche more than that of the conflict between science and religion.  Nor has the split and conflict gone away as the recent recurrence in fundamentalist Jewish, Moslem and Christian sects reveal.

Indeed all three sects have hurled themselves with full ferocity against the science of Evolution.  Nothing denies religion more.  Indeed Corelli opens Wormwood with a troubled discourse on science contra religion.  The conflict can probably be seen in the same light as that between Paganism and Christianity at the turn of the Age of Pisces.  Science at the time was viewed as more or less an evil by the majority while that majority has only lessened its opinion by somewhat today.

The conflict with science, quite frankly, is that it denies the evidence of the senses and asks us to accept as fact, not belief, what can’t be seen except perhaps by extremely sophisticated instruments.  The religionists  make the Scientific Consciousness relatively dangerous too.  While we might not have to fear for our lives as in previous centuries, too outspoken a criticism of religion, especially Moslemism, might result in one’s head rolling toward the gutter.  College professors at that time had to be very careful.  They were permitted to be ‘agnostics’, that is, they didn’t deny the probability of God but were allowed to doubt it.  A little concession to science.  Corelli appears not to be able to deny science but is troubled by the conflict with religion.

So, this is the  social malaise which Freud forty years hence would call Civilization And Its Discontented.  The growing demands of Civilization that divided the old ‘natural’ life from the new ‘artificial’ life was disquieting; made people uneasy.  Thus in the mother of all French Foreign Legion novels, Ouida’s Under Two Flags of 1867 that author flatly lays the problem out.  Life had already grown too complex for the average person to handle.

In Under Two Flags Ouida creates two lives for her hero, Bertie Cecil; thus while his psyche remains unsplit his career requires him to assume a totally


different character.  The first part showing Cecil in civilization is a superb novel on its own.  Compelled, as it were, by his circumstances to seek ruin, Bertie fakes his death in a train crash then hopping the Med to Algeria he renounces his socialite life to enlist in the French Foreign Legion.

In the novel when it resumes his history Cecil has been a Legionnaire for twelve years.  As the novel was published in 1867 it must have written in 1866 or perhaps if published late in 1867 possibly that year; Ouida wrote huge novels at the rate of one or two a year.  Bertie must have enlisted in about 1855.  The French conquered Algeria only in 1830 so that the Legion took form quickly as Bertie would very nearly be in the first draft.  Ouida writes as though the Legion was ancient.

At the time of the story 1866-67 the desert had already become a vacation spot for the English, exerting an almost hypnotic attraction for them; the Garden Of Allah as the Bedouins called it.  Ouida has already dissociated herself, in mind anyway, from loyalty to England and Europe.  Bertie in Algeria is unresolved whether to live his exile from civilization with the Bedouins or the French.  He stakes his future on the throw of the dice with a French commander; if Bertie won, to the desert; if the commander won Bertie would go to the French.  Thus it is only by chance Bertie remains a European.  However having once accepted the French flag, duty makes him loyal.

In his heart, and of necessity in Ouida’s, he regrets the chance that made him French.  As Ouida says France was might, while the Bedouins were right.  Never mind that the conquest was to remove the Barbary Pirates who had been plundering the European coast for centuries; never mind the conquest by the Arabs as far as France when the Eruption From The Desert seized European lands for Moslemism; in some curous way, the historical memory of Ouida and, indeed, the West, was obliterated.  Not only are the Bedouins in the right but they live as Man ought to live, the ‘natural’ man some might say, the primitive, the good life.  For myself I would find the social organization of the natural life far too oppressive, the social organization of Civilization suits me fine and the key term here is social organization, one is always under some social discipline and in the primitive one it is as a slave of the chief.  Not for me.

Thus in the evolutionary process Western man is still too in touch with his primitive mind to feel comfortable with the new social demands of Western Civilization.  So we have this Western love affair so in evidence during this period with a romantic, if false, appreciation of natural life in association with the desert- The Garden Of Allah as in Robert Hitchens’ novel of that name.

Now, while the authors of the central period of  the Great Century were mostly born at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the new crop of writers beginning in the eighties were mostly born mid-century coming to maturity after Science had become fairly developed, certainly after Darwin.  Mostly they lived past 1900  when technology changed the whole direction of society virtually creating a whole new civilization.  One might say the new civilization was a cause of the Great War.



As time moves along change is ever present.  So we have Edgar Rice Burroughs who emerged as an author in 1912 some few years out of the nineteenth century although he was born in 1875 so he was familiar with that horse and buggy era.  The mind set of those writers beginning in the eighties endured from that period to the Great War which put a period to the mind set which in any event was changing rapidly.  There was a new mind set after the Great War.

As Burroughs was born on an average, perhaps, of twenty years after the group of authors, he was not a competitor for honors with them but what one might call a synthesizer of the whole body of ideas.  Thus until after 1920 when his mind evolved into the new mindset he was a Jr. Member of the set.  He shared the mind set of his seniors.  To properly understand Burroughs then up to 1920 one must be ware of the problems his older contemporaries were addressing while Burroughs addressed all the problems offering what he believed were conclusive solutions.  At the same time he wrote books in all of the new developing genres.

He found the desert romance particularly attractive as he wrote The Return Of Tarzan, partially desert romance, The Lad And The Lion, full desert romance, and Son Of Tarzan, significantly desert romance; in addition the last several Tarzans took place in Ethiopia while in several novels Arabs make slave forays into the South from the North.

The question here is did he read Ouida’s Under Two Flags?  I haven’t found an absolutely clear pointer but in Return of Tarzan, the novel begins in Civilization in Paris corresponding the first part of Under Two Flags while Tarzan obtains an appointment as a French secret agent to travel to Algeria which would be equivalent to the Foreign Legion.

Burroughs doesn’t mention the Foreign Legion until his ambiguously titled WWII novel Tarzan And The Foreign Legion in which the Foreign Legion is a group of people Tarzan gathered around himself in Sumatra.

If Burroughs did read Ouida, which wouldn’t be unlikely, then it is quite possible that her Bertie Cecil was one of the inspirations for Tarzan, although in reverse.  Ouida like Marie Corelli makes her hero extremely feminine often describing him as womanly with womanly attributes, very nurturing or motherly.  He is consequently tender hearted about the enemy while being motherly and concerned for his fellow legionnaires in a manner that would have brought scorn on him in any military organization, but according to Ouida made him much beloved, a saintly figure.  Quite a warrior in the field though.

Tarzan on the contrary is never tender; he spares no foe, gleefully, almost taking sadistic pleasure in dispatching his foes in what are often near pre-emptive strikes.  There is a large measure of sadism in the Jungle Joker humor in which he delights in tormenting his victims, unless he merely rips their heads off.  In many ways then Tarzan is Bertie Cecil turned inside out.  Of course Tarzan’s thin veneer of civilization runs no deeper than his clothes and when he takes those off he reverts to pure beast.  Tarzan does not equivocate.

Burroughs as he often says was fascinated by the notion of dual personality.  While he couldn’t have been influenced by the movie Jekyll and Hyde, Stevensons’ book made a profound impression  on his mind.  As he said, he believed that all men were two people although maybe not as pronounced as Jekyll and Hyde but he does appear to believe that Jekyll and Hydes could be found in numbers.   How pronounced his own disunion was he doesn’t say but a conception of Burruoughs the Night Stalker isn’t difficult to form.

Jekyll and Hyde and the two sides of  Corelli’s Gaston Beauvais were chemically induced but Burroughs uses another device when he split’s the personality of Tarzan.  In Tarzan’s case the roof usually falls on his head giving him amnesia when he rises as another man.  Like Jekyll and Hyde usually Burroughs provides a physical duplicate so that two Tarzan twins,  Burroughs even wrote a children’s story the Tarzan Twins, are wandering around one of which is doing things injurious to Tarzan’s reputation; a reflection perhaps on the problems Edward Hyde caused Henry Jekyll.

Thus in Tarzan and the Golden Lion and Tarzan and the Ant Men the Tarzan lookalike Esteban Miranda defames Tarzan by using the steel tipped arrows found in children’s archery sets.

In Tarzan and the Lion Man a movie actor impersonates Tarzan giving the real Big Guy headaches.  In Tarzan Triumphant Tarzan himself impersonates a dandy named Lord Passmore.  Perhaps an indication of the post-divorce Burroughs.  It is interesting the psychological stress resulting in the splitting occurs around Burroughs sexual problems.

Throughout his work, especially to 1920, then, Burroughs recapitulates the themes of his elders of the late nineteenth century, more especially he concerns himself with the problem of split or dual personality.  This theme would be further explored by writers following in his footstep beginning in 1920 when his own influence began to be felt.


Maxwell Grant/WalterGibson

The New Era as the period of prosperity that began a couple years after the War and ended with the crash of ‘29 was known while seemingly a radical departure from the Victorian and Edwardian periods quite naturally took its origins from that recent past but many of the themes that Burroughs as the last of his era was exploring lost some of their significance or perhaps were transformed by the really incredible advances in science and technology of the first two decades of the century.  The addition of Prohibition and the vote for women as the decade began also threw an entirely different cast over the period.

Not one of the least influential changes in the period was the influence of the success as a writer of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Between 1920 and 1940 Tarzan, himself, transformed by the talkies, had become more than a household word, indeed, he was a cultural artefact, one might say the grounding of the New, or Wold Newton, Mythology.

I don’t believe there was any writer working in the period who was not familiar with Burroughs’ writing and in some way influenced by it, not excluding the Man of Steel, Stalin himself.  War was declared on Burroughs by the Germans in the first half of the third decade resulting in the banishment of his books from the Weimar Republic.  Sic transit gloria.

Burroughs continued to turn out his volumes throughout the period referring frequently to the dual personality.  Through his works, but not exclusively, the dual personality became a pervasive trope. A suggestion that one picked up subconsciously. 

So many literary characters were doubles that one began to think of oneself as two people.  Perhaps the most influential of the new crop was the playboy Lamont Cranston who may or may not have been himself during the day and the Shadow by night.  Actually since Cranston was out of the country almost continuously he lent his identity to The Shadow, or so we are told.  Figure that one out; how to be in two places at once.  Most of we younger people were only familiar with the radio Shadow although the writer Maxwell Grant or, in his true identity, possibly, the magician, Walter Gibson wrote over three hundred titles for those with multiple idle moments to mull over and with a fondness for the trivial.  Some historical interesting stuff though.

The Man Of Titanium

Doc Savage split his personality into five parts with his wrecking crew of paramilitary soldats.  Savage would be recapitulated by Steve Rogers and his alter ego Captain America with his merry band of five.  Capt. America arrived as comic book literature preceded by the first of the comic book double personalities, Superman, and his daytime identity, Clark Kent

The most spectacular of the dual personalities, those who I base my double on, were Capt. Marvel and Billy Batson.  One event yet more dual than this.  Billy Batson was a little crippled newsboy, just my age at the time, or seemingly so, who was inducted into the superhero Hall Of Fame.

Billy, a little orphan boy like me was out at midnight peddling his Gospel News when a mysterious stranger, not unlike the Shadow, asked the poor but honest lad:  ‘Why aren’t you home in bed, son?’  Billy replied:  ‘I have no home, sir.  I sleep in the subway station, it’s warm there.’  Wasn’t too hard for me to identify with that.

The Mysterious Stranger or hand of fate points and says:  ‘Follow me!’  Down in the subway he means.  Billy being no fool asks:  ‘Where are we going.’  Easily satisfied he receives the answer:  ‘Wait and see.’

Suddenly a strange subway car, with headlights glaring like a dragon’s eyes, roars into the station, stops.  No one is driving it.  The MS intones:  ‘Have no fear everything has been arranged.’

Oh, everything has been arranged.  Every little crippled orphans’ dream.

The train drops them off into a cavern displaying the seven deadly sins.  A propitious beginning.  Believe me, this was close to reality for an eight year old kid, like me.  The MS takes Billy and introduces him to this grey beard in a long white flowing robe.  This is a guy with the unlikely name of Shazam but a guy everyone would want to meet.

Shazam was all virtue, been fighting injustice and cruelty all his very long life but without much success.  He explains his name to Billy.  The S stood for the wisdom of Solomon; H for the strength of Herecules; A for the stamina of Atlas (I could never remember that one, I knew what stamina meant too); Z for the all powerful mind of Zeus; A for the courage of Achilles (wasn’t sure who he was); and M for the speed of Mercury.

  Shazam tells little Billy Batson:

All my life I have fought injustice and cruelty.  But I am old now- my time is almost up.  You shall be my successor.  Merely by speaking my name you can become the strongest and mightiest man in the world- Captain Marvel!  Speak my name.’

Billy does and boy! Talk about split personalities, the little crippled orphan becomes the strongest man in the world giving Superman and Clark Kent some mean competition which is why DC Comics sued him out of existence.

I already had the split personality at eight, and how, so I used to sit around shouting Shazam over and over waiting for the lightning flash that never came.  There’s always just been me two, although I did get up to five for a while but now I have returned to one and have to be satisfied with myself.  It isn’t easy being single when you’ve been double for so long.  No one to talk to.  But me?  I take it easy, play it as it lays.  Always have, always will.  For the next couple years anyway, maybe, until I keep my appointment with the Grim Reaper.  As the saying goes:  My days are numbered.

As Eddie Burroughs believed that every person has a second self I suppose it may be true, at least Western Man; perhaps not as extreme as Jekyll and Hyde or Billy Batson and Capt. Marvel but a psychological phenomenon created both by evolution and the dichotomies created by the conflicts of the nineteenth century as well perhaps as the multiple conflicts of this global, multi-cultural world.

Say goodnight Ed I, Ed II, Ed III, ED IV and Ed V.  Goodnight all.

Billy Gets His Personality Split