A Review

Wormwood

by

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

Intro

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

1.

     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.

2.

     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.

3.

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

Ouida

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.

4.

Self-explanatory

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.

5.

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

A Contribution To The

Erbzine Library Project.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Science And Spiritualism

Camille Flammarion, Scientist and Spiritualist

by

R.E. Prindle

 

The last story in Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles is about the expulsion from Earth of the various supernatural or imaginary beings such as fairies, elves, the elementals, all those beings external to ourselves but projections of our minds on Nature, to Mars as a last resort and how they were all dieing as Mars became scientifically accessible leaving no place for them to exist.

On Earth the rejection of such supernatural beings began with the Enlightenment.   When the smoke and fury of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic years settled and cleared it was a new world with a completely different understanding of the nature of the world.  Science, that is, knowing, had displaced belief as a Weltanschauung.

The old does not give way so easily to the new.  Even while knowing that fairies did not exist the short lived reaction of the Romantic Period with its wonderful stories and fictions followed the Napoleonic period.

Supernatural phenomena displaced from the very air we breathed reformed in the minds of Men as the ability of certain people called Mediums to communicate with spirits although the spirits were no longer called supernatural but paranormal.  Thus the fairies morphed into dead ancestors, dead famous men, communicants from beyond the grave.  Men and women merely combined science with fantasy.  Science fiction, you see.

Spiritualism was made feasible by the rediscovery of hypnotism by Anton Mesmer in the years preceding the French Revolution.  The first modern glimmerings of the sub- or unconscius began to take form.  The unconscious was the arena of paranormal activity.

Hypnotism soon lost scientific credibility during the mid-century being abandoned to stage performers who then became the first real investigators of the unconscious as they practiced their art.

While the antecedents of spiritualism go back much further the pehnomena associated with it began to make their appearance in the 1840s.  Because the unconscious was so little understood spiritualism was actually thought of as scientific.  The investigators of the unconscious gave it incredible powers and attributes, what I would call supernatural but which became known as paranormal.  Communicating with spirits, teleportation, telecommunications, all the stuff that later became the staples of science fiction.

Thus in 1882, Jean-Martin Charcot, a doctor working in the Salpetriere in Paris made hypnotism once again a legitimate academic study.

The question here is how much innovation could the nineteenth century take without losing its center or balance.  Yeats’ poem The Second Coming presents the situation well.  Freud, who was present at this particular creation, was to say that three discoveries shattered the confidence of Man; the first was the Galilean discovery that the Earth was not the center of the universe, the second revelation was Darwin’s announcement that Man was not unique in creation and the last was the discovery of the unconscious.  Of these three the last two happened simultaneiously amidst a welter of scientific discoveries and technological applications that completely changed Man’s relationship to the world.  One imagines that these were the reasons for the astonishing literary creativity as Victorians grappled to deal with these new realities.  There was a sea change in literary expression.

Key to understanding these intellectual developments is the need of Man for immortality.  With God in his heaven but disconnected from the world supernatural explanations were no longer plausible.  The longing for immortality remained so FWH Myers a founder of the Society For Psychical Research changed the word supernatural into paranormal.  As the notion of the unconscious was now wedded to science and given, in effect, supernatural powers under the guise of the paranormal it was thought, or hoped, that by tapping these supernormal powers one could make contact with the departed hence spiritism or Spiritualism.

While from our present vantage point after a hundred or more years of acclimatizing ourselves to an understanding of science, the unconscious and a rejection of the supernatural, the combination of science and spiritualism seems ridiculous.  Such was not the case at the time.  Serious scientists embraced the notion that spirtualism was scientific.

Now, a debate in Burroughs’ studies is whether and/or how much Burroughs was influenced by the esoteric.  In my opinion and I believe that of Bibliophile David Adams, a great deal.  David has done wonderful work in esbatlishing the connection between the esotericism of L. Frank Baum and his Oz series of books and Burroughs while Dale Broadhurst has added much.

Beginning in the sixties of the nineteenth century a French writer who was to have a great influence on ERB, Camille Flammarion, began writing his scientific romances and astronomy books.  Not only did Flammarion form ERB’s ideas of the nature of Mars but this French writer was imbued with the notions of spiritualism that informed his science and astronomy.  He and another astronomer, Percival Lowell, who is often associated with ERB, in fact, spent time with Flammarion exchanging Martian ideas.  Flammarion and Lowell are associated.

So, in reading Flammarion ERB would have imbibed a good deal of spiritualistic, occult, or esoteric ideas.  Flammarion actually ended his days as much more a spiritualist than astronomer.  As a spiritualist he was associated with Conan Doyle.

Thus in the search for a new basis of immortality, while the notion of God became intenable, Flammarion and others began to search for immortality in outer space.  There were even notions that spirits went to Mars to live after death somewhat in the manner of Bradbury’s nixies and pixies.  In his book Lumen Flammarion has his hero taking up residence on the star Capella in outer space after death.  Such a book as Lumen must have left Burroughs breathless with wonderment.  Lumen is some pretty far out stuff in more ways than one.  After a hundred fifty years of science fiction these ideas have been endlessly explored becoming trite and even old hat but at the time they were

Camille Flammarion

excitingly new.  Flammarion even put into Burroughs’ mind that time itself had no independent existence.  Mind boggling stuff.

I believe that by now Bibliophiles have assembled a library of books that Burroughs either did read or is likely to have read before 1911 that number at least two or three hundred.  Of course, without radio, TV, or movies for all of Burroughs’ childhood, youth and a major portion of his young manhood, although movies would have become a reality by the time he began writing, there was little entertainment except reading.  Maybe a spot of croquet.

As far as reading goes I suspect that ERB spent a significant portion of his scantily employed late twenties and early thirties sitting in the Chicago Library sifting through the odd volume.  It can’t be a coincidence that Tarzan lounged for many an hour in the Paris library before he became a secret agent and left for North Africa.

I have come across a book by the English author Charles Howard Hinton entitled Scientific Romances of which one explores the notion of a fourth dimension .  Hinton is said to have been an influence on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.  It seems certain that Burroughs read The Time Machine while he would have found many discussions of the fourth dimension as well as other scientific fantasies in the magazines and even newspapers as Hillman has so amply demonstrated on ERBzine.  We also know that ERB had a subscription to Popular Mechanics while probably reading Popular Science on a regular basis.  Popular Science was established in 1872.

It is clear that ERB was keenly interested in psychology and from references distributed  throughout the corpus, reasonably well informed.

I wouldn’t go so far as to maintain that ERB read the French psychologist Theodore Flournoy’s From India To The Planet Mars but George T. McWhorter does list it as a volume in Vern Corriel’s library of likely books read by Burroughs.  The book was published in 1899 just as Burroughs was entering his very troubled period from 1900 to 1904-05 that included his bashing in Toronto with subsequent mental problems, a bout with typhoid fever and his and Emma’s flight to Idaho and Salt Lake City.  So that narrows the window down a bit.

However the book seems to describe the manner in which his mind worked so that it provides a possible or probable insight into the way his mind did work.

ERB’s writing career was born in desperation.  While he may say that he considered writing unmanly it is also true that he tried to write a lighthearted account of becoming a new father a couple years before he took up his pen in seriousness.  Obviously he saw writing as a way out.  His life had bittely disappointed his exalted expectations hence he would have fallen into a horrible depression probably with disastrous results if the success of his stories hadn’t redeemed his opinion of himself.

Helene Smith the Medium of Fluornoy’s investigation into mediumship was in the same situation.  Her future while secure enough in the material sense, as was Burroughs, fell far short of her hopes and expectations.  Thus she turned to mediumship to realize herself much as Burroughs turned to literature.  She enjoyed some success and notoriety attracting the attention of, among others, the psychologist Theodore Flournoy.  Fournoy who enjoyed some prominence at the time, was one of those confusing spiritualism with science because of his misunderstanding of the unconscious.  Thus as Miss Smith unfolded her conversations with the inhabitants of Mars it was taken with some plausibility.

If any readers I may have have also read my review of Du Maurier’s Peter Ibbetson he or she will remember that Peter and Mary were restricted in their dream activities to only what they had done, seen and remembered or learned.  As I have frequently said, you can only get out of a mind what has gone into it.  In this sense Miss Smith was severely handicapped  by an inadequate education and limited experience.  While she was reasonably creative in the construction of her three worlds- those of ancient India, Mars and the court of Marie Antoinette- she was unable to be utterly convincing.  In the end her resourcefulness gave out and the scientific types drifted away.  She more or less descended into a deep depression as her expectations failed.  Had she been more imagination she might have turned to writing as Burroughs did.

If Burroughs did read Flournoy, of which I am not convinced, he may have noted that Miss Smith’s method was quite similar to  his habit of trancelike daydreaming that fulfilled his own expectations of life in fantasy.

In Burroughs’ case he had the inestimable advantage of having stuffed his mind with a large array of imaginative literature, a fairly good amateur’s notions of science and technology, along with a very decent range of valuable experience.  His younger days were actually quite exciting.  He was also gifted with an amazing imagination and the ability to use it constructively.

Consider this possibility.  I append a poem that he would have undoubtedly read- When You Were A Tadpole And I Was A Fish.  Read this and then compare it to The Land That Time Forgot.

Evolution

by

Langdon Smith

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish

In the Paleozoic time,

And side by side on the ebbing tide

We sprawled through the ooze and slime,

Or skittered with many a caudal flip

Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,

My heart was rife with the joy of life,

For I loved you even then.

 

Mindless we lived and mindless we loved

And mindless at last we died;

And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift

We slumbered side by side.

The world turned on in the lathe of time,

The hot lands heaved amain,

Til we caught our breath from the womb of death

And crept into light again.

 

We were Amphibians, scaled and tailed,

And drab as a dead man’s hand;

We coiled at ease ‘neath the dripping trees

Or trailed through the mud and sand.

Croaking and blind, with out three-clawed feet

Writing a language dumb,

With never a spark in the empty dark

To hint at a life to come.

 

Yet happy we lived and happy we loved,

And happy we died once more;

Our forms were rolled in the clinging mold

of a Neocomian shore.

The eons came and the eons fled

And the sleep that wrapped us fast

Was riven away in a newer day

And the night of death was past.

 

Then light and swift through the jungle trees

We swung in our airy flights,

Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms

In the hush of the moonless nights;

And, oh! what beautiful years were there

When our hearts clung each to each;

When life was filled and our senses thrilled

In the first faint dawn of speech.

 

Thus life by life and love by love

We passed through the cycles strange,

And breath by breath and death by death

We followed the chain of change,

Till there came a time in the law of life

When over the nursing side

The shadows broke and the soul awoke

In a strange, dim dream of God.

 

I was thewed like Auroch bull

And tusked like the great cave bear;

And you, my sweet, from head to feet

Were gowned in your glorious hair,

Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave,

When the night fell o’er the plain

And the moon hung red o’er the river bed

We mumbled the bones of the slain.

 

I flaked a flint to a cutting edge

And shaped it with brutish craft;

I broke a shank from the woodland lank

And fitted it, head and haft;

Then I hid me close to the reedy tarn,

Where the mammoth came to drink;

Through the brawn and bone I drove the stone

And slew him upon the brink.

 

Loud I howled through the moonlit wastes,

Loud answered our kith and kin,

From west and east to the crimson feast

The clan came tramping in.

O’er joint and gristle and padded hoof

We fought and clawed and tore,

And cheek by jowl with many a growl

We talked the marvel o’er.

 

I carved that fight on a reindeer bone

With rude and hairy hand;

I pictured his fall on the cavern wall

That men might understand,

For we lived by blood and the right of might

Ere human laws were drawn,

And the age of sin did not begin

Till our brutal tush were gone.

 

And that was a million years ago

In a time that no man knows;

Yet here tonight in the mellow light

We sit at Delmonico’s.

Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,

Your hair is dark as jet,

Your years are few, your life is new,

Your soul untried, and yet-

 

Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay

And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;

We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones

And deep in the Coralline crags;

Our love is old, our lives are old,

And death shall come amain;

Should it come today, what man may say

We shall not live again?

 

God has wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds

And furnished them wings to fly;

He sowed our spawn in the world’s dim dawn,

And I know that it shall not die,

Though cities have sprung above the graves

Where the crook-bone men make war

And the oxwain creaks o’er the buried caves

Where the mummied mammoths are.

 

Then as we linger at luncheon here

O’er many a dainty dish,

Let us drink anew to the time when you

Were a tadpole and I was a fish.

With something like that stuffed into his subconscious what wonders might ensue.  Obviously The Land That Time Forgot and The Eternal Lover.

As Miss Smith had turned to spiritualism and mediumship, Burroughs turned his talents to writing.  According to himself he used essentially mediumistic techniques in hiswriting.  He said that he entered a tracelike state, what one might almost call automatic writing to compose his stories.  He certainly turned out three hundred well written pages in a remarkably short time with very few delays and interruptions.  He was then able to immediately begin another story.  This facility lasted from 1911 to 1914 when his reservoir  of stored material ws exhausted.  His pace then slowed down as he had to originate stories and presumably work them out more rather than just spew them out.

Curiously like Miss Smith he created three main worlds with some deadends and solo works.  Thus while Miss Smith created Indian, Martian and her ‘Royal’ identity Burroughs created an inner World, Tarzan and African world, and a Martian world.

Perhaps in both cases three worlds were necessary to give expression to the full range of their hopes and expectations.  In Burroughs’ case his worlds correspond to the equivalences of the subconscious in Pellucidar, the conscious in Tarzan and Africa and shall we say, the aspirational or spiritual of Mars.  In point of fact Burroughs writing style varies in each of the three worlds, just as they did in Miss Smith’s.

Having exhausted his early intellectual resources Burroughs read extensively and exhaustively to recharge  his intellectual batteries.  This would have been completely normal because it is quite easy to write oneself out.  Indeed, he was warned about this by his editor, Metcalf.  Having, as it were, gotten what was in your mind on paper what you had was used up and has to be augmented.  One needs fresh experience and more knowledge.  ERB was capable of achieving this from 1911 to about 1936 when his resources were essentially exhausted.  Regardless of what one considers the quality of the later work it is a recap, a summation of his work rather than extension or innovatory into new territory.  Once again, not at all unusual.

As a child of his times his work is a unique blend of science and spiritualism with the accent on science.  One can only conjecture how he assimiliated Camille Flammarion’s own unique blend of spiritualism and science but it would seem clear that Flammarion inflamed his imagination setting him on his career as perhaps the world’s first true science-fiction writer as opposed to merely imaginative or fantasy fiction although he was no mean hand at all.

 

A Review:

The Novels Of George Du Maurier

Peter Ibbetson, Trilby, The Martian

Part III

The Martian

Review by R.E. Prindle

There’s a somebody I’m longin’ to see

I hope that she turns out to be

Someone who’ll watch over me.

-Ella Fitzgerald

Contents:

Part I:  Introduction

Part II:  Review of Trilby

Part III:  Review Of The Martian

Part IV:  Review of Peter Ibbetson

      If Trilby was a premontion of his death, in the Martian Du Maurier puts his intellecual affairs in order for his long journey into the night.  In the novel he even advises us that he has convinced himself that there is life after death.  On the completion of  The Martian Du Maurier died of a heart attack.  The novel appeared posthumously.

     I have read that Trilby was meant as a neo-Gothic novel as the Gothic was enjoying a revival at the time.  If Trilby was neo-Gothic then The Martian is associated with the Spiritualist revival of the moment.  Du Maurier even does a mini dissertation on table turning and rapping, two prominent manifestations of Spiritualism.

   At the same time a Martian craze was in progress.  ERBzine a while back ran a list of early Martian novels so the topic was under discussion.  H.G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds was published at about the same time as The Martian so Burroughs in 1911 was in the genre, possibly he had been thinking of a Martian novel for a few years.  At least it was the first notion that popped into his head.  With Du Maurier then we have an interplanatary spiritualistic love story for love story it is.  A spectucular one.

     The notion is that a female Martian was expelled from Mars coming to Earth in a meteor shower a hundred years previously.  Must have landed at Wold Newton.  During that time she had inhabited thousands of bodies in search of the ideal situation.  She settled on Barty Josselin’s family who were especially attractive and English.  She inhabited Barty from an early age.  When inhabited Barty had an unerring ability to tell the North.  No matter how many times he was spun around or disoriented he could always point to due North.  Later in the novel we learn that because of peculiar magnetic influences stronger on Mars than on Earth Martia the Martian was oriented to the North.  Thus when she was inhabiting Barty he could unerringly feel due North, if she left him for a while he lost the ability.  For most of the book we have no idea how he could feel North but it is explained at last.  Very clever explanation too.

     Martia falls in love with Barty, planning his life for him as he is to be a great success.   I’m looking for that kind of angel.  But that’s in the second half of the novel while Du Maurier has to get us from here to there.  In each of the novels he has long preambles covering half the book in which he carefully builds up character.  Everything then falls neatly into place.

     Now, as I said in the introduction, the novel is ostensibly a biography of Barty as told by his friend Robert Maurice, illustrated by the real life Du Maurier at Maruice’s request and also edited by him.  This gives Du Maurier triple distance as a writer allowing him I should think to say things it might have been difficult to say otherwise.  Even then the distance is frequently breached and one has the feeling that Du Maurier is actually Barty, Bob and himself.  Talk about table turnings and rappings.  Burroughs come close to this feel and complexity in The Eternal Lover.  In that novel he also gives himself a role as well as his character Tarzan.  Quite similar to the Martian.

     The spate of novels Burroughs produced from 1911 to the first quarter of 1914 must all have been in his mind in embryo before he wrote A Princess Of Mars hence all his readings from childhood to early manhood are reflected.  It was only when he switched from talented amateur to professional writer in mid-1914 that he had to search for his plots and stories thus taking in more current literary sources as well.

     Whereas in Trilby Du Maurier concentrated on the decade from 1860 to 1870 plus a year or two in this novel he lovingly recreates his school years in Paris during the 1840s before taking Barty up through the years until his death.  As a projection of himself Barty is an idealized Du Maurier who does many things Du Maurier did and didn’t.

     Barty is 6’4″ and impossibly handsome and winning neither of which would describe Du Maurier.  Barty has a wonderful singing voice but too thin for grand opera although he tries as did Du Maurier.  Barty had the perfect voice for intimate occasions in which he was invariably successful.  Du Maurier also was fond of the musical occasion and, perhaps, in this current age of electronic amplification both could have been successful recording stars a la Gordon Lightfoot or Jesse Colin Young.

     Like Du Maurier Barty, while not a great artist,  enjoys some success an an illustrator before becoming a wildly successful author.  Mostly he knocks around from hand to mouth living off his looks and manners.  Women just love him.

     As with Du Maurier Barty develops a detached retina in his left eye leaving him blind in that eye.  Much discussion of eyes and doctors.  Always entertainingly done.  Thus in search of a good doctor Barty is directed to a Dr. Hasenclever in Dusseldorf which finally congeals the story and get it moving toward its end.

     Re-enter Martia, or actually enter Martia.  She just shows up out of the blue.  Here we get real Spiritualistic.  Barty had begun to despair about his eyes.  He despaired to the point of organizing his suicide which he would have done if Martia hadn’t intervened.  She puts Barty to sleep.  When he wakes his poison is gone, quite disappeared, and in its place a long letter from Martia explaining the situation in his own hand.  Spooky what?

     In the letter Martia advises him that he is not to think of suicide as she has big plans for him and he is destined to move mountains.  Apparently an oculist of some note she gives him expert medical advice then directing him to Dusseldorf and Dr. Hasenclever.  Being rather promiscuous in inhabiting bodies she may have passed a one nighter in Hasenclever.  I’m only speculating.

      It seems that all of England is having optical problems all converging on Dusseldorf and the fabled Dr. Hasenclever at one time.  Thus Barty is brought together with his destined wife, Leah.

     Barty and Bob Maurice were both attracted to Leah when she was fourteen.  Attractive as a young girl she has developed into the premier beauty of the world.  She has rejected all suitors including the narrator, Bob, who lives his life as a bachelor as a result.  Leah has had her eye on Barty all along.

     At this point it might be best to give Martia’s history.  Du Maurier’s account is interesting so at the risk of offending I’ll give a very lengthy quotation of seven pages.  As few readers of this review will read The Martian I don’t think it will hurt.

     That Barty’s version of his relations with “The Martian” is absolutely sincere is impossible to doubt.  He was quite unconscious of the genesis of every book he ever wrote.  His first hint of every one of them was the elaborately worked out suggestion he found by his bedside in the morning- written by himself in his sleep during the preceding night, with his eyes wide open, while more often than not his wife anxiously watched him at his unconscious work, careful not to wake or disturb him in any way.

     Roughly epitomized Martia’s story was this:

     For an immense time she had gone through countless incarnations, from the lowest form to the highest, in the cold and dreary planet we call Mars, the outermost of the four inhabited worlds of our system, where the sun seems no bigger than an orange, and which but for its moist, thin, rich atmosphere and peculiar magnetic conditions that differ from ours, would be too cold above ground for human or animal or vegetable life.  As it is, it is only inhabited now in the neighborhood of tis equator’ and even there during its long winter it is colder and more desolate than Cape Horn or Spitzbergen- except that the shallow, fresh-water sea does not freeze except for a few months at either pole.

     All these incarnations were forgotten by her but the last; nothing remained of them all but a vague consciusness that they had once been, until their culmination in what would be in Mars the equivalent of a woman on our earth.

     Man in Mars is, it appears, a very different being from what he is here.  he is amphibious and descends from no monkey, but from a small animal that seems to be something between our seal and our sea-lion.

     According to Martia, his beauty is to that of the seal as that of Theseus or Antinous to that of an orang-outang.  His five senses are extraordinarily acute, even the sense of touch in his webbed fingers and toes; and in addition to these he possesses a sixth, that comes from his keen and unintermittent sense of the magnetic current, which is far stronger in Mars than on the earth, and far more complicated and more thoroughly understood.

     When any object is too delicate and minute to be examined by the sense of touch and sight, the Martian shuts he eyes and puts it against the pit of his stomach, and knows all about it, even its inside.

     In the absolute dark, or with his eyes shut, and when he stops his ears, he is more intensely conscious of what immediately surrounds him than at any other time, except that all colour-perception ceases;  conscious not only of material objects, but of what is passing in his fellow-Martian’s mind- and this for an area of many hundreds of cubic yards.

     In the course of its evolution this extraordinary faculty- which exists on earth in a rudimentary state, but only among some birds and fish and insects and in the lower forms of animal life- has developed the Martian mind in a direction very different from ours, since no inner life apart from the rest, no privacy, no concealment is possible except at a distance involving absolute isolation; not even thought is free; yet in some incomprehensible way there is, as a matter of fact, a really greater freedom of thought than is conceivable among ourselves; absolute liberty in absolute obedience to law; a paradox beyond our comprehension.

     Their habits are simple as those we attribute to cave-dwellers during the prehistoric periods of the earth’s existence.  But their moral sense is so far in advance of ours that we haven’t even a terminology by which to express it.

     In comparison, the highest and best of us are monsters of iniquity and egoism, cruelty and corruption; and our planet is (a very heaven for warmth and brilliancy and beauty, in spite of earthquakes and cyclones and tornadoes) a very hell through the creatures that people it- a shambles, a place of torture, a grotesque and impure pandemonium.

     These exemplary Martians wear no clothes but the exquisite fur with which nature has endowed them, and which constitutes a part of their immense beauty, according to Martia.

     They feed exclusively on edible moss and roots and submarine seaweed, which they know how to grow and prepare and preserve.  Except for heavy-winged bat-like birds, and big fish, which they have domesticated and use for their own purposes in an incredible manner (incarnating a portion of themselves and their consciousness at will in their bodies), they have cleared Mars of all useless and harmful and mutually destructive forms of animal life.  A sorry fauna, the Martian- even at its best- and a flora beneath contempt, compared to ours.

     They are great engineers and excavators, great irrigators, great workers in delicate metal, stone, marble, and precious gems (there is no wood to speak of), great sculptors and decorators of the beautiful caves, so fancifully and so intricately connected, in which they live, and which have taken thousands of years to design and excavate and ventilate and adorn, and which they warm and light up at will in a beautiful manner by means of the tremendous magnetic current.

     This richly party-colored light is part of their mental and moral life in a way it is not in us to apprehend, and has its exact equivalent in sound- and vice versa.

     They have no language of words, and do not need it, since they can only be isolated in thought from each other at a distance greater than that which any vocal sound can traverse; but their organs of voice and hearing are far more complex and perfect than ours, and their atmosphere infinitely more conductive of phonal vibrations.

     It seems that everything which can be apprehended by the eye or hand is capable of absolute sonorous  translation; light, colour, texture, shape in its three dimensions, weight and density.  The phonal expression and comprehension of all these are acquired by the Martian baby almost as soon as it knows how to swim or dive, or move upright and erect on dry land or beneath it; and the mechanical translation of such expression, by means of wind and wire and sounding texture and curved surface of extraordinary elaboration, is the principal business of Martian life- an art by which all the combined past experience and future aspirations of the race receive the fullest utterance.  Here again personal magnetism plays an enormous part.

     And it is by means of this long and patiently evolved and highly trained faculty that the race is still developing towards perfection with constant strain and effort- although the planet is far advanced in its decadence, and within measurable distance of its unfitness for life of any kind.

     All is so evenly and harmoniously balanced, whether above ground or beneath, that existence is full of joy in spite of the tremendous strain of life, in spite also of a dreariness of outlook on barren nature, which is not to be matched by the most inhospitable regions of the earth; and death is looked upon as the crowning  joy of all, although life is prolonged by all means in their power.

     For when the life of the body ceases, and the body itself is burned and its ashes scattered to the winds and waves, the infinitesimal, imponderable and indestructible something we call the soul is known to lose itself in a sunbeam and make for the sun, with all its memories about it, that it may then receive further development, fitting it for other systems altogether beyond conception; and the longer it has lived in Mars the better for its eternal life in the future.

     But it often, on its journey sunwards, gets tangled in other beams, and finds its way to some intermediate planet- Mercury, Venus, or the Earth; and putting on flesh and blood and bone once more, and losing for a space all its knowledge of its own past, it has to undergo another mortal incarnation- a new personal experience, beginning with its new birth; a dream and a forgetting, till it awakens again after the pangs of dissolution, and finds itself a step further on the way to freedom.

     Martia, it seems, came to our earth in a shower of shooting-stars a hundred years ago.  She had not lived her full measure of years on Mars; she had elected to be suppressed, through some unfitness, physical or mental or moral, which rendered it expedient that she should become a mother of Martians, for they are very particular about that sort of thing in Mars; we shall have to be so here some day, or else we shall degenerate and become extinct; or even worse!

     Many Martian souls come to our planet in this way, it seems, and hasten to incarnate themselves in as promising unborn but just begotten men and women as they find, that they may the sooner be free to hie them sunwards, with all their collected memories.

     According to Martia, most of the best and finest of our race have souls that have lived forgotten lives in Mars.  But Martia was in no hurry; she was full of intelligent curiosity, and for ten years she went up and down the earth, revelling in the open air, lodging herself in the brains and bodies of birds, beasts, and fishes, insects, and animals of all kinds- like a hermit crab in a shell that belongs to another- but without the slightest inconvience to the legitimate owners, who were always quite unconscious of her presence, although she made what use she could of what wits they had.

     Thus she had a heavenly time on this sunlit earth of ours- now a worm, now a porpoise, now a sea-gull or a dragon-fly, now some fleet footed, keen-eyed quadruped that did not live by slaying, for she had a horror of bloodshed.

     She could only go where these creatures chose to take her, since she had no power to control their actions in the slightest degree; but she saw, heard, smelled and touched and tasted with their organs of sense, and was as conscious of their animal life as they were themselves.  Her description of this phase of her earthly career is full of extraordinary interest, and sometimes extremely funny- though quite unconsciously so, no doubt.  For instance, she tells how happy she once was when she inhabited a small brown Pomeranian dog called “Schanpfel,” in Cologne, and belonging to a Jewish family who dealt in old clothes near the Cathedral; and how she loved and looked up to them- how she revelled in fried fish and the smell of it- and in all the stinks in every street of the famous city- all except one, that arose from Herr Johann Maria Farina’s renowned emporium in the Julichs Platz, which so offended the canine nostrils that she had to give up inhabiting that small Pomeranian dog for ever, &c.

     Then she took to man, and inhabited man and woman, and especially child, in all parts of the globe for many years; and finally, for the last fifty or sixty years or so, she settled herself exclusively among the best and healthiest English she could find.

     One can find many threads leading to current science fiction ideas as developed through the intervening years.  Mental telepathy is a virtual human fixation.  Having once given up the notion of God, man turned to the idea of visitations from outer space to replace that religious impulse.  Thus Martia from Mars.  There were many notions there to enter Burroughs mind and set him thinking.

     Du Maurier enters a thought on Eugenics which was dear to his heart.  He always  has beautiful and intelligent marrying the same so that the genes (although genes were not yet known) would be transmitted to the offspring.

     He also has the soul making for the sun with all its memories intact.  Memories are very important to Du Maurier who records impressions of sight, sounds and smells as when Martia inhabited the little dog.

     Martia wanted Barty to marry a Julia Royce who was the second most beautiful woman in the world after Leah and one of the richest but Barty defied Martia preferring his long time love Leah Gibson who had shown up in Dusselforf with her mother, friends and rest of England.

     Martia leaves Barty in a huff.  He and Leah return to England Martialess where he leads a determined life as an illustrator along the lines of that of Du Maurier   Martia finally takes pity on him returning to be his collaborator and muse as the pair launch a spectacular literary career, I suppose not unlike that of Du Maurier.  If Martia has a sister send her my way.  I’m paying attention to those meteor showers now.

     Martia advises him to keep his pad and pencil bedside so that when she inhabits him he will be able to write.  So Barty writes two hours a night, setting up outlines and plans which he elaborates during the day.  I would like such a muse to watch over me as I imagine every writer would.  Barty’s books astonish the world changing the course of history.  His masterwork is called Sardonyx.

     Eventually Martia tires of this, wishing to be incarnated and get on with her journey from Mars to the Sun with Barty in tow.

     That Du Maurier has his own death in mind and The Martian is a book about death, we have this quote:

     He (Barty) has robbed Death of nearly all its terrors; even for the young it is no longer the grisly phantom it once was for ourselves, but rather of an aspect mellow and benign; for to the most skeptical he (and only he)  has restored that absolute conviction of an indestructible germ of Immortality within us, born of remembrance made perfect and complete after dissolution; he alone has built the golden bridge in the middle of which science and faith can shake hands over at least one common possibilty- nay, one common certainty for  those who have read him aright.   (That might possibly be you and me, I think he means.)

     There is no longer despair in bereavement- all bereavement is but a half parting; there is no real parting except for those who survive, and the longest earthly life is but a span.  Whatever future may be, the past will be ours forever, and that means our punishment and our reward and reunion with those we loved.  It is a happy phrase, that which closes the career of Sardonyx.  It has become as universal as the Lord’s Prayer!

     One guesses that science had destroyed any hope of immortality for the educated person.  Of all human desires the hope of immortality is the strongest hence the fear of losing it is the strongest fear.  Thus Barty (and Martia) came up with a scientifically tenable hope of escaping death that satisfied the religious need.  It’s a pity that Du Maurier didn’t quote Barty in extenso so that we might learn what the solution was.

     Having solved that problem from there we go to Martia’s announcement to Barty that she is going to be his next child.  Martia is born to die an early death as she is anxious to complete the journey to the center of the sun.  Given the content of Peter Ibbetson and Trilby one begins to question Du Maurier’s own sanity.  These books are really convincingly written; one wonders how wobbly the guy really was.  Either he was a master writer or he really half believed this stuff.

     Martia writes a letter to Barty explaining her intentions to be reincarnated.  This is all actually written by Barty in his own handwriting which his wife and intimates, like Bob Maurice, his biographer, know.  they have doubts about Barty’s sanity but when a guy is churning out books after book changing the world for the better what is one to say?

     “MY BELOVED BARTY,- The time has come at last when I must bid you farewell.

      “I have outstayed my proper welcome on earth, as a disembodied conscience by just a hundred years, and my desire for reincarnatin has become an imperious passion not to be resisted.

     “It is more than a desire- it is a duty as well, a duty far too long deferred.

     “Barty, I am going to be your next child.  I can conceive no greater earthly felicity than to be a child of yours and Leah’s.  I should have been one long before, but that you and I have had so much to do together for this beautiful earth- a great debt to pay; you, for being as you are; I , for having known you.

     “Barty, you have no conception what you are to me, and always have been.

     “I am to you but a name, a vague idea, a mysterious inspiration; sometimes a questionable guide, I fear.  You don’t even believe all I have told you about myself- you think it all a somnambulistic invention of your own; and so does your wife, and so does your friend.

     “Oh that I could connect myself in your mind with the shape I wore when I was last a living thing! No shape on earth, not either yours or Leah’s or that of any child yet born to you both, is more beautiful to the eye that has learned how to see than the fashion of the lost face and body of mine.

     Etc.

I don’t know what any readers I may have think of these quotes but these three novels are either the work of a genius or a nut cake.  I read with one eyebrow raised in a state of astonishment.  Du Maurier is daring.  Perhaps it is just as well he died as he finished this, what wonders  what he would come up with next.

Martia is born a girl.  She is named Marty.  Singularly delicate as a spindle.  As a young girl Martia falls from a tree injuring her spine.  The result is physical degeneration.  Within a few years she is dead.  As she died Barty died with her.

This poses an interesting reflection.  Father and daughter are united in death then married in the after life.  I suppose there is many a father and daughter so close that they would like to marry but society and time prevent such unions.  Indeed, such marriages could but go sour amid the stresses of life.  Nevertheless in a shocking development Barty has not only solved the problem of immoratality but marriage between daughters and fathers.  Threw me for a loop when I realized what had happened.

One supposes the pair reached the sun turning into sunbeams that have lighted the Earth continuing on toward Betelguese.

The closing line is:  Barty Josselin is no more.

Prophetic of George Du Maurier’s own death shortly.

Thus Du Maurier closed out a singularly influential life.  It was perhaps just as well that he died when he did.  He was only sixty-two but in another ten or fifteen years the world he knew, loved and reprsented would be swept away forever.  He would have had no place in the new order.  As with all of us the past retains a hold while the swift moving earth slips from beneath our feet.

It is amusing to think Du Maurier was reincarnated in the career of Edgar Rice Burroughs who penned his own A Princess Of Mars in 1911.  One can’t say for sure that Martia and Dejah Thoris are related but I rather think that Du Maurier’s The Martian is a literary antecendent that formed part of ERB’s vision of Mars.

Like Du Maurier he was able to incorporate a multitude of literary worlds within his own.