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Volume 1151

EARLY AFRICA INFLUENCE ON EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS?


 
"For years I have been in possession of a book titled "Heroes of the Dark Continent," by J.W. Buel, published in 1890.  It is a beautifully illustrated guide to the mysteries, legends and history of Africa with fanciful embellishments scattered throughout -- actually it is a Prospectus with the promise of a completed volume yet to come. 

In the back of the book is an attached list of the signatures and addresses of people who apparently wished to order this volume. Two of the signatures are of interest: Mrs. F. (or possibly Y.) A. Burroughs, and E.R. Burroughs!  The address given seems to be somewhere in Vermont.  I know that ERB spent some of his young life in the Northeast while attending school.  Any possibility that this is the book that kindled his interest in Africa? Maybe some connection can be discovered between the tales in the book and the Tarzan stories!"


The book is profusely illustrated with hundreds of line drawings.
A few of the illustrations are reproduced below.



 
 
Words from Caz:
 . . . Sarkis Atamian wrote a book called The Origin of Tarzan back in 1996 or so... and I thoroughly reviewed it in Pulpdom #8, Nov. 1997.  He brings up 3 African books, including. Heroes of the Dark Continent, which he felt was actually the least influential in creating Tarzan. I got and reviewed and published parts of all 3 books in Pulpdom #8.  Kurt O'Brien's discovery of Burroughs' name with the Heroes of  the Dark Continent book is CONFIRMATION of what Atamian said! . . . Without question, you are doing a magnificent  expose on ERB with all your work on-line and for free! -Caz 

Ed.: Camille "Caz" Cazedessus published 89 issues of the award-winning ERB fanzine, ERB-dom. 
"ERB-dom stands out as valuable even for readers who do not adulate the writer. It gives many background and bibliographical details of Burroughs' work as it has appeared in magazines, books, comic strips and movies." - Tymn and Ashley (eds), Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines

Caz's current publishing projects include Redezvous Publishing and the "Son of ERB-dom": Pulpdom Magazine ~ devoted to the thousands of authors and stories that made the first half of the 20th Century the "Golden Age of Pulp Literature." Free Online Pulpdom subscriptions are available from Caz at:  P.O. Box 2340 ~  Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147-2340.

Excerpts:
The Origin of Tarzan: The Mystery of Tarzan's Creation Solved
by Sarkis Atamian with Foreword by George T. McWhorter
Copyright 1997 by Sarkas Ataman ~ Published by Publication Consultants 
PO Box 221974 ~ Anchorage, Alaska  99522-1974

With few exceptions, five generations of critics have laid much of Burroughs' inspiration at the doorsteps of Kipling, Haggard, and Wells. But Mr. Atamian points the arrow directly at two lesser know writers, Paul Du Chaillu and J. W. Buell, as the major sources, both direct and subliminal, of the Burroughs mind-fix. He shows that Buell and Du Chaillu provided essential background reading which Burroughs used systematically for his themes, situations and, significantly, for his nomenclature. 

From the Foreword of The Origin of Tarzan
George T. McWhorter, Curator
Burroughs Memorial Collection
University of Louisville
Origin of Tarzan by Sarkis Atamian - 1997Page 84 and 85:
". . .  ERB wrote the Return [of Tarzan], from start to finish, in 70 days! That is as fast as lightning for a novel given the complexities of the plot. ERB could not have had time for a leisurely stroll through the book shelves doing "research," in a dozen books -- he wouldn't even have time for a quick reading of them. But he could and did read one book (or had already read it) which contained most of the important items he needed for more than half of the Return after Tarzan's dissipation in Paris. The book was Buell's Heroes! And there are traces of it in the Beasts [of Tarzan] and [The Jewels of] Opar, and even Tarzan [of the Apes]. 

"In summation, there could be hundreds of words from a dozen different sources which coincidentally could be used by ERB. But here, there are two books (Paul Du Chaillu's Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa and J. W. Buell's Heroes of the Dark Continent) in which all these words and ideas can be related to their contexts in ERB. And these original contexts and sources appear within 30 to 100 pages of each other (depending on the book), which contain all the original cognates, themes, and symbols. 

"In varying degrees, all of the first six Tarzan books in the chronology have a Buell influence. The least of these is Mirambo-Aruwimi in Tarzan of the Apes and Baynes (and a companion) who hunt big game together in the Son of Tarzan, the fourth book in the chronology. Admittedly, these are weak. In the second volume, the Return , of the 26 chapters, only the first six have no connection Buell. In the remaining 20, the actions, plots, themes, and names are all in Buell from the theme of castaways, to cannibalism: from the lost and ruined city of Opar and its treasure vaults to La; from Arabs to Manyuema; from fifty frightful men and dwarfs to superior breeding males. In the Beasts, Kai-Shang and Fuchan are minor parts, but totally related to Buell and vital in identifying a major source. In Opar, the entire theme of Opar, La, and the historical allusions and La's appearance and statements, as well as the high-priestesses and Amazonian theme is totally related to Buell. In Jungle Tales, of 12 chapters, five of them revolve around central characters, themes and names from Buell, form the N'Ganga to Du Chaillu's Bukawai; from exploding bullets to Teeka; from Rabba Kega in Tarzan and the Black Boy, to Jungle Joke. In chapters five, six, seven (of Jungle Tales), which form a trilogy, the main names, themes and plots are entirely from Buell, from witchcraft to Tibo." 


ATAMIAN SPECULATES ON TARZAN'S BIRTHPLACE
from The Origin of Tarzan by Sarkis Atamian (1997)
[p. 87] This problem of where exactly in Africa was the site of the Greystoke cabin, has concerned scholars for many years.

The Reverend H.H. Heins is a scholar in the field of ERBology (I apologize if this is a newly-coined phrase, but I may have seen it somewhere before at any rate we need a convenient label to identify the vast topic).

Heins has written the preface to Lupoff and he says:

Exactly where, dear reader, was Tarzan born? While never mentioned by name, the location of the little cabin on the shore of the landlocked harbor on the West coast of Africa is given in Jane Porter's letter in chapter xviii of Tarzan of the Apes as "About 10 Degree South Latitude." Now there is only one place in the Southern Hemisphere where the Tenth and adjacent parallels intersect the west coast of Africa. Tarzan was born in Portuguese Angola."
 Farmer disagrees with this and rightly so but for the wrong reasons. His estimates, though for fictional purposes, are nevertheless based on his obvious knowledge of some important facts, and are more realistic. But he is a long way off for reasons unknown, given the facts. He puts the Greystoke cabin site where the Fuwalda put the Claytons off on the beach which Farmer estimates to be halfway between Iguéla and Setté Camma, in the present Gaboon, then part of the French Congo, approximately two degrees South latitude. He does so because the 10 degree south which Jane Porter's letter (and Reverend Heins' calculations) indicates would place the site more than 300 miles south of the Congo River near the present site of Quicama National Park in Angola (Farmer). Such a site would place the cabin where there are no gorillas south of the Congo River, says Farmer, and concludes that, "Internal evidence from the Tarzan books indicates that the coast of Gabon was the correct location, even if we did not know that from other sources...."

The internal evidence may refer to, "...Burroughs' statement that the Porter party was fifteen hundred miles north of Capetown..." which would place the site in Portuguese Angola plus the absence of gorillas that far south. He gives us no other reference to internal evidence, and none about external evidence, although he undoubtedly has Du Chaillu in mind whom he has read. Of course, his handling of these facts give his fictional context a beautiful verisimilitude, and his statement that this "...was another example of Burroughs' efforts to mislead the reader about the true location... " may very well be true. But an unwary reading of the passage will not expose a contradiction or two in Farmer.

Since he has read Du Chaillu, he should have known Du Chaillu believes there are no gorillas south of Setté Camma not south of the Congo River which is too far south by nearly 300 miles from Setté Camma, let alone 300 miles south of the farther Congo River!

I can find no Iguéla on Du Chaillu's map, (though Setté Camma is prominent) nor on Stanley's original [p. 89] map of the Congo and the Gaboon, nor in recent (1972) Rand-McNally maps. It may be that Farmer uses Iguéla as a fictional name, but I don't think so there is probably such a place in the maps he has used. His general location as the Gaboon, instead of Angola, is correct, however. In the second sentence on the first page of Chapter One (right at the outset), Du Chaillu tells us that:

My purpose was to spend some years in the exploration of a region of territory lying between latitude one north and two south, and stretching back from the coast to the mountain range called the Sierra Crystal, and beyond as far as I should be able to penetrate.
According to his map, the farthest south he penetrated in gorilla country was below Cape St. Catherine, to the coast, at about one degree, seventy five minutes south below which there are no gorillas. From Setté Camma to Cape Lopez is approximately 150 statute miles, North West. Approximately half way between these two points the very large Fernand Vaz river and its Delta pour into the Atlantic. Du Chaillu has walked north from his southernmost point along the river (which parallels the coast for some distance) and the ocean. But he stops cold at Fernand Vaz because it is impassable beyond that point.

Cape St. Catherine along the way would be one of the ideal locations for the Greystoke cabin, but we shall see why it is too far south. From the Fernand Vaz to Cape Lopez, north, is the vast area of the Ogobai Delta where the large Ogobai River some 50 miles inland, branches into the Nazareth River which empties into the sea above Cape Lopez while the other branch (still the Ogobai) flows into the Fernand Vaz emptying into the sea below Cape Lopez. A third mighty river, the Mexias, fed by the Ogobai and Fernand Vaz empties into the sea at the southernmost tip of Cape Lopez. The delta area, therefore, is crisscrossed dozens of times by these rivers and their tributaries. It is an abysmal swampland, at least 2,500 square miles. It would be nearly impossible to walk from Fernand Vaz to Cape Nazareth (let alone from Cape St. Catherine) which is why Du Chaillu stopped until a ship picked him up.

The problem is that if the Greystoke cabin stood anywhere along the coast between these two points of Fernand Vaz and Nazareth Bay, then how could Tarzan and Lt. Paul D'Arnot, 20 years after the Claytons are marooned, walk north to the unnamed settlement? If they go inland to avoid the impassable Ogobai Delta, and then head north, they would have to cross three major rivers and ERB makes no mention of them, or of any boats used in any crossings. When Tarzan and D'Arnot return from Mbonga's village (where Tarzan rescues D'Arnot from another cannibal episode) to the Greystoke cabin, the Clayton-Porter entourage has been rescued by D'Arnot's French cruiser and gone.

Tarzan and D'Arnot head north for three weeks when Tarzan, on learning of it, decides to go back to the cabin area to uncover the treasure chest buried by the ruffians of the Arrow. D'Arnot talks him out of this and they walk another week to reach an unnamed missionary settlement on the coast under the head of Father Constantine. They rest here for a week and then walk for another month until they reach the coastal settlement (unnamed), prior to their departure for France. The "settlement," however, is civilized enough to have the necessary equipment so that D'Arnot can send his cablegrams outside.

Now the only place north of Nazareth Bay where there could be a settlement advanced enough for D'Arnot to send his cablegrams, where Tarzan and D'Arnot saw a "little group of buildings," and "many boats," in a "little port," and "a coast town," and stay in a "hotel," and meet a "number of whites" (all ERB's words) who bet Tarzan 5,000 francs that he cannot kill a lion single-handedly and unarmed, can only be on the left bank of the French Gaboon River Delta at, or near, King William Point after Count Bouet-Willaumetz had signed a treaty with King Denis of the Mpongwe. It is a straight shot from Nazareth Bay to the Point, along the coast through lovely territory. Du Chaillu himself walked it all 150 statute miles of it. There are no large rivers or swamps to break up the route. There are occasional villages along the way, one of which Tarzan and D'Arnot could have visited with Father Constantine, as ERB says they did.

Secondly, it is D'Arnot's fellow officers and a French cruiser that rescue the group at the Greystoke cabin. When the crew of the cruiser attacks Mbonga's cannibal village, they are 200 men strong, led by 10 officers (under the tactical command of Lt. Charpentier) and two surgeons. It seems like a lot of fire power for a primitive cannibal village (ERB is taking no chances), but the cruiser which carried that kind of complement had to have enough logistics problems that could only be solved by a naval base or station adequate for the job, about which ERB says not a word. Such a vessel could not just drop in from thin air even ERB would not go that far.

Vaucaire in his biography of Du Chaillu, drawing partly from Explorations, says that soon after the treaty in 1842, the "French had built enormous warehouses to serve as a base of supplies for the West African fleet " and that fleet contained at least 26 vessels to match roughly the same numbers that the British and Portuguese kept in the area, each cautiously keeping an eye on the other. Indeed, this was the fabulous Gold Coast of slave, ivory, gold, rubber, and mineral fame formerly operated by the Portuguese. What is more logical than having a Frenchman, Lt. D'Arnot, appear on the scene? Who else but a Frenchman would be most likely to be found in the French Gaboon where the coin of the realm is the franc, and where the French flotilla lay?

It is now (in Du Chaillu's time) the French Gaboon on both sides of the Delta and the River, and important enough for the upper bank to become Libreville, and has had an important influence on that part of Africa ever [p. 92] since. ERB underplays all this, of course, just as he did the location of the Greystoke cabin. Obviously, he may not have had these Gaboon locations in mind, at all, when Tarzan and D'Arnot finish their two month trek. But something like this he would have to have in mind (and this is the likeliest place) in order to get his heroes to do what they do, and if Tarzan is to learn French in order to learn how to speak English, meet the civilizing tutelage of D'Arnot, and get to Paris. If ERB had not forgotten all these impressions when he first read Du Chaillu, he would refrain from advertising it, however, or revealing too many clues from this to Du Chaillu. The same is true for the Greystoke cabin site.

Well, one must bite the bullet at this point. Where was the likeliest site for the Greystoke cabin? At Nazareth Bay, which ERB disguises as a "...beautiful ... landlocked harbor." It is only one-half degree south of the Equator, it has all the sea coast and tropical jungle and distant mountains (the Sierra Crystal, if nothing else), and the great apes, gorillas, natives, the proximity to French civilization and sailors, soldiers and marines English, French, and Portuguese.

Paul Du Chaillu's Lost In The Jungle
READ HERE
was part of
ERB's Personal Library
Go to SHELF D3
Read our Paul Du Chaillu Features in 
ERBzine 0872
ERBzine 0872a
ERBzine 0872m
Note: The known activities of E.R. Burroughs in the '90s are outlined in the Burroughs Bio Timeline
http://www.erbzine.com/bio/years75.html



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