An ERBapa Reprint
THE LOST CITIES
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS
by Terry Alan Klasek
I have a love and appreciation of stories with the Lost City theme,
and I own many pulps and books featuring lost cities. Thus far I have read
most of them, and many several times each. I just get a real kick out of
reading about the then "modern people" discovering a city where time has
stood still for decades, centuries and millennia. I read Conan Doyle¹s
"The Lost World" in sixth grade, and was mesmerized by a land with time
as it was ages ago, and with dinosaurs! My fascination with dinosaurs goes
back to the mid 1950s when I saw King Kong, The Lost World, and other sci-fi
films having dinosaurs being found alive long after they were thought to
Now, being obsessed with history the lost city has long been my favorite.
I read or watch the unfolding story, and then do research to see if the
history is correct. Just one of my pet peeves seeing history is portrayed
correctly especially dates, people, uniforms, regalia and fact. Many lost
cities that I have encountered came from the imagination of Edgar Rice
Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. Then many pulp writers wrote lost city
stories as well as stories about Atlantis.
Atlantis is another high favorite for me. I am intrigued in reading
about Atlantis because it is so shrouded in obscurity with no definite
location proven. This opens the way for a plethora of fine yarns putting
Atlantis, and remnant colonies, all over the globe. These stories are basically
entertainment, but I find them somewhat educational too. I add more theories
and postulations to my memory, and revel in delightful musings regarding
their veracity in fact.
Before Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Under the Moons of Mars for Argosy
several pulp novels had appeared where people stumbled across a lost city.
Much of Africa and Asia was still unexplored when ERB started in 1911.
People loved the romantic imaginations of people coming in contact with
people of the past is out of the way hidden areas in those largely unexplored
lands. After all popular fiction was filled with Knights, Pirates, Historical
adventures and pioneering stories by well known authors!
When the Burroughs boom hit in the early 1960s I was swept up into the
thick of it loving every second! I had a nice collection of real books
and comics. My comics as I said previously were Tarzan and Classics Illustrated,
my love of literature stems from Classics Illustrated ending up with book
copies of almost every Classics Comics. My books were a great deal of series
fiction: Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, other juvenile series fiction, and historical
When I got all fired up on Sherlock Holmes and Fu Manchu in 1962 I began
haunting second hand bookstores seeking those characters and anything related.
That was my big mistake, getting all those related books. That is a never-ending
search! The Sherlock Holmes books came in easy a set of eight to carry
paperbacks from Berkeley. I discovered that Sax Rohmer had many titles
that were not Fu Manchu, and hard covers from a variety of publishers.
I started to collect them all. Sounds like a foreshadowing, eh?
I had some time to wait for a streetcar, and was browsing the bookrack
at the Woolworth's by the bus stop when Edgar Rice Burroughs jumped out
at me with all those exotic covers! I had viewed many Tarzan films and
read a lot of comics, and was left wanting after a reading, viewing or
two. The books were 40 cents and 50 cents, and that was an investment for
me. I settled for Tarzan Triumphant from Ballantine because they were somewhat
uniform in appearance.
A mountainous area with a burnoosed Arab seemed exotic to so I picked
It grabbed my interest even though it was not one of the better stories.
But, the hook was in, and I knew this was a life long addiction. Interesting
enough it featured a lost race of early Christian descendants. I am the
first to admit that I am far from knowledgeable about scriptures, but I
know enough to know that the people of Noah and Abraham are way off base
on scriptural fact.
Little did I know just how many lost cities I would be seeing in EDGAR
RICE BURROUGHS stories as I continued my mad reading? I learned early the
ERB enjoyed poking fun at organized religion, and I just accepted it while
continuing my reading.
Within a few months I has all the Tarzan, Mars and Pellucidar books,
and read them all in swift order starting with book number one in a series,
and working my all the way through to the last.
Pellucidar was a great lost race / WORLD! I loved it, and wrote my views
upon Pellucidar in ERB-APA #66 and #67. Pellucidar is fantastic, and a
series I always enjoy reading because it is always fresh and new to me.
Tarzan is the character that encounters more lost cities than any other
by EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS. It was a plot device that ERB overused like Tarzan
getting bonked on the head then suffering amnesia. I recall how frustrated
I got when I read each new Tarzan book for the first time, and seeing Tarzan
with amnesia again and again. UGH!
I love humor and laughter greatly especially in books and films. I start
laughing at the merest mention of my favorite humor sections arise as a
scene begins. There is a great deal of humor in the Lost Cities of EDGAR
RICE BURROUGHS. My favorites were written in detail in my submission for
ERB-APA #76, but I will quickly run over them.
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle sports James Blake in Nimmer with the British
knights, and Erich von Harben is placed in humorous situations in Tarzan
and the Lost Empire. I never tire read them. Tarzan and the City of Gold
has some humor, but better characters, and Nemone the Queen who is the
most passionate towards Tarzan than anyone else. The City of Gold reminds
me of ancient Greece as The Forbidden City reminds me of ancient Egypt,
which is mediocre and by a strange twist a funny ending.
Tarzan and the Ant Men has the smallest people with the longest names!
I remember spending a lot of time trying to sound out those sesquipedalian
names! The amazons with the male / female role reversals was somewhat hard
to stomach. Tarzan and the Castaways our hero travels to an uncharted island
where survivors of a Mayan city hold refuge. Tarzan is mistaken for Chee,
Tarzan and the Madman has a Portuguese maritime lost city, while Tarzan
and the Lion Man has gorillas populating a new London with a great mad
scientist messing with DNA cells. The Valley of Luna with the insane Junkers
is the oddest lost city or collection of insane cities.
Tarzan the Terrible Tarzan searches for Jane across the wide morass
into Pal-ul-don. This is a great story! A primitive race with missing links
and dinosaurs, and it also has prejudice between tailed primitive men who
were white and blacks and then there were the Tor-o-dons. This story has
Tarzan the Magnificent has two lost city groups. We have the Cities
of Gold and Ivory in the latter half, and the Mystical Zuli and Gonfal
if the former part.
The Mucker finds ancient Japanese Samurai interbred with Pacific Islanders,
which made an interesting read.
Now that leaves me with the most visited lost city, and the first Tarzan
visits, OPAR! Tarzan visits Opar four times in The Return of Tarzan, Tarzan
and the Jewels of Opar, Tarzan and the Golden lion and Tarzan the Invincible.
The Lost City of Opar is MY favorite lost city by Edgar Rice Burroughs,
and the rest of this submission will be devoted to Opar!
The Return of Tarzan is such a great book! It has everything including
a duel, fighting, spies, sea voyages, rescues, the Waziri and that fabulous
jewel Opar. Mix this with the North African scenes, where Arabs are
painted as good people and fine warriors unlike the rest of the Tarzan
books. Return just has so much entertainment from so many venues that it
must rank high in the Tarzan favorites. Of course Tarzan and Jane are finally
married at the close, and that tops everything off just fine.
In Return of Tarzan the Ape Man goes to Opar TWICE! The first time Tarzan
was with the Waziri, and the second to rescue Jane from the sacrificial
dagger of La, High Priestess of the Flaming God. Tarzan is like no man
La has ever seen save in her dreams. She longs for a man like her rather
than the short gnarled men of degenerate Opar. She sees Tarzan as prayer
Tarzan is on the sacrificial alter, and La almost plunges the dagger,
but was interrupted by a priest gone mad because he was no allowed to butt
up in line. Tarzan snaps his bonds chases after La, and rescues her from
Tha, Tha mad priest, La hides Tarzan in the Temple of the Dead which is
shunned by the People of Opar save La. Tarzan tried many languages to converse
with La, but finally hear her speak in Mangani, much to his surprise.
In the Chamber of the Dead they finally converse for the first time.
Tarzan deduces from La¹s narration that he is in a lost colony of
Atlantis, and that La is both High Priest and Queen. The men are gnarled
because of centuries of mating with apes as the civilization degenerates.
The women, who were of a higher caste when Atlantis sank, still retain
their beautiful forms. They kill those that do not. Tarzan is moved into
Tarzan finds the draft of air, moves the wall's blocks and finds the
gold treasure vaults. A cavernous room filled to ceiling with 50 pound
ingots of virgin gold long since forgotten by the inhabitants. He removes
100 ingots, and it looks like he took nothing. That is staggering!!!!!
Now, that is an instant supply of wealth for sure. Later in Tarzan and
the Jewels of Opar Tarzan, with amnesia, falls down the shaft to discover
a room with several large chests full of precious gems. All long since
forgotten by the current occupants!
In Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar Tarzan's fortune has taken severe reversals,
and another trip to Opar for free wealth is in order. This time Tarzan
is followed to Opar by the nefarious Lt. Albert Werper. Again Tarzan encounters
La, and he sees her as fuzzy, and vaguely recalls Jane. Again La sets her
sights on Tarzan, and he is pursued by La and the Fifty Frightful Priests
after affecting an escape. Tarzan is caught, and Tarzan is "personally
tortured" by La overnight in a rudely built shelter. Many believe that
La had her way sexually with Tarzan bound.
Tarzan gets hit on the head again with his foggy brain clearing, and
becoming normal. He races to Opar to rescue Jane again choosing her over
La once again. As time passed in the book publications and the pulps the
illustrating of La has changed dramatically. From crude indistinct illustrations
she becomes more and more sultry and enticing. She also wears less and
less clothes. By the time of the 1960s paperback Edgar Rice Burroughs boom
and fanzines La takes on a cultish stature. She becomes overly sexy, erotic
and a man magnet. Not the way she started.
Tarzan returns again in Tarzan and the Golden Lion where La is driven
out of Opar with Tarzan protecting her into the Valley of Diamonds (enemies
of the Oparians). It is peopled with intelligent Bolgani, Negro slaves
and a white male. Tarzan upsets the status quo of ages there ending the
Bolgani rule enlisting their aid to restore La to Opar's throne. That is
accomplished as the instigators of the revolt are slain, as they became
greedy, evil rulers.
The last appearance of La is in Tarzan the Invincible. La travels beyond
the borders of Opar with Jad-Bal-Ja. She encounters the group of Communists
who are planning to raid Opar for wealth believing that Tarzan is lost
on a fool journey to the Earth's Core. The leader, Peter Zevri, is seduced
by the lure of the GOLD, and wants to be Emperor of Africa, with his own
agenda. La learns English from Zora Drinov making good progress. When Tarzan
finally catches up with La, rescuing her again, he tells her he was hunting
food that she should have waited. La then says childlike, "La is sorry,"
Her face is lowered, and her eyes look up at Tarzan, as a child would be
sorry for any rule infraction. This makes La VERY real!
Over the four books La becomes more human and less haughty. Though she
retains her regal identity I believe she softens more as she becomes friends
with Tarzan. Is she awaiting a fatal accident to befall Jane?? I wonder?
Even though Tarzan is the most perfect man she has seen in the four books
she is unable to win him over. However, Tarzan IS drawn to Nemone, Queen
of Cathne, City of Gold.
Opar is described as a stately pile, and a magnificent ruin. The stone
buildings have golden domes, minarets and columns. Plates of beaten gold
are covered with strange hieroglyphics and characters of writing. Written
language of long forgotten Atlantis bear mute testimony they once they
passed through Opar. They are an unclear memory as seen darkly through
Opar the forgotten lies hidden among the encircling jagged peaks and
plunging valleys. The perfect females and the short gnarled men live oblivious
to an outside world raging about them as they dwell with apes both great
and small. Their enemies in the Valley of Diamonds are, for the time being,
their friends since Tarzan's overturning their religion. I wonder who was
resident on the sacrificial alter of Opar before the advent of Tarzan????
Maybe "enemies of the state" from within Opar and the former enemies from
the Valley of Diamonds took places on the sacrificial alter?
There could not be many of them lest they die out. According to Waziri
his tribe made but one trip to the confines of Opar, and possibly the wounded
Twice Tarzan ate in Opar upon plates of gold and drank from cups of
gold with La as friend, and not mate. It seems that on occasion the Oparians
could revert to former memories acting as their forbears did eons ago.
However, the memories of that cavernous Gold treasure vault and the
smaller hidden room with the swelling chests of precious gems elude their
minds completely. Good thing for Tarzan as he always has a ready source
of everlasting wealth. Of course TOO much gold would become devalued if
the world's supply became saturated from Opar's vault.
Now speculation must arise. In The Return of Tarzan, Tarzan made the
first of four visits to the cavern of Gold Ingots. In Tarzan and the Jewels
of Opar a wandering Tarzan (an amnesiac) falls into a cistern that he previous
avoided, and climbs into the room with chests of precious gems. Ever since
reading the first two books about Tarzan visiting Opar I began to muse
what other forgotten secreted chambers lay below those occupied areas of
the Opar's descendants?? There must be others from trade. Possibly a room
devoted to the diamonds from the Valley of Diamonds long since forgotten
is yet undiscovered??
The labyrinth of Stygian passages beneath Opar is feared by the current
residents, and yet brings speculation to us, the readers! WHO lives down
there?? What is stored or hidden beneath Opar?? As I read a Tarzan book
that feature a visit to Opar I enjoy pondering upon these questions. In
this golden age of ERB publishing many articles, essays, books long out
of print are beginning to see the light of day again. The excellent book,
"Heritage of the Flaming God," has been collected and printed by ERB-APA's
Alan Hanson. Longtime fans (Brueckel and Harwood) did some incredible
research on Opar, and its possible location. All this material was new
to me, and I drained it like a dry, thirsty sponge! Every ERB fan should
have one or two copies of this publication!!!!!
Recently I picked up some of the ERB stories that James Van Hise has
put out in replica format. The City of Gold has Nemone wearing square breastplates,
and she nothing beautiful compared to today. I was quite thrown with the
square breastplates, and that is a first! Gee, I always thought they were
The same holds true with La. In the newspaper strips, and the pulp illustrations
La is alluring, but not sensual nor sexy. She is the closest in physical
form we have to what the Atlantians of her past looked like. Well, according
to ERB anyway. Ed plays with Darwin having the male Oparian priests, whose
ancestors hailed from the lower side of Atlantian life, mating with great
apes in the isolated Oparian plateau. Then men were kept a short gnarled
beast-like men with long matted hair and beards, while the women (who were
decedents of the priestess class) were more pure to the original Atlantian
form. Men who were perfect and females who were crooked and gnarled were
destroyed to keep physical differences between male and female residents
of Opar. Reminds me of the Chinese killing off female babies because of
It seems to me that Ed took subjects from news and discussion, and worked
them into his stories as themes or side issues. He seems particularly interested
in poking fun at organized religion. Here in Opar it is no different. After
cheating the Flaming God his due sacrifice Tarzan quizzes La about Opar.
She tells him of Atlantis and how Opar has existed since the "Great Catastrophe."
She professes that she leads her people, and teaches them, the mysteries
of the religion of the Flaming God, but that she is not required to believe
it! Ed is poking fun at all the hypocrites in pulpits and then on radio
and traveling tent revivals! Opar sits atop a mountainous plateau nestled
amid a range of high rocky crags that has protected it from visitation
In the third story of Opar we learned that an attached valley was where
the Atlantians mined diamonds. I often wonder if ERB has the Valley of
Diamonds in mind when he created Opar or if he developed it as an adjunct
location for Tarzan and the Golden Lion???
I find in each succeeding story of Opar La becomes more human and less
autocratic. In Tarzan the Invincible she makes friends with several members
of Peter Zevri's party, Zora Drinov, in particular, and learns English
enjoying everyday conversation. Quite different from the Autocratic high
priestess in the Return of Tarzan who so admired Tarzan's masculine beauty
she lapsed in her duties.
Anything related to Atlantis has always intrigued me aside from being
antediluvian. I not only enjoy reading stories of Atlantis, her lost colonies
and other lost cities, but I fully enjoy numerous rereading them as well!!!!
Opar, La and the rebellious subjects have long been a source of fascination
and enjoyment for me! I will reread them again soon, and again after that.
I fear the cause is hopeless. I am an Opar and ERB junkie, and I just cannot
I am looking forward to reading this issue because of my love of lost
cities / races, and am all anxiety to see different slants and why others
here love particular lost cities / races!! This should be great!!
I was saddened to hear from Henry that Bill Shell passed away last week.
I sent KAORspondence, and a note to Bill Shell's family. I will miss his
voice and his way with words!
Until next time, Terry Alan Klasek