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In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 1 of 4
Every artist writes his own autobiography.
Even Shakespeare's works contain a life of himself for those who know how to read it.
Eighteen ninety-six found Edgar Rice Burroughs confronting the first great crisis of his adult life. The weight of his childhood experiences pressed on his mind as he turned twenty. His subconscious mind was directing his actions while his conscious intelligence futilely struggled against it. He had no plans; nor could he form any. He was in a state of emotional turmoil. He obviously did not think out his moves nor weigh the effects of his actions on others. He was to burn many bridges as he flayed about like the proverbial bull in the china shop trying to find his way out.
Having graduated from the Michigan Military Academy he had been serving in the capacity of instructor for the previous year. All his heroes were military men. He fancied a military career as an Army officer even though he had failed the West Point exam the year before. Still, he was in a fine position to realize his objective. Men who could help him were nearby friends. Captain, soon to be General, Charles King who had befriended him as a cadet, and the Commandant of the MMA, Colonel Rogers. All he had to do was to be patient and those men of some influence would surely have obtained an appointment for him.
Michigan Military Academy Yearbook 1892
They had given a mere boy a position of great trust and responsibility in making him an instructor. They were military men who judged others in the military manner.
Then in the spring of 1896 Burroughs did one of the most inexplicable things in a career of the inexplicable; he abandoned his post. Without notice to these career officers who were depending on him he resigned his post and on May 13th of 1896 he joined the Army as an enlisted man, a common soldier, a grunt. Within days he was on his way to his assignment.
As he was to say of so many of his later fictional heroes, 'for me to think is to act.' He oughtn't to have been so precipitate. He should have thought twice. He shouldn't have had to think about it at all.
If he seriously wanted a military career as an officer he should have known that it is virtually impossible for an enlisted man to rise through the ranks. Even in the rare cases when this occurs, the enlisted man is always an odd duck between the officer caste and the enlisted men.
In this case he had not only forfeited caste but as far as Rogers and King were concerned he had deserted, the worst crime that a military man can commit. Both men wrote him off at that time.
Strangely he never understood that his precipitate act would be held against him by those he disappointed.
Apparently joining in a fit of despair - for me to think is to act - as the date of the 13th would indicate he requested the worst duty the Army had ensuring his desire to fail. On one level it is almost as though he did have his next move worked out. Not normally too receptive to the desires or needs of its grunts in this case the Army was too glad to accommodate him. Burroughs was sent into Apacheria to a place called Fort Grant in what was then the territory of Arizona. Neither Arizona nor New Mexico became States until after the turn of the century, so Burroughs had actually 'lit out for the territories' as Huck Finn would have it. There was still some Apache resistance going on, thus ERB was a part of the Wild West.
According to Philip R. Burger, writing in the Winter 1999 issue of the Burroughs Bulletin, the standard term of enlistment at the time was three years but, as there would be no reason to join the Army except to make it a career, the reasonable assumption for those left behind in Chicago without a word of goodbye would have been that Burroughs was out of their lives. He was a dead man.
The Quartermaster's Storehouse
Troops patrolled Southeast Arizona and Western New Mexico, chasing small marauding bands of Apache Indians and keeping the peace. Ft Grant was a hub of activity during the Apache Campaigns. It boasted a quartermaster store second to none. The building later called Brown's Folly was over 200 feet long and 40 feet wide. It was constructed of solid stone and is still in use. Troops from Fort Grant participated in the military campaign against Geronimo which ended with Geronimo's surrender in August of 1886. In 1888, the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry were used in civil duties and for chasing train robbers. On May 11, 1889, Paymaster Major Wham was robbed of $29,000 in gold and silver coins while en route to pay the soldiers at Fort Thomas and Fort Apache. Starting in 1900, Fort Grant was a collection point for troops going to the Philippines during the Spanish American War. On October 4, 1905, Captain Jenkins marched Troop D across the parade grounds for the final time. The troops were transferred to Fort Huachuca and Fort Grant was left to a caretaker. In 1912, the federal government turned over Fort Grant to the new state to be used as the State Industrial School for Wayward Boys and Girls. Ft Grant had a taste of delinquency long before the State Industrial School was moved there. William H. Bonney (AKA Billy the Kid) allegedly killed a man at this frontier outpost in a fight.
Fort Grand Site Today
For those of you who have never joined the services, once you leave you're out of the lives of those left behind. Your traditions were broken. Even when you come back on leave you are only tolerated as a visitor who will leave, the sooner the better so you don't disrupt their lives any longer than necessary.
Burroughs didn't even have traditions in Chicago except with a few people. From the sixth grade on he had a record of broken attendance at a number of schools from the girls school to Harvard School and then back East, to Idaho and on to the MMA. He could have known but few people well, intimate with none except the lovely Emma Hulbert .
He could have seen her but rarely over the last years which included high school. He really had no ties in Chicago.
His relationship to Emma dated back to Brown grade school. At sometime before he began his peripatetic education he began to propose to her. As he was gone from Chicago all this time it is very difficult to believe that Emma sat home pining. She must have been dating other boys, however, at the same time she must have been waiting for Burroughs, since at 24 when she married him, she was only a couple years from spinsterhood. She must have been giving her parents some cause for alarm.
Thus when Burroughs appeared to walk out of her life in 1896 without a word about his intentions one wonders what her response was. Certainly it was about this time that Frank Martin began to pay her his court. We will learn more of Frank Martin a little later.
For Burroughs, like so many of us once we were inducted, ERB speedily learned his mistake. For the men who don't fit in 'each fresh move is a fresh mistake.' He regretted his decision immediately. For him to think was to act, so from his arrival at Fort Grant he began a petition for discharge.
As he had been under twenty-one when he joined, he had had to ask his father for his consent. He now asked him to use his influence to get him out.
Perhaps we do not have enough information on why he now so desperately wanted out. In later life this short ten month period of his life would be fraught with significance. Just before he divorced his lovely wife Emma in 1933 ERB took a solo vacation to return to this scene of his young manhood. That would indicate that Emma and Fort Grant were linked in his mind.
Two of his Martian novels are associated with the Fort Grant experience. In his first novel A Princess Of Mars, John Carter serves in the Army in Arizona, is discharged, then returns as a prospector. Under attack by Apaches he seeks refuge in a mountain cave in which he leaves his body while his astral projection goes to Mars. Viewed from one point that's as neat a description of going insane as I've ever come across.
During his 1933 visit to Arizona, Carter returns to visit a trembling fearful Burroughs in his mountain cabin. One gets the impression that Burroughs felt like a whipped dog.
The Apaches made a terrific impression on the young man. So much so that he could see himself joining them as a brave as is evidenced by his two Apache novels, The War Chief and Apache Devil. Then too, his two cowboy novels are placed in Arizona rather than in Idaho where one would expect them.
In his Return Of Tarzan the trip to the Sahara is an obvious reference to Apacheria. The French government sends Tarzan into the desert rather than the US government sending ERB into Apacheria. In the desert Tarzan develops a strong liking for the Arabs, much as ERB did for the Apaches. Tarzan considered becoming a Son Of The Desert just as ERB thought he might become Apache.
A large part of ERB's fascination for the military life was based on his respect for Capt. Charles King under whom he had served briefly at the MMA. King was, I would imagine, a boy's dream of a dashing Cavalry Officer. In this wildly romantic period of the Indian Wars, not to mention the proximity of the Civil War, a man who had served at the same time and the same place as General Custer, must have been held in some awe. King had also served with and knew Buffalo Bill, a nonpareil hero of the time.
Burroughs named two of his characters after Custer.
On top of all this King was a successful writer on military affairs. He wrote an excellent analysis of Custer's defeat, which is available on the ERBzine, as well as a first hand account of the resultant campaign to quell the uprising, Campaigning With Crook. The latter is a superb recreation of a time and place we'll never see again. In just a few words King is able to recreate a Deadwood South Dakota for which the movies have filmed endless miles of photographs with less result. His single reference to barbaric cowboys wearing their guns on their hips says more than dozens of Hollywood films. ERB was also able to capture some of this feeling in his two excellent Western novels as well as his two Apache novels.
King was prolific, writing nearly seventy books in his long career. I have read only a few, which I find of only a journeyman quality. King has an emasculated precious style which is reflected in his photographs. Burroughs enthusiastically said he wrote the best Army novels ever, which may be true, I haven't come across any other novels of Army life. Among his many novels of Army life are three that deal with the Pullman strike when the Seventh was established at Fort Sheridan. One, An Apache Princess written in 1903 might possibly have been an influence on A Princess Of Mars.
At any rate King glorifies the Officer's life. He fooled a young green ERB. In any event ERB failed to notice the haughty distinctions King drew between the relative status of the officers and the enlisted men. King had all the prejudices of the officer class seeing the enlisted man as a subhuman species. Knowing this, as Burroughs should have, I am baffled by his enlisting.
Perhaps as at the MMA he thought that one entered as a buck private working up to Officer rapidly as he had at that school. If so, he must have had a very rude awakening. It couldn't have taken him long to realize that advancing through the ranks was rare while at the same time a long process for such an impatient lad as he.
While he was cleaning those stalls he must have had plenty of time to think out his dilemma. As he thought back over his past actions it must have occurred to him that perhaps he erred on walking out on Colonel Rogers the previous May. Accordingly on December 2 of 1896 he sent a letter back to Rogers of which the reply is extant. We don't know what ERB said but I imagine he was feeling Rogers out to see if he couldn't get him an Officer's appointment. Rogers reply was, of course, polite but cool and distant firmly placing Burroughs as one of the rest of Rogers' students. Yuh. ERB should have thought twice about abandoning his post.
The many, many references to this period of his life point to a great regret later in life that he had left it. He associated this regret with Emma. Perhaps the visit of the Officer John Carter to him in his lonely cabin in the hills represents his lost career as an Army officer but was one of the reasons for his wanting to get back to Chicago that he hadn't dealt with his relationship with Emma? Did he now learn that in his absence someone else was playing his old love song to Emma. Someone who Papa Alvin Hulbert much preferred to ERB?
It would be interesting to know what Emma thought when her beau just up and removed himself to Arizona. Perhaps perplexed but still hopeful she sent him her picture on his birthday in September. Remember me, perhaps?
Unhappy with this life at 'the worst post in the Army', how one's attitude changes when one's dreams are realized, he petitioned his father to use his influence to return him to civilian life.
Surprisingly his father was easily able to do this. By March of 1897 ERB had his discharge papers in his hand. He was a free man again. How many tens of thousands of us would have appreciated such an easy resolution to the problem
Our Man still didn't have a plan. What was he going to do with his life? Apparently Colonel Rogers' reply to his letter didn't apprise him of the facts of life. Nor did he seem to realize that once you reject the military the Army has no use for you. At the time, the US Army was very small, perhaps seventy-five thousand men. The officer corps was about ten per cent or seventy-five hundred men. This is virtually a club. The officers would have known each other personally, by name or by reputation. The same was more or less true of the enlisted men.
Thus Porges records a letter ERB received in 1936 from one W.L. Burroughs of Charlotte, N.C. who probes:This morning an old army sergeant whom I soldiered with back in the nineties dropped in my office and our conversation started at Fort Sheridan, Ill. when the 7th US Cavalry and the 15th U.W. Infantry left that post for Arizona and New Mexico. He asked me if I remembered Edgar Rice Burroughs of Troop 'B' Seventh Cavalry, said he was discharged during the summer of 1896 at Fort Grant Arizona account of a 'Tobacco heart'...will be delighted to know for certain that we soldiered with so distinguished a person back in the nineties.Whether true or not these men remembered ERB as a guy who obtained a fraudulent discharge as a malingerer. I interpret 'Tobacco heart' to be a feigned ailment which would make 'so distinguished a person' a sarcastic and insulting remark. Thus forty years later an Army reputation followed ERB.
Burroughs replied cooly a few days later '...seldom have been in touch with any of the men I soldiered with since I left Fort Grant.' ERB didn't say 'AND GOODBYE' but I think that it is implied.
So having committed blunder after blunder it would have been wise for Our Man to reevaluate his position. Strangely he didn't do this, hoping against hope, as I imagine to pull that particular rabbit out of the hat over the next few years. Good luck, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
For now he could only think of returning to Chicago. As we know the Burroughs Boys were ranching up in Idaho. ERB always wanted to prove that he was a businessman. Why, I don't know. The fact of the matter seems to be that the Burroughs family was particularly inept at business. Papa George T. had been burned out of his distillery while his battery business was steadily running down, due for extermination about a decade later.
The Boys would turn to dredging for gold after failing at ranching. Perhaps one of the reasons they failed at ranching was just this operation coming up. They had bought a Mexican herd, apparently sight unseen. They were now in Nogales to receive and transship the herd to KC. I suspect they lost their shirt. In less than two years they would be gold dredging.
The world is full of sharpers. There was plenty of room for sharp practices in both the cattle industry and gold mining. The West was wide open territory. Frank Harris in his autobiography tells a great story about how he and his fellow cowboys dropped down below the Rio Grande to rustle a Mexican herd barely making it back across the river.
I have no doubt some Mexican sharpers, in this long record of border persiflage, took advantage of the Burroughs Boys. The Boys would also be susceptible a little later on when they were sold a salted gold claim.
The herd ERB put on board the train he describes as no bigger than jackrabbits while probably being less well fed. The death rate of the cows on the trip back to KC was horrendous while the survivors became starved and dehydrated. I don't think the Burroughs Boys did well on that business transaction. You gotta watch your back, or hopefully, see 'em coming.
Edgar Rice Burroughs came home. Perhaps he had now reached childhood's end. At twenty-one perhaps he now realized that the he had a life to lead. Perhaps. If so, it was a slow dawning. But then ERB's was not an ordinary mind, a normal bean as he would have put it. No, his was a slow ripening melon. But then, why should everyone develop at the same pace? If up to this point I seem to have been overly critical of Our Young Man it's because there has much to be critical of; just as there will be much more, but he hasn't done anything really reprehensible. Your record may not be much better; mine certainly wasn't. He's a good sort of guy; just a little on the goofy side. Slow to learn. He doesn't seem to catch on.
However he's watching. He's observing. He's ingesting and there out of sight he's digesting all the information coming in. Plus, he will give it a brilliant interpretation when he egests it.
These four years would be of great use to him in his writing career. Always a subtle psychologist ERB was also a skillful employer of the Freudian concepts of condensation, displacement and sublimation and this before he could have read Freud. An attentive reading of any of his novels always reveals layers of hidden meaning. Simply put Edgar Rice Burroughs is the most poetic of novelists.
His poetic tastes weren't always elevated. He did have a copy or two of Eddie Guest in his library. Edgar A. Guest. Perhaps forgotten today Guest was a people's poet. In the 1950s when I spread out the Detroit Free Press on the floor one of the first things I read was the daily poem of Edgar Guest. Of course, I thought he had written each one the night before. I marveled at his facility. Nice homey thoughts though.
Burroughs taste ran to the likes of Rudyard Kipling, H.H. Knibbs, Robert W. Service and others of the jingly-jangly people's school. Although he did know enough about a high brow like Robert Browning to consider him a bore. Rightly from my point of view. He liked Tennyson, who was considered a high brow, also I suspect Walter Scott, Byron and Shelley. He frequently hints at Longfellow's 'Wreck Of The Hesperus' while he probably had to read 'Hiawatha' in school.
He knows all the popular stuff of the day like 'Over The Hill To The Poor House' too while he had probably read that anthem of doomed labor, Edward Markham's 'Man With The Hoe', too. If that one didn't gag him he's not the man I think he was.
Song lyrics were big with him too. On his cross country auto tour he mentions three records by name that his family wore out- of course a battery operated portable played in a field with the plows they called styluses (well, cultured people called them styluses, us near illiterates called them needles) in those days they might have worn out a record in two or three plays. One song was 'Are you From Dixie?' , another was 'Do What Your Mother Did' and the last 'Hello-Hawaii, how are ya?' I guess he liked songs that asked questions. I'll examine the lyrics a little farther on down the road but when we're considering the literary influences don't forget the poetry. After all ERB wrote a whole book around the lyrics of H.H. Knibbs 'Out There Somewhere.'
Just before he returned to Chicago one of the great newspaper literary lights and poets of Chicago Eugene Field had died - 1895. Burroughs had a collection of Field's writing in his library while Field, when alive, hung out at the McClurg's book store. Perhaps there were sentimental reasons for Burroughs pursuing McClurgs so ardently was well as practical ones.
Another Chicago writer among ERB's collection of books who was reaching an apex at this time was George Ade. While these Chicago stalwarts are mostly forgotten now they were considered immortal at the time. Ade especially is a very clever writer with a real skill at turning a phrase. His 'Fables in Slang' would have knocked ERB flat. ERB's own interest in the colloquial, which is very pronounced, may have been influenced by Ade's style.
Another columnist of the period, Peter Finley Dunne, with his Irish dialect stuff written around his character Mr. Dooley doesn't seem to have made much of an impression on ERB.
Thus while involved in his attempts to correct his mistake of enlisting he was very attentive and observant of the life going on around him in whatever milieu.
As I mentioned earlier, when you leave for the military your friends edit you out of their lives. Returning is not so easy. Even when I returned on leave, actually almost ten months after I left, people demanded almost belligerently, 'What are you doing here? I thought you joined the navy?' After explaining I was on leave, nearly asking permission to hang around for a couple weeks, I was grudgingly given permission but let known that if I wasn't gone I would some explaining to do.
ERB has left a record of his reception by his friends in Chicago. He had sixteen years to let it run around his mind. It came out in Return Of Tarzan which, I imagine might be read as the 'Return Of Edgar Rice Burroughs.' Actually as Havelock Ellis hints in the opening quote, both Tarzan And The Apes and The Return Of Tarzan can be read as autobiographical sketches from birth to the marriage with Emma in 1900.
Burroughs describes his reception in Chapter 23 of the 'Return'. The jungle is a Burroughsian symbol for society as in 'It's a jungle out there.' Tarzan in the jungle can be read as ERB in Chicago. Tarzan is resting in the crotch of a great limb of a jungle giant when he hears a troop of apes approaching the clearing beneath the tree. The tree is a symbol of security or getting out of or above the tumult. Trees probably correspond to his imagination.
Tarzan recognized the troop as his old band of which he is still nominally king. Having been gone for two years he rightly thinks the dull brutes will have trouble remembering him:
'From the talk which he overheard he learned that they had come to choose a new king - their late chief (the successor of Terkoz?) had fallen a hundred feet beneath a broken limb to an untimely end.
Tarzan walked to the end of an overhanging limb in plain view of them. The quick eyes of a female (Emma?) caught sight of him first. With a barking guttural she called the attention of the others. Several huge bulls stood erect to get a better view of the intruder. With bared fangs and bristling necks they advanced slowly toward him, with deep ominous growls.
'Karnath, I am Tarzan Of The Apes,' said the ape-man in the vernacular of the tribe. 'You remember me. Together we teased Numa when we were still little apes, throwing sticks and nuts at him form the safety of high branches.'
'And Magor,' continued Tarzan, addressing another, 'do you not recall your former king - he who slew the mighty Kerchak? Look at me! Am I not the same Tarzan - mighty hunter - invincible fighter - that you knew for many seasons?'
The apes all crowded forward now, but more in curiosity than threatening. They muttered among themselves for a few moments.
'What do you want among us now?' asked Karnath.
'Only peace.' answered the ape-man.
Again the apes conferred. At length Karnath spoke again.
'Come in peace, then, Tarzan Of The Apes.' He said.
So Tarzan and ERB returned to the fold. However there were two young bulls who were not ready to receive Tarzan back. We will find that two young men resented Burroughs' return. The resentment of the principal young man would nearly cost Burroughs his life while forcing him to commit to a marriage against his will.
Thus Burroughs was received back into Chicago.
He would only spend about ten months before he uprooted himself once again to make his second visit to this brothers in Idaho. I should think that this period in Chicago was perhaps the most idyllic of his life. He found gainful employment with his father at the Battery Company. However at fifteen dollars a week it was much less than his allowance had been at the MMA. However he was living and eating at home so one imagines it was all pocket cash which afforded a certain affluence. He could afford to take Emma out.
Emma appears to have preferred him but he was no favorite of Papa Alvin and the Mrs. If Frank Martin had begun to pay his court he was much the preferred suitor. The son of Col. A.N. Martin who was a multi-millionaire he was to be much preferred to a penniless Ed Burroughs whose father had apostacized to William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896. No, Martin should be given the inside track. Burroughs was forbidden the house in an attempt to disrupt his relationship with Emma.
The Hulberts looked askance at Burroughs patchy history. He was less than promising. While his father had got him released from his enlistment, people are wont to say there's more to that story than meets the eye. Plenty of room for rumor, if you know what I mean. ERB probably had to explain a lot.
So while he could date Emma he couldn't go hang around all evening every evening as lovers are wont to do.
So what did ERB do with his spare time. He obviously read. H. Rider haggard was popping them out two or three a year at the time which is clear from the evidence ERB read. Jules Verne was alive and producing although much of his production remained untranslated.
There weren't any movies or television, however there was the Levee, Chicago's Sin City. In later novels ERB would show what appears to be first hand rather detailed knowledge of this area of brothels, saloons and gambling joints. Burroughs was certainly no stranger to drinking and gambling, whether he frequented brothels may not be known but if you're in the area....
In a city of a million six there were only about forty thousand library cards issued but it is probable that one of them was in the wallet of our investigator of curious and unusual phenomena. He sure knew a lot of odd details. One of the big intellectual questions is whether or not he knew of Theosophy. A volume of William Q. Judge, a leading Theosophist who died in 1896 is to be found among Burroughs books. His first story Minidoka 937th Earl Of One Mile which is concerned with this period while unpublished until just recently makes mention in the descent to Nevaeh of the Seven Worlds which is a reference to either Theosophy, Dante or both.
Again, hanging around a library one might come across volumes of Dante and Theosophy.
And all around him floods of changes were rolling over him. The world was moving with breathtaking rapidity. If a guy wasn't half crazy already trying to keep up would get him the rest of the way. Actually these four years were the intellectual bottom, in the musical sense, of the rest of Burroughs life. Perhaps sensory overload occurred culminating with his bashing in Toronto and subsequent marriage to Emma so that he was no longer open to new experiences after his marriage. Everything after 1900 was interpreted in the light of this experience. The interpretations were inventive enough.
His situation might be compared to that of Zeus and Metis of Greek mythology. Ordinarily when the Patriarchy took over a Matriarchal cult the event was commemorated in a myth of sexual union.
In the case of Metis she went down into the belly of the monster like a plate of oysters perhaps meaning the patriarchy had attempted to stamp the Metis cult flat or eat it up as the Zulus would say. If so Zeus and the boys had bitten off more than they could chew or digest, as it were.
Metis lived on in his belly giving him unwanted advice until I would imagine the Patriarchy came up with a compromise solution. Thus Metis gave birth to Athene who was born fully formed from the forehead of Zeus, which is to say that the cult of Metis was transformed into the cult of Athene. Athene retained all the attributes of the goddess or Matriarchy but 'she was all for the Patriarchy.'
So now with Burroughs; he ingested all this experience which he gave a 'definite impression of fictionalizing' to appear full blown from his forehead +- twenty years later.
Porges reproduces a political cartoon of Young Burroughs on page 68 of the First Edition in which Uncle Sam and John Bull are watching a scene. One or the other says: 'How would you like to be a Russian?'
In the cartoon Russian soldiers are shooting and bayonetting obvious Jews while the Jews are bombing the Russians. The villains of the first four Tarzan novels, 'The Russian Quartet' are two Russians Nikolas Rokoff and Paulevitch. Thus, if the cartoon was drawn in this period twenty years later the Russians show up as villains.
Now, among all the 'minor' events like the depression after 1893, the Pullman Strike, Coxey's Army, Altgeld's pardoning of the Haymarket Bombers, the Sino-Japanese war and such like trivia was the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France.
This minor event involving a French spy was magnified into an international cause celebre by accusations of anti-Semitism. Alfred Dreyfus was a French army officer who was accused of spying for the Germans or of selling information to them. Originally convicted and sent to Devil's Island, a few years later after key evidence was tainted or disappeared and key witnesses had died or been discredited the case was reopened and after a terrific media blitz resulting in Zola's article with the famous title: 'J' accuse' Dreyfus was acquitted.
The man convicted in his place, strangely enough, was probably also Jewish, one Walsin Esterhazy. Supposedly of Hungarian descent, at the instance of the Chief Rabbi of Paris he was given financial assistance by the Rothschild family. It would be very unusual in that case if he weren't Jewish.
Burroughs must have followed the Affair Dreyfus closely as it unfolded during the late nineties. In 1913's Return Of Tarzan he chose to fictionalize Esterhazy's end of the Affair in his character of Gernois. Burroughs must have studied the Affair because Esterhazy actually served in North Africa where he came in contact with German agents. Of course, Gernois is compromised by our old friend Nikolas Rokoff, the Russian agent. Thus ERB combines his dislike of the Russians as evidenced by his cartoon with his sympathy for Dreyfus.
In real life Esterhazy led a dissipated life which, it is said, led him to be a spy. In 'Return' Gernois is led into spying because Rokoff, the hyper-arch villain, has something on him.
In a sort of editorial comment on Dreyfus ERB has Rokoff tell Gernois: 'If you are not agreeable I shall send a note to your commandant tonight that will end in the degradation Dreyfus suffered -- the only difference being that he did not deserve it.'
Thus ERB comes down firmly on the side of Dreyfus.
For those who will misread racial and ethnic attitudes I believe ERB's attitude in the Jewish-Russian conflict and the Dreyfus Affair should exonerate him, if the need exists, of any charges of anti-Semitism. Especially in the light of his portrayal of the worthy Jewish gentleman in 'the Moon Maid' trilogy. It would seem that all of ERB's later attitudes remain consistent with these brought to fruition between 1896 and 1900.
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