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Volume 1452
John Coleman Burroughs: Tarzan and the Forbidden City - colour FP - 4 interior b/w plates
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#20 Tarzan 
And The 
Forbidden City
R.E. Prindle
It was the humor of the jungle which is grim and terrible.
Edgar Rice Burroughs: Tarzan And The Forbidden City
     Well, it's a long, long trail a windin' and by the time ERB wrote Tarzan And The Forbidden City he could like The Grateful Dead say what a long weird trip it's been.

     The hope that had spurred him on since his encounter with John the Bully was just about exhausted.  He had made a bold and daring leap for personal happiness when he left Emma four years previously.  His leap fell short of the other side of the chasm.  Life don't ever get no easier no matter how much success or money you've won.

     For somebody with no prospects Old Burroughs had done pretty well but the rewards were all material.  Man does not live by Cords and Packards alone.  The recognition he had sought back in 1911 when he sat down to write A Princess Of Mars had eluded him.  He had written fifty successful books, had success such as few authors can achieve, yet the less - and unsuccessful literati laughed at him, indeed, scorned him.

     More than being successful he had influenced the direction of popular literature and culture to an amazing degree.  He didn't found science fiction although being there at the creation he had given it its final form and direction.

     H.G. Wells touted as the founder of modern science fiction wrote only a sort of proto-science fiction.  Sci-fi itself took form when A Princess of Mars flowed from the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  John Carter of Mars may also be said to be the first superhero with Tarzan following immediately.

     There are many forms to Fantasy fiction but there is no fantasy more imposing than Burroughs creation of Tarzan Of The Apes.  By '38  Burroughs had been writing Mars and Tarzan stories for a smidgeon over twenty-five years.

     And what a twenty-five!

     The Great War and Depression.

     The balance of the US population had shifted from the country to the city.

     Radio had evolved and at this time Burroughs could have owned a TV set.

     Not only had the culture changing medium of the movies come along but the flickers had evolved into the talkies.

    With the talkies had come that amazing phenomenon known as the 'B' movie.  In the thirties the studios were struggling to produce a move a week for their theatre chains.  Fifty-two movies a year.  MGM actually succeeded for a while.  The movies were divided into big budget productions like 'Gone With The Wind' and 'The Wizard Of Oz.'  The A movies.  The low budget B movies with titles like . . . well, who can remember, but they were all tough gritty films that refused to gloss life over like the big budget As.  They were where a lad learned about life.  In their own way they were secret and private.  You walked home with a knitted brow to retire to your most private nook to think them over, perhaps discuss them with your most trusted friend. . . perhaps not. . . he wouldn't understand what you'd seen the way you had.

     The Bs disappeared when Kennedy came to office.  Heck, even black and white has disappeared, even technicolor, everything now being just plain color.  People seem to prefer their humor grim and terrible just like those jungle jokes of Tarzan.

     The amazing thing about Old Burroughs is that he always wrote in the B vernacular.  Certainly by 1938 he'd seen plenty of the proto-B movies himself probably being influenced by them which since they all looked like they had been influenced by Burroughs writing style was like being influenced by one's earlier self.

     The opening to Forbidden City is like a composite of all the B movies ever filmed or every novel Burroughs ever wrote but more defined, more perfect, more quintessential.  From it one could say one had seen every B movie ever filmed.

     In the opening it is easy to spot a Sax Rohmer influence.  Sax Rohmer wrote the incomparable Dr. Fu Manchu series as well as numerous other books.  Then again one can find the influences of Old Burroughs in Sax Rohmer's writing so once again it's as though Burroughs influenced himself.

     Rohmer is rejected today on racist grounds because the villain Fu Manchu is Chinese.  The rejection must be by people who have never read the Fu Manchu series because over the course of the thirteen novels written from 1910 to 1959 Fu Manchu evolves from an evil but noble villain to a counterforce between the machinations of the West and the Communists; sort of a Chinese Daddy Warbucks.

    Burroughs did have a fair share of Rohmer's volumes in his library although not that many Fu Munchus.

     This novel is driven by ERB's woman problems as well as a continued summing up of the series.  Whereas the previous novel had brought Hazel Strong and Jane back into the story while saying farewell to Little Nkima, Forbidden City brings back Lt. Paul D'Arnot after a very long absence for his last bow.  It is good to seem him once again.

  The Forbidden City must be no other than the personal happiness, the Promised Land which ERB would be denied.  Like Moses with the children of Israel he would be shown the Promised Land but forbidden to enter it.  Perhaps the Forbidden City was none other than Chicago which it had once been ERB's dream to enter in triumph, to sit with the other literati high atop the Orchestra Hall, with the other members of the Cliffdweller's Club, joking and laughing, sharing more serious opinions, putting in his two cents worth.  The literati couldn't have disdained him more.  Chicago laughed at him not with him as they still do today.  It had been a bitter moment for him when he left the White paper Club with the program in his hand with a picture of a winged pig flying West.  He was to raise prize Berkshires in Hollywood.  Were they laughing with him or at him?  My opinion is at but you're entitled to your own opinion.

     At any rate he flew the Forbidden City, Chicago, for scarcely less hospitable streets in LA.  Of course he was perplexed by personal problems which is more or less what this novel is about.  It was a long, long trail a windin' and it led to the farcical frustration and resignation on which Forbidden City ends.

The rainy season was over; the forest and jungle were a riot of lush green starred with myriad tropical blooms, alive with the gorgeous coloring and raucous voices of countless birds, scolding, loving, hunting, escaping; alive with chattering monkeys and buzzing insects which all seemed to be busily engaged in doing things in circles and getting nowhere, much after the fashion of their unhappy cousins who dwell in unlovely jungles of brick and marble and cement.
Edgar Rice Burroughs - Tarzan And The Forbidden City
     So begins this novel of travail and woe with a picture of paradise shadowed by the city.  Paul D'Arnot makes his last bow in this next to parting novel never to appear again.  By this time he must be a snappy mature gentleman of fifty-five or so.  The eternal Frenchman, he still has eye on the young things -- like nineteen-year-old Helen Gregory, one of the heroines of the story.

     The party is lounging around Loanda waiting for Tarzan in a perfect B movie setting.  They used to call these places Trader Vic's in San Francisco.  You could sit around these restaurants in your Abercrombie & Fitch explorer togs and pretend you were anywhere South of the Line.  Those were the days A&F outfitted explorers rather than trying to sell nudity to teenagers.

     Tarzan is being asked to lead the Gregory party to the Forbidden City -- Ashair -- in search of son and brother Brian Gregory.

     Ashair.  Has a bittersweet sound doesn't it?  Ashes and air, about all there was left to ERB's dreams.  And they are going in search of the Father of Diamonds.  It's no secret anymore, we all know that it will turn out to be a piece of coal.  More bitter disappointment.  I see a Snark.  It's a boo--

     Now here comes a coincidence that ERB really strains.  For the third time in twenty titles another identical twin to Tarzan appears.  You can't tell the difference between the Big Bwana and Brian Gregory.  Esteban Miranda, Stanley Obroski and now Brian Gregory.  Plus Burroughs wrote a book for kids called the Tarzan Twins, two of 'em.  What sort of fixation is this.  The doubles are lesser men than Tarzan so are they Tarzan's and Burroughs' foiled selves?  The other side of ERB that he wishes he could forget?  No ready answer.

    ERB has been lambasted on the characters of his villains right along.  He even got creamed in Germany for making a number of villains Germans during the Great War.  Criminy, who else would an Anglophile make the villains in that conflict?

     He tried taking on the Communists for a series of novels but apparently they were too many for him being in the sensitive publishing business as he was.  During the Big WWII his firm was apparently denied paper on the excuse of wartime restrictions while there was plenty of paper for anti-Conservative or pro-Communist books.  Even the Heritage Book Club had plenty of paper never missing a monthly offering.  Book Of The Month Club . . . no problem there either.

     Perhaps even Alexis Sborov of the previous Tarzan's Quest might have been taken as too close to the Reds.  The villains in this one are Lal Taask and Atan Thome two East Indian sounding types.  Thome is identified as a Eurasian.  ERB didn't have to explain that one.  Eurasians were despised equally by Euroamericans and Asians.  Hopefully a safe bit.  At least there was no one to represent them.

Helen and Magra
     The two heroines obviously represent Emma and Florence.  Emma is Magra -- the dark one -- while Florence is Helen -- the Fair One.  As we set out on this Odyssey is Helen the same as the one whose face launched a thousand ships?

     Well, there's all the elements for the story.  This one will follow the standard H. Rider Haggard lost city plot.  A long journey, the arrival at the lost city, the two factions, the struggle and out.  It's not the plot, it's the telling.

     There's going to plenty of jungle humor in this one as ERB turns it into a grim almost morbid farce.  Depression brings out that grim and terrible humor.

     As a joke Lal Taask and Atan Thome might even draw inspiration from Punjab and the Asp those two valuable employees of Daddy Warbucks and Little Orphan Annie fame.  Lal Taask is very handy with the stiletto. Things are developing fast here in the thirties, color Sunday Funnies, comic books, radio and yes . . . TV in the wings.  TV has already made several appearances in avant garde novelists.  Sax Rohmer even has Fu Manchu hypnotize victims over a TV set.  Disney was coming out with spectacular technicolor animated films for the first time.

     After some colorful business about a map two expeditions set out.  That of the Gregory's with Tarzan in quest of Brian and that of Atan Thome in quest of the Father of Diamonds.

     The map is a matter of some irony.  Atan Thome, because he wants the Father of Diamonds, believes everyone wants the same thing and will kill, as he would, to get it.  Having projected this vision of inner wishful thinking on external reality he acts on it.  He kidnaps Helen to force the map from her.  She tells him there is no need for force he can have a copy of it, she and her father are only interested in retrieving her brother. Incredulous Thome acts on his inner wishful thinking thus precipitating a story that need never have taken place.

     They take this Helen with them precipitating the novel, much as Paris took his precipitating the Trojan War.  We have a sort of Little Iliad and Odyssey.


     In biology it is said that phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny.  The same may be said of Forbidden City in relation to the earlier Tarzan novels.  It is quite clear that ERB has reached a crisis in his life at this point.  Many things must be going wrong.  As Bill Hillman has pointed out in his series of articles comparing Zane Grey and ERB the Depression Era was not kind to his finances.  Punitive income tax rates were being imposed on successful people.  One forgets now the terrors of 90% tax rates but then they were politically motivated raids on the 'bloated' incomes of Hollywood top players.  Cheers went up as W.R. Hearst stumbled and almost fell under the burden of this criminal taxation.  ERB must have been crushed also.

Emma Hulbert Burroughs     On a personal level his expectations in his new marriage were being disappointed.  As with his previous marriage the fault lay with him.  He had bitterly disappointed Emma back in '04 when with forty dollars between he and Emma and the dog and complete and total destitution he had gambled the entire small sum away.  This marriage had become rocky after that.  Emma saw him as an incompetent and a goof.  After all she had passed on a millionaire's son to marry him out of love.  ERB didn't help matters when in 1913 after years of crushing poverty for the first time he earned a princely income of $10,000.00.  He had it spent before he earned it.  Emma could only see him as a hopeless goof but she loved him and stuck with him which ERB should have considered a minor miracle.  Although after 1913 he made even bigger money which went the way of '13 Emma continued to look at him as a species of lovable goof but not a real man.  Hence the creation of Esteban Miranda and Stanley Obroski which gave her a chance to choose between a loser ERB and a successful he-man ERB.  She always chose the goof which in ERB's mind was a form of rejection.  He couldn't tolerate his former self.

     Thus in Forbidden City Magra/Emma chooses the Brian Gregory twin of Tarzan in Loanda. She refused to believe that Tarzan isn't Brian.  She learns the difference when the real Tarzan saves her from the apes at their Dum Dum.  'Say, Brian could never do that.' She exclaims realizing that Brian/ERB is different than Tarzan/ERB.  But it is tragically too late.

     By the time this novel was written ERB had divorced her and remarried.  One can only imagine the depth of the humiliation Emma had inflicted on him after the '04 card game.  ERB had taken a dire revenge.  The difference was that he had humiliated himself while his humiliation of Emma was a crime.

     Over the years he drove Emma to alcoholism until the poor woman was in despair.  When he finally divorced her she was in a pitiable state.  She had, after all, given her everything  to this man who was at the least irresponsible.

Florence Gilbert publicity still     One can only  imagine the hurt Emma experienced in 1926-27 when ERB took up with Florence Gilbert who appears here as Helen Gregory.  At this point Emma's alcoholism or drinking became destructive.  With her home violated by this new woman Emma took refuge in shopping which is a female substitute for her romantic attachments.  However when at the stores she was met by women who provided booze for her in the dressing rooms.  Unable to return to her violated home conscious, she drank herself into oblivion being carried into the house.  ERB was not very understanding; he should have examined his own conduct.

     One can only imagine the stories that were running around Hollywood about ERB, Emma, Florence and her sexually eccentric husband.  Whether Emma actually accepted ERB at his Tarzanic evaluation of himself after he left her or whether he is engaging in wishful thinking probably can't be known but whatever abuse he may have taken as a result of his youthful activities was deserved while Emma's complete and total humiliation was not.  Still, Emma didn't write Tarzan and ERB did.

Baby Face Nelson
    ERB manages to get a jibe in at John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson who had both come to spectacular ends as he was writing the story.  Helen insults Atan Thome saying:  You are about as clever as the late Mr. Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson and you'll end up the same way.
Dillinger FingerprintsPretty Boy Floyd
     Poor old Pretty Boy Floyd had his ticket punched at this time too.  When Woody Guthrie wrote his ode to Pretty Boy you would have thought the outlaw had died in the time of Robin Hood rather than living currently.  Guthrie prejudiced me in favor of the outlaw.  Pretty Boy has always been a hero of mine even though my family never got one of complimentary Christmas dinners.

     Then its a stroll down memory lane from Loanda to the Forbidden City.  Tarzan enlists the aid of the apes as in Beasts of Tarzan.

     Paul D'Arnot recalls the scene in Mbonga's village when Tarzan rescued him from the boiling pot..

     And then Magra marveling at Tarzan's transformation from a semi-civilized man to beast among beasts at the Dum-Dum asks herself:  Was he after all a primitive Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? which recalls Tarzan on the Rue Maule when he took on the underworld of Paris.  Tarzan did not live in his un- or subconscious but in his conscious.  He could  move easily between the two as  the need arose  unlike Jekyll who once he had submerged his conscious in his subconscious could not return

     One wonders whether Emma had to tolerate wide mood swings in ERB?

     Paul D'Arnot provides a reflective moment when asked what those drums were.

"It is the Dum Dum of the great apes, I think," said D'Arnot.  "Tarzan has told me about them.  When the full moon hangs at zenith, the bulls kill a victim.  It is perhaps older than the human race, the tiny germ from which all religious observances have sprung."
     So if you didn't get ERB's point in Tarzan Of The Apes he tells you again.  He really believes this.  He believes all religious observances did really develop out of this circle dance when Homo Sapiens was as yet unevolved.

     He may be right.

     That ERB was having serious second thoughts about his marriage to Florence amidst a growing feeling of misogyny is clear from the following comment:

"She stopped before a lovely orchid,
Which like some beautiful woman,
Sucked the lifeblood
From the giant that supported it."
     Well, nobody said it was going to be easy although ERB had the fairest shot at it with Emma that any man ever had.

     If you think this is turning into a farce, you're right.  Wait till we get to the Forbidden City which is just after ERB rustles up a midget dinosaur that must have escaped from Pal-ul-don.

     After dispatching the dinosaur coincidentally rescuing a hunter from inside the caldera of the great volcano (get it? volcano? ashes and air?) of Tuen-Baka,  Tarzan and his party are introduced to the world of the Forbidden City.  Hard times in Tuen-Baka.

From the Whitman Edition


"How many times have you heard someone say,
If I had his money I could do things my way.
How little they know how hard it is to find
One rich man in a hundred with a satisfied mind."

~ Porter Wagoner
" ...Atan Thome still harbored dreams of the Father of Diamonds which he pictured as a stone as large as a football.  He often amused himself by trying to compute its value; then he translated it into pounds sterling and bought yachts and castles and great country estates...But the walls of Ashair still rose above him;  and towering above those were the walls of Tuen-Baka."
Edgar Rice Burroughs - The Forbidden City
     The second half of the book brings to mind the last scene in John Huston's film adaptation of B. Traven's novel:  'The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre.'  The three 'Diamond' seekers Fred C. Dobbs, Bob Curtin and Howard have brought their hard won gold down to the plains.  The three are separated.  Dobbs who has the goods is waylaid by some banditos and killed.  In searching his belongings which are bales of hides meant to disguise the miners true occupation up in the mountains the banditos come across the bags of gold dust.

     Cheats themselves they conclude Dobbs was trying to cheat the hide buyers by weighting the hides with sand.  They contemptuously empty the bags of 'sand.'  You can't fool suavos like themselves.  Caught and summarily executed just as Curtin and Howard enter town the anxious miners are shown the place the banditos emptied the bags.  A gale is now blowing so the miners realize their gold and labor are gone with the wind.  They sit and laugh uproariously at the joke life has played on them.

     The result in ERB's earlier novel is the same but he's not laughing at the end of this farce but grimly resigned.  Jungle humor is different than desert humor.  Jungle humor is grim and terrible.

     Each stage of this journey becomes increasingly difficult.  From the sunny back of Tantor Tarzan has been plunged into a sea of increasing troubles.  As fraught with dangers as the journey from Loanga to the entrance of Tuen-Baka has been it is as nothing compared to what now waits for Tarzan's party.

     The Forbidden City on one level represents the culmination of ERB's hopes and dreams.  Elements of his desires are incorporated in all the characters from 55-year-old Paul D'Arnot with his romance with nineteen-year-old Helen to Atan Thome and his fixation on the Father of Diamonds; after all this is the great summing up, the actual capstone to the corpus.  The remaining Tarzan novels are anti-climaxes.

     As a psychonaut in pursuit of self-realization I believe the 'diamond' in Burroughs' work represents his goal of self-realization.  This problem cannot be realized by material gratification although to the seeker they seem to be the means of transformation from a frog to a prince.

    Thus, Brulor, the god of the Ash-airians (Burroughs on religion again) is the living or imaginarily living Father of Diamonds.  He is the god of our desires, not any different from Yahvey or Allah in reality.  Brulor lives at the bottom of Lake Horus, the Egyptian god Hours (my machine is changing Hours to hours.) may represent immortality in this instance, he is not unlike the creative god of the Greeks, Hephaestus.  thus as the god of writers in this case it is through his means that the artist can attain his dreams of yachts, castles and great country estates.  The Father of Diamonds.

     But as the artist, in this case ERB, has not first achieved self-realization or, in other words, a satisfied mind, those possessions are like the Snark.  Burroughs having won to the greatest of great estates had the dis-satisfaction of seeing it vanish from his mind, for his Snark was a Boojum, you see.  Having obtained that chimera the walls of Ash-air still rose before him blocking his way and behind those walls rose still higher the great barrier known as Tuen-Baka.

     The question here is can Tarzan break on through to the other side?

     Thus the novel reflects ERB's disappointment, discouragement and disappearing hopes.  Neither the diamonds nor women will do anything to help him find a satisfied mind.  ERB will remain unable to reconcile the outer world of appearances with his inner world of wishful thinking.  For ERB, Tarzan and the rest of us the answer lies within.  It's not the money and it's not the fame; it's that little chancre that lies within.

     Life doesn't ever get easy and this story just goes to show there's no damn good in a man.

"...a weird scream from far down the lake toward the tunnel that leads to the outside world and carries the waters of Hours down to the sea thousands of miles away..."
     The tunnel leading into Tuen-Baka may be compared to re-entering the womb.  The bitter side of success had soured Burroughs' dreams.  The disappointment of his new marriage was driving him back within himself.  Once inside the crater they would skim across the waters of the subconscious while the sides of the crater and the dome of the sky form the conscious mind.  the story will take place on both the conscious and subconscious levels ending on the conscious.

     The temple of Brulor or Hephaestus is built on the bottom of the lake just as in Greek mythology Hephaestus' temple is at the bottom of the sea.  The temple of creativity is built over a vent in the caldera which issues air.  Ashes and air.  In olden days the Ashairians had capped this Spindletop of oxygen, which behaved just like Old Faithful by the way, much as an oilman caps an oilwell.  Having captured the pneumatic power of the air they use it to counterbalance the water pressure thus making a habitable space, a place of creativity, at the bottom of the waters of the subconscious.

      Now, Phobos, the other city in Tuen-Baka represents the Animus or male side while Ashair represents the Anima or female chromosome of ERB's mind.  It's interesting that he attributes his creativity to the Anima.  This may explain all those female novelists and girl stories in his library.

     Brulor undoubtedly represents Burroughs' creative urge.  He must be the man-god, the air that allows Burroughs to imagine his wonderful stories.  As events are conspiring to interfere with  Burroughs' own ability to work- with the ditching of Emma and the acquisition of Florence he had finally overloaded his nervous system- so events are conspiring to destroy Brulor and his temple.  While out of the wreckage of his dreams Burroughs would still be able to juryrig several stories, with Forbhidden City his true period of creativity ended.

   Brulor the man-god harks back to the previous novel Tarzan's Quest where Kavandavanda speculates that what is needed is a man-god rather than a supernatural god.

The true God, Chon, raised the sacrificial knife     The man-god Brulor proves to be no better than Yahvey or Allah.  To keep the story going Burroughs invents a 'true' god who has been in exile for some time.  This god's name is Chon.  If that is pronounced Con then I suppose Burroughs is implying that all gods are cons.

     However Burroughs has managed to create a psychological projection in Tarzan that as a myth for scientific man of the twentieth century and beyond that can take the place of these ancient dead gods Yahvey and Allah.  As with all of us Burroughs may simply have been looking in the wrong direction possibly not realizing what he had created.

     So the action of the balance of the novel will take place in both the conscious and subconscious minds with Tarzan and his women escaping the perils of the subconscious but with the bitter knowledge that the man-god Brulor, the Father of Diamonds -- i.e. the source for Burroughs' novels -- has turned out to be, accurately enough, carbon in the form of coal, ashes.  As in the famous American directions: You can't get there from here.

"'I need no gods,' said Tarzan."
"'Tarzan is enough,' said Lavac."

       I have to agree with Lavac.  Tarzan might not need any gods but he does need a story line.  Here his creator fails him.  I have often marveled at Burroughs' ability to waste so much nervous energy on useless projects while still being able to turn out two or more high quality novels a year.  If the man had applied himself to his writing what might he not have done.

     The disappointment in the hopes of his new marriage combined with the new social demands Florence placed on him were apparently enough to destroy his concentration.  The second half of City while intended as a farce succeeds in more ways than one.

     Burroughs loses all sense of proportion.  The Lake of Hours,  which resonates of Egypt, the Ashairians came down from the North like any number of Haggard's lost peoples, starts as an absolutely pellucid lake, probably borrowed from the book of Trader Horn, but then becomes populated not only with the temple and its scuba clad thomes but sea monsters borrowed from Loch Ness and even fresh water sharks.  The six foot sea horses will come later.

     Apparently all the water action is borrowed from the MGM Tarzan movies with their aquatic star Johnny Weismuller.  Of  a sudden Burroughs' Tarzan becomes a swimmer attempting to cross what appears to be an English Channel sized lake in the dark of night.  Repeatedly Tarzan is admonished for attempting the impossible to which his invariable reply is 'so far, so good.'  Yes, of course, but if I didn't understand this half of the story as a complete farce I could scarcely tolerate such nonsense.

     It gets pretty ridiculous.  Compare Tarzan swinging through the lower terraces of Tuen-Baka with Tarzan And The Lion Man:

"As the ape man swung through the trees,
The scent spoor became plain:
And among that of many men he detected
The delicate aroma of a white woman.
It was faintly familiar
But still too tenuous to identify-
Just a suggestion of familiarity . . ."
     Yeah, I'll bet.

     Among the numerous Greek mythological references is this farcical one -- the Semitic Cadmus, upon entering Boeotia, threw a stone among the earth born or natives which set them fighting with each other making his victory easy and certain.

Two lions slunk into the arena     Tarzan in the Thobotian arena fighting two lions picks one up and throws it at the other which sets them to fighting each other as Tarzan hoped. (Guffaw)  That was good grim and terrible jungle humor, wasn't it?

    All the gadgetry which is new to Tarzan novels may be a reflection of both the movies and such new super heroes as the Shadow and Doc Savage with which gadgetry figures prominently.  Then again Burroughs had been an innovator in gadgetry in his other series but this seems different especially the chamber in which Helen is left to drown.  In 1938 the talkies had been around a decade.  I know I've seen this scene in movies several times but whether before or after Forbidden City was written I can't be sure.  It may be Burroughs' invention but I doubt it.

H. Rider Haggard

    An interesting touch is Lal Taask's failure to kill Queen Atka which is almost certainly borrowed from Rider haggard's Cleopatra which Burroughs had probably read thirty years earlier.

     Atka is also reminiscent of Nemone from Tarzan And The City Of Gold.

"Hand in hand, Tarzan and Helen sank gently down to the darkness of the lake's bottom."

The sea horse turned upon Tarzan     That is certainly the way this story is going, probably as was ERB's marriage to Florence and possibly his life.  The whole story has that feeling about it.  Ever since they had come out of the tunnel the story reads like the roughest of drafts.  There is just a melange of possible effects that, had his energy and concentration been sustained would have had to have been reworked.  Some effects like the sharks and the spectacular six foot sea horses with the unicorn epees on their noses shouldn't even have been considered let alone used.  Perhaps the sheer audacity pulls ERB through.

     An interesting side issue is whether ERB had heard of the comic book hero Superman yet.  In an interesting conversation D'Arnot says:  "As long as he lives he will try to rescue us."  "He will have to be a super-man to do it," said Brian.  "He is - that and all of that."

  Superman made his first appearance in the June 1938 issue of Action comics, probably released in April or May if they did it like they did in the mid-forties. Forbidden City, while composed in late 1937, did not appear in book form until September of 1938.  That would have given Burroughs three to five months to have heard of the sensational Superman or have had the superhero pointed out to him.  He certainly knew of the Shadow and Doc Savage so, in my opinion, he had probably heard of this latest development in the line of superheroes.  He could certainly have inserted the lines at the compositors just before printing.

     For some reason P. J. Farmer missed this branching in the lineage of the superhero.  At this point the lineage of the superhero transferred from novels to comics proliferating into the maze of imitations of the forties, fifties and beyond.

     From the bottom of Lake Hours Tarzan and Herkuf enter and destroy Brulor and his temple and probably the source of Burroughs' creativity.  The story degenerates further, or becomes more farcical, if you prefer,  with Helen being abducted once again this time from the bottom of the lake by a priest of the true god, Chon.

    Burroughs pulls out the stopper bringing in the apes, an amazing cavern which he unnecessarily points out is just like Mammoth Cave in Kentucky housing Chon and his priests, innumerable passageways, converging destinies in such a manner as to make one dizzy.

     The girls do get dizzy.

     Ending up once again as captives of Atka after having escaped a couple of apes from a  fate truly worse than death,

Magra looked at Helen.  "What more can happen to us?"  she asked wearily.
"This must be the absolute end,"  replied Helen, "and I hope it is."
     As the girls hope so do the readers and I suspect, ERB.  Apparently ERB had run out of ideas to torment the girls further so showing mercy to both them and us he brings the curtain down on this farce.  Not before Tarzan lookalike, Brian Gregory, comes to his senses while Atan Thome loses his.

     In what must be one of the longest shaggy dog stories on record beginning way back in Loanga we discover that the Father of Diamonds is a piece of coal.  Carbon being indeed the father of diamonds.  Except I'm not clear who the joke was on:  The characters or the readers.

     Still on the horns of the dilemma of his woman problems Tarzan demands that Atka give him his two women.  She demurs.  'Give me my women or I'll take you."  Tarzan snarls.  this is apparently a fate worse than death for Atka:  You win, she breathes turning over Helen and Magra.

     With his two women in tow Tarzan stalks out but it doesn't appear that he broke on through Tuen-Baka to the other side.  He left Tuen-Baka the way he came in but whether he was born again isn't known.

Tarzan and the Forbidden City: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R Encyclopedia
Tarzan and the Forbidden City ~ John Coleman Burroughs Art
Tarzan and the Diamond of Ashair Radio Series
A Princess of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tarzan Of The Apes
'B' movies
Gone With The Wind
The Wizard Of Oz
Sax Rohmer
ERB Personal Library
Tarzan's Quest
Zane Grey and ERB Connection
Florence Gilbert
John Dillinger
The Beasts of Tarzan
The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
Tarzan And The Lion Man
Haggard's Cleopatra
Tarzan And The City Of Gold
Superman: Action Comics Debut
Philip Jose Farmer

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