I start in on Jan of the Jungle, a few words about feral jungle
heroes. Tarzan was not the first.
Indeed, feral men go all the way back to Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli, an
Indian youth raised by wolves. Or further all the way to Romulus
and Romulus, suckled at a wolf's teats, or Gilgamesh's pal, Enkidu, the
wild man raised by beasts.
In history, there are endless records of foundling children adopted
by other cultures, or people who have gone native. In North
America for instance, there are tales of white children raised by First
Nation tribes, and vice versa. Going 'native' was an occupational
hazard of travellers and colonists. One minute you're a proper English
gentlemen, and then the next thing you know, you're some East Indian Rajah
or you're potlaching your heart out in a Kwakiutl ceremony. Indeed,
in Canada, the Metis culture is a nation of half breeds, produced through
the mixture of native and western cultures.
Still, despite all the stories of children raised by wolves, there's
no verifiable record of a feral child raised by apes, monkeys, wolves or
whatever. There are records of children joining animal packs
or troops and being accepted, but these are pretty sad tales... Usually
tales of social disruption, civil war, famine or disaster, with foundling
children surviving as best they can. And usually, the foundlings
are not doing well. These are seriously messed up kids, not noble
There are big obstacles to a functioning human being successfully raised
by animals. One of them is malnutrition. Both Tammy
of the wolves and Ralph of the Impala are going to rapidly suffer vitamin
deficiencies and starvation because their bodies have different nutritional
requirements than their hosts. Even the mothers milk varies from
species to species, and there's no easy way around that.
Another problem is development. Humans don't automatically develop
in a straight line, rather, we go through a series of developmental stages
as our brains wire up and become increasingly complex. Things like
bipedalism requires both a certain level of motor skill and neural wiring.
There's a particular window where, if that skill isn't learned, it may
not develop. Language is a big one. From an early age,
say between 18 months and six years old, a lot of the neural wiring for
language starts up, but without the proper stimulation, it doesn't form.
Even among humans, it appears that the degree of stimulation influences
how it forms. After a certain period, the language wiring seems
to stabilize and it becomes harder for most people to learn new languages
(though abilities vary). All through the growing period, the brain
goes through developmental stages along with the body, both physically,
emotionally, sexually and intellectually. The result of not getting
or having the right stimulation available through normal human contact
during all these stages means they don't develop, or they don't develop
fully, or correctly, or they get weird. The result is not a
prince of the wilderness but some manic-depressive howling psycho, prone
to rages, dumb as a post, and with very inappropriate sexual responses.
So, even if you managed to get a child raised by wolves or apes, the
reality is that he's just going to be a bag of work. The rare
cases of semi-feral children are invariably seriously seriously mentally
disturbed, requiring years of work to become even borderline functional.
Let's face it, even Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey found themselves getting
a little weird hanging out with chimps and gorillas, day in, day out, and
they'd come to it as mature persons.
On the other hand, its not likely because humans develop incredibly
slowly compared to other animals. An antelope calf is up and
running within hours. A wolf cub is an adult wolf in two years.
A feral child is still a feral child in five years, ten years, even fourteen
years. Fifteen years to grow into a functioning youth is a
long, long time, if your average species life span is fourteen.
Most species have some expectation that their cubs and young are not going
to require lifetime attention, there is life to get on with, roaming to
do, more cubs to have... Its just not viable. You might keep
a human baby for a season, but in the coming seasons, at some point, you
need to relocate to new feeding and hunting grounds, and its not as if
the damn thing came with a carriage. So at some point, the baby or
child is eaten, or it's abandoned.
I suppose that an exception should be made for Tarzan himself, in that
he was not truly raised by animals, but by Great Apes. Great
Apes in Burroughs were distinguished from Gorillas, Chimps and Orangutans,
they were a fictional species with some humanlike qualities.
A lot of writers have argued, based on descriptions, that the Great Apes
were actually hominids or protohominids, perhaps Australopithecines or
Whatever it was, it was a language-using tribe of primates, with dietary
requirements, long lifespans and at least enough of the social and intellectual
tools that Tarzan didn't grow up to be some mentally crippled freak.
Tarzan in that environment, probably would grow up to be somewhat weird
in human terms, but he'd also grow up functioning. As it turns out,
Tarzan really did grow up somewhat weird, and luck and good genetics made
him a savage superman.
Still, you have to figure with Lord Greystoke's natural gifts, he was
going to be a shock and wonder no matter how he was raised, whether as
an English Gentleman, an American style adventurer or even by the merry
kids from Trainspotting (although that might have turned out more like
The truth is that human raised by animals was never terribly realistic.
But there were enough instances of children being taken and raised by radically
different cultures and nations, there was such a history of cross cultural
and cross national foundlings (even Moses), that tall tales and legends
would naturally extend to children raised by animals. And from there,
it was only a matter of time before fiction writers like Kipling and Burroughs
would be playing with the concept.
Tarzan was not an original. But if you can't be the first, you
can still be the biggest. And by a huge margin, Tarzan was the biggest
ever, running through dozens of books, movies, television series, comic
strips, radio plays and every medium you can imagine.
And of course, a mountain casts shadows. After
Tarzan showed up and hit it big in books, comics and movies, there was
a wave of Tarzan clones - Ka-gar, Kazar, Bomba and many, many others.
They were raised by wolves, by apes, by ape-men, strange beasts of varying
sorts, crazy old jungle coots, lost tribes, you name it. Probably
the most ridiculous serious one was the Condor, a 1940s comic superhero
who was raised by, you guessed it, Condors, and went on to fly and fight
crime in one of the most homoerotic superhero costumes ever created.
There was an entire genre of jungle men and feral noble savages, including
several, like Ka-Zar, Bomba, and Ka-Gar who went on to have their own series.
There were even pulp magazines in the thirties devoted to Jungle men.
Then for some reason, by the 1980s, the genre just petered out for some
reason, just like the western. Like the western, there were a few
high end productions... ‘Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan’ and Boorman's
‘The Emerald Forest’, and some low end ones, ‘George of the Jungle.’
But for the most part, the genre went away. Other genres die,
seen many westerns lately? There were once thriving genres of pirate
stories, war stories and espionage stories. But each has faded out
and faded away.
It's tempting to wonder why the Jungle man genre faded.
Perhaps like the now fading Romantic Vampire genre, its simply that the
genre was built around the work of a single immensely influential writer,
Burroughs in one case, Anne Rice in the other.
I'm inclined to speculate that perhaps the growing knowledge of the
impossibility of feral humans that spread in the eighties is partly to
Or perhaps the myth of the noble savage had worn itself out. That
myth had been crystallized by Jean Jacque Rousseau before the French revolution.
He'd looked around at civilization and found it a cesspool of slavery and
corruption. “Man was born free,” he said, “but is everywhere
in chains.” Rousseau suggested that culture and civilization was
the cause of human degeneracy, and that man could be freed or redeemed
by being in the state of nature... A naked wild man, in the bluntest
versions, would be both free and superior.
Of course, Rousseau was writing in a pretty nasty and toxic society.
We are more complacent. But more than that, there's now a lot of
social science and research that shows that rather than culture enslaving
humans, that we are culture. Remove us from culture, from society,
from interactions with others, and we lose something valuable. The
notion of man as an Island has passed, and replaced by man as part of a
community. The idealized jungle savage has passed with that notion.
Or perhaps it was simply that the world was growing smaller and more
complex, there were no more lost worlds, no more tractless and uninhabited
jungles, no more mysterious blank spaces on the map where anything could
Perhaps it was the racist overtones of a white superman in Africa (and
as to whether Tarzan was a racist fairy tale, I won't get into. I'm
not persuaded that it was, but at the same time, I acknowledge the currency
of this view. But at this point, I’ll leave it to some other debate).
Or it may have been none of these things. Perhaps the genre simply
faded away, because that was its time, and the reasons are no clearer and
no more mysterious than the fading of so many of the genres of our youth.
And so it goes...
Now, you'll notice that I've written a hell of a lot about Burroughs
and his imitators. But not Tarzan, his most famous creation.
Why not? Well, partly because although I enjoyed the
Tarzan series as a boy, I was always more interested in exotic planets
and lost worlds. It's true, Tarzan had his own lost worlds,
Pal-Ul-Don, Pellucidar, the land the Minunians, lost cities left and right.
Those were my favourites. And I've written about some of the
more exotic ones.
But for the most part, other writers have covered Tarzan in far more
detail and far more depth than I could ever hope. Philip Jose
Farmer wrote Tarzan Alive, what the hell could I possibly have to
say after something like that?
Indeed, Philip Jose Farmer took several of Tarzan's lost cities, Opar,
Athne and Cathne, Xuja, and a few dollops of H. Rider Haggard, to work
backwards to a primeval lost civilization that he chronicled in his Ancient
Opar novels. That was just lovely work, and there's nothing I have
to add to it.
I suppose that there's something to write about in terms of the other
Tarzan clones, many of whom encountered lost worlds and strange races.
I might turn my analytical bent, particularly to those lost worlds and
strange races. But sadly, I've not read most of those adventures,
and what with one thing and another, I probably never will get around to
it. So hopefully, there are chronicles for someone else to record.
I notice that the very worthy Steve Servello has done a couple of very
cool articles on Bomba the Jungle Boy.
But when it comes to Otis Adelbert Kline what we have is a writer with
a body of work, two Martian novels, three Venus novels, a Moon novel that
so closely parallels Burroughs in style and content that it seems interchangeable.
And Kline has not one, but two (or technically maybe three) Tarzan clones,
Jan and Tam, each with their own lost world of prehistoric survivals and
strange races. Not only do Kline's jungle men make for interesting
riffs on Tarzan but his lost worlds and strange races, while distinct in
their own right, mesh up nicely with Burroughs.
So, without further ado, I offer you the two-part, Lost Worlds and
Jungle Tales of Otis Adelbert Kline....
JAN OF THE JUNGLE, also
known as CALL OF THE SAVAGE
quite a Jungle man story, or at least not completely. Oh it's
definitely a rousing adventure, and it's definitely got a kitchen sink
approach. Not only do we have a Jungle Man, or sorts, but we've got
a revenge story, a romance, a lost world with two warring civilizations,
the whole nine yards. The book starts off well, moves along
briskly and is thoroughly readable.
The strength of the book, I think, lies with two principal characters.
There's Jan of course, who comes across as a likable and friendly young
man... When he's not being a serial killer. But there's also
a fascinating spin on the villain, Doctor Breck, who drives the plot along
Now, the story with Doctor Breck is that he was some brilliant, upper
class, but perhaps slightly shy guy. He'd pined away, loving
this woman from afar, and on the eve of a trip to Africa for unexplained
reasons, he confessed his love to her and won her hand in marriage.
Or so he thought. When he got back, he discovered that she had married
someone else. After that, he got a little nuts. Actually, that's
a bit of an understatement. You want an example?
Well, originally, he was just going to get his revenge on her by savagely
mutilating her boy, so she'd have to look at a helpless cripple for the
rest of her life... Okay, that's cold.
But then, while he's preparing to slice and dice a baby, his chimps
baby is killed by her crazy mate. So what does he do?
On a whim, he skins the baby chimp, sews the little boy inside the skin,
and gives it back to the Chimp mother. That's seriously, seriously
messed up. That's whacked.
And so begins his new plan: He's going to raise the baby
as an animal, teach it to be a savage killer, and then when it turns sixteen,
he'll have it murder his mother. Okay, now that's just plain
nuts. This is well beyond Hannibal Lector territory.
I mean, face it, Lector would have just eaten the baby, with a nice red
wine, and perhaps a salad. I mean, a plot that would
involve kidnapping a baby for the sole purpose of turning him into a monster
in order to kill his Mom twenty years later? Like I said: Cold.
And he never wavers. Jan escapes, he's broke, but he improvises,
eventually tracking the Chimp-boy down, three years later.
Along the way, almost casually, he hands a teenage girl over to a rapist,
shoots a man in the back, lies, cheats and steals, all without breaking
a sweat. He's not really a likable character, but apart from
his obsession and the ruthlessness it breeds, he has no unlikable traits.
He isn't cruel or murderous out of whim or impulse, but merely for the
necessity of carrying his plans. In a way, his singular and relentless
focus is almost compelling. There's a horrible sympathy that he accumulates,
simply for his fixation, and the fact that he's thrown away most of his
life on this quest for revenge.
We don't understand Doctor Breck, and in fact, perhaps we can't.
He's truly a madman. But there's a fascinating, even a tragic quality
to him. His life is destroyed, and truthfully, he chose for
it to be destroyed, all for his quest. We have the sense of
wasted or misused gifts, of a person who could have been great, even brilliant,
but who has thrown it all away for the sake of a lifelong obsessive revenge
from which he never once wavers. All of which goes to make
him a fascinating villain.
All the more fascinating because no one else in the book truly understands
what he is. For two decades he stands behind his lost love,
their guardian, their closest confidant, their most trusted advisor.
All the while he's seething with hatred and revenge, right up to the end
and beyond, they never have a clue as to the nature of the serpent they
hold to their bosom. Jan is his enemy and victim, but through
the book, Jan never gives him a second thought. Unless there's some
specific reminder, Jan stops thinking of the Doctor the minute he's out
It's a very odd thing, this monstrously malevolent person resides within
the novel, his mad schemes driving it forward, but no one understands or
appreciates him. Even Jan doesn't think about him all that much,
when he's not around. There's no sense of rivalry between the hero
and villain, no confrontation between them. It's like Dracula
was in a Woody Allen movie, and every now and then, Dracula kills someone
horribly, but none of the other characters notice or care, and the plot
almost goes on without him. I think it adds to the tension,
to the fascination to have this character who is an undiscovered malignancy
among the innocent. He's got endless opportunities to do horrible
things to people we like.
I suppose if Kline had set it up for the standard hero/villain confrontation,
it might be a much different, more conventional novel. But
the oddly passive ignorance of the true monster gives the novel a fascinating
quality that lifts it from being just another Tarzan clone.
Jan himself is an equally fascinating character. It's impossible
to equal Tarzan. Edgar Rice Burroughs did him first and did him perfectly.
And all that most of the clones can do is simply imitate.
The thing with Jan is that we get to witness his progress towards humanity.
It goes like this: Due to the machinations of Doctor Breck, he's raised
in a cage by the Chimpanzee Chicma, and he's trained as he grows up to
be an automatic killing machine, directed at his human mother. Doctor
Breck's plan is that when Jan is old enough and fully conditioned to attack
and kill redheaded females, he'll be let loose on his mother.
Jan knows only two English words “Mother” and “Kill.”
Luckily, although he's psychologically a young chimp, he's flexible
and curious. Seeing Doctor Breck unlock cage doors, he imitates him,
letting loose a lion. In the intervening confusion, Chicma
the chimp escapes, and Jan being a loyal son, follows.
From there, they make it into the swamps, and Jan has his first taste
of freedom, learning survival skills from his mother, and fighting a crocodile
and bear. Jan's not entirely happy with freedom, he gets sunburned,
scratched by branches and messed up. He's so naive that when he goes
into the water, the salt stings his scratches and he decides that the sea
must be angry with him for some reason.
Anyway, Jan and Chicma are captured by a Venezuelan tramp steamer, who
plan to exhibit them on tour as jungle man and ape. The first
trainer is a big blond jerk with a whip who Jan winds up killing.
The second trainer is an intelligent and compassionate Haitian, who begins
to teach Jan language and the rudiments of humanity. He even gets
Jan to start wearing a loincloth.
Luckily, or unluckily, Jan and Chicma are washed overboard off the coast
of Venezuela. Jan and his mom are happy there in the jungle.
Jan goes fully Tarzan at this point, but he's already had his head start
on humanity, so he winds up learning to use weapons stolen by the Indians.
A curious and gifted young man, he explores the jungle. He
hates the local Indians who try to hunt him, and kills about thirty of
them.... Which is a peculiar thing when you think about it. Jan is
a serial murderer.
Then two important things happen to Jan. He meets a girl, Ramona
(who it turns out eventually is a lost Lemurian Princess. I wish
I had a nickel for every time that happened to me) . Actually, he
rescues her from a Jaguar, which always makes a good impression.
They become secret pals and she helps to complete Jan's education, teaching
him to read and showing him books.
And he discovers a lost world. Originally, its just a quick visit.
But then Chicma gets terrified by a python attack, and flees headlong into
the jungle, straight into the lost world that Jan has discovered.
So there's nothing for him to do but follow her like a dutiful son, which
leads to a new round of adventures, just as the whole Jungle man thing
was beginning to flag.
Chicma gets captured by strange men. Jan runs around and
gets captured himself. While in prison, he makes a friend,
Kor Kan, prince of a rival city. Actually, and this is a nice
bit, Jan is pretty animalistic but Kor Kan befriends and cultivates him.
It's a subtle step towards his civilizing process, because when you think
about it, there are very few people that he's not prepared to kill on sight.
Remember that up to this time, Jan has killed a few ape men, about thirty
indians, and a ‘would be’ trainer. That's a pretty respectable
body count. He was raised up to kill his mother, for Pete's
sakes. Up to this time, the only people he's been tolerant
of have been black Haitian and Ramona, they're basically it.
Apart from that, his only emotional bond is to a chimpanzee. Jan's
stint in the prison of Set and his friendship with Kor Kan is a critical
Anyway, he fights an Itchysaur (a giant shark or dolphin like reptile),
escapes, and tries to rescue his chimp mother, Chicma. She doesn't
want to be rescued. This just gets him captured again.
From there, it's a session in the royal gladiatorial games where, through
cleverness, courage and freakish luck, he wins big time, and becomes something
close to a Prince himself.
After that, things move to a climax, Jan returns to the outside world,
and falls into the clutches of Doctor Breck, who is finally about to obtain
his revenge. But hey, I'm not going to give it all away...
But the point is that what we see with Jan is his evolution.
Starting from a chronological age of fifteen or sixteen, and an existence
of bestial savagery.... He's literally an ape, psychologically, Jan
slowly climbs up the evolutionary ladder, by painstaking steps becoming
a full human being. It's a believable process as Kline portrays
it, perhaps not in real life, but as written, there's lucky breaks and
drift. Fortune and coincidence favours Jan's development, but many
of the developments seem natural.
Jan's psychological and physical journeys are almost mirror images.
He starts off in a Doctor's home, in a lab, the height of civilization,
he escapes to the relatively domesticated Florida wilds. From there
he goes to a latin American tramp steamer, and winds up in the jungle.
He travels deeper and deeper into the jungle coming eventually to a lost
world and lost primeval civilization. Basically, he's working
his way backwards from Modern America to Dinosaurs and Lemurians.
It's an interesting contrast.
But what distinguishes Jan from many similar adventures is that while
he is literally travelling backwards through time, from civilization to
more and more primeval states, psychologically, he's moving from animal
to human. There's a surprisingly detailed and satisfying thematic
complexity here that transcends the regular pulp adventures of its day.
And fortunately, Jan turns out to be a genuinely likable character.
Even as an animalistic creature, he's likable, devoted to his mother, fascinated
and curious about the world around him, quick to anger but just as responsive
to affection and kindness. He's terrified at points, but courageous,
overcoming his fear to battle everything from crocodiles to saber tooth
tigers. Many of his battles have an element of real drama,
in part because he has no idea what he's doing.... He just tries real hard,
and if something works, he uses it.
As he becomes human, his likable qualities develop. There's
a scene in which he's in prison and his food is stolen, he becomes snarling
and animalistic. Yet when someone else offers to share their food,
Jan releases his anger and accepts the gesture with gratitude and friendship.
When Jan and Kor Kan are about to be fed to the Itchysaur, Jan is a cool
customer, using his accumulated jungle smarts to make a plan to both defeat
the monster and escape with his friend, Kor Kan. Later on,
captured again, Jan is surly with a jailer, after all, he's in prison and
he doesn't like it. But given an opportunity to be helpful, he becomes
friendly. After all, its nothing personal to the jailer, and
Jan is fundamentally good natured. We end up liking the kid.
Jan's Lost World
Jan's lost world is similar to the one that Professor Challenger discovered
in South America, and it's similar to other lost worlds we've seen.
For the record though, it doesn't seem to be the same lost world that
Professor Challenger finds. Challenger's land seems to have
been deep inland, in or near southern Brazil or Bolivia. This
place is, at best, only a couple of hundred miles inland from the Caribbean
coast of Venezuela.
Challenger's Lost World has ape men, as does Jan's, and as do many other
lost worlds, including Kline's Irimatri, Burroughs Pellucidar and Caprona,
and Carter's Zanthodon. (Interestingly, no genuine Ape-Men on Skull
Island or Pal-Ul-Don, so they're not universal). Although Challenger's
does have a culture of true humans, they're nowhere near the levels of
the two cities that Jan encounters. Finally, the geography
seems to be completely different.
Hey, my job is trying to fit these places together. If I could
make an argument that they were the same place or connected, I'd be doing
Geographically, Jan's lost world appears to be an immense oval or round
valley, ringed by immensely high cliffs that separate it from the outside
world. The further into the valley you get, the lower the elevation
drops. The center of the valley is an immense muddy swamp populated
by fierce dinosaurs, with perhaps an inland sea or big lake in the centre
which supports creatures like giant Itschysaurs.
The Itschysaur is a bit of a problem. After all, you can find
some pretty big bass and catfish in a lake. But a forty foot marine
reptile? Come on. How does that species get into a landlocked
inland lake in the first place? And how does a breeding population
of creatures that big sustain itself?
We get the usual strange mixture. Saber tooth tigers rub
shoulders with triceratops, and giant sloths co-exist with giant predator
birds. There seems to be a Caprona-ish distribution of species
from innermost to outermost. Generally, dinosaurs tend
to become more common in the lower swampy sections. The further away
you get from the centre of the valley, the higher and dryer elevations,
the more that mammals and increasingly advanced mammals predominate.
The outermost regions, near the cliffs, seem to be populated by the Ape
But unlike Caprona, Kline isn't making any sort of point.
He's just going with a fairly superficial rule of thumb that the higher
and dryer areas are mammal friendly, and the lower and swampier areas are
reptile oriented. Or he probably isn't making any sort of point.
As I've noted with Jan's psychological and physical journeys, Kline is
repeatedly playing with ideas of progression and descent. So
the geography of the lost valley probably fits in with his literary themes.
There are exceptions of course. Triceratops seem to range widely
in mammal areas, and our lost world features, as usual, two competing societies.
Interestingly, as in Pal-Ul-Don, the triceratops are domesticated critters,
go figure. Like the triceratops of Pal-Ul-Don, Pellucidar and
Zanthodon, and like the Styracosaurs of Irimatri, Jan's triceratops is
an aggressive bad tempered beast, though in this case, not apparently carnivorous.
Jan has some pretty cool encounters with prehistoric beasts of various
sorts. In addition to fighting the Itschysaur, he faces off
with a giant flightless predator bird and a saber toothed tiger.
He also gets to ride a triceratops. Basically, we're chock
full of prehistoricky goodness.
I've argued in other articles on Caprona, Zanthodon and Tam that the
dinosaur-inhabited lost worlds that we keep encountering in these pulps,
share a series of consistent traits: Ape men, true humans, anomalous mixtures
of prehistoric mammals and reptiles from different times and continents,
and the ecological problems of very large animals in relatively small habitats.
In this case, the Itschysaur compounds the problem.... It's too large
a sea animal for a population to endure in the lake, and there's no good
explanation for how it got there.
Basically, the way they're set up, they're pretty much impossible and
illogical. Or at least they're impossible on the terms presented.
The fact that we keep encountering these lost worlds, and the fact that
there seems to be several, suggest that they are all aspects or extensions
of a single vast lost world... In short, they're outliers from Pellucidar.
Jan's lost world fits into this pattern.
As I've said, I've talked about it at length elsewhere, so I don't feel
the need to dwell on it. Instead, let's turn for a moment to
the three lost races that inhabit Jan's lost world....
The Hairy Men
"Suddenly two great shaggy creatures
bounded out onto the sparsely grown avenue and closed in on him. They were
manlike and yet apelike in form, with long bushy beards and hairy apelike
bodies. One brandished a huge club menacingly, while the other hurled a
large rock fragment straight at the boy's head. Jan managed to dodge the
missile and turned to flee. But he had not taken more than a dozen leaps,
when a third hairy monster sprang in front of him, barring his progress
and swung for his head with a heavy cudgel." (Page 62, Chapter 10)
Okay. So the reference to beards is pretty unusual, but then there are
bearded and beardless human races, so there's no reason why that variation
should not occur among subhumans. Overall, there are strong non-humans.
They are described as apelike twice and as a monster and a creature once,
the word hairy is used twice and shaggy once, to indicate that they may
be furred like apes. On the other hand, there are also clear hominid attributes.
They're also described as manlike, and they're clearly tool users.
"As the first man-monster struck at him
with his cudgel, Jan ... easily eluded his clumsy swing. The force of the
blow turned the hairy one part way around... The monster fell on his face
without a sound." (Page 64, Chapter 11)
So, two more references to monster, and one to their being hairy. The Ape-Men
are humanlike, but they are definitely not human. The reference to ‘clumsy
swing' also suggests a more primitive creature. Jan escapes. But on his
second return to the hidden valley, he does not encounter the ape-men,
but he does note:
"He kept a lookout for his enemies, the
Hairiness is a principal attribute. These guys are definitely furry. The
reference ‘hairy men' however, suggests that they are not actually apes.
This is a fine distinction. Chicma is an ape. Jan knows what apes are,
he was raised by them, he considers himself one. Whatever these creatures
are, they are not apes to him. He considers man his enemy, and he knows
what men are. Thus, he considers the creatures ‘hairy men' in part because
they are both manlike and apelike, but more particularly because they're
The fact that they are not apes is reinforced with the Lemurians capture
Chicma. Clearly, although they're very familiar with the ape-men (they
capture them regularly and use them in their gladiatorial games), they've
never seen a chimpanzee or met anything quite like her. This is why Chicma
becomes a pampered pet in the imperial palace, with rings on her fingers
and toes and her own personal slave to groom her.
"In a cell on his right was a hairy Man-monster
like the one that had attacked him. This husky creature was squatting in
a corner, busily scratching himself. Jan could see other hairy monsters
squatting in the cells beyond. ....Looking across the Arena, to the right
and left of him, Jan could see hundreds of cells. Those nearest him housed
yellow men, white men and hairy men.... Like the beast-men on one side
of him, and the wild-looking white man on the other side, Jan was fed raw
Again, there are four references to hairy, two to ‘monster' one to ‘beast'
and one to ‘creature', all balancing off the three references to ‘man'.
Again, that's pretty much statement that this is a subhuman. Note that
they eat raw meat, another sign that they're not fully human. Interestingly,
there's a feral man among them. Yes, Kline has snuck in a second 'Tarzan'
as a supporting character, a white man who has gone wild and become one
with the apes... or at least, ape-men. The description of this character
and the comparison with the ape-men further reinforces that they're not
"Another form paced back and forth. There
were a few scattered patches of hair on his body. (Implying that the ape-men
are completely hair covered, like apes), but the rest was quite naked and
as white as Jan's own skin. His beard and the hair on his head were much
longer than those of the hairy bodied creatures. He stood more erect than
these others, and was not nearly so heavily built and muscular." Sadly,
for the most part, that's all we get for description. Subsequent descriptions
amount to more of same. We don't get to see their females, find out about
their culture or ways. At one point we're told that they live in Bands,
and they appear to have been open enough to 'adopt' an injured white man.
But that's about all. Now, here's the really interesting thing. The Ape-men
have language. Jan never communicates with the ape-men, who he hates. But
the wild White-Man speaks it.
"What about you, Wild One? Can you talk?" he asked.
"The bearded man looked at him blankly. Then he
began a series of guttural grunts and barks, very much like the language
of the Chimpanzees.
"Ha! So you speak like the hairy ones. Well,
no man can understand such noises, so I cannot instruct you."
"I can tell you what he says," offered Jan. "He
asks what you want. Shall I interpret for you."
"No use," said the yellow clad one, "he would
not have the intelligence to understand."
Now this is just plain interesting. In our world, Chimpanzees do
not have language, although they can be taught forms of language and develop
small vocabularies (hundreds of words, rather than thousands or tens of
thousands). But apparently, in Jan's world, Chimpanzees do have language.
This is well established almost from the beginning, because Jan speaks
to Chicma constantly. It's clearly established several times that the Chimpanzee
is not the equivalent of Man, although Chicma has language, she clearly
acts and thinks like an animal. But she does have language.
And apparently, it's the same language as the Ape-Men.
Isn't that peculiar. Chicma's an African-Chimpanzee. The Ape-Men are
living fossils in a South American valley. But their language is almost
the same. So similar that Jan can easily understand and speak it, or effectively
identical. This implies that they're both speaking a universal pre-human
language, common to Chimps and Ape-Men, and probably to Gorillas, Orangutans,
and pre-humans. Possibly even monkeys speak it. Although I find no reference
anywhere to any monkey ever saying anything that Jan cared to listen to.
Basically, they're speaking Mangani - Burroughs' universal language
of primates, that included his great apes, chimps, gorillas, orangutans,
sagoths, oparians, monkeys and baboons. A heavily evolved version of which
was spoken by the inhabitants of Pal-Ul-Don.
Of course, the question is: Is it really Mangani, or just Kline's equivalent
of Mangani. We have no way to know. Kline doesn't give us in Jan's adventure,
any ape or ape-man words at all. Still, the language and universality seems
so much like Mangani that there's no point in making a distinction.
Particularly if or when Kline avoids giving us any details.
So, bottom line, we have Mangani speaking, tool using, raw meat eating,
hairy bodied hominids, not fully erect, heavy bodied and muscular, with
a mixture of ape and human features.
They're not equivalent to Burroughs' Great Apes, or the Mangani themselves.
They're too close to human for that. But they are something
very, very similar to Burroughs' Sagoths of Pellucidar, or Kline's Zagr
of Irimatri, in Tam, Son of the Tiger. Which may imply that Jan's lost
world is related to both of these other lost worlds. And I'll leave that
thought with you...
Temukan , the lost city
of the Khans?
We don't ever get to visit Temukan in Jan of the Jungle, so all
of our information on it is secondhand. It is a city
or city state on the opposite side of the valley from Setma.
The people there appear to be oriental or yellow skinned.
The indications are that Temukan's origins lie in the orient.
Temukan is evocative of Tamurlane, or Temu-lan, and the Mongol Khan.
Prince Kor Kan's name should or could perhaps be rendered as Khan.
Oddly, the Temukan worship Quetzacoatl, a feathered serpent god, which
implies that they are actually Aztecs. Or perhaps the Aztecs
may be derived directly or indirectly from the Temukan.
The ancient Chinese worshipped or venerated sky dragons, so Kline may
have been drawing a connection here.
On the other hand, Kline's science fiction has some interesting notions.
In Maza of the Moon (as well as ‘The Man in the Moon’ and Swordsman
of Mars) we discover that the oriental race is ethnically and linguistically
descended from the inhabitants of the moon, the Ma Gongi. And
that the moon's fauna really does have exotic feathered reptiles and creatures
like chinese parade dragons.
In Port of Peril, Kline gives us a lost oriental race called
the Huitsen on Venus, who appear to have been a transplanted colony of
Ma Gongi, although this is never actually spelled out.
So it's tempting to assume that the anomalous oriental race of Temukan
might be another Ma Gongi colony, perhaps from the same time as the founding
of the Asian nations. In this case, it was distinctly less
successful, merging into the Indian population and leaving behind only
a few traces, like Quetzalcoatl worship with the Aztecs, and the lost city
in the hidden valley.
This would mean that the two Jan of the Jungle novels fit into Kline's
‘Doctor Morgan’ Universe and are taking place in the same reality that
his Mars, Venus and Moon novels play in. It's not a definite
conclusion, but I think the evidence can support this. Of course,
in other articles, we argue that Kline's Mars and Venus stories are in
the same universe as Burroughs Barsoom and Amtor tales, which themselves
are in Tarzan's universe. Which would mean that Jan himself
is in the same universe as Tarzan.
There is actually a small indirect suggestion that this is the case.
The Latin American tramp steamer that grabs Jan and Chicma, want to exhibit
them as ‘ape-man and ape’, suggesting that they're aware of and trading
on Tarzan's legend. If Tarzan or something like him didn't
exist in Jan's world, would they have thought to exhibit Jan as a jungle
But hey, I'm getting off topic, aren't I?
Alternately, Temukan might have been founded by the early Asian oriental
civilization after the Ma Gongi fell. But then its pretty mysterious
as to how they managed to get out there.
One oddity of Temukan is that it appears that they may speak the same
language as Setmu. Prince Kor Kan, who befriends Jan, only
teaches him the language of the Setmu. Normally, I would have
assumed that he would teach him his own language... Unless
the two speak the same language.
It's possible that Kor Kan and the Temukan do have a separate language,
and that for whatever reason, he didn't want to teach it to Jan.
Perhaps they don't like outsiders speaking it, or perhaps Kan figured that
Satmu was a simpler or more teachable language, or perhaps Kan felt that
Jan, being white, would take to it more easily.
But assuming that there is a common language, this implies some contact.
Were the Temukan originally a slave race to the Satmu? A slave
race that revolted and drove the Satmu out of the Temu city, or crossed
the valley and built their own? Perhaps they were not a slave race,
but merely a faction, perhaps an ethnic faction, among the Satmu, worshippers
of a fifth major god, who separated out of a religious falling out?
Or possibly the Temukan were the first race or city, and they were conquered
for a time by the Satmu?
There are enough questions here that you sort of wish Kline had spent
a little more time, or perhaps had developed the background through additional
sequels or stories.
Satmu, the Last Remnant
Or perhaps more properly Sat-Mu. Okay, here's the background,
so far as we can tell.
Some Muan or Lemurian Prince was visiting Egypt when he gets the news
that Mu or Lemuria has sunk.
Distraught, he sails on from Egypt, through the Mediterranean, across
the Atlantic, floundering around on the coast of Venezuela, before finally
wandering around inland, discovering the cave to the lost valley of dinosaurs,
and then building a new city.
That just shows an amazing lack of any sense of direction.
Maybe the outpost was already existing and the Prince just headed there.
Maybe the whole thing about Mu sinking was a fabrication by the Prince
who couldn't find his way home. I don't know.
Mu, however, turns out to be a well documented historic civilization
in Jan's world. Henry Westgate, and English Explorer and Adventurer.
It turns out that Westgate not only is a knowledgeable expert on Mu, but
he can read its ancient writing.
Henry has a bit of bad luck. Trying to find his way into the valley
of Satmu, he has a fall, hits his head and gets adopted by the Ape-Men.
He's the third, and least prominent of Kline's jungle men. He's also
the most realistic in that when Jan meets him, he's hairy, unshaven and
a bit weird... Probably smelly too.
Anyway, the civilization of Satmu occupies one of the two cities in
the lost valley. Their home is the city nearest Jan's cave entrance,
and they're apparently responsible for the abandoned temple and monuments
which guard that entrance. Apparently, they've given up on the outside
Their society is largely religious, being divided up among four major
gods or cults. These are Set, the black, a serpent or sea monster
god. The bird-like, or bird-headed Tehuti. Hepr
is the god of waters. Re, god of the sun, and the leading god
of Satmu. Each sect has its own priesthood, its own rites,
and its own independent authority, and politics in Satmu seems to be the
interactions of the different sects.
Over all of it is the royal family, lead by Emperor Mena and his Empress
Nefertre. They're hereditary, semi-divine royalty, descended
from Anpu and Heru. Their power is not unlimited, and they
have to treat with the priesthoods.
Indeed, there's considerable intrigue. Jan's girlfriend Ramona
Suarez turns out to be the long lost daughter of Mena and Nefertre.
The evil priest of Set, Samsu, kidnapped her as a baby and afraid to kill
her with his hands, put her in a basket and sent her down the river, where
she was found and adopted by the Suarez family. Conveniently,
Samsu wrote down a signed confession in Muan script, which he included
with the baby. When the Suarez's showed this to Westgate, he
deciphered it and headed straight for Satmu... and his date with
By this time you've noticed that Satmu bears more than a little resemblance
to Egyptian culture, down to the names of royals and gods. Laziness
on Kline's part, perhaps? Who knows. Perhaps ancient
Egypt simply wasn't exotic enough for him. Or perhaps, given
the subliminal racism of the day, it wasn't white enough. But
let's not think those thoughts..
We do know that the Muans were visiting Egypt when the news of catastrophe
came, so maybe they just inadvertently took a bunch of Egyptians with them,
replacement rowers, mercenaries, whatever, and over time, Egyptian religions
and influences were incorporated into Satmu. Which would make it
a hybrid Mu/Egyptian culture.
Or perhaps the Egyptians themselves borrowed some of their gods and
culture from the Muans, which is why the two cultures were exchanging visits.
As a long shot, it might be the other way, with the Muans being an offshoot
of the Egyptians... though I regard that as pretty unlikely.
Setting aside the quirks of their origins, the Satmu seem to operate
a pretty high level bronze/iron age civilization. They have palaces,
farms, woven cloth, metallurgy and indoor plumbing. They've even
adapted to the extent of domesticating the local triceratops.
As far as lost civilizations go, they seem to be a pretty decent bunch,
particularly when we recall some of the headcases like Opar or Xuja or
Athne that Tarzan stumbled over. And hey, if the royal family
was willing to adopt Jan as one of their own, they must have something
going for them.
Jan in India, Call of
the Savage and Tam, Son of the Tiger
Jan in India is the sequel to Jan of the Jungle, one of
Kline's rare sequels. Honestly, I'm not sure why he wrote it.
Here's the thing. Once the hero gets the girl, kills the bad guy,
becomes a prince of his tribe/lost city, and sorts out his origins...
What's left for a self respecting jungle hero to do? Where do you
go from there? And why?
Not so easy when you start to think about it, eh? Sure,
guys like Doc Savage and the Shadow went out and had thrilling adventures
every week. But let's face it, they were both psychopaths who went
looking for trouble. And their adventures didn't really resolve
much in their lives, it was basically kicking ass as a way of not thinking
too much about where your life is going.
You see this with Doc Savage particularly. It's good for
the rest of us, Doc saves a lot of lives. But as his series goes
on, he's slowly running out of money, his friends aren't showing up as
much, he still doesn't have a girlfriend and the cops are starting to eye
him suspiciously. Basically, he's slowly turning into Michael Jackson
with guns. Not even Michael Jackson wants to be Michael Jackson
Tarzan managed to have a pretty good run. But let's face
it, most of the emotionally satisfying stuff, his growing up, his return
to humanity, becoming Lord Greystoke, meeting Jane, meeting La, becoming
Chief of the Waziri all happens in the first few books. By
the time we get to son of Tarzan, its pretty clear that Burroughs has no
idea what to do with him any more. Tarzan got a shot in the
arm in the WWI storyline, where the Germans raided his estate and he thought
Jane was dead. He went a little nuts there, but it made the
character compulsively fascinating. And from there, Burroughs
lucked into a formula that would keep Tarzan going, warring lost races,
Tarzan getting curious, Tarzan losing his memory other people looking for
trouble... But a lot of it was just drift after that.
The truth is that once your hero has solved all his problems....
He has no problems. No reason to go anywhere or do anything.
Retire happy. It's a real problem.
We see this with Jan in India. Jan of the Jungle
is a damned good novel, it verges on being literary, and it's a hell of
an adventure ride. It's also extremely satisfying in the way
it charts Jan's personal growth from animal to human, gets him a girlfriend,
disposes of his great enemy, and reunites him with his parents.
In contrast, Jan in India doesn't really have anywhere to go.
There's a tenuous emotional subplot where Jan wonders if Ramona is so tired
of him she's trying to kill him, but its not terribly persuasive.
They still love each other. Jan's fully human, his parents love him.
There's no real emotional through line.
Perhaps that could have been concealed by adding supporting characters
who carry a romantic subplot, as Burroughs often did. Or by
upping the bizarre and outrageous factor, in order to make it colourful
enough to keep things going. When the tune gets a little thin,
crank up the volume it works. Still, Kline did neither of these
things. He simply delivers a straightforward and remarkably restrained
Jan of the Jungle was published in 1931, the same year, as Tam,
Son of the Tiger. Jan in India comes out in 1935,
four years later. Why? Well, I suspect that Kline was
capitalizing on the production of Jan of the Jungle as Lew Landers
Jungle Adventure serial called Call of the Savage. As so often
happened in these cases, the producers took a few liberties.
If I may quote from Bill Hillman's ERBzine
0442, the serial plot goes something like this:
Two scientific teams go up against each other in a race to find a secret
formula in the African jungle. The search leads them to the lost city of
Mu where they face a ruled by a bad-guy priest. who owns a death-ray. The
scientists have to overcome this mad priest and his dungeons of fire and
dangerous electrical rays. Noah Beery, Jr. played Jan the feral orphan
raised by monkeys. Jan, along with his faithful chimpanzee companion "Chicma,"
joined in the quest for the lost kingdom of Mu. Assisted by Princess Mona
(Dorothy Short) they overcome the evil scientists (Walter Miller, Frederic
Mackaye), the priest, and many cliffhanging pitfalls, including a mechanized
room with a ceiling full of spikes heading straight for the good guys.
The serial was cut down for a feature film-length version called Savage
Fury (1956), likewise available on video.
Well, Jan's there. And Chicma. Ramona becomes Princess Mona.
But hey, we seem to have relocated to Africa. And what's this with
two teams of competing scientists? Or the Death Ray?
Mu, or Satmu is still there, but it seems its goodbye dinosaurs (the accountants
ate them), goodbye to the elaborate Doctor Breck storyline and goodbye
to Jan's psychological journey. Instead, Jan appears to be
a fully formed Tarzan clone, and there's a lot of cliffhangers. Well,
what can you expect? Tarzan didn't get much better treatment
in his movies. The serials weren't about psychological nuance,
they were about guys with funny hats getting a good sock in the jaw from
I checked the IMDB, and there were two reviews for Call of the Savage,
one good, one bad. I've seen enough serials though, to say that they're
pretty much an acquired taste. Still, if you ever get a chance,
go ahead, check it out.
One hopes that Kline wasn't too disappointed. The pulps
and serials were both popular enough that he should have had a good idea
of what he was in for. Hopefully there was a decent cheque
attached, and he cashed it quick.
I think though, that one way or another, Jan in India was inspired
by the Jan of the Jungle/Call of the Savage serial. Either
Kline was cashing in on the serial, and I have no problem with mercenary
ambitions. Or perhaps he wrote Jan in India as
a revolt against the serial. Or dealing with the serial got
him interested in the character again... Or possibly, he'd
had Jan in India written a few years back, and the serial finally
allowed him to sell it to a magazine.
If I had to pick one, I'd go with the last. Jan
in India starts up barely six months after the end of Jan of the
Jungle. Jan and Ramona have gone on a pre-nuptial world
cruise with their parents. Probably not Jan's idea.
As much as he desperately wants to get to know his Mom and Dad, he is basically
a Prince of Sat-Mu and he's got a life there, and more than that, I can't
imagine he wants to wait six whole months to get laid.
The strain of parent enforced celibacy is telling on Ramona too.
So it's no surprise that the book starts with a spat by the high strung
pair. Jan stays on deck to get some air, and an evil Indian
throws him over the side.
It turns out, he's in the employ of an even more evil Maharaja to kidnap
Ramona and either marry her or sacrifice her to a big cat who is the current
incarnation of Kali. Jan survives and makes it to shore, where
he's chased around a bit by tigers and jaguars. Eventually, however,
he hooks up with a boy whose father has just been eaten by tigers.
Together, they join with a couple of friendly elephants, and Jan bumbles
around the jungle until he finally stumbles over the bad guys.
Meanwhile, the villains are engaged in some complicated plot to ditch a
rival Muslim Maharaja and to throw Jan's parents off the trail.
By this time, Ramona is kidnapped, apparently by evil Muslims, and they
think Jan is alive (which is what the evil Maharaja wants them to think,
because he thinks that Jan is dead, but really, it turns out Jan is alive)
so they're understandably confused.
Anyway, if you want to know how it turns out. Jan rescued
Ramona in the nick of time, evil is vanquished, ironic fates are dished
out, and Jan and Ramona live happily ever after.
As I've noted before, there's nothing particularly fantastic in Jan
in India. No lost worlds, no ape-men, no lost prehistoric valleys,
dinosaurs, mysterious races, super science or supernatural, no monsters.
None of the stuff that I like.
The secret Kali Cult that Jan encounters isn't far outside the bounds
of reality. The politics of Hindu and Muslim, the Elephants
and Tigers that Jan encounters, his adventures with man and beast are all
pretty much grounded in something approaching the plausible world.
So, basically, its all about a guy in a loincloth running around beating
people up. Okay, fine. I can live with that.
I'm not happy, but I can live with it.
But really, I do have to wonder. Both Jan and Tam were pretty
over the top. Did Kline just want to follow up with something more
realistic? Had bizarre adventures fallen out of favour and
more realistic derring do was in vogue? Or was Kline simply rebelling
against the serial. Sadly, I can't say.
It's just not as much fun.
Luckily, Ramona is still acknowledged to be a Lemurian Princess.
No retroactive continuity here. So Dinosaurs and Ape-Men still exist
in Jan in India, we just don't see them because they're off in South America.
And there is one very suggestive passage, to suggest that there are remarkable
things yet to be encountered:
At first she saw only a gigantic black idol of most hideous aspect.
“It is the image of Kali, the black one,”
said the Maharaja.
The Black One was a most fearsome sight. Her eyes were red and her
breasts, face and four giant hands were smeared with blood. One gory
hand held a sword, one a trident, one a club, but one a shield. Her
hair was matted and unkempt, and the tongue which protruded between her
projecting fang like teeth, dripped blood. She wore a necklace of
skulls, earrings of dead bodies, and a girdle of serpents, and stood upon
the body of Siva.
“Can it be possible,” said Ramona, “that
human beings actually worship such hideous objects.”
So, although we never see a live monster, there's a very strong suggestion
here. Certainly, the Maharaja believes that Kali has lived in the
form of a ferocious, black, four-armed giantess. Possibly,
its simply folklore and myth, and certainly we can take this view given
the events of Jan in India.
“Some people, yes. They worship the symbol
instead of the reality. We enlightened ones worship the great goddess
herself and her genuine incarnations.”
“You believe then, that Kali once lived in this
“That is right,” the Maharaja replied.
Or given that Jan of the Jungle has some pretty remarkable stuff,
its just possible that the Maharaja is not completely out to lunch, and
that a race of beings who inspired the statue did indeed walk the Earth,
or dwell beneath it.
In Tam, Son of the Tiger, Kline gives us the following glimpse.
Pacing the wall, and armed with tridents,
bows and arrows, and tulwars were a number of gigantic, four armed females,
jet black in color.
It seems that perhaps the Maharaja had it right after all. Jan
in India seems to provide us with some evidence to connect Jan's world
to Tam's world, and to connect Jan of the Jungle with its lost world
and ape men and universal primate language, to Tam's lost world of Irimatri,
with its ape men and universal primate language.
“Amazon warriors of Kali, the Black one,” Nina
Given that Tam was written before Jan in India, it strikes me that the
most likely explanation is that Kline was giving us a little wink.
It's not conclusive. But I think it's pretty persuasive.
Now, on to Tam, Son of the Tiger.