My God, what does it mean?
Who are you?
And if you are Tarzan,
who was he?
During the 1960s there was a segment of Twilight
Zone concerned with the release of Satan on the world. I don't
know who the script writer was, probably Serling, but the story from which
it was taken sounds like William Tenn. In the story monks had captured
and imprisoned Satan. They allow a traveler to stay the night but
warn him not to release the prisoner no matter how piteously he begs.
The conclusion is obvious, the traveler unwittingly turns Satan loose on
The artist often portrays truths in such an
allegorical manner. Satan's name was Sigmund Freud. As the
century dawned he released his venom disguised as medicine completely fooling
an otherwise intelligent world. The world was rocked to its foundations
within just a few years. There were intelligent men who objected
but their voices were as a candle in a gale, too feeble to be noticed.
The venom posing as the medicine of Freud was
his vision of the Unconscious. His vision completely obliterated
the conscious mind and the concept of self-control. Subsequent history
has been a record of the maliciousness of this Satan, Sigmund Freud.
How much the history of the second decade was a consequence of the unleashing
of the Unconscious- the personal Satan in every individual - is a subject
for debate. By the twenties when Golden Lion was written the damage
had been done.
There are those who will argue that Edgar Rice
Burroughs was unaffected by psychological concepts. They haven't
read the corpus very carefully. The discussion should be how Burroughs
was affected not whether.
He leaves no evidence of his psychological
interest in his library but there are also no volumes concerning Einstein
either and ERB frequently mentions Einsteinian concepts of Space and Time
in the corpus. Suffice it to say that Tarzan is the antithesis of
the Freudian collective man and the unconscious. Tarzan is perhaps
the most self-sufficient man ever created by a litterateur
Tarzan does have strange lapses into amnesia during which he becomes a
different person. In Tarzan And The Golden Lion he splits
becoming two different people - the Big Bwana we know and love and the
impostor, the London stage actor, Esteban Miranda.
The choice of an actor is significant both
because as an actor he is only posing as a character and also that ERB
had difficulties with Elmo Lincoln the screen actor who apparently was
taking himself seriously as Tarzan. In the twenties the movies played
an increasing role in the Tarzan stories whereas before 1920 the movies
are not mentioned. ERB thought Lincoln was too beefy for the role,
not svelte enough, although from the pictures he looks like the real thing
The choice of a Spaniard as an alter-ego is
interesting because Americans up to at least the fifties were taught to
consider Spaniards the most despicable people on earth. Thus in the
splitting of Tarzan's personality, which surely reflects his own, he shows
the greatest contempt for the lesser and, it seems, rejected half of his
personality. Miranda represents his character after John the
Bully while the real Tarzan represents the man he is trying to become.
Tarzan suffered a period of amnesia in 1915's
Of Opar. In that period ERB himself was behaving fuzzily.
His locking himself out of his house at the beginning of his cross country
auto trip of 1916 indicates the desire to leave his past behind.
Amnesia in this case which creates two different Tarzans seems to be a
prelude to the actual splitting of Tarzan's and ERB's personality in Golden
The man had already created several alter egos
which he projected onto reality in his novels. But now the accumulated
stresses were so great that Tarzan became two separate apemen.One
a wimp and impostor; the other the real thing. It should be noted
that although Burroughs professes to despise Miranda by the end of the
novel he is no mean jungle crafter.
He easily dispatches Kraski with a short heavy spear. ERB for
some time had been slipping psychologically into the role of his great
creation. This story was written at the end of 1921 and the beginning
of 1922. Burroughs financial excesses from the purchase of Tarzana
were now redounding on him. What seems like should have been
a superb income was now becoming inadequate. Magazine payments that
would have been huge in 1912 were now just a drop in the bucket.
The story takes place two years after Jane,
Korak and Tarzan returned from Pal-Ul-Don, thus the real time must be 1921-22
as in Burroughs' real life. The Big Bwana had been over generous
with the British Empire exhausting his financial reserves. Thus he
has to make another run on Opar to replenish his coffers. It has
also been two years since Burroughs wrote Tarzan The Terrible.
As he considered Tarzan his meal ticket, the raid on Opar probably equates
to a new Tarzan book. As the sequel, Tarzan And The Ant Men,
was written mid-1923 the two volumes were meant to raise the ready to meet
current exigencies. ERB probably hoped that Marcia Of The Doorstep
which followed Ant Men would bring in the big bucks from the slicks.
Beginning with Jewels Of Opar the series
becomes one long continuous story as a river novel paralleling ERB's life.
To really understand each volume it is necessary to have read the predecessors.
The story has become a history. So on pp. 29-30 of the Ballantine
issue the following exchange takes place:
"It looks very
much, Jane," he said to his wife one night, "as though another trip to
Opar were on the books."
Famous last words. Man proposes, god disposes.
This volume will be as hair raising an any that preceded it. ERB
needed the money- the gold of Opar- so he put everything into the writing
of this story. Having now read this stuff two, three or four times
I find the stories improve with each reading as my understanding deepens.
Tarzan also seems to be taking form in ERB's mind.
"I dread to think of
it. I do not want you to go," she said. 'You have come away
from that awful city twice, but barely with your life. The third
time you may not be so fortunate. We have enough, John, to permit
us to live here in comfort and in happiness. Why jeopardize those
two things which are greater than all wealth in another attempt to raid
the treasure vaults?"
"There is no danger,
Jane, " he assured her. "The last time Werper dogged my footsteps,
and between him and the earthquake I was nearly done for. But there
is no chance of any such combination of circumstances thwarting me again."
In Tarzan Of The Apes the Big Bwana
was a slender 6' 0" 'giant.' As ERB says he was given to superlatives
so we don't have to take the giant part too seriously. As Allsup
suggests he had a late growth spurt, for now his double is described on
nay impossible though it seemed the naked footprints were those of a white
man- a large man, probably as large as Tarzan himself.
How large was that?
He stood fully
(Esteban Miranda) three inches over six feet. His shoulders were
broad, his chest deep, and his hips narrow (Broad at the shoulders,
narrow at the hips, Big John, Big, Bad John - Jimmie Dean). His
physique, his carriage, everything about him, suggested indubitably the
And as ERB never tires of telling us. P.
light of the beast fire playing upon his bronzed hide and bringing into
relief the gracefully contoured muscles of his godlike frame. Not
as the muscles of the blacksmith or the professional strong man were the
muscles of Tarzan Of The Apes, but rather as those of Mercury or Apollo,
so symmetrically balanced were their proportions, suggesting only the great
strength that lay in them. Trained to speed and agility were they
as well as to strength, and thus, clothing as they did his giant frame,
they imparted to him the appearance of a demigod.
So Tarzan is always compared to Mercury, Apollo
Charles Atlas, a professional strong man, had
just been voted the world's most perfectly proportioned man. I don'
know how you could improve on Charles Atlas but Tarzan does. The
latter's muscles are not knotted or bunchy but sinuous and smooth.
Religion is never far from Burroughs' mind.
It pops up in many places in small or big ways. Burroughs always
compares Tarzan to a god, in other places he states that he is a jungle
god so it is not difficult to imagine that ERB is creating his own secular
religion of the man-god with Tarzan as the archetype. Whether by
design or accident Tarzan is the perfect representative of the wild masculine
side of Dionysus. The feminine gentle side of that Greek god was
meant to be the archetype for the Piscean Age but his attributes were transferred
to the failed Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
Just as the character of Dionysus was developed
centuries before the Age of Pisces grooming him for the transition from
the Age of Ares so the grooming of Jesus' successor, just as he succeeded
Zeus, has actually been developing for some time. There was a flurry
of activity at the turn of the century which continues today. ERB
who had his finger in many pies may have been aware of this, I think he
was, through L. Frank Baum and many others. At any rate it seems
clear that ERB considered Tarzan a god - The Lord Of The Jungle.
Lord can be taken in the English sense as Greystoke
was a Lord of the House of Lords but the phrase can also be taken
as the God of the Jungle. At the very least I think Lord was meant
as a double entendre.
Burroughs tells and blends several stories
here. That of Tarzan and Jane, Tarzan and La and Flora Hawkes and
her party as well as that of Tarzan and the impostor Esteban Miranda in
a very masterful but unobtrusive way. So let's take the story from
The opening two chapters are The Golden
Lion and The Training Of Jad-Bal-Ja. The appearance of
the Golden Lion is significant. He appears to be a psychological
defense mechanism against Jane/Emma. He will be associated with the
Tarzan series until Tarzan And The City Of Gold written at the end
of 1931 and the beginning of 1932 when ERB's developing affair with Florence
was about to displace Emma. That is roughly ten years on. In
Of Gold Tarzan is threatened by a female maneater named Nemone who
has a huge black maned lion not unlike the Emperor Numa in Golden Lion.
In this book Tarzan dispatches the lion god Numa with a spear throw.
In City Of Gold he is about to be devoured by Nemone's lion when
Jad-Bal-Ja who had been tracking him throughout appears at the last second
to save Tarzan from Nemone's great black maned lion. That portion
of City of Gold is a duplicate of Golden Lion in that Jad-Bal-Ja
tracks Tarzan to the Valley of Diamonds just in time to save him from the
Bolgani. I can only assume that by 1922 Emma, for some reason, had
become a maneating threat to ERB.
That Emma would have been especially distraught
at this period would not be surprising. Her ability to adjust to
the constant changes ERB put her through would have been challenging.
As both his own and Emma's mother objected to his leaving them permanently
for California it is quite possible that Emma too feared the move from
her familiar haunts and mother. It is also quite possible that suddenly
finding herself the mistress of a virtual empire of her own with apparently,
my god, a dozen or more servants to manage taxed her abilities. She
apparently became overbearing, as who could blame her.
Two employees had accompanied Burroughs from Chicago
and quit in a huff complaining that: (Porges, The Man Who Created Tarzan,
BYU Press, Ist Edition, p. 306)
resented their treatment by Emma, referring in a letter of January 20,
1920 to "the actions of Mrs. Burroughs which you know was the real reason
for us leaving." Noting that the situation Ed had "...painted so
wonderful...had not materialized in the least," Fred Onthank wrote:
"We would not have cared, and could have put up with all these things,
if you, and especially yours had been congenial and treated us at least
like white servants should be treated and not niggers."
So one suspects the stresses of undertaking such
a large venture as Tarzana after having been no more than householders
may have placed emotional demands on Emma and ERB beyond their capacities
to deal with it, especially as employee turnover was heavy at this time.
The realization that they had bitten off more than they could chew by 1922
when finances became a serious problem may have exacerbated Emma's temper
even further perhaps making her exceptionally critical of her husband.
If one goes back to Tarzan The Untamed
written over the very long period of 8/18-10/19 which included the period
of the move to Tarzana the stress of moving to California may have gotten
to Emma. ERB may have walked out on her at this time, as he says
he periodically did as he has Jane burned beyond recognition in this title.
he revived her at th insistence of Emma for the book version which was
published in 1921.
Rather than killing Jane ERB has her taken
to Pal-Ul-Don, which was very, very far away, by the German soldier Hauptmann.
Thus the novel Tarzan The Terrible was written over April to December
of 1920 in which Tarzan travels to Pal-Ul-Don to rescue Jane, indicating
As Golden Lion begins then, Tarzan, Jane and
their son Korak the Killer are on their way back to their plantation from
Burroughs was probably throwing everything
he had into this one in an effort to raise much needed cash so the opening
chapter is a very nice, charming appealing short story. By this time
ERB had become much more familiar with lions as there was a lion ranch
just down the road from Tarzana. He would have had much time to learn
of lions, their habits and their ways, thus his description of the comical
gait of the lion cub. Even though he had never been to Africa he
now knew of lions first hand if not in the wild. The story begins
with hope on the part of a mother lion who has already lost two cubs from
her litter now waiting for her mate to return from the hunt to feed herself
and her remaining cub.
She is tragically needlessly killed by a native
who would have avoided her if he had known she was there. She being
apprehensive for her cub unnecessarily attacked the native who killed her
with his spear as she snapped his head off. It was fated.
Tarzan, Jane and Korak arrive on the scene.
Tarzan 'takes it in at a glance' deciding to adopt the cub.
Thus the lion and Jane are clearly associated.
Continuing on in this quite charming chapter
they reach home which when they left was a smoldering ruin but as they
step from the jungle they find that the place has been rebuilt by the faithful
Waziri being a fully functioning plantation.
The scene was undoubtedly borrowed or suggested
by L. Frank Baum's Rinkitink In Oz which was in ERB's library.
In that volume the King's city was leveled by invaders. When that
party returned they found the city had been rebuilt and was humming.
Chapter two deals with the training of Jad-Bal-Ja
by Tarzan, inspired no doubt by the lion farm down the road. After
two years the lion is trained and completely loyal to the Big Bwana.
The two years correspond with the beginning of 1922. The exchequer
is growing quite low so Tarzan determines on another raid on the gold vaults
of Opar. Taking fifty of the faithful he heads for Opar. Now,
in Tarzan The Invincible Opar is North to a place somewhere just
above the Tropic Of Cancer in Ethopia. But here Opar appears to be
somewhere near the Ituri Rain Forest in the Congo.
The guy cleaning Jad-Bal-Ja's cage leaves the
door ajar so the great golden lion escapes tracking after Tarzan in a scenario
that would be repeated ten years on in the City Of Gold.
Chapter 3, A Meeting Of Mystery, introduces
the Flora Hawkes party and the Tarzan twin, Esteban Miranda. Miranda
is one of the great characters of Burroughs. In a world in which
there are so many Tarzan duplicates it is amazing, Miranda is the best.
I believe this is the first appearance of a Tarzan doppelganger.
In the approximately ten years of success leading
up to this moment of approaching possible failure ERB had been adopting
the character of Tarzan. In addition to doppelgangers in the series
there is the character of the man-who-thought-he-was-Tarzan. This
type is also an alter-ego of ERB.
After having gloried in the prowess of his
success, perhaps feeling he could no longer do any wrong ERB had made the
major error of buying Tarzana without any forethought of the duties and
obligations it entailed. Hence he took on an obligation he could
ill afford and exacerbated his problems by reckless expenditures.
Now, in 1922, the chickens were coming home to roost. ERB was in
deep, hence the creation of the impostor Tarzan who is rather inept but
not incompetent to take responsibility for the goof..
Flora Hawkes once worked as a maid for Tarzan
in London where Tarzan and Jane apparently discussed Opar in front her
thus she was aware of what must have been to her the Greystokes source
of wealth. She engages a number of thugs to help her loot Opar.
One is a Russian counterpart to Rokoff, Kraski, two English boxers and
Adolph Bluber, the financier of the party. Bluber is the first character
I can recall in the corpus who is unmistakably Jewish. Sort of a
forerunner of Max Heimer although totally humorous and ridiculous.
His twenty guinea suit is a running joke of the book. This character
would probably have gotten ERB on the watchlist of the ADL/AJC if he wasn't
there already from his 1919 response to the AJC's Jewish Bill Of Rights.
Possibly the character was in response to some sort of harassment already.
At any rate Bluber is a very unflattering portrait
of a financier.
It doesn't take a genius at this point to figure
out that there is going to be a lot of mistaken identity in the jungle.
The next two chapters - What The Footsteps
Told and The Fatal Drops describe the encounter of Tarzan with the
Hawkes party minus Esteban Miranda who is off in Opar impersonating the
If one were to associate this story with ERB's
studies in mythology which he professed although there is but slight evidence
of very much interest in the library then the Homeric period of the war
between the Matriarchy and Patriarchy seems to be the focus with Tarzan
as Odysseus or the Golden Knight.
The criminal band becomes a matriarchy right
before your eyes when Flora Hawkes is exalted to the leader of the criminals.
A major conflict for supremacy is also enacted between the high priest
of Opar, Cadj, and the high priestess, La. In the actual struggle
for supremacy La loses exiling herself and Tarzan to the Valley of Diamonds.
Cadj then selects Oah as his high priestess but in the Patriarchal manner.
She is to assume a subordinate position.
Tarzan also is struggling with Jane as ERB
was with Emma. This is represented by the two lions- The Golden Lion
of Tarzan and the great black maned lion of the Bolgani of the Valley Of
Diamonds. ERB had always resented marrying and said that Tarzan never
should have married. As the-man-who-thought-he-was-Tarzan he was,
of course, talking of himself. He may very well have resented the
institution of marriage as he seldom has anything good to say about it.
If one takes the fact that the Bolgani lion
has to be tied down for safety- i.e. the chains of marriage - then
Tarzan kills the great lion - matrimony - then places the Golden Lion in
his place. Gold=perfection in Western symbolism. The Golden
Lion needs no chains to assume his role, in other words the 'bonds of love'
replace the chains of marriage, i.e. the perfect marriage of the Sun and
Moon, the Anima and Animus. Yah, but not in this world.
So, Tarzan is trekking to Opar when he finds
the dead carcass of Bara the deer with an American dime store arrow sticking
out of it. A very comic scene actually. Mystified Tarzan follows
the spoor coming upon the body of a great ape of Tarzan's old tribe.
This story is going to get into some pretty complicated evolution by the
time we hit the valley of the Bolgani.
Unaware that his doppelganger is making a bad
impression in his name Tarzan comes upon the tribe of apes. They
saw his double kill the ape so wish to have nothing to do with him.
Tarzan comes upon the jungle camp of the Hawkes party while Miranda is
off looting the treasure vaults of Opar. While the Big Bwana doesn't
drink or smoke, apparently he gave up the pleasures of absinthe and cigarettes
with which he indulged himself in Paris, he is a sucker for a cup of black
coffee, certainly an intelligent substitution for the more debilitating
Flora, who doesn't expose herself as the big
ape man would recognize his former maid instantly, gives the Russian, Kraski,
a vial of knock out drops that lay the Big Bwana out, but good.
In Opar Miranda loads up with two tons of gold.
Not a bad haul for anybody. Twenty mill or so in today's coinage.
But Cadj has seen just about enough of the jungle god. He musters
a hundred of his finest taking off in pursuit. Some wires get crossed
so that Cadj loses Esteban and his porters stumbling into the abandoned
boma of Flora instead. Flora's party had apparently thrown the Big
Guy's body over in the bushes which is where the Oparians found him.
Cadj is overjoyed wanting to sacrifice Tarzan
to the Flaming God immediately but a loyal priest, Dooth, brings up the
nice theological point that only the Matriarch, the High Priestess La,
is qualified for the honor.
Cadj is infuriated but daren't go against the
rules in full view of the assembled priests. He orders them to back
off into the jungle, way back, so he can kill Tarzan unseen. Unseen
by anyone but the Flaming God himself. Just as Cadj raises the weapon
of choice the Sun is eclipsed by a great cloud that has the effect of a
solar eclipse. Cadj hesitates like the Athenians before Syracuse
waiting for the full moon. Like their delay his too is fatal.
By the time the cloud passes La appears asserting her matriarchal authority..
Let's back up a minute.
That nosy little Manu the monkey overheard
Cadj's plan to overtake and kill Miranda as Tarzan's doppelganger.
Manu, to whom Tarzan is known as well as to all the migratory monkeys in
Africa, this before monkey television, runs to tell La. La is bathing
in a pool with her maidens. When Manu tells his story La stands up.
So did I. I also seem to remember an identical picture which had
arrested my attention in the same way. I can't remember the artist
but it was perhaps a Pre-Raphaelite. Apparently ERB had been equally
fascinated reproducing the scene here
It is thus that La leaves Opar to arrive at
Flora's deserted boma in time to assert her matriarchal authority and save
It has been seven years since Tarzan was last
in Opar. During that time a power struggle has been developing between
La and Cadj. The latter is attempting a Patriarchal revolution.
This is apparently the first time any Oparians
including La have ever been out of Opar. Burroughs financial problems
are probably represented by Miranda's invasion of Opar to carry off loot.
As ERB's private imagination fixation has been violated he creates a farther
mysterious lost kingdom just adjacent to Opar - The Palace Of Diamonds.
Ten years on when the Reds invade Opar they
will completely destroy it as Burroughs imagination was unable to withstand
Opar itself is a very interesting creation.
ERB follows Haggard's lost city formula to a T. Perhaps Haggard's
best lost city story was People Of The Mist of which Opar is a fair
approximation. There are also elements of Baum and Oz as well as
H.G. Wells' Time Machine with its Eloi and Morlocks.
The Eloi and Morlocks bring up Eugenics.
ERB was deeply interested in Eugenics whose opinions as improbable as it
may sound affected the mind of the Man Of Steel himself - Josef Stalin,
Premier of the Soviet Union. Impossible? No. But of this
we're fairly certain. Burroughs not only has apes working with humans
in Beasts of Tarzan but in this story we learn that the Morlocks,
or Oparian men, have interbred with apes or Gorillas from the adjacent
Valley Of Diamonds. The Gorillas themselves have some cross breeding
with the early species of Gomangani in their valley.
Stalin, who was a Tarzan fan, both in books
and movies, was influenced by them to set a task for his scientists of
breeding a man-ape warrior who would be immune to fatigue and could survive
on a diet of garbage. Whether he was ever taken seriously or not
by his scientists isn't known but as the man-ape cross never appeared they
weren't successful. Amazing isn't it?
In this story Burroughs has an amazing inventory
of evolutionary possibilities as well as the Eugenic crossing of men and
apes. It should always be borne in mind that Tarzan represents all
stages of evolution from his ape mother Kala to the highest stage of evolution,
a British Lord of the House of Lords.
In this novel he appears to actually believe
that Kerchak was his father as Kala always said. Jane has to correct
him to remind him that he really knows who his mother and father are.
Even then as Burroughs says, he sheds his 'thin veneer of civilization'
whenever he's in the jungle. In The Return Of Tarzan he has
Tarzan shifting back and forth from man to beast and beast to man in Paris
in the chapter What Happened In The Rue Maule. So Tarzan's mentality
is by no means merely human. He knows it all. Unlike the mythical
Greek Tiresias, however he has never been both a man and a woman.
Burroughs probably would have pulled the trick if he could have figured
out how to do it.
At any rate he has several hominid species
in this story. The Blacks of the Valley Of Diamonds are apparently
the first humanoid species. That's not the same as hominid.
These Blacks are the true first born. The first human stage of development
from the Last Hominid Predecessor. While humans there are apparently
a number of steps below the not too bright West Coast Boys and many below
the faithful Waziri who are the most advanced RACE of Blacks in Africa.
Even so there are beasts such as the Waz Dons and Ho Dons of Pal-Ul-Don
from which Tarzan has just come who are more highly evolved. The
Bolgani masters of the Blacks who are still beasts are also higher in the
scale of evolution. So Burroughs is tracing the development of two
different lines of species in ways that can't be demonstrated in science.
It is difficult to know where the Bolgani fit
in as, although being bona fide Gorillas, not apes, they walk upright like
humans while they are far intellectually superior to the Blacks.
One is forced to believe then that ERB imagined it possible for beasts
to be more highly evolved than some humans. But then in this topsy
turvy world, he says, humans are the bottom while half-beasts are in the
middle and they worship a pure beast, Numa the Lion, as God. That
is topsy turvy, isn't it?
If this is some sort of comment on a real world
situation, I can't get the dots together on this one.
So, Tarzan is brought a prisoner back to Opar
deposited in his usual accommodations in a pitch black cell beneath Opar.
Cadj and Oah have got La in a corner.
Unable to withstand them she releases Tarzan leading him by night to the
edge of the Valley Of Diamonds.
If Opar is fabulous the Valley of Diamonds
raises the scale by the power of ten.
ERB doesn't display the descriptive powers
he exhibited in the Valley Dor of Gods Of Mars but I don't think he has
anything as bizarre as this.
I especially liked the splendor of the precious
stone set cliff in Gods Of Mars, here ERB describes the diamond
set walls of the Palace Of Diamonds in a flat manner reminiscent of Baum's
description of the Hall of the Mountain King.
Tarzan and La enter the Valley of Diamonds
in a nicely described manner, moving through the trees until they came
to the Gomangani village. The Gomangani in this case are of the lowest,
which is to say the first stage of homo sapiens evolution. This people
are apparently the people that separate humankind from the bestial anthropoids
and the last of the homonids. ERB has many gradations of evolution.
Some are merely races such as the West Coast Boys compared to Tarzan's
faithful Waziri who are of the highest race of Negroes. But the First
Born species is less highly evolved than the Whites who appear to be an
actual different species. Of the White races the English have attained
the highest level of evolution.
Complicating the matter in the Valley is that
the Bolgani, gorilla beasts, are more highly evolved than the human Gomangani.
They have the massive bodies of gorillas also being able to walk upright
as humans and also have the brains and souls of humans. Apparently
Ras Thavas must have been experimenting here in the valley. At any
rate using their superior size and intelligence the Bolgani completely
dominate the stupid Gomangani. The latter are so unevolved that they
are unable to cooperate with each other for their mutual benefit.
It's every man for himself. They wouldn't even have a village except
for the Bolgani. In the old days each family lived apart but the
Bolgani found it more convenient to have the humans bunched. Hence
they forced them to build the village.
The Gomangai live in beehive huts suspended
from trees. While watching this strange scene from a convenient bough
an emissary from the Bolgani appears. P. 71
saw him, swinging down the jungle track toward the compound. A huge
gorilla, but such a gorilla as Tarzan of the Apes had never looked on before.
Of almost gigantic stature, the creature was walking erect with the stride
of a man, and never once touching his knuckles to the ground. His
head and face were almost those of a gorilla, and yet there was a difference
as Tarzan could note as the creature came nearer- it was Bolgani, with
the soul and brain of a man- nor was this all that rendered the creature
startling and unique. Stranger then aught else was the fact that
it wore ornaments- and such ornaments! Gold and diamonds sparkled
against its shaggy coat, above its elbows were numerous armlets, and there
were anklets upon its legs, while from a girdle about its middle there
depended before and behind a long narrow strip that almost touched the
ground and which seemed to be entirely constructed of golden spangles set
with small diamonds. Never before had John Clayton, Lord Greystoke,
seen such a display of barbaric finery, nor even amidst the jewels of Opar
such a wealth of precious stones.
At the beginning of this passage ERB compares
the gorilla to Tarzan of the Apes as though comparing two beasts while
at the end he subtly shifts the comparison to the gorilla and Lord Greystoke
of the English House of Lords thus showing the range of Tarzan's accomplishments
as in The Return Of Tarzan. Tarzan can relate beast to beast
but as the representative of civilization he has never seen such barbaric
splendor. Subtleties of this type go unnoticed in Burroughs' writing
but if 'it is what gets you and me' such passages make the reading as entertaining
as it is.
Tarzan has to kill this Bolgani which necessitates
his leaving La with these virtual sub-human Gomangani as he disposes of
the body. She will, of course, be captured and taken to the Palace
The Palace seems to built along the same lines
as the Khmer temple at Angkor Wat. The description brought the temple
to mind anyway. Pictures of the site had been around since the 1860s.
There may have been some sort of display at the Columbian Expo. The
description brought the temple to mind anyway.
Omitting certain details of the story Tarzan
investigates the temple. While investigating it the Bolgani destroy
the village bringing La to the Palace.
Tarzan's sense of smell is always very keen.
Amongst fifty sweaty Waziri warriors and Jane he can identify Jane's presence
by smell from a half mile away. Well, the Bolgani baffle his olfactories
by burning a heavy incense. He can't pick La out by aroma so he has
to open every door looking for her even incautiously, which is par for
the course for the Apeman, calling out her name from time to time.
Climbing one of these curling towers he is shocked to find an aged White
man who no less shocked ejaculates the single world- God.
By this time in the series Tarzan is a god
to Burroughs and to we readers. As I say, I believe Burroughs was
offering him as the archetype for the Age Of Aquarius.
The old fellow has an interesting story which
displays the depth of ERB's reading. P. 110
"I am Tarzan
of the Apes," replied the ape man. "I came into this valley looking
for a way out of the valley of Opar where the life of my companion
was in danger. And you?"
An interesting passage. If the old man was
with Stanley after the founding of the station at Stanley Pool then it
was probably the relief expedition for Emin Pasha in 1888. If he
got lost in the jungle somewhere up the Aruwini which was the rather bizarre
route that Stanley followed then he got lost somewhere in the vicinity
of the Ituri Rain Forest which places Opar in this story a very long way
from where Burroughs places it in Tarzan the Invincible.
"I am an old man," replied
the other, " and I have been here since I was a boy. I was a stowaway
on the ship that brought Stanley to Africa after the establishment of the
station on Stanley Pool, and I came into the interior with him. I
went out from camp to hunt, alone, one day. I lost my way and later
was captured by unfriendly natives. They took me further into the
interior to their village from which I finally escaped, but so utterly
confused and lost that I had no idea what direction to take to find a trail
to the coast. I wandered thus for months, until finally, upon an
accursed day I found an entrance to this valley. I do not know why
they did not put me to death at once, but they did not, and later they
discovered that my knowledge could be turned to advantage to them.
Since then I have helped them in their quarrying and mining and in their
diamond cutting. I have given them iron drills with hardened points
and drills tipped with diamonds. Now I am practically one of them
but always in my heart has been the hope that someday I might escape from
the valley- a hopeless hope, though, I may assure you."
Which brings up an interesting detail later in the
story. Kraski is going West by having the sun on his left because
he is South of the Equator while Throck argues the reverse. At this
time they were in the Ituri Rain Forest as they attacked by the Pygmies.
On the one hand that is an awesome trek to the West Coast while on the
other the Ituri Rain Forest is North of the Equator so that Throck was
right and Kraski was wrong while it appears Our Man from Tarzana should
have checked out his geography.
The old fellow said he stowed away as a boy.
Boy leaves a fair amount of latitude. Could be twelve to fifteen
or speaking figuratively it could be, say, twenty-five to an old gray beard
with a bald head. In either event the old guy was only between 46
and 59, not quite the gray beard he is portrayed.
He has some pretty specialized metallurgical
and engineering knowledge as he is able to make diamond tipped drills.
On top of that he was an expert diamond cutter. So he must have been
a boy of 25 anyway with a specialized education, thus he's only about sixty
years old. A sprout.
He reminds of the missionary Mackay who was
enslaved by the Ugandans for his technical skills. As Burroughs read
Stanley's works it is probable that he was familiar with Mackay's story
or he may have read Mackay's memoir by his sister. ERB is nicely
blending fact into his fiction here. Whether one knows the history
or not the story rings true. By mentioning Stanley ERB also gives
this portion a plausible touch. While we may not be aware of Stanley's
history today, ERB's readers would have been much more familiar with it
The placement of the action in the Ituri also
shows that Burroughs was using Stanley's works as a reference point.
If you haven't read Stanley's accounts of his exploits in Through The
Dark Continent and In Darkest Africa you're missing out on some
real adventure equal to anything Burroughs or Haggard wrote. Certainly
there is an element of Stanley in Tarzan. In Tarzan The Magnificent
Burroughs even says that Tarzan rather than Stanley is the true representative
of Africa so the series has to be read against the background of Henry
The Bolgani send a Gomangani to lure Tarzan
into a trap. For once the Big Bwana is alert enough to spot it.
He persuades the messenger to side with him. He is then led to an
assembly hall where La is about to be fed to the Lion god.
The god had just returned from an outing that
was well described, once again, reminscent of the Oz series. Of course
Tarzan drawing his spear well back launches it piercing the heart of the
big beast saving La. This is a reversal of the scene in City Of
Gold when Tarzan's lion saves him from the female's. In the pandemonium
that follows a revolution takes place in which the Gomangani under Tarzan's
leadership defeat the Bolgani. It is not impossible then that the
Bolgani represent the Bolshviks.
In the melee the old engineer leads Tarzan
through dark underground passages to a large room. Row upon row of
shelves are filled with leather bags. Each bag contains five pounds
of diamonds. Ever since the Atlanteans left, at least ten thousand
years before the Bolgani have been mining the diamonds in anticipation
of their return.
One can't be positive but it appears that ERB
may have believed the Atlantis story.
'Here, take one.' the old timer says handing
a five pound bag to Tarzan. Gold and diamonds are two major themes
in Burroughs; work. Diamonds recur everywhere perhaps as a symbol
of redemption. In the Forbidden City when Burroughs, disappointed
in his marriage to Florence talks of the Father of Diamonds it turns out
to be a piece of coal indicating his despair and disillusionment.
This warehouse of diamonds might also be inspired
by the DeBeers legend. Current in my life has been the story that
DeBeers has more diamonds than it can ever sell and they are stored in
a somewhat similar manner. It is not improbable that ERB was familiar
with the story.
The Bolgani are defeated but are at a loss
at what to do with themselves next. As it is necessary to restore
La to the throne of Opar Tarzan suggests they become her personal bodyguard
to which they agree. You can see where Stalin might have gotten excited
about all this. Tarzan then leads a mixed army of the hereditary
enemies the Gomangani and Bolgani on a siege of Opar. There are some
similarities here with The Beasts Of Tarzan.
This is truly a multi-cultural experiment,
as was beasts, making ERB one of the first multi-culturalists.
It has already been established that the Bolgani and Oparians have cross
bred so to varying degrees there must be a variety of breeds including
genetic input from the Gomangani. This is multi-racial experimentation
on a grand scale.
The Bolgani are used to absolute domination.
As they appear to be all seven to eight footers weighing, say, 350 to 450
pounds it is quite evident that with the authority of La's patronage as
soon as Tarzan leaves they will resume their dominant position in the Valley
of Diamonds as well as in Opar. Evolution being what it is they will
undoubtedly appropriate those beautiful Oparian women for themselves enslaving
both the Oparians and Gomangani.
Thus just as in contemporary politics through
an inability to understand the working of evolution our politicians are
delivering us into the hands of the Bolgani of this world. As it
appears that Burroughs thought that he was wisely settling the problem
one can only say that there is something deficient in the intelligence
of the West unless of course he was making some sort of satirical comment
on the politics of his time.
That wraps up this visit to Opar. The
fourth and final visit will occur about ten years on in 1931's Tarzan
The story now turns to the fate of the Hawkes
Expedition and the two Tarzans. Esteban Miranda while out hunting
falls in with the Waziri who mistake him for the Big Bwana. Flora
had related the story of Tarzan's amnesia in 1915 to Miranda so we know
Flora worked for the Greystokes sometime between 1916 and when?
If the Greystokes returned to England after the last visit to Opar and
then returned to Africa in time fore Jane to be abducted by the Germans
in about 1917 that leaves a very small window of time for Flora to have
been their maid. This is 1922 and the Greystokes have been in Africa
since sometime in 1917 The war for the Europeans had been in progress
since mid-1914. At no time could they have been in London when Zeppelins
weren't dropping bombs on their heads. Nevertheless Flora was employed
by them where she heard them chattering about amnesia and Opar. Somehow
she learned exactly where Opar was as she went right to it all the way
from the West Coast as she employs West Coast Boys. Stanley had had
one heck of a time making his way up the Aruwimi and through the Ituri.
Flora and her party seems to have fared better. Conditions must have
improved by 1922.
Miranda having learned the story now covers
his ignorance by telling the head man, Usulu, that he has had a memory
lapse. Usulu buys it. The ever crafty Miranda then directs
the Waziri to raid Flora's camp to take the two and a half tons of gold.
They bury it in the forest. Miranda then returns. When he had
taken the gold he had said he was Tarzan and that he, Miranda, had been
killed. He now says that Tarzan didn't kill him outright but turned
his loose in the jungle to die.
Now the gold is gone so having heard of some
Arab ivory poachers in the neighborhood Kraski suggests they attack the
Arabs and steal their ivory. The crew has heard worse ideas so it
is agreed. In the meantime Miranda in an attempt to keep the gold
for himself has persuaded some natives to move the gold to another place
so that the Waziri who he has sent back to the Estate won't be able to
find it. Another good idea. He draws a map on the back of his leopard
skin so that he will be able to find it.
While he is gone the party makes its move on
the Arabs. There is a three part melee between the revolting slaves
led by Luvini, the Arabs and Flora's party. The last escape into
the jungle while Luvini dispatches the Arabs. Knocking that job off
he sets out in pursuit of the White girl.
Now, when the Waziri return home Jane becomes
worried so she gather them up and troops out into the jungle in search
of Tarzan. (Dr. Livingstone, I presume? Get it.) She
and the Waziri are camped directly in the path of Flora. The party
seek the aid of Jane as Luvini and the West Coast Boys come lurking after
There was a time when Stanley went in search
of Livingstone. Finding him he said: Dr. Livingstone, I presume?
Flora and Jane stumble on each other in the jungle: Why Flora,
what are you doing here? Jane asks in a parody whether conscious
Luvini wants Flora. As the Waziri line
up against the West Coast Boys they send Flora and Jane to a position behind
the lines. While the Boys go through their leaps and cavorts pretty
much as described by Stanley in Through The Dark Continent in a diversion
Luvini works his way back behind the lines toward the women.
Miranda in his brief career as the-man-who-thought-he-was-Tarzan
has picked up on arborialism pretty quickly. His grey eyes are watching
from above. Dropping down he seizes Flora, tossing her over his shoulder,
he nimbly leaps back into the trees saying: You're the one I want.
You can imagine how shocked Jane was to be rejected by the man she thinks
Luvini having worked his way back to the women
and finding only Jane throws her over his shoulder thinking she is Flora..
The Waziri discover Jane is missing taking off after the West Coast Boys.
They arrive at the stockade just as the West Coasters have entered.
Rather than making a frontal attack Usulu noticed a good breeze blowing
in their faces so he runs around the back of the stockade setting it afire.
The flames race through the stockade.
Luvini is trying desperately to rape Jane but
she is fighting like a tigress or two. In fact she kills Luvini escaping
into the jungle unseen by anyone. When the Waziri enter the burnt
village they discover an incinerated body where they had lost seen Jane
so they assume it is she. Thus Burroughs once again tries to burn
Tarzan falls in with Flora's party where he
unknowingly drops his five pound bag of diamonds. The wily Kraski
picks it up. Discovering he has the wealth of the Andes and Croesus
combined he disappears into the night.
Just a second. I have to go back and
reread this to make sure I get all the details right. Burroughs didn't
believe in a lot of padding.
OK. I'm back.
Kraski stole the diamonds and took off for
a solo trek to the coast. But now he is pursued by guilt becoming
panicked. You have to visualize this, Between ants and thorns he
discards all his clothes. Here he is buck naked a forty-five automatic
in one hand, a rifle over his shoulder and a five pound bag of diamonds
in the other hand. One assumes he kept his boots and socks.
One is always astonished at the amount of nudity
in Burroughs books, both men and women. Often his characters don't
even wear clothes in normal circumstances, some accouterments and that's
about all. Amazingly this fact was never commented on by either his
readers or detractors. Here he comments on Kraski, p. 167:
madly along the trail as naked as the day he was born, and when a half
hour later, stumbling and at last falling exhausted, he lay panting upon
the damp jungle earth, he realized the utter futility of his mad attempt
to reach the coast alone, even more fully than he could have been under
any other circumstances, since there is nothing that so paralyzes the courage
and self-confidence of a civilized man as to be deprived of his clothing.
Well, I don't want to be found hanging out either.
But, in his hour of darkness he hears voices out there in Grand Jungle
Station who turn out to be the Tarzan double and Flora Hawkes. Miranda
has turned out to be not a gentle lover. Brutish sort when you strip
away the thin veneer of civilization. In nearly all respects he is
the opposite of Tarzan. One is almost tempted to draw of picture
of the Other Burroughs prowling the streets at night in a Hydelike persona
not unlike what Charlie Chaplin did. That may be pushing things too
far but one does wonder how far this dual personality thing went.
Now get this, about to enter the boma Kraski
realizes his nakedness. He takes some large fronds conveniently growing
nearby to form a green skirt. He quickly forms a grass rope tying
it about his waist with the five pound bag of diamonds suspended from it.
Now, ripped and torn bloody by thorns and ant bites this apparition, forty-five,
rifle, boots and all says: Flora, don't you know me.
Joke after joke on the Dr. Livingstone, I presume
theme. If that comedy doesn't have you rolling on the jungle floor
I don't know what will.
'Save me.' Flora cries.
'Then stand aside.' Kraski snarls firing
point bland at Miranda with the forty-five missing him. The gun jams.
While trying to bring his rifle into action Miranda fells him with his
short heavy spear. Discovering the five pound sack of diamonds Miranda
discovers he can do without Flora. Saved by the diamonds. He
begins a run for the coast at a dead dog trot leaving the crippled Flora
lying on the trail.
Now Burroughs presents a very interesting Anima/Animus
reunion scene that might almost rival haggard's best in She. A half
demented Miranda believing his is an all powerful Tarzan abandons all precautions,
sleeping on the ground without fear. He builds a fire demented by
his musings on diamonds and the women it will buy him. Just coincidentally
Jane, loose in this well trafficked area of the Ituri Rain Forest, had
climbed into the convenient tree crotch for the night when she spots the
glimmer of Miranda's fire.
Luvini had stripped her naked, so we're all
down to the buff in darkest Africa, but she had grabbed a pure white Arab
burnoose hanging by the door of the hut to clothe herself. This is
an interesting passage. Burroughs pp. 175-76:
With half closed
eyes he dreamed of the ideal he should search the world over to obtain-
the dream woman for whom he had searched- the dream woman he had never
found, the fit companion for such as Esteban Miranda imagined himself to
be. Presently through the dark lashes that veiled his lids the Spaniard
seemed to see before him in the flickering light of the campfire a vague
materialization of the figure of his dream- a woman figure, clothed in
flowing diaphanous white which appeared to hover just above him at the
outer rim of his firelight at the summit of the ancient river bank.
That would be unnerving enough in your friendly
neighborhood bar but in the jungle four thousand miles from nowhere?
I think that's an especially well conceived and executed vignette.
Actually another Dr. Livingstone parody. The scene is a depiction
of the union of the Anima and animus. The longing for the perfect
woman is the y chromosome seeking it's X as represented by the Anima image.
In his imagination the ego has conceived a perfect relationship with his
Anima but even though the Anima has the form of a physical woman no such
relationship is possible with a real woman except, I would imagine in the
most exceptional circumstances. Burroughs depicts here the union
of Eros and Psyche from Apuleius' great myth of the same name.
It was strange how the
vision persisted. Esteban closed his eyes tightly, and then opened
them ever so little, the vision remained. and then he opened his
eyes wide, and still the figure of the woman in white floated above him.
Esteban Miranda went
suddenly pale. "Mother of God!" he cried. "It is Flora.
She is dead and has come back to haunt me."
With staring eyes he
slowly rose to his feet to confront the apparition, when in soft and gentle
tones it spoke.
"Heart of my heart,"
it cried, "is it really you!"
Instantly Esteban realized
that this was no disembodied spirit, nor was it Flora but who was it?
Who was this vision of beauty, alone in the savage African wilderness?
Very slowly now it was
descending the embankment and coming toward him. Esteban returned
the diamonds to the pouch and replaced it inside his loin cloth.
(Ideal woman and diamonds are associated in Burroughs' mind.)
With outstretched arms
the girl came toward him. "My love, my love," she cried, "do not
tell me that you do not know me." She was close enough now for the
Spaniard to see her rapidly rising and falling breasts and her lips trembling
with love and passion.
Also there is a picture, the name of which and the
artist I can't remember, that is identical to this scene. As with
La in the pool ERB here reproduces it. Marcel Proust does the same
thing with several pictures in his 'Remembrance Of Times Past.'
Just as Miranda and Jane are about to consummate
the reunion in an embrace Tarzan, Jad-Bal-Ja and Flora Hawkes step from
the jungle. Lot of activity out there far from the haunts of men
Tarzan call out 'Jane' in the nick of time
which stops her in her tracks as her bewildered glance shift from Tarzan
to Tarzan. Well might she be confused as she sees Tarzan with Flora
Hawkes who his lookalike had abducted in front of Jane's eyes. In
addition Tarzan believes Jane dead, burned at the stake.
He knows Jane is Jane because of the catalogue
of aromas in his brain. Remember he could pick Jane's aroma from
the powerful scent of fifty surrounding Waziri. In this case Jane is wearing
the burnoose of an Arab which one would think is impregnated with pungent
aromas quite distinct from Jane's. Only her face is showing but that
is more than sufficient for the Big Bwana.
If Burroughs has split his personality Jekyl
and Hydelike the false Tarzan obviously can't have Jane while the false
Jane, Flora Hawkes is with Tarzan. Tarzan's guardian angel, the Golden
Lion, is at his side. ERB does seem to be having some psychological
Miranda seeing Tarzan plunges into the jungle.
Tarzan's about to let him go when Jane reminds he has Jad-Bal-Ja.
'Oh yeah, I forgot about him.' Tarzan mumbles. Then, 'Go fetch.'
Jad-Bal-Ja doesn't get Miranda but in his flight
Esteban leaves his leopard skin with the gold map on thorns that the Golden
There is a chapter on the further adventures
of Miranda but we will leave that for the continuation of his adventures
in the sequel - Tarzan And The Ant Men.
Tarzan wants that gold and he gets it but Jane
tells him he was lucky to get out of Opar alive, they have enough to get
along and each other. That is a lot undoubtedly but Tarzan rather
uncharacteristically for a man who is reported to be indifferent to material
things wants that gold.
Owaza goes back for the gold without Miranda
but Tarzan's Africa agents are on the lookout. They direct Owaza
to Tarzan who confiscates the gold even though Owaza correctly points out
that it doesn't belong to Tarzan anymore than it belongs to him.
Well, that's a fine moral distinction but might makes right so Tarzan gets
the gold. P. 191:
When they had
departed, and Tarzan, Jane and Korak were standing upon the veranda of
the bungalo with Jad-Bal-Ja lying at their feet, the ape-man threw an arm
about his mate's shoulders. (Unusually demonstrative for the Big
Gold and diamonds, two persistent themes in this
series. The gold may refer to the money Burroughs earned from his
writing. The treasure vaults of Opar may represent the brain from
which his stories spring.
"I shall have to retract
what I said about the gold of Opar not being for me, for you see before
you a new fortune that has come all the way from the treasure vaults of
Opar without any effort on my part."
"Now, if someone would
bring your diamonds back." laughed Jane.
"No chance of that."
In real life, in this case, Burroughs had got
himself into a financial bind through the mismanagement of Tarzana.
An influx of cash to the amount of $40,000 was received in 1922 for the
film rights to Jungle Tales Of Tarzan and The Jewels Of Opar
so that it could be said that a new fortune had arrived requiring no additional
effort on ERB's part. In addition he received $3500 for Chessmen
Of Mars plus $4000 for Golden Lion, whatever his royalties for
the year amounted to and then he received a substantial loan.
I'm sure ERB had boundless confidence that
finances would always work out. After all even though getting deeper
and deeper in debt he did have some very substantial resources not least
of which was the 540 acres of Tarzana itself.
It wouldn't be unlikely that Emma worried about
finances more than ERB did while I'm sure his record of financial recklessness
scared her to death. As she read all the stories before they were
submitted one purpose for this story may have been to make her relax a
little. After all the checks kept coming in through the mail, didn't
While ERB would surmount his problems it would
only be through the sacrifice of Tarzana as a home. So while ERB's
confidence was well founded it was only half right.
Nevertheless, his troubles produced a rousing
good story although split like his personality. On the one hand one
has Tarzan's story and the on the other his doppelganger Esteban Miranda's.
I'm sure there is more to the Opar / Valley Of Diamonds story than I'm
picking up, while I think the Flora Hawkes/Esteban Miranda story
is fairly clear. To get to the bottom of ERB's stories would require
studies as long as the books themselves, if not longer. You can thank
your lucky stars I'm only capable of superficial analyses.