Volume 1872
Georges Dodds'
The Ape-Man: his Kith and Kin
A collection of texts which prepared the advent of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs



Reviews of The Curse of Intellect
Reviews of Zit and Xoe
Reviews of The New Eden
Reviews of The Quickening of Caliban

Heroes of Fiction


How many thousand readers greet
Tarzan, half ape, but incomplete,
And wait, with interest never stale,
For sequels to complete his tail!

If sales a trusty index be,
Of vogue and popularity --
A fact you simply can't escape --
The apex goes to this ex-ape.

Preston, Keith. 1919. Types of Pan. Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin, p. 33

Reviews of The Curse of Intellect

  • Droch. 1895. "Is Intellect a Curse?" Life 25(648): 354-355.
A book of considerable power and undoubted originality is "The Curse of Intellect" (Roberts Bros.) published anonymously, but reported to be by the daughter of Lord Salisbury. It is a trying comparison but this story forcibly reminds one of "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Here is the same attempt by a strange device to separate the personality of a man into its opposing parts. Then each part of the personality is pushed to its logical and astounding conclusion.

In "The Curse of Intellect" the problem is not to divide a personality into one part wholly good and another wholly bad, but to slowly transfer the soul from a man by his own volition to a beast.

This curious device is adopted of having the man in the story (who is an Oxford graduate of unusual ability) spend twenty-four years in educating a huge monkey to be his intellectual companion. At the end of that period the strange pair appear in London society, and by wealth and ingenuity become the rage.

The bald statement of this plot sounds like the wildest farce; any one would say that here is a situation that can only be treated with broad humor. Instead of that there is hardly a gleam of humnor in the book; it is biting sarcasm from end to end.

It requires no small ability in the writing way to create the illusion from the first that the situation is not impossible. The author is tremendously in earnest, and deals with moral problems of such intensity that the reader forgets to laugh, and listens with a certain sense of uncanniness. This monkey is no more amusing than Poe's monkey of the "Murders of the Rue Morgue."

The problem that the man, Power, set for himself in his strange experiment was to arrive at a "a new standpoint of criticism." He says early in his career, "I should like to know from some independent source what I really am."

After more than twenty years of the experiment the conclusion of the whole matter is as follows:

The Beast says: "Man without reason was probably as pure and happy an animal as a monkey. Intellect in man was a curse." And he arraigns the man for ever putting into him such a terrible thing as a soul.

The Man's verdict is than in losing his soul he has lost the power of human affection. Nothing in the world is worthwhile, nothing is left to live for.

The attitude of the author is evidently shown in the last paragraph, which expresses profound pity for the Beast "with power of reflection suddenly born in him, full, from reading, of belief in man's God-like greatness, to be confronted suddenly with the human beast that he is!"

For the author the whole spectacle of the world is but "a stinking slough of selfish, dirt-bespattered, dirt bespattering creatures."

This is the final flower of modern pessimism to curse the instrument of reason that has raised man to be a little lower than the angels, and to covet in its stead the happiness of instinct that belongs to the beast of the field.

The book as a whole is a most depressing piece of allegory, written with a certain force that compels unwilling attention.


  • Anon. 1895. "The Curse of Intellect" The Bookman; A Review of Books and Life 1(4): 272.
Roberts Bros. $1.00.
The yellow cover and anonymous title page of this book warn us what to expect. It is a Swift-like satire on society, if not on man. A Blasé cynic educates a monkey till it can wear clothes, talk and even write. Its first feelling on awaking to a sense of its new attainments is one of intense gratitude, almost worship, of its educator. But as it plays its part in London socity, and learns the utter hollowness and selfishness of the human world to which it now belongs, its worship turns into a hatred that culminates in murder. The satire is unquestionably marred by the medium chosen. The lack of verisimilitude haunts the reader throughout. A satire with the same object is worth writing, and there is considerable power manifest here; but to be effective, it must be more credible. Swift did not bring his horses to London.
  • Anon. 1895. "Stories" Congregationalist 80(24): 932.
The author of The Curse of Intellect [Roberts Brothers. $1.00] imagines a monkey in whom a soul has been developed by the aid of human instruction and guidance. The misery of this monkey and of the man who educated him and developed him into a kind of a human being are portrayed powerfully in this volume, which is a striking and somewhat daring effort of the fancy, and more picturesque and dramatic than agreeable.
  • Anon. 1895. "The Curse of Intellect" The Critic. a Weekly Review of Literature and the Arts 24(711): 212.
"The Curse of Intellect"
Roberts Bros.

"This is the sorrowful story
     Told when the twilight falls
And the monkeys walk together
     Holding each other's tails"

This little volume is largely occupied with extracts from the literary notes of an anthropoid ape. Born of poor but respectable parents in one of the obscure cocoanut hamlets of Africa, about the time of Crimean War, he early attracted the interest of a Mr. Power, who brought him from the land of his fathers to the southern countries of Europe. As he proved to be of great promise, his benefactor immediately planned a course of education for him, to which his whole time was devoted. Although not naturally omnivorous, he became a great reader, and soon found himself in the full current of human affairs. Bringing, as would be expected, a singularly foreign point of view to civilisation, he gradually attained that delicate balance between outward and inward observation which is always the distinction of the truly great critic, and laid the foundation for that strange, cynical insight into the intellect of man which is the leading characteristic of the masterpiece before us. Taking into consideration the tremendous momentum of instinct which it is the privilege of all great genius to possess, it is not difficult to account for the half-scornful ease with which he absorbed our various systems of education, and finally acquired that mastery of written English that grasp (we might say), that prehensile quality of the style, which makes it impossible to lay down this book until all human society has been summed up in the consummate philosophy of this distinguished African.

The central position of this work is indicated in the title. The tragedy of our hero turns upon his being interrupted in the delicious swish, the thrill and inward vanishing of swinging by the tail in a land flowing with cocoanut milk and honey, and being carried forth into the dismal estate of man, where, indeed, one might as well not have a tail at all. In the earlier days of his training and clothing, when the tail-consciousness stirred now and then within his spirit and he longed for the old family-vine and palm-tree, he came, after much corporal experience, to a remarkable crisis, in which he discerned the refined joys and the enormous possibilities of leaping from thought to thought. After accepting this substitute, and before going forth into life, while he was still shut in with books, he came into a kind of epic dream of what intellect must certainly be accomplishing among men. When at last he was allowed to travel and see for himself, and appeared in full dress at the opera in the height of the London season, he began to be disillusioned. Received at first with contumely, because of his rather plain features, his enormous income soon made his house the centre of fashionable society, and he thenceforth proceeded to entertain people and hate them in the most approved fashion. And thus he came to write books.

With the devastating effects of intellect all about him, with the satire of government and the sneer of religion and the showy affectation of our life, he filled his brand-new soul. Across the dear old Africa of his apehood days he heard the breezes calling softly through the palms but he could not unman himself. He could not cast off his cruel gift, the terror of consciousness. He could only wish for his old companions, the glad, untainted dulness of their lives, and, hating us all and the empty dominion of the minds of men, he had but one prayer that government of the monkeys, by the monkeys and for the monkeys should not perish from the earth. For a plain, ordinary monkey without any inheritance of the original sin or orthodoxy, he managed in a rather short life to be very wicked, and to feel very serious about it. He found himself filled with an ungovernable elemental rage wild with the forest as he saw the estate of man; and, though he was the first reputable monkey on the face of the earth to really prove evolution, and even practise it, he was the last to believe in it, and made it the ambition of his career to murder the being who had made a man of him.

Some critics would point out that this was inconsistent, and that the most ingenious revenge and climax for the book would have been to let his patron live as long as possible. But consistency is a mere instinct. It takes brains to even think of being inconsistent, and the murder of Power has just that element of profound and penetrating sophistry which proves this baleful ape a man. "The Curse of Intellect" is a very clever skit. It is written with excellent matter-of-factness, and has at times that curious, uncanny impressiveness that the monkey always has for us. We have to laugh at him not to be afraid of him. He stands forever a kind of leer at humanity, grim with inanity, solemn with chattering, and too truthful to be loved; and to a degree this book works upon this instinctive feeling. But it might do so more skilfully, and, so far as the reasoning is concerned, "The Curse of Intellect" exposes itself more recklessly: if the Monkey had been cursed a little more, he would have gained the right to be taken more seriously as the new Schopenhauer. But anything as radical as a brain in a monkey is sure to produce a degenerate. He is sure to go too far, to have a kind of beastly unctuousness he ends his work on psychology with a murder. It is the atavistic phase: his tail gets the better of him. The conception of the story is a capable one, and too difficult to admit of exacting criticism. It is better for a book to be suggestive against itself than not to be suggestive at all. 

Reviews of Zit and Xoe
  • Anon. 1889. "A Few Novels" Christian Union 39(26): 831.
Zit and Xoe, by the author of "Lady Bluebeard," is a facetious but not very witty skit in the department of anthropological fiction if so portentous a phrase be permissible. These two scions of monkeys, primeval man and woman, separate from their simian brothers and start out in the big world for themselves. They meet and have a curious time falling in love, getting married, and having a baby. Thus the human race is secured. We might take the story for a satire upon extreme materialistic theories, but we doubt if the author so intended it. (New York: Harper & Brothers)

Anon. 1907. "Evolutionary Fiction" The Independent 62(3041): 620-621.
[...] Finally there comes to memory, from the long ago, a delicious jeu d'esprit, without pretense to scientific accuracy or serious purpose, Zit and Xoe, anonymous little story published in 1889, in which the first tailless man child is driven from the parent nest as an unworthy offspring, the Adam of evolution f going forth into the wilderness to find his Eve. And this whimsical story of our remotest ancestors we like best of all [Compared to Jack London's Before Adam, Stanley Waterloo's The Story of Ab, and Gouverneur Morris' The Pagan's Progress.] 

Reviews of The New Eden
  • Anon. 1893. "The New Eden" The Literary World; a Monthly Review of Current Literature 39(26): 831.
We opened this volume with a fear that it might be another one of the too common plausible romances of social economy a recipe for the welfare of humanity on paper. All the more agreeable was it to find the story altogether a novelty that is to say, the treatment is original and the theme is so very old that it has acquired newness; for it is less than the supposable doings and development of Adam and Eve. Not the pair of whom Genesis tells, but a man and a woman as primal and inexperienced as they, who (as the prologue hints) were in some scientific fashion created as a tree and a flower, respectively, by experiment on the part of an archducal savant. The scientist left his vegetables to work out their own evolution; then returned to the uninhabited tropical island which had been the scene of his exercise of "the bit of fiat;" and was able to observe primitive man, woman and small boy in their Eden amid its purple spheres of sea.

Mr. C.J.C. Hyne, the author of this very original and clever study of the natural man, has done his task with imaginative realism, vivacity and refinement, and a hand excellently light. The book is the play of a serious student of human nature. He appears to have no particular theory or reform on his mind; his fancy is at leisure to amuse itself with kindly satire, while he traces the growth of skill of hand, of mental power and the worshiping instinct in the human creature. He has availd himself remarkably well of the very simple materials suited to model his Adam and Eve. The pair are characteristic and really lovable. It is not surprising to find Eve more gifted and continuous in talk than her spouse; other traits observable in modern femininity & mdash; the love of decoration, of adulation, the charming indirectness of means to a desired end are wittily shown in process of formation in this unsophisticated Eve. Adam's larger and less subtle traits are well brought out. His discomfort and groping before he makes to himself "a god in his own image not Eve's," and after the terror of the volcanic storm his ardent acceptance of the sun as deity, are pages of psychology strongly ascertained and characterized. Eve's religion, more objective, vocal and voluble than that of the man, is cleverly sketched. Good little Cain cries and cuts his first teeth and minds his mother and makes his father walk about of nights to lull him, in recognizable fashion. But how enviable is that life without problems, needs or conventionalities!

However, when (in the epilogue) the grand duke asks the sailing master if he does not envy the fate of Adam, the worthy seaman answers:

That Adam, your highness, has furrows on his forehead that tell of trouble. He had been through much that we know nothing of, and so has she, though the marks are not so deeply written. My own lines have not always been cast in easy places. In fact there seem to be a good many arguments on both sides. I shall have to think it out, your highness, before I could decide whether I envy them or not.
Reviews of The Quickening of Caliban
  • Anon. 1894. "Stories" Congregationalist 79(9): 312.
The Quickening of Caliban [Cassell Publishing Co. $1.00], by J.C. Rickett, is a much less skillful piece of work [than The Greater Glory by Maarten Maartens] but possesses some real interest. It depicts the softening, ennobling influence of a good woman over an uncouth, semi-savage man, who has been cruelly ill-treated by some who sought to make money out of him and almost as cruelly misunderstood and misled by others who thought that education alone could elevate him. The author seems to desire to show that religion can accomplish what mere culture cannot do, but leaves the reader in doubt as to his real aim, and his attempt to drag in the evolutionary theory by implying that at least one of his leading characters is not strictly of human descent is clumsy and unsuccessful. The story has some strong features but is crude.
  • Anon. 1894. "Fiction" Current Literature 15(2): 190-191
A curious bit of fiction, with a depth and earnestness that will stimulate as much as puzzle, is J. Compton Ricketts' modern story of evolution, The Quickening of Caliban. This man-ape, called Forest Bokrie, is carried to London and passes through the hands of a number who seek in vain to develop and reveal a soul in him, until the fairy touch of a woman wakens the sleeping ego.
  • Anon. 1894. "Fiction" The Critic; a Weekly Review of Literature and the Arts 21(629): 165
Whatever else may be said of "The Quickening of Caliban," by J. Compton Rickett, it certainly is dull. It is a missionary story of Eurafricans (which is surely as good a word as Eurasians), dealing with the Zulu bush, London music-halls, drawing-rooms, and police courts, and the University of Cambridge. Most of the characters are converted to Methodism and die towards the end of the last chapter. But the heroine disappears toward the land of which Stanley has written. What became of her thereafter is of the remotest consequence to the reader (Cassell Publishing Company.)



Comments/report typos to
Georges Dodds
William Hillman

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All other Original Work ©1996-2007 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.