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Volume 3295

The Story Behind the Wahrman Translation

Mr. and Mrs. Forrest J. Ackerman: Welcome to Ackermansion
Wendy Wahrman-Ackerman
Translator Wendayne (Wendy) Wahrman (1912–1990) 
was married to Forry Ackerman until her death. 
Her original first name was Matilda; Forry created "Wendayne" for her. 
Forry Ackerman appears here with 
the oversize photo of his beloved late wife, Wendy.
The photo tribute covered a wall in the kitchen of Forry's Ackermansion.
Photo taken by Bill Hillman during
Hillmans' visit to Ackermansion in 1999

Wendy Wahrman-Ackerman's 1970 translation of the 1925 German article:
Tarzan, the German-eater by Stefan Sorel
Ms Wahrman discussed the article and the process of translating
it in a March 7, 1970 letter to Darrell Richardson who requested her translation.
We present excerpts of her letter here as a preface to her work.

Here is the long overdue translation of Sorel's "Tarzan, the German-eater." I tried to remain as faithful to the original language as possible. Sorel's style is unfortunately very heavy, with cumbersome teutonic sentence structure; but he also indulges in rather sloppy, slangy language, when he attempts to be sarcastic. You can feel in his patronizing remarks addressed to Mr. Burroughs how superior he believes himself to be. His work does not justify the high esteem he has of himself. Neither do subsequent events in Germany prove their superior moral fiber, so highly praised by Sorel. Their child-like manifestations of xenophobia as characterized by Sorel turned just fifteen years later into deadly genocide, wiping out millions of innocent people.

I have tried to find out who Sorel was. I could not find any reference to him in several histories of German literature. He might have been a journalist. In any case he does not seem to have been the only German who objected to the enthusiastic reception that the German readers gave to the Tarzan books.

I know this as a fact after talking to Irving Porges, a good friend of ours, who is currently writing a biography of Burroughs which was authorized by the Burroughs concern. He as access to all of Burroughs files among which he found a folder dealing with Sorel and also various newspaper articles, letters by Burroughs regarding concern. He has access to all of Burroughs files among which he found a folder dealing with Sorel and also various newspaper articles, letters by Burroughs regarding the negative attitude to all of Burroughs' works because of his presumed hatred of the Germans. 

Irving Porges has not yet had time to investigate this phase since he proceeds chronologically and has not yet reached the early twenties. He does not want to be quoted or to have his material used until he has had a chance to work on it himself. He was kind enough, though, to read to me the original of Burroughs' letter that was quoted by Sorel.

I noted that Sorel's translation into German was very clumsy and not quite true to what Burroughs was trying to convey. I simply used Burroughs' own wording of the passage. By the way, Sorel hs a nasty habit of quoting out of context or leaving out significant things. Such as the quote from this letter, where sorel does not mention that Burroughs' brother was married to a German which Burroughs added to the defense that he did not dislike the German people.

Sorel had many quotes in English as an addenda to his book. Since these were not a complete translation of the quotes he used in his text, I decided to copy them in their entirety from Ballantine's "Tarzan the Untamed" 1963, since I did not have the English edition of the book by Methuen and Co., London, which Sorel used.

I found this job of translating rather enjoyable. I felt like a sleuth poking his nose in some ancient intrigue, digging up some long since forgotten feud. . . . Thank you for the photo copy which I used for the translation and which will become part of Forry's collection.

ERBzine 3296 and ERBzine 3297

“Tarzan the German-Eater.” Comparative American Studies 4.2 (2006): 151-174
From Matt Cohen, grandson of Burroughs lifelong friend, Bert Weston, and author of the book, Brother Men, which features ERB and Weston correspondence, has offered this German article for sale for $39.00 plus tax at:
This article raises questions about methodology in the study of transnational popular writing by examining the international popularity of Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan novels. Critical anti-imperialist analyses have found in Burroughs's fiction a dangerous metaphorics supporting imperialistic US foreign policies. In Weimar Germany, resistance to the Tarzan novels emerged that all but eliminated the market for these otherwise internationally popular fictions. Yet the German reaction shows how the idea of 'empire', embodied in tropes of race and gender, could continue to function in debates about international popular literature. At the same time, Burroughs was forced to adapt to international markets by tempering his imperialistic fictions. Burroughs's work after the controversy shows a shift in the depiction of national 'others', yet it had little radical potential because Burroughs had turned his imperial gaze inward, towards the internally colonized: Native Americans.

Department of English
University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station B5000
Austin, Texas 78712


I. The Incident
II. Wahrman-Ackerman: Translator
III. Tarzan: German-Devourer I
IV. Tarzan: German-Devourer II
V. Resources: Notes | Bio
Illos | Posters | Texts | Comics | Links
VI. Leiningen Versus the Ants
Short Story | Script | Radio Show

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