The First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Issue 0666
The Many Worlds of
Edgar Rice Burroughs Signature
Chattering From The Shoulder Series II
No.  27

Some Thoughts About
The Return of Tarzan
By David Arthur Adams

N. C. Wyeth: Return of Tarzan - 26 interior b/w headpieces by St. John (debut)

It's interesting to speculate that Tarzan of the Apes might have held greater weight in the literary world had Edgar Rice Burroughs not written a sequel.  John Clayton, Lord Greystoke's renunciation of his title and his lovely Jane would have thus become a permanent fact of literary history and in a sense more tragic had not the second, happy-ending novel been written.

Of course it's difficult to think of a writer's work in this way, for the novel was in fact written, along with a score of others, yet at this late date we assume the inevitability of this fact, although the author wrote each book with the possibility of each one being the last.  (The fact is, Burroughs grew to hate writing yet another chapter in his Tarzan series, but since it brought in certain income, he continued to write them with a great variety of literary quality until the end of his life.)

It's not that there isn't a wealth of new information about Tarzan in his Return.  In some ways it's the most eventful novel in the series because it sets up the rest of the stories in ways that go beyond even Tarzan of the Apes itself.  In Return, Tarzan visits civilization and evolves into more than a simple ape-man; here he becomes the head of a savage tribe of African warriors, the Waziri, and he meets La of Opar in her treasure city for the first time.  All of these themes are exploited in the later novels in great detail.

Who are the Waziri?

The Waziri are tribal natives who fell victims to Arab slavers.  They are fierce warriors, elephant hunters who collect and sell ivory.  Tarzan is made king of the tribe because their king is killed even as Tarzan's plan to drive away the slavers is successful.  The Waziri are enemies of the Manyuema, for whom they hold a peculiar hatred.  Waziri have symmetrical features, not the flat noses and thick lips of the typical West Coast savage.  The faces of the men are intelligent and dignified, those of the women oftimes prepossessing.  They wear anklets and armlets made of gold.  They seem to be a rather small tribe that live within a single palisaded village. (Burroughs, 175)

Given ERB's frequent use of Stanley's writings as a source for his early Tarzan novels, it's instructive to discover the Manyema in his Through the Dark Continent.  Here perhaps is the source of ERB's sworn enemies of the Waziri, although through his habit of turning things around, the Manyema appear to be rather a description of the Waziri themselves.  Stanley notes that in the Manyema "a sudden improvement in the physiognomy of the native had occurred.  In the district of Uhombo we had seen a truly debased negro type.  Here we saw people of the Ethiopic negro type, worthy to rank next the more refined Waganda" (Stanley, 63).  Their arms are a short sword scabbarded with wood and "a light, beautifully balanced spear -- probably, next to the spear of Ugandas, the most perfect in the world" (Stanley, 64).  In truth, the Manyema are not the companions of the Arab slavers as they are in Return; rather they are the victims.  Also, they are cannibalistic, and Stanley notes that even Livingstone finally gave up on them, allowing his men to fire upon them because; "these men are wicked." (Stanley, 68).

Henry Morton Stanley
The infamous slaver, Tippu-Tib, who accompanied Stanley upon part of his journey, employed the Wangwana and Wanyamwizi to help round up slaves.  The name Waziri could very likely be one of ERB's name juxtapositions, and, again, the reversal of alliances would be a normal practice in his writing.

Stanley gives over a good portion of his Volume 2 of Through the Dark Continent to his visit to the Empire of Uganda and its Emperor, Mtesa.  His admiration for these people and their leader is profound, and one must allow them at least a little influence on ERB in his creation of the Waziri.  These are the Waganda people who do indeed live in conical huts behind a palisaded village at Mtesa's capitol, but the total empire is huge inclosing an area of 30,000 square miles and nearly 3 million people.  The Waganda are a tall and slender people, many men over 6 feet in height; they are of superior intelligence; and their spears are "the most perfect in Africa." (Stanley, 321).  Stanley notes that Mtesa can float a force in canoes of from 16,000 to 20,000 warriors on Lake Victoria for purposes of war.  He does not mention that they are in any way threatened by slavers.

The fictional Waziri are at least the spiritual descendants of the Waganda simply because they are such a splendid people.  Stanley devotes an entire chapter to their history, which in its legendary nature could have appealed to Burroughs enormously.

XVII. The White Chief of the Waziri

Kintu, the first King of Uganda, came from the north, perhaps from an ancient Ethiopic family.  He was the priest of some old and long forgotten order who brought the banana plant to Uganda along with the sweet potato.  He had four sons who were born with incipient beards and the powers of lusty prime youth.  (After Stanley introduced Mtesa to the Bible, he thought Kintu must have been Ham, one of the sons of Noah.)  When his sons became wicked, Kintu went away, and the new king, Chwa spent his whole life looking for him, as did his son and successor, Kamiera.  Kamiera was succeeded by his gigantic son Kimera, the hunter, who first introduced dogs to the chase.  He was so large that his feet made marks in rocks when he walked along.  He also looked for Kintu, whom everyone thought was immortal.  There were many kings to follow, including Kibaga, who possessed the power of flying.  He fought his enemies by dropping stones on them from the air, but  was shot down by an arrow when his unfaithful wife Delilah-like let out the secret. These origin myths and folk tales continue for 28 fascinating pages.

Of course, the "Lady Alice," Lord Tennington's yacht in Return  was named after  Stanley's forty-foot steel boat which had been built in sections so that it could be carried overland when necessary during his second African journey described in Through the Dark Continent.

XII. Ships That Pass


Burroughs, Edgar Rice, The Return of Tarzan, G&D, 1955
Stanley, Henry M., Through The Dark Continent, 2 vols., Dover, 1988

Through the Dark Continent: Vol. 1Through the Dark Continent: Vol. 2

Henry Morton Stanley
Henry Morton Stanley Biography
Stanley's Through The Dark Continent excerpts
Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) Bio and Bibliography
Stanley and Livingstone
Henry M. Stanley By Mark Twain Address Delivered in Boston, November, 1886
Sir Henry Morton Stanley African explorer
Famous Scots - Dr David Livingstone (1813-1873)
Zaire: The Colonial State under King Leopold
How I Found Livingstone, 1871
Dr Livingstone - Man of Africa
Dr. David Livingstone Biography
Stanley and Livingstone in Africa

For more information on the art and text of this novel, 
visit the
The St. John illustrations are featured at:
ERBzine 0484

Nkima's Chattering From The Shoulder Series II
ERBzine 664
Nkima Chat Series II Intro
ERBzine 665
Chat 26: Tarzan of the Apes
African Adv. Story
Chat 27: Return of Tarzan
Some Thoughts. . .
ERBzine 667
Chat 28: Beasts of Tarzan
St. John Illustrations
ERBzine 668
Chat 29: Son of Tarzan
Thoughts About. . . 
ERBzine 669
Chat 30: Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
Two Psychological Investigations
ERBzine 670
Chat 31: Jungle Tales of Tarzan I
A Novelistic Reading I
ERBzine 671
Chat 32: Jungle Tales of Tarzan II Novelistic Reading: 12 Lunar Labors
ERBzine 672
Chat 33: Tarzan the Untamed: 
Imaginative Deaths of Enemies
ERBzine 791
Chat 34: Tarzan the Untamed: 
ERB's Book of the Lion
ERBzine 792
Chat 35: OFs of OB
ERBzine 793
Chat 36:
Tarzan and the War Against the Hun
ERBzine 794
Chat 37: The Convolutions of 
Tarzan and the Golden Lion 
ERBzine 795
Chat 38: Tarzan and the Ant Men
An Infantile Romance
ERBzine-e 796
Chat 39: Tarzan and the Ant Men
Lacanian Analysis
ERBzine 843
Chat 40: Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins
A Story for Children of All Ages
ERBzine 396
Nkima'sChattering From The Shoulder
Main Introduction and Contents Page
ERBzine 844
Chat 41: Tarzan the Magnificent
Tarzan and the Magic Women Pt. 1

Issue 0666

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