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Speaking at the Centennial Celebration of the creation of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs on August 18, primatologist and global icon Jane Goodall recalled how in her childhood, the Tarzan books of Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired her to go to Africa, where she met the famed anthropologist Louis Leakey and began a journey that would see her evolve into the world’s pre-eminent primatologist.
“It was during the war years, there was no television of course, and very few opportunities to go the cinema–all we could afford were books from a used book store near our place,” recalled Goodall. One of the books was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes. Goodall was enthralled by the tale of a child raised by anthropoid apes and it was the Burroughs books that instilled in her the desire to go to Africa. ”My mother didn’t think I was crazy, although others did.” Her mother, a novelist, encouraged Goodall to hold fast to her dreams and that was what she did.
Commenting on the Tarzan story, Goodall noted that “it was a good thing that Tarzan found himself among these anthropoid apes, not chimpanzees. It’s possible….just possible that an ape could adopt a human, but not a chimpanzee.” A chimpanzee would have trouble carrying the child as he grew, and the child would not be able to cling to the mother as chimps are able to. With a large anthropoid, such an adoption could possibly occur.
Goodall acknowledged that she had a “terrible crush” on Tarzan, so much so that she was appalled and jealous of the “wimpy Jane” in the books, and felt that Tarzan clearly deserved a Jane much more along the lines of Goodall herself.
She also described her experience in seeing her first Tarzan movie. ”We rarely got to see movies in those days, money was difficult. But my mother arranged for us to see a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie. We went to the movie and after 10 minutes I ran to the lobby sobbing. My mother followed me — what’s wrong? she wanted to know. I told her ‘That Johnny Weissmuller, he’s not Tarzan.’ You see, Tarzan for me was Edgar Rice Burroughs character, so different from Johnny Weissmuller. I never saw Tarzan movies after that.”
In recent years Goodall has traveled as much as 300 days per year with her message of environmental stewardship, and she sees in Tarzan a character who has the potential to help her cause. ”Tarzan is a powerful figure who seeks the things we do, who understands. I think there is potential in the future for Tarzan to be a positive force in education and awareness.”
Gore Vidal died yesterday. This is an essay he wrote in 1967 for Esquire Magazine about Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan. (And thanks to MCR for reminding me of this in a comment on another thread.)
by Gore Vidal
There are so many things the people who take polls never get around to asking. Fascinated as we all are to know what our countrymen think of great issues (approving, disapproving, “don’t-knowing,” with that same shrewd intelligence which made a primeval wilderness bloom with Howard Johnson signs), the pollsters never get around to asking the sort of interesting personal questions our new-Athenians might be able to answer knowledgeably. For instance, how many adults have an adventure serial running in their heads? How many consciously daydream, turning on a story in which the dreamer ceases to be an employee of I.B.M. and becomes a handsome demigod moving through splendid palaces, saving maidens from monsters (or monsters from maidens: this is a jaded time). Most children tell themselves stories in which they figure as powerful figures, enjoying the pleasures not only of the adult world as they conceive it but of a world of wonders unlike dull reality.
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I’m probably going to start posting some of the pieces of John Carter and The Gods of Hollywood that are getting left on the “cutting room floor”. Here’s one. I really wanted to put a condensed version of APOM right into the text of the book and so I created this one, which is designed to make sure that readers, even if they haven’t read ERB, get a feel for the book that is the subject of all this.
But it really is just too much.
I have done a different version for the book. Five or six pieces of Burroughs writing with more summary. 2,000 words instead of 10,000. But here’s the full 10,000 word version, which I kinda miss, but it had to go.
Burroughs’ Martian Princess
Author’s Note: A reading of the actual text of A Princess of Mars, which is in the public domain, is an essential prerequisite to much of the discussion that will follow about the choices made by Andrew Stanton and his team in adapting it. While it is perhaps too much to expect readers of John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood to pause and read the entire book (although this would be ideal), it is perhaps not unreasonable to present an 8,000 word annotated condensed version of the 68,000 word novel, including full excerpts of many of the most memorable and important scenes and commentary designed to highlight key concepts and exmples of style. For those who have read the book but not recently, this will be two cups of coffee well enjoyed. For those who have not read it and are interested in understanding “what really happened” with John Carter — it is an essential component to ERB 101, and well worth the reading. To avoid SPOILERS, this version stops well short of the final resolution; however, for those who wish to avail of it, a linksto an online summary of the completion of the story is provided.
DEJAH THORIS, MARTIAN PRINCESS
by Normal Bean (Edgar Rice Burroughs)
To the Reader of this Work:
In submitting Captain Carter’s strange manuscript to you in book form, I believe that a few words relative to this remarkable personality will be of interest.
My first recollection of Captain Carter is of the few months he spent at my father’s home in Virginia, just prior to the opening of the civil war. I was then a child of but five years, yet I well remember the tall, dark, smooth-faced, athletic man whom I called Uncle Jack.
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Scott Tracy Griffin is an actor, author, and adventurer and is an internationally recognized authority on Edgar Rice Burroughs and his literary characters, including Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. He is the author of Tarzan: The Stories, The Movies, The Art, the official Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc centennial celebration book on 100 years of Tarzan. The book will be released on October 2, 2012 — you can preorder it now at Amazon on this link. Tracy was one of the participants in the panels and he’s provided us with a report:
100 Years of ERB in the Spotlight: The Tarzan Panels at Comic-Con
Edgar Rice Burroughs was well represented at Comic Con International in San Diego, July 11-15, 2012. The Centennial of Tarzan and John Carter was commemorated with a Tarzan cover on the events guide with art by Joe Jusko, several articles and original art commissions in the souvenir program book, and two panels.
The first panel, at noon Thursday, Jul. 12, featured David Lemmo, Thomas Yeates, Joe Jusko and Ron Ely, moderated by Mark Evanier. Every chair was filled, as eager attendees waited a half-hour for seats to become available. Ely regaled the capacity crowd with anecdotes from his years playing Tarzan for Banner Productions’ 1966-68 television series, while Yeates discussed his work on the Barnes and Noble Fall River Press edition of the Princess/Gods/Warlord of Mars trilogy and Lemmo gave a guided tour of the ape-man’s history via slide show. The finale of the panel was the unveiling by Jusko of an original Tarzan painting commissioned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
The second panel included Yeates, Jusko, novelist Robin Maxwell (“Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan”) and author Scott Tracy Griffin (“Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration”), moderated by Jim Sullos, President of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Incorporated. Sullos introduced the panel and recapped the corporation’s role in licensing books and art to commemorate the centennial. The panelists then presented a slide show covering the Tarzan franchise’s history in books, films, and art. In addition to Ron Ely celebrity contributors to the Tarzan franchise signing autographs at Comic Con included Casper Van Dien (Tarzan in “Tarzan and the Lost City”) and Olivia D’Abo (Jane in Disney’s “The Legend of Tarzan”).
Comic Con Guests of Honor included artists Jusko, Yeates, Mark Schultz, Gary Gianni, Larry Hama, Rudy Nebres, and writer Mark Evanier, all contributors to Tarzan and John Carter’s comic-book and prose adventures.The “Take Me Back to Barsoom” drive to incentivize a sequel to Disney’s feature film John Carter was also a prominent part of the convention, with a prime location at the convention hall’s entrance-way B. Cosplay attendees included a pair of Dejah Thorises, a Disney Jane, and a “Steampunk” Jane. Perhaps next year some Tarzans and John Carters will join the festivities to provide Burroughs fans with even more photo opportunities.
Dotar Note: And in case you missed the link in the intro — click on the image below and go to the Amazon page for Tracy’s book….
Andy Brigg’s “The New Adventures of Tarzan” is a modern day Tarzan tale authorized by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc, and The Guardian is now offering a free extract which is well worth a read. Here is the link to the Guardian’s chapter. Also, Andy has put a post up on his site which talks about why the book was delayed in getting to America … interesting.
UK Sci Fi Novelist Geoff Ryman has a nice piece at the SFX Book Club on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1912 “A Princess of Mars” which I think is worth sharing here. Also read the comments — some good ones there. Here are a couple of the comments, then the article. The comments quoted here are about Burroughs’ writing, not the article per se.
It has a real sense of adventure missing from a lot of modern fiction. The excitement is tangible. The whole thing reads like classic pulp (which I love) but is so intelligently written you feel a bit mean labelling it as such. It’s HG Wells meets Lester Dent.
And one more:
One of the nice things is the lack of the casual racism (and sexism) you get in a lot of books of that era. The Green Martians are weird-looking with unpleasant habits, but Carter regards them with interest and sympathy rather than as some kind of lesser species.
And now the article.
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS 1912
Geoff Ryman enjoys a buck-naked vision of life on Mars
Chicago is the secret creative capital of the USA. The Future was invented there – skyscrapers and elevated railways; Frank Lloyd Wright and L Frank Baum. From a Chicago suburb in 1911, Edgar Rice Burroughs sold the very first thing he ever wrote, the serial that became A Princess of Mars.
It used to work like this: from about age five you read the Oz books and, if you had a phantasmagorical turn of mind, when you got older, you read Burroughs. They formed a chain that led on to Wells, Verne and Amazing Stories.
A Princess of Mars starts out bristling with authority. A nephew remembers his mysterious uncle, who died and specified that he be buried in a vault that could only be opened from the inside. Chapter two starts with Uncle John Carter’s memoirs:
“I am a very old man: how old I do not know. Possibly I am a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect, I have always been a man…”
I challenge anyone not to read on.
The issue of whether or not Edgar Rice Burroughs put forward racist ideas and subtext in Tarzan and his other novels, including the Barsoom novels, is something that comes up from time to time and is worthy of some discussion and analysis. Here is an article from The Independent in 2009 that attempts to address the issue:
Moi Tarzan, toi Jane. If you visit the Eiffel Tower this summer, study the steelwork carefully, because you might see, or imagine you see, a familiar figure leaping from strut to strut. Tarzan of the Apes has taken up residence in the Musée du Quai Branly, the museum near the base of the Eiffel Tower, which is dedicated to non-Western – or, as some people insist, “primitive” – forms of art.
Paris may seem an unusual place to find the most learned exhibition about Tarzan, also known as Lord Greystoke, ever assembled. He was, after all, an English aristocrat and orphan fostered by socially responsible apes in the African jungle. He was the literary creation of an American writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs, who never bothered to visit Africa (and was so little steeped in African studies that his ape man wrestled tigers as well as lions). The museum has decided to de-construct the Tarzan myth as part of its mission to explore how popular Western culture understands, or misunderstands, non-Western cultures. Is Tarzan a sexist and a racist who subjugates Jane and treats black men like children? Is he a macho colonialist in a leopard-skin loincloth, rather than a pith helmet? Or was he the first ecological super-hero: a man in recyclable, locally-sourced clothes who fought to protect his pristine jungle from greedy commercial interests?
According to the curator of the exhibition, the celebrated French sociologist and anthropologist Roger Boulay, it depends which Tarzan of the Apes you are talking about. “There is a big difference between the original Tarzan of the Burroughs novels and the culturally impoverished Tarzan of Hollywood movies, starting with silent movies,” he told The Independent. “The Burroughs character is complex and eventually speaks 12 languages. The movie character is often a caricature who speaks only in grunts.”
I thought I’d provide an update on my progress on the book “Hollywood vs Mars”. I’ve been working on it 3-4 hours every morning and making good progress. The word count now stands at 79,262 and it’s looking like it should end up around 100,000 words, which people in publishing tell me is optimal. That would be 350 pages in a typical printed book format.
One of the things I’m struggling with, and could use some help on, is the subtitle. The main title, “Hollywood vs Mars” seems to be working well and I’m not envisioning changing it.
Here is what I have right now:
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Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote “A Princess of Mars” which forms the basis for Disney’s “John Carter”, was famously “selling pencil sharpeners” at the time he wrote this, his first novel. He equally famously he was later quoted: “I write to escape. To escape poverty.” In a 1945 magazine article he explains: “”Until I was thirty-five, I was a failure in everything I tried,” he began. “As a kid, I was thrown out of school, flunked the examinations for West point, and was discharged from the Regular Army with a weak heart. I failed in everything. When I got married I was making fifteen dollars a week in my father’s storage-battery business. When my second child was born, I had no job and no money. I had to pawn my wife’s jewelry and my own watch to buy food.”
In truth, Burroughs led an extraordinary life that had its share of failures and frustrations even after he wrote the immensely popular A Princess of Mars, (published from Feb-June 1912) and then the even more immensely popular Tarzan of the Apes a few months later. When he wrote his editor at Frank A Munsey, Thomas Metcalfe, to describe Tarzan he did so with typical ascerbic flair:
”The story I am now on is of the scion of a noble English house — of the present time — who was born in tropical Africa where his parents died when he was about a year old. The infant was found and adopted by a huge she-ape, and was brought up among a band of fierce anthropoids. . . . I am especially adapted to the building of the “damphool” species of narrative.”
Whenever I find myself delving into Burroughs’ life — two thoughts dominate: 1) Someone (me?) should make a movie about this guy, and 2) He’s at the top of my list of “wish I had shared a beer with” at some point.
Listen to Burroughs’ own description of his travails and failures around the time of A Princess of Mars. It takes the form of an outline which he prepared :
I get a job as Time Keeper on a construction job
I sell Stoddards lectures
I am a Flop
Get job as expert accountant
Office Manager for E. S. Winslow
Go to Sears
Go into business with Dentzer
Get job with Stace
Hulbert born about this time
Head aches for years — no vacation — lunches
Sell pencil sharpeners
Am just about ready to give up
Start writing A Princess of Mars
in corset jobbers office at Market & Monroe
Champlain Yardley Co
½ story accepted
My first check
Write Outlaw of Torn rejected
Get job with System
E. W. Shaw
Give up my job & decide to depend solely on writing
Everyone thinks I am crazy including myself
The rest, as they say, is history — but not really. Burroughs travails continued on many levels and in many ways. His stories were published but not as novels — they were serialized with great success in the pulp magazines of the day, but they were not initially considered proper material for book publication. One book publisher after another turned down Tarzan of the Apes even after its success as a serial, saying book readers of the day would never warm to a story of someone raised in so uncouth a fashion as Tarzan, Lord Greystoke.
But that’s another story for another day.
If you want to explore Edgar Rice Burroughs Biography online, the best resource by far is Bill Hillman’s Erbzine: Edgar Rice Burroughs Bio Timeline. Click on the image below to visit it:
Tagged with: edgar rice burroughs
As many of you know, I’ve got my head down writing a book that is now tentatively entitled “Hollywood vs Mars”, about the recent John Carter debacle and what path, if any, there is to a sequel. In it I’m “beginning at the beginning”, with Edgar Rice Burroughs sitting down to write A Princess of Mars in the fall of 1911. Yesterday I published an article by Burroughs himself that intrigued me and forms part of the research; today I would like to share one of my favorite scholarly articles on Burroughs — Thomas Bertonneau’s “Edgar Rice burroughs and the Masculine Narrative”.
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JOHN CARTER AND THE GODS OF HOLLYWOOD — BOOK TRAILER (WELL, FEATURETTE) . . .
Purchase an Author Signed Copy of the Amazon Best Seller
by Michael D. Sellers
Amazon #2 in Movies/History & Criticism
"A fair, factual, and enlightening assessment of what went wrong . . . the best corporate history I've read since Disney War." Daniel Butcher, Between Disney.
"A winning book . . . . I have no reservations in recommending John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood. Even if you only remotely hold an interest in the film or the moviemaking method, do yourself a favor and purchase this book. I cannot remember an instance when I read 350 pages of anything in 24 hours, but my level of captivation in how methodically and interestingly the content was presented should substantiate why John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood is a must-read. Grade A." Brett Nachman, Geeks of Doom.
"A must read for every fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Carter and every film buff intrigued by the 'inside baseball' aspects of modern Hollywood." Richard A. Lupoff, Author of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Master of Adventure
John Carter Fan Trailer 1 – by The John Carter Files | 210,000 Views
John Carter Fan Trailer 2 “Heritage” – by the John Carter Files | 150,000 Views
100 Years of John CarterA tribute to the artists who have interpreted John Carter
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