BURROUGHS, Edgar Rice


BURROUGHS, Edgar Rice
(1875-1950)
   US writer. Educated at Michigan Military Academy, ERB served briefly in the US Cavalry. His early life was marked by numerous false starts and failures - at the time he started writing, aged 36, he was a pencil-sharpener salesman - but it would seem that the impulse to create psychically charged SCIENCE-FANTASY environments was deep-set and powerful, for he began with a great rush of energy, and within two years had initiated three of his four most important series.A PRINCESS OF MARS (1912 All-Story Magazine as "Under the Moons of Mars" as by Norman Bean; 1917), a fantastic solution to mid-life frustrations, opens the long Barsoom sequence of novels set on MARS (Barsoom), which established that planet as a venue for dream-like and interminable sagas in which sf and fantasy protocols mix indiscriminately as a sort of enabling gear. The Gods of Mars (1913 All-Story; 1918) and The Warlord of Mars (1913-14 All-Story; 1919) further recount the exploits of John Carter as he battles with various green, yellow and black men and wins the hand of the red-skinned (and oviparous) princess Dejah Thoris. Starring different central characters, the series continued in Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1916 All-Story Weekly; 1920), The Chessmen of Mars (1922), The Master Mind of Mars (1928), A Fighting Man of Mars (1931), Swords of Mars (1936), Synthetic Men of Mars (1940), Llana of Gathol (1941 AMZ; fixup 1948) and John Carter of Mars (1941-3 AMZ; coll 1964). "John Carter and the Giant of Mars", in the last volume, was originally written as a juvenile tale with ERB's son, John Coleman BURROUGHS, and was later expanded by ERB. The standard of storytelling and invention is high in the Barsoom books, Chessmen and Swords being particularly fine; but critics tend not to accept the series as good sf. Although Carter's adventures take place on another planet, he travels there by magical means, and Barsoom itself is inconsistent and scientifically implausible. It is clear, however, that ERB's immense popularity has nothing to do with conventional sf virtues, for it depends on storylines and venues as malleable as dreams, exotic and dangerous and unending.The Tarzan saga is just as much sf (or non-sf) as the Barsoom series. Much influenced by H. Rider HAGGARD, ERB did not imitate one of that writer's prime virtues: his sense of reality. Tarzan's Africa is far removed from Allan Quatermain's, and has to be accepted as sheer fantasy, no more governed by the reality principle than Barsoom. Tarzan of the Apes (1912 All-Story; 1914), the story of an English aristocrat's son raised in the jungle by "great apes" (of a nonexistent species), was immensely popular from the beginning, and ERB continued producing sequels to the end of his career. In most of them Tarzan has unashamedly fantastic adventures-discovering lost cities and live dinosaurs, being reduced to 18in (46cm) in height, visiting the Earth's core, etc. The early The Return of Tarzan (1913 New Story; 1915), The Beasts of Tarzan (1914 All-Story Cavalier; 1916), The Son of Tarzan (1915 All-Story Cavalier; 1917) and Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916 All-Story Cavalier; 1918) are not among the best in the series, although Jungle Tales of Tarzan (coll 1919; vt Tarzan's Jungle Tales 1961 UK) is cleverly reminiscent of Rudyard KIPLING's two Jungle Books (1894, 1895). The best Tarzan novels came in the middle period: Tarzan the Untamed (coll of linked stories 1920), Tarzan the Terrible (1921), Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1923), Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924; rev 1924), Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1928), Tarzan and the Lost Empire (1929) and Tarzan at the Earth's Core (1930). Later the series deteriorated, becoming ever more repetitive: Tarzan the Invincible (1931), Tarzan Triumphant (1932), Tarzan and the City of Gold (1931 Argosy; 1933; cut 1952), Tarzan and the Lion Man (1934), Tarzan and the Leopard Men (1935), Tarzan's Quest (1936), Tarzan and the Forbidden City (1938; cut vt Tarzan in the Forbidden City 1940), Tarzan the Magnificent (fixup 1939) and Tarzan and the Foreign Legion (1947). Two posthumous books are Tarzan and the Madman (1964) and Tarzan and the Castaways (1939-41 various mags; coll 1965), neither of much merit. Two mildly interesting offshoots of the main series were The Tarzan Twins (1927; cut 1935; rev by other hands vt Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins in the Jungle 1938) and its sequel, Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-Bal-Ja, the Golden Lion (1936), both being assembled as Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins (omni 1963). Despite ERB's overproduction, Tarzan is a remarkable creation, and possibly the best-known fictional character of the century. Part of Tarzan's fame is due to the many film adaptations, particularly those of the 1930s starring Johnny Weissmuller; none of these are very faithful to the books.ERB's third major series, the Pellucidar novels based on the HOLLOW-EARTH theory of John Cleves SYMMES, began with At the Earth's Core (1914 All-Story Weekly; 1922) and continued in Pellucidar (1915 All-Story; 1923), Tanar of Pellucidar (1930), Tarzan at the Earth's Core (a notable "overlap" volume), Back to the Stone Age (1937), Land of Terror (1944) and Savage Pellucidar (1942 AMZ; fixup, incorporating 1 previously unpublished story, 1963). Pellucidar is perhaps the best of ERB's locales - a world without time where dinosaurs and beast-men roam circularly forever - and is a perfect setting for bloodthirsty romantic adventure. The first of the series was filmed disappointingly as AT THE EARTH'S CORE (1976).A fourth series, the Venus sequence - created much later in ERB's career - concerns the exploits of spaceman Carson Napier on VENUS, and consists of Pirates of Venus (1932 Argosy; 1934), Lost on Venus (1935), Carson of Venus (1939) and Escape on Venus (1941-2 Fantastic Adventures; fixup 1946). These books are not as stirring and vivid as the Barsoom series. A posthumous story, "The Wizard of Venus", was published in Tales of Three Planets (coll 1964) and subsequently as the title story of a separate paperback, The Wizard of Venus (coll 1970; vt The Wizard of Venus and Pirate Blood 1984). Two of the stories from Tales of Three Planets, "Beyond the Farthest Star" (1942) and the posthumous "Tangor Returns", form the opening of a fifth series which ERB abandoned. They are of interest because they are his only tales with an interstellar setting. The two stories were subsequently republished as a paperback entitled Beyond the Farthest Star (coll 1965).Of ERB's non-series tales, perhaps the finest is The Land that Time Forgot (1918 Blue Book in 3 parts; fixup 1924; vt in 3 vols under original part-titles: The Land that Time Forgot 1982, The People that Time Forgot 1982 and Out of Time's Abyss 1982), set in the lost world of Caspak near the South Pole, and cunningly presenting in literal form - for animals here metamorphose through evolutionary stages - the dictum that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. The book was loosely adapted into two films, The LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975) and The PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977). Also of interest is The Moon Maid (1923-25 Argosy All-Story Weekly as "The Moon Maid", "The Moon Men" and "The Red Hawk"; cut fixup 1926; vt The Moon Men 1962; vt in 2 vols and with text restored as The Moon Maid 1962 and The Moon Men 1962), which describes a civilization in the hollow interior of the MOON and a future INVASION of the Earth.Among ERB's other books, those which can be claimed as sf are: The Eternal Lover (1914-15 All-Story Weekly; fixup 1925; vt The Eternal Savage 1963), a prehistoric adventure involving TIME TRAVEL and featuring a character, Barney Custer, who reappears in the RURITANIAN The Mad King (1914-15 All-Story Weekly; fixup 1926); The Monster Men (1913 All-Story as "A Man without a Soul"; 1929), a reworking of the FRANKENSTEIN theme which should not be confused with The Man without a Soul (1916 All-Story Weekly as "The Return of the Mucker"; 1922 UK; vt The Return of the Mucker 1974 US), which is not fantasy or sf; Jungle Girl (1932; vt Land of Hidden Men 1963), about a lost civilization in Cambodia; The Cave Girl (1913-17 All-Story Weekly; fixup 1925), another prehistoric romance; and Beyond Thirty (1916 All Around Magazine; circa1955chap; vt The Lost Continent 1963), a story set in the 22nd century after the collapse of European civilization; along with The Man-Eater (circa 1955 chap), it was reprinted as Beyond Thirty and the Man-Eater (omni 1957).It has often been said that ERB's works have small literary or intellectual merit. Nevertheless, because their lack of realistic referents frees them from time, because their efficient narrative style helps to compensate for their prudery and racism, and because ERB had a genius for the literalization of the dream, they have endured. His "rediscovery" during the 1960s was an astonishing publishing phenomenon, with the majority of his books being reprinted regularly. ERB has probably had more imitators than any other sf writer, ranging from Otis Adlebert KLINE in the 1930s to Kenneth BULMER (writing as Alan Burt Akers) in the 1970s, with even a much later writer like Terry BISSON homaging him in Voyage to the Red Planet (1990). There have been no "official" continuations of his series, however, with the exception of Tarzan and the Valley of Gold * (1966) by Fritz LEIBER and Tarzan, King of the Apes * (1983) by Joan D. VINGE, the latter being more accurately described as a rewriting. When some UK paperback firms, like CURTIS WARREN with Azan the Apeman (Marco GARRON), attempted to capitalize on Tarzan, the ERB estate obtained injunctions halting publication. Later US attempts at similar series, like the New Tarzan books (1964-5) by Barton WERPER and Tarzan at Mars' Core (1977) by Edward Hirschman (1950-), were similarly dealt with. Serious sf writers who owe a debt to ERB include Leigh BRACKETT, Ray BRADBURY, Michael MOORCOCK (as Edward P. Bradbury) and, above all, Philip Jose FARMER, whose Lord Grandrith and Ancient Opar novels are among the most enjoyable latter-day Burroughsiana.
   DP/JC
   About the author: Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs (1962; rev 1964) by H.H. Heins; Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure (1965; rev 1968) by Richard A. LUPOFF; The Big Swingers (1967) by Robert W. Fenton; "The Undisciplined Imagination: Edgar Rice Burroughs and Lowellian Mars" by R.D. MULLEN in SF: The Other Side of Realism (1971) ed Thomas D. CLARESON; Tarzan Alive (1972) by Philip Jose Farmer; Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man who Created Tarzan (1975) by Irwin Porges; A Guide to Barsoom (1976) by J.F. Roy; Tarzan and Tradition: Classical Myth in Popular Literature (1981) by E.B. Holtsmark.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Burroughs,Edgar Rice — Bur·roughs (bûrʹōz, bŭrʹ ), Edgar Rice. 1875 1950. American writer best known for creating the character Tarzan in his novel Tarzan of the Apes (1914). * * * …   Universalium

  • Burroughs, Edgar Rice — born Sept. 1, 1875, Chicago, Ill., U.S. died March 19, 1950, Encino, Calif. U.S. novelist. Burroughs worked as an advertising copywriter before trying fiction. His jungle adventure novel Tarzan of the Apes (1914) became the first of 25 books… …   Universalium

  • Burroughs, Edgar Rice — (1 sep. 1875, Chicago, Ill., EE.UU. 19 mar. 1950, Encino, Cal.). Novelista estadounidense. Se desempeñó como redactor publicitario antes de dedicarse a la literatura. Su Tarzán de los monos (1914), novela de aventuras en la jungla, fue el primero …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Burroughs, Edgar Rice —    см. Берроуз, Эдгар Раис …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs — (* 1. September 1875 in Chicago, Illinois; † 19. März 1950 in Encino, Kalifornien) war ein US amerikanischer Schriftsteller. Burroughs schuf unter anderem den Dschungelhelden Tarzan …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs — Infobox Writer name = Edgar Rice Burroughs birthdate = birth date|1875|9|1|mf=y birthplace = Chicago, Illinois, United States deathdate = death date and age|1950|3|19|1875|9|1|mf=y deathplace = Encino, California, United States occupation =… …   Wikipedia

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Burroughs. Edgar Rice Burroughs Activités Romancier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs — noun United States novelist and author of the Tarzan stories (1875 1950) • Syn: ↑Burroughs • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author * * * Edgar Rice Burroughs [Edgar Rice Burroughs] …   Useful english dictionary

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Edgar Rice Burroughs Edgar Rice Burroughs Nombre Edgar Rice Burroughs …   Wikipedia Español

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. — Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. is an American company founded in 1923 [ [http://www.erbzine.com/bio/years20.html ERB LIFELINES BIO: 1920 1929 ] ] by author Edgar Rice Burroughs. The company holds the rights to the literary works of… …   Wikipedia

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs — Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.  американская компания, основанная в 1923 году[1] писателем Эдгаром Райсом Берроузом. Она является владельцем прав на книги Берроуза, а также на таких персонажей, как Тарзан и Джон Картер …   Википедия


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