Brian Bohnett Comments ERB-APA #37: A Reply

Thanks very much for including me in your commentary in issue #37.  I'm sorry the Tarzan chronology is not your cup of tea, but we all know there is no way any one person's writings will satisfy everyone.  I guess you and Bob Barrett often skip my contributions as Tarzan chronology is what I am all about.  Anyway, since you did comment I would like to make a reply to some of your remarks.

  1. You say, Tarzan was born in 1888.  That is an awful big assumption you make in five little words. The only thing is you did not convince me.  How about producing some research and prove it to me.
  2. You inform me that Tarzan Of The Apes is a fictitious story, no matter what Phil Farmer says.  Well, I guess we have to agree on this one, but in reality I'm sure Phil would too.  Or maybe we should ask Darell C. Richardson.
  3. "John Roy was right!  From this I assume you are talking about John's ERB-APA #9 article (Mis)use Of Time.  I am glad to see that you are a firm believer in the teachings of the master, John F. Roy.  John is the most accurate ERB researcher in his particular field that ever wrote, and I am sure my good friend Alan Hanson would agree.  If you stick with his provided information you want go wrong.  From your comments it is quite obvious you are one of those science fiction guys who enjoy the time hopping or alternate dimension thing. There is nothing wrong with this, because by times end, this was the very impression ERB, the author, was trying to suggest.
This was not the case, however in the beginning.  When ERB, the author, wrote the first book of the Greystoke chronicles, The Outlaw Of Torn, he did it in a manner as to make the reader think he was reading a history book of real world events. There was not one hint these events were occurring in an alternate universe.

When ERB, the author, penned the second volume of the Greystoke chronicles, Tarzan Of The Apes, he again described events that were occurring on the earth as we know it. Again there was not one instance of any science fiction going on at all.  

When ERB, the author, penned the third volume of the Greystoke chronicles, Jungle Tales Of Tarzan, he wrote of reality not of dimensions, just like the first two.

When we get to the fourth volume of the Greystoke chronicles, The Return Of Tarzan, one thing does go against everyday science.  I am talking about the Oparin's, which are half breed ape humans, which we know is impossible.  But...ERB still tells it in such a believable way in which the events, no matter how fantastic, was taking place in Africa on the planet earth.  There still is no implications of time portals or such.

Now comes the interesting fifth volume of the Greystoke chronicles, The Eternal Lover, which is surrounded by the two Mad Kings.  This is a very debatable subject because time travel is definitely brought into the Tarzan series.  Keep in mind, however, Alan Hanson has shown in his works that all the time travel stuff was merely a dream.  When you look at the Mad King books, which are the prequel and sequel to The Eternal Lover, they are done in a realistic manner with no science fictional time travel.

The sixth volume of the Greystoke chronicles, The Beasts Of Tarzan, again occurs without any kind of science fiction or time travel.  

The seventh volume, The Son Of Tarzan, events is based on the real world we live in.  This novel has its own problems fitting into the rest of the series dating, but it has nothing to do with time travel, parallel dimensions, etc.

The eighth volume, The Man Eater, a short story is also based in the world as we know it.

The ninth volume of the Greystoke chronicles is Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar, which takes us back to The Return Of Tarzan.  According to our everyday science the Oparians could not have been what ERB described and be earthly realistic.  Outside of this, however, the novel itself is based on everyday reality.

The tenth volume, Tarzan The Untamed, is also based on reality.

Then we begin the unrealistic volumes.  Volume eleven is, Tarzan The Terrible, were the ape man discovers Pal-ul-Don, or Land of Men.  There the jungle lord finds the waz-ho-don, which is black and white hybrids, and the tor-o-don, or beast like men.  Tarzan also finds a gryf which is a huge triceratops like reptile.

Volume twelve, Tarzan And The Golden Lion, returns to reality, except for the Oparians.

One could go all the way through the series and still not find any clues of time travel or parallel dimensions, but I have gone far enough to make my point.

Remember when we mentioned The Eternal Lover earlier.  There is a lot more to the story then told above.  Do you remember who was visiting Tarzan at that time?  Barney Custer and his sister, Victoria, from Beatrice, Nebraska.  But there was someone else there.  Edgar Rice Burroughs, the narrator, or John Cater's great nephew, if you prefer.  What was he doing there?

That is a very good question because ERB, the narrator, was a very busy guy just before showing up at the Greystoke plantation.  In 1912, the year Normal Bean's first book, Under The Moons Of Mars, was printed in magazine form, ERB, the narrator at the age of fifty-seven, goes to Africa to do some big game hunting.  While in Algeria he meets a Connecticut man, named David Innes, on the rim of the Sahara Desert. Innes claimed to have been at the earth's core for the past ten years, and he showed Carter his molar transportation vehicle, plus a creature called a Mahar which he claimed resided there.

After spending a week with Innes, ERB, the narrator, rushes to England where he purchased countless supplies for his new friend.  While there ERB, the narrator, told Inne's strange story to the Royal Geological Society but the story was not believed by them, and later, ERB, the author, published the story under the title of, The Earth's Core.  Just as his and Innes' needed supplies reached the end of the railroad tracks in Algeria ERB, the narrator, was recalled to America on important business.  There was little ERB, the narrator, could do but send Innes' supplies on ahead with a letter, and his American address.

We are not told what that important business is, but to make him leave during the middle of an adventure of such magnitude it must indeed have been important.  One logical explanation would be the return of John Carter.  We do know that offstage Captain Carter returns around this time period to give his great nephew the events of Thuvia Maid Of Mars.

Another explanation which research indicates is that ERB, the author, was contacted by agents of Lord Greystoke about the amazing coincidence between the October 1912, All Story Magazine publication of, Tarzan Of The Apes, and the real life of the English lord.  Naturally ERB, the author, had to explain that he got his story originally from ERB, the narrator.  It is then that the agents of Lord Greystoke requested ERB, the narrator, to visit the Greystoke plantation.

Even as, The Return Of Tarzan, becomes public ERB, the narrator, in the spring of 1913 is at the Greystoke plantation in British East Africa.  Exactly why ERB, the narrator,  is visiting in Eternal Lover, is publicly avoided, but big game hunting is very unlikely since the Virginian is never mentioned joining any hunts.  This fact supports that ERB, the narrator, is not there on one of his numerous vacations, because hunting is his favorite sport.

It is also doubtful ERB, the narrator, is visiting dear and close friends, because of the withholding of information on the Virginian's part.  The information I am talking about is the David Innes adventure. The occurrence in Algeria takes place less than a year before ERB, the narrator's, visit to the Greystoke plantation.

Yet, by the dialogue that is reported in, Tarzan At The Earth's Core, we are led to believe Greystoke is totally unaware of David Innes' existence.  Later when Jason Gridley tracks down the ape man for aid and relates the Innes story, Greystoke in no way acts as if he is familiar with the tale.  It is also interesting to note that during the telling of the tail, Jason Gridley makes no mention of being acquainted with ERB, the narrator.

From my studies I have reached the conclusion that ERB, the narrator's, first Greystoke visit was strictly heads up business.  That business was the publishing of, Tarzan Of The Apes.  Offstage, evidently a relative or close friend living in America, who knew the Greystoke's secret, spotted the story and informed the Englishman.  In turn an agent representing the Greystoke family contacted ERB, the author, in Chicago, who in turn contacted ERB, the narrator, in Algeria.  The necessary arrangements were made for ERB, the narrator, to visit British East Africa.


On this 1913 visit Greystoke and ERB, the narrator, reached an agreement off stage except-able to both. The Burroughs team would be allowed to continue their jungle series, as long as they made some efforts to protect Greystoke's true identity.  The Englishman and ERB, the narrator, also formed a communication channel so they could keep in touch.  From that time on the Burroughs team no longer stuck as close to the facts as they once did.  Therefore, ERB, the author's stories began to get fantastic with Tarzan The Terrible, Tarzan And The Ant Men, and so on.

What I am trying to say Brian is that if you believe that Tarzan was born in 1888, and is not our earth, dimension, or whatever it's ok., because at the end of ERB, the author's, career that is exactly what he portrayed.  The 'Burroughs Universe', of which John F. Roy was well aware of.

But on the other hand the Tarzan series can still be taken as occurring on the planet earth as we know it, because above I have shown you how it could be explained without using all those time warps that John does.  Therefore, when Phil Farmer, Alan Hanson, and myself write about Tarzan as if he were a real man living on our planet earth as we know it, we are not wrong neither.  It is called different perspectives.  I personally prefer Tarzan as being an earthling over existing in a science fiction universe.  Some don't.

Next you write, "by the way, in answer to your quest to Bill Waters, ERB obviously was seeing into the future when he wrote his story."  Well Brian I don't know where you came up with the ground work to form your assumption that ERB, the narrator, or ERB, the author, either one seen into the future so they could write, The Son Of Tarzan.  Please share your research with me on this speculation, because I have never found any indication that either men could see into the future.

You then follow with the statement, "After all, we cannot forget what happened between Ed and a young chap named Carson Napier."  First of all, who do you mean by Ed?  If you are talking about Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author from Chicago, Ill., he himself played no part in the stories.  He was merely the guy who took the information provided by ERB, the narrator from Virginia, and turned it into magazine stories.

Now if you are referring to Ed as being the narrator from Virginia who is John Carter's great nephew things change a bit.  You state, "Pirates Of Venus clearly makes reference to ERB having abilities that others did not.  Incredible hugh?'  It is true that ERB, the narrator, did have a special gift, but seeing into the future was not one of them as far as I know.  Carson described that gift as being "psychologically harmonious."  In short, Carson had been taught telepathy by an old Hindu named Chand Kabi and ERB, the narrator, happened to be a human receiver who could pick up Carson's mental projections.  This is a kindred of the very gift which allows ERB, the narrator, to communicate with his great uncle John Carter.

ERB, the narrator, sums it up better than anyone.  "Thus I am the medium through which the remarkable adventures of Carson Napier are being recorded on earth; but I am only that, like a typewriter or a dictaphone-."  I could find no basis for your assumption that ERB, the narrator, could see into the future.

Just for a tid-bit to keep in mind ERB, the author, also experienced a visit much like ERB, the narrator, did. ERB, the narrator, described his visit like this.  I sat up with a start just in time to see a female figure, swathed in what appeared to be a white winding sheet, enter my room through the door.  You will note that I say door rather than doorway, for such was the fact; the door was closed.   It was a clear, moonlit night; the various homely objects in my room were plainly discernible, especially the ghostly figure now hovering near the foot of my bed.

I am not a subject to hallucinations, I had never seen a ghost, I had never wished to, and I was totally ignorant of the ethics governing such a situation.  Even had the lady not been so obviously supernatural, I should yet have been at a loss as how to receive her at this hour in the intimacy of my bedchamber, for no strange lady had ever before invaded its privacy, and I am of Puritan stock.

"It is midnight of the thirteenth," she said, in a low, musical voice.

"So it is," I agreed, and then I recalled the letter that I had received on the tenth.

"He left Guadalupe today," she continued; "he will wait in Guaymas for your letter."

That was all.  She crossed the room and passed out of it, not through the window which was quite convenient, but through the solid wall.

ERB, the author's, experience was much different.  While working for his brothers in Idaho ERB, the author, was a bystander in a saloon when a fight broke out.  One way or another he managed to get in the way of a policeman's billy club and received a severe blow which hospitalized him. For a long time afterwards he complained of dizziness and reported having strange hallucinations. In later years he even wrote to the Boston Society for Psychic Research the following.

"In 1899 I received a heavy blow on the head which, while it opened up the scalp, did not fracture the skull, nor did it render me unconscious, but for six weeks or two months thereafter I was the victim of hallucinations, always after I had retired at night when I would see figures standing beside my bed, usually shrouded.  I invariably sat up and reached for them, but my hands went through them.  I knew they were hallucinations caused by my injury and did not connect them in any way with the supernatural, in which I do not believe."

Evidently ERB, the author, never fully recovered from this blow for throughout his adult years he was subject to nightmares.  These occurred regularly and were of the type familiar to many dreamers. These involved the kind of situation where some fearful creature or unidentified peril approached and aware of the approaching danger the dreamer desperately tried to escape but found himself paralyzed or his movement seemed to be in slow motion.

James Michael Moody