Comparing Narrator Notes

The first Burroughs scholar, to my knowledge, to point out that ERB, the writer (1875-1950), and ERB, the narrator (1855-still alive in 1968) were different people was John F. Roy.  His article The Legendary Edgar Rice Burroughs Master Of Time appeared in ERB-dom #11, August 1964.
John F. Roy traces the narrator's life through the forwards, introductions, and prologues of the books themselves.  This long ago discovery was a major break through in chronicling Burroughs' stories. The article is very interesting and very thorough, as is Mr. Roy's custom.

In Erbania #39, summer 1976, William R. Rennagel uses a far different approach.  He theorizes...

  1. Our own world is only one of a number of worlds that are sideways in time one to another.
  2. Tarzan's world is exactly the same as ours, except in comparatively few respects in which ERB has clearly described as being different.
  3. Tarzan's world is presumably identical with the world of all heroes and heroines whose adventures do not take them and their associates to far from what is known to be possible in our own world.
  4. There are also other worlds, different from both our own and Tarzan's, to accommodate all settings that cannot be satisfactorily fitted into the world of most heroes and heroines.
When I wrote the article, ERB, The Narrator, Tarzine #34, May 1985, I followed John F. Roy's lead and presented ERB, the author, and ERB, the narrator, as being different men.  The author being the true life ERB, and the narrator being the fellow that actually participates in the events that occur in the novels.  I personally favored this approach so I could keep Tarzan as an earthling, and existing on the earth as we know it. 

Going a little deeper than John F. Roy, I theorized the author and narrator were actually secret business partners.  If you will notice, when Lord Greystoke contacts the author in 1913 about the Tarzan All-Story magazine, who goes to Africa?  The narrator, not the author.  When the author moves to California in 1919, the narrator abandons his Virginia plantation and goes also.  When the author goes to Hawaii in 1940 as a war correspondent, the narrator ends up there as a vacationer.  I feel these instances are far to numerous to be a coincidence.

I would like to go on record as stating that although I personally chose the approach of Tarzan being a real life man on the planet earth as we know it, the alternate dimension theory presented by William R. Rennagel is also acceptable.  I personally felt that the majority of fans preferred Tarzan as being a real life man on the planet earth as we know it, instead of another dimension counterpart.  In the 'Burroughs Universe' perspective, however, William R. Rennagel's science fiction theories will prove more closer to the truth.



James Michael Moody

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