Thanks very much for the last 2 RQ. On reading the first part
of Dr. Mullen's article on Haggard/ERB, I wrote a long critique of his
critique (though his is actually more a listing than a critical
article). But I decided to wait until I'd read the first three before
sending in my comments.
We should all be grateful for Mullen's lists and for your
printing of It. Future articles on ERB will undoubtedly rely heavily
on this handy reference. And I notice that Leslie A. Fiedler has read
the listing Mullen did In a previous issue (can't lay my hands on it
just now to give title and date of publication). Fiedler referred to
the scholer who did it, without naming him, in his recent article on
Tarzan in the Now York Times Book Review section...
I have some hopes that the final article by Mullen will do
more than list ERB's and Haggard's faults. I hope he isn't one of
those critics who think it's the criticts function to ignore a writer's
virtues. Such critics are, figuratively, and perhaps literally,
half-assed. I rather think, though, that Mullen finds no merit whatever
in these two authors, and so we will not learn from him that Jung,
Henry Miller, and others have paid tribute to the abidingness of
Haggard as a showor-forth of immortal archetypes. Nor will Mullen have
perceived (as Fiedler does) why ERB's Tarzan is an immortal literary
figure. But I may be wrong. Let's hope so.
Fiedler mentioned me in the article as the world's greatest
authority on Burroughs. If he'd said I was the greatest authority on
Tarzan, he'd have been right. But I disclaim and deny any statement
that I am the world's greatest authority on Burroughs. There are
others, John Roy, Reverend Heins, Reverend Richardson, Frank Brueekel,
Coriell, Cacadessus, and Mullen, who have made a far closer study of
the complete works of Burroughs.
Also, when I may that I know more of Tarzan than anybody
else, I must qualify even that statement. Lord Greystoke himself, and
his family and a few close friends, know more about him than I do.
However, some of the truth about him was revealed in my biography of
Groystoke. And more is about to be revealed. From time to time, I got
a package in the mails. They're always from the same person, but the
mailing addresses are different, and there is no return address. These
contain extracts from Greystoke's memoirs, the first batch of which
will be in my anthology, Mother Was a Lovely Beast, Chilton
Press, Oct., 1974. One of the interesting items in the extracts is the
explanation of how Greystoke was able to assume his counin's title
without any publicity whatsoever. It's such a simple explanation, and
an inevitable one, too, yet no one had ever guessed it.
This revelation, by the way, is going to force me to revise
certain parts of my biography of Greystoke.
I also reveal that my interview with Lord Greystoke did not
actually take place in Libreville, Gabon, as stated'in the Esquire
article. Greystoke had asked me to give this city as the interview
site, instead of Chicago, where it actually took place. He did not
explain why he wished me to put the interview in Libreville nor did he
explain why he will now allow me to give the true place. Apparently he
had good reasons, but it's not up to me to ask him what they are.
Especially since I don't have his address.
I now have the latest extracts, which describe what really
happened between him and La (or the woman whom Burroughs calls La). The
two versions, alas, differ considerably, and Greystoke himself is not
bound by any of BurrouhgsVictorian-Edwardian inhibitions and
You might be amused by a forthcoming book of mine, a pastiche
in which Watson and Holmes meet Greystoke. And encounter G-8 and the
Shadow on the way to Cairo to capture Van Bork. It also describes how
Holmes solves the mystery of what happened to the Zu-Vendis
civilization shortly after Allen Quatermain's MS was receieed by his
agent, H. Rider Haggard. Not to mention Holmes's anticipation of van
Frisch's discovery of bee "language." The Adventure of the Peerless
Peer, The Aspen Press, September, 1974.
I got a letter from Bill Blackbeard some months ago. Among
other matters he mentioned that a lot of people didn't like my theory
(in Tarzan Alive) that G-8, the Shadow, and the Spider were
three different personalities of ... Richard Wentworth. For those who
are interested I've reconsidered the evidence (especially the
chronological) and have abandoned that theory (which was actually more
speculation than theory). But I cling steadfastly to my belief that G-8
was mad as Alice's hattor. However, he did have his lucid moments.
Also, I got many letters, from people who want to know where
they can get copies of my Essex House books. These have long been out
of print, but Vernell Coriell is going to reprint A Feast
Unkown, probably somtime this year. Later, The Image of the
Beast and Blown. These will be illustrated by Richard Corben
and will be issued by the Fokker D-LXIX Press, a subsidiary of the Acme
Thanks again for the RQ and I'll send my comments on Mullen's
articles after I get the third part.
Philip Josť Farmer
Expectations of a part three were raised, perhaps, by the
conclusion's being given at the very start, which left an apparent gap
in the final pages (of part two) where a conclusion usually belongs.//
On the failure to list virtues--there was no claim to a "complete"
appraisal. Just a discussion of the "Victorian-Edwardian inhibitions
and conventions" (in Mr. Farmer's phrase) that restricted--or failed
to restrict--each author. Dr. Mullen stated that the fin
de siecle audience was less inhibited than that of the
early 2Oth but to me this seemed a purely rhetorical device: the essay
convinced me, at least, that ERB was totally bounded by the genteel
tradition and that HRH was not.