By Phil Shannon
“Never once,” writes Fenton, “did Burroughs waver from his conviction that the English were the height of aristocracy.”
John Clayton, the son of Lord and Lady Greystoke who were abandoned by mutineers on the African coast, was raised as Tarzan by an ape-mother. He nonetheless remained the rightful heir of his father’s House of Lords seat.
Despite his loincloth and primitive ape-English, Tarzan bears the “hallmark of aristocratic birth, the natural outcropping of many generations of fine breeding.” Such breeding was forged and tested in the British empire’s wars (“the noblest monument of historic achievement upon a thousand victorious battlefields,” editorialises an enthusiastic Burroughs in one Tarzan story).
Burroughs, born in 1875 in Chicago, was a political conservative and a fanatical opponent of the labour and socialist movements. These sentiments are shared by Fenton, his biographer and admirer-in-chief.
The 540-acre property-owning Burroughs uses one Tarzan story to whine that “to be poor assures one of an easier life than being rich, for the poor have no tax to pay.”
Review of WARLORD OF MARS #1
Barsoom = Indian territory
Stereotypes in A Princess of Mars
Stereotypes in Tarzan of the Apes
I didn't know Burroughs was a conservative, but it doesn't surprise me. It's evident in his stories of white men who dominate savage and barbaric races.
And don't bother saying he was a product of his times. A few years after Burroughs was born, Helen Hunt Jackson wrote her more sensitive play Ramona. Jack London, who was born a year after Burroughs, became a socialist and also wrote more sensitively about Native people.