Friday, August 12, 2016

The Tarzan Influence

I haven't seen the new Tarzan movie, but I'm interested in all things Burroughs, and I found this intriguing quote on

Remember what Ray Bradbury had to say about Burroughs?
"Edgar Rice Burroughs never would have looked upon himself as a social mover and shaker with social obligations. But as it turns out – and I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly – Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world. By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special.”
"Burroughs . . . probably changed more destinies than any other writer in American history. . . . I’ve talked to more biochemists and more astronomers and technologists in various fields, who, when they were ten years old, fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan and decided to become something romantic. Burroughs put us on the moon."

I think Bradbury was right. What writer was more influential?  What do you think?
Illustration: This is a special book for me, the first ERB novel I read. I was very young indeed. It deals with Tarzan finding a lost civilization of crusaders in Africa. There's a subplot about Arab poachers and slavers. Give your son a copy.


  1. Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), or later C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

    But this ignores the classics like the Annelid, Illiad, and Odyssey.

    Or simply the Bible that managed to serve as a source of science, law, and literature to the Founding Fathers of the United States.

    1. Hard to argue with any of that. Maybe we could just say the ERB influence is restricted to the time he was writing and a generation or two afterwards. He sure influenced me. though.

  2. Interesting assessment. I have a a few boys and girls in my household. Two of the boys like John Carter, but it's my 15 year old daughter that seems to get a lot more from the John Carter novels than the boys.

    She also loves the story of Charlemagne, the original Iron Man.

  3. Karl May. I must've read 40 of his books before I turned 14 years old.

    total number of copies published is about 200 million, half in German.

  4. I loved those books (this one especially). And the movies.

    Great memories and many lessons learned.

  5. I think I came to ERB too late – he was preempted by Heinlein's juvenile books.

    Red Planet – official corruption
    Between Planets – tyrannical government and rebellion
    Tunnel in the sky – maintaining a civilized culture

    And then there were the Winston Science Fiction books:
    Islands in the Sky – Clarke – practical uses of space
    Secret of the 9th Planet – Wollheim – head off them space invaders
    Storm over Warlock – Andre Norton – weird mind bending aliens
    Step to the Stars – Del Rey – traveling to the moon in a more realistic and long term manner – and the first real science fiction I ever read in about 3rd grade.

    Once you have done these it was hard to go to the 'magic' trip to Barsoom path.

  6. I ran across his Mars books when I was 11 and I was never the same.