Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs

By Richard A. Lupoff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
Ancestors of Tarzan

In 1963 when I was working on the early chapters of this book I happened to mention to Mr. Camille Cazedessus, a leading Burroughs devotee, the presence of two likely sources for Burroughs' Martian series in the works of Edwin Lester Arnold. Cazedessus was highly interested in the find, and asked if I was aware that a similar source for Tarzan was known. I was not aware of such a source, and requested details.

Cazedessus referred me to our mutual friend Pastor Heins, but Heins denied knowing of such a source. Was he certain? Quite certain but oh, Cazedessus must be referring to Altrocchi: not a source of Tarzan, but a work dealing with possible sources of Tarzan, brought to Heins' attention by yet another Burroughs fan, Richard Wald.

Altrocchi, Heins explained, was Rudolph Altrocchi, a professor of Italian at the University of California. In 1944 Harvard University Press had issued Professor Altrocchi's book Sleuthing in the Stacks, “Strange information unearthed by a scholar turned sleuth.” Sleuthing, although hardly a very old book, happens to be a very scarce one, and apparently seldom read by Burroughs enthusiasts or science fiction people. Prior to writing the present work, I had never before seen reference to it in either field, having at that time read in the science fiction field for over twenty years and in the Burroughs field for a shorter period.

Fortunately I was able to borrow a copy from the personal collection of my friend and sometime employer Jack Tannen; in fact the copy is autographed. To my good friend Achmed Abdullah, in unfair exchange for hisNine Lives, from Rudolph Altrocchi, Harbert, Mich. Aug. 26,1944. (Abdullah was a popular pulp writer of the 1920s and 30s, specializing in oriental themes such as Mysteries of Asia, Steel and Jade, The Thief of Bagdad).

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