Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ very first novel, A Princess of Mars, is 101 years old. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of his most famous book, Tarzan of the Apes. I’ve just finished re-reading Princess–and after all these years, it’s still a gem.
One aspect of it deserves special mention: to this day, A Princess of Mars remains one of the most potent refutations of communalism ever written.
The Green Martians have been communalists for untold ages. Having done away with marriage, the family, and private property, they have become cruel, joyless, hateful, and dull. At some point in their ancient history, they must have been ruled by “progressives” who seduced them with a scheme for achieving radical egalitarianism. They achieved it, all right.
When Burroughs started writing this in 1911, what did he know of communalism? Why did he make it a major theme of his first book? Or was this just another one of those extraordinary insights which God grants to artists? Certainly there are anointed Experts among us today who wave their credentials in our faces and preach the abolition of marriage, the family, and even “gender.” Some of us don’t realize that they’re crazy.
Because of what they’ve done to their own culture, Burroughs’ Green Martians are more bestial than the beasts.
Take a good, hard look at what’s being done to our culture, and tell me he was wrong.
4 comments on “A Gem from Mars”
That is amazingly prescient, to say the least.
This article on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter On Mars” stories
[ “Barsoom” 🙂 ] brought back so many wonderful memories: I had all the “JCOM” books when I was young (I’m 67 now). I’m very interested in your analysis of the Green Martians society, which I thought (the analysis) was very illuminating and intriguing . . . I would love to read these wonderful books again, but I probably won’t . . . those books are long gone and lost to me . . . I also had all the “Tarzan” books . . . Sigh . . . good times in my young life! My love for those books were eventually eclipsed by “The Lord Of The Rings” and the “Narnia” books . . . and my Bible!!!!!
–By the way . . . do I remember correctly that you wrote that you read the “Freddy The Pig” books? –and did you ever read Ernest Thompson Seton’s “Wild Animals I Have Known”? Those were my favorite Bookmobile Books from my elementary school days!
I still read Freddy, and I read “Wild Animals” several times as a boy. I don’t know why–most of those stories had unhappy endings for the animals.
The good news is that all of ERB’s novels are still in print and easily obtained through amazon and other used book services online. Go for it!
I was so intrigued by the way Burroughs described communism before the era of the Bolsheviks. It reminds me of the prescience Jules Verne.