But the most striking features of the work – the encapsulated tensions in Tarzan between civilisation and the natural world, the freewheeling Martian imagination that gave birth to so many science-fictional progeny – have proved strong enough to withstand both the depredations of Burroughs’s pulp style and the slide into absurdity of his xenophobia.
By now, they are myths. And myths survive in the retelling.
Telegraph by Tim Martin
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” Edgar Rice Burroughs’s advice to writers has a certain pulpish doggedness about it, a whiff of never-say-die, but in fact success came almost instantly to the creator ofTarzan once he chose to pick up a pen.
Burroughs wrote his first story in 1911, at the end of a mess of failed careers: he had tried his luck in the military, pursued an unsuccessful gold dredging claim, run a stationery shop, worked for his father’s battery business and as a manager for Sears Roebuck, and done stints as a cowboy on a ranch and a nightwatchman in a railway yard.
At the age of 35, with a young family to support and a failing business as a pencil-sharpener salesman, he decided to try his hand at writing some of the fiction he admired in pulp magazines. “I made up my mind that if people were paid for writing such rot as I read,” he later wrote, “I could write stories just as rotten.”