When my father, James Dickey, was a boy in the 1930s he read every bit of pulp fiction by Edgar Rice Burroughs that he could get his hands on. He liked Tarzan, but his favorites were the Mars books (basis for the recent mega-flop John Carter) and the Pellucidar series “at the Earth’s core.” The books were reissued in the early 1960s, some of them by Ballantine, some by Ace. The latter had magnificent covers by the late, great Frank Frazetta. These three seem to be the only ones I saved.
The best single essay on ERB ever written, by the way, was this piece Gore Vidal published in Esquire in 1963:
‘There are so many things the people who take polls never get around to asking. Fascinated as we all are to know what our countrymen think of great issues (approving, disapproving, “don’t-knowing,” with that same shrewd intelligence which made a primeval wilderness bloom with Howard Johnson signs), the pollsters never get around to asking the sort of interesting personal questions our new-Athenians might be able to answer knowledgeably. For instance, how many adults have an adventure serial running in their heads? How many consciously daydream, turning on a story in which the dreamer ceases to be an employee of I.B.M. and becomes a handsome demigod moving through splendid palaces, saving maidens from monsters (or monsters from maidens: this is a jaded time). Most children tell themselves stories in which they figure as powerful figures, enjoying the pleasures not only of the adult world as they conceive it but of a world of wonders unlike dull reality. Although this sort of Mittyesque daydreaming is supposed to cease in maturity, I suggest that more adults than we suspect are bemusedly wandering about with a full Technicolor extravaganza going on in their heads. Clad in tights, rapier in hand, the daydreamers drive their Jaguars at fantastic speeds through a glittering world of adoring love objects, mingling anachronistic histories worlds with science fiction. “Captain, the time-warp’s been closed! We are now trapped in a parallel world, inhabited entirely by women, with three breasts.” Though from what we can gather about these imaginary worlds, they tend to be more Adlerian than Freudian: The motor drive is the desire not for sex (other briefer fantasies take care of that) but for power, for the ability to dominate one’s environment through physical strength. I state all this with perfect authority because I have just finished reading several books by the master of American daydreamers, Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose works today, as anyone who goes into a drugstore or looks at a newsstand can see, have suddenly returned to great popularity.’…
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/gore-vidal-archive/tarzan-revisited-1263#ixzz1rQfVsVHR
“The Master of American Daydreamers” - now that is a sobriquet to envy.