June 20, 1921— A. C. McClurg & Co. publishes TARZAN THE TERRIBLE, the eighth book in the Tarzan saga.
ONE OF THE BEST in the series, this story takes Tarzan into the hidden land of Pal-ul-don, searching for Jane, who has been kidnapped by a German officer during the East Africa campaign of 1914. Pal-ul-don is a world of enormous reptiles called gryfs and peopled by the primitive, hairy Tor-o-don, the black, cave-dwelling Waz-don and the white, hairless, priest-ridden Ho-don. Because all races have opposable big toes and prehensile tails, Burroughs termed them “pithecanthropus” (ape-man) since he was speculating a transitional form between the great apes and modern man. The Waz-don and Ho-don, though possessing different techno-cultures, are intellectually equal speaking the same language but having differing art and religions.
Burroughs, in the person of Tarzan, reflects on the the contrast between nature and degenerated civilization while meditating on the grandeur of the hidden and unspoiled land:
“What a paradise! And some day civilized man would come and — spoil it! Ruthless axes would raze that age-old wood; black, sticky smoke would rise from ugly chimneys against that azure sky; grimy little boats with wheels behind or upon either side would churn the mud from the bottom of Jad-in-lul, turning its blue waters to a dirty brown; hideous piers would project into the lake from squalid buildings of corrugated iron.…”
Tarzan also takes on the role of culture hero, becoming Tarzan-jad-guru as he destroys the age-old Ho-don religion of sun-worship and human sacrifice, bringing the Waz-don and the Ho-don into a more peaceful co-existence. Jane is shown as an extremely self-sufficient woman, acting on the knowledge of woodcraft she has learned from her life with Tarzan by making a shelter, fire, a spear and killing an antelope for sustenance.
This is also the book that introduces “The Great Korak Time Discrepency.” But that is another story for another time.
J. Allen St. John’s illustrations in this book are some of his best, pointing to the 20s as a high-point of his talent. There are nine beautiful black and white ink wash paintings in the book and a full color rendering of the frontispiece for the dust jacket. Half of these paintings are lost, apparently, with only five of the nine interiors known to be in private collections.