Wednesday, 20 April 2016
The Great And The Good
However, a writer can be popular and prolific while lacking quality and depth. Edgar Rice Burroughs' principal accomplishment seems to be that he created several characters and settings that were eminently adaptable to visual media. Tarzan, John Carter, the Earth's Core and the Land that Time Forgot have all been big-screened. However, ERB's characters and societies are uni-dimensional. Heroes are physically fearless. Villains are callous and cowardly. Rulers are just or tyrannical.
Poul Anderson created filmable characters, not yet filmed, and excelled in all the ways in which ERB lacked. My copy of ERB's Beyond The Farthest Star (New York, 1964) advertises a Burroughs Bibliophiles club and three magazines: ERB-dom, The Barsoomian and ERBANIA. Needless to say, I believe that Anderson deserves all this and more.
In his introductory blurb, Donald Wollheim describes ERB as "...this great writer." The Afterword acknowledges that ERB is "...not fully recognized by some critics and libraries..." (p. 126). Surely it should be recognized that ERB is good at action-adventure fiction but not "great" as a writer? What is Anderson's status? At least "very good" at action-adventure fiction and at much more than that.
ERB wrote 68 books. Does anyone know Anderson's total?