Brother Men: The Correspondence of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Herbert T. Weston

Duke University Press
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Brother Men is the first published collection of private letters of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the phenomenally successful author of adventure, fantasy, and science fiction tales, including the Tarzan series. The correspondence presented here is Burroughs’s decades-long exchange with Herbert T. Weston, the maternal great-grandfather of this volume’s editor, Matt Cohen. The trove of correspondence Cohen discovered unexpectedly during a visit home includes hundreds of items—letters, photographs, telegrams, postcards, and illustrations—spanning from 1903 to 1945. Since Weston kept carbon copies of his own letters, the material documents a lifelong friendship that had begun in the 1890s, when the two men met in military school. In these letters, Burroughs and Weston discuss their experiences of family, work, war, disease and health, sports, and new technology over a period spanning two world wars, the Great Depression, and widespread political change. Their exchanges provide a window into the personal writings of the legendary creator of Tarzan and reveal Burroughs’s ideas about race, nation, and what it meant to be a man in early-twentieth-century America.

The Burroughs-Weston letters trace a fascinating personal and business relationship that evolved as the two men and their wives embarked on joint capital ventures, traveled frequently, and navigated the difficult waters of child-rearing, divorce, and aging. Brother Men includes never-before-published images, annotations, and a critical introduction in which Cohen explores the significance of the sustained, emotional male friendship evident in the letters. Rich with insights related to visual culture and media technologies, consumerism, the history of the family, the history of authorship and readership, and the development of the West, these letters make it clear that Tarzan was only one small part of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s broad engagement with modern culture.

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About the author

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875–1950), most well known as the author of the Tarzan books, was one of the bestselling American authors of the early twentieth century. Millions of copies of his books sold during his lifetime.

Herbert T. Weston (1876–1951) was a businessman in Beatrice, Nebraska.

Matt Cohen is Assistant Professor of English at Duke University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Apr 13, 2005
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9780822386469
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Literary Figures
Literary Collections / Letters
Literary Criticism / American / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From a lofty perch Tarzan viewed the village of thatched huts across the intervening plantation. He saw that at one point the forest touched the village, and to this spot he made his way, lured by a fever of curiosity to behold animals of his own kind, and to learn more of their ways and view the strange lairs in which they lived. His savage life among the fierce wild brutes of the jungle left no opening for any thought that these could be aught else than enemies. Similarity of form led him into no erroneous conception of the welcome that would be accorded him should he be discovered by these, the first of his own kind he had ever seen. Tarzan of the Apes was no sentimentalist. He knew nothing of the brotherhood of man. All things outside his own tribe were his deadly enemies... from Chapter X: The Fear-Phantom Edgar Rice Burroughs created one of the most iconic figures in American pop culture, Tarzan of the Apes, and it is impossible to overstate his influence on entire genres of popular literature in the decades after his enormously winning pulp novels stormed the publics imagination. Tarzan of the Apes, first published in 1912, is the first installment of Burroughs tales of the ape-man, which would expand to encompass more than two-dozen books. Here, an English boy orphaned in Africa is raised by apes, becoming a fearsome creature of the jungle until he discovers his true identity as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, and make his first tentative forays back into human civilization, through his love for the only human woman he has ever seen, Jane Porter. American novelist EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS (18751950) wrote dozens of adventure, crime, and science-fiction novels that are still belovedtoday, including At the Earths Core (1914), The Beasts of Tarzan (1916), A Princess of Mars (1917), The Land That Time Forgot (1924), and Pirates of Venus (1934). He is reputed to have been reading a comic book when he died.
Rikers Island is the centerpiece of the New York City Department of Corrections, a sprawling prison city of concrete and steel with housing for more than 16,000 inmates. Early in 1995, it was also the temporary home of legendary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, incarcerated for a crime he swore he did not commit. And it was there that Angela Ardis, acting on a late-night wager among her friends and coworkers, sent a letter, along with a photo and her phone number. To her utter delight and amazement, Angela's phone rang a short while later. Tupac Shakur was on the line.

Over the next several months, Angela and Tupac shared a near-daily exchange of letters, poems and phone calls, and their the relationship quickly grew into something neither of them could quite define, a kinship of souls that touched each in unexpected ways. Those original poems and letters, many of them written after Tupac's transfer from Rikers to Dannemora State Prison, are presented here, along with the increasingly passionate and personal phone calls that touched on every subject imaginable. Far from the media spotlight, Tupac was by turns playful, sensual and serious, offering sharp observations on prison, music and the uncertainties of life. His letters to Angela reflect how he felt about being shot five times and left for dead one terrible night in New York in 1994, and his heartfelt verse encapsulates his dreams for the future--a future that would be so tragically cut short just over eighteen months after their correspondence began.

Tupac Shakur was shot on September 7th, 1996 and died a week later from his injuries. His murder remains unsolved, an ending as enigmatic as his life. But while Tupac may be gone, his words live on here, giving every fan a rare glimpse inside the mind and unbroken spirit of a passionate and unpredictable musical icon.

Angela Ardis is an author, screenwriter, actress and model.
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