I meant to post this earlier- Richmond Magazine writer Harry Kollatz Jr. explaining how Pixar’s latest connects to a Richmond cemetery mausoleum, or how the American Civil War met Mars, or how…well, here’s an excerpt (but you should really just *click here* to read his entire post on John Carter craziness): In Burroughs’ telling, a […]
I meant to post this earlier- Richmond Magazine writer Harry Kollatz Jr. explaining how Pixar’s latest connects to a Richmond cemetery mausoleum, or how the American Civil War met Mars, or how…well, here’s an excerpt (but you should really just *click here* to read his entire post on John Carter craziness):
In Burroughs’ telling, a telegram of March 4, 1886, summoned him to the Hudson River cottage of his uncle, Capt. John Carter, in New York state. But Burroughs learned that Carter, the direct descendant of Robert “King” Carter (1663-1732) of Shirley Plantation and a Confederate cavalry officer, had died that morning. Burroughs discovered in the cottage’s safe his uncle’s will, a hefty manuscript and detailed burial instructions. In accordance with these, Burroughs writes, he removed the body to the “strange mausoleum in the old cemetery at Richmond.”
Among Richmond’s “old” graveyards were Shockoe Hill at Hospital and Second streets, opened in 1822, and Hollywood, laid out in 1848. Hollywood is the likely candidate for a “strange mausoleum.” (And the name is prophetic, considering that John Carter has finally gone Hollywood.)
The burial directions included that Carter be laid in an open casket and that “the ponderous mechanism which controlled the bolts of the vault’s huge door be accessible only from the inside,” as Burroughs wrote in 1918.
(My guess is that none of these details are in the film; maybe if it had been adapted by a cable network and shot like a Merchant-Ivory production or the 1984 release Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan of the Apes.)
Weirder than Carter’s elaborate last wishes, though, were the papers he’d entrusted to Burroughs. The narrative within described 10 years of adventuring on Barsoom — otherwise known as Mars — fighting for and against four-armed green men and, after numerous battles, marrying “the ever beautiful Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium,” not to mention becoming the great friend of Barsoomian warrior Tars Tarkas. Carter became a prince of the house of Tardos Mors and jeddak (emperor) of Helium on Barsoom.
Burroughs, a failure in almost every pursuit, began submitting “edited portions” of Carter’s writings as serialized fictionalized shorts in pulp magazines in 1912. These stories accumulated into 11 books published between 1917 and 1964.
Cue the movie trailer: