Letters of Comment
Philip Josť Farmer
(4106 Devon Lane - Peoria Ill. 61614)

    Leslie Fiedler's review of TARZAN ALIVE appeared in the Book Review section of the L.A. Times, April 23, 1972. As you will see it's actually more of a review/analysis of my career as a writer, or my motives, than of the Greystoke book. The goofy looking Tarzan riding the obviously phallic rocket ((used to illustrate the Times version of the article; see pages 10-14. -Ed.)) looks like the work of Wood, the MAD comic book illustrator. The first illustration, turned in by an artist whose name I do not know, was rejected. Not for its artistic or esthetic merits, or lack thereof, however. It showed Jane going down on Tarzan. Too strong for the L.A. Times, though I wouldn't be surprised to see it pop up in The Staffer(?). This is, if I remember correctly, the present title of the L.A. Free Press. Something like that anyway.
  I'm trying to get the original artwork for the first-offered illustration or at least a copy.
    Leslie Fiedler had been lecturing at the University of Illinois a few days before I returned home from my vacation in Salem, Virginia. (Where I was investigating rumors of the resurrection of the Confederate underground.) Fiedler phoned from the university and asked if he could visit me for several hours on May 7. Naturally I said yes. For those who don't know, Fiedler is a very distinguished literary critic, an instructor in English at the University of New York, Buffalo, and is author of the critical essay-collections; AN END TO INNOCENCE, LOVE AND DEATH IN THE AMERICAN NOVEL, and his recent THE STRANGER IN SHAKESPEARE. He has written several novels, and he is author of GETTING BUSTED, which recounts his experiences after being accused of having drugs on his premises without notifying the authorities.
    Fielder told me that his article in the Times was cut by the editors so as to change the sense of some sentences or deprive them of certain modifying clauses. He is also not responsible for the title of the piece. Fiedler feels that he "discovered" me. His companion on the trip told me that he has a nose for picking out talented writers years before anybody else finds them. I replied that I hoped that didn't mean I smelled badly.
    After reading the article I felt more like Kilgore Trout than ever. But I was pleased with it, even though I don't agree with some interpretations. On some counts, however, Fiedler struck home. He did make some errors in the publishers of some books and the prices, in saying that I'd been born in Peoria, and that I'd been in L.A. 25 years. But it's the spirit, not the letter that counts.
    Fiedler also read the New York Times review of TARZAN ALIVE, and he agreed with me that the reviewer did not understand the book and that, even though he made fun of it, he was obvioulsy fascinated by it.