Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Emperor’s No Clothes (The Making of a Princess of Mars, Week 6)

Of my many artistic decisions for this project, the subject of clothes and ornamentation remains a primary detail. In my ongoing study of Burroughs’ text for A Princess of Mars, I find that the idea of the Red Martians not wearing any clothes is not as straightforward as it may seem, though it seems to be one believed my many readers. My fellow Burroughs’ fans, I refer you to three excerpts from the manuscript:
“She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.” (Dejah Thoris, Chapter 8)
Perhaps Burroughs was referring to only Green Martians and Dejah Thoris at the time of her capture when he stated that they were without clothes. He evidently was not referring to all Red Martians, for later, we read:
“Again no Martian interfered with me, and tearing a piece of silk from my cape I endeavored to staunch the flow of blood from her nostrils.” (John tending to Dejah, Chapter 10)
“The chill of the Martian night was upon us, and removing my silks I threw them across the shoulders of Dejah Thoris.” (John caring for Dejah, Chapter 13)
So, in effect, some Red Martians did wear clothes at times. Perhaps they did at night when the temperature dropped, and surely in the regions nearer the Poles. Or, Burroughs did not consider the word apparel to cover capes or what seems to possibly be a silk wrapping of some type, perhaps similar to a toga. Or perhaps he simply loosened the idea of clothing as the novel went on. Who can say?
Fortunately, this ambiguity serves me as an artist, allowing me to stay true to the novel while granting me license to do what will best serve the visual images!
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Robert Zoltan
June 2nd, 2017

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