Tuesday, January 17, 2012

YEAR 1933: QUEEN NEMONE



Edgar Rice Burroughs didn’t show a lot of interest in creating femmes formidables, but QUEEN NEMONE, Tarzan’s main opponent in the novel TARZAN AND THE CITY OF GOLD, surpasses the more long-lived LA OF OPAR.  Tarzan finds his way to the City of Gold, where the inhabitants breed tame lions and Nemone rules the citizens with an iron hand.  In a revision of the “Snow White” motif, Nemone ceaselessly persecutes any woman who might be thought more beautiful than she, but she has a vital weakness: she’s spiritually bonded to her pet lion Belthar and feels that she will die when the lion does. If this were an overt fantasy Nemone might be an earthly incarnation of Cybele, who tended to run around with lions, but here her bondedness is mere superstition (though the queen’s name bears an interesting similarity to the “Nemean Lion” of classical myth).  She fancies Tarzan, who plays it cool while secretly working to overthrow her tyranny.  At the climax Belthar attacks Tarzan but the lion is killed by Tarzan's own lion-ally, Jad-Bal-Ja.  In response Nemone stabs herself to death.  Though Tarzan never succumbed to her feminine wiles, the novel ends with him paying his respects at her graveside. 

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