E.R. Burroughs – “A Princess of Mars” (1912)

A Princess of Mars or Finding Your Place in the World

John Carter, the “cavalry captain from Virginia” has never found a place he could really belong to. The only place where he felt truly at ease was the battlefield, blood spilling red, blood pumping in his veins, always facing the danger head-on, always craving for action. John Carter of Earth is a spiritual son of Mars: “As I gazed upon it I felt a spell of overpowering fascination—it was Mars, the god of war, and for me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of irresistible enchantment.” Mars, planet of masculinity, aggressiveness, courage, decisiveness, and passion, “is the god of [his] vocation.” He is transported there almost as in a dream, and, by some strange twist of fate, he lives out the inner dream of almost every little boy in the world – to be super strong, super agile, to be better than the others, and everyone to admire him. Like an adult warrior version of Peter Pan, he stays forever young, in his Neverland of Mars: “(…) I have never aged as other men. (…) I have always been a man, a man of about thirty.”

The pioneering sense of the American frontier is transported to Barsoom. There are always strange lands to be discovered, strange people with weird cultures to meet, adventures to live, and great battles to be fought and won.

When John Carter loses the land of his dreams, finding himself returned to Earth against his will, he never stops looking for a way back. Back to his only love, his passion, back to the friendships won in the midst of battle, back to war, back to glory. Back home.

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 Works cited:

Burroughs, E.R. A Princess of Mars (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/62)


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