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Literature & Fiction

Tarzan of the Apes - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Tarzan of the Apes

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Book title: Tarzan of the Apes
ISBN: 0615139450
ISBN13: 978-0615139456
Publisher: Leanta Books, LLC (February 18, 2007)
Language: English
Category: Classics
Rating: 4.3/5
Votes: 548
Pages: 184 pages
More formats: doc mobi doc lrf

Tarzan of the Apes, perhaps the most famous writing of the legendary author Edgar Rice Burroughs, is released fully illustrated by Leanta Books. This book has almost 30 illustrations, all by renowned illustrator David W. Burton.
Reviews: (7)
There’s something about the character Tarzan that still resonates with people today even more than 100 years after he was originally created. Television shows, radio shows, feature films, comic book adaptations, animated shows, and animated features have all contributed to this mythic character, while also mostly leaving some of the more unpleasant stuff aside. It can certainly be troubling to some to go back to the source of it all, Tarzan of the Apes, only to discover that it is chock full of sentiments that today’s readers may take great offense to. The discussion of racism and sexism in this novel, and frankly, of many thousands of novels written in less enlightened times than our own, is valid and worth having, but I won’t be having it here. Readers sensitive to those topics may want to proceed into Tarzan with caution or not at all. That said…

I had a great time reading Tarzan of the Apes, but it is absolutely a pulp novel. The plot is well known to most, the details probably less so, but there isn’t anything ground breaking going on here. Or is there? It’s hard to say. On one hand, like I pointed out above, Tarzan has been around for over a hundred years now. That certainly doesn’t rank him in Shakespearean terms, but outside of Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, or James Bond, I can’t think of many other characters that have persisted quite like that, barring the entrance of comic book super heroes. Tarzan serves as a kind of model man for young boys – like the ultimate Boy Scout. The boy Tarzan, like many boys, is born and feels mundane until that first look in the water reveals he is actually special. And over time, he learns to do things others can’t. This is the super hero origin part of the story, and it begins early on. Tarzan becomes capable of physical feats that mere men are not while at the same time, the other side of him becomes the learned English gentleman. In many ways, he foreshadows Bruce Wayne and Batman, except the disguise for Tarzan is absent. He lost his parents, was an outsider, trains his mind and body to super human levels, then re-enters society as a regular man. Outside of the losing your parents part, it isn’t hard to imagine this journey as that of a young boy’s fantasy. That alone doesn’t seem like quite enough to carry a dime story novel for a century though. Is there more? I feel like the further men of our current culture are separated from their traditional primitive roles of hunter gatherer, the greater the need and difficulty finding value and meaning in one’s own existence becomes. In that sense, I feel like Tarzan speaks to all the guys out there that are mild mannered, sit at a desk all day doing accounting or insurance adjusting or whatever, and go home to throw something in the microwave, and just don’t feel fulfilled. They wish they could have their cake and eat it too. They want to hunt there food, trudge through the jungle back to home, and slap their kill down on the table. But they want tea too, and of course, Matlock’s coming on. Instead, they’ve got their fantasies. I think the current plague of zombie content fits this same void for modern audiences. It’s like the modern male wishes society were wiped away so he could reign supreme again. Except not really. It’s just a fantasy. It’s what books are for. I got to be Tarzan for a little while, but now it’s back to work for me. They don’t have showers in the jungle or wives to share a morning coffee with, but I have both, and I better not get complacent about it either… cause… you know… the zombies and stuff.
Wow...this work has been around for over 100 years now and is still going strong. The Tarzan character created by Burroughs has become an actual cultural icon and it would be difficult to find an individual of any age that does not have at least some idea of who he is/was even if they have never read this or the other books in the series.

While I have always been a bigger fan of his John Carter series, I never the less started reading all of the Tarzan books at a pretty early age back in the mid to late 1950s. I know my father, when he was a lad, read the same books and it was one of the few “literary” discussions I ever had with him. I was always a fanatical reader; he was not.

Anyway, this book Tarzan of the Apes and the other books in the series (about 25 I think) and all the comics and movies featuring the big guy, have had a tremendous impact on quite a number of generations of young boys, and to a great extent, young girls also. The modern reader will immediately pick up on the fact that these books are not what we currently consider ‘politically correct,” and as a matter of fact they are down right racist at times....although, after thoroughly researching the life of the author I have become convinced that he was not a racist, per se, but merely a creature of his times. The reader must remember when they were written and the attitude of the times.

These books were most certainly pulp fiction and fall into the same category of Doc Savage, Conan, and many others of that era. I personally love pulp fiction and have been hung up on it for decades. I have, in my private collection, copies of almost all of Burroughs’ and am always searching form different editions.

Anyway, the books were a delight when I was young and now that I am reading them (after numerous reads in the past) I find that I am still delighted. I recently reread the Mars series and the Venus series and the inner earth series, and am now re-enjoying the Tarzan books. (By the way – I have always hated the movies made from these books and have yet to see one that did the books justice...that is just me though.)
Once you get past the bombast of the period writing, the story is quite good. Parts of it are, of course, downright ridiculous in whole, and others are only mildly impossible. Our hero is superlative, too smart, learns to read by himself, with no possible reference points, and speaks French in a matter of days. Beside all that, this is a fun book. I just had to remind myself Burroughs was writing for an audience much less sophisticated than the jaded reader of today. I think it is good to occasionally read a book written long ago to experience attitudes and social norms that existed before our current time. This book is certainly one example. Although the author is not unkind in his portrayal of native Africans, or a domestic black slave, I still experienced a feeling of discomfort as I read these sections of the book. That it was not only acceptable, but perfectly normal to consider people of other races as less than the "white man" is hard to reconcile with modern thinking. And that the female lead was portrayed as the weak, fainting violet made me laugh as well. Remember what you are reading when you dive into this book, and sit back and enjoy.
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