I remember my dad reading all of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books when I was a kid, mostly because I thought the covers were cool, but also because I loved watching the animated TV series of Tarzan back in the day. I've seen several movie versions of Tarzan since, my favorite being The Legend of Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard.
So while I'd long been familiar with the general story of Tarzan, I'd never read any of Burroughs' original books. Then I saw there was a category for "A Classic About an Animal, or With an Animal in the Title" on Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge this year, and I immediately knew I wanted to read Tarzan of the Apes for it. And I'm so glad I did.
It was written in 1914, so it has that distinctly old-fashioned narrative style, but it's still a very fun read. It chronicles how John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, and his wife, Alice, are marooned in Africa, how they lived, gave birth to a son, and then died, and how Kala, an anthropoid ape, raised Tarzan as her own. He grows up among the apes, but is never fully one of them. He knows and understands that animal instinct and savagery, but his higher intellect allows him to learn and think things the apes cannot--like how to use a rope and knife, and even how to read and write. And he struggles to find his place in the world--he may be Tarzan, King of the Apes, but he's very conscious that he's also a man. And he longs to develop that side of him.
The young Lord Greystoke was indeed a strange and warlike figure, his mass of black hair falling to his shoulders...the fire of life and intelligence in those fine, clear eyes... His straight and perfect figure told at a glance the wondrous combination of enormous strength with suppleness and speed. A personification, was Tarzan of the Apes, of the primitive man, the hunter, the warrior... But there was that which had raised him far above his fellows of the jungle--that little spark which spells the whole vast difference between man and brute--Reason.
"Tarzan is not an ape."
I have to admit, my favorite parts of this book were in the second half when Tarzan first sees Jane, and when he saves her, and falls in love with her. I didn't love it quite as much when he loses her and has to follow her to America, only to lose her again for dumb but noble reasons on both his and Jane's part. (Which means he doesn't get together with Jane until the next book, The Return of Tarzan and, of course, my library doesn't have a copy of that one!) Despite that small annoyance, I did really enjoy reading this book. And I like Tarzan even more than I did before. Especially when he's with Jane.
From the trees Tarzan of the Apes watched the sweet face and graceful figure of Jane Porter. In his savage, untutored breast new emotions were stirring. ... But the girl, ah... He knew that she was created to be protected, and that he was created to protect her.
I never read the books themselves but when I was about 10 - 12 years old I was addicted to Tarzan comic books. Comic books were a big thing in my world in those days. I bought every new Tarzan comic that came out. How I loved those stories! I dreamed of going to Africa and living in the jungle just like Tarzan and maybe with Tarzan.ReplyDelete
:D I can understand the appeal of Tarzan. And those Tarzan comic books sound like they were a lot of fun.Delete
Pretty fun, isn't it? I haven't read it in a long time, but I remember it as fun. And I love the cover on the Penguin.ReplyDelete
I don't know if you use it, but you can get the Return of Tarzan at Gutenberg--that's how I've read Burroughs lately, though mostly that's the Mars ones.
Oh, that's a good idea! I hadn't thought of that. Thanks. :)Delete
How did I miss Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan? I've gotta add this movie to my watchlist. And I need to read the original book sometime too.ReplyDelete
It's an awesome movie! But then, I am a fan of Alexander Skarsgard. :)Delete
Haha, "Me Tarzan You Jane" is one of my favorite OTPs in fiction. I used to stock up Tarzan comics and gobble them up! I have also watched several Tarzan movie versions, but my favorite remains Alexander Skarsgard -- and the best part is that it's a sequel (sort of) to their marriage.ReplyDelete
Jane and Tarzan in that movie...so good! I love them together. :)Delete
I haven't read the Tarzan books but your review has made me want to try them! I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much.ReplyDelete
It's not a perfect read by any means, but there's something about Tarzan I just really liked. :)Delete
I'd like to read at least one, not least because they were written so long ago! The first Tarzan film was filmed in Morgan City, LA in 1917. Years ago, when we went through Morgan City, I discovered that a Baton Rouge couple were making a documentary about Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan.ReplyDelete
That's cool. I didn't realize they made such an early movie of Tarzan.Delete
I liked Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but the only film adaptation I've watched is the Disney animated feature film. It's one of my favourite Disney movies. :DReplyDelete
I haven't seen Disney's version of Tarzan, but I've heard the music from it; I should watch it, see how it compares to the book. :)Delete
Fun that you share a reading experience with your dad now. Oh, bummer! I hope you get your hands on the second book soon! I haven't seen the version with Alexander Skarsgard, but I'd like to watch it!ReplyDelete
Hi, Rachel! This book was a fun read, even more so because of my dad. :)Delete
Wow, I completely missed Alexander Skarsgard's Tarzan movie. Sounds great! I watched the animated show years ago but have never read the books.ReplyDelete
The Alexander Skarsgard Tarzan movie is really good! :)Delete
Hi Lark, I have googled the trailer for the Alexander Skarsgard movie and it looks good. And I also noticed how many Tarzan books Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote. He was very prolific.ReplyDelete
Burroughs was very prolific! And his books obviously made an impact because we're still making movies from them today. :) Thanks for commenting!Delete
I have such nostalgia for Edgar Rice Burroughs' stories. I had a lot of the Tarzan paperbacks as a kid- loved the covers that Neal Adams did- wish I still had those! I re- read a few of the Tarzans in the last few years- Jewels of Opar, Forbidden City, a few others- and they're fun, if a bit dated ha ha!ReplyDelete
They are a bit dated, but I actually don't mind that when I read books like this. I just enjoy reading them. :)Delete
Have you read the Barsoom books?Delete
I've read A Princess of Mars, but that's the only one. I want to read some more of them though.Delete
The second one is quite good, just in the sense of the concepts it tackles and continuing the endless quests. :)Delete
I need to read that one. And the second Tarzan book, too. Might have to have an Edgar Rice Burroughs readathon before the end of the year. :)Delete
You know you're pretty ancient when you really can't remember whether you've read a particular book of not. I 'think' I've read this but am not positive. I have, of course, 'seen' plenty of Tarzan stuff on TV. 😁ReplyDelete
The story of Tarzan is a very familiar one, that's for sure. And I don't think it's necessarily age that makes you 'forget' but how many books you've read over your lifetime. I've checked books out from the library before only to get them home and realize, "Oh, I've read this one before. Oops." ;DDelete
Another one I've always meant to read- but somehow I think I might get around to watching that film version first!ReplyDelete
And there are lots of film versions to choose from! :)Delete
I've never read any of the comics but as a kid I remember watching the tv version. And, count me as another one who totally missed the latest film! Good choice for your classic read!ReplyDelete
It ended up being a very fun read. And check out the Alexander Skarsgard Tarzan movie; it's a good one. :)Delete
I've always liked the Tarzan movies and shows but haven't read any of the books.ReplyDelete
I'd never read any of the books either, but I'm glad to be able to say I've now read this one. :)Delete
How fun! It's great to discover the roots of the story that you enjoyed in various forms over the years.ReplyDelete
Sounds like such a fun adventure story...with sequels.
I am looking forward to reading Return of Tarzan. :DDelete
I've only seen the movie version with Christophe Lambert. The book sounds fun. Did you know that Burroughs used to live in California and Tarzana in Los Angeles is where his ranch used to be?ReplyDelete
I didn't know that. I guess that's where he got Tarzan's name, huh?Delete
I haven't read any of the books but did watch the movie, which is out of character for me, but I will remedy that at some stage. :)ReplyDelete
I usually like to read the book first, too. :)Delete
I've not read any of the Tarzan books, although I did enjoy most of the Tarzan films. Glad you enjoyed this classic. :)ReplyDelete
It was fun, which not all classics are, so that was good. :)Delete
I remember going through a stage were I read every one of these books that I could get my hands on - the adventure part of it? Totally grabbed me.ReplyDelete
They're fun reads! :DDelete