Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1)by Edgar Rice Burroughs Published 01 Sep 2003
|Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1).pdf|
Download Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1) (2014) PDF ePub eBook
- 1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.
- 2. Download as many books as you like.
- 3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.
In 1888 Lord and Lady Clayton sail from England but to West Africa and perish on a remote island. When their infant son is adopted by fanged, great anthropoid apes, he is Tarzan of the Apes. His intelligence and caring mother raise him to be king. Self-educated by his parents’ library, Tarzan rescues genteel Jane Porter from the perils of his jungle.
"Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1)" Reviews
Viscount Greystoke will see you now.One of the advantages of riding the subway to work is getting extra reading time. Coming home, though, I often have to stand for a good while before I can get a seat. As it is not comfortable wrangling the actual book I am reading at a given time while standing, I lift my trusty iTouch and am able to read a bit until the crowd thins. I save my hardcore reading for when I am sitting and can take notes. iTouch reading is of a different sort, at least it has been to date. Nothing too challenging. Tarzan of the Apes was a free download from somewhere I cannot recall. I had first read this, of course, back in my wastrel youth, in the early 60s most likely. While I am a fan of ERB's Barsoom series, I was never all that taken with jungle boy. Maybe it was not sci-fi enough for my pre-adolescent self.
Tarzan is introduced to the world in October 1912 - from erbzine.com
In looking at it anew with a bit more lifetime and some extra inches under my belt, a few things stand out. At first blush it appears incredibly dated, awash in the racism of its era. It was published in 1912, not all that long after the Bronx Zoo displayed a pygmy in the monkey house. We have come a long way, hopefully. Not nearly far enough, but some distance nonetheless. Burroughs was a product of and reflects his time. Black Africans were regarded by the ignorant as barely human, cannibalistic, and of inferior moral substance (unlike King Leopold). The stuff of cartoons, hurtful cartoons.
ERB with Maureen O’Sullivan and Johnny Weismuller - from classiccinemagold.com
The Tarzan of the title is the son of privilege, his English upper crust parents done in by dark forces while in Africa. Coincident with the downfall of mom and dad Greystoke, aka Alice and John Clayton, a mother gorilla, mourning the recent death of her baby, hears the baby crying, takes him in as a substitute and raises him as her own. The boy's human ingenuity (and mom's fierce protection) gives him the equalizer he needs against the larger and much stronger apes in his tribe, and he thrives. As he grows, Tarzan is intrigued by the unoccupied house in which he was orphaned. He begins to explore, and discovers books. Of course, being an Englishman of gentle birth he has the cranial capacity to figure out the alphabet, language, the whole megilla. Who needs teachers when you have such high-end genes?
The 1st Edition cover - from erbzine.com
Tarzan of the Apes (BTW - Just so's ya know, Tarzan was not the first name Burroughs had in mind for his hero. That would be Zantar. And Greystoke was also a revision, of Bloomstoke.) was first published in All-Story Magazine, in October 1912. The text included errors such as the existence of tigers in Africa. Those were removed for the book version. Note the sub-title, A Romance of the Jungle. Jane, in the introductory episode, serves as the damsel in distress, with her black maid shrieking in eye-roll-worthy comedic panic. At least some clueless white guys are served up for comic relief as well. There are dastardly mutineers, a bit of buried treasure, and Tarzan, the original swinger, hoists not only Jane through the jungle with one arm, but also a young man who would love to have Jane for his own. (Maybe he swings both ways?) If it sounds to you like something Team Edward might have purloined for their guy, I think so too. But after the real Mister T has flexed his pecks, hand-killed a lion in front of his European visitors, and slaughtered a few other menacing jungle residents, really, Jane is smitten. Now if he could only learn to translate the English he has come to know so well in print into speech. Not that it matters, Jane is ready to rip bodice.
Film poster of the first Weismuller Tarzan - from Daily motion.com
Still, a simple boy-meets-girl, boy-drags-willing-girl-into-the-jungle for some monkey business would not do. Gotta make it a challenge for the big guy, so stars are crossed and the young thing is whisked across the ocean to darkest America, pursued by a suitor no more appealing than the ill-tempered gorilla who had abducted Jane in Africa. Can Tarzan find a way to his lady love (he was of course smitten with her on first sight). Can he learn to speak English? Why stop there? Peut-être un peu le français? Vielleicht ein wenig Deutsch? I mean he already speaks elephant, and a smattering of beastial languages, so clearly has a head for it.
Christopher Lambert in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan - from The Telegraph
Despite the veneer, a very heavy, very thick veneer of low entertainment, racist humor and stereotyping, and bodice-ripping romance, there is more going on in this book. First, having humans raised by non-humans is as old as Romulus and Remus, and probably even older. But ERB put the notion into the more accessible present for his readers, ("My mother was an Ape…I never knew who my father was," - Maybe not up there with "your mother was a hamster," but not bad) albeit a fantasized present. Also, while his racial portrayals are coarse, he does not leave them there. It is not merely the black natives and silly servants who merit disdain. There are very dark-hearted whites as well. Skin of diverse color sheaths hearts both generous and unkind. And such diversity is offered the animals of the jungle as well. There is no kinder mother in literature than the bereft mother gorilla who takes in the infant Tarzan. And no darker foes than the silverbacks of her pack whose hatred of her adopted son is palpable. Beneath the surface of this pulpiest of pulp fiction there resides a theme about universality. This is something that arises again in his Barsoom series. Race plays a large role there as well. And the theme of commonality under the skin, of honor being something available to anyone, is repeated. There is also a nifty consideration of religion and superstition that enlivens the goings on. In another vein, Tarzan is a fine representative of the literary trope of the noble savage, a notion that man is essentially good, but that his better nature is corrupted by civilization. Of course ERB was not so naive as to treat this idea with clear delineations. People are complicated, whatever their moral leanings.
T and J in the 1999 Disney animated musical - from fanpop.com
The first volume of the Tarzan series was clearly meant to be just that. The story leaves off with much yet to be resolved, much to be discovered. And Burroughs milked that notion for twenty four Tarzan novels he wrote alone and a few more that were co-written.
There are characters from literature that seem to require a new introduction every generation or so. Greek and Roman mythology and Shakespeare's works have been at this for centuries. More recently, our recurring characters seem to be of the pulp variety. Batman, Superman and Spider Man stand out as examples. I am not sure if James Bond qualifies, as the series has been more or less continuous since Bond, James Bond first found its way to the silver screen in the 1960s. Tarzan first graced cinemas, in silent films and serials, from 1918 through 1929, including one silent film to which sound was added after filming was completed as talkies stormed the world. For folks of my generation, boomers, our introduction to Tarzan in film was most likely Johnny Weismuller, Olympic swimmer turned action movie star, an earlier version, maybe, of Ah-nold. He appeared in twelve Tarzan films from 1932 to 1948. I expect that most of my crowd first saw these on TV instead of theaters. Of course the bod on display way back then was a far cry from what Hollywood presents as the sculpted masculine ideal these days, And of course, Weismuller's Tarzan spoke with an American accent, as did his lady friend. 2016 will see yet another re-introduction of Tarzan to a new generation.
Alexander Skarsgård in The Legend of Tarzan just released
There have been more than a few comic books (450) and newspaper comic strips (250) featuring Tarzan. Tarzan books have appeared in pulp, hardcover and paperback, illustrated and not, selling 100 million copies globally. There have been many adaptations of the source material, 50 for the big screen, 65 episodes for live action TV, and 32 cartoons. The story has been told in theaters and on the radio. Disney's 1999 animation was the most recent feature length version, and the company fed this musical interpretation into a long-running stage production. There is even a Vegas Tarzan-themed slot machine.
Some of these various productions and products have attempted to hew closely to the original story. (My personal fave is Greystoke) Most have taken liberties. Sadly, the presentation of a mono-syllabic Tarzan mirrors the misfortune of presenting Frankenstein's monster as inarticulate. Neither is true. Both Frankie and the Ape-Man were intelligent and, after some learning time, quite articulate. But there is clearly something compelling in a story about a man raised by animals, something that speaks to questions about human nature. How much of how we behave, what we value, is inherent, and how much is the result of nurture, of the specific family upbringing we receive, and of the cultures in which we are raised? Tarzan may have been written as popular pulp entertainment, but the questions raised as he copes with the clash between civilization and the wild, between doing what is right and doing what sates a need, between honor and dishonor, are eternal. Also, ERB showed a very early concern for the environment, as the baddies in the series tend towards the environment-killer sort. You may or may not go ape for it, but whichever way you swing it is definitely worth checking out the original source material for what has become a regular part of Western culture.
And it also goes to show that it is a useful thing to have some classics sitting around on one’s electronic devices. You never know when one might transport you from the concrete jungle to one of a very different sort.
The home page for Edgar Rice Burroughs, the corporation.
Home site for the latest (July 2016) film The Legend of Tarzan
4/23/17 - I finally got around to seeing this, at home. Beautiful to watch, of course, wonderful special effects, and impressive bod on Mister T. This one takes a shot at King Leopold's rape of Congo, in the form of Christoph Waltz as his representative. This is certainly a worthy object for our scorn, even with leaving out some of Leopold's more gruesome outrages. I suppose it is meant to echo with latter day exploitation of indigenous peoples by first-world exploiters, but I thought it fell flat in that. Too Dudley Do-Right vs the equivalent of a moustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash. On the other hand, this sort of evil-doer material might have been right at home in ERB's pulp-fest. T's affection for his gorilla mom was nicely presented. Still, it felt like a miss to me. Not close to Greystoke. Ah, well. Maybe in a generation or so, another film-maker (or who knows, maybe a VR or holo-maker?) will have another go at this material. There is certainly franchise potential there, and plenty of serious material to lend substance in supporting an overlay of good-guy-vs-bad-guy conflict and wowzer visuals.
There is a nice brief history of Tarzan the character and product at Wild Stars, including images of what seems a gazillion Tarzan book covers.
A piece from Licensing Works about a centennial celebration of Tarzan in Tarzana, CA. It was the source for the numbers of sundry publications that have been made of T-product.
The entire text of Tarzan of the Apes is available on the Gutenberg Project
The song You'll Be In My Heart from Disney's animated Tarzan film
I liked that movie when I was younger. Being the bookworm I am, as soon as I found out it was based in a book, I wanted to read it, thinking what I'm sure most of us think when a book has movies: "Surely it is better". And since the movie I knew is Disney's, then my second thought was: "It's gonna be hella different to the movie, and maybe even a childhood ruiner".
Only the second of my thoughts was right. Because Tarzan of the Apes is almost like an ode to insta-love and, above all things, stalking.
We all know the story, don't we? A couple gets lost somewhere in Africa, they have a son there, but they die before him growing up. After that, some apes come into their cabin, and one of them - Kala - decides to take the child as her own and raise him as if he were an ape.
The problems started as soon as the animals appeared. And I'll explain why with a question I'm sure you've heard before: "Is a lion cruel because he hunts?". The answer is always "no", but here, it's stated several times that Sabor the lioness is cruel because she kills and eats.
Oh, but that isn't so bad as this: Tarzan, our handsome and mighty hero, kills too, and he does it for food, vengeance and pleasure, yet... he is justified. His murdering for pleasure is justified because "he is M-A-N and not A-P-E".
Actually, everything for Tarzan has an explanation because he is super special and we have to love him. For example, at one point he almost strangles a man because Jane (the love if his life *rolls eyes*) was going to marry him and he has to force his mate upon him. Not so sweet as Disney told is, right?
Besides, he's a victim of insta-love, and before you say "Jane was the first female of his species he ever saw", let me correct you: She is not the first woman he saw - she is the first white woman he saw, because he also saw women with dark skin, but all were ugly to his eyes.
So when our hero meets beautiful and - let's not forget it - white Jane, he immediately falls in obsession love and starts observing and stalking her, à la Joe from You.
This is what Tarzan wrote to Jane after he stood over her room for hours and stole the letter she had been writing to a friend of hers:
I am Tarzan of the Apes. I want you. I am yours. You are mine.
It doesn't end there, though, because some days after he saves her from danger, and he starts kissing her even when he knows she's repulsed by him. This repulsion, by the way, does not last long. As soon as she examines him, she realises he's the most good-looking man she has ever seen, and so she returns his love, forgets she already wanted another man, and then starts moaning that she doesn't feel safe if he's not with her.
As if that weren't enough, we then have another of my bookish pet peeves: Love triangle. and a very annoying one, for that matter, with lots of whining and an obvious answer.
And the last ingredient of all: Sexism. Oh God, I know this was written in a sexist era, but that doesn't mean I'm going to accept it. Quotes like this:
“Ah, John, I wish that I might be a man with a man's philosophy, but I am but a woman, seeing with my heart rather than my head, and all that I can see is too horrible, too unthinkable to put into words.”
... are enough to make me hate a book, especially if there are lots of them.
So you see? Nothing like the Disney version. And I'm not surprised - that's how it always is. The difference this time is that I prefer that movie than this sorry excuse of a book, especially with its last line, which basically says "for more of Lord Greystoke's adventures, read The Return of Tarzan". Yeah, like I'm going to do that.
Here: the fountainhead & the story buried below a myriad adaptations.
E. R. Burroughs's dream did come true after all: his Tarzan spun off into countless later tales & films-- heck, even Broadway musicals. Read this scant but brutal adventure tale with its due respect, for it includes: examples of poetic and natural justice; often tableaux with two male warrior bodies battling it out--always a spectacle to behold; cannibalism; animal eroticism; killer! savage! hot!-ness; plot twists and many examples of schizophrenic scope (the world becomes incredibly large and then ridiculously small). It is the story of kingdoms regained--surely my favorite amongst a dozen Disney conventions is, like the Sleeping Beauty, that which dabbles in the innerworkings of a regal fate, the inheritance of some forgotten nobility. It is cinematic--the imagination probably behind countless Hollywood blockbusters can be found here--a champion of good fun. There are climaxes which occur merely paragraphs from each other. The effervescent prose is vicious, savage, alive; the actions depicted all merciless and gory, R-Rated before that very classification came into existence. Tarzan's mother turns mad--the jungle environment is enough to drive ANYONE insane. Ends in optimistic Shawvian mode. Sufficient amounts of comedy via wacky characters, like Esmeralda or Professor Porter. And Lord and Lady Greystone's (and Kala's child's) bones all give off a rather mystical and effortless poetry to the whole fantasia.
I must say, I was expecting more from this book. It takes inspiration from a wide array of very good adventure novels, but manages to be more bigoted than the colonial literature that inspired it and less factual and forward-looking than books written thirty years before.
One of the major inspirations is H. Rider Haggard's early pulp adventure stories, including the tales of Allan Quatermain. Like Tarzan, these stories take place in the depths of colonial Africa, but the attitudes and portrayal of other races are far more insulting in Tarzan than in Haggard's books, despite the fact that Haggard was writing three decades before.
Of course, having actually visited Africa numerous times during the Colonial period, Haggard had a much better idea of what was going on there. African tribes are portrayed as noble savages in Haggard, which is a rather silly portrayal, but Tarzan's tribes are made up of ignorant, warlike, half-human cannibals.
Throughout Tarzan, one consistent theme is the popular colonial concept from the previous century that 'Blood Will Out'. This was a theory that genetic traits were responsible for social classes, and that if a prince were raised by pig farmers, he would instinctively know how to bow and pick out a salad fork.
Some stories even indicated that a nobleman could defeat any commoner in a sword duel, even if the commoner were a soldier and the noble had never held a sword before. While Tarzan does not stretch credulity quite that much, it does state that Tarzan naturally understands the concepts of honor, bowing, marriage, and social class.
This explanation is also meant to underscore how Tarzan could learn to read simply by looking at books. Though he might come to recognize some of the symbolism, Burroughs takes for granted that he could understand not only that the pictures represented people, but other complexities such as 'lights' and 'clothes'.
Even if he could decipher the pictures, coming to understand the text without a key is a nearly insurmountable task, as Burroughs should have known from the Rosetta Stone of popular Egyptology. Even if he could see that the symbols for 'Man' coincided with pictures of human beings, coming to understand the use of articles and copulas would be many degrees more difficult. Without training in linguistics or the scientific method, solving such problems is unlikely, especially alone.
Even if we take for granted that Tarzan could decipher the pictures and intuit the meaning of things he'd never seen before and break down the code of letters, words, sentences, tone, and symbolism (which his he does, in the letters he writes). Even so, there is no explanation how he could have known how to pronounce words, as he had no phonetic understanding of how English actually sounds. Yet he signs his letters 'Tarzan', his ape name.
There are also some errors in the portrayal of animal behaviors. For example, lions are depicted as solitary, and jaguars are unable to climb trees. While Natural History was still in its early stages at this point, there were plenty of accurate accounts (including Haggard's) from which to draw inspiration. Likely, Burroughs was more influenced by the sensationalist tales of 'Darkest Africa' than the experiences of actual travelers and experts, such as Haggard and Conrad.
The 'apes' in the series are particularly interesting, as they share little resemblance to any great ape, descending instead from evolutionary ideas about early humans. It is unsurprising that Burroughs would pick up on this popular contemporary idea. His 'apes' use tools, make music, communicate by spoken language, eat meat, perform social rituals, and commit war on one another.
Of course, any ape with these traits would have been driven to extinction by competition with humans. This helps to explain why Gorillas survived, since they are herbivores, and hence do not compete with humans for resources. Even then, the only remaining gorillas live in mountainous, jungle regions too remote for humans to settle.
If a warlike and omnivorous species of protohumans were to survive, they would have to be in an isolated pocket of jungle or perhaps an island, an idea which Burroughs later explored in 'The Land That Time Forgot'.
Verne portrays a similar group of proto-humans in 'The Village in the Treetops', but he actually refers to them as a species of homo sapiens, not as super-apes. Verne's depiction is a more thoughtful expansion of Darwin's ideas, showcasing his talent for extrapolating new ideas into interesting, forward-looking books.
If Burroughs had created some bridge between Verne and Haggard, then Tarzan would have been a book worthy of its reputation. Instead, it is a silly and naive adventure that fails to explore the most fertile ideas and instead relies on the least likely ones.
Burroughs is a creative and ingenious author, combining concepts from natural history with sci fi and adventure stories. However, his plots are often unfocused, simply leaping from one moment to the next without build or connection. He will sometimes squander good opportunities for plot or characterization, instead focusing on fragmentary bits of adventure. For example, the romance between Tarzan and Jane goes off without a hitch. This is despite an inability to communicate and the fact that Tarzan is a frighteningly powerful and alien figure. Pride and Prejudice creates an entire plot three times the length of Tarzan based on the fact that it's hard for two people to get along, even if they are both well-off, attractive nobles from the same culture.
Burroughs overrides the development of a romance by the constant insistence that Tarzan's nobility is evident to Jane, mitigating any frightening elements of her animal attraction to him. Despite immediately recognizing his nobility in his every thought, step, word, and deed, she is unable to recognize that he actually is a noble, even when he gives her a picture of his father, Lord Greystoke. She responds how he looks exactly like Tarzan, but Burroughs tells us through third person narration that she never even imagines that they might be related.
So, Burroughs invents an implausible and difficult reason to maintain conflict by doubt of Tarzan's birthright, but squelches the opportunity to present a troubled love story, even though it would be the most likely result of the situation. It is almost as if he cannot bear to provide more than a moment of fleeting hardship to his characters, and when he needs a man's life threatened by the natives, instead of using an established character, he creates a new one on the spur of the moment.
Burroughs combines many sources of inspiration in his books, and creates vivid, fast-paced adventures. However, his brand of wild, free-wheeling adventure seems to work better on Mars, where there is no fact-checking or colonial philosophizing to strain his credibility. The romanticized idealism in Burroughs' high adventures cannot be sustained on a world as small and mean as Earth.
Perhaps Burroughs was simply more enamored of the John Carter series, since they are more imaginative and more well-written. In any case, Tarzan was his money-maker, so it's no wonder that he returned to it so often, but Tarzan lacks Carter's charm, and a nonsensical Martian world is more plausible than a nonsensical African one.
No doubt I'll pick up more of the Tarzan books in time, and will have to suspend my credulity about ant men, immortality, mad scientists, and talking gorillas. But really, as long as it's written well, I'm willing to extend my disbelief. Perhaps the problem with this book isn't that it's too strange, but that it's not strange enough. Burroughs tries to realize his world with facts, but only shows that he is not familiar enough to write about them.
Ah, how to begin... Tarzan raised me from a little boy and helped me become a man. After the Bobsey Twins, Hardy Boys, and, yes, Nancy Drew, I admit, came Tarzan, Return of Tarzan, Beasts of Tarzan, Son of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar,... yes 24 in all, and then the Mars series, and Moon, and Venus, and Pellucidar, I own over 65 Edgar Rice Burroughs books, but Tarzan was an inspriation to me, so I have to give the credit to this book, despite its flaws, for many happy hours of reading. Tarzan is essentially a romance novel, so be prepared for a lot of mooning in between fierce battles and heroic feats of strength and agility.
Burroughs has only a half dozen characters in his repertoire, and most of them appear in every book he writes, but you learn to like them even though their names keep changing. His hero overcomes any obstacle or adversity. He will take any risk without fear. He cannot even comprehend anything but truth, justice, and fair play. The heroine is someone out of a Bronte or Austen novel who is ultimately beautiful, constantly in need of rescue, and always puts duty ahead of herself, even if it means marrying someone she doesn't love. Burroughs villians are known mostly for craftiness, greed, and obsessive revenge. These guys never forget being thwarted, even if they started the whole thing. Don't try to read any racism into Burroughs treatment of Blacks and Africans. He was a man of a different century, and times were different. For his day he was a very liberal thinker, and I'm convinced that he never intended any offense.
I highly recommend the first four or five Tarzan books, but for heaven's sakes, quit there. Burrough's sci-fi is great for someone wants to read one of the true pioneers of the genre. It over-explains scientific detail and gets way too technical, but writers like Heinlein were heavily influenced by it. Mars was the best and Venus was okay, but the Moon series was crap.
Actually, Burroughs western novels the Bandit at Hells Bend and the Mucker were not bad either.
I feel like I've been waiting for a book like this my entire life, and here it was all this time, published long before I was even born.
Is the light cast upon race and gender in this novel wrong and inappropriate? Most definitely. However, I read this book ignoring these things, not out of ignorance as the word would imply, but with an acceptance of the flaws, and deciding instead to fall in love with the adventure and the horrible violence of Tarzan's growing up in the jungle. I didn't read this looking for a realistic survival study on apes and men either.
I was not expecting the gritty and gruesome nature of the story, as my only experience of Tarzan prior to reading this novel is with the Disney animated movie version. There is no child-friendly telling of Tarzan winning the love of the great ape Kerchak and Jane teaching him how to read, or Tarzan gallivanting around with his ape buddy Terk [spoilers removed] and the elephant Tantor. This adventure is much more primal than that, and so fucking beautiful I couldn't finish it without crying. Others will find this much more flawed than I have, I'm sure, but it's been a long time since I've loved reading and this book has brought me out of that slump.
Sidenote: Margot Robbie and Alexander Skarsdård will be starring in next year's Tarzan adaptation, based off of one of the sequels in this book series. That's my dream cast for any movie so I'm super excited, and hoping that they keep to the darker nature of the novels.