Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs

Art: Esteban Maroto

Originally Published: 1912

Reviewed Edition: Avenel 1988

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The original story behind the massively popular character.  Tarzan of the Apes was Burroughs’ third novel.  He unwittingly created a cultural phenomenon.  That being said, the movie adaptations seem to be what the public remember.  The book, itself is a wholly different beast.  The book begins with John, Lord Greystoke and his wife Alice departing via ship for Africa.  They manage to survive a brutal mutiny aboard the ship and are put ashore with their belongings and a few meager supplies.  They eke out a living for long enough to have a baby boy.  Eventually, the infant is adopted by a loving ape mother and is named Tarzan.  The book covers his growth from weak child to strong, intelligent man.  The films tend to gloss over the ruthlessness of the character.  He is, after all, a man of the jungle.  Morality often has to take a backseat to survival in the ever-dangerous jungle.  Eventually, Tarzan encounters a group of white explorers in search of a buried treasure.  It is here he meets Jane.  The book is highly entertaining through Trazan’s birth, to his becoming leader of his tribe, but tends to lose steam once Africa is left in the rearview mirror.  Tarzan’s journey with D’Arnot just isn’t as entertaining as the build-up.  It all culminates in a truly unsatisfactory resolution.  Despite this flawed finale, the book is a stunning work of pure adventure fiction by one of the first masters of the genre.  Countless attempts have been made to bring this figure to life on film, but none have come close to capturing the savagery and heroism of the character.  A definite must read.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Remington Portables.

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