“My magic world as a child.”EDWARD JAWER wrote this review Monday, May 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I enjoyed this book for the most part; it reads for what it is, a Victorian potboiler, a silly and at times offensive action lark featuring the man who has become a pop culture icon of sorts, a joke and a genre. Much like Stoker's Dracula, I suspect the plot and premise of Tarzan is one many think they're familiar with but may not actually know -- myself being one. In fact, after waiting around for Shere Khan to show up, I realized I was conflating this book with Kipling's The Jungle Book.
Burroughs opens the novel with some unnamed narrator telling us a story someone told him, which, I'll be honest, is one of my least favorite 'old timey' devices for setting up a story. Thankfully, Burroughs drops it quickly in favor of just telling the story directly, which is this: An English couple -- the Greystokes -- are abandoned by their murderous crew en route to a posting in Africa. Lord Greystoke, despite being an English peer with no wilderness survival training, manages to create an astounding little bungalow hideaway for himself and his now-pregnant wife. Then they die dramatically, leaving their infant heir to be raised by apes. Tarzan, as he's named, thrives among the apes, and through some improbable circumstances, teaches himself to read, and shoot with a bow and arrow, etc. When Tarzan is in his 20s, Professor and Jane Porter are stranded on the very same beach Tarzan's parents were, with Tarzan's cousin, the new Lord Greystoke. There's a dramatic meeting of the savage white man, lots of amazement, more racism, Tarzan's acquisition of the English language, is he/isn't he heir to the Greystoke fortune, budding romance, and transatlantic travel. It's an excess of ridiculous circumstances and over-the-top encounters, written plainly, and is entertaining -- to a point.
Whatever is fun about Tarzan's story was, however, negated by the racism in this novel. Regardless of whether it was 'appropriate for the time', Burroughs has people of color in this novel be evil, baseless, cowardly, and flat caricatures. It was discomforting for me, and to ignore it or accept it felt gross. I mean, Tarzan's preferred choice for killing African tribesman was by way of a dropped noose -- which read too much like a lynching every time he then strung them up on a tree. How do you ignore that? I couldn't.
The Introduction by Thomas Mallon is kind of a throwaway; in it, he sounds a bit like a family friend setting you up on a blind date ('He's awkward around women, and can be a bit weird on race; he chews with his mouth open; but he's really well-meaning and...') and so, when you complain that your date is awkward around women and is weird on race and chews with his mouth open, etc. he can simply say, 'Well, I warned you.' So...
I wouldn't have picked this up were it not for my keen interest in Robin Maxwell's upcoming Jane, in which she takes on Tarzan's love interest, Jane Porter. While I suspect Maxwell's novel doesn't depend on a reading of Burroughs', I figured it couldn't hurt.
All that said, this book ends very clearly with a sequel in the works, and I'm a leeeeeetle bit curious. (Just like I'm a teeeeeeeeeeeeeny tiny bit curious to read the sequel to She. Curious and apprehensive.)”
“If you have ever seen any Tarzan movies, you should read this book. It is very interesting to me how different this Tarzan is from the movie version.”Kimball Knowlton wrote this review Tuesday, July 10, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I just started it recently. John Carter has sparked my interest in Burroughs' writing, so I thought I'd also check out Tarzan.
*Update* So I finished it...I found it quite interesting in terms of the glimpse it gave into the mind of someone from that time period. I found some parts of it a bit obnoxious such as the way the African American character was portrayed. And in some ways it was quite brutal...I probably won't continue the rest of the series, but I am glad I read it. It WAS interesting...”
“This classic masterpiece is for anyone who loves great characters and incredible adventure stories. I was never a fan of the movies or cartoons--they seemed too far-fetched--but the original text is absolutely amazing. After reading this and John Carter, I am now Edgar Rice Burroughs biggest fan!”Mrs. Hodges wrote this review Monday, June 18, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“TARZAN is vastly under-appreciated - a multi-cultural, tour-de-force of man versus wild, good versus evil, civilized man versus nature, fallen, corrupt man versus savage animal, reason versus instinct, and all the foibles of each state by which the savage Tarzan develops a human moral conscience of right and wrong, and a growing awareness of the existence of the human soul and how it differs from the animal spirit. Burroughs displays a surprisingly genuine grasp of the West African world of his time; weaving quite a tale through the colonial competitions of the French, English and Arabs. African tribes are not sugar-coated, and Burroughs captures the real-life conflicts they faced as Tarzan discovers not all men are alike, and that he can easily ally himself with good men of any color against evil men of any color.
Tested at all levels, sold-out in swank European salons by conniving scoundrels to fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with African warriors in forest skirmishes protecting their families against Arab slavers cynically employing the nauseatingly corrupt cannibals against free tribes - death and slavery versus the vibrant lives of fathers, mothers and their innocent children, TARZAN is a cleverly complex examination of a man who collects staunch allies of world-weary men who see in him an inspiration of what man was meant to be, and bitter enemies who hate Tarzan for his ability to inspire true nobility and justice in purpose, thus foiling their evil plans. Tarzan struggles constantly to reconcile the wild that formed him with his yearning to be with those of his kind, only to discover most men he meets make the apes seem more wise than they really are.
“It's Tarzan. What can I say? A classic.”Lise Lyng Falkenberg wrote this review Sunday, June 10, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This surpassed my expectations. I thought I knew the story of Tarzan, I was very wrong. Great action/adventure story, with a little romance. This is a new favorite. I plan to keep reading the series.”Amie wrote this review Thursday, May 31, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Has maybe one of the best "endings" of any book I've read.”A. Burdeshaw wrote this review Saturday, April 14, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No