Tarzan of the Apes is the origin story of Tarzan the beloved character created by author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in this first book we witness the tragic demise of his parents, his integration into Jungle life and how he first meets his own species. While this book was considered Pulp fiction back in the early 1910’s when it was published for me as a modern reader the language used was heavy going like when reading a classic novel of the 19th century
What I liked:
- The Nature vs. Nurture debate – What is it that makes a man? is the question Burroughs poses throughout the book and while its hard to answer this aforementioned question it is quite a compelling case that is put forward with the Characterisation of Tarzan who is raised by Apes who still finds his way back to his more civilised roots, but all the while he craves the wildness of the Jungle life.
- Highlighting the changes that Disney made to the story – When I was younger like most I watched the 1999 Disney adaptation Tarzan which I loved but it’s always interesting to see what things are changed for a younger audience. Lets just say that not much is the same.
What I Didn’t like:
- Racism – Giving that the book was written so long ago it is no surprise that their is an undertone of racism that runs through out Tarzan of the Apes. Namely when Tarzan comes across the native tribe of Chief Mbonga who Tarzan views as being of a different species and he decides that this gives him the right to tease, torment and kill the tribesmen for his own amusement. Also when he sees Jane for the first time he falls instantly in love with her because she is the first women he has seen…Hang on a minute there were women in the tribe’s village!!! So personally I found these prejudices in characterisation quite uncomfortable to read
- The portrayal of Jane – As a woman I was mightily offended by the way Burroughs makes Jane the typical damsel in distress who has to rely on men (specifically Tarzan) to save her overtime she gets into a spot of trouble. Also even her own father is offensive towards her by saying “do not trouble your pretty head with such weighty and abstruse problems” Pretty head! I nearly launched the book across the room when I read this sentence but I decided to persevere to see if Jane would come into her own…she didn’t.
- Why so many lions…They live in the Savannah after all!
- The plot gets quite jumbled and lost at some points especially towards the end of the story where Burroughs rushes to wrap it up.
My Verdict on Tarzan of the Apes: ⭐️⭐️
Fingers crossed that the movie adaptation (The Legend of Tarzan) that I’ve been waiting excitedly for updates the Tarzan mythology for a modern audience giving us a better characterisation of the African tribe and Jane!