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Tarzan of the Apes [Mass Market Paperback]

Edgar Rice Burroughs , Michael Meyer , Gore Vidal
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2014 Signet Classics

“The Tarzan legend returns us to the Eden where, free of clothes and the inhibitions of an oppressive society, a man is able, as William Faulkner put it…, to prevail as well as endure.”—Gore Vidal, from the Introduction

Set amid the vibrant colors and sounds of the African jungle, this classic work, rich in suspense and action, has beckoned generations of readers on a glorious journey to romance and pure adventure. This is the story of the ape-man Tarzan, raised in the wild by the great ape Kala, and how he learns the secrets of the jungle to survive—how to talk with the animals, swing through the trees, and fight the great predators. As Tarzan grows up, he makes many friends, including Tantor the elephant and Numa the lion. When this paradise is invaded by white men, Tarzan’s life changes, for in this group is Jane, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Speaking directly to our childhood fantasies, this exhilarating work takes us to that faraway place in our minds where dreams prevail, and where we too can be masters of our own domain.

With an Introduction by Gore Vidal
And an Afterword by Michael Meyer

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First published in 1914, Edgar Rice Burroughs's romance has lost little of its force over the years--as film revivals and TV series well attest. Tarzan of the Apes is very much a product of its age: replete with bloodthirsty natives and a bulky, swooning American Negress, and haunted by what zoo specialists now call charismatic megafauna (great beasts snarling, roaring, and stalking, most of whom would be out of place in a real African jungle). Burroughs countervails such incorrectness, however, with some rather unattractive representations of white civilization--mutinous, murderous sailors, effete aristos, self-involved academics, and hard-hearted cowards. At Tarzan's heart rightly lies the resourceful and hunky title character, a man increasingly torn between the civil and the savage, for whom cutlery will never be less than a nightmare.

The passages in which the nut-brown boy teaches himself to read and write are masterly and among the book's improbable, imaginative best. How tempting it is to adopt the ten-year-old's term for letters--"little bugs"! And the older Tarzan's realization that civilized "men were indeed more foolish and more cruel than the beasts of the jungle," while not exactly a new notion, is nonetheless potent. The first in Burroughs's serial is most enjoyable in its resounding oddities of word and thought, including the unforgettable "When Tarzan killed he more often smiled than scowled; and smiles are the foundation of beauty." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“[Burroughs has] a gift very few writers of any kind possess: he can describe action vividly.” —Gore Vidal

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tarzan Legend Begins July 13 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I felt it would be a good idea to review the original TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs as many are only familiar with how the character has been mishandled for the past seventy or so years. In his original form Tarzan was far from the monosyllabic simpleton as he was so often later portrayed. Instead, Tarzan was a man of aristocratic bearing who wielded great strength of both body and will, spoke several languages fluently, and easily mixed with British society.
Although Tarzan first appeared in TARZAN OF THE APES, the plot and some of Tarzan's characteristics were showcased in an earlier Burroughs work called THE MONSTER MEN. But it was the infant heir to a British title that rocketed Burroughs's fame. Tarzan begins as an infant shipwrecked on the coast of Africa. The rest of his family quickly dies but a local anthropoid ape (not a gorilla) who just lost a baby, claims pale, hairless baby and raises it as her own. Tarzan grows but is always weaker than the apes. But when Tarzan finds the hut left by his family he begins learning about his human side. With knowledge Tarzan is able to stand up to the more bullysome apes and life is good.
Years later thing change drastically when pirates maroon other humans near Tarzan's home. It is then that Tarzan learns to love Jane and she him although she first knows him as two different people. To her there is the forest god who rescues her and there is Tarzan who leaves her notes. But while Tarzan can read and write English and speak the language of the apes, French is the first human tongue he learns. A tongue that Jane does not understand. But eventually Jane becomes the force that drives Tarzan towards civilization and his birthright among British nobility.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Adaptations by Russ Manning Jan. 20 2004
I always loved Russ Manning's artwork when I was a comic collector. It's a shame that he died so young and before he really received the credit for his great artwork that he so deserved. And the problem was, in the sixties and seventies it was often hard to find. "Magnus," his futuristic series was published quarterly and so I could only look forward it four times a year. His Tarzan work was more plentiful, but even so, Gold Key Comics apparently did not have the greatest distribution in the world so I often would miss an issue. Thankfully, Dark Horse is collecting some of Manning's work on Tarzan in this volume and others like it.
This volume contains the first four Tarzan novels, which pretty much established the forumla for msot future Tarzan tales. While not word-for-word adaptations, they are faithful to their source material. But the real reason to read them is not the storylines but the lush, beautiful artwork of Russ Manning. Made even better here by being completely re-colored using state-of-the-art digital techniques. This is a must have for funs of Burroughs, Tarzan, and Manning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Burroughs Delivers Nov. 1 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A ship's mutiny forces a young noble English couple to live on the African coast. They have a child and then die a short time later. Their infant son is adopted by an ape mother and raised as her own. The boy, Tarzan, rises to jungle dominance and subsequently discovers another group of marooned Europeans.
I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. This is mindless jungle entertainment at it's best. Of course it's ludicrous that a human baby could survive living with a family of apes. Of course it's silly that the human could not only survive but thrive to become the supreme jungle power. Of course it's ridiculous that he could teach himself to read and write English from books alone. Does all that really matter though? Of course not. Don't expect deep characters, life-changing philosophies, or even intricate plotting. Burroughs wrote this book as entertainment, pure and simple.
Burroughs style may be a bit dated but he certainly does know how to write an engrossing adventure tale. He uses tried and true writing techniques like ending chapters on cliffhangers and presenting his protagonist as the underdog in a struggle against all odds. Early on in the book I found myself rooting completely for Tarzan.
For the sensitive reader, I'll offer a couple of warnings. First, Burroughs presents native Africans as superstitious, cannibalistic "savages". Second, the book is surprisingly violent. I'm sure that in the screen adaptations Tarzan never stabbed or throttled to death so many humans and animals.
One final caution -- the book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Make sure to have "The Return of Tarzan" ready.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Meet the REAL Tarzan! Sept. 18 2002
By Plume45
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Little did ERB realize when he launched his second novel in 1914, that he had created a pop icon hero who would delight youthful readers around the world. The author, who had failed in a variety of enterprises, combined his late-blooming literary talent with a fecund imagination, to create a typically American protagonist--one who reflected the 19th century's fascination with the Nature vs Nurture debate of human development. Can a "wild man" be truly half ape/half human; can such a creature be reprogrammed to reject two decades of savage training in favor of civilized manners? Is the love of a beautiful woman sufficient to lead a primitive person to rise above his barbaric conditioning, in order to compete with cultivated upperclass
Hollywood's numerous version of Tarzan's various adventures have distorted the author's original plot and careful details, such that an accurate rendering of the novel would be rejected by a falsely-educated public, who expect Tarzan to be
a grunting caveman with a superb physique. How false this is to his true heritage as the scion of British noblity. Let's get some basic facts straight: Tarzan taught himself to read and write (but not speak) English; French was the first language he learned to communciate vocally with his fellow men. He truly loved Kala, his ape foster mother, with the same tender devotion he would have lavished upon the mother he never knew. Blonde Jane did not speak with a British accent, since she was a Baltimore girl--the daughter of an absent-minded professor. Her father cared for three things in his life: Jane, academic research and the Porter family honor.
Since the general storyline is so well known, I will focus commentary on ERB's literary style.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A kind of classic
Completely racist and sexist but yet epic and romantic and very enjoyable
Published 1 month ago by Marie-France Lebouc
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
This is the classic that created an entire genre of literature and movies. Skilled writing and vivid imagery adds to the primal appeal of the story line. Read more
Published on June 13 2011 by William Tell
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Classic
After having "A Princess of Mars" published in "All-Story" as "Under the Moons of Mars" from February through July of 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs was unable to get his "Outlaw of... Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2009 by Dave_42
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Pulp
While no one should trick themselves into believing this is great literature, Tarzan of the Apes offers a fun and exciting set of cheap thrills, perfect for summer reading. Read more
Published on July 15 2009 by Craig Jenkins
3.0 out of 5 stars 5stars for the story! .
This is a classic story everyone should read but find another version.
Published on Nov. 12 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars heroes never grow old
I first read the Tarzan series when I was ten. I read them again while in high school. During graduate school I gave my complete collection away. Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Classic Read
Nearly everyone knows the story of Tarzan, whether their education came from movies, television, or cartoons. None have done justice to Burroughs' book though. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2002 by Travis J Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Phenomenon
It's difficult to measure the impact of this relatively simple story; one which generated half a billion dollars a few years ago as an animated film. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2002 by Robert A. Woodley
5.0 out of 5 stars The Two Tarzans
It is unfortunate that the prevailing image of Tarzan of the Apes is the one that belongs to Johnny Weismuller, who played Tarzan in a series of forgettable films during the 1930's... Read more
Published on June 3 2002 by Martin Asiner
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