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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 (70 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2014 0451531027 978-0451531025 Centennial

“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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3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Classic Nov. 8 2009
By Dave_42 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 Torn" published, but he did manage to get "All-Story" to devote an entire edition of their magazine to "Tarzan of the Apes". Burrough's had written the story between December of 1911 and May of 1912, and it appeared by itself in the October 1912 edition of the magazine. It was published in book form on June 17, 1914, Burrough's first book to be published, and it was published by A. C. McClurg & Company, who had rejected it previously but after its enormous popularity they changed their minds.

Tarzan has become an iconic character, to say the least. Burroughs went on to write over twenty sequels, and of course there are numerous movies, comic books, etc. based on the character. While one cannot ignore the impact the creation of the character has had, the original story is not particularly good. Burroughs had free reign to define Mars as he wished, but his depiction of Africa is well off the mark. Burrough's imagination is somewhat lacking in the tale as well, going again and again to the presence of Lions to create a threat for Tarzan to deal with. One has to wonder how so many Lions in so small an area would be able to get enough food to survive, and they are in rather a dense jungle instead of the savannah.

There are logical errors as well, such as Tarzan learning to read but not speak English, and yet somehow figuring out how to spell his name in English. There is the strange journey of the Professor Porter and Samuel T. Philander where they manage to get lost and walk unmolested through the same jungle as is shortly to contain numerous Lions.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars However it is a beautiful story, and it is NOT to be confused ...
This original story, circa 1912, place Edgar Rice Burroughs in the realm of classical authors, and allowed him to continue with more compelling tales of the lord of the jungle. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Henry Y. Stuart
5.0 out of 5 stars I have a special place for the time ol classic ...
I have a special place for the time ol classic ive read it a few times and never tire of it!
Published 1 month ago by Terry Kennedy
4.0 out of 5 stars A kind of classic
Completely racist and sexist but yet epic and romantic and very enjoyable
Published 3 months 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
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Meet the REAL Tarzan!
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2002 by Plume45
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