Even the overblown Victorian language and outmoded attitudes can't detract from this classic story. Sure, Tarzan is mostly one-dimensional throughout the book, living as he does in a world ruled by simple natural laws. But that begins to change as he encounters civilization, and he changes too, developing more nuances to his character as he faces new decisions and conflicts.
Amid a charmingly terrible understanding of his chosen setting (example - Burroughs seems to believe that 'ape' is a species, as distinct from gorilla, chimpanzee, etc), Burroughs constructs an absurd, laughably unbelievable tale.
Then, the last two chapters blew me away. I had no idea Burroughs had it in him - it was like it was ghost-written by Hemingway or something. Seriously - if you can make it through the first twenty-six, the last two make it all worth your while.
Did I mention how bad his understanding of nature was? Lions roam singly and thickly in the densest, lushest part of Africa - I'd say there's about one per acre/one per chapter.
Tarzan, by the way, teaches himself to read English, from books - alone - no people, but cannot speak English. However, he can write his name. Don't think about that too hard. It'll make you less willing to accept all the other ridiculousness (like where bad guys decide to bury treasure. Yep, we got bad pirates burying treasure herein).
I'll leave you one more teaser if it will encourage you to read the book just to find out if I'm lying - the book ends in a train station just beyond the reaches of a forest fire. In WISCONSIN.
Check your brain at the door, and you'll enjoy the heck out of this book.
Another book on Mount TBR finally gets read as I need this review for a raffle entry in Play Book Tag on Shelfari. John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, is left marooned by mutineers on the coast of Africa with his pregnant wife. They survive about a year, and their infant son is adopted by Kala the great ape after her own baby is killed. Tarzan is raised by the ape tribe and grows into a "noble savage". Where the story takes a major downturn for me is when he manages to teach himself to read by studying the primers and books left in the shelter his parents built. I can stomach that he learned the basic words and connected them with the labeled pictures in the books, and even teaches himself to write, but it's ludicrous that he eventually understands the rudiments of grammar enough to communicate with the white men he eventually meets, without any instruction whatsoever. Add to that Burroughs' notion that "nobility" and being a "gentleman" are inherited, so that Tarzan is able to overcome his savagery to treat Jane with restraint even as he considers her his mate. (Yeah, right.) Okay, so once the reader can swallow those distasteful pills, as well as the minor racial biases scattered throughout the book in the descriptions of the black Africans and the Negress who is Jane's servant (understandable considering the book was written in 1912), then this becomes quite an enjoyable and thrilling adventure to excite the imagination. It's easy to see how it morphed into the phenomenon it eventually became.
This story is a must read for everyone. It should be on all School reading lists and every male born should read this book at least once in their lifetime. It is the greatest adventure of all time. I'd give it more stars if the scale permitted.
One of the all time classics. An adventure tale to rouse the heart of every boy and girl within us !
I have owned this book many times and gotten rid of it. I am sure somewhere down the road I will get it again to read.