Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1)” as Want to Read:
Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  29,602 Ratings  ·  1,769 Reviews
When Tarzan is orphaned as a baby deep in the African jungle, he is saved from certain death when he is adopted by a she-ape. Raised as one of her own, Tarzan learns the way of the Kerchak-the tribe of great apes who rule the jungle. They teach him how to survive, to hunt, to swing through the trees, and to communicate with the other animals of the jungle. By the time he i ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 15th 1999 by Tor Classics (first published October 1912)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tarzan of the Apes, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Becky First you can read all 25 or so of the Tarzan books, although the later ones are a bit repetitive, then there are all of Edgar Rice Burroughs other…moreFirst you can read all 25 or so of the Tarzan books, although the later ones are a bit repetitive, then there are all of Edgar Rice Burroughs other series, including the John Carter books set on Mars. When you finally run out of ERB books, I would recommend Doc Savage as another series written about the same time and with a similar style. If you prefer a wilder protagonist, you could try Conan the Barbarian books, although they were never my favorites.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Will Byrnes
Jul 06, 2016 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Viscount Greystoke will see you now.
One of the advantages of riding the subway to work is getting extra reading time. Coming home, though, I often have to stand for a good while before I can get a seat. As it is not comfortable wrangling the actual book I am reading at a given time while standing, I lift my trusty iTouch and am able to read a bit until the crowd thins. I save my hardcore reading for when I am sitting and can take notes. iTouch reading is of a different sort, at least it has b
Pulp fiction at its best.

I went in with low expectations and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's pulp fiction, but it's good pulp: a fun romp and so very very silly. Burroughs buys into all the prejudices of his time, but it's tough to blame him for being merely mortal. Ignore it. He's no worse than JM Barrie or Kipling.

I've shelved it under Fantasy, and that's what it is. There may be no Middle Earth or magic, but a novel where a child brought up among apes learns to read without hum
Vane J.

Remember this?

I liked that movie when I was younger. Being the bookworm I am, as soon as I found out it was based in a book, I wanted to read it, thinking what I'm sure most of us think when a book has movies: "Surely it is better". And since the movie I knew is Disney's, then my second thought was: "It's gonna be hella different to the movie, and maybe even a childhood ruiner".

Only the second of my thoughts was right. Because Tarzan of the Apes is almost like an ode to insta-love and, above al
John Conrad
Feb 23, 2008 John Conrad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young and old
Recommended to John by: my big brothers
Ah, how to begin... Tarzan raised me from a little boy and helped me become a man. After the Bobsey Twins, Hardy Boys, and, yes, Nancy Drew, I admit, came Tarzan, Return of Tarzan, Beasts of Tarzan, Son of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar,... yes 24 in all, and then the Mars series, and Moon, and Venus, and Pellucidar, I own over 65 Edgar Rice Burroughs books, but Tarzan was an inspriation to me, so I have to give the credit to this book, despite its flaws, for many happy hours of reading. ...more
J.G. Keely
I must say, I was expecting more from this book. It takes inspiration from a wide array of very good adventure novels, but manages to be more bigoted than the colonial literature that inspired it and less factual and forward-looking than books written thirty years before.

One of the major inspirations is H. Rider Haggard's early pulp adventure stories, including the tales of Allan Quatermain. Like Tarzan, these stories take place in the depths of colonial Africa, but the attitudes and portrayal o
Aug 23, 2015 Celise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I've been waiting for a book like this my entire life, and here it was all this time, published long before I was even born.

Is the light cast upon race and gender in this novel wrong and inappropriate? Most definitely. However, I read this book ignoring these things, not out of ignorance as the word would imply, but with an acceptance of the flaws, and deciding instead to fall in love with the adventure and the horrible violence of Tarzan's growing up in the jungle. I didn't read thi
Jun 17, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tarzan of the Apes was a pulp classic that spawned a slew of sequels, movies, radio and television shows and a community in California.

I was surprised, pleasantly by the style of writing, Edgar Rice Burroughs was a talented craftsman, and I am amazed at his ability to again and again draw the reader into a cliffhanger situation.

A good read.

Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred "classic" books, then write essays on whether or not they still deserve the label

Book #25: Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)

The story in a nutshell:
Set in the last great days of the British Empire (i.e. the first decades of
Apr 30, 2012 Tara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An extremely racist book with a premise based on eugenics. Not how you remember the Disney version? Tarzan is all strong and intelligent and special and amazing. Why? Because he has the genetics of a well-bred, white, European, aristocrat. Oh, and the whole thing about encountering other humans for the first time? He's seen humans around before, but, you know, they were Africans; they're primitive and stupid and clearly don't count. But other white people... revelation of revelations! You're sma ...more
Mar 13, 2014 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
Things I love:

1. Tarzan puts both a lion and a gorilla in a full-nelson.
2. Tarzan taught himself to read. From a dictionary.
3. He dug up pirates' treasure even though he didn't see any purpose for it, just because he didn't like them.
4. Tarzan learned French in about two weeks from a wounded French soldier.

Things I don't love:

1. Tarzan grew up shaving with a knife. Even though he had never seen a human until grown, he knew it was unseemly to have hair on one's face like an ape.
2. When he co
Aug 24, 2016 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
The problem with Tarzan is that it sucks. It's deeply silly, of course, adolescent wish fulfillment stuff, the plot makes no sense. But more than that, it's suuuuuper racist. Full of comments about values intrinsic to white people and black savages, and (somehow worse) the fat comic relief mammy Esmeralda, always rolling her big eyes and misusing words. It's way more racist than, for example, King Solomon's Mines, another book about white people in Africa, written 30 years previous in 1885.

May 08, 2008 Keri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because my sister recommended it. I thought, what's the big deal? It's Tarzan. I continued to feel this way throughout the first 50 or 60 pages, but then I couldn't put it down! I loved this adventure story, especially because it's so different from all the movies that have been made from it. I also adore the author's writing style. I guess I'm just a lover of classic literature - the formal and kind of stuffy voice is highly entertaining to me. I absolutely recommend this to ev ...more
Oct 26, 2008 bup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. They kicked my ass and called me Nancy. 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 wo
Quentin Wallace
Mar 10, 2015 Quentin Wallace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true classic. Most people are at least a little familiar with this story so I won't get too deep into details. It's basically a jungle adventure telling the improbable tale of a human male being raised by apes in the jungles of Africa. Something that sounds silly actually turns out to be a great story. It's just so well written and the characters come to life. It feels like you are right in the jungle with the roars and growls in your ears.

Everyone knows this as the jungle adventure tale, but
Definitely a dated classic, but wonderful for all that. I re-read it for The Pulp magazine group I'm in & am glad I did. You really want to read the next book, "The Return of Tarzan" immediately after since we're left with a cliff hanger.

Burroughs hasn't aged as well as some authors, mostly because of his handling of PC subjects such as racism & sexism. It is too easy to see the outward signs of both in his books, but careful reading shows that while he may have catered to the views of t
Ben Loory
Aug 28, 2009 Ben Loory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
holy shit! i am bashing my head against the wall for never having read this book before!

i always thought edgar rice burroughs was supposed to be a joke... like, pulpy nonsense... lots of over-emoting... i don't know what...

but this book is amazing! i mean, yeah, there's a certain awkwardness to the prose (which almost made me quit a couple pages in, it seemed so bad)... but that awkwardness turns out to be a screenwriter's awkwardness; the awkwardness of a writer who thinks in desires and moveme
Oct 02, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here: the fountainhead, the story buried below a myriad adaptations. Burroughs's dream did come true after all: his Tarzan spun off into countless later tales and films--heck, even musicals. Read this scant but brutal adventure tale with its due respect, for it includes: examples of poetic and natural justice; often tableaux with two male warrior bodies battling it out--always a spectacle to behold; cannibalism; animal eroticism; killer! savage! hot!-ness; plot twists and many examples of schizo ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Silly to the point of being nonsensical: unabashedly and un-self-consciously racist - still, I enjoyed it when I first read it as a teen. Tarzan is a member of the British aristocracy who raised by the great apes. Being a English aristocrat, he's much superior to all the animals of the jungle (of course!) and soon becomes the Lord of All He Surveys. This superman learns to read English without the help of anybody from childhood picture-books and soon learns to speak it also in record time.

Dec 02, 2009 Monk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I probably picked this up initially because I enjoyed the Ron Ely TV series on Saturday mornings as a kid. Had no idea what I was getting into.
"Tarzan" evokes many well-deserved images of cheesiness. The Burroughs series itself after the first couple of books becomes pretty bad pulp fiction, with weird tie-ins to his Center of the Earth series, Tarzan's son going through exactly the same experience as his dad, etc.
But this first book is something very different. Not just one of the best pulp fic
Apr 18, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“The time has arrived when patience becomes a crime and mayhem appears garbed in a manner of virtue”
― Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes


Tarzan is one of those characters who came out of the post-Victorian, pre-WWI age that seem almost to exhibit a place larger than the actual book(s) he was born in. Like Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan is both a type and a rejection of type. It is amazing to see the arc this character has taken over the last century. From the actual books written by Burroughs to
Feb 24, 2013 Seth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This quote from Rudyard Kipling sums it up nicely: Burroughs wrote Tarzan of the Apes so he could "find out how bad a book he could write and get away with it." And wow, was it bad (spoilers to follow). Like Tarzan the gorilla kid learning to read and write fluently with only the aid of a picture book. Like Tarzan the adult shooting around the jungle saving every stupid civilized person right at the exact moment when they are about to die. Like him killing a rival gorilla right when he had stole ...more

There were several elements of this book that I highly enjoyed. For one the writing was at times vibrant and rich. For another it was an entertaining adventure novel. Although I fail to see why this is on the 1001 list and Fahrenheit 451 is not. Come on list makers pick up your game.

There is little need to talk about the synopsis. Tarzan has been parodied so often and been turned into a television and movie star. The idea of the ruler of the apes has become a kind of modern legend along with sim
”’What are you, Tarzan?’ he asked aloud. ‘An ape or a man?’

First of all, I’m just going to narcissistically give myself a pat on the back for actually reading a classic all by my little self. This RARELY happens, but I’m trying to get into classics more and just read them at my own pace. Usually, this means a very slow, snail-like pace of two chapters a day, but I read this one in a period of two days, so I’m quite proud of myself actually.

Anyways, onto the book. Tarzan was always one of thos
Dec 30, 2011 J.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, classics, pulp
Several factors went into me picking up ERB's TARZAN OF THE APES just before my 15th birthday, among them of course was the primal cover painting by who I do believe was Boris Vallejo (yet again, the same artist who attracted me to the GOR novels), and I proceeded directly from ERB's Pellucidar series into the character of Tarzan, who became such an inspiration to me in those impressionable teen years. I think Tarzan's savage nobility had something to do with how I began to framework attributes ...more
Jun 16, 2009 Werner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of adventure stories
This is the one Burroughs book virtually everyone in the world has heard of, and it embodies many of the characteristics (positive and negative) of his style. Like the (sometimes almost interchangeable) heroes of his science fiction novels, the title character here --a scion of the English aristocracy born to parents marooned in coastal Africa, orphaned as an infant and then raised by apes-- is strong, tough, and brave, instinctively honorable and moral, and exemplifies the theme of feralism or ...more
Melissa  Jeanette

There are a few things I liked about this book. For one, I liked Jane. She is always cool under pressure, and very often, she’s the most logical of the characters in the story. She seems to be an antecedent to the strong female leads we see in stories today. I also liked the whole idea of the plot. It’s wildly implausible and laughably absurd at times, which is part of what made it a fun adventure tale.

That being said, I only gave this two stars because of the the constant racism, sexism, and c
Jul 11, 2012 Dfordoom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Tarzan remains Edgar Rice Burroughs' most famous creation. Apart from the huge sales of the many Tarzan novels the character appeared in numerous movies and television series. Like Sherlock Holmes Tarzan is an indelible part of our popular culture. People who’ve never read a Tarzan book know who Tarzan is.

Tarzan of the Apes, first published in book form in 1914, was the first of the series and is therefore crucial in not only introducing the character but in giving us the story of his birth and
Jun 24, 2015 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp
This one is kind of hard to rate. As a novel it's a complete mess, but that's also part of its charm. Then again, maybe it's just Tarzan, with a dead lion draped over his powerful shoulders, rising above it all. The first half (or more) of the novel is the best. The part where Tarzan becomes Tarzan. His learning to read on his own (remarkable), to survive, to hunt, to kill -- and with a vengeance, is way cool and way pulpy. The second part, where Jane Porter and her father arrive, hunting treasu ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It's nice to be able to read a classic and have fun doing it. Edgar Rice Burroughs didn't bowl me over with his writing in this story but I enjoyed the imagination and the story that he brought to it. Heck, it's Tarzan so it's hard not to have a good time with this. I am looking forward to trying some of Burroughs more fantastic work like the John Carter series, especially with the new movie coming out soon as it looks great.
2.5 stars. Not one of the "classics" that I particularly enjoyed. It has been over 20 years since I read this and I may put this on the list to re-read at some point to see if my opinion has changed. For now, my recollection is that it was okay but forgettable.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Contemporary YA: Tarzan Book vs. Movie 2 6 Jul 01, 2016 07:18PM  
Around the Year i...: Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs 13 28 Mar 16, 2016 08:48AM  
  • The Young Man's Guide
  • The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry
  • American Boys Handy Book
  • Boy Scouts of America : The Official Handbook for Boys (Reprint of Original 1911 Edition)
  • The Frontier in American History
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: The Land That Time Forgot
  • Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (Wold Newton #1)
  • The Man of Bronze (Doc Savage, #1)
  • The Rough Riders
  • Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why
  • Seek: Reports from the Edges of America and Beyond
  • The Crisis
  • Almuric
  • Sandokan: The Pirates of Malaysia
  • Founding America: Documents from the Revolution to the Bill of Rights
  • The Mark of Zorro
  • Allan Quatermain
Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.
More about Edgar Rice Burroughs...

Other Books in the Series

Tarzan (1 - 10 of 27 books)
  • The Return of Tarzan (Tarzan, #2)
  • The Beasts of Tarzan (Tarzan, #3)
  • The Son of Tarzan (Tarzan, #4)
  • Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (Tarzan, #5)
  • Jungle Tales of Tarzan (Tarzan, #6)
  • Tarzan the Untamed (Tarzan, #7)
  • Tarzan the Terrible (Tarzan, #8)
  • Tarzan and the Golden Lion (Tarzan, #9)
  • Tarzan and the Ant Men (Tarzan, #10)
  • Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (Tarzan, #11)

Share This Book

“I do not understand exactly what you mean by fear," said Tarzan. "Like lions, fear is a different thing in different men, but to me the only pleasure in the hunt is the knowledge that the hunted thing has power to harm me as much as I have to harm him. If I went out with a couple of rifles and a gun bearer, and twenty or thirty beaters, to hunt a lion, I should not feel that the lion had much chance, and so the pleasure of the hunt would be lessened in proportion to the increased safety which I felt."

"Then I am to take it that Monsieur Tarzan would prefer to go naked into the jungle, armed only with a jackknife, to kill the king of beasts," laughed the other good naturedly, but with the merest touch of sarcasm in his tone.

"And a piece of rope," added Tarzan.”
“The time has arrived when patience becomes a crime and mayhem appears garbed in a manner of virtue” 36 likes
More quotes…