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Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan #1)

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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  21,330 ratings  ·  1,260 reviews
When Tarzan is orphaned as a baby deep in the African jungle, the apes adopt him and raise him as their own. By the time the boy is ten, he can swing through the trees and talk to the animals.By the time he is eighteen, he has the strength of a lion and rules the apes as their king. But Tarzan knows he's different. Will he ever discover his true identity?


From the Trade Pap
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ebook, 288 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Modern Library (first published 1912)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Whitaker
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
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John Conrad
Feb 23, 2008 John Conrad rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. 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
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Tara
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
Keri
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
David
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
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Jonathan

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
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Jim
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
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bup
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
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Adam
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.
Monk
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
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J.M.
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
Seth
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
Dfordoom
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
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Ben Loory
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
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Stephen
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.
Werner
Jun 16, 2009 Werner rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Vlad
Before delving into the review itself, it's important to note several relevant biographical details about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The guy was not a writer. At the age of 36, he was a life-time loser who had failed at every job he had ever had, including ranch hand and pencil sharpener. His own father had fired him.

Then, one day he read a work of pulp fiction in a magazine. Despite having no writing credentials or experience, he felt he could do better. And unlike a million other people who had th
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Joanie Rich
Aug 27, 2007 Joanie Rich rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ages 10 and up
I listened to an old unabridged audio cassette of this first Tarzan novel after having plunged through a later one that I discovered hiding in a 25 cent book bargin bin at a library. And what a treasure did I find! Burroughs has the amazingly uncanny ability to describe all the senses in panoramic detail. I feel like I'm there with Tarzan and his friends (and enemies) in the jungle.

You gotta keep in mind how dated this is but wow! He was such a talented writer for his time. It makes me wonder h
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Mary JL
Jan 29, 2014 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any adventure fan
Shelves: action-adventure
For a book published over 100 years ago, Tarzan is still quite readable. It is a well written, exciting tale and has SO MUCH more to offer you than the movies of Tarzan you may have seen.

Excitement, chases, bits of humor all merge together with some interesting ideas. Yes, it is a bit dated and you need to get used to Burrough's writing style. But the patient reader that takes the time to read this will be richly rewarded with a tale that has gripped adventure lovers since its publication.

Note:
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Erika Rasmussen
i don't care how geeky it makes me, i LOVED this book. i only happened upon it because it was the first ebook offered on my iPhone ebook reader, but i fell in love in the first chapter. i'm only sad that "Return of Tarzan" isn't available as an iPhone ebook, so now i have to get it from the library (the old-fashioned way). the first book ends when tarzan just makes it to the US and meets up with jane, so now i have to read the 2nd to find out about his adventures in civilization. trust me, you w ...more
Darwin8u
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 the various movies, comics, cartoons, and the eventual Disneyfication of the story.

tarzan

I read this book shortly after getting LOA's 100 year anniv
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Dorothy
As a teenager reading the Tarzan books back in the '60s, I wanted to be Jane and go live in the jungle with the strong, silent Tarzan. Tarzan was an adventure that took me completely out of my time and place and set my imagination free. It was a hoot!
Bethan
This is pure pulp fantasy and adventure but it's thrilling. Especially at the beginning with the jungle stuff I loved the way it was written. The animals came to life and it was exotic and atmospheric. It's one of those iconic classics so worth reading for that. Lord Greystoke, later named Tarzan, is stranded on an island as a baby and he is brought up by apes. The story goes on to how he gets re-introduced to civilisation via people who get stranded on the island, including the beautiful Jane P ...more
Kirt
So, I finished reading the original Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I won't even begin to talk about what a hash the movie and TV versions, especially the Disney version, made of an excellent story.

I expected not to enjoy this book very much. I never found Tarzan to be a very compelling character, in any of the incarnations I was familiar with. I expected to enjoy the Barsoom stuff much more, as the Science Fantasy trappings attracted me much more.

But I found, despite the trappings,
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Julanne Wicks
Though a little slow going, mainly because it was written in 1912 English, which is quite different from today's language. But truly it was a fabulous read, and I can't wait to read the next twenty-odd books. And maybe watch every Tarzan movie ever made. Starting with the Disney movie, which I'm watching now as I read this--poor baby ape.

It is VERY different from the Disney movie, be prepared. And the ending is awfully brilliant and brilliantly awful. Complicated and a little upsetting, and a ve
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Komal
Another makes-me-wish-I-was-born-in-a-Jungle read.
I love the Disney adaptation to bits.
J Cravens
Dec 05, 2008 J Cravens rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a fun, surprising read
Shelves: fiction
I've been on a quest for several years now to read old fiction books, particularly (but not exclusively) American and British novels, that have been around for so long and are so famous that no one reads them anymore, because they've been made into movies or TV mini-series (often many times over), or because they've entered into our pop culture references so frequently that people *think* they know them without having to actually read them. They don't have to be great novels -- just really, real ...more
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Tarzan's English language 16 86 Jul 16, 2014 08:34AM  
Early 20th century writing within tarzan 11 41 Aug 17, 2013 05:59PM  
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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...
A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1) The Gods of Mars (Barsoom, #2) The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3) The Land That Time Forgot (Caspak, #1-3) Thuvia, Maid of Mars (Barsoom, #4)

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“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.”
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“The time has arrived when patience becomes a crime and mayhem appears garbed in a manner of virtue” 28 likes
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