David's Reviews > Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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's review
Feb 14, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 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 comes upon African villagers, he regularly (without moral qualms) kills them for their stuff. By hanging. Not joking. Yikes.
3. The European family's black servant is portrayed as so incompetent and ridiculous that Al Jolson would cringe.


Upon finishing, there were several other things that happened that I didn't love, and few that I did. Overall the book was pretty enjoyable if you view it as a period piece. There was too much racism, sexism, and pro-colonial hogwash to really take it seriously.

Even the good parts were ridiculous, but it was a rather quick read and mostly enjoyable. So if you like... Tarzan... worth a read. If not... meh.
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Reading Progress

02/16/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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James Point.. Tarzan didn't start killing the cannibals in the village until AFTER they killed his foster mother!

David Ah! Justified, then.

One of the things that really surprised me is that he came up with hanging on his own. I mean, that's a pretty anatomically and physically complex way to kill people. As far as I can remember, he never witnessed a hanging, so it shows a fair amount of murderous ingenuity.

Hannah Banana well dude, he was raised by stinking apes! do you think they ever taught him that murder is wrong? NO! It is also stated multiple times that he would only kill if he had a reason.

Chris Regarding shaving - Tarzan sees clean-shaven men in his picture books. He didn't just come up with the idea on his own. He did it to imitate them.
Your third point is totally justified. Esmeralda's portrayal is probably the most racist thing in the book.

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