bup's Reviews > Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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's review
Oct 17, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, 2008, 1001, librivox, novel

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 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.
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Reading Progress

October 17, 2008 – Shelved
October 17, 2008 – Shelved as: audiobook
Started Reading
October 26, 2008 – Shelved as: 2008
October 26, 2008 – Finished Reading
May 20, 2009 – Shelved as: 1001
June 16, 2009 – Shelved as: librivox
August 5, 2011 – Shelved as: novel

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

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message 1: by bup (new) - rated it 4 stars

bup I hope my review made clear that the factual inaccuracy was part of its charm for me. It's interesting to learn that some of the lions were tigers at first - that makes sense (being in thick jungle).

And the end of the book was so sparse, noble, and touching, that it really caught me off guard.

Loved the book.

Sheryl Tribble I read Tarzan as fantasy or SF -- it's pulp fiction, meaning it's about as accurate as your average TV show (i.e., tropes rule, not truth). As you say, the unreality and the purple prose are part of the charm -- but it also adds to the impact when he backs off on the silly stuff and honestly deals with real emotion, IMHO.

The fire in Wisconsin (although not Tarzan's method of dealing with it) was probably the most accurate aspect of the thing. Bet money that section was based on the Peshtigo fire, which Burroughs probably would have heard of while in Chicago even though it happened before he was born (northern Wisconsin has had county-wide fires since, and any newsman worth his salt would have compared them to the Peshtigo).

Bit of trivia for you -- much of the Peshtigo fire was right across Lake Michigan from the Petoskey, MI area, setting for many of Hemingway's stories.

message 3: by bup (new) - rated it 4 stars

bup Fascinating!

Tara King But how did he know how to write his name?

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