In the Bookcase


Book Review: Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (5 star review)

Tarzan of the Apes
Tarzan #1

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

324 pages // published in 1912 // classic adventure


Men were indeed more foolish and more cruel than the beasts of the jungle! How fortunate was he who lived in the peace and security of the great forest!

In the late 19th century, a group of travelers become marooned in the coastal jungles of equatorial Africa. Among the group, John and Alice Clayton give birth to a boy, but soon misfortune strikes and both parents sadly die. A she-ape named Kala adopts the young orphaned boy and names him Tarzan. Thus is born the beginning of the Tarzan Legacy!

My Review

5 Star Rating

Mr. Tarzan "of the apes" is a much more refined man than I previously assumed. He communicates with all animals of the forest (some on friendly terms, and some not). But by the time he claps eyes on the first white man he has ever seen (aside from himself), he has already taught himself to read English (a language he knows nothing about speaking aloud), so the fact that he can write full pages of letters to the new white people, but not speak English to them... The situation is rather comical! It doesn't stop there though... When someone finally decides to teach Tarzan how to speak a human language, is it in English? Definitely not. Try French for a curveball. Tarzan is so intelligent too, and learns new things quickly.

I know that Burroughs writes with the philosophy of the age, and some readers may disapprove of his angle on women, on race, and perhaps other issues. But I just feel like those things come with the time period. If you choose to read a book written by a man in the early 1900s, these are likely the ideas you'll see in it. I enjoyed the adventure and drama of the story myself, and although I do see that the author brings out the "wrong" ideas on some of those topics, I can just look at it from a historical point of view and not let that bog down the rest of the novel for me.

Other facts in the book may not always seem accurate and factual, for some reason or another, but I can look past that -- because Burroughs obviously didn't have access to the amazingness of the world wide web...

Additionally, I'm surprised at myself for being okay with the fact that the very first white woman that Tarzan ever sees, he falls in love with her. It just works for this particular story, even though I would end up being a lot more skeptical if this was basically any other book...

I know my review may seem fairly critical, talking about some of the low points of the book. The truth is that I actually did enjoy the story! I feel like I went on a profound journey with Tarzan watching him grow up from his ape-hood to man-hood.

Minimum age to read: 16 and up.
(Maybe a little younger in age could read too, if your teen seems mature enough to handle the old writing style, the savage animals, the killing, and the other ensuing violence that constantly seems to follow Tarzan).

Would I be interested in reading the sequels? Yes! Can't wait to find out what happens next, now that Tarzan has been introduced to civilization.

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Book #4 completed // Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania

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1 comment:

  1. I don't know why, but it never occurred to me to consider this book. I probably knew the Tarzan story came from a book, but just never thought about it. It sounds interesting! I'll have to keep it in mind for future classic challenges.