Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes

First published in 1914, this romantic novel has remained influential over the years, both as a book and in films and a television series. The reader must recognize that Tarzan is a product of its age and contains outmoded imagery and simplistic depictions of other cultures and species: bloodthirsty natives, chatty chimps, roaring lions, stalking beasts. In some respects Tarzan is a caricature of itself and life in an African jungle. Burroughs balances such incorrectness, however, with descriptions of vile elements of white civilization -- mutinous, murderous sailors, narcissistic aristocrats, self-involved academics, and hard-hearted cowards. At the centre of the story lies the muscular, yet innocent, and noble title character, a man increasingly torn between the civil and the savage, for whom cutlery is a nightmare, equally so are the pretensions of “civil” society that tries to control and subdue nature and wildlife, rather than seek to understand it. Through Tarzan's eyes we see that civilized "men were indeed more foolish and more cruel than the beasts of the jungle," a powerful idea as relevant today as when this book was written.

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