Friday, June 18, 2010

Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke

Want to flesh out your summer reading list? Well, no better way than reading about that loin-clothed vine-swinger, Tarzan of the Apes!

From the Amazon product description of Tarzan Alive:

"Through the tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs, generations of readers have thrilled to the adventures of Lord Greystoke (aka John Clayton, but better known as Tarzan of the Apes). In this biography Philip José Farmer pieces together the life of this fantastic man, correcting Burroughs’s errors and deliberate deceptions and tracing Tarzan's family tree back to other extraordinary figures, including Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Doc Savage, Nero Wolfe, and Bulldog Drummond."

Several of the Amazon reviews are intelligent and informative, providing background facts and historical perspective.

From the Amazon review of Tarzan of the Apes (Signet Classics), written by Debra Hamel:

"Tarzan impresses as a character both because of his physical prowess and his mental acuity. He is portrayed as a noble savage, a blend of human and ape that is superior to both species, both of which come in for criticism. (Though Tarzan is not perfect: we're told, for example, that as a man he will sometimes kill merely for sport.) The book closes with a final act of nobility on Tarzan's part--very nicely done--that underscores his inherent quality."

I still remember stumbling across Tarzan of the Apes at about the age of thirteen or fourteen. It was a hardback book, old with a worn green cover, the edges rounded and frayed. How peaceful was the green of the cover, how fierce the jungle of the words!

Burroughs immediately pulled me into a whole new world: the jungle, the birth of the man-child, and his adoption into the tribe of the apes--and I say tribe because these are not everyday apes but unique apes--perhaps even an unrecognized species.

The man-child possesses all the qualities of a wild animal and yet also possesses the higher qualities of his British aristocratic heritage. He learns to read from studying picture books found in an abandoned house. He acquires a special "fang" composed of a bright, shiny substance. He protects his adopted mother and checks out the local teenage female apes of the tribe--before seeing a new "animal" on the trails and realizing his true nature and destiny.

After that, Tarzan never looks back--and neither do we, the readers. Tarzan, the noble savage!

Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


  1. Recently reread and enjoyed again Tarzan, and am currently rereading The Martian Tales Trilogy, also by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    I am blessed with a poor memory which enables me to reread once read stories and not remember what will happen next.

  2. Lucky you! Hi, Craig, hope you liked the blog article. The Farmer bio of Tarzan is fun--told in a straightforward manner yet also with subtle humor.