Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tarzan of the Apes

Written by: Edgar Rice Burroughs

First line: I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.

Why you should read this book: Following a series of unfortunate events, young Lord Graystoke is adopted by a caring, maternal "anthropoid ape," and, while slow to mature by ape standards, is able to succeed in ape society by the age of ten, and to transcend his upbringing by age seventeen. Using his human intelligence to make up for his human weakness, Tarzan challenges and defeats his enemies, teaches himself to read despite a lack of any knowledge of human language, and eventually impresses some haplessly marooned Americans, including the lovely Jane Porter. Whether bellowing over the body of a dead attacker, wooing a woman with whom he cannot speak, or devouring raw flesh with blood dripping down his face, Tarzan presents a very specific view of masculinity that still holds a place in the popular imagination.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Burroughs's racism flag flies high here, so high that you hardly even note the sexism. Also, the ending is very stupid and isn't resolved until two-thirds of the way through the second book. 

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