Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tarzan of the Apes

I finished Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and I really enjoyed it. It's definitely a pulp-style action novel, which is okay by me. There are many similarities between ERB's work and Robert E. Howard's work, the latter being, arguably, my favorite author. In both this book, and many of R.E.'s, there's a sense that barbarism, tempered with innate nobility, is a preferable middle ground between civilization (which makes people soft and weak) and an outright "savage" existence. In Tarzan, this is summed up by Tarzan being superior (obviously) to the American and English character (civilized and unused to jungle life), but also to the native Africans, who are depicted as savage killers with few redeeming features. There's also elements of racism in there as, even though he was stranded in the jungle and taken in by the apes as a baby, it was Tarzan's innate English "nature" that made him superior to both the apes and the natives. There are similar themes in much of pulp literature of the time and it's actually a bit funny reading it now. I do recommend it to anyone wanting to read a good action story and I plan on picking up the rest later.

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