Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice BurroughsUnabridged; David Ian Davies; One Voice Recordings
A story you could tell was written in installments, Tarzan of the Apes isn’t a great literary accomplishment, but is fun to get lost in. I would call it a blockbuster or sitcom compared with a truly great film. It entertains you and gets you to feel base emotions without having to think real hard. To take the analogy further, it is like a Michael Bay movie that has a lot of action and even more unbelievable plot elements and disregards the intelligence of the audience.
The story follows a person whose parents are marooned by mutineers on the west coast of Africa just before he is born. This untamed wilderness proves to be the death of both parents, but the baby, now a year old, is rescued by an ape whose own baby was killed. Tarzan, as the young boy is called, grows up not knowing about his ancestry and not even knowing he isn’t an ape for several years. He learns the ways of the apes and eventually finds the small cabin where he was born with the remnants of his past including books. He miraculously teaches himself to read and write and learns all about the world of men, which he learns is what he is.
After growing up and having many adventures and going through various rites of passage, he becomes the leader of his tribe. But, he wants to be a man not the leader of creatures not as smart as him, so leaving the tribe he returns to his cabin. Then everything changes. At this time, another ship has undergone mutiny and maroons an old American professor, his daughter, assistant, and a British nobleman (who is just there for the adventure and turns out to be Tarzan’s cousin) at the same beach as Tarzan’s parents were left. Tarzan meets Jane. And, of course Tarzan is madly in love with Jane. A series of unfortunate events take place. He leaves his jungle life to go after her, saves her life and … You have to read it to learn the ending.
I loved the recording of this book since it sounded like it had been recorded for a radio show or something nearly a century ago. Also, the narrator had fantastic voices for each character.
Let’s make one thing clear though, Tarzan was not raised by gorillas as the Disney adaptation leads us to believe. He was more likely raised by chimpanzees though the story always calls them anthropoid apes. It does, however, distinctly tell us it wasn’t gorillas because gorillas were some of their enemies and were described as being larger than his tribe’s apes. Also, according to my research gorillas don’t go swinging through the trees like chimps do. Baby gorillas occasionally brachiate and big ones can climb, but generally travel on the ground. In Tarzan, his whole tribe brachiates quickly through the trees.
OK, off the soapbox now. Tarzan is a fun story and worth a read at least once. There’s a reason so many adaptations have been made over the years. Though I did enjoy the story, I hated the ending. It abruptly ends in a way you don’t want it to. I guess that means I’ll have to go find the sequels Burroughs wrote after Tarzan became such a popular character.