Tarzan Tuesday

The one where the hero fights a crocodile, the damsel takes over the ship at gunpoint, and the cook dies a hero:

Tarzan’s infant son, Jack, is kidnapped by his nemesis, Rokoff the Russian. Rokoff’s plan is to take Jack to the primordial vastnesses of Darkest Africa and give him to the cannibal tribes–not to kill, but to raise as their own in his own twisted evolutionary programme for the Greystoke family. The father an ape–the son a cannibal. Rokoff does even better than he thought he would, because with baby Jack as bait, he manages to capture both Tarzan and Jane (separately). Tarzan he maroons on an uninhabited island, Jane he keeps–for himself.

But the uninhabited island is home to a tribe of Mangani, of whom Tarzan soon becomes leader and escapes to the mainland; Jane gains the sympathy and help of the cook, and escapes to the mainland, and a variety of twists and turns (and crocodiles) keep them from actually finding each other until the very last chapter. (Burroughs was an expert at maddeningly delaying reader gratification with headlong coincidences, random twists, and sudden crocodiles.)

Will Tarzan go down beneath the clubs and spears of the frenzied cannibal horde? Will he live to save his child and his wife? Will Jane escape the clutches of Rokoff and reach safety with her baby? Will Rokoff live to twirl his moustache another day?

You already know the answer…

Tarzan Tuesday

This is a repost, but it made me snicker, so:

The Return of Tarzan – Chapter 5 – a rough summary

Tarzan: (busting in through the double doors) “Who do I punch?”
Olga de Coude: “Jean, it’s midnight and this is my boudoir! What can be the meaning of this?”
Tarzan: “It must be…a trap!”
Olga: (gasps)
Tarzan: “Yes, our friend Rokoff must have lured me here, to your bouid–bud–bedroom thingy–in order to sully your reputation! What a cad! Why does he keep doing this! Nice nightie, by the way.”
Olga: “Oh, do you like it? How about from this angle?”
Tarzan: “Come a little closer so I can admire it up in the light.”
Olga: “Sure. Oh, Jean, whatever shall we do if my husband finds us! He’ll never believe for a moment all you wanted to do was–what did you want to do?”
Tarzan: “Well, punch things, but whoa am I having second thoughts all of a sudden. Is that silk transparent, or is it just a little chilly in here?”
Olga: “Oh! You must protect me! Please say you’ll protect me! Puppydog eyes!”
Tarzan: “There, there.”
Olga: “Pleading hands on your lapels!”
Tarzan: “There, there, there, there.”
Olga: “I–I don’t know what to do! Sob!”
Tarzan: “There, th…oh hell, {smooch.}”
Count de Coude: Raaaa!
Olga de Coude: “….what the living hell just happened!?”
Tarzan: “…”
Olga: “Please go. Just…go.”
Rokoff: (rubs hands together, cackles, twirls moustache, etc)
Paulvitch: (cackles)
Tarzan: (graps them and bangs their heads together…I am not making that up)

Tarzan Tuesday

LORD GREYSTOKE was hunting, or, to be more accurate, he was shooting pheasants at Chamston-Hedding. Lord Greystoke was immaculately and appropriately garbed—to the minutest detail he was vogue. To be sure, he was among the forward guns, not being considered a sporting shot, but what he lacked in skill he more than made up in appearance. At the end of the day he would, doubtless, have many birds to his credit, since he had two guns and a smart loader—many more birds than he could eat in a year, even had he been hungry, which he was not, having but just arisen from the breakfast table.

The beaters—there were twenty-three of them, in white smocks—had but just driven the birds into a patch of gorse, and were now circling to the opposite side that they might drive down toward the guns. Lord Greystoke was quite as excited as he ever permitted himself to become. There was an exhilaration in the sport that would not be denied. He felt his blood tingling through his veins as the beaters approached closer and closer to the birds. In a vague and stupid sort of way Lord Greystoke felt, as he always felt upon such occasions, that he was experiencing a sensation somewhat akin to a reversion to a prehistoric type—that the blood of an ancient forbear was coursing hot through him, a hairy, half-naked forbear who had lived by the hunt.

And far away in a matted equatorial jungle another Lord Greystoke, the real Lord Greystoke, hunted. By the standards which he knew, he, too, was vogue—utterly vogue, as was the primal ancestor before the first eviction. The day being sultry, the leopard skin had been left behind. The real Lord Greystoke had not two guns, to be sure, nor even one, neither did he have a smart loader; but he possessed something infinitely more efficacious than guns, or loaders, or even twenty-three beaters in white smocks—he possessed an appetite, an uncanny woodcraft, and muscles that were as steel springs.

Later that day, in England, a Lord Greystoke ate bountifully of things he had not killed, and he drank other things which were uncorked to the accompaniment of much noise. He patted his lips with snowy linen to remove the faint traces of his repast, quite ignorant of the fact that he was an impostor and that the rightful owner of his noble title was even then finishing his own dinner in far-off Africa. He was not using snowy linen, though. Instead he drew the back of a brown forearm and hand across his mouth and wiped his bloody fingers upon his thighs. Then he moved slowly through the jungle to the drinking place, where, upon all fours, he drank as drank his fellows, the other beasts of the jungle.

As he quenched his thirst, another denizen of the gloomy forest approached the stream along the path behind him. It was Numa, the lion, tawny of body and black of mane, scowling and sinister, rumbling out low, coughing roars. Tarzan of the Apes heard him long before he came within sight, but the ape-man went on with his drinking until he had had his fill; then he arose, slowly, with the easy grace of a creature of the wilds and all the quiet dignity that was his birthright.

Numa halted as he saw the man standing at the very spot where the king would drink. His jaws were parted, and his cruel eyes gleamed. He growled and advanced slowly. The man growled, too, backing slowly to one side, and watching, not the lion’s face, but its tail. Should that commence to move from side to side in quick, nervous jerks, it would be well to be upon the alert, and should it rise suddenly erect, straight and stiff, then one might prepare to fight or flee; but it did neither, so Tarzan merely backed away and the lion came down and drank scarce fifty feet from where the man stood.

Tomorrow they might be at one another’s throats, but today there existed one of those strange and inexplicable truces which so often are seen among the savage ones of the jungle. Before Numa had finished drinking, Tarzan had returned into the forest, and was swinging away in the direction of the village of Mbonga, the black chief.

Tarzan Tuesday


A feeling of dreamy peacefulness stole over Jane as she sank down upon the grass where Tarzan had placed her, and as she looked up at his great figure towering above her, there was added a strange sense of perfect security.
As she watched him from beneath half-closed lids, Tarzan crossed the little circular clearing toward the trees upon the further side. She noted the graceful majesty of his carriage, the perfect symmetry of his magnificent figure and the poise of his well-shaped head upon his broad shoulders.
What a perfect creature! There could be naught of cruelty or baseness beneath that godlike exterior. Never, she thought had such a man strode the earth since God created the first in his own image.


To him life was never monotonous or stale. There was always Pisah, the fish, to be caught in the many streams and the little lakes, and Sabor, with her ferocious cousins to keep one ever on the alert and give zest to every instant that one spent upon the ground.
Often they hunted him, and more often he hunted them, but though they never quite reached him with those cruel, sharp claws of theirs, yet there were times when one could scarce have passed a thick leaf between their talons and his smooth hide.
Quick was Sabor, the lioness, and quick were Numa and Sheeta, but Tarzan of the Apes was lightning.
With Tantor, the elephant, he made friends. How? Ask not. But this is known to the denizens of the jungle, that on many moonlight nights Tarzan of the Apes and Tantor, the elephant, walked together, and where the way was clear Tarzan rode, perched high upon Tantor’s mighty back.


“When you said in your note to Tarzan of the Apes that you loved another—you might have meant me?”
“I might have,” she answered, simply.
“But in Baltimore—Oh, how I have searched for you—they told me you would possibly be married by now. That a man named Canler had come up here to wed you. Is that true?”
“Do you love him?”
“Do you love me?”
She buried her face in her hands.
“I am promised to another. I cannot answer you, Tarzan of the Apes,” she cried.
“You have answered. Now, tell me why you would marry one you do not love.”
“My father owes him money.”
Suddenly there came back to Tarzan the memory of the letter he had read—and the name Robert Canler and the hinted trouble which he had been unable to understand then.
He smiled.
“If your father had not lost the treasure you would not feel forced to keep your promise to this man Canler?”
“I could ask him to release me.”
“And if he refused?”
“I have given my promise.”
“Suppose I should ask him?” ventured Tarzan.
“He would scarcely accede to the demand of a stranger,” said the girl. “Especially one who wanted me himself.”
“Terkoz did,” said Tarzan, grimly.


Tarzan Tuesday

So, in one of my (non-English Lit) classes, an instructor offered extra credit for book reviews: either to read and verbally discuss one of the titles off his list, or any other agreed-on title of “Classic Literature.” We agreed on Tarzan of the Apes, and the rest is twenty extra-cred points worth of history.

My analysis of this classic of the Western Literature canon was:

Tarzan the character is an examination of the idea of a hero being someone who saves his friends, rather than someone who kills his enemies. Tarzan, the book, was written at a time when people were beginning to understand that they lived in a civilized age, one governed by law, regulation, and custom rather than chaos, honor, and individual initiative. Civilized men do not murder. Heroes do not kill if they can avoid it. But even though the hero is definitely uncivilized at first, he becomes so over the course of the book and is required by the genre, to be and have been all along, a paragon. But how can you have adventures without there being some danger, and how can you show your hero to be a paragon without having him prevail over that danger?

By having him save the endangered rather than kill the baddies. And because Tarzan is larger than life, he saves people a lot. I mean, most heroes would have called it a day by chapter ten or so.

So in book one alone, Tarzan:

– rescues his cousin, Clayton, from being shot in the back.
– rescues Clayton from being eaten by a leopard, about an hour later.
– rescues Jane from being eaten by a lion, about ten minutes after that
– rescues Jane’s father and sidekick from a separate lion (this is still all the same day)
– rescues the entire party from hunger by hunting and providing for them
– rescues Jane from Terkoz, one of the Mangani
– rescues D’Arnot, a French officer who went into the jungle to try and rescue Jane, from cannibals
– rescues Jane from a forest fire
– rescues the Porter family from financial distress by returning the buried treasure to them
– rescues Jane from an arranged marriage by threatening to murder her would-be fiancee

That’s book 1. It gets even better in book 2.



Tarzan Tuesday

“It’s not that he isn’t bright,” he was saying; “if that were
true I should have hopes of succeeding, for then I might bring
to bear all my energies in overcoming his obtuseness; but the
trouble is that he is exceptionally intelligent, and learns so
quickly that I can find no fault in the matter of the preparation
of his lessons. What concerns me, however, is that fact that he
evidently takes no interest whatever in the subjects we are studying.
He merely accomplishes each lesson as a task to be rid of
as quickly as possible and I am sure that no lesson ever again
enters his mind until the hours of study and recitation once
more arrive. His sole interests seem to be feats of physical
prowess and the reading of everything that he can get hold of
relative to savage beasts and the lives and customs of uncivilized
peoples; but particularly do stories of animals appeal to him.
He will sit for hours together poring over the work of some
African explorer, and upon two occasions I have found him setting
up in bed at night reading Carl Hagenbeck’s book on men and beasts.”

The boy’s mother tapped her foot nervously upon the hearth rug.

“You discourage this, of course?” she ventured.

Mr. Moore shuffled embarrassedly.

“I–ah–essayed to take the book from him,” he replied, a
slight flush mounting his sallow cheek; “but–ah–your son is
quite muscular for one so young.”

“He wouldn’t let you take it?” asked the mother.

“He would not,” confessed the tutor. “He was perfectly good
natured about it; but he insisted upon pretending that he was a
gorilla and that I was a chimpanzee attempting to steal food
from him. He leaped upon me with the most savage growls I
ever heard, lifted me completely above his head, hurled me
upon his bed, and after going through a pantomime indicative
of choking me to death he stood upon my prostrate form and
gave voice to a most fearsome shriek, which he explained was
the victory cry of a bull ape. Then he carried me to the door,
shoved me out into the hall and locked me from his room.”

–The Son of Tarzan (Takes After His Father), by Edgar Rice Burroughs