Dust-jacket illustration of Tarzan of the Apes
|First appearance||Tarzan of the Apes|
|Last appearance||The Dark Heart of Time|
|Created by||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
|Portrayed by||Johnny Weissmuller
|Aliases||John Clayton, John Caldwell|
|Occupation||Adventurer, hunter, trapper, fisherman|
|Spouse(s)||Jane Porter (Wife)|
|Relatives||Meriem (Daughter in Law);
Dick and Doc, the "Tarzan Twins" (Distant relatives) 
Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungle by the Mangani "Great apes", who later returns to civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes (magazine publication 1912, book publication 1914), and then in twenty-five sequels, three authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, authorized or not.
Tarzan is the son of a British Lord and Lady who were marooned on the West coast of Africa by mutineers. When Tarzan was a year old, his mother died of natural causes, and his father was killed by Kerchak, leader of the ape tribe into which Tarzan was adopted. Tarzan's tribe of apes is known as the Mangani, Great Apes of a species unknown to science. Kala is his ape mother. Tarzan (White-skin) is his ape name; his English name is John Clayton, Lord Greystoke (the formal title is Viscount Greystoke according to Burroughs in Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle; Earl of Greystoke in later, non-canonical sources, notably the 1984 movie Greystoke). In fact, Burroughs, as narrator of Tarzan of the Apes, describes both Clayton and Greystoke as fictitious names – implying that, within the fictional world that Tarzan inhabits, he may have a different real name.
As a young adult, Tarzan meets a young American woman, Jane Porter, who along with her father and others of their party is marooned at exactly the same spot on the African coast where Tarzan's parents were twenty years earlier. When she returns to America, he leaves the jungle in search of her, his one true love. In later books, Tarzan and Jane marry and he lives with her for a time in England. They have one son, Jack, who takes the ape name Korak ("the Killer"). Tarzan is contemptuous of the hypocrisy of civilization, and he and Jane return to Africa, making their home on an extensive estate that becomes a base for Tarzan's later adventures.
In Tarzan, Burroughs created an extreme example of a hero figure largely unalloyed with character flaws or faults. He is described as being Caucasian, extremely athletic, tall, handsome, and tanned, with grey eyes and black hair. Emotionally, he is courageous, loyal and steady. He is intelligent and learns new languages easily. He is presented as behaving ethically, at least by Burroughs' definitions, in most situations, except when seeking vengeance under the motivation of grief, as when his ape mother Kala is killed in Tarzan of the Apes, or when he believes Jane has been murdered in Tarzan the Untamed. He is deeply in love with his wife and totally devoted to her; in numerous situations where other women express their attraction to him, Tarzan politely but firmly declines their attentions. When presented with a situation where a weaker individual or party is being preyed upon by a stronger foe, Tarzan invariably takes the side of the weaker party. In dealing with other men Tarzan is firm and forceful. With male friends he is reserved but deeply loyal and generous. As a host he is likewise generous and gracious. As a leader he commands devoted loyalty.
In contrast to these noble characteristics, Tarzan's philosophy embraces an extreme form of "return to nature". Although he is able to pass within society as a civilized individual, he prefers to "strip off the thin veneer of civilization", as Burroughs often puts it. His preferred dress is a knife and a loincloth of animal hide, his preferred abode is a convenient tree branch which happens to be nearby when he desires to sleep, and his favored food is raw meat, killed by himself; even better if he is able to bury it a week so that putrefaction has had a chance to tenderize it a bit.
Tarzan's primitivist philosophy was absorbed by countless fans, amongst whom was Jane Goodall, who describes the Tarzan series as having a major influence on her childhood. She states that she felt she would be a much better spouse for Tarzan than his fictional wife, Jane, and that when she first began to live among and study the chimpanzees she was fulfilling her childhood dream of living among the great apes just as Tarzan did.
Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli has been cited as a major influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation of Tarzan. Mowgli was also an influence of a number of other "wild boy" characters; see Feral Children in Mythology and Fiction.
In many ways, Tarzan's jungle upbringing gives him abilities above and beyond those of ordinary humans. These abilities include climbing, clinging, and leaping as well as any great ape. He uses hanging vines to swing at fast speeds, a skill likely acquired because of his primate upbringing.
His strength, speed, agility, reflexes, flexibility, and swimming ability are above average in comparison to most humans. He has wrestled full grown bull apes and gorillas, rhinos, crocodiles, pythons, sharks, tigers, man-size seahorses (once) and even dinosaurs (when he visited Pellucidar).
He can learn a new language in days and thus speaks many languages, including that of the great apes, French, English, Dutch, German, Swahili, many Bantu dialects, ancient Greek, ancient Latin, Mayan, the languages of the Ant Men and of Pellucidar.
He is also capable of communicating with many species of jungle animal.
Tarzan has been called one of the best-known literary characters in the world. In addition to more than two dozen books by Burroughs and a handful more by authors with the blessing of Burroughs' estate, the character has appeared in films, radio, television, comic strips, and comic books. Numerous parodies and pirated works have also appeared.
Science fiction author Philip José Farmer wrote Tarzan Alive, a biography of Tarzan utilizing the frame device that he was a real person. In Farmer's fictional universe, Tarzan, along with Doc Savage and Sherlock Holmes, are the cornerstones of the Wold Newton family. Farmer also wrote two books, "Hadon of Ancient Opar" and "Flight to Opar", set in distant past and giving the antecedents of the lost city of Opar, which plays an important role in the Tarzan books.
Even though the copyright on Tarzan of the Apes has expired in the United States of America, the name Tarzan is still protected as a trademark of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Also, the work remains under copyright in some other countries where copyright terms are longer.
While Tarzan of the Apes met with some critical success, subsequent books in the series received a cooler reception and have been criticized for being derivative and formulaic. The characters are often said to be two-dimensional, the dialogue wooden, and the storytelling devices (such as excessive reliance on coincidence) strain credulity. While Burroughs is not a polished novelist, he is a vivid storyteller, and many of his novels are still in print. In 1963, author Gore Vidal wrote a piece on the Tarzan series that, while pointing out several of the deficiencies that the Tarzan books have as works of literature, praises Edgar Rice Burroughs for creating a compelling "daydream figure".
Despite critical panning, the Tarzan stories have remained popular. Burroughs's melodramatic situations and the elaborate details he works into his fictional world, such as his construction of a partial language for his great apes, appeal to a worldwide fan base.
Since the beginning of the 1970s, Tarzan books and movies have often been criticized as being blatantly racist. The early books give an overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical portrayal of native Africans, both Arab and Black. In The Return of Tarzan, Arabs are "surly looking" and say things like "dog of a Christian", while blacks are "lithe, ebon warriors, gesticulating and jabbering". Other ethnic groups and social classes are likewise rendered as stereotypes; this was the custom in popular fiction of the time. A Swede has "a long yellow moustache, an unwholesome complexion, and filthy nails" and Russians cheat at cards. The aristocracy (excepting the House of Greystoke) and royalty are invariably effete. In later books, there is an attempt to portray Africans in a more realistic light. For example, in Tarzan's Quest, while the hero is still Tarzan, and the Black Africans relatively primitive, they are portrayed as individuals, with good and bad traits, and the main villains have white skins. Burroughs never does get over his distaste for European royalty, though.
Burroughs' opinions, made known mainly through the narrative voice in the stories, reflect common attitudes, widely held in his time, which in a 21st-century context would be considered racist and sexist. The author is not especially mean-spirited in his attitudes. His heroes do not engage in violence against women or in racially motivated violence. Still, the attitudes of a superior-inferior relationship are plain and occasionally explicit; according to James Loewen's Sundown Towns, this may be a vestige of Burroughs having been from Oak Park, Illinois, a former Sundown town (a town that forbids non-whites from living within it)--or it may very well be the fact these were common attitudes at the turn of the century.
Also, some defenders of the Tarzan series argue that some of the words Burroughs uses to describe Africans, such as "savage", were generally understood to have a different and less offensive meaning in the early 20th century than they do today.
After Burroughs' death a number of writers produced new Tarzan stories without the permission of his estate. In some instances, the estate managed to prevent publication of such unauthorized pastiches. The most notable exception in the United States was a series of five novels by the pseudonymous "Barton Werper" that appeared 1964-65 by Gold Star Books. As a result of legal action by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., they were taken off the market and remaining copies destroyed. Similar series appeared in other countries, notably Argentina, Israel, and some Arab countries.
In Israel in the 1950s and early 1960s there was a thriving industry of locally-produced Tarzan adventures published weekly in 24-page brochures by several competing publishing houses, none of which bothered to get any authorization from the Burroughs estate. The stories featured Tarzan in contemporary Africa, a popular theme being his fighting against the Mau Mau in 1950s Kenya and single-handedly crushing their revolt several times over. He also fought a great variety of monsters, vampires and invaders from outer space infesting the African jungles, and discovered several more lost cities and cultures in addition to the ones depicted in the Burroughs canon. Some brochures had him meet with Israelis and take Israel's side against her Arab enemies, especially Nasser's Egypt.
None of the brochures ever bore a writer's name, and the various publishers - "Elephant Publishing" (Hebrew: הוצאת הפיל), "Rhino Publishing" (Hebrew: הוצאת הקרנף) and several similar names - provided no more of an address than POB numbers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These Tarzan brochures were extremely popular among Israeli youths of the time, successfully competing with the numerous Hebrew translations of the original Tarzan novels, and are recalled with nostalgia by many Israelis now in their fifties. The Tarzan brochures faded out by the middle 1960s, surviving copies at present fetching high prices as collectors' items in the Israeli used-book market. Researcher Eli Eshed has spent considerable time and effort on the Tarzan brochures and other Israeli pulp magazines and paperbacks. (Hebrew website with cover of "Tarzan's War Against the Germans").
The popularity of Tarzan in Israel had some effect on the spoken Hebrew language. As it happens, "tarzan" (Hebrew: טרזן) is a long-established Hebrew word, translatable as "dandy, fop, coxcomb" (according to R. Alcalay's Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary of 1990). However, a word could not survive with that meaning while being identical with the name of a popular fictional character usually depicted as wearing a loincloth and jumping from tree to tree in the jungle. Since the 1950s the word in its original meaning has completely disappeared from the spoken language, and is virtually unknown to Hebrew speakers at present - though still duly appearing in dictionaries.
In the 1950s Syria and Lebanon also saw the flourishing of unauthorized Tarzan stories. Tarzan in these versions was a staunch supporter of the Arab cause and helped his Arab friends foil various fiendish Israeli plots.
The Internet Movie Database lists 89 movies with Tarzan in the title between 1918 and 2008. The first Tarzan movies were silent pictures adapted from the original Tarzan novels which appeared within a few years of the character's creation. With the advent of talking pictures, a popular Tarzan movie franchise was developed, anchored at first by actor Johnny Weissmüller in the title role, which lasted from the 1930s through the 1960s.
Buster Crabbe's role in the 1933 Tarzan serial Tarzan the Fearless (also issued as a full length movie) launched a successful career in which he starred in over one hundred movies. It would be the only movie in which Crabbe starred as Tarzan. (The serial was re-edited into a made-for-TV feature in 1964.)
Tarzan films from the 1930s on often featured Tarzan's chimpanzee companion, Cheeta. Later Tarzan films have been occasional and somewhat idiosyncratic. Disney’s animated Tarzan (1999) marked a new beginning for the ape man, taking its inspiration equally from Burroughs and Greystoke.
Television later emerged as the primary vehicle bringing the character to the public. In 1958, movie Tarzan Gordon Scott filmed three episodes for a prospective television series. The program did not sell, but a different live action Tarzan series starring Ron Ely ran on NBC from 1966 to 1968. An animated series from Filmation, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, aired from 1976 to 1977, followed by the anthology programs Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour (1977–1978), Tarzan and the Super 7 (1978–1980), The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour (1980–1981), and The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour) (1981–1982). Joe Lara starred in the title role in Tarzan in Manhattan (1989), an offbeat TV movie, and later returned in a completely different interpretation in Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996), a new live-action series. In between the two productions with Lara, Tarzán, a half-hour syndicated series ran from 1991 through 1994. In this version of the show, Tarzan was portrayed as a blond environmentalist, with Jane turned into a French ecologist. Disney’s animated series The Legend of Tarzan (2001-2003) was a spin-off from its animated film. The latest television series was the live-action Tarzan (2003), which starred male model Travis Fimmel and updated the setting to contemporary New York City, with Jane as a police detective, played by Sarah Wayne Callies. The series was cancelled after only eight episodes. A 1981 television special, The Muppets Go to the Movies, features a short sketch entitled "Tarzan and Jane". Lily Tomlin plays Jane opposite The Great Gonzo as Tarzan. In addition, the Muppets have made reference to Tarzan on half a dozen occasions since the 1960s. Saturday Night Live featured recurring sketches with the speech-impaired trio of "Frankenstein, Tonto, and Tarzan".
A 1921 Broadway production of Tarzan of The Apes starred Ronald Adair as Tarzan and Ethel Dwyer as Jane Porter. In 1976, Richard O'Brien wrote a musical entitled T. Zee, loosely based on Tarzan but restyled in a rock idiom. Tarzan, a musical stage adaptation of the 1999 animated feature, opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway on May 10, 2006. The show, a Disney Theatrical production, was directed and designed by Bob Crowley. The same version of Tarzan that was played at the Richard Rodgers Theatre is being played throughout Europe and has been a huge success in Holland. The Broadway show closed on July 8, 2007. Tarzan also appeared in the Tarzan Rocks! show at the Theatre in the Wild at Walt Disney World Resort's Disney's Animal Kingdom. The show closed in 2006.
In the mid-1980s there was an arcade video game called Jungle King that featured a Tarzan-like character in a loin cloth. A game under the title Tarzan Goes Ape was released in the 1980s for the Commodore 64. A Tarzan computer game by Michael Archer was produced by Martech. Disney's Tarzan had seen video games released for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color. Followed by Disney's Tarzan Untamed for the PS2 and Gamecube. Tarzan also appeared in the PS2 game Kingdom Hearts, although this Tarzan was shown in the Disney context, not the original conceptional idea of Tarzan by Bourroughs. In the first Rayman, a Tarzan-like version of Rayman named Tarayzan appears in the Dream Forest.
Several Tarzan-themed products have been manufactured, including View-Master reels and packets, numerous Tarzan coloring books, children's books, follow-the-dots, Airfix plastic figures and activity books.
Tarzan of the Apes was adapted in newspaper strip form, in early 1929, with illustrations by Hal Foster. A full page Sunday strip began March 15, 1931 by Rex Maxon. Over the years, many artists have drawn the Tarzan comic strip, notably Burne Hogarth, Russ Manning, and Mike Grell. The daily strip began to reprint old dailies after the last Russ Manning daily (#10,308, which ran on 29 July 1972). The Sunday strip also turned to reprints circa 2000. Both strips continue as reprints today in a few newspapers and in Comics Revue magazine. NBM Publishing did a high quality reprint series of the Foster and Hogarth work on Tarzan in a series of hardback and paperback reprints in the 1990s.
Tarzan has appeared in many comic books from numerous publishers over the years. The character's earliest comic book appearances were in comic strip reprints published in several titles, such as Sparkler, Tip Top Comics and Single Series. Western Publishing published Tarzan in Dell Comics's Four Color Comics #134 & 161 in 1947, before giving him his own series, Tarzan, published through Dell Comics and later Gold Key Comics from Jan-Feb 1948 to February, 1972). DC took over the series in 1972, publishing Tarzan #207-258 from April 1972 to February 1977, including work by Joe Kubert. In 1977 the series moved to Marvel Comics, which restarted the numbering rather than assuming that used by the previous publishers. Marvel issued Tarzan #1-28 (as well as three Annuals), from June 1977 to October 1979, mainly by John Buscema. Following the conclusion of the Marvel series the character had no regular comic book publisher for a number of years. During this period Blackthorne Comics published Tarzan in 1986, and Malibu Comics published Tarzan comics in 1992. Dark Horse Comics has published various Tarzan series from 1996 to the present, including reprints of works from previous publishers like Gold Key and DC, and joint projects with other publishers featuring crossovers with other characters.
There have also been a number of different comic book projects from other publishers over the years, in addition to various minor appearances of Tarzan in other comic books. The Japanese manga series Jungle no Ouja Ta-chan (King of the Jungle Ta-chan) by Tokuhiro Masaya was based loosely on Tarzan. Also, manga "god" Osamu Tezuka created a Tarzan manga in 1948 entitled Tarzan no Himitsu Kichi (Tarzan's Secret Base).
In a one off mini series Tarzan teamed with Batman. The art was supplied by Igor Kordey.
In the 1940s, the Finnish writer Lahja Valakivi published four adventure novels about Tarsa karhumies, i.e., Tarsa the Bear Man. The books were obviously inspired by Tarzan, but they were adapted into a Finnish setting: as there are no apes in Finland, the hero Tarsa was raised by bears instead.
In Asia, Philippine Cinema's inclination in satirizing western entertainment produced Starzan, a comedy film loosely based on the original Tarzan franchise. It stars Filipino comedic actor Joey De Leon as Starzan, Rene Requiestas as "Chitae", and Zsa Zsa Padilla as Jane.
Tarzan is a 1999 American animated feature film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 18, 1999.
|Tarzan of the Apes
|Tarzan of the Apes is the first in a series of over
twenty books about the title character Tarzan. It was first
published in a pulp magazine in 1912, and a book edition followed
in 1914.— Excerpted from Tarzan of the Apes on Wikipedia, the free
Full book scan of the 1914 A.L. Burt edition available at Google Books
one or more chapters are available in a spoken word format.
|This work is in the public domain in
the United States because it was published before
January 1, 1923.
The author died in 1950, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.
Tarzan is a fictional character. He is in many books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Edgar Rice Burroughs first wrote about Tarzan in 1912. The book was called Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan's father was an English lord who died in the jungle in Africa. The baby Tarzan was left alone in the jungle. Giant apes found the baby Tarzan and took care of him. In the stories, he has many exciting adventures. Tarzan has appeared in books, as well as movies, comic books, and television programs.
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