Tarzan of the Apes (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Tarzan of the Apes (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Maura Spiegel

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Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. In 1888 Lord and Lady Clayton sail from England to fill a military post in British West Africa and perish at the edge of a primeval forest. When their infant son is adopted by fanged “great anthropoid apes,” he becomes one of the most legendary figures in all of literature—Tarzan of the Apes. Within the society of speechless primates, Tarzan wields his natural influence and becomes king. Self-educated by virtue of his parents’ library, Tarzan discovers true civilization when he rescues aristocratic Jane Porter from the perils of his jungle. Their famous romance, which pits Tarzan’s lifetime of savagery against Jane’s genteel nature, has captivated audiences for nearly a century.
First published in 1914, Tarzan of the Apes is the first of several works by Edgar Rice Burroughs that delineate Tarzan’s manifold and amazing feats. Despite his reputation as a pulp writer, Burroughs spins an exhilarating yarn detailing the laws of the jungle and the intricate dilemmas of the British gentry as he examines the struggle between heredity and environment. Maura Spiegel teaches literature and film at Columbia University and Barnard College. She is the co-author of The Grim Reader and of The Breast Book: An Intimate and Curious History. She co-edits the journal Literature and Medicine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781411433250
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 06/01/2009
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 214,109
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

From Maura Spiegel's Introduction to Tarzan of the Apes


Tarzan of the Apes was a runaway success when it first appeared. Before he knew it, Burroughs had created a Tarzan industry. He struck deals for daily Tarzan newspaper comic strips and movies (and, later, radio shows), and he licensed Tarzan statuettes, Tarzan bubble gum, Tarzan bathing suits, and an assortment of other merchandizing ventures. Burroughs would write twenty-three Tarzan sequels, and estimates of his lifetime sales range between 30 and 60 million books.

With all the enthusiasm came detractors, those who said Tarzan was unoriginal, his hero just a variation on Kipling’s Mowgli, who, in The Jungle Books, is adopted as an infant by wolves. Kipling himself was of this opinion, writing in his autobiography, “If it be in your power, bear serenely with imitators. My Jungle Book begot Zoos of them. But the genius of all genii was the one who wrote a series called Tarzan of the Apes. I read it, but regret I never saw it on the films, where it rages most successfully. He had jazzed the motif of the Jungle Books, and, I imagine, had thoroughly enjoyed himself.”

In some respects, Tarzan is a distant descendant of frontier legends such as Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and James Fenimore Cooper’s character Hawkeye. Tarzan follows the tradition of frontier stories in which white heroes achieve their full manhood by emulating the ways of Indian hunters and warriors, of “savages.” In Tarzan of the Apes, the frontier is replaced by the jungle, and the “savages” are apes and Africans instead of Indians. Like the pioneer heroes, Tarzan symbolically merges the skill and ferocity of the savage with the superior mental and moral acuity attributed to the “civilized” man. Richard Slotkin has argued that the false values of “the metropolis,” be it European culture or urban modernity, can be purged by the adoption of a more primitive and natural condition of life, by a crossing of the border from civilization to wilderness. But adopting the ways of the beast or “savage” does not mean becoming one; it means you know how to turn his own methods against him.

Critic Leslie Fiedler described Tarzan of the Apes as “that immortal myth of the abandoned child of civilization who survives to become Lord of the Jungle.” This basic plot has been adapted and readapted in several dozen film versions. There are many Tarzans; there are noble savages, simple and gentle guardians who protect the jungle and its creatures from arrogant but frightened jungle-intruders, and there are fierce fighting Tarzans, whose primitive existence is poignantly harsh and brutal. Specific features of the Tarzan that Burroughs created, however, are commonly omitted from adaptations; rarely is he represented as the son of an English lord and lady who teaches himself to read and who demonstrates, through his demeanor and skill at killing, his Anglo-Saxon “racial superiority” and his inherited aristocratic taste and sense of honor. These elements of the story don’t have the kind of appeal they once did. As early as the first sound film adaptation in 1932, Hollywood democratized Tarzan, taking away his title and his British heritage. Over the years the representations of Tarzan’s Africa have varied as well. In many of the films, including the 1999 Disney animated version, no Africans appear at all, nor does Tarzan employ his method of killing by hanging, an evocation of lynching that, dismayingly, Burroughs seems to have been untroubled by. Because we want our heroes to embody our principles, Tarzan continues to evolve.

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Tarzan of the Apes (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 225 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had seen some Tarzan films before I read this book. I wanted to read it to see how Burrough's vision differed from the diffrent films that chronicled Tarzan's origin. And, I must say that I was amazed at how rich and entertaining THIS FANTASTIC BOOK was. I so enjoyed it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to see this legendary character in his true splendor, or to anyone looking for a good read.
theokester More than 1 year ago
I think most people have at least a vague concept of the Tarzan story and its characters. There have been many official Tarzan movies over the years and many stories and other movies that refer to or borrow from the Tarzan mythos. To a large extent, I went into this first Tarzan book (there were over 20 books written) with a pretty good feel for what to expect from the storyline. Despite that, I found some unique elements that I didn't expect. The adventure story within the book is pretty much what I had expected from the movies and TV shows I'd seen. There were a few elements where movie-makers had taken some liberties (possibly with concepts from other books and sometimes to make things more "screen worthy" - such as "me tarzan, you jane" which never happens in the book). I actually found that the adventures of the book were pretty fun to read and kept the pace of the book moving rather well. The book dealt a lot with exploring the character of the characters and the concept of what makes a man. At some times, these sections of narrative were interesting and insightful. At other times, these segments felt poorly informed, assumptive and racist/misogynistic . Generally speaking, the negative aspects of character development distracted me from the positive workmanship to the point that I had a hard time placing any validity on any of the characters. Scientifically speaking, Tarzan's development in the wild is completely unbelievable and his later development of "human" traits is likewise unbelievable. Setting those concepts under the "suspension of disbelief" clause used in fiction, I then got hung up on the behavior of the animals and especially of the other humans. The Women are as helpless lumps of life with their main purpose in life being to provide something that man can provide for and save from hardship and peril. The Men are inconsistent and can either be heartless self-centered ingrates willing to hurt (or kill) anyone for their own advancement, well-intentioned heroes who are physically incompetent and unable to follow through, or complete idiots unfit to do anything productive at all. Tarzan is the only "true man" and as such he finds himself ostracized and unable to find a happy existence either in civilization or the jungle (though he definitely prefers the jungle). Despite not being a fan of the way the characters were portrayed or the way everyone interacted with each other, I still enjoyed the story and there's a part of me that wants to read some of the other books simply for the fun, fluffy enjoyment of wild adventures. Burroughs writing style was fluid and rich and provided for a quick and enjoyable read. This is a book worth reading for the fun of it and to look at its influence on the media and culture of the 100 years since it was written. 3 Stars
shelley1AL More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Tarzan of the Apes when I was a kid, I read it several times, and reading it again many decades later has been a delight. It's been a great escape. I appreciate B&N Classics Series, the great prices encourage me to revisit many classics I grew up with, and also read some great classics for the first time.
PureMagick More than 1 year ago
I very much believe this belong in every reader's library.
Wompus More than 1 year ago
Everyone knows the Tarzan story, right? Well, I thought I did but I didn't. This story was thoroughly engrossing and moves very, very fast. There are some uncomfortable themes (Burroughs' ethnocentric view towards other races, etc.), but I think it comes with the times in which it was written. The storylines are fantastic and leave you wanting to read the next chapter. Some parts are unbelievable (a man killing apes, lion, etc. or a man swinging through the trees carrying another person), but the escapism and adventure are thrilling. It was a fun read that I would definitley recommend.
WitchyWriter 9 months ago
I love Tarzan. I’m fascinated by the way that some characters can exist beyond their original forms—Tarzan is right up there with Dracula, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland. To say that I’m excited about the coming movie would be a gross understatement. I joke with my friends that going back to work after having the baby is going to be devastating, but I already have the babysitter lined up for when I can leave the kid and go watch this new movie. I grew up on the Disney version of Tarzan, which in and of itself is pretty great. When I first read the actual book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, though, I realized there was so much more there. There are some minor differences, like Jane actually being American instead of English. Tarzan’s parents built a cabin on the beach instead of an elaborate (and pretty darn cool—way to go, Disney concept artists) treehouse. There’s no close friendship with any of the apes, though in the books Tarzan is said to be friends with Tantor the elephant (though we don’t get to see it in action, at least in the first book). All these minor differences are great for someone who already loves Tarzan as much as I do. But what about the first-timers, or the people more interested in the style of the writing? Here’s what you get from reading the original Tarzan of the Apes by Burroughs. The books are classic pulp fiction adventure romances. The narration style is formal, sometimes waxing philosophical, but never straying too far from suspenseful action that keeps you turning the pages. You understand Tarzan on a very basic, primal level, and you admire him, as you would have to admire anyone who can teach themselves to read when they can’t even speak the language they’re reading! The characters and situations are compelling, with enough human error folded in to have you shaking your head at them while still hoping that everything turns out all right. My first time through, the ending really surprised me. It gave me so much more respect for Tarzan, though. Here is a character who bridges the gap between the most primal instincts and the most proper etiquette and gentlemanly manner. Tarzan is a good person because he hasn’t been corrupted by society, by other men. He operates on his own moral grounds, and is more or less above reproach when we understand why he does what he does. I’ve talked to my husband about why I like Tarzan so much, and I still can’t fully understand or communicate what it is about him that is so appealing. I’ve always been drawn to more traditional masculine men, just as a matter of personal taste, and Tarzan is pretty much the epitome of that. Temper it with the manners of an English lord, and you’ve got an extremely attractive juxtaposition that I don’t think exists much in reality. I suppose my attraction to the Tarzan character is rather a moot point, though. For anyone out there who has enjoyed this character on any level, it’s well worth it to read the book. You might be opening a can of worms to some extent, because the following novels are just as good and work to continue the story chronologically, tying up loose ends and offering more elaborate adventures—but they’re quick reads, and essential for the lover of adventure science fiction stories.
TN1796 More than 1 year ago
After all the movies and TV series based on Tarzan, it was great to finally meet the original. First, there are some truly retrograde views of blacks (all are portrayed as either ignorant servants or superstitious cannibals) that detract from the story often. What I found quite appealing was the story's interest in modern civilization and the primitive natural world. Burroughs succeeds in creating a hero who stands astride both worlds while showing the appeal of each. For a pulp novel, I enjoyed it's examination of both worlds. Still, the most exciting part of the book is Tarzan in the jungle as he learns how to survive in (and later lead) the animals. Since it ends on a cliffhanger I want to read more of the Tarzan novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never in my life have I ever been more pissed off then right now. Just....End? Blasphemy!
jasonpettus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classic" books, then write essays on whether or not they still deserve the labelBook #25: Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)The story in a nutshell:Set in the last great days of the British Empire (i.e. the first decades of the 20th Century), Tarzan of the Apes is the story of one John Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke, actually born in the jungle on the western coast of Africa after his parents were marooned there by a mutinous ship crew, while they were passengers and bystanders on a long sea voyage. Ah, but it turns out that his parents both die while he's still a newborn, prompting a hasty "adoption" by a local ape named Kala and a childhood raised not as a human, but rather as the palest, weakest, least hairy ape of the entire region. The first half of this book, then, is an examination of tribal life itself, as "Tarzan" (his ape name) navigates the tricky politics and graphic violence of the animal society he finds himself in, even while slowly coming to realize during his puberty just how different he actually is. (See, he ends up stumbling across his parents' old jungle homestead while a teen, a surprisingly domestic setup because of the mutineers letting the Claytons unload all their worldly possessions before being abandoned; and thus does Tarzan end up just naturally learning how to read and write on his own, how to use a weapon and more, eventually using these things to bloodily conquer all his foes and become the famed "King of the Apes" we know today.)The plot's pace picks up again in the second half, though, after yet another wreck by a ship full of lily-white Europeans; and who should this party include but none other than the evil William Clayton, Tarzan's cousin, who's been using the usurped Greystoke fortune to bully into marriage our adventurous heroine Jane Porter, a Victorian with a wild streak who ends up enjoying their impromptu African adventure much more than the nerdy French scientists also along for the ride. Needless to say, Tarzan ends up saving their lives numerous times; has a chick-lit-esque wordless romantic night of vine-swinging with the clearly "Jungle Fever" infected Jane; and of course somehow manages to be the catalyst behind not only William's fall from grace but a surprise financial windfall for the Porter family, thus erasing the debt that was forcing Jane into a marriage of convenience with William to begin with. And thus does our "origin tale" end in the rural farmlands of Wisconsin (the rural farmlands of Wisconsin?), with the baddies punished and the goodies rewarded and with a now-civilized Tarzan ready for the two dozen official sequels that would soon follow.The argument for it being a classic:Even this book's fans admit that it's not the quality of the prose itself that makes this a classic, but rather its place in artistic history; for as most people know by now, Tarzan turned out to be an insanely loved character by the public at large, prompting one of the first-ever "character franchises" in the history of the entertainment industry. (In fact, Burroughs himself started one of the first artist-owned production companies in history as well, the still-existing "Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc.," which has overseen each and every one of the thousands of Tarzan books, movies, TV episodes, comics and more that has ever been made.) And besides, its fans say, even the writing itself isn't as bad as some make it out to be; sure, some of the later sequels get awfully cheesy and formulaic, but this first novel is surprisingly sophisticated for its time, deliberately avoiding many of the lazy racial stereotypes that defined this age and even offering up a refreshingly indep
DavidBurrows on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Given all the tarzan films that span out of the books - it makes sense to read the original. Very entertaining
Nodosaurus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great story, but everyone knows how it goes. There are a few details not portrayed in the movies, more info on Tarzan's parents and how he came to be adopted by the apes, and his early life among the apes.
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Definitely a dated classic, but wonderful for all that. I re-read it for The Pulp magazine group I'm in & am glad I did. You really want to read the next book, "The Return of Tarzan" immediately after since we're left with a cliff hanger.Burroughs hasn't aged as well as some authors, mostly because of his handling of PC subjects such as racism & sexism. It is too easy to see the outward signs of both in his books, but careful reading shows that while he may have catered to the views of the day, he didn't seem to really believe in the racism, in this book.For instance, the majority of blacks in this book are degenerate brutes. They're a tribe of barbaric cannibals who killed the 'mother' of our hero, though. They have the misfortune to have a society that Burroughs denigrates at every opportunity. Esmeralda, Jane's servant/confidant/nanny, is also an object of humor, but then so is her father & his secretary/companion. All are caricatures, as is Tarzan himself. When it comes right down to it, Burroughs makes a point that fingerprints from an ape might be simpler, but there was no difference between those of a black & a white. This admission of equality of physical evolution wasn't common in his day. He treats the white pirates the same way as the black tribesman - they're bad guys & so contemptible. The story hinges on coincidence & stupid, heroic restraint consistently & that doesn't do it any favors nor did the cliff hanger ending. Still, it was a fun read & I'd highly recommend it to anyone. Tarzan has been so warped by movies, TV & add-ons that it's nice to see the original.
Venqat65 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So wonderful to finally read the book which spawned all of the cartoons and children's versions of the story. This version is much more mature in wording and in subject matter and the story is one which well deserves it's classification of a literary classic.The story begins with the tale of Tarzan's parents, who board a ship but never arrive at their intended destination. After their demise, only Tarzan lives and he is taken in by a female ape who has just suffered through the death of her own baby. Tarzan's story is a remarkable one, as he not only adapts to the life of the apes but also manages to find his own ties back to humanity, all on his own.I was thrilled that the "Me Tarzan, You Jane" bit was not a part of this, the real story.The ending, though, was sad. I wish that it had ended in a happier way....I won't give it away though.....Yet....in the final paragraphs of the book, Tarzan shows that he is more of a civilized, mature man than any other person in the entire tale.
Crewman_Number_6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
People always laugh when I tell them that Tarzan is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. Unless you have actually read Burrough\'s book, you really have not experienced anything even close to what the Tarzan story is about. This has always been a favorite from the day I first read it as a child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always loved these books since it was the first book I rember reading as a child of 5 or 6
Roscoe95 More than 1 year ago
Tarzan of the Apes is a wonderful read. For someone like me who had never read Edgar Rice Borroughs’ work before it was a nice change from the other science fiction/fantasy novel I was used to reading. Before reading this book my only perspective of Tarzan was from the Disney adaptation from my childhood and the 2016 movie adaptation of the story. Since the book was written in 1912 it is written in a bit older English than many other novels, but it is still a pretty easy read. I loved the humor that Borroughs put into his character Tarzan and how you get to see Tarzan’s journey from just an outsider in his clan of apes to an educated English gentleman. It is an exciting read as well because it has many fights, escapes, love, and of course lots of flying through the trees swinging on vines. Since it was written so long ago there are some parts that are somewhat sexist, but these are far and in between. If you want to broaden your vocabulary, then this is an excellent book to use. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading or is just interested in finding out the original story of Tarzan as I was.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the classic adventure that birthed a legend. The author was pedestrian as a stylist, but had a vivid imagination for someone who never even visited Africa. Today it would likely be denounced as racist. Read it even if you think you know Tarzan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She puts food in her pu.ssy going up to the gorrilla
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chinitaNJ More than 1 year ago
Very good book, my child love it!