October 10th, 2009

cass groovy

You Tarzan, Me Jane

Dr. Hermes mentioned THE QUEST OF TARZAN, one of the later Tarzan novels, recently, and it got me curious -- I haven't read all of anything past TARZAN OF THE APES, because while I *love* the original to the depths of my soul, every time I tried reading another I got kind of bored. This was not the case with Burroughs's Barsoom novels, in which shit just relentlessly kept happening; but while TARZAN OF THE APES was jam-packed with unceasing and interesting developments, I kind of got the feeling that after the first one Burroughs never had any really great novel-length ideas for stuff that Tarzan could do. Maybe I'm wrong, so I'm going to try reading 'em again. Anyway, QUEST OF TARZAN has two major plots; the first has Tarzan going up against the white savages the Kuvuru, who steal women from everybody including the Waziri, who are the black tribe Tarzan is cool with. (He has a buddy relationship with Muviro, the hereditary chief of the Waziri, and Tarzan serves as the Waziri's war chief when shit gets thick. As implausible a construct as ERB's imaginary Africa is, it's unfortunate that modern adaptations don't play with the idea of Tarzan as a political power in his corner of it. It's a big problem with white jungle heroes in general these days; they can't stick around their jungle, where cool stuff happens, but they have to come stateside to mix it up in the kind of places and with the kind of people we see in every other movie. Case in point, the upcoming "reimagining" of THE PHANTOM, which might not suck but if you watch the trailer every single person in it, good guys and bad, is white and the show looks like it was shot in Vancouver. C'mon, gimme some stuff in the African nation of Leefalkia with various local factions trying to use the legend of The Ghost Who Walks for their own benefit, or something.)

The second plot is that Jane is flying back from abroad to meet up with Tarzan, and when the plane she's in crashes in the treetops, she assumes leadership and gets her party out of danger. It is early, but I expect these plots to collide at some convenient point. But Jane being bad-ass is pretty interesting to see in an ERB book, especially considering he ignored her wholesale in a bunch of them and actually killed her off in one point (she died in the magazine version; her death turned out to be faked in the book version, or something like that, if I recall my TARZAN ALIVE correctly; thanks, Phil Farmer). Word is that he was inspired by a new romance... um, with the wife of one of his buddies. YOU STAY CLASSY, ERB. Anyway, so I'm reading it, and I hit this exchange.

"But, my dear, I mean you're not going out there alone?" cried Kitty.

"Sure she's not," said Brown. "I'll go along with you, Miss."

"I'm afraid," said Jane, with a smile, "that where I am going, you couldn't follow. Here, let me have your knife."

"I reckon I can go anywhere you can go, Miss," said Brown, grinning.

"Let me have the knife," said Jane. "Why it's a nice big one! I always did like to see a man carrying a man-sized knife."

Edgar Rice Burroughs, you *dog.*
cass groovy

APED: "the parasite's welcome"

This mighty whale has swallowed things
from men to puppet-boys, and more:
mariners and errant kings,
prophets fleeing a distant shore --
but of all the things he's et,
from pink and soft to greeny goo,
of all the guests I've had, and met,
there's not a nicer one than you.