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David Hines [userpic]

You Tarzan, Me Jane

October 10th, 2009 (01:26 am)

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.*


Posted by: PROBE UNIVERSE (liviapenn)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
dc: that's hot (selina approves!)

Hee hee hee hee. *G*

Posted by: Zornhau (zornhau)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 09:24 am (UTC)
Zornhau's armet

Tarzan more or less leaves me cold too, except for one or two classics. One is The Quest for Tarzan where, IIRC, it has the glorious moment when Jane just steps out from the crashed plane and respectability, onto a tree branch and jungle life. Awesome.

Even so, mature Barsoom is better. "Gods of Mars" - nothing more needs to be said.

ERB kept me sane during my Job From Hell - most if not all are on Project Gutenburg. There are one or two "modern" with no SF elements that give you a sense that he could have been the hardboiled PG Woodehouse had he chosen. Especially worth a look is "The Efficiency Expert".

Overall, ERB's main structural problem is that he always gets the serial hero hooked up in book one, so he can't swive his way through books 2-99.

Posted by: Persephone (persephone_kore)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah...

One is The Quest for Tarzan where, IIRC, it has the glorious moment when Jane just steps out from the crashed plane and respectability, onto a tree branch and jungle life.

I... think I remember that, actually.

Posted by: silk_noir (silk_noir)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)

I did enjoy the first 4 books.

Posted by: Amberley (amberley)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
Tarzan vs. Dinosaurs with bonus Nazis

Back in my teens I enjoyed the first 8 books, and read the 4 after that as well. My impression is the 13 after those are very formulaic so I've never read them.

I'd recommend Books 2 and 4 (The Return of Tarzan and The Son of Tarzan) and Book 8 (Tarzan the Terrible).

Somewhat unrelated, If you like pulp I'd recommend the first 24 Avenger books by Kenneth Robeson (Paul Ernst), or at least the first three: Justice, Inc, The Yellow Hoard, The Sky Walker. I strongly recommend AVOIDING Books 25 and later, written by Ron Goulart much later.

Posted by: DarkMark (darkmark)
Posted at: October 11th, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)

If you can, snag a copy of Fritz Leiber's TARZAN AND THE VALLEY OF GOLD. It is one helluva read, and it'll give you back your faith in Tarzan if you ever lost it.

Posted by: soundingsea (soundingsea)
Posted at: October 12th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)

Hee! I definitely didn't catch that sort of thing when reading ERB as a kid.

Posted by: Elleria (elleria)
Posted at: October 13th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)

I've never read the Tarzan books, but I think I'll have to give them a shot after reading what everyone is writing about them. The Barsoom ones too.
But they're making another Phantom movie? Hopefully it'll be better than the one in the 90s...I think 96. As a 12 year old I liked it, some parts more than others, but watching it recently...not as much.

Posted by: Elleria (elleria)
Posted at: October 13th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)

It's going to be a TV show...hmm...

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