Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes cover imageTarzan of the Apes
written by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Reading Tarzan of the Apes proved to be an experience.

I don’t know when I first heard the story of Tarzan. I assume that I acquired it from the aether of having grown up in a well-read household. It is a fun archetype: A child, orphaned and abandoned far from humanity, is raised in the wild by animals and grows up strong and clever.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, written in 1894, has the same basic premise. There are a number of more recent books with the same premise, although they tend to add telepathic communication to the mix. I’d watched movies and cartoons of these classic stories, and read reworkings of the archetype many times before I ever got around to reading Tarzan of the Apes, as written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912.

I don’t consider myself an easily offended reader, and I wasn’t even offended, precisely, by reading this book. Astounded, maybe. Appalled. Intrigued in the way of watching a train wreck. It is, I think, the single most prejudiced book I have ever read. If there’s a prejudice you can think of, it’s in there.

Sexism: check!
Racism: check!
Nationalism: check!
Classism: check!

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