Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes

infobox Book |
name = Tarzan of the Apes
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Dust-jacket illustration of "Tarzan of the Apes"
author = Edgar Rice Burroughs
illustrator = Fred J Arting
cover_artist = Fred J Arting
country = United States
language = English
series = Tarzan series
genre = Adventure novel
publisher = A. C. McClurg
release_date = 1914
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = 400 pp
isbn = NA
preceded_by =
followed_by = The Return of Tarzan

"Tarzan of the Apes" is a novel written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first in a series of books about the title character Tarzan. It was first published in the pulp magazine "All-Story Magazine" in October, 1912; the first book edition was published in 1914. So popular was the character that Burroughs continued the series into the 1940s with two dozen sequels.

Plot summary

The novel tells the story of John Clayton, born in the western coastal jungles of equatorial Africa to a marooned couple from England, John and Alice (Rutherford) Clayton, Lord and Lady Greystoke. Adopted as an infant by the she-ape Kala after his parents died (his father is killed by the savage king ape Kerchak), Clayton is named "Tarzan" ("White Skin" in the ape language) and raised in ignorance of his human heritage.

Feeling alienated from his peers due to their physical differences, he discovers his true parents' cabin, where he first learns of others like himself in their books, with which he eventually teaches himself to read.

On his return from one visit to the cabin, he is attacked by a huge gorilla which he manages to kill with his father's knife, although he is terribly wounded in the struggle. As he grows up, Tarzan becomes a skilled hunter, exciting the jealousy of Kerchak, the ape leader, who finally attacks him. Tarzan kills Kerchak and takes his place as "king" of the apes.

Later, a tribe of black Africans settles in the area, and Kala is killed by one of its hunters. Avenging himself on the killer, Tarzan begins an antagonistic relationship with the tribe, raiding its village for weapons and practicing cruel pranks on them. They, in turn, regard him as an evil spirit and attempt to placate him.

Subsequently, a new party of whites is marooned on the coast, including Jane Porter, the first white woman Tarzan has ever seen. Tarzan's cousin, William Cecil Clayton, unwitting usurper of the ape man's ancestral English estate, is also among the party. Tarzan spies on the newcomers, aids them in secret, and saves Jane from the perils of the jungle. Absent when they are rescued, he is introduced further into the mysteries of civilization by the Belgian Paul D'Arnot, whom he saves from the natives. D'Arnot teaches Tarzan French and how to behave among white men, as well as serving as his guide to the nearest colonial outposts.

Ultimately, Tarzan travels to Jane's native Baltimore, Maryland only to find that she is now in the woods of Wisconsin. Tarzan finally meets Jane in Wisconsin where they renew their acquaintance and he learns the bitter news that she has become engaged to William Clayton. Meanwhile, clues from his parents' cabin have enabled D'Arnot to prove Tarzan's true identity. Instead of claiming his inheritance, Tarzan chooses rather to conceal and renounce his heritage for the sake of Jane's happiness.

Film adaptations

Burroughs' novel has been the basis of several movies. The first two were the silent films "Tarzan of the Apes" (1918) and "The Romance of Tarzan" (1918), both starring Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan, based on the first and second parts of the novel, respectively. The next and most famous adaptation was "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932), starring Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to star in eleven other Tarzan films. It was remade twice, as "Tarzan, the Ape Man" (1959), featuring Denny Miller, and "Tarzan, the Ape Man" (1981), with Miles O'Keeffe as Tarzan and Bo Derek as Jane. Three more movie adaptations have been made to date; "Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" (1984), a film starring Christopher Lambert that is more faithful to the book, "Tarzan of the Apes" (1999), a direct to video animated film, and "Tarzan" (1999), an animated film with Tony Goldwyn as the voice of Tarzan.

A number of Burroughs' other Tarzan novels have also been adapted for the screen, and numerous additional Tarzan films have been made with no connection to his writings other than the character.

Comic adaptations

The book has been adapted into comic form on a number of occasions, both in the original Tarzan comic strip and comic books. Notable adaptations include those of Gold Key Comics in "Tarzan" no. 155 (reprinted in no. 178), DC Comics in "Tarzan" nos. 207-210, and Marvel in "Tarzan Super Special" no. 1 (reprinted in "Tarzan of the Apes" nos. 1-2).


The copyright for this novel has expired in the United States and, thus, now resides in the public domain there. The text is available via Project Gutenberg.


*cite book | last=Bleiler | first=Everett | authorlink=Everett F. Bleiler | title=The Checklist of Fantastic Literature | location=Chicago | publisher=Shasta Publishers | pages=67 | date=1948

External links

* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/78 Text of the novel at Project Gutenberg]
* [http://www.erblist.com/erblist/t1summary.html Edgar Rice Burroughs Summary Project page for "Tarzan of the Apes"]

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