Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Tarzan of the Apes - Edgar Rice Burroughs
Did I ever think I'd read Tarzan of the Apes? No. Not until the last book I read, Browsings, convinced me I was missing a cracking good yarn. It's free to download on a Kindle, so I did.
We all know the story, don't we? John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, and his lovely pregnant wife, Alice, are on their way to a job in Africa when the crew of their ship mutinies. The crew puts them off on the shore, leaving them with some supplies. Clayton builds a cabin and manages pretty well. But his wife is more delicate and dies shortly after their baby is born. Clayton is killed by an ape right after his wife's death.
Kala, one of the ape's wives, has just lost her baby. When she hears the human baby crying, she takes him and leaves her dead baby in the crib. She raises Tarzan as an ape. I'm going to leave out all the fights that Tarzan has with lions and other apes. Let's just say he grows up to be a badass, King of the Apes. The apes may be stronger, but Tarzan is a man and has better powers of reasoning. He can outfight anything.
Then one day, another Clayton shows up. This one is, if I understood correctly, Tarzan's cousin. No one knows this, of course. Tarzan thinks his mother was an ape and doesn't know who his father was. Clayton, Professor Porter, his daughter Jane Porter, and his secretary Samuel T. Philander have a similar experience to the previous Clayton. Crew mutiny, pirates, treasure, marooned on the shore, etc., etc.
The pirates leave them on the beach, but come back when a French ship follows them. The pirates bury the treasure so they won't be caught with it. The French arrive on the beach just after Jane has been kidnapped by one of the apes. Tarzan takes off to rescue her but isn't sure he wants to give her back. Meanwhile, the French are searching for the missing Jane and are ambushed by a tribe of cannibals. The cannibals take the captain of the French party and Tarzan has to rescue him, too.
Tarzan nurses D'Arnot back to health, but by the time he's well enough to move back to the beach, everyone is gone. Jane has left a note for Tarzan, who she doesn't realize is the man who rescued her. By the way, Tarzan taught himself to read and write English from the books his father left in the cabin. But he doesn't know how to pronounce the words, so he can't speak English, only Ape.
D'Arnot teaches Tarzan how to speak French, and some English. They work their way back to civilization. Tarzan wants to go to America to find Jane. He loves her. D'Arnot is intrigued by Tarzan and wants to know who he is. He has fingerprints of the Clayton infant, found in John Clayton's diary, compared to Tarzan's fingerprints. They're a match. Tarzan is Lord Greystoke.
Meanwhile, back in Wisconsin, well, meanwhile back in Baltimore, Jane is being forced to marry a man she doesn't love. He funded her father's expedition to Africa to find a treasure and now he's calling in his chips. Jane, her father, Philander, and the other Clayton, who also loves Jane and wants to marry her, go to an old family farm in Wisconsin. Tarzan finds them there and rescues her from the bad man who is essentially buying Jane for his wife. There's a forest fire, that's pretty exciting, and Tarzan rescues Jane again.
HOWEVER, the book ends with a cliffhanger. I think there are twenty-five Tarzan books and I do not want to read them all. But in the best Saturday afternoon serial movie style, stay tuned for the next book to find out what happens next! Damn!!