Coffee, the Sober Drink

Tarzan of the Apes

I still remember reading my first Edgar Rice Burroughs book as a kid. It was The Moon Maid, and it was given to me by my uncle. It was wonderful. I still have great memories of reading that book over and over again. I then progressed to Burroughs’ Carson of Venus series, but that was about it. For some reason I never read his most famous book, Tarzan of the Apes.

Well, now I’ve read it, and like everything else I’ve read by Burroughs, it is awesome. Of course it’s pure hack writing; Burroughs went on to write twenty-five, that’s right, TWENTY-FIVE , sequels to it. It’s pulpy melodrama to the core. The characters are one dimensional, the dialogue is stilted and the situations are absurd. Rudyard Kipling famously stated that Burroughs wrote Tarzan to “find out how bad a book he could write and get away with it.”

So why did I enjoy it so much? It is pure excitement and adventure, unencumbered by any restraints, and it is a great story. If it were not a gripping story, Tarzan would not be one of the most easily recognizable literary characters of the 20th century. Like Paula Deen’s bacon-wrapped, batter-dipped, deep-fried macaroni and cheese, critics could point to a lack of elegance and discernment in taste, but that still wouldn’t change the fact that it is a pile of warm cheesy goodness. Will I probably come back for another helping later? Yes. Yes I will.

4/5 stars

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