American Lit · Books that have film Adaptations

Tarzan of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs – Author of Tarzan.

Let me just say that I loved the Disney adaptation of the book. Maybe I should be more open-minded?

Written at a time when people were settling in Africa, I don’t think the level of racism could be acceptable in a modern society. Also, perhaps going by a 90s Disney film for a point of reference probably wasn’t the best idea. The book is incredibly racist and contains bits about nearby jungle settlements and their ‘negro’ inhabitants.

And I was looking forward to a face-off scene between Clayton and Tarzan. But no. In the book, Clayton is much more civilized but still has the same bigoted ideas about negros – as was probably atypical in those days. As his feelings for Jane grow, Clayton is obviously willing to change his ways for her sake. Clayton also turns out to be Tarzan’s cousin and usurper of the Greystoke estate. Those sorts of dramatic realizations only belong on the Jeremy Kyle show. Jane is also being romantically pursued not just by Clayton but also by Mr Canler, who her father borrowed money from.

At first, the book is more descriptive because obviously apes can’t talk. But Tarzan manages to teach himself to read using books left behind by his parents who were killed by Kerchak when Tarzan was a baby. There were sweet little moments, such as when we are led through Tarzan’s potted logic while he learns to read or learn about the world – with the help of D’Arnot (who is probably amalgamated into other characters for purposes of adaptations. What a shame). He also manages to learn about who his parents were, but even if he is Lord Greystoke, he doesn’t seem so ready to embrace it and would rather see himself as son of Kala.

While this book was OK in general, I don’t think I’m so willing to read any more of the books because they just seem to be more formulaic, probably better written for a comic book. However, I will never lose the love I possess for the Tarzan Disney movie.

MY RATING: 3 / 5.


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