Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In which I'm interviewed about Tarzan...

Did you have any preconceived ideas about Tarzan going into it?

Yes and no. I'd never seen any Tarzan movies. (Not even the Disney one.) Or read any Tarzan comics. But I guess I kinda knew there was a girl named Jane that fit into this somewhere. You know the whole "Me Tarzan, You Jane" thing.

(I did grow up watching the George of the Jungle cartoon. And of course I love, love, loved the movie. But who wouldn't?)

The reason I thought I wouldn't like it, I suppose, is that I thought of it as a boy-book with little to offer me.

Was it better or worse than you were expecting?

It was actually a little better than I was expecting! I thought it would be a lot more painful to read than it was. But there were a few places that I really did love it.

Mr. Philander and Professor Archimedes Q. Porter had me laughing. (Chapter 16) I only wish they were in it more.

And I loved this scene where Tarzan reads Jane's letter and writes a reply. She's written of her accounts in the jungle (so far) and while she doesn't know when the letter will be posted. She's written all the same. In this letter, she is talking about TWO mystery men.

One is a "wonderful creature who rescued us. I have not seen him, but Mr. Clayton and papa and Mr. Philander have, and they say that he is a perfectly god-like white man tanned to a dusky brown, with the strength of a wild elephant, the agility of a monkey, and the bravery of a lion."

And the second is a "weird neighbor, who printed a beautiful sign in English and tacked it on the door of his cabin, which we have preempted, warning us to destroy none of his belongings, and signing himself 'Tarzan of the Apes'. (chapter 18)

This is Tarzan's response:

Tarzan sat in a brown study for a long time after he finished reading the letter. It was filled with so many new and wonderful things that his brain was in a whirl as he attempted to digest them all.
So they did not know that he was Tarzan of the Apes. He would tell them.
In his tree he had constructed a rude shelter of leaves and boughs, beneath which, protected from the rain, he had placed the few treasures brought from the cabin. Among these were some pencils.
He took one, and beneath Jane Porter's signature he wrote:
I am Tarzan of the Apes
He thought that would be sufficient. Later he would return the letter to the cabin.
What did you find likable about Tarzan?

What I liked about the character was his genuineness. He felt what he felt and that was it. What you see is what you get. There was no game-playing or manipulation or deception. No hypocrisy.

What did you find the most unbelievable about the story?

Him learning to read all on his own based on primers and picture books.

Who would you recommend this book to?

I'm not sure. I guess for those looking for adventure it might be a good fit. It's more than just an adventure story of course. I think you can read it as part of the whole nurture/nature and savage/civilized debate.

And for those in the 1% Challenge. It is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. And it's not that long or intimidating.

Are you glad you read it?


See also, my review of Tarzan.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Janssen 8:18 PM  

The movie is one of my all-time favorites. Just so funny!

Hazra 9:34 PM  

I watched the cartoon movie, and I used to follow the comic strip for a while. I may read the book, but it's not really high on my list.

Blaize 4:30 AM  

So cool that you're reviewing this book! I listened to Tarzan on CD recently. I knew it would be better than the old movies but I expected to like it more than I did. I thought the book sort of meandered--especially after they left the jungle--and Jane's decision at the end seemed pretty silly. And like you, I didn't believe Tarzan could teach himself to read when he'd never even heard anyone speak!

DesLily 6:54 AM  

oh wow you never saw a Tarzan movie?? my my being old is getting harder and harder lol.. can't imagine not having seen Johnny Weismuller! But of the "newer" Tarzan (but not that new) I thought the movie Greystoke was really done well. Christoper Lambert was excellent as Tarzan. and I have to say Gordon Scott was one fine looking Tarzan of the
1960s lol

Debi 9:18 AM  

Okay, I'm probably never going to read this, but the title of this post totally made me giggle. And as I just said on an earlier post...I so totally think this challenge thing with your mom is the coolest idea!

Becky 12:15 PM  

Blaize, I see your point! I didn't want to talk about the ending in the post itself, but I had a few issues with the ending.

Deslily, I can't recall them being on tv when I was growing up. I wasn't purposefully avoiding them or anything :) I'll look and see if my library has any Tarzan movies. I'd definitely be open to seeing some now.

Debi, thanks! If you do end up doing something with your family, I hope you blog about it! I'd love to read about your adventures :)

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