Monday, October 01, 2007

on Tarzan and Jane

Ed Kemmick, of the Billings Gazette, wrote a delightful column about the efforts in Austria to get a chimpanzee considered as a human. But it also contained one of the great canards of modern "literature." He said that Tarzan and wife Jane had a common law relationship. Heaven forbit that her father, a Methodist minister, would have allowed that. Unfortunately, what most people who think about Tarzan today may know is what was in the series of rather bad, Z movies made in the thirties and forties, that never showed the origin of Tarzan. As someone who read the books something a gazillion years ago before I had quite reached puberty, it is my proud awareness that Jane's father married them on the station platform as a small town in Wisconsin just before they boarded the train to begin the return to Africa. It is the final scene in the book, "The Return of Tarzan," the sequel to "Tarzan of the Apes." Their son, Jack, then was the star of the third book, "Son of Tarzan." And you thought the constant sequels of today were something new. Then Burroughs turned to the stock effect of turning out pot-boiler adventures for his ape man and that was a different sort of thing. Incidentally, he also had a series that started with John Carter of Mars and went on for a number of books that were much more in the way of a continuing series than the Tarzan books. He also did a series based on Venus that were never quite as popular and don't seem to be on the horizon of most science fiction fans of today, although you may be able to find them in book stores in paperback. Sorry, Ed, but it was a good, entertaining column, even if you misspelled Cheetah.


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