Perhaps the fact that I lived in Chicago and yet hated cities and crowds of people made me write my first Tarzan story."
Gore Vidal, Esquire, December 1963:
"...There is something basic in the appeal of the 1914 Tarzan which makes me think that he can still hold his own as a daydream figure, despite the sophisticated challenge of his two young competitors, James Bond and Mike Hammer. For most adults, Tarzan (and John Carter of Mars) can hardly compete with the conspicuous consumer consumption of James Bond or the sickly violence of Mike Hammer, but for children and adolescents the old appeal continues. All of us need the idea of a world alternative to this one. From Plato’s Republic to Opar to Bondland, at every level, the human imagination has tried to imagine something better for itself than the existing society. Man left Eden when he got up off all fours, endowing his descendants with nostalgia as well as chronic backache. In its naïve way, the Tarzan legend returns us to that Eden where, free of clothes and the inhibitions of an oppressive society, a man is able, as William Faulkner put it in his high Confederate style, to prevail as well as endure. The current fascination with LSD and drugs—not to mention alcohol—is all a result of a general sense of boredom. Since the individual’s desire to dominate his environment is not a desirable trait in a society that every day grows more and more confining, the average man must take to daydreaming. James Bond, Mike Hammer, and Tarzan are all dream selves, and the aim of each is to establish personal primacy in a world that, more and more, diminishes the individual. Among adults, the current popularity of these lively fictions strikes me as a most significant and unbearably sad phenomenon..."
(Think of the popularity of all the super heroes in 2014 and then re-read Vidal's quote above!)
I first read Burroughs's Tarzan book in Marathi. I did not know it was a translation. I used to feel miserable reading how Tarzan was orphaned. I did not want to be a kid-Tarzan. For a long time, my knowledge of Africa was entirely restricted to what Tarzan books taught!
I guess as a kid I loved Hindi films like Suraj, 1966 because they had Tarzan-like elements in them.
(Read entries on this blog, about about my other childhood heroes: Nath Madhav's Virdhawal and Lee Falk's Phantom.)
When I first saw Johnny Weissmuller film, I realized how sculpted a male could look. Later I learnt he was a champion swimmer too.
Of course, as always with me, Maureen O'Sullivan playing Jane helped!
Artist: Joe Dator, The New Yorker, February 2014
Tarzan of the Apes and its twenty-two sequels together have sold more than 30 million copies. Mr. Burroughs was also a popular science fiction writer. His 'A Princess of Mars' is a futuristic sci-fi fantasy romance.
Like Ms. O'Sullivan, the princess looks enticing to me.
courtesy: Penguin Classics FB page