Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tarzan of the Apes

I'm currently reading "Tarzan of the Apes" - the original story about Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Of course I already know the mythology from various cartoons and movie adaptations, but I have never actually read the source material (embarrassing). So it turns out that this novel is in the public domain and freely available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg. So I downloaded it the other day and started reading.

I'm quite enjoying it - as my friends would say about a good movie - it's a real page turner ;).

However, something is bugging me about it (hence this post). I can suspend my disbelief about a grief stricken ape-like mother rescuing a human baby and raising it as her own child. Similarly, I can buy into the fact that Tarzan, after discovering children's books and an English dictionary, is able to teach himself to read and write English despite never encountering written language before. The author is fairly careful to point out that spoken English is completely foreign to Tarzan because he has no idea about pronounciation of any of the letters. However, in a couple of situations, Tarzan writes a note that includes his name! How could he possibly come up with the spelling for 'Tarzan' when he has no idea about the sounds of any of the letters?

1 comment:

Kimota94 aka Matt said...

So you had no problem with the fact that the apes had a complete spoken language, but you struggled to accept that he could write his name without knowing what sound the letters make? :-) Considering that "Tarzan" simply means "White-Skin" in ape lingo, who knows what word it really was that young Master Greystoke translated to T-A-R-Z-A-N when he was learning to write?

You hairless apes think way too much...