Parents' Guide to

Tarzan of the Apes

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Original ape-man tale more violent, racist than the films.

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Readers who come to the original from one of the much-sanitized Hollywood versions may be startled to discover a Tarzan tale that's more Quentin Tarantino than Walt Disney. Written for the adult pulp-fiction audience of 1912, TARZAN OF THE APES offers plenty of imaginative adventure, an intriguing premise, and the start of one of pop culture's most notable romances. From the 21st-century viewpoint, it also delivers shocking racist stereotypes (both of African "blacks" and of Jane's cartoonishly useless servant, a "Negress"), lots of gleeful violence, and hilariously improbable plot developments (such as Tarzan teaching himself to read from the children's books his parents left behind). It's a classic adventure and one that's likely to lead to some interesting discussions of what the moviemakers chose to leave out or change -- and why.

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