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Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875 – 1950)


American author of science-fiction and adventure stories, most famous for the creation of the jungle-born hero Tarzan.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
One by one the tribe swung down from their arboreal retreats and formed a circle about Tarzan and his vanquished foe. When they had all come Tarzan turned toward them.
"I am Tarzan," he cried. "I am a great killer. Let all respect Tarzan of the Apes and Kala, his mother. There be none among you as mighty as Tarzan. Let his enemies beware."
Burroughs quotes
I sold electric light bulbs to janitors, candy to drug stores, and Stoddard's Lectures from door to door. I had decided I was a total failure, when I saw an advertisement which indicated that somebody wanted an expert accountant. Not knowing anything about its I applied for the job and got it.
I am convinced that what are commonly known as "the breaks," good or bad, have fully as much to do with one's success or failure as ability. The break I got in this instance lay in the fact that my employer knew even less about the duties of an expert accountant than I did.
Burroughs
Tarzan held a peculiar position in the tribe. They seemed to consider him one of them and yet in some way different. The older males either ignored him entirely or else hated him so vindictively that but for his wondrous agility and speed and the fierce protection of the huge Kala he would have been dispatched at an early age.




Burroughs Edgar Rice quotes
I am Tarzan, King of the Apes, mighty hunter, mighty fighter. In all the jungle there is none so great.
Burroughs Edgar Rice
In the middle of the floor lay a skeleton, every vestige of flesh gone from the bones to which still clung the mildewed and moldered remnants of what had once been clothing. Upon the bed lay a similar gruesome thing, but smaller, while in a tiny cradle near-by was a third, a wee mite of a skeleton.
To none of these evidences of a fearful tragedy of a long dead day did little Tarzan give but passing heed. His wild jungle life had inured him to the sight of dead and dying animals, and had he known that he was looking upon the remains of his own father and mother he would have been no more greatly moved.
Edgar Rice Burroughs quotes
Noiselessly Kerchak entered, crouching for the charge; and then John Clayton rose with a sudden start and faced them.
The sight that met his eyes must have frozen him with horror, for there, within the door, stood three great bull apes, while behind them crowded many more; how many he never knew, for his revolvers were hanging on the far wall beside his rifle, and Kerchak was charging.
When the king ape released the limp form which had been John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, he turned his attention toward the little cradle; but Kala was there before him, and when he would have grasped the child she snatched it herself, and before he could intercept her she had bolted through the door and taken refuge in a high tree.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
The boats, and trains, and cows and horses were quite meaningless to him, but not quite so baffling as the odd little figures which appeared beneath and between the colored pictures some strange kind of bug he thought they might be, for many of them had legs though nowhere could he find one with eyes and a mouth. It was his first introduction to the letters of the alphabet, and he was over ten years old.
Burroughs Edgar Rice quotes
The duties of kingship among the anthropoids are not many or arduous. ... But Tarzan tired of it, as he found that kingship meant the curtailment of his liberty. He longed for the little cabin and the sun-kissed sea for the cool interior of the well-built house, and for the never-ending wonders of the many books.
As he had grown older, he found that he had grown away from his people. Their interests and his were far removed. They had not kept pace with him, nor could they understand aught of the many strange and wonderful dreams that passed through the active brain of their human king. So limited was their vocabulary that Tarzan could not even talk with them of the many new truths, and the great fields of thought that his reading had opened up before his longing eyes, or make known ambitions which stirred his soul.
Among the tribe he no longer had friends as of old. A little child may find companionship in many strange and simple creatures, but to a grown man there must be some semblance of equality in intellect as the basis for agreeable association.
Burroughs
Tarzan of the Apes lived on in his wild, jungle existence with little change for several years, only that he grew stronger and wiser, and learned from his books more and more of the strange worlds which lay somewhere outside his primeval forest.
Burroughs Edgar Rice
High up among the branches of a mighty tree she hugged the shrieking infant to her bosom, and soon the instinct that was as dominant in this fierce female as it had been in the breast of his tender and beautiful mother the instinct of mother love reached out to the tiny man-child's half-formed understanding, and he became quiet.
Then hunger closed the gap between them, and the son of an English lord and an English lady nursed at the breast of Kala, the great ape.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
As Tarzan finished reading, Clayton entered and came toward him with extended hand.
Here was the man who had Tarzan's title, and Tarzan's estates, and was going to marry the woman whom Tarzan loved the woman who loved Tarzan. A single word from Tarzan would make a great difference in this man's life.
It would take away his title and his lands and his castles, and it would take them away from Jane Porter also. "I say, old man," cried Clayton, "I haven't had a chance to thank you for all you've done for us. It seems as though you had your hands full saving our lives in Africa and here.
"I'm awfully glad you came on here. We must get better acquainted. I often thought about you, you know, and the remarkable circumstances of your environment.
"If it's any of my business, how the devil did you ever get into that bally jungle?"
"I was born there," said Tarzan, quietly. "My mother was an Ape, and of course she couldn't tell me much about it. I never knew who my father was."




Edgar Rice Burroughs quotes
Tarzan of the Apes knew that they had found the body of his victim, but that interested him far less than the fact that no one remained in the village to prevent his taking a supply of the arrows which lay below him.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Had there been no other personal attribute to influence the final outcome, Tarzan of the Apes, the young Lord Greystoke, would have died as he had lived an unknown savage beast in equatorial Africa.
But there was that which had raised him far above his fellows of the jungle that little spark which spells the whole vast difference between man and brute Reason. This it was which saved him from death beneath the iron muscles and tearing fangs of Terkoz.
Burroughs quotes
In Tarzan's clever little mind many thoughts revolved, and back of these was his divine power of reason.
If he could catch his fellow apes with his long arm of many grasses, why not Sabor, the lioness?
Burroughs Edgar Rice
Slowly he turned the pages, scanning the pictures and the text for a repetition of the combination B-O-Y. Presently he found it beneath a picture of another little ape and a strange animal which went upon four legs like the jackal and resembled him not a little. Beneath this picture the bugs appeared as: A BOY AND A DOG There they were, the three little bugs which always accompanied the little ape.
And so he progressed very, very slowly, for it was a hard and laborious task which he had set himself without knowing it a task which might seem to you or me impossible learning to read without having the slightest knowledge of letters or written language, or the faintest idea that such things existed.
He did not accomplish it in a day, or in a week, or in a month, or in a year; but slowly, very slowly, he learned after he had grasped the possibilities which lay in those little bugs, so that by the time he was fifteen he knew the various combinations of letters which stood for every pictured figure in the little primer and in one or two of the picture books.
Burroughs Edgar Rice quotes
Only those who saw this terrible god of the jungle died; for was it not true that none left alive in the village had ever seen him? Therefore, those who had died at his hands must have seen him and paid the penalty with their lives.
As long as they supplied him with arrows and food he would not harm them unless they looked upon him, so it was ordered by Mbonga that in addition to the food offering there should also be laid out an offering of arrows for this Munan- go-Keewati, and this was done from then on.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Thus, at eighteen, we find him, an English lordling, who could speak no English, and yet who could read and write his native language. Never had he seen a human being other than himself, for the little area traversed by his tribe was watered by no greater river to bring down the savage natives of the interior.
High hills shut it off on three sides, the ocean on the fourth. It was alive with lions and leopards and poisonous snakes. Its untouched mazes of matted jungle had as yet invited no hardy pioneer from the human beasts beyond its frontier.
Edgar Rice Burroughs quotes
He commenced a systematic search of the cabin; but his attention was soon riveted by the books which seemed to exert a strange and powerful influence over him, so that he could scarce attend to aught else for the lure of the wondrous puzzle which their purpose presented to him.
Among the other books were a primer, some child's readers, numerous picture books, and a great dictionary. All of these he examined, but the pictures caught his fancy most, though the strange little bugs which covered the pages where there were no pictures excited his wonder and deepest thought.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
That night a little son was born in the tiny cabin beside the primeval forest, while a leopard screamed before the door, and the deep notes of a lion's roar sounded from beyond the ridge.
Lady Greystoke never recovered from the shock of the great ape's attack, and, though she lived for a year after her baby was born, she was never again outside the cabin, nor did she ever fully realize that she was not in England.
Burroughs Edgar Rice
Tarzan must act quickly or his prey would be gone; but Tarzan's life training left so little space between decision and action when an emergency confronted him that there was not even room for the shadow of a thought between.


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