Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan the Global Phenomenon

Celebrating Tarzan's 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Burroughs' descriptive prose, fantasy setting, and focus on action made Tarzan easily translatable into other languages and the novels quickly became internationally popular during the author's lifetime. Griffin gives details about many of the translations, including Burroughs' rocky relationship with Germany following the anti-German Tarzan the Untamed. Tarzan also had some problems in Soviet Russia, but that was because the government was upset that the novels were more popular than Marx. As of Griffin's writing, Tarzan had been published in 32 languages, including Esperanto and Braille.

The Tarzan films also proved popular globally, but what's most interesting to me are the various spin-offs and adaptations created specifically for other countries. Italy, China, and India have all created their own movie versions of the character. France had its own Tarzan comics in WWII. Argentina and Australia both created radio versions of the character. We've also previously talked about Tarzan's influence on Japanese fitness and Australian glue. One of the most fascinating phenomena though has been the unauthorized Tarzan novels written by Israeli and Arab authors in which the ape man has served each group in fighting the other. As Griffin writes, "Tarzan's appeal crosses the most widely divergent political and ideological lines."

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