Jungle Tales of Tarzan (Burroughs, E., R., 1916-1917)

As the title suggests, Jungle Tales of Tarzan are exactly that: tales about Tarzan in the jungle. In many ways, these loosely connected stories illuminate the early years of this jungle demi-god a bit further than it was done in the first Tarzan tale. Through these 12 tales, Burroughs tells more of how the personality of the wild man evolved, how his morals and sense of justice grew higher than of the apes that adopted him. In many ways, you could claim Jungle Tales as a companion piece to the first novel, Tarzan of the Apes.

As such the stories are set somewhere before Jane Porter was stranded to the jungle and after Kala, Tarzan's adopted mother, died. Tarzan isn't a young child anymore, he's a young lad in his mid-teens, just starting to experience the growth that comes with the age. This is the most suggestive in the tales where Tarzan falls in love with a she-ape, only to be rejected or the where he tries to seek more humane companionship by forcefully adopting a young black child from a nearby tribe.

I recall a writing, where it was suggested that in the conditions where Tarzan was born, his first sexual experiences would probably have been with apes and here Burroughs does indeed suggest that had Tarzan been successful in his courtship, that might have happened. But he's saved from doing that because he realizes his differences from the other apes and is, in the end, happy when Teeka chooses an another mate.

As a whole, Jungle Tales of Tarzan are pretty solid adventure stories. They don't offer much new to the table but are in good and bad pretty much what you'd expect to get from a Tarzan story, the bad being again how the native Africans are again described, the good being the adventurous narratives.

Burroughs also antomorphosises the jungle dwellers even further in the tales. While many of the animal characters had human behavior even during the first tales,  the great apes gain more and more human traits as do other animals of the wild. He often underlines the main differences between the understanding of beasts and men, but at times the animals of Burroughs come out more human than some of the black tribals he describes.

In truth, I wouldn't call Jungle Tales of Tarzan an essential piece in Tarzan lore. It doesn't really bring that many new things to him, more than it just makes the lines wider about his personality. So if that's what you're looking for, thins that make Tarzan's personality even clearer, then yes, Jungle Tales does warrant a look. Other wise, you can skip it.

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