Bill Hillman's
Volume 012



1. Do-It-Yourself Education
2. Tarzan's Literary Merit
3. The Man Who Created Tarzan
4. ERB's Basic Storytelling Format
5. Odds & Sods
6. Tarzan Swings Again, This Time For College Credit At ECU!


Recent years have seen a big brouhaha over why Johnny can't read. Who remembers how Lord Greystoke learned to read. ... Long before he saw a fellow white man he had learned to read and write English better than some American high school students. ...In the cabin where his ill-fated parents had perished, ...(the ten-year-old) discovered books. Certain little "bugs" on the pages bothered and perplexed him. ... There were always a few hanging around under the pictures.... As he became used to the bugs his sharp observation recognized their individual shapes and he saw that there were only so many different ones, gathered together in various combinations.

The irony is that Burroughs, the jungle romanticist, unconsciously developed the controversial and recently bitterly denounced recognition method of learning to read, which is based on recognition of letter groups and their association with accompanying pictures. Tarzan, like American school Johnnys of several generations, was innocent of phonetics. When he met white men he could not understand what they said though he could communicate effectively in writing.

Yet by his unaided efforts, young Tarzan discovered that he was M-A-N rather than A-P-E. His progress was painfully slow, but by 18, long since having passed from primer to other books and the dictionary, he could read and write English with admirable skill. ... Images were moving from the pages of books into his life, as they do for all the rest of us who come to reading in more conventional ways.

Tarzan's self-education consisted of making mental connections. So-called electronic brains are systems of circuits that link quantities of stored data. They "think" with these data within the limited scope of instructions given to the machine. The circuits and linkages of the human brain, in the small, frail housing of a skull, are infinitely greater than the largest bank of computers. The electronic brain does the human mind's drudgery only under instruction. The living mind instructs itself.

Tarzan's feat lay in recognizing relationships and patterns. From observation he advanced to conclusions; upon these he built generalizations; within these he noted particulars, and so around again. This is not only the way of learning to read, but the way of learning anything. This is how intelligence -- shared by animals -- becomes intellect, unique to man among earthly creatures. The very process of learning that he was M-A-N lifted Tarzan to the actual status of Man.

It is profoundly meaningful that Tarzan learned by himself. We are never really taught. Teachers, books, laboratories, schoolhouses, all are ultimately aids to help us learn, which we either can or can't, or will or won't do. Beware the larger mistake behind the common error of the uneducated: "He learned me." Nobody ever "learned" anybody; it's a do-it-yourself job.                                    ---Edmund Fuller,
                     excerpts from The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29, 1963 

2. Tarzan's Literary Merit

What is the literary merit of the Tarzan books? What is the vision of life and character that they offer? From a lofty view they are sub-literature. The giant purple cliche blooms in rank luxuriance in their pages like the other jungle growths. ... On the other hand, Burroughs' writing is syntactically impeccable, occasionally attains to eloquence, and is full of concepts, however sententious. ...

Burroughs was a mass best-seller of his day... When it comes to forming the mind, which would you rather have in the picture, the Tarzan books, or the modern comic books, Spillane, and a growing host of shoddy irresponsibles exploiting the current anything-goes freedom from restraint in violence and perversion? The Tarzan stories seen in this perspective are among the most elevated and edifying books of mass-audience appeal now on the racks. ... (ERB) sees both man and beast as sometimes noble and ignoble. At any rate, nobility, in markedly short supply in current fiction, is the standard held up for emulation in Tarzan's world. ...

Classify these books as you wish, but if Tarzan should help form a few minds these days, we could do -- in fact we have long been doing -- much worse.                                                    ---Edmund Fuller,
                    excerpts from The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 5, 1963. 

3. THE MAN WHO CREATED TARZAN by Edward T. Ewen, from "Eh-wa-au-wau-aoooow Tarzan," The New York Times...
...adopted by: SRA Reading Lab IIIa -- Lesson Card Tan 10
-- Copyright 1964, Science Research Associates, Inc.

This curious item is one of many examples of how the works of ERB have found their way into education curricula. The article, made up of a short bio and analysis of ERB's work, is reprinted in a booklet which is part of an SRA Reading Program for improving student reading and comprehension in schools.

After timing his reading, the student turns to comprehension questions at the back of the booklet. This follow-up contains HOW WELL DID YOU READ and LEARN ABOUT WORDS Sections based on the ERB article. All answers and times are entered into a Record Book. Upon completion of reading and questions, the student corrects his responses with an answer card and graphs his results in the record book. 


I. Introduction: A. Introduction of Main Character B. Transportation to another locale via ship, spacecraft, or supernatural means.

II. Rising Action: A. Situation where main character seems helpless. B. Adoption or capture of main character. C. Swift rise to leadership or power among the new society.

III. Character Introduction: A. Main character meets woman in distress B. Main character and woman fall in love.

IV. Capture and/or Facing Certain Doom: A. Main characters face impossible obstacle or foe. B. Main Characters fight impossible odds and/or are captured.

V. The Escape: A. Main character and main female character escape from certain doom. B. Main characters cross wilderness or trackless wastes.

VI. The Loss: A. Main character loses female main character through capture or misunderstanding. B. Main character perseveres and regains companionship of female character.

VII. The Battle: A. Main character is forced into battle with the main forces of evil. B. Main character, through victory, saves the planet, country, city, or society.

VIII. Conclusion: A. Main character is reunited with or weds female main character. B. Main character is praised or rewarded for his triumphs over conflicting forces.

The use of this "master" plan with little deviation, except in characters or specific setting, shows how Burroughs followed a classical formula. As he changed the specifics of the characters and setting, he was building a new story along a "tried and true" set of blueprints.

---Adapted from: From Africa to Mars: The Political, Moral, and Social Commentaries of Edgar Rice Burroughs by Robert P. Greer -- Website and Masters Thesis 

Literature for Compositionby Kreuzer & Cogan, 1965, Holt Rhinehart & Winston, Inc. is a textbook for use in the study of English Composition. On Pages 261, 262, and 263 are the first 18 paragraphs of Tarzan of the Apes. On Page 267 is an assignment requiring the student to write an analysis of excerpts from H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs. At last, we have an American textbook wherein ERB finally appears with all the great names of English Literature. -- Hulbert Burroughs letter to Cazís
                                                    ERB-dom #13, April, 1965. 
ERB "Clearly a writer for all ages."...Or more precisely put, a writer who understood all ages. Nothwithstanding the advances of modern civilization, we remain the same unruly and emotionally driven barbarians as ever put torch to Carthage, Rome, Dresden or Bosnia. The world may change, but people do not--and if they ever should literature will be thrown for a loop!

Few writers capture that timeless premise that people interacting with people IS the real world, not the trappings which surround them. This is one reason I admire writers like Heinlein, Norton, Asimov and Clark, and the best of their imitators--all of whom owe something to ERB for putting to paper the foibles of mankind rather than acclamation of transient artifacts.
                                                                       --Bruce Bozarth 

ERB's classical background, his understanding and apparent enjoyment of the older tales of mankind, shows in his works. His themes are simple and direct and his characters are strongly, sometimes starkly, drawn. The action of the tale tells what little morality there is: honor, self, love for another. Shakespeare and Homer, among few others, knew the values needed to hold an audience from beginning to end: tell a tale of real people, regardless of how unrealistic the situation, and the people will be entertained.

Like Shakespeare, ERB tried his hand at all modes of story, the adventure, the mysterious, the humorous and tragic, though few of his tales truly bordered on the tragic.
                                                                                     -- Tangor 

6. Tarzan Swings Again, This Time For College Credit At ECU!
College Credit Courses Are Available At Eastern Caribbean University
                     English 39901 Tarzan Novels
                         English 39902 Tarzan Movie Scripts
                         Geography 39003 Tarzan Locations
                  Marketing 39004 Tarzan Films Marketing Worldwide
                     Theater Arts 39005 Different Tarzan Actors
              Theater Arts 39007 Independent Study
                                (Up to 12 semester hours) 

Reading Questions Based on Tarzan of the Apes

1. What are the circumstances of the narrator learning about the legend of Tarzan? ...How do these circumstances influence or support the credibility of the legend (pp.15-16)?

2. What is the reason for their trip to Africa? Is this strand of the story pursued (pp. 15-16)?

3. In the chapter "The White Ape" (pp. 51-58) consider how Tarzan compares himself to the other apes. In what ways is the reader meant to trust or distrust his evaluations at this point?

4. Evaluate the first description of Africans in the text (pp. 84-87). How do these descriptions compare to descriptions of characters and communities already introduced?

Whom do they resemble and from whom do they differ most

What is the outcome or significance of Tarzan's first encounter with
                        the Africans?

"Tarzan looked with wonder upon the strange creature beneath him--so like him in form and yet so different in face and color. His books had portrayed the negro, but how different had been the dull, dead print to this sleek and hideous thing of ebony, pulsing with life" (p. 90).

What is the significance of this detail that lifeless print cannot adequately convey the difference(s) with which Tarzan is confronted?

With these issues in mind, consider the description of the African village (pp. 102-106).

5. What is the outcome of Tarzan's first view of "other white men" (pp. 125-127)

What details mark the differences between Jane (Miss Porter) and Esmeralda?

Similarly, what details mark the differences between Esmeralda and the Africans native to the continent?

What are the differences between Tarzan and his cousin Clayton?

6. Once Tarzan saves Jane from Terkoz, how does their encounter together transform Tarzan?

What is the "true" nature of Tarzan (pp. 184-207)?

7. When Tarzan and D'Arnot discuss fingerprints near the conclusion of the text Tarzan asks "Do fingerprints show racial characteristics"
(p. 263)?

What are the racial characteristics to which he refers? What is the "height of civilization" that the title of this chapter refers to?

 Discussion Questions

1. Characterize Tarzan's parents, especially in comparison to the other characters aboard the Fuwalda, as well as those that surround them after their desertion.

What types of details establish their "nobility" of character?

2. A clear hierarchy exists among the various groups and individuals introduced in the narrative.

Sketch this hierarchy.

3. How is Tarzan characterized in relation to the community of apes in which he grows up?

Once Tarzan enters the cabin built by his parents, how does he change?

How does he acquire literacy?

What is the significance of this event?

How do these passages reveal what might be called the "unique excellence" of Tarzan?

4. What is Tarzan's great task once he arrives in America? How do his heroic actions differ from those he performs in Africa?

How are they similar?

Compare Tarzan to Canler, his rival for Jane Porter. What is the point of providing Tarzan with adventures in "civilization"?

5. In what ways are Tarzan's developmental trajectory and sense of conscience ultimately reminiscent of the positions of Augustine or Descartes? In what ways are they different?

Based on the original research done by Robert Gunning and Patrick Dearen

As a writing style guideline for journalists, Robert Gunning developed what he coined as a "fog index" to determine the readability of prose. Gunning found that the longer the sentences and more complex the words, the more difficult a story is to read. Modern journalism generally follows a simple style - most newspapers are written around a grade eight level. He based his formula on the average length of a sentence and the percentage of three-or-more syllable words. Applying this readability study to ERB we can determine a step-by-step progression of his writing style over his 35 year career - but more importantly it might be a way to determine the authenticity of dubious works such as John Carter and the Giant of Mars and the Tarzan Red Star/Forbidden City work. The "fog indexes" for the Tarzan novels are presented here and are open to many interesting interpretations when collated with the information from his Career Timeline which I have created at:

THE FOG INDEX OF THE TARZAN NOVELS: Computed by Patrick Dearen
Tarzan of the Apes
The Return of Tarzan
The Beasts of Tarzan
The Son of Tarzan
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
Jungle Tales of Tarzan
Tarzan the Untamed
Tarzan the Terrible
Tarzan and the Golden Lion
Tarzan and the Ant Men
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Tarzan at the Earth's Core
Tarzan the Invincible
Tarzan Triumphant
Tarzan and the Leopard Men
Tarzan and the City of Gold
Tarzan and the Lion Man
Tarzan's Quest
Tarzan and the Forbidden City
Tarzan the Magnificent
Tarzan and the Champion
Tarzan and the Madman
Tarzan and the Castaways
Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion"
The formula for calculating the "fog index" incorporates three steps:
1. Jot down the number of words in successive sentences. Divide the total number of words in the passage by the number of sentences. This gives the average sentence length.
2. Count the number of words of three syllables or more per 100 words. Don't count the words that are capitalized or that are combinations of short easy words (i. e. loudspeaker, butterfly, etc.) or are verb forms made into three syllables by adding "-ed" or "-es" (i.e. like "created" or "trespasses"). This gives you the per cent of hard words.
3. To get the Fog Index, total the two factors just counted and multiply by .4.
The resulting figure will be the grade level.

Soon to appear here: More Tarzan in the Classroom...ERB TRI-VIA Game...Sandwich Paragraph Writing Activities Using ERB First and Last Sentences...

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