Tag Archives: Tarzan novels

Big Ape Politics

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As a student of political science, I spent much time reading various theories of politics. None of the ones in the textbooks were anywhere near as convincing as what I found in Tarzan novels.

It came to me in a flash. I was reading about Peter the Great’s visit to London, and what a shambles he and his entourage made of the lovely house which had been provided for him. Did these men not know what a stairway was for? Did they not know not to ride their horses on the parquet flooring? They couldn’t have made a bigger mess if they’d been a tribe of apes…

Eureka!

In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan stories, the apes are always competing with one another, often violently, to see who gets the most food, the most matings, the best place to sleep, and so on. And the ape who gets the most of everything, the biggest and the strongest and the meanest ape, gets to be king. Until a younger, stronger ape comes along and takes it away from him.

Holy cow! Politics!

It really is about who gets to have the most of everything–the most power, the most prestige, the biggest heap of other people’s money… It wasn’t even Burroughs who discovered this. We find it right there in the Bible, in 1 Samuel 8:10-18, in which Samuel warned the people of Israel exactly what would happen to them if they made good their resolve to have a king.

God knows we have a terrible penchant for finding big apes to rule over us. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God warns Israel, through Moses, that if they simply must have a king, they ought to have the kind of king God recommends–a king whose duties will include writing out God’s law, longhand, word for word, every day; no foreigner, but a true Israelite; and a king who will not use his position to collect loads of wealth or a vast herd of wives.

Most of the kings they got were just big apes.

God’s guidance, and faithfulness to His word, makes us real men and women: not apes with car keys.


Where Wytt Came From

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See the little monkey on Tarzan’s shoulder? His name is Nkima, and he’s the biggest braggart in the jungle–which is kind of funny, because he’s mortally afraid of… everything.

He is also the inspiration for my character, Wytt–who is afraid of… nothing.

What?

People often ask me where my characters come from, and how they end up in my Bell Mountain novels. And if I had to guess, I’d guess that Wytt is probably my most popular character. A lot of readers have told me so. But where did Wytt come from?

If you know me, you know I’m a Tarzan fan. And Nkima is my favorite character in all the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I mean, he’s so full of it! And it’s all hot air. This amuses me: a trait that would be unbearable in a real human being is a lot of fun in Tarzan’s monkey sidekick.

As the Omah creatures began to take shape in my mind, I asked myself, “What would Nkima be like, if all his bluster and bravado were perfectly genuine?” What if he really were as brave and bold as he makes himself out to be? What would that look like, in a little character no bigger than a monkey or a squirrel?

And then I had him–Wytt, Jack and Ellayne’s self-appointed protector and guide, who takes on enemies many times his own size, and lets them have the rough side of his tongue while doing it–and gets away with it. This little tiny hero armed with a tiny stick chewed to a point, who’s always up for any challenge that confronts him. No job is too big for him.

Yeah, he’s kind of easy to like. If Wytt’s your guardian–baby, you are guarded, but good. And given the numerous perils in which Ellayne and Jack have found themselves, he’s been kept rather busy. He’s even had to save Martis once or twice: and Martis is a professional assassin who ought to be able to take care of himself. But some of the adventures are a bit dangerous even for him.

I’m sure Wytt will be up for the next book, whatever the adventure turns out to be.


Leading Tarzan Scholar Fired!

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One of America’s foremost Tarzan scholars, and chairman of a leading Tarzan Studies department, has been dismissed from his professorship at Watta State University–for declaring that Tarzan of the Apes was not a real person.

“It throws our whole Tarzan Studies program into an uproar,” said University President C. Whittington Schamm. “We don’t want students thinking their degrees in Tarzan Studies are worthless!”

In a controversial paper, Professor Harlow Tumbly argued that Tarzan could not possibly have been a real person.

“Take all them there lost cities he discovered in Africa,” said Dr. Tumbly. “Why, if he really was to go to each and every one of them, and do all them things the books say he done there, well, it would’ve taken him upwards of a hundred years to do it! No, it just ain’t possible!”

Dr. Tumbly was almost fired last year when he tried to get his students to read the actual Tarzan novels instead of comic books. “Them books are very different from the cartoons,” he said at the time. “I finally read some of them this summer, and they sure surprised me! I ain’t read no book in quite a long time, so these here came as a kind of revelation to me. I didn’t know they could put so many pages in a book.”

Having been stripped of his academic tenure, Dr. Tumbly now faces a trial by a students’ court on charges of Enlarged Microaggression. If convicted, he could be defenestrated.


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