The Rime of the Postmodern Mariner

More ramblings of Rhys Hughes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Real Identity of Tarzan

I have just finished reading Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the original Tarzan novel. Formerly I only knew Tarzan from the Johnny Weissmuller films, all of which I enjoyed when I was a child, but the novel is far superior to the cinematic treatments, even superior to the later Greystoke film, which I still rate highly. The novel is an exciting read and the quality of the writing is far better than most pulp fiction of its day (it was published in 1914). Burroughs had a gift.

Thing is, there's a question about Tarzan that has bothered me since I started reading the book. In what country does the action take place? The jungles described in the novel suggest that Gabon, Congo, Cameroon or Equatorial Guinea are the most likely candidates, but Burroughs himself locates Tarzan's homeland at approximately 10 degrees south of the equator. That would put it firmly in Angola, just south of the capital city Luanda.

Bear in mind that Tarzan was actually the son of a lord and when he was an adult he left Africa for a civilised life in the West. Now remember that the publisher Pedro Marques (featured here with me and Jeff Buckley) was also born in Angola but moved to the West. The clincher is that 'Marques' is the Portuguese equivalent of 'Lord'. Therefore Tarzan = Pedro Marques. Quod erat demonstrandum!