Edgar Rice Burroughs

Last night I watched a movie called, John Carter. It was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 1900's. If you don't know who he is, let me remind you that he also wrote the book, Tarzan of the Apes. Remember that?

So, watching that movie made me remember what a great author he was. To have someone write a book about Mars back in those days required a lot of imagination and creativity. If you haven't seen the movie, I think it was a lot of fun.

Then I decided I needed to reread Tarzan of the Apes. When I was in grade school, I simply adored that book. I read it over and over and also read the other Tarzan books. It's always been a tremendous disappointment to me that all the Tarzan movies ever made never followed the plot of the original book.

I find Burrough's tale superior to all the madeup movie plots I've seen, and unfortunately that included the entertaining Johnny Weismuller movies I used to watch on Sundays as a child.

As I was taking another enjoyable look at Tarzan last night from a down load from Amazon, I noticed an interesting change in the manuscrupt. At one point, Tarzan's father, Lord Greystoke, learns of a mutiny on the ship on which he and his wife are traveling due to the barbaric treament of the crew.

When he goes to warn the surly captain, that ungrateful beast of a leader cursed the nobleman out and bade him to keep his nose out of ship's business. In this version of the book, Lord Greystoke replies, "Sir, you are an ass." and leaves.

I was so let down. I remembered him saying, "Sir, you are a bit of a cad."

I loved that line, and I've remembered it all these years. A gentleman with the ultimate putdown, but done eloquently, in terms the other man probably didn't understand.

How did this change happen? Then I remembered. The book I had read all those years ago was a first edition, printed in 1914. Yes, we'd bought the book in a boxful from a yardsale. I don't even know what ever happened to that book.

But I liked that older wording better. Somewhere along the line, it was changed from "cad" to "ass." What does that say? That we need a stronger, more vulgur word now to express Lord Greystoke's disgust of the animalistic captain?

I always admired the gentleman of manners that was Lord Greystoke. He was cool.

I don't know. Maybe I'm nitpicking. But I'm let down. Anyone have an original edition of Tarzan of the Apes? I'd rather read that one.


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