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Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (Bison Frontiers of Imagination) Paperback – April 1, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The old vine swinger is one of a handful of fictional characters to rank a biography. Such books give the authors the opportunity to expound on the characters, providing background, side stories, and updates not offered by their creator. Farmer’s 1972 volume borrows from Edgar Rice Burroughs but also adds to the legend by tracing Tarzan’s lineage . . . and extends his exploits beyond the African jungle as an RAF pilot in World War II. Great fun.”—Library Journal, Classic Returns
(Library Journal, Classic Returns)

“Farmer goes one step further than mere literary fun. He takes engaging advantage of the reader’s inherent susceptibility to myth.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

“Tarzan is seen as a 20th-century heroic figure having much in common with the mythical demigods of an earlier day, and this book will not fail to please and enthrall his many followers.”—Library Journal
(Library Journal)

“The most innovative part of the book [is] Tarzan’s family tree linking him to every great hero in pulp literature. . . . Farmer is less well known today than he was forty years ago. Nevertheless, Alive ages well and gives the reader the sourcebook for so many writers today.”—American Book Review
(American Book Review)

"Farmer does a fine job of consolidating all the material. He leaves the reader with a three dimensional portrait of the main characters, their foibles, and motivations. . . . For an introduction to one of the most resilient heroes in literature, Tarzan Alive is a remarkable offering."—Green Man Review
(Green Man Review)

About the Author

Philip José Farmer has had a long and illustrious career in science fiction, winning three Hugo awards, the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement award, and the Nebula Grand Master award. Mike Resnick is the winner of five Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award. His novels include Santiago, Kirinyaga, the Widowmaker series, and Ivory. Win Scott Eckert is the editor and author of Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe and the editor of the Web site An Expansion of Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe.
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Product Details

  • Series: Bison Frontiers of Imagination
  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; Revised edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803269218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803269217
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Far too long out of print, TARZAN ALIVE: THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY OF LORD GREYSTOKE is a postmodern classic that will appeal to readers of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Philip José Farmer, as well as those interested in parascholarship, fictional biographies, and literature in general. This is the book that launched the concept of the Wold Newton family, the genetic lineage exposed to a radioactive meteorite in 1795, thus spawning a number of great detectives, scientists, explorers, and adventurers, some of whom border on the superhuman. Farmer's addenda, expanding this concept to include a multitude of literary characters (such as those from Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and Jack London's THE SEA WOLF, to name only a couple), alone make the cost of this book worth it.

This is truly the definitive edition of TARZAN ALIVE, and Bison Books has wisely added a number of extras that will make this edition worth owning even if one already has a Doubleday, Popular Library, or Playboy Paperbacks copy of the book. Collected here, but missing from the older versions of the book, are two gems: 1) "Extracts from the Memoirs of 'Lord Greystoke' (previously only available in the hard-to-find anthology MOTHER WAS A LOVELY BEAST); and 2) "Tarzan Lives: An Exclusive Interview with the Eighth Duke of Greystoke" (in which Farmer himself interviews the Jungle Lord). Further, the Bison Books edition includes an insightful new foreword by Win Scott Eckert (editor of MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER'S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE), which places TARZAN ALIVE in the context of "Sherlockian biographical scholarship," showing how Farmer's book is truly exemplary (and also transcendent) in the field of fictional biography.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The author once indicated that the title was imposed upon him, but outside of the title, the book is thoroughly enjoyable. As with "Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street," this book is a biography of the title character.
In Farmer's case, he had to explain, among other things, how the young Tarzan learned how to speak, when the known great apes don't. Reconciling the history of Tarzan with what was known then, and at the time of the book's writing, was an exercise that took a lot of time and effort, and Mr. Farmer was up to the task.
A family tree, linking Tarzan to other famous literary figures, is included.
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Format: Paperback
This book is probably Philip Jose Farmer's magnum opus and is the culmination of Farmer's lifelong fascination with the character of Tarzan of the Apes. The ape man has appeared in many various guises in many works of his literature. This volume is a work of love to the character of Tarzan and a tribute to one of Farmer's favorite authors.

There have been biographies of fictional character prior to the appearance of Tarzan Alive, most noticably perhaps C. Northcote Parkinson's biography of Horatio Hornblower and William S. Baring-Gould's biography of Sherlock Holmes. In terms of research I would rate Tarzan Alive as equal to either of those two volumes. In presentation of material I would have to rate Tarzan Alive above the other two books, for not only does Farmer give up a biographical presentation of Tarzan's life he also gives us a chronology and as an additional bonus he delves into Tarzan's genealogy demonstrating that Tarzan's lineage not only includes other characters from Burroughs' writings but also some very famous figures from world literature such as the aforementioned Sherlock Homes.

Tarzan Alive is a fascinating, wonderful read that truly makes you wonder if Tarzan was indeed a living person. He did his job well. At the age of thirteen when I first read it I was convinced that he was a real, living person... and quite truthfully, I have not totally shaken that belief.

I am glad that this new edition came out my original Bantam paperback has been read so many times that it is held together by prayers and many layers of scotch tape.

If you are a fan of Tarzan, Burroughs, Philip Jose Farmer,pulp fiction, fictional biographies or just a fan of well written and entertaining literature, I cannot recommend Tarzan Alive highly enough.
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Format: Paperback
Bison Books has become one of my favorite publishing houses. They have taken upon themselves the almost thankless task of republishing the out of print classics-and I might add, the out of print essentials-of science fiction.

This new edition of "Tarzan Alive" is already a treasured possession. In addition to having the original text, they have included some of Philip Jose Farmer's extras, such as the text of his interview with Lord Greystoke and his worship's memories. We can, therefore, call this the "Director's Cut" edition.

By the way, the cover art takes the cake! I has to be my favorite image of Lord Greystoke!

For the uninitiated, "Tarzan Alive" is a faux-biography of Burroughs's famous ape man. What makes this book interesting is Farmer's extensive research: take a look at the Greystoke coat of arms-you get a feel for Farmer's desire to make Tarzan as real as possible. Another gem is Farmer's assertion that the apes were really a form of Australopitheci. This makes more sense, in as much as the apes have their on language, Mangani.

Although the book asserts that it is reprint "in its entirety" (p. vii), there is one omission. In the hardback editions, Farmer had included a genealogical table of Tarzan, and his many famous relatives, such as Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Doc Savage. Admittedly, in many of the later paperback editions this family tree was also omitted; however, I would have preferred it to be included.

For the curious, any good "World Newton Family" web page will have a copy of this key chart.

With that one let-down, I recommend this book for fans of the Ape Man, or anyone into the Victorian Classics or the retro Steam Punk novels. Hopefully with the success of this book, Bison will publish its companion volume "Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life," and include the revised family tree.
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