The Son of Tarzan

The Son of Tarzan is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the fourth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. It was written between January 21 and May 11, 1915, and first published in the magazine All-Story Weekly as a six-part serial from December 4, 1915 to January 8, 1916. It was first published in book form by A. C. McClurg & Co. in March 1917 and has been reprinted numerous times since by various publishers.[1]

The Son of Tarzan
Dust-jacket illustration of The Son of Tarzan
AuthorEdgar Rice Burroughs
IllustratorJ. Allen St. John
CountryUnited States
SeriesTarzan series
PublisherA. C. McClurg
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Preceded byThe Beasts of Tarzan 
Followed byTarzan and the Jewels of Opar 

Plot summary

In this novel, for the first and only time in the Tarzan series, the main character is not Tarzan himself but his son Jack, who becomes known as Korak, first introduced (as a baby) in the earlier novels The Eternal Lover (1914/15) and The Beasts of Tarzan (1914). Korak would return as a supporting character in the later novels Tarzan the Terrible (1921), Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1922/23) and Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924).

The story begins 10 years after the conclusion of The Beasts of Tarzan. During the past decade, Alexis Paulvitch, who had escaped Tarzan at the end of the last novel, has lived a hideous life of abuse and disease among tribal people in Africa. Now he is discovered by a European ship and taken aboard. In the months that followed, Paulvitch encounters the ape, Akut, (whom Tarzan had befriended in that previous story) at one of the ship's stops. Because of Akut's interactions with Tarzan, he was unafraid of white men, and Paulvitch, unaware of the previous relationship, saw an opportunity to make some money. He took Akut to London and began displaying him publicly.

After the trauma of the kidnappings ten years earlier, Jane had refused to return to Africa or to allow Jack to know anything about his father's past for fear that he might somehow try to relive it. Perhaps she instinctively knew that Jack was somehow very connected to Tarzan's old life, for Jack did have an avid interest in wildlife and he was extremely athletic. When the Claytons heard about the displayed ape, John decided to take Jack to see him. Tarzan was surprised to find the ape was his old friend, Akut, and began conversing with him. Jack was amazed to see that his father could do so. John then told Jack of his life as Tarzan.

Jack started sneaking away to see Akut and began learning the language of the apes. Jack began to form a plan to take Akut back to the jungle. Paulvitch saw an opportunity for revenge, and agreed to help Jack. They escape to an African port where Paulvitch attacks Jack. Jack (probably now 12), like his father, was man-sized as a teen. Paulvitch is killed, and Jack, terrified, escapes into the jungle with Akut, thinking he will have to run for the rest of his life.

Like Tarzan before him, Jack learns survival in the jungle and encounters the Mongani apes, who he can speak with because of his dialogue with Akut. The nearest they can manage of his name "Jack" in the ape tongue is "Korak". This means "killer" which seems appropriate since Jack has proven himself to be such.

By around the age of 13 Jack finds an abused girl of about 11 named Meriem and rescues her. He begins teaching her to survive the jungle and they begin a sibling type relationship and live adventurously in the jungle for several years.

In the interim, Tarzan and Jane have begun living at their Waziri estate in Africa again, not having any idea what became of their son. After about six years Tarzan and Jane encounter Korak (now about 18) and Meriem (now 16) and reunite with them and are returned to London and married. Arguably, the book is as much about Meriem as it is about Tarzan's son.


Burroughs' novel was the basis of the fifteen part silent film serial of the same title, the first part of which was released in 1920.

The book has been adapted into comic form by Gold Key Comics in Tarzan no. 158, dated March 1967, with a script by Gaylord DuBois and art by Russ Manning. DC Comics also began an adaptation in its Korak comic, but adapted only the initial portion of the story, using it as the springboard for original stories featuring Korak's quest for a kidnapped Meriem. The comic book magazine Korak, Son of Tarzan, generally focusing on other adventures of the protagonist, was issued from 1963-1975 by both publishers in succession, nos. 1-45 (cover dated Jan. 1964-Jan. 1972) by Gold Key[2] and nos. 46-59 (cover dated May/Jun. 1972-Sep./Oct. 1975) by DC.[3] The title of the magazine was then changed to The Tarzan Family, and continued publication under that title by DC from 1975-1976 (nos. 60-66, cover dated Nov./Dec. 1975-Nov./Dec. 1976).[4]


Preceded by
The Beasts of Tarzan
Tarzan series
The Son of Tarzan
Succeeded by
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
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