Tarzan Meets Man

While forming my 1872 Greystoke chronology I found it relatively simple up to Tarzan's eighteenth birthday.  From that point through February 3 (?),  which is the date on the letter that Jane wrote to Hazel Strong, many events occur and little is offered for dating them.  To make matters even worse Burroughs later wrote Jungle Tales Of Tarzan which covers the ape man's life during this period also,  Therefore,  we must insert those dates into Tarzan Of The Apes at their appropriate times.

Burroughs does provide a researcher with several key clues, which helps get our starting and stopping points in Tarzan Of The Apes and Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  The starting point is Tarzan's eighteenth birthday which I have previously shown as September 1, 1890.  At this point Burroughs tells us that the ape man can read and write English, and he had never seen a human being other than himself.

The stopping point is February 3 (?), 1893.  As mentioned above, February 3 (?) is the date provided on Jane's letter.  It is apparent by the (?) that Jane was not absolutely positive of the exact date, but by the best of her recollection it was the third.  I chose to follow her instincts in my chronology.  There are three different passages that reveal, at this point, that a span of twenty years has passed since the Greystoke's were marooned.  If John and Alice were marooned in 1872, as I have previously shown, plus twenty, we now have a date occurring after September 1, 1892.  So, we can conclude Jane's letter was wrote February 3, 1893.

Another solid clue Burroughs gave to help a researcher pin point time, is the lunar eclipse
reported in Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  I have shown in past articles that this is the actual lunar
eclipse of November 4, 1892.  This date also coincides with the fact that the ape man is twenty
when the lunar eclipse occurs, as reported in Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  When Toog kidnaps
Teeka, an event that occurs just prior to the lunar eclipse, two statements are made that a span
of twenty years have passed.

Last but not least we can use Teeka's balu, Gazan, as a sort of time table.  Throughout Jungle Tales Of Tarzan descriptions of Gazan's growth are often made.  Although the Mangani are not gorillas, they are cousins close enough related, so that theoretically, their growth and maturity rate are going to be about the same.

As you can see, there has not been a whole lot of information supplied for a chronologist to go on.  Admittedly, it is impossible to provide an exact day by day chronology, but a fairly accurate time table can be presented.

Although we know Tarzan is eighteen when Kulonga kills Kala, Burroughs does not offer a clue as to when that exact day occurred.  The problem is, that we need a calendar date for that incident to provide groundwork for all the others following.  We do know that Kala's death, and the events of Jungle Tales Of Tarzan, cover a span of two years.  To allow time for Teeka's baby, Gazan, to be born and mature normally, the events have to happen at the earliest possible date after Tarzan's eighteenth birthday, September 1, 1890.

As my past articles have shown it was a constant habit of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author, to insert true life family dates into his stories.  As a designed practice, when an unrecorded event date occurs, and a calendar date is absolutely needed, I go to the Burroughs family genealogy, just as Burroughs himself did.  It has long been my belief that Kala's death occurred on the death date of one of Burroughs' brothers that died in infancy.  After many hours of researching, however, these dates turned up as unrecorded.

Since those desired dates could not be obtained, we turn once again to the Burroughs family genealogy for a substitute.  September 10 was the death date of Mary, the wife of Judge John Inskeep.  As a working date I will use it.

Please keep in mind that this is a working date only.  It is not provided by the author, it is not factual, it is not provable, but it is a needed calendar date and agrees with all the other Burroughs provided information.  If someone should ever come up with a more researched date I would gladly change mine for theirs.

  • Date:      September 10, 1890
  • Event:    Mbonga kills Kala.
  • Source: The actual date of Kala's death is not provided by Burroughs in Tarzan Of The Apes.  It is my belief that Kala's death date is derived from the death date of either Arthur McCulloch or Charles Stuart, Burroughs' brothers that died in infancy.  I have put in many hours researching these unrecorded deaths, but I have been unable to discover the actual dates.  My failure brought in the help of George T. McWhorter, the curator of the Edgar Rice Burroughs collection at Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville.  After being unable to find the dates in a copy of The Memoirs Of A War Bride, George contacted Mrs. Anselmo, the D.A.R., and Danton Burroughs.  Even his efforts were unable to discover the unrecorded death dates. Regardless, we do know that Jungle Tales Of Tarzan covers a span of two years.  Therefore, to allow time for these events to occur before Tarzan sees his first white man at age twenty Jungle Tales Of Tarzan must occur at the earliest possible date after Kala's death.  My studies reveal that the uninterrupted flow of action begins at Kala's death and runs continuously, with no major offstage time lapses, until after the ape man rescues the Frenchman, Paul D'Arnot.  Since the desired dates are unobtainable I have searched the Burroughs genealogy for a substitute.  Naturally, this substitute date is a special event date of a true life Burroughs family member which occurred before the writing of Tarzan Of The Apes, December  11, 1911.  The date which best suits Burroughs' provided information is September 10, which is the death date of Mary, the wife of Judge John Inskeep.

  • Date:       September 11, 1890
  • Event:     Kulonga's death and the discovery of Mbonga's village.
  • Source:  The day following Kala's death.  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.

  • Date:      October 10, 1890
  • Event:    Tarzan finds a photograph of his father, his mother's locket, father's diary and hunting knife. 
  • Source: The day before setting out on his second visit to Mbonga's village.  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.

  • Date:      October 11, 1890
  • Event:    Tarzan's second trip to Mbonga's village to still arrows.
  • Source: "ere a month had passed" since his first visit.  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.

  • Date:      October 12, 1890
  • Event:    Tarzan Of The Apes fades out and Jungle Tales Of Tarzan fades in.
  • Source: "That night he slept in the forest not far from the village, and early the next morning set out slowly on his homeward march,"  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.    

  • Date:      November 9, 1890
  • Event:    Tarzan fights Taug for Teeka.
  • Source:  The exact date is not provided by Burroughs, but after the jungle lord realizes Teeka is not for him chapter one states; "In Teeka  he had seen within the past few hours a substitute for Kala - someone to fight and hunt for - someone to caress; but now his dream was shattered."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  

  • Date:      November 11, 1890
  • Event:    Tarzan watched Mbonga's warriors set a trap and followed them home in hopes of seeing them dance.
  • Source: Two days after his fight with Taug.  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  This is the ape man's third recorded visit to Mbonga's village, and due to descriptions in other places it most probably was his third actual visit as well.  One hint is that after the jungle lord watched the black's build the trap Burroughs states, "Tarzan wondered what the thing might be, and why, when they built it, they turned away and started back along the trail in the direction of their village."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  From this we can gather Tarzan is looking at his first trap, which proves he has little experience with the blacks.  Up to this point we are told the jungle lord goes once a month, man time, or once a moon, ape time, to replenish his arrows.  It is specifically stated this visit is to watch the black's dance, but the passage quoted above, "it had been some time since Tarzan had visited the blacks,"  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan suggest that, although unmentioned, stealing arrows is most likely on the agenda also.

  • Date:      November 12, 1890
  • Event:    Tarzan discovers Taug in the native's trap, and rescues him.
  • Source: "Early the following morning."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:      November 1890
  • Event:    Tarzan rescues Tantor, but is captured by the blacks.  The ape man is taken to Mbonga's village which is his fourth recorded visit.
  • Source: Again Burroughs offers no date, but again Tarzan's ignorance of the trap shows the small passage of time.  "Puzzle as he would, however, he could not solve the mystery of the concealed pit, for the ways of the blacks were still strange ways to Tarzan.  They had entered his jungle but a short time before - the first of their kind to encroach upon the age-old supremacy of the beasts which laired there."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:      August 12, 1891
  • Event:    Tarzan rescues Gazan from Sheeta, the panther.
  • Source: "shortly after the birth of Teeka's first born."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  The amount of time that occurs between 'The Capture Of Tarzan' and 'The Fight For The Bulu' is not told to us.  We do know, however, the gestation period of the gorilla is two hundred sixty-five days which is most likely the same for their Mangani cousins, and if not, at least close.  This would run our chronology into August 1891.  Checking the Burroughs genealogy to supply our un-provided date, the author's son, Hulbert, was born on August 12.  I used Hulbert's birth date, as a working calendar date for Gazan's rescue.

  • Date:     August 1891
  • Event:   Tarzan searches for God at Mbonga's village.
  • Source: Again Burroughs offers no exact date, but the author does provide hints that 'The God Of Tarzan' occurs very shortly after 'A Fight For The Bula'.  These hints were in the descriptions of Gazan.  "It was the wail of a tiny balu."  "Teeka's baby."  "its soft baby hair".  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:     August 1891
  • Event:   Tarzan rescues Gazan from Hista, the snake.
  • Source: The following day.  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:     February 12, 1892
  • Event:   Tarzan kidnaps ten year old, Tibo.
  • Source: No dates are provided , but by Burroughs' descriptions of Gazan we know not a great amount of  time has passed.  "little balu".  "Just now the apeling was developing those arboreal tendencies which were to stand him in such good stead during the years of his youth, when rapid flight into the upper terraces was far more importance and value than his undeveloped muscles and untrained fighting fangs."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  Assuming the Mangani and gorilla's are basically on the same evolutionary scale we can closely measure the time passage by Gazan's growth.  According to Dian Fossey, author of Gorilla's In The Mist, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 1983, "By the fourth month the baby was able to totter away from the mother for distances up to ten feet, though most gorilla infants remain within arms reach - some six feet - of their mothers until about six months old.

  • Date:      February 19, 1892
  • Event:    Tarzan notices a change in Tibo.
  • Source: "After a week".  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:      March 10, 1892
  • Event:    Tibo is reunited with his mother.
  • Source: "Two sun's before",  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  The ape man returns to Mbonga's village and finds Tibo stolen once more.  I found the statement Momaya made in chapter 5 quite puzzling.  "Momaya shivered as from a cold wind of the rainy season."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  In Angola the rainy season, October through May, is hot and the dry season, end of June through September, is cool.  Maybe Tibo's mother was referring to her homeland, for also in chapter 5 Burroughs states, "Momaya, being of a short temper and of another people, had little respect for the witch-doctor of her husbands tribe."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of  Tarzan.  It is possible Momaya was originally from the plateau, whose climate differs much greatly from the coast.  There is less rainfall on the coast and the plateau region has a much more distinct wet season, September through April, and dry season, May through August.  Momaya's mentioning of the cool, however, definitely implies present weather is warm.  On the coast February and March, the hottest months of the year, are very humid and uncomfortable.

  • Date:      March 12, 1892
  • Event:    Tibo is stolen by Bukawai.
  • Source: "The second sun after Tibo's return."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:     March 12, 1892
  • Event:   Tarzan returns to Mbonga's village to find Tibo stolen once more.
  • Source: It had been at least a moon since he had last been there and played a trick" (the stealing of Tibo).  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  From this statement we know approximately a  month passes.

  • Date:      March 12, 1892
  • Event:    Lord Greystoke was shooting pheasants at Chamston-Hedding.
  • Source: This event occurs on the same day Tarzan goes to Mbonga's village and discovers Tibo missing for a second time.

  • Date:      March 13, 1892
  • Event:    Tarzan rescues Tibo, and once more returns him to Mbonga's village.
  • Source: "The following day."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:      middle of June, 1892
  • Event:    Bukawi captures Tarzan, and the ape man leaves the witch-doctor he mercy of his own hyena's.
  • Source: "For months the old witch-doctor nursed his hate jungle god before a chance to get even occurred."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  Because of the mentioned rain storm, the events have to occur before the end of June.

  • Date:      end of June,1892
  • Event:    A lion kills Mamka, a she ape.  Tarzan stills her body.
  • Source: There is nothing mentioned in which we can date this event.  We do know the happenings occur around this time span because of the time needed to fulfill the other events.

  • Date:      middle of July, 1892
  • Event: ,  Sheeta, the panther, kills a baby Mangani, and sentries are formed.
  • Source: "A few weeks later."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:      end of July, 1892
  • Event:    Tarzan returns to the village and stills a complete lion skin that belongs to Rabba Kega, from Mbonga's hut.
  • Source: "Several days later."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:     end of July, 1892
  • Event:   Tarzan attempts to play a trick on the Mangani and is almost killed.
  • Source: The following day.  ERB-Jungle Tales of Tarzan.

  • Date:      first of August, 1892
  • Event:    Tarzan goes to Mbonga's village and steals food and has nightmares.
  • Source: There is nothing mentioned in which we can date this event.  We know the happenings occur around this point because of the time needed to fulfill the other events.  The following passage may be used as an over all dating clue; "there had been a disease ravaging through the plains for several years that made game scarce.  Due to this many of the great cats had abandoned the grasslands and moved into the jungle.  This over population of cats eventually also made game hard to find there as well."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  

  • Date:     first of August, 1892
  • Event:   Tarzan kills his second recorded gorilla.
  • Source: Next day.  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:      end of September, 1892
  • Event:    Toog kidnaps Teeka.
  • Source: "many weeks had past since the tribe had been attacked by a foe."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  During these events a rain storm is mentioned which means the rainy season, October through May, setting in.  note of Burroughs descriptions of Gazan, "young balu",  "Little Gazan", and "young ape".  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  According to Dian Fossey, author of Gorilla's In The Mist, "Only when the new born was nine months old had it developed into an active inclined baby."  In this last description of Teeka's balu, notice that no event in Jungle Tales Of Tarzan has ever hinted that Gazan has reached the weaning age.According to Diane Fossey, "Weaning periods become the most traumatic for gorilla infants around the age of two and one half years."  We also know this event has to occur after September 1, 1892 because two clues in chapter 10 states that Tarzan is twenty years old.  "On the floor lay the skeleton of a man - all that remained of the former Lord Greystoke - lay as it had fallen some twenty years before when Kerchak,  the great ape, had thrown it, lifeless, there."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  "He did not know that the dead father of Tarzan of the Apes, reaching back out of  the past across a span of twenty years, had saved his son's life."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:      end of September, 1892
  • Event:    Tarzan puts Rabba Kega in the lion's cage.
  • Source: "One restless day".  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:     end of September, 1892
  • Event:   Tarzan loosens the lion in Mbonga's village.
  • Source: The following day.  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • Date:       October 3, 1892
  • Event:    Tarzan came across six of Mbonga's hunters caught in the jungle after dark.
  • Source: "one night"' ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  The day before rescuing Bulabantu.

James Michael Moody

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