Tarzan Chrono-log By Alan Hanson: Another View

While writing this paper comparing my research to that of Alan Hanson I get  a rush of excitement. When  it comes to the written stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs Alan is an extremely intelligent man and his work is very factual.  Over the years he has not been afraid to address controversial questions, and to offer solutions. I have enjoyed reading Alan's articles since the beginning of his ERB writing career, and when it comes to Burroughs' stories there is no better researcher in the field.

I immensely enjoyed reading A Chrono-log Of Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan Series and it is an effort Mr Hanson should be  very proud of.  One thing that Alan's chronology did prove to me, and I don't think it was intended, is that Tarzan was not born in 1888 as Burroughs wrote in Tarzan Of The Apes.   Phil Farmer, in Tarzan Alive, tried to prove that the ape man was born in 1888 back in the seventies, but his chronology was torn apart by Burroughs researchers.  I was definitely surprised when Alan chose to follow Phil's lead when he did not have answers for the questions that Phil's chronology could not pass.

Before we get into those questions I would like to repeat some old philosophies to get us all on the same jungle trail. When the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs are discussed they must be discussed upon three perspectives.
  1. The works and life of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the nonfictional state.
  2. The fictional works of Edgar Rice Burroughs formed into a 'Burroughs Universe' in an alternate earth, a different dimension, etc., etc., etc., but it is definitely not the earth that we know.
  3. Placing Edgar Rice Burroughs fictional works in a chronology form as if the events occurred here on this earth as we know it.
In other words, if Tarzan was a human being like you and me, when would his adventures have occurred on the calendar?


Phil Farmer, Alan Hanson, and myself have been writing upon the perspective three approach.  My mentor, the late great John Flint Roy chose to view Tarzan as if he were from a science fiction earth full of time dimensions and distortions.  Perspective two, if you will.  Writers like Mike Conran and Bob Barrett base their articles upon the true life Edgar Rice Burroughs and his works, which is perspective one.  By the way, for more on John F. Roy's 'Burroughs Universe' theories see (Mis)use Of Time in ERB-APA #9.  This definitely explains away all the time distortions, but it is not the same Tarzan story that Burroughs describes in the first nine books of the Tarzan series.

When one reads The Outlaw Of Torn, Tarzan Of The Apes, Jungle Tales Of Tarzan, The Eternal Lover, The Beasts Of Tarzan, The Son Of Tarzan, Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar and Tarzan The Untamed they quickly discover the events are told in a very realistic lifelike manner.  There is nothing science fiction about them.  The only debatable instance would be the Oparin's which are half breed ape humans.  Although we know that is impossible, "don't we", Burroughs still tells the tale as if it were occurring in everyday Africa, on this planet earth.

The point is that The Outlaw Of Torn through Tarzan The Untamed all occur in the real world as we know it. There is no science fiction involved in any of these books.  Because of this many researchers have viewed Tarzan as being born on our earth, and if so, how would his life events fit into calendar dating.  Using this real life approach Phil Farmer in his 1972 Tarzan Alive was the first to calendar the ape man's complete life.  Phil done a great job, and I owe to him not John F. Roy, a thanks for getting me into the chronology field.

After reading Tarzan Alive I appreciated the effort and the fantastic amounts of research that went into his project.  The only problem was that when Phil finished his Tarzan was not the Tarzan as described by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Phil being a great writer on his own merit just could not pen the jungle lord's adventures without adding his own personal touch.  I remember when I read Tarzan Alive back in 1972 I was outraged with Phil's work for drifting so far away from Burroughs' provided information. Suddenly, in the ERB fanzines, of which I was an avid reader and collector, lots of articles began appearing which shredded many of Farmer's theories.  Even the 1888 advocates had trouble sticking up for Phil's writings.

At that time I was a teenager living in Elk Park, NC and I thought, "wouldn't it be a great thing to take Tarzan Alive and correct Phil's misdirection's, and present a more Burroughs friendly Tarzan chronology based on the information provided throughout the series.  Armed with my vast Tarzan series knowledge, the Tarzan books, the ERB fanzines, and Tarzan Alive I set out to make events occur closer to the author's provided information.  My biggest problem was that after three years of hard work I could not produce a Tarzan chronology that agreed with the information provided throughout the Tarzan series.

Naturally, like everyone else, I started my first chronology excepting that the jungle lord was born in 1888. Edger Rice Burroughs said it, so therefore it must be a fact.  I tried to bend, twist, force and all kinds of other things, but the fact is that the information provided by Burroughs just dose not fit into an 1888 chronology, unless of course you prefer the ape man living in the 'Burroughs Universe'.  One may now ask, "why couldn't Mike Moody do it when Farmer and Hanson done it?"  I, personally, could not look into the face of a fellow researcher and say this is the Tarzan chronology that most agrees with Edgar Rice Burroughs provided information," and believe it myself.

This is what I found wrong with the 1888 chronology.
  1. When it comes time to insert Jungle Tales Of Tarzan into Tarzan Of The Apes the 1888 chronology does not allow the amount of time needed for Jungle Tales Of Tarzan to occur naturally.  
  2. The events of Tarzan Rescues The Moon could not have happened, since it contains a description of a total lunar eclipse, something which could not be seen from equatorial Africa anytime from 1907 through 1909.
  3. If the jungle lord was born in 1888 as Tarzan Of The Apes says, at its end, the ape man is twenty years old, so the year would be 1908.  If The Return Of Tarzan last approximately two years, as all researchers agree, the year would be 1910.  If you allow one year for the conception and birth of Jack Clayton/Korak we are now at the year 1911.  Yet, Jack Clayton/Korak was fully grown in 1914 and fighting in W.W. I.
  4. In The Son Of Tarzan it is plainly stated Jack/Korak is ten years old at its beginning so the year would be 1921.  If The Son Of Tarzan begins in the year 1921 how could Burroughs begin writing the story on January 21, 1915 if the events have not yet occurred.
These are all questions that have over shadowed the 1888 chronology ever since it has been devised. The funny thing that gets me is how the 1888 advocates still defends its concept.  Phil Farmer cuts out Tarzan Rescues The Moon, and says that Jack Clayton and Korak are not the same people.  Alan Hanson in his, Tarzan Chrono-log, says the eclipse in Tarzan Rescues The Moon did not occur.  In his chrono-log Alan goes to great length to convince us that Burroughs' description of a lunar eclipse is not a lunar eclipse at all. It is instead an unusual, solitary cloud, slowly moving through an otherwise clear sky which has obscured the moon the night of the rescue.

Mr. Hanson, even in his defense points out Burroughs own penned words.  "the moon was gradually emerging from whatever had devoured her, whether it was Numa, the lion, or the shadow of the earth.", ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  I truly respect Alan's research, but here he is merely grasping for straws or anything else.  Burroughs is clearly describing a lunar eclipse, read it yourself; and it does not fit into the 1888 chronology.  Unlike Alan, it was here I had to abandon the 1888 chronology and it became all to clear that Tarzan was indeed born in 1872.  I used the lunar eclipse as a guiding light instead of trying to hypnotize myself into believing it did not happen.

Alan goes own in his Tarzan Chrono-log to say, "In putting the events of Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar on the calendar, it is first assumed that the events of The Son Of Tarzan never took place."  If a chronologist has to leave out an entire book in a series I just can not see how he feels he is going in the right direction.  To each his own, however.

Personally, I can not except the fact that there was no lunar eclipse, when Burroughs clearly describes one.  I can not except the fact that Jack Clayton and Korak are not the same person, when Burroughs clearly describes that they are.  I can not except the fact that the events in The Son Of Tarzan did not happen, when Burroughs clearly wrote that they did.  How can anyone call the 1888 chronology a Burroughs agreeing chronology if it can not pass those test?

Besides these failures, which will occur in all 1888 chronologies no matter who writes it, let's take a closer look at Alan Hanson's research.  The first thing I noticed that fail short in Alan's Tarzan Chrono-log is the inserting of Jungle Tales Of Tarzan into Tarzan Of The Apes.  It seems Alan forgot to use a very important dating clue Burroughs offered in Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  That is the birth and growth of Teeka;s balu, Gazan.  I will use that balu's development to show you that there is no way that the events of Jungle Tales Of Tarzan can occur in as short amount of time as Alan says it did.

Alan's research shows the events of Jungle Tales Of Tarzan covers a time span just short of eleven months.   My research indicates Jungle Tales Of Tarzan covers a span of two years, and that is cramming the events.  There is no way Alan can stick with the information provided by Burroughs and cover the events of Jungle Tales Of Tarzan in eleven months.  Let me show you why.

  • Alan's chronology shows that on June 6, 1907 Teeka chooses Taug over Tarzan for a mate.  In Burroughs' works this love triangle is described as old playmates just coming into puberty.  It is  the first time that the ape man noticed Teeka as anything but a play mate.  There is no evidence that Taug and Teeka had anything going or the jungle lord would not have been interested.  Using the same reasoning, if Teeka had something going on with another bull Tarzan and Taug would not be in competition over her.  Alan goes on to say that the ape man notices Teeka's new bulu  on September 13, 1907.  That is a span of 119 days from the time that Tarzan and Taug courted Teeka.  

  • The gestation period of a gorilla is two hundred sixty-five days which is most likely the same as the Mangani, or at least close.  Now looking at Alan's dating there is only two things possible.
  1. Either Taug and Tarzan was competing over someone else's pregnant she, or...
  2. Alan did not allow sufficient time in his chronicles for this event to occur.
          My research indicates it is Mr. Hanson who has made the mistake.

  • It seems while Alan was forming his Jungle Tales Of Tarzan chronology he did not keep in mind the growth of Gazan as a time table.  Alan implies that Gazan is born on September 13, 1907 and that Tibo is kidnapped by Tarzan on November 13, 1907.  This is a passage of sixty-one days.  Yet when Tibo is kidnapped Burroughs plainly describes Gazan as 'little balu', no longer as 'tiny balu', or 'Teeka's baby'.  Burroughs also says, "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 of Gazan's growth.  According to Dian Fossey, author of Gorilla's In The Mist, 1893, "By the fourth month the baby was able to totter away from the mother for a distance up to ten feet, though most gorilla infants remain within arms reach - some six feet - of their mothers until about six months old."  By Burroughs' description Gazan is easily six months old, but in Alan's chronology the balu is only two months old.  Once again Alan has not allowed efficient time passage in his chronology.

  • In Alan's chronology it shows that after Tarzan kidnapped Tibo, the native boy was reunited with his mother on November 27, 1907.  Sorry, but my research just does not allow me to except that. Burroughs states, "Momaya shivered as from a cold wind of the rainy season." ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  From this statement we know the events are certainly not occurring during the rainy season. In Angola the rainy season is October through May and it is very hot.  The dry season begins at the end of June and runs through September and is cool.  If you will note Alan's date lies in the rainy season, and it should be during the dry season. 

  • On February 14, 1908 Alan says Numa kills a mother ape and Tarzan steals her body.  At that time Burroughs informs us that the ape man's kingship will come in 'later years'.  Alan's chronology shows Tarzan will be king in less than three months from that date.

  • In Alan's chronology he states Toog kidnapped Teeka on March 30, 1908.  This would make Gazan six months old by Alan's account.  Burroughs describes Gazan as 'young balu', 'little Gazan', and 'young ape'.  According to Diane Fossey, Gorilla's In The Mist, "Only when the new born was nine months old had it developed into an active and socially inclined baby." Remember, just a moment ago we showed that a six month old only strayed feet from its mother.  Burroughs described Gazan is much older than Alan is implying.  My ERB-APA buddy is again guilty of trying to shorten the time span in Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

  • If Toog kidnapped Teeka on March 30, as Alan implies, this would make Tarzan nineteen years, seven months, and fifteen days old.  (Check my math on this one).  Burroughs tells us twice in chapter 10 of Jungle Tales Of Tarzan that the ape man is twenty years old when this event occurs. "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.  

  • When it comes to Tarzan Rescues The Moon, Alan tries a new approach to an old problem.  In Phil Farmer's 1888 chronology he had to admit that the events could not occur as described by Burroughs, since it contains a description of a total lunar eclipse, something which could not be seen in equatorial Africa anytime from 1907 through 1909.  Alan side steps this age old problem by saying Burroughs was not describing a lunar eclipse but merely a solitary cloud, slowly moving through an otherwise clear sky obscured the moon on the night of the rescue. Please Alan get real.  Burroughs plainly writes after Tarzan shoots his arrows at the moon, "the moon was gradually emerging from whatever had devoured her, whether it was Numa, the lion, or the shadow of the earth."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan

  • As pointed out above Burroughs has give two descriptions that Tarzan is twenty years old when the rescuing of the moon occurs.  Despite these passages that Alan is very aware of, he has went ahead and inserted his unfriendly Burroughs date making the ape man slightly over nineteen and one half years old when Tarzan rescues the moon.  (By the way, just between me and you, Tarzan rescued the moon on November 4, 1892.)

  • In Alan's Tarzan Chrono-log he says Tarzan defeats Terkoz on January 22, 1909.  That is a total of twelve days before the writing of Jane's letter.  Burroughs describes the events occurring ten days before Tarzan kills Mirando which is one day before the writing of Jane's letter which is dated February 3 (?), for a total of eleven days.   
Frank Frazetta

  • When Tarzan rescues Jane and Esmeralda from Sabor, the lioness Burroughs tells us three more times that Tarzan is twenty years old at the time the events occur.  "Little did John Clayton imagine when he fashioned that crude but mighty portal that one day, twenty years later, it would shield a fair American girl, then unborn, from the teeth and talons of a man-eater."  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.  The following morning when the Porter party bury the bones of John and Alice Clayton the statement is made, "When the grave had been filled with earth the little party turned back toward the cabin, and Esmeralda, still weeping copiously for the two she had never heard of before today, and who had been dead twenty years, chanced to glance toward the harbor."  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.  That night Jane writes a letter to Hazel Strong and the statement is made, "Within the little building a light was burning, for Clayton had found an unopened tin of oil which had stood intact for twenty years, a part of the supplies left with the Clayton's by Black Michael."  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.  Despite these three Burroughs provided references Alan's chronology shows Tarzan is nineteen and one half years old when these events occur.
Zdenek Burian

I have now shown you why the first portion of Alan Hanson's Tarzan Chrono-log is not in agreement with the provided information in Tarzan Of The Apes and Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  There are just to many strays from the information directly provided by Burroughs.  Although I can not endorse Alan's chronology, I still respect my buddies research.  When it comes to the big picture we differ on getting started, but my 1888 research and Alan's 1888 research run hand in hand over all.  That is exactly why I am sure Tarzan was born in 1872.

James Michael Moody