I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me…

…is the way in which the story begins. This is another classic feature of a ripping tale. The entire idea of either a story discovered in some old dusty piece of furniture, or the relation of events from someone. We see this in stories like the Sherlock Holmes books, and many others. What I’ve always enjoyed about authors using this manner to begin a book is the scope that it gives them to add into an existing body of work many years later. You can write a “new” Holmes story by claiming that your great uncle left you some mouldy old bureau that had a secret drawer with a manuscript tucked inside!

Tarzan is beginning well. As is usual with stories from the time period, non¬†Caucasoid¬†races are not faring well. With this genre you have to really exercise your ability to take things in context of the time no matter how distasteful they can sometimes be. The same applies to suspending your disbelief when it comes to our hero’s ability to teach himself to read from merely finding books in the cabin. My mantra when I read these sorts of books is to “read like an 8 year old” and this is not a slam on the kids! I wish I could treat everything the way that they do sometimes!

Here is a *LINK* to a great Tarzan related site that also contains information about the author and his family.

I’ve just passed the point in the story ( at 3 in the morning, thank you very much insomnia ūüėź ) where Jane Porter has come into the story. The best part about this section of the book is when her father and his assistant wander off into the jungle and get chased by a large cat. Hilarious.

Published in: on June 13, 2010 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Originally published in The Strand magazine, the same magazine that published Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. It ran in serial form from April until November 1912. It was brought out after that in novel form by Hodder & Stoughton .

The Lost World is a great starting point for our search into..well…Lost World’s really! Misty jungles, dinosaurs, horrible hairy ape men!

Here is a link to the article on Wikipedia.

If you would like to read the novel itself here’s a link to an HTML version at literature.org.

Also a link to the Project Gutenberg page for The Lost World with the epub version for your Kobo.

Here’s the blurb I wrote about the book on Goodreads if you’re looking for a little more info.

The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle is a perfect example of a ripping tale. It features quite a few of the character types, and plot devices that we expect from the genre. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

We have “The Professor/Scholar”. In this case we have both Professor Challenger, and Professor Summerlee filling this role as adversaries that come to terms with each other in the end.

Then we have “The Big Game Hunter/Explorer” in the person of Lord John Roxton. He is the tough that protects the group from harm during their exploits.

In Ned Malone we are shown what I would call “The Athlete” who ends up as a supporting member, even though he is the main character and narrator of the story.

There is the supporting cast, with the usual mix of loyal retainers, and the secret bad guys. As is typical to the genre, in The Lost World they are taken from a non-European people. The bad guys, true to form, manage to cause havoc at a point that is critical to the survival of our heroes.

The reader is shown some classic plot devices. We have extinct life, dinosaurs, and half ape men trapped in centuries or millenia of seclusion in the cone of an extinct volcano. The ape men are there solely to capture and menace our intrepid party, and to prey on the “good” primitives, a race of backward Indian villagers. The Indians, with the help of our heroes, manage to clear out and exterminate all of the ape men in the end… with the exception of the few that they keep around as servants.

To round it all off one of the party, the hunter Roxton, notices a blue clay that lurks in a volcanic vent, that just happens to remind him of the area around Kimberly…where the diamond mines are. Low and behold the blue clay is…you guessed it…full of diamonds of great size…thus financing future trips to the lost world.

Oh sure, you can say “what pitiful stuff” and you might be right, but I love it. I love the potential embodied in the stories.

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Defining our terms

I suppose we should begin an effort like this one by a declaration of what, exactly, would be a “Ripping Tale”. Many years ago I was reading a particular book, and it was spotted by a manager of mine. He thought of himself as someone whose opinion should be heard, and when he saw what I was reading his comment was “Oh yes…ripping tales…that sort of thing.” Once I wiped the sarcasm off of my brow I turned and walked away rather than¬†jeopardize¬†a job that at the time I was in need of.

The book was “A Princess Of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. ¬†I have read and re-read that book and many more by Burroughs over the years since then. I’ve walked with Tarzan, flown with Carson of Venus. Conan Doyle has shown me The Lost World along with Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Haggard has blazed the trail to King Solomon’s Mines. In every single case I count the time spent reading these books as time well spent. Long ago I decided to take the words “ripping tales” that had been tossed at the book, and to turn them around into a badge of worth!

So what constitutes a ripping tale? I would say that to begin it is a story that takes place in the time period 1850 Р1910. Even this is kind of loose but I would say that you could confine it to the time period when Victoria reigned and the map was sketched rather than printed. There were still potential dinosaurs in the unseen cone of every volcano. You never knew when a forgotten city would emerge from the jungle in front of you, and a mysterious jungle Queen could come snaking out of the ruins at any minute. Men seemed to have abilities and resources that we lesser men of today appear to have lost or given up.

In the posts to come I would like to explore this genre, and it’s successor¬†Steam punk, to look at both which books might belong to this collection, and what might¬†categorize a book as Steam punk or a ripping tale.

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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