Imperium in Imperio

Aliens or Civilians in Imperium in Imperio and Tarzan of the Apes: The Relationship between the Body and Citizenship in Turn of the Century American Fiction College

Sutton E. Griggs’s Imperium in Imperio and Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes bring to consideration the connection between the physical body and one’s state of citizenship within the United States. Published on the brink of the twentieth century, in 1899 and 1914 respectively, these works are representative of real social and political issues during an era of turmoil in America. Each novel features a male protagonist on a quest to negotiate between two halves of themselves: natural and cultured. Imperium in Imperio’s Belton and Tarzan of the Apes’s Tarzan work to forge mind and body in order to develop a cohesive sense of identity and exist as equal citizens amongst their Caucasian American-born peers. As demonstrated in these texts, Thomas Jefferson’s “triangulation,” which holds that “language, mind and body” are virtually inseparable, applies to men of both black and savage descent, as each protagonist essentially fails on their journey to negotiate between these entities (Karafilis 132). For Belton, this failure is primarily due to the white gaze of others, while for Tarzan, it is based upon his rejection by Jane and nostalgia for atavism in the face of civilization. The paths of Belton and Tarzan differ as Belton...

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