If there was one theme that drew Edgar Rice Burroughs in like a flame does a moth, it was the confrontation of flabby civilization with muscular primitivism. The Cave Girl explores a belated Tarzan finding his inner ape.
Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones is a stuffed-shirt’s stuffed-shirt. He’s a Bostonian (perhaps Midwesterner ERB’s dig at the Eastern elite) from a family that has raised being effete to an art form. Consequently it comes as a shock to Waldo when he’s washed ashore on a desert island. But Waldo finds just the right motivation to get primitive when he meets a comely cave-girl. Facing successive threats from panthers, cannibals, rival ape-men, and pirates, Waldo must unite the sound mind and the sound body or perish.
For readers who like the more light-hearted aspects of ERB’s tales, this is a good one. Despite the lighter moments there are plenty of ferocious battles and hair-raising peril. If you’re not an ERB fan, it may come across as unbearably corny. But if that’s the case you should try swinging on a vine sometime.