Edgar Rice Burroughs seems to have had an annus mirabilis in 1912; that year saw the appearance of both John Carter and Tarzan. For any lover of science fiction and action adventures, these two characters serves as the gate-keepers of a new “20th-century” literary phase. Burroughs was a hack writer and admitted openly that he had started writing yarns to earn money for his poor family. But he possessed a peculiar flair for story-telling that still attracts readers.
The ecology of literature is vicious — look at what other action characters from the Edwardian era you will find in 21st-century bookshop. Sherlock Holmes and perhaps one or two more? The others have long since faded out of sight by getting outdated.
Washington Post today has an article about the Tarzan centennial in the literary world. The author has a few pertinent points to what are the particular qualities of the Jungle Lord.