Rider Haggard: His life and work

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That pattern — which seems central to the shaping of what much later became known as Imperial Gothic — might also be described as a central model for Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Science-Fantasy subgenre whose popularity attended the latter's revival in the s: it is a pattern in which realistic portraits of the contemporary world in Haggard's case South Africa are combined with backward-looking displacements in his case invoking Lost Worlds , Immortality and Reincarnation to give a general effect of deep nostalgia.

Haggard was fascinated by ruins, ancient civilizations and primitive customs, attempting to use their resonances as a kind of radar to locate himself and his readers in the precarious and fragile late-imperialist world which had also fixed his imagination see Ruins and Futurity ; the works of his later years are now read as rebarbatively defensive of the values that made it possible to create an empire.

His prose was sometimes overblown, but he was a gifted storyteller with a powerful imagination and the ability to create memorable heroic figures, like the Zulu Umslopogaas, whose early life is the subject of the remarkable Nada the Lily Umslopogaas appears also in Haggard's principal sequence, the novels about white hunter Allan Quatermain which gave Africa to the world as a great adventure and romantic haven in the mind's eye, and to which he added sequels and prequels throughout his career.

English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920

Not all these books could be described as Science Fantasy , but all project that sense of desiderium — the longing for that which may never have existed, but which now seems poignantly lost — that lies at the heart of true science fantasy; and those titles written late in Haggard's career — like The Ancient Allan , a tale of love-death set in Egypt — confusedly adhere to outmoded political values see above , while at the same time they express their author's potent but submerged sexuality in venues so remote that a suppressed libidinousness can become, occasionally, almost explicit.

But Allan and the Ice Gods , which generally conforms to this description, interestingly sends Quatermain thrown back in time by means of a Drug where he inhabits the body of a paleolithic man through a process of Identity Transfer see also Prehistoric SF ; his attempts to Uplift his new people force upon him an awareness of the decrepitude of modern civilization, and he desists.

It is, however, in the Ayesha sequence that Haggard's Victorian libido found easiest release from the chains of the present. Haggard created here, in the immortal and subversive Ayesha, what has come to seem an abiding emblem of that longing for "primitive" transcendence that typically marks the end of eras; but her lamia-like sexual power over men, which is presented as being parasitic upon the male principle, typically exemplifies Late Victorian male wrestling with issues of Sex and race; her sudden ageing in the first volume of the sequence later volumes dally inconsequentially with her earlier life has an effect both tragic and petty see Apes as Human.

He clothes himself in armour, selects two spears from a stand of lances, throws a quiver of arrows over his shoulder and takes the great bow of Eurytus, which no one else can bend. Then he goes forward to fulfill his mission, but spends the rest of the novel seeking the love of a woman rather than in revenging his slain wife. It is this bow which produces the song of the tale:.

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The militaristic tone reflects Lang's love of chivalry, masculinity, myth and epic. Hyper-masculinity, then, is a recurrent theme of epic narrative, resplendent with martial imagery. Later in the novel Odysseus is visited by Aphrodite, who promises him Helen of Troy, the "goddess" whom all men desire. Soon afterwards, Odysseus is captured by Sidonian merchants who plan to sell him as a slave, but he defeats them and escapes with the treasure by ship to Egypt where he finds both the Pharaoh's sorceress wife, Meriamun, and the beautiful Helen. But the Wanderer cannot conquer Helen easily, for she appears to change shape, although that shape is unclear.

What does the image of the star represent? Is it male or female? In his pursuit of Helen his directions are clearer:. By the star of Love shalt thou know her. On the breast of Helen, a jewel shines, a great star - stone. From that stone fall red drops like blood and they drip from her vestment. The star of love is the indicator by which Helen will thus be known, drawing attention to the erotic. It is the basis of Koestenbaum's study concerning the co-authored work, The World's Desire, that its sexually heightened imagery can be used to demonstrate that the joint authors were engaged in homoerotic writing.

Koestenbaum suggests that, by reaching into a box with her hand, Meriamun could be said to be taking part in an act of female onanism. In the poem which prefaces the work, Haggard and Lang, in an obscure reference to a Star and a Snake, appear to be using the imagery of a star to represent female love and the long, snaky member possibly to represent male love:. Still, still she flits, the World's Desire.

The star as the symbol of hope and of the guiding way for mariners and travellers has been a long-standing image since early civilisation, but as Morton Cohen has reminded us: "the psychological symbols present a challenging puzzle to the specialist as well as the casual reader. The sequence of dreaming, waking up, and finding the snake perhaps suggests a sleeper, aroused by thoughts of a writhing and swelling creature, turning half in dream, to self-indulgence. Perhaps, associating the snake with a penis, Haggard is making a visual reference to the erotic fantasies created by masturbation.

The snake is associated with the earth and with a reptile. The image of a snake, of the genus squmata, a worm-like creature, is one which squirms its way along the ground, in trees, scrub, and in foliage. It has long had resonances of a sexually charged object and, as it sheds its skin, of rebirth and rejuvenation. In Genesis it is the snake which plants the idea of the temptation in the mind of the woman. This leads us to an interpretation of the main imagery, for the confusion over the emblems of the Star and the Snake could be taken to suggest a more intriguing, fundamental, human choice between love and evil; the choice between pure love and the profane, and between lust and purity.

The allegory in the romance The World's Desire swings from star to snake and back again, as it would appear that the authors change from male to female imagery:. And did she not tell thee, also, that thou shouldst know her by the Star? Yet when one came to thee wearing no star but girdled with a snake, my words were all forgotten, thy desires led thee whither thou wouldst not go.

Thou wast blinded by desire and couldst not discern the False from the True.

Sir H. Rider Haggard | British author | huistaninmiro.cf

Beauty has many shapes, now it is that of Helen, now that of Meriamun, each sees it as he desires it. But the Star is yet the Star and the Snake is yet the Snake and he who, bewildered by his lusts, swears by the Snake when he should have sworn by the Star, shall have the Snake for guerdon. The images of the snake and the star seem to present here a difficult choice between which woman to love, the holy Helen or the wicked Meriamun. The quandary about femininities throughout the Haggard romance genre is constantly to the fore here. The choice is difficult and fraught with danger because it will influence the outcome of Odysseus's quest.

Is he to choose evil or good, beauty or wickedness? Both Haggard and Lang dislike, it appears, the female sex because their construct of masculinity seems to avoid any exemplification of feminine characteristics. The image of the curling snake arguably represents the male sex because of its vitality and penis-like attributes.

Camera Interviews - Sir Rider Haggard (1923)

Sin is personified in this image as a snake which takes the form of a human. The psychological allegory of the images appears to be that the snake represents sin, not purity and chastity. The snake proceeds from the evil side of the queen's nature not the beauteous one. Freud, thereby, seems to confirm long-held suspicions of the snake's identification with sexuality, of the phallus, with encirclement, all-envelopment and, in particular, with the pubic and erogenous areas of a woman's body.

H. Rider Haggard

Haggard and Lang seem to assert that beneath the beauty of the female lies duplicity and evil, beneath the disguised sex of the serpent there is a fundamental criticism not only of female nature but of human nature. Haggard and Lang collaborate in an equivocal epic genre in a story filled paradoxically with malice, duplicity and lust to represent beauty, and a story of beauty, attraction, desire, and faith in humanity to represent evil:.

Tumescence is the subject here, as the snake grows. The snake and the woman take part in a lengthy conversation and then imitate a serpent devouring itself.

https://yoku-nemureru.com/wp-content/read/1269-location-my.php The image is the standard emblem of eternal life, represented by the unending circle of the snake's body and with, importantly, the serpent shedding its own shrivelled skin and revealing a shining one, suggesting new life or immortality. Its venoms suggest an ejaculatory threat, and the power to penetrate areas associated with the female body is mooted. We have here the idea of a ring, a common fetish of Haggard's, possibly suggesting marriage, or, at least, union, as they unite in collaboration.

It is a common image of union, of total commingling intimacy.

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Every time the pair of writers use this imagery of a snake devouring itself they are tapping the same metaphor, using powerful images of swallowing and being swallowed. The imagery is ambiguous for the snake was associated in Christian traditions with fertility and femininity while the recoiled serpent indicated infinitude and life.

Haggard uses the emblem of the star as a guiding star for his characters, which has connotations of Lucifer, and, most paradoxically — in view of my remarks about the serpent being a male image, because the serpent in the garden was traditionally female — connotations of Eve, for the star is associated with birth and rebirth, tokens of potency, fertility and fecundity, with which Haggard particularly associated himself.

The star does not necessarily therefore represent love, but rather its brightness could be taken, I would argue, to represent South East Africa, where Haggard saw his ambitions and love for life blossom, and the snake does not represent evil but stands for the venom which Haggard felt over the patriarchal proscriptions which surrounded him. Haggard, a committed imperialist, [46] especially in his activities in the Empire, saw his future as only represented by the star of hope. The recognition of complaisant, heterosexual and courtly love is finally made by Haggard and Lang in the novel despite its toying with passionate togetherness in a gender-free environment in which the two authors write adventures where femininities are complex and distorted and where the masculinities which they sought to portray were bolder and more realistically elaborated than had been previously.

In The World's Desire Helen decrees that, although he is clearly mortal, "Thou shalt live again, Odysseus, as thou hast lived before, and life by life we shall meet and love till the end is come. The courtly ideal contained in heterosexual love is prominent in the romance form.

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  • In this passionate, heterosexual scene Helen promises Odysseus immortality, but it also indicates the desire of the author, Haggard, for immortality through reincarnation, for it is well documented that he was a firm believer in the rebirth of the self. Haggard had continued his journey to visit the royal tombs of Thebes, looking at the tomb of King Seti. Harry How, Strand Magazine, No. January, There below the tomb of Rameses VI, he has found a sealed cache of several chambers full of all the funeral furniture, also the chariots and throne of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, who was one of the shadowy successors to Akhenaten, the heretic Pharaoh.

    Whether his body is in one of the chambers that remains unopened remains unknown. From the first visit he was able to obtain sufficient information to be able to commence his imaginative romance, Cleopatra. The story of Cleopatra and Harmachis became the vehicle to deal in the antiquities of Egypt, the story being delivered on papyrus scrolls through the first-person narrator account of Harmachis, the son of Amenemhat, and told using the second person singular as in the bible.

    The plot concerns the royal family of ancient Egypt, who are represented by the Priest, Isis. The indecision between lovers, between Charmion and Cleopatra, Lilith and Louisa , is again a reflection from the plot lines of Jess, where the inability to decide between two sisters dominates the tale. Behind are things forgot: Before the tide is driving swift To lands beholden not. A general expansion of popular journalism occurred between and which could be attributed to the introduction of new techniques of mass production, as well as to the abolition of the last "taxes on knowledge", on newspapers, pamphlets and other publications by Britain was becoming an increasingly modern country usually at the forefront of many of the changes taking place in Europe, particularly in relation to intellectual pursuits, inventions and innovation.

    In the s, the innovations in machinery were such that the demands of a new generation of readers could be satisfied by the improved techniques of printing. Compositors were able, by virtue of the new steam type composing machine to set up about 12, types per hour as against an earlier average of two thousand. The machine invented by McKenzie was regulated by a perforated, thick paper in a continuous strip of about 5 cms wide. The copy was composed on the steam type composing machine and the pages printed out far more rapidly than was possible before. Corrections could be handled more easily and editing instructions easily undertaken by the machine and this would help to account for the fact that romances were actually aided by technology and new inventions.

    The late-Victorians had to come to terms with a rapid increase in technology that made them reconsider their culture and often reexamine their way of life. There was an emphasis on steam, on speed, on factories, changes in technology leading to industrial inventions, as well as improvements in transport and communications. It opened up whole new futures to the populace where increasing challenges were being placed in their path, not only in technology but in revolutionary new philosophies, exciting new geographical, scientific and other discoveries, and challenging and worrying theories on the nature of evolution.

    These changes taking place in technology, particularly in editing, printing and distribution, to which we referred, allowed for the rapid production of the romance novels and their early success. Co-authored work and the writing of alternate chapters were the hallmarks of the balance of forces existing between Haggard and Lang. Both writers had been in correspondence with and visited each other at Redcliffe Square and Marloes Road since the publication of The Witch's Head when, in a postscript, Lang had recorded: "I am glad to take this opportunity of thanking you for the great pleasure The Witch's Head has given me.

    I have not read anything so good for a long time". Haggard and Lang were tramping along the "leagues of the long Academy", as Haggard described them, while they discussed the merits of the works of art on display:. In an inspiring, artistic atmosphere, with publication in mind, and the finery of the paintings on display, Haggard and Lang live the heightened life of a literary coterie.

    A pair of men who were imbued with an artistic talent in a homophobic, patriarchal and intensely energised artistic metropolis indulge in reverie and nostalgia for a past that was more harmonious and sympathetic to the artistry they had previously forged. Lang read the manuscript draft of King Solomon's Mines and on its publication wrote to Haggard acknowledging receipt of his reviewer's copy.