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Haggard, Henry Rider

set africa british

(British, 1856–1925)

Haggard's adventure romances are set in Iceland, Mexico, and Constantinople, but his best-known depict bellicose Victorians travelling to the heart of Africa, defeating evil witch doctors and ‘heathen’ sorcery. Christianity and scientific progress inevitably triumph. In King Solomon's Mines (1886) British men take an expedition to Africa where they initiate themselves into manhood by dabbling in traditional society, finally returning with ‘native’ treasure. Two years later Haggard wrote a Gothic romance, She (1887), considered his best work. Again, a group of male explorers set off to discover a remote African country, where a white queen presides over a lost empire. She, a mythical figure, simultaneously repulsive and seductive, falls in love with the central character. She is seen by many as an expression of Victorian anxieties about religious cynicism and the decline of imperial domination.

Rudyard Kipling, Wilbur Smith.


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