She Is The Story Of Cambridge Professor Horace Holly And His Ward Leo Vincey, And Their Journey To A Lost Kingdom In The African Interior The Journey Is Triggered By A Mysterious Package Left To Leo By His Father, To Be Opened On His Th Birthday The Package Contains An Ancient Shard Of Pottery And Several Documents, Suggesting An Ancient Mystery About The Vincey Family Holly And Leo Eventually Arrive In Eastern Africa Where They Encounter A Primitive Race Of Natives And A Mysterious White Queen, Ayesha, Who Reigns As The All Powerful She Or She Who Must Be Obeyed And Who Has A Mysterious Connection To Young Leo The Story Expresses Numerous Racial And Evolutionary Conceptions Of The Late Victorians, Especially Notions Of Degeneration And Racial Decline Prominent During The Fin De Si Cle In The Figure Of She, The Novel Notably Explored Themes Of Female Authority And Feminine Behaviour It Has Received Praise And Criticism Alike For Its Representation Of Womanhood From Wikipedia While I was still wondering, what to read next,suddenly like a great sword of flame, a beam from the setting sun pierced my book shelf, and smote upon the row, wherein was laid She , illuminating Ayesha s lovely form, made on the front cover, with an unearthly splendor.I picked it up, kicked off dust from its cover and read the introduction, the theme appealed to me and I decided it to be my next read It turned out to be a dreadful but enchanting experience when I finished it Being one of the early works of fantasy literature, this has a sub genre of adventure romance.Initially it looked like an adventurous travelogue and too much expository but the story became immensely attractive when She ,a two thousand years old sorceress, entered in the story I am sure her extraordinary portrayal by the author might have mesmerized its readers when it was first published I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and I can easily perceive why this novel is counted among the highest selling novels of the history.I appreciate astonishing imagination of Haggard and his capacity to make very impossible looking like adventures appear real The seductive Ayesha replicates the long lasting fidelity to her husband and she is embodiment of personal independence and her supreme authority over men.See what the narrator felt of She , when he saw her for the first time emerging from behind the curtain The curtain agitated itself a little, then suddenly between its folds there appeared a most beautiful white hand white as snow , and with long tapering fingers, ending in the pinkest nails The hand grasped the curtain, and drew it aside, and as it did so I heard a voice, I think the softest and yet most silvery voice I ever heard It reminded me of the murmur of a brook say a figure, for not only the body, but also the face was wrapped up in soft white, gauzy material in such a way as at first sight to remind me most forcibly of a corpse in its grave clothes And yet I do not know why it should have given me that idea, seeing that the wrappings were so thin that one could distinctly see the gleam of the pink flesh beneath them of a tall and lovely woman, instinct with beauty in every part, and also with a certain snake like grace which I had never seen anything to equal before When she moved a hand or foot her entire frame seemed to undulate, and the neck did not bend, but curved A wonderful read for them who have taste of adventure,supernatural portrayals and a propensity towards a mystic story line. Well, shit snacks this was a disappointing pile of shattered expectations While journeying through the early works of speculative fiction, I ve encountered some amazing novelsthis, I m very bitter to say, IS NOT one of them This was my first experience with H Rider Haggard and I think I will take some time before seeking out any of his other works My problem was not the not even thinly veiled misogynistic attitudes, or the matter of fact racist and anti semitic opinion or even the pervasive imperialist ideologies permeating the narrative Hell, that kind of stuff can be a real hoot in these classic stories and rarely distracts me from enjoying an otherwise well told tale as exemplified in my love of H.P Lovecraft and Robert E Howard to name but two.However, you are not allowed to be BORING Apparently Mr Haggard didn t get the memo because he starts off dull, introduces some uninteresting tedium and follows through with a blank shooting climax that barely had a pulse In addition to be boring, the story lacks depth and the writing is far below the quality I ve come to expect from books of the period.Okay with that off my chest, I am starting to feel better Before I unleash my next rant salvo, I should probably give you at least a thumbnail of the plot.PLOT SUMMARY Ape faced Englishman, Horace Holly and his stunningly handsome adonis of a ward, Leo Vincey, find themselves on a perilous trip to a hidden African colony rud to be ruled by a 2000 year old white sorceress After WAY too much time getting there and some run ins with some natives right out of central casting, they eventually meet Ayesha aka She Who Must Be Obeyed There they learn that She has been waiting for the reincarnation of her true love who she slayed in a jealous rage 20 centuries before Many long winded dialogues and infodumps later the story wraps up MY THOUGHTS cont Most of my major criticism is above and centers on the story being dull and the writing being inferior to most of the other classic literature I have read in the speculative fiction genre I would say the prose was on par with Edgar Rice Burroughs, who I do not think was a strong writer However, at least ERB made up for some of his lack of technical skill with some amazingly inventive concepts, characters and stories I didn t find much of that here.Now, I am not slapping a 1 star on this because I recognize the debt owed to this book as a trailblazer in the lost world sub genre I also think the character of Ayesha was at times pretty interesting and I thought Haggard did an okay job showing her as acting consistent for the most part with someone who had lived for so long that normal social conventions ceased to have meaning for her Also, I recognize the attempt at trying to portray this as a form of gothic love tale full of regret and longing across the space of millennia This wasn t nearly enough to save this book from being a huge disappointment, but the book wasn t all bad Before I wrap up, there is one very random passage from the book I want to share because it seemed so very, very creepy and odd and it kept coming back to me even though it has nothing really to do with the plot Early on in the story, while Holly is at Oxford and Leo is a young boy, the narrator describes the following In a very little while the boy became the favourite of the whole College in whose favour all rules were relaxed The offerings made at his shrine were without number, and thereon I had a serious difference of opinion with one old resident Fellow who was supposed to be the crustiest man in the University, and to abhor the sight of a child And yet I discovered, when a frequently recurring fit of sickness had forced Job to keep a strict look out, that the unprincipled old man was in the habit of enticing the boy to his rooms and there feeding him unlimited quantities of brandy balls and of making him promise to say nothing about itWoooooooooahh doggy Let me get this straight Old man luring small boy to his room and plying him with alcohol and sugar and making him promise not to tell the other grown ups This had a very to catch a predator vibe to me and did a thorough test of my gag reflex Sorry, but I needed to share that because it stuck in my head for the rest of the story Overall, this was a completely forgettable story and a giant wad of Meh 2.0 stars Oh, and let me in closing that as well trained, happily married man, the concept of She Who Must Be Obeyed is pretty old hat for me Now a story about He Who Must Be Obeyed.that would be a truly imaginative tale full of fantastical elements, but it would take a seriously creative person to write it Maybe I could hold on, what s that okay, coming dear gotta go SHE needs a foot rub. There s just so much going on in here it s like one massive explosion of Victorian anxieties Indeed, this novel speaks volumes about the time in which it was written it s a late Victorian novel, and is deeply rooted in the genre of the Imperial Gothic So, that means it was written when the empire was in its golden age, the effects of the golden glow of mid Victorianism lingered on The economy was booming, British Imperialism was at its apex, but the Empire s security was a constant doubt as fear began to permeate the high levels of success Fear of a fall, fear that the colonised would fight back, fear of the new woman s effect on the patriarchy and a fear that the Empire would degenerate and devolve And this can be seen with the uncanny Gothic elements associated with the colonised other.For me, this quote brings everything togetherThe terrible She had evidently made up her mind to go to England, and it made me absolutely shudder to think what would be the result of her arrival there What her powers were I knew, and I could not doubt but that she would exercise them to the full It might be possible to control her for a while, but her proud, ambitious spirit would be certain to break loose and avenge itself for the long centuries of its solitude She would, if necessary, and if the power of her beauty did not unaided prove equal to the occasion, blast her way to any end she set before her, and, as she could not die, and for aught I knew could not even be killed, what was there to stop her In the end she would, I had little doubt, assume absolute rule over the British dominions, and probably over the whole earth Oh my, this is such a massively underrated novel Stick with me I ve got a lot to say about this book s brilliance There will be spoilers a head Firstly, the quote confirms Victorian fears of the colonised fighting back Ayesha She is in the heart of Africa in the midst of colonial rule As with Stoker s Dracula, the foreigner is associated with fear inducing Gothic elements Ayesha is a supernatural being Ayesha is immortal and has spent most of her existence in a dark and oppressive temple that lingers with the echoes of the dead she exists almost exclusively in this gloomy sepulchre of decay and ruin Indeed, it s like she has been buried alive, hidden and forgotten by the world in her dark and ancient tomb she has become an object of the uncanny and is suggestive of Freud s idea of the false semblance of the dead The civilisation Ayesha is representing is one that is the exact opposite to Western life Holly narrates it at as a land of barbarism, sacrifice and cannibalism it is a land of the dark savage opposed to the supposed land of the rational west Haggard creates an image of Africa that has undertones of the gothic, of the unusual, of the monstrous that much so that it give Holly nightmares caused by the sepulchral nature of his surroundings Ayesha, herself, embodies the threat of Africa as she is the ruler of such a people This underpins the Victorian anxiety, which is often represented in fin de si cle fiction, of the colonised becoming the coloniser and the fall of Imperial rule to such a land However, the possible empowerment of the colonised in She is directly associated with gender Ayesha is a woman But, she is also a potential conquer, a leader and a Queen Women are frequently compared to the colonised Victorian womanhood is arguably a form of colonisation in which the women are forced to accept the culture of the men The character Ayesha transgresses this she is suggestive of the New Woman in the quote because she refutes the standards of a male dominated world she even has the potential to supplant an entire patriarchal society with her dreams of Empire Perhaps Haggard was reluctant to accept this idea bad, bad Haggard as we ll later see with the novels endingSmaller she grew, and smaller yet, till she was no larger than a baboon Her age is brought upon her in one instant she collapses, and Holly remarks here, too, lay the hideous little monkey frame, covered with crinkled yellow parchment, that once had been the glorious She Alas it was no hideous dream it was an awful and unparalleled fact It is no coincidence that at the end of the novel Ayesha undergoes a physical metamorphosis The novel is post Darwin, The Descent of Man was published in 1871, so the transformation is suggestive of a reversal of evolution When attempting to renew her immortality, and to urge Holly and Leo to follow in her wake, Aysha reverses the magic she devolves When Ayesha, a woman who represents anxieties over a declining Empire, the empowerment of the new woman, and reverse colonisation collapses and devolves, her immortality spent, it brings all these anxieties together, and serves as a symbolic punishment for her transgressions.Perhaps Haggard was a misogynist, despite depicting an empowered woman, Ayesha is brought down at the end of the novel to a very base state Regardless of that not that isn t an important issue, though Haggard s notion of womanhood is conflicting the importance of this work resides in its depiction of Victorian fears, and in its ability to present them so superbly This is an excellent book for study I had so much fun reading it. She is a great book bottom line Initially, I was going to say that I was surprised to see that this book did not get five star ratings But then I can understand some people s frustration with it Granted, it is slow verbose at some parts primarily the beginning in my opinion But we must remember that this book was published in 1887, the age of no television, radio, Internet, etc As such, certain description that may be deemed unnecessary in today s world though there are still so many 300 page novels today that are loaded with filler was required back then to transport the reader to some faraway, uncharted territory Life was slower paced and people read for entertainment And I believe She has to be judged by those standards, as a book of its time, and yet, remarkably, it has succeeded in standing the test of time That fact alone can attest to its greatness In a way, I actually feel sorry for people who don t recognize this book as the extraordinary work of literature that it is Not only is Haggard s grasp of vocabulary and coupling of words commendable in itself, but the philosophy that underlies and pervades the entire novel is reason enough to read it And no, it is not misogynistic in the least If anything, women are elevated to the level of deification That being said, She is not an easy read Unlike novels today, where readers have to be hooked within the first 10 15 pages, lest they get bored and go surf the Internet She requires one to be a little patient Like any courtship worth undertaking, you may have to wait before you reach the pleasure zone But when you get there, it s worth it Often I sit alone at night, staring with the eyes of the mind into the blackness of unborn time, and wondering in what shape and form the great drama will be finally developed, and where the scene of its next act will be laid I first heard about this book when it was discussed in Margaret Atwood s science fiction anthology, In Other Worlds She goes into the history of demonic women in literature, and H Rider Haggard s adventure She gets mentioned frequently When I saw a copy in the bookstore, I was curious enough to buy it.Let s get one thing out of the way first yes, this book is very much a product of its time It concerns a group of British men exploring Africa, so you can imagine that the racial politics are not ideal Also the central She of the book, the goddess demon ruler of a lost civilization, is described as impossibly beautiful, which means she has to also be white, logic be damned In short, this is an adventure story written by old white dudes, for old white dudes, so buyer beware I will also add that Haggard seems hilariously unaware of the subtext of some of his scenes Our group of adventurers includes a young man named Leo, and Haggard s narrator spends a very hefty amount of page space describing how goddamn beautiful this guy is, in loving and fawning detail, and we re supposed to just interpret this as one totally straight guy admiring the supreme bangability of another totally straight guy Anyway, this is mostly because there aren t any women in this book until like page 100, so Haggard had to make do with the characters available But god damn, this book was fun It s an old school adventure yarn in all the best ways, with swashbuckling and daring escapes and terrifying rituals and, okay, scary natives The set pieces are stunningly described, and you can imagine yourself as a kid in the 19th century, sitting by the fire and listening in rapt horror as someone reads this book out loud to you from every point we saw dark forms rushing up, each bearing with him what we at first took to be an enormous flaming torch Whatever they were they were burning furiously, for the flames stood out a yard or behind each bearer On they came, fifty or of them, carrying their flaming burdens and looking like so many devils from hell Leo was the first to discover what these burdens were Great heaven he said, they are corpses on fire I stared and stared again he was perfectly right the torches that were to light our entertainment were human mummies from the caves On rushed the bearers of the flaming corpses, and, meeting at a spot about twenty paces in front of us, built their ghastly burdens crossways into a huge bonfire Heavens How they roared and flared No tar barrel could have burnt as those mummies did Nor was this all Suddenly I saw one great fellow seize a flaming human arm that had fallen from its parent frame, and rush off into the darkness Presently he stopped, and a tall streak of fire shot up into the air, illuminating the gloom, and also the lamp from which it sprang The lamp was the mummy of a woman tied to a stout stake let into the rock, and he had fired her hair On he went a few paces and touched a second, then a third, and a fourth, till at last we were surrounded on all three sides by a great ring of bodies flaring furiously, the material with which they were preserved having rendered them so inflammable that the flames would literally spout of of the ears and mouth in tongues of fire a foot or in length I m like 99% sure that s not how mummies work, but I don t even care because holy shit flaming mummies This book has everything Well, having created my Eh this novel is a bit too Victorian for its own good It s basically a couple of white English guys go to Africa and say the most racist things they possibly can Apart from the blatant and offensive racism, the story is enjoyable This isn t a novel that takes itself seriously It s a light, fun read, nothing Since this is one of the most influential and best selling novels of all time it s sold 100 million copies, the same as The Hobbit and double the amount of copies Deathly Hallows has sold it is kinda disappointing that it is overall so so Oh well. She who must be obeyed, sounds like a fun gal and for sure, gets her kicks in, kind of lethal though Ayesha is a 2,000 year old woman and still looks marvelous for her age , lives in the middle of Africa during the 1800 s , rules a remote tribe of hungry cannibals, people have strange taste When Englishmen arrive in her barbaric land, with hidden wealth , instead of being eaten, are saved by the impressive Queen Leo is one of the tireless explorers and the fierce She, believes he is a reincarnation of a former great love This wandering group , composed of four men quite different truth be told, would I lie Maybe , but not here, trust me.Ludwig Horace Holly , his foster son Leo and their servant Job, last, an inscrutable sea captain misnamed Mahomed here, a man not expected originally in the entourage, a Arab sailor turned guide, are a little nervous you can imagine there is a fine line between heroics and foolishness.They the intrepid travelers, very unwisely, even at the zenith of the British Imperial Age, come to this dangerous continent, an uncharted territory with unfriendly tribes, deadly diseases, hostile terrain, death all around, at the urging of Leo s late father, father doesn t know best always Discovering the ruins of an ancient city, destroyed not by war , but a merciless plague that this magnificent, fascinating , lost civilization once powerful, now very dead has only old buildings left standing but how spectacular they are, breathtaking to the treasure seekers, then again sad is another word that comes to mind The Arab a friend but quiet, disappears from the scene, a vicious war breaks out In the conclusion, the Englishmen are brought deep down into the bowels of dark caves by the cruel Ayesha, to show an amazing event Surprising to the Queen , it s her great exit or is it Will She, the dazzling beauty return After all this legend is invincible, immortal, everyone says and knows The gifted writer and inventor of the Lost World books H Rider Haggard, this She 100 million copies sold , and King Solomon s Mines are his most celebrated products, probably his best tooadventures in the netherworld you can call them.A fun 1965 film version of this novel starring Ursula Andress, should not be missed her most celebrated role was in Dr Nogetting out of the sea on the beach as Sean Connery looks on. This was a very tedious read The writing was so so, it was verbose, and the story although somewhat unusual was not all that interesting Lots of descriptions of dark caves Lots of statements that he can t describe something followed by a page and a half of its description Inconsistent philosophizing moralizing with no resolution Spent the last third of the book wondering if it would ever end.
Sir Henry Rider Haggard, KBE was an English writer of adventure novels set in exotic locations, predominantly Africa, and the creator of the Lost World literary genre His stories, situated at the lighter end of the scale of Victorian literature, continue to be popular and influential He was also involved in agricultural reform and improvement in the British Empire His breakout novel was King So
- 317 pages
- H. Rider Haggard
- 17 March 2018 H. Rider Haggard