Time to wrap up another month's book club selection. I confess that I am still working my way through this one, but am hoping to finish it in the next few days and write up my own thoughts. In the meantime, here are Sky's concluding remarks:
King Solomon's Mines was written on a dare.
Allegedly, Henry Rider Haggard was disdainful of the newly acclaimed Treasure Island and claimed he could do better. His brother dared him to.
And so Allan Quatermain was born.
His parents were of Jewish and Indian descent which may have lead HRH to his “unorthodox” and “radical” views of how the Great British Empire should leave the ruling of other peoples and nations alone.
His views expressed in King Solomon's Mines may seem un-politically correct to our very modern American eyes but it was considered extremely uncouth in his time to even consider people from different “races” as equals. His books were banned from a few libraries with fear that the faint hearted fairer sex would stumble across his vulgar and promiscuous writings and be dismayed or swayed by them!
He is one of the few Victorian authors who enjoyed seeing the popularity of their works whilst still alive!
My favorite character in this book is Allan Quatermain himself. He remains rather humble and to all counts a morally right and decent man yet an unprecedented rifle shot. He grows to loathe and despise the role his career as a hunter and guide played in the demise of Africa’s great creatures. The writer’s love for that vast and terrible country where beauty and death rule side by side is something you can feel in Quatermain’s perceptions. He loves the land, respects the peoples and lives by his hard earned savvy.
Throughout the book we meet war, perilous animals and memorable individuals. We embark on seemingly hopeless journeys into the unknown and grow closer to our fellow travelers.
If the plots seem tired and used to you this is because many movies and books post-H. Rider Haggard have borrowed his ideas! Indiana Jones that great professor/archaeologist was explicitly and shamelessly molded after Quatermain!
Being a Navy wife I had to read aloud this remark Quatermain made:
“ ..I suspected at once that he was a naval officer. I don’t know why, but it is difficult to mistake a navy man. I have gone on shooting trips with several of them in the course of my life and they have always been just the best and bravest and nicest fellows I ever met, though given to the use of profane language. I asked a page or two back what is a gentleman? I’ll answer it now; a royal naval officer is, in a general sort of way...”
My favorite scene (probably influenced by the shades of it in Indiana Jones and the Search for the Holy Grail), is found in Solomon’s Treasure-Chamber when Sir Henry, Good and Quatermain follow the evil witch, old Gagool, down into the diamond mine. There they find Grecian columns, Egyptian carvings, human stalactites and Death itself.
They also find that when faced with the choice of dying with great wealth beyond their dreams or living to hope and breathe with nothing but each other they would leave the great mines behind and trek on together.
I love the still but deep faith of Sir Henry, though quiet, we see it thrumming through his life choices.
I would love to see Good with his eyeglass screwed in, his face half shorn and his poor white legs tramping up and down Solomon’s road!
I find H. Rider Haggard’s writing to be colorful and very satisfying “And there is not a petticoat in the whole history”!
All in all I enjoyed my latest travels with Allan and Company and am looking forward to hearing what you all thought!
Did you read along this month? Now is the time to link up your blog posts and/or tell us what you thought in the comment section. Looking forward to finishing this up (and checking out what everyone else thought) very, very soon!