Imagining Africa: Landscape in H. Rider Haggard's African Romances

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Greenwood Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 155 pages

Best known as the author of such works as King Solomon's Mines and She, H. Rider Haggard was one of the most popular writers of the late-Victorian era, and his works continue to be influential today. To a large degree, his novels are captivating because of his image of Africa, and an understanding of his representation of the African landscape is central to a critical reading of his works. This book argues that Haggard created in his African romances a formulaic, ideological geography which provided a canvas onto which he projected his desires and fears, both personal and political, as well as those of his age.

The first full-length study of land and landscape in Haggard's African romances, this book approaches his construction of an imaginary African landscape as a product of late-Victorian wishful thinking about Africa, analyzing his African topography as a vast Eden, a wilderness, a dream underworld, a home to ancient white civilizations, and a sexualized metaphor for the human body. While the work looks primarily at his pre-1892 romances, which were his most powerful, it also gives attention to his nonfiction and unpublished papers. Because Haggard's writings embodied the spirit of his age, this book is an essential guide to late-Victorian concepts of Africa, colonization, and the British Empire.

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About the author (2001)

LINDY STIEBEL is Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages and Literature at the University of Durban-Westville, where she specializes in South African literature./e She has published on South African popular fiction, nineteenth-century empire writing and mapping, and gender studies.

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