Overview

One may be curious to see how the versatile Andrew Lang had acquitted himself in the fresh field of highly imaginative fiction. Although H. Rider Haggard was joint author with him of "The World's Desire", no one can read the book without feeling that, at any rate in the writing, Lang's has been much the larger part of the two. But, however the credit may be shared, there can be little doubt about the excellence of the fare provided. Greek, Hebrew, and Egyptian traditions have all been drawn upon and worked up ...
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THE WORLD'S DESIRE (Illustrated)

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Overview

One may be curious to see how the versatile Andrew Lang had acquitted himself in the fresh field of highly imaginative fiction. Although H. Rider Haggard was joint author with him of "The World's Desire", no one can read the book without feeling that, at any rate in the writing, Lang's has been much the larger part of the two. But, however the credit may be shared, there can be little doubt about the excellence of the fare provided. Greek, Hebrew, and Egyptian traditions have all been drawn upon and worked up with great ingenuity into a harmonious whole.

The novel, we may say at once, takes up the story of Odysseus at a later point than Homer left it, and shows us the Wanderer returning from further travels, only to find his Ithacan palace in ruins and his wife and people slain. At this juncture Aphrodite appears to him, and telling him that he had never yet known what love was, in spite of Penelope, Calypso, Circe, &c, bids him to seek out Helen, who was still living in Egypt in possession of immortal youth and beauty. This quest of Helen —'the world's desire' is the subject of the story.

The general treatment of the story is in the well-known style of the author of "She." In "The World's Desire," Homer and Egypt are brought together; and even Biblical history is woven into the tale, as we read of the Jews (under the name of the Apura), the plagues, and the destruction of Pharaoh's host in the Red Sea, or the Sea of Weeds.

This last journey and death of Odysseus, the wanderer, and the scene is laid chiefly in the land of Khem or Egypt. The title, "World's Desire," is justified by the subject, —a Something which can with equal right be called a mythical goddess or a human being, an abstract idea or Golden Helen of Troy. Indeed this Something bears the significant epithet "changeful." But the new creation, (whether Lang's or Haggard's,) this goddess of Love in all her ever-changing forms, this strange Something which belongs to everyone and is never possessed by anyone, the source of life and cause of death, that draws all men and slays so many in their coming.

Andrew Lang has done nothing to abate H. Rider Haggard's taste for blood, but he has breathed a genuine Homeric spirit into the scenes of fighting and slaughter with which the book abounds.

Throughout the book is a taste of the fine and delicate flavors of a rich imagination, though, as mentioned before, some may find objectionable blood-thirstiness, a love of indiscriminate carnage, where heads fly off at the slightest provocation, causing unnecessary shocking of the sensibilities — yet, "The World's Desire" is an eminently readable book. Above all, the chapters are interspersed with snatches of song, some of which are really wonderful, and have the genuine poetic ring that can only be done with the skillful touch of an old master.

The conclusion is singularly noble and impressive. On the whole it is a fine tale of gods and heroes, full of strange incident and hidden meaning.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013807037
  • Publisher: Leila's Books
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

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