Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was an English author of adventure novels set in exotic locales, predominantly Africa. King Solomon’s Mines, one of his best-known books, details the life of the explorer Allan Quartermain. She: A History of Adventure followed, introducing the character Ayesha. While much of Haggard’s reputation stems from those two books and their subsequent series, he also wrote nonfiction and short stories.
BLACK HEART AND WHITE HEART - A Zulu Idyll (Illustrated)by H. Rider Haggard
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In "Black Heart And White Heart", H. Rider Haggard mounts once more those trusty steeds of his, the nobility of the savage and the rascality of the civilized white. He rides, too, with all his old dexterity, and the story concerning Zulus, witches, battles, sacrifices, and traitors, of which this volume consists, will revive the pleasures of reading his books.
"Has the age of miracle quite gone by?" asks H. Rider Haggard concerning this story. "Hardly," most readers would be inclined to answer, if the question were put to them while their brains were alive with the witcheries and the wonders which are Haggard's " stock-in trade." The marvels he recounts lose nothing in effect because they deal with the immediate and the remote past of the country in which Briton and Boer have just fought the fight for supremacy and empire. And by an odd coincidence, a book which opens with a description of an encounter between an Englishman and a Boer at Utrecht appeared on the very day on which Utrecht was occupied by British forces.
Haggard takes us to Zululand just before the outbreak of the war which crushed the power of Cetewayo, to ancient Zimbabwe, just before the period at which the Phoenicians may be supposed to have succumbed to the attacks of the native barbarians, and to a part of Central Africa occupied by the Children of Fire, whose country had been penetrated, and whose horrible customs had been observed by none but a solitary missionary.
The novelist rings the changes on scenes and ideas which he has made familiar; here are the wizardry, the superstitions, the horrors, the deeds of devotion, of treachery, of love and of triumph, the superlative heroism, spiritual and material, which characterize all his work. Imagination runs riot, making unrealities live, and the fascination of "King Solomon's Mines" and " She" is over all.
If Rider Haggard does not satisfy the demands of literature, he more than compensates for any shortcomings in that respect by the interest of his matter. He is not a stylist, but he is a born story-teller.
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