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Upon her sudden freedom from family obligations, a sheltered Victorian spinster traded her stifling middle-class existence for an incredible expedition in the Congo. Mary Kingsley traversed uncharted regions of West Africa alone, on foot, collecting specimens of local fauna and trading with natives--a remarkable feat in any era, but particularly for a woman of the 1890s. After hacking her way through jungles, being fired upon by hostile tribesmen and attacked by wild animals, Kingsley emerged with no complaint more serious than a pair of tired feet. She undertook her exploits in the traditional garb of her era but lived as a native, and she found herself drawn into the life and problems of the region: its diversity of customs and beliefs; its geography and natural history; its trade network; the impact of missionaries; and many other issues of the day. Her account of her experiences, suffused with an infectious good humor, was published to immediate success in 1897 and remains a compelling tale of adventure.
|Publisher:||National Geographic Society|
|Series:||National Geographic Adventure Classics Series|
|Product dimensions:||6.05(w) x 8.99(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Life's early difficulties often lay the groundwork for later genius. Mary Kingsley was kept in almost complete isolation from Victorian society by her family, and, as a young woman, single-handedly managed the physical upkeep of her family's house. Her education was primarily from her absent adventurer-gentleman father's eclectic library, and all this produced a clear-thinking, capable adventurer in her own right. Written in a highly entertaining style, VERY similar to Mark Twain's, with NO pomposity and a clear respect for the indigenous West African (in present-day Nigeria, Gabon and Sierra Leone) people she met on her travels - this is a landmark book for anyone who enjoys autobiographies, humor, history and adventure. NOT TO BE MISSED!
Mary Kingsley has so far been an unrecognized genius - raised within the confines of a Victorian home, she set out after her parents' death to fill the African philosophy void that existed among her adventurer-doctor father's works. "But Africa was kind to me and interested me and didn't want to kill me just yet" - self-educated Mary Kingsley developed her own writer's voice with much the same descriptive wry observations as Mark Twain. She returned to England with a new perspective on re-vamping Colonial government of British Africa and gave lectures, as well as advised and mentored many in the Free Congo movement. This book features epiphanies of insight and top-notch humor on almost every page. Just. Brilliant.