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Sir Henry Rider Haggard

Sir  Henry  Rider  Haggard  (1856    1925).  Public  servant,  reformer,
commissioner and wellknown storyteller, Rider  Haggard  was  the  author  of
thirty-four adventure novels.
  Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham in Norfolk in 1856. He was the  sixth
son of a lawyer and was educated in Ipswich. In  1875  his  father  procured
for him the post of junior secretary to the Governor  of  Natal,  Sir  Henry
Bulwer. He set sail for South Africa and spent six years  there,  fascinated
by its landscape, wildlife, tribal society and  mysterious  past.  Powerful,
intense and visually magnificent, She was written in Africa in  six  weeks
in 1886. Rider Haggard published She in London in 1887.  By  then  he  was
thirty-one year old, an established writer with his own fixed  and  hard-won
ways, who had written three  first-rated  novels:  King  Solomons  Mines,
Allan Quatermain, and Jess. No other writer has absorbed into  his  work
as much knowledge and experience as Haggard had. He produced a whole  series
of spellbinding and extravagant romances set in  far-flung  corners  of  the
world: Iceland,  Constantinople,  Mexico,  Ancient  Egypt  and,  of  course,
Africa.
  Travelling  widely  fueled  Haggards  imagination  and  helped  him  get
acquainted with  exotic  placed  and  people,  their  old  languages,  laws,
traditions, the deepest corners of their ancient history and antiquity.
  The events described in the novel take place first at Cambridge, then  in
Central Africa, and refer to  the  period  of  the  beginning  of  the  19th
century. She takes a reader to the deepest interior of  Africa,  searching
not for treasure but for treasure but for the secrets of a womans love.  In
Rider Haggards greatest romance a fathers mysterious  legacy  to  his  son
brings Leo Vincey and  his  two  fellow-adventurers  to  Africa.  Travelling
through crocodile  infested rivers,  across  volcanic  plains  and  marshes
they reach the vast, eerie catacombs of  the  Kingdom  of  Kr,  where  they
encounter She,  the  white  Queen  of  the  Amahagger  people.  A  woman  of
legendary beauty, bewitching and destructive, She has waited  two  thousands
years for the rebirth and return of the man she loved.  And  this  man,  she
believes, is Leo Vincey.
  The story begins one rainy night, when a man of twenty-two Ludwig  Horace
Holly  was  sitting  in  his  room  at  Cambridge,  grinding  away  at  some
mathematical work. At  last,  wearied  out,  he  flung  his  book  down  and
happened to catch sight of his countenance in the glass.  As  he  stood  and
stared at himself in the glass  Horace  Holly  thought  about  his  physical
deficiencies. Most men of twenty-two are  endowed  at  any  rate  with  some
share of the comeliness of youth, but to him even this  was  denied.  Short,
thick-set, and deep chested almost  to  deformity,  with  long  arms,  heavy
features, deep-set gray eyes, a low brow half overgrown with black  hair  he
was strikingly ugly person. It seemed that he was  branded  by  Nature  with
iron strength and intellect. Ludwig  Horace  Holly  was  so  ugly  that  the
spruce young men of his College,  though  they  were  proud  enough  of  his
endurance and physical powers, did not want even to  be  seen  walking  with
him. Women called him a monster. He had neither father, nor  brother.  And
that is why it was not surprising that Horace Holly  became  sullen,  lonely
person, who had no wife, no children, no friends.
  Suddenly, there came a knock at the door A tall  man  of  about  thirty,
with the remains of great personal beauty,  came  hurrying  in,  carrying  a
massive iron box. The man looked ill and was  coughing  with  blood.  Horace
Holly recognized his only friend from College Mr. Vincey, whom he  knew  for
about two years. The man said that he was dying and that  is  why  he  asked
Mr. Holly to become a tutor for his five-year-old child, Leo Vincey.  Before
leaving he handed Horace the iron  chest  and  said:  On  the  twenty-fifth
birthday of my son your guardianship will end and you will  then,  with  the
keys I give you now, open the box and let Leo see and read  the  contents,
which will tell the boy about his ancestors and about  the  ancient  dynasty
of Kallikrates that he belongs to. The next day Mr.  Vincey  died  and  Mr.
Holly became a guardian to his son.
  Years flew by, the child grew into the young man. As he grew  his  beauty
and the beauty of his mind grew with him. Leo got a good education,  took  a
respectable  degree  at  College  and  became  the  handsomest  man  in  the
University. Young Leo looked like a statue of  Apollo,  he  was  very  tall,
very broad, had a look of an abnormal power and grace. His face  was  almost
without flaw  a good face as well as a beautiful  one,  and  his  head  was
covered with little golden curls. Women called Leo the Greek God  for  his
beauty. Leo Vincey was altogether too good-looking, and,  moreover,  he  had
none of that consciousness and  conceit  about  him,  which  usually  spoils
handsome men and makes them disliked by their fellow, was his real son,  and
they became faithful friends.
  At last, the day of Leos twenty-fifth birthday  came  and  Horace  Holly
with Leo opened the iron box, that Leos father had given Mr. Holly  on  the
night of his death. There was a magnificent silver  casket  with  a  letter,
parchment and a very large ancient potsherd of a dirty  yellow  color.  From
the letter and the uncial Greek writing on the potsherd  they  got  to  know
that Leo Vincey was the only representative  of  one  of  the  most  ancient
families in the world. His  sixty-sixth  lineal  ancestor  was  an  Egyptian
priest of Isis, though he himself was  called  Kallikrates.  This  man  fled
from Egypt with a princess of Royal blood, who had fallen in love with  him,
and they were finally wrecked upon the coast of Africa. There they  met  the
mighty and immortal Queen of a savage people. This Queen fell in  love  with
Kallikrates. It was an unrequited love, so she used  her  magic  and  killed
him.
  On reading this writing Leo Vincey was determined to go Africa  and  find
the mysterious woman in order to revenge his  ancestor  and  to  investigate
the greatest mystery in the world  the secret of eternal  Life  and  Youth.
So, he and his two fellow-voyagers (Horace Holly and Job)  went  to  Africa.
On the ocean, not far from the place of their destination they  were  seized
by the horrible squall. Only four people were saved and  all  the  remainder
of their company was destroyed. These four men,  who  were  brought  to  the
shore by the wave from the  very  jaws  of  Death,  were:  Leo  Vincey,  his
guardian and true friend Horace  Holly,  their  faithful  servant  Job,  and
swarthy Arab Mohammed.
  Job has been serving Mr. Holly and Leo for twenty years, he loved his job
and could always be relied upon. He was a  simple-minded,  devout  man  with
prejudices. Not really brave or courageous, he was frightened  by  thrilling
adventure and unexplored lands, though he agreed to go with Mr.  Holly,  Leo
and dark-skinned sailors, whose manners and customs  scared  him  to  death.
Later the savages named this man the Pig on account of  his  fatness,  round
face and small eyes. Job  could  not  stand  severe  ordeals  of  the  trip,
shattered by all he had seen and undergone, his nerves  had  utterly  broken
down and he had died of terror.
  Travelling though deep forests  and  marshes,  the  heroes  of  the  book
endured great hardship, but at last they were entertained by  She-who-must-
be-obeyed, the mighty Queen of a savage  people.  While  woman,  She  ruled
savages, was seldom seen by them, but was reported to have  power  over  all
things living and dead. The Queen was  a  magician,  had  knowledge  of  all
things, and life and loveliness that does not die. She had no regular  army,
but to disobey her  was  to  die.  This  mysterious  woman  had  a  powerful
intellect, which she always enriched by  studying  languages  and  different
sciences. She was two thousand years old and, of course,  knew  history  and
studied all religions of the world. Ayesha (this was her name) even had  her
own philosophy. She was a great chemist, indeed chemistry  appears  to  have
been her amusement and occupation. Ayesha had one of the caves fitted up  as
a laboratory.
  She was a woman of peculiar beauty. Never may the man to whom her beauty
is once unveiled put it from his mind. Ayesha looked like a young woman  of
certainly not more than thirty  years  in  perfect  health.  Her  white  and
rounded arms, ankles, snowy  argent  breast,  perfect  and  imperial  shape,
gracious forms were more perfect than ever sculptor dreamed of.  Her  grace
was more than human. This woman had the great  changing  eyes  of  deepest,
softest  black,  marble  face,  broad  and  noble  brow,  lovely  smile  and
delicate, straight features. One who ever  saw  her  surpassingly  beautiful
and pure face, was amazed and blinded by its beauty.
  At the end of the story Ayesha decided that Leo Vincey was  the  man  she
has waited for. She thought that Leo  really  was  a  reincarnation  of  her
beloved Kallikrates, because their  likeness  and  resemblance  amazed  her.
This woman wanted to make Leo Vincey immortal in order he could  marry  her.
That is why he had to step into the Eternal Fire of Life  But  Leo  doubted
how could he know that it wouldnt utterly destroy  him.  So,  Ayesha  asked
him: Oh, my Kallikrates, if you see me stand in  the  flame  and  come  out
unharmed, will you enter then. Leo agreed and  said:  Yes!!!  And  Ayesha
stepped into the Fire and never came back.
  So, this was the end of the first story about this mysterious woman.  But
When I read the second book, I found out that after a while She restored  to
life again.
  This book was not written for any specific group  or  class.  The  author
even does not insist on his point of view. He  thinks  that  a  reader  must
judge the history (the story) himself, that is why the  story  is  presented
like memories or the main  hero    Horace  Holly.  But  I  think  that  the
intended audience should  be  young  broad-minded  people,  who  has  bright
imagination and will be able to develop Haggards  idea  or,  maybe  on  the
contrary, - to dispute his  opinion.  A  story  that  began  more  than  two
thousand years ago may stretch a long way into the dim and of the  story  is
not reached yet. Haggard wrote an endless story  and  in  it,  he  raised  a
question of Life and Death that has always occupied people  minds.  This  is
the question about rebirth of both, mind and body after death.
  The purpose of this book is to make a man reflect on the purport of  life
and make him try to solve the most important  problem  for  humanity    the
question about life prolongation.
  The message of the book is to make a man  believe  that  his  life  after
death does not come to an end, but after a while the  rebirth  of  soul  and
body will be and to the world his is born again and again.
  Rider Haggard wrote this book with an intention to share  with  a  reader
his thoughts and ideas about Past, Present and Future of mankind. He  wanted
to bring up for discussion the subject of Immortality and Eternal Life.
  Haggard in his novel uses specific literary method. He  depicts  all  the
events very brightly and thus a reader finds himself in the  deepest  jungle
of civilization among  the  savages,  in  Africa.  Excited  about  impending
adventure, with his heart  filled  with  mingled  dread  and  curiosity  the
reader shares the adventures with the heroes. The main heroes of  the  story
often turn over their minds the  events  that  they  experienced  and  share
their thoughts with the reader.
  The author often uses inversion as a quite unusual rhetorical  device  in
order to lend the speech of the main heroes still greater importance.
  Savages never called their Queen by name. Speaking about her they used to
say: She-who-must-be-obeyed! This and many other expressions  make  Ayesha
more powerful and  majestic.  Haggard  uses  many  metaphors,  epithets  and
comparisons. For example, in order to describe the difference between  young
handsome Leo and ugly appearance of  Mr.  Holly  more  vividly,  the  writer
compares the heroes with Beauty and the Beast.
  Rider Haggard uses many words from Uncial Greek, Old  English  and  Latin
languages. He even gives  his  heroes  ancient  Greek  names.  For  example,
Kallikrates (means the Beautiful in Strength) and his  wife  Amenartas.  All
these literary devices give the story  a  shade  of  antiquity  and  ancient
times.
  I found the book instructive and very interesting. Reading  the  novel  I
really experienced a fascinating adventure  to  Africa.  I  like  the  story
because the author offers interesting insight into human  nature.  His  idea
differs  from  the  Bible  interpretation  of  this  question.  I   consider
Haggards thought very interesting because he  thinks  that  not  only  soul
exists after death, but body also revives.
  The main hero of the story Ayesha appeals to me more than other ones. Her
intellect and  wisdom  amaze  me.  I  respect  this  woman  and  admire  her
inquiring nature, intellectual curiosity and diligence. Living two  thousand
years not everyone could resist the temptations of life, but  She  dedicated
these years to studying different sciences and as a result of her  endurance
and hard work Ayesha reveled the Secret  of  Nature  and  got  the  enormous
power over all things. Im delighted with her devotion to the man she  loved
and waited for, all these years. Ayeshas power, youth and beauty  are  not
magic, but her tireless work. The Queen even says: There is no  such  thing
as magic, thought there is such thing as knowledge of Secrets of Nature.
  As to my opinion this book will be interesting for everyone, because  the
questions of Life and Death, prolongation of Life and rebirth  of  body  and
soul are eternal questions for mankind. All people  are  interested  in  it.
Little children ask their parents about Future, about life, as well  as  old
people often turn over these questions in their minds. I recommend  to  read
this book to everybody. I cant say that after reading it you will  be  sure
that  Eternal  life  exists,  but   still   the   story   leaves   a   hope