Sunday, March 05, 2006

Things I Have Learned After Reading H. Rider Haggard

In an effort to make myself into a man, I have been prescribing myself a stern diet of literary classics, subjecting myself to such masterworks as 'Versus: Ogden Nash' and 'King Solomon's Mines', by H. Rider Haggard. Oh, you may scoff and turn your nose up at the mention of Haggard, but he's very good. I've learned a lot from him.

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED AFTER READING H. RIDER HAGGARD

When First Being Told The Tale of a Long-lost Mine Created by King Solomon, It Is Desirable To Exclaim For Dramatic Effect

"What was it you heard about my brother's journey at Bamangwato?" said Sir Henry, as I paused to fill my pipe before answering Captain Good.
"I heard this," I answered, "and I have never mentioned it to a soul till to-day. I heard that he was starting for Solomon's Mines."
"Solomon's Mines!" ejaculated both my hearers at once ...

Meteorological Phenomenon Have a Way of Occuring at Convenient Moments For The Plot

As soon as they were gone, Good went to the little box in which his medicines were, unlocked it, and took out a note-book in the front of which was an almanack. "Now, look here, you fellows, isn't to-morrow the fourth of June?"
We had kept a careful note of the days, so we were able to answer that it was.
"Very good; then here we have it - '4 June, total eclipse of the sun commences at 11.15 Greenwich time, visible in these Islands - Africa, &c.' There's a sign for you. Tell them that you will darken the sun tomorrow."
The idea was a splendid one ...

King Solomon Was a Pretty Awesome Road Builder

As for the road itself, I never saw such an engineering work, though Sir Henry said that the great road over the St. Gothard in Switzerland was very like it. No difficulty had been too great for the Old World engineer who designed it. At one place we came to a great ravine three hundred feet broad and at least a hundred deep. This vast gulf was actually filled in, apparently with huge blocks of dressed stone, over which the road went ...

It Is Not Advisable to Follow Withered Old Crones Into Dark Caves

On she led us, straight to the top of the vast and silent cave, where we found another doorway, not arched as the first was, but square at the top, something like the doorways of Egyptian temples.
"Are ye prepared to enter the Place of Death?" asked Gagool, evidently with a view to making us feel uncomfortable.
"Lead on, Macduff," said Good, solemnly ...


The Assassination Methods of Elephants

With a scream of pain the brute seized the poor Zulu, hurled him to the earth, and placing his huge foot on to his body about the middle, twined his trunk round his upper part and tore him in two ...

When Encountering a Mysterious Race of People Who Speak in A Dialect Related to Modern Zulu, One Should Foment Revolution If One Does Not Like Their Leader

... "Well, I feel uncommonly inclined to be sick."
"If I had anhy doubts about helping Umbopa to rebel against that infernal blackguard," put in Good, "they are gone now. It was as much as I could do to sit still while that slaughter was going on. I tried to keep my eyes shut, but they would open just at the wrong time. I wonder where Infadoos is. Umbopa, my friend, you ought to be grateful to us; your skin came near to having an air-hole made in it."

Englishmen Are Never Immoral

"It is strange," he answered, "and had ye not been Englishmen I would not have believed it; but English 'gentlemen' tell no lies. If we live through the matter, be sure I will repay ye!"

Englishmen Hardly Ever Remove Their Monocles

He was so very neat and so very clean shaved, and he always wore an eye-glass in his right eye. It seemed to grow there, for it had no string, and he never took it out except to wipe it. At first I thought he used to sleep in it ...

Englishmen Are Not Concerned By Wealth

... I can assure you that if you had passed some twenty-eight hours with next to nothing to eat and drink in that place, you would not have cared to cumber yourself with diamonds whilst plunging down into the unknown bowels of the earth, in the wild hope of escape from an agonising death.

But They Don't Turn Their Noses Up At It Either

... If it had not, from the habits of a lifetime, become a sort of second nature with me never to leave anything worth havin behind, if there was the slightest chance of my being able to carry it away, I am sure I should not have bothered to fill my pockets.

Englishmen Do Not Swear, They:

Curse
Damn
Ejaculate (!)
Use invective
Use salty language
Good responded nobly to the tax upon his inventive faculties. Never before had I the faintest conception of the breadth and depth and height of a naval officer's objurgatory powers.

In other news relating to the African continent: South Africans are stoners!

9 Comments:

At 9:17 AM, Blogger Tim said...

This brings back memories. Not of reading H. Rider Haggard, but of my monocle-wearing, Zulu-fighting, old-crone-following teenage years. Ah, what a time that was!

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger JPW said...

Man, I'd give my left nut for a proper monocle.

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger TimT said...

It could be arranged.

 
At 4:22 AM, Anonymous martha said...

I read King Solomon's Mines when I was something like 11 or 12, and geez! I don't remember any of this good stuff! I probably took it all at face value then, as I usually did (critical skills and historical context not being particularly evolved at that point). But hey, thanks for the update, and I can honestly say that I will probably not be rereading it in the near future. Your review makes me think of some old movie I saw where the black servants carrying loads for the intrepid British heroes kept falling off the mountainside with flailing limbs and terrible screams.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger TimT said...

What is this movie? Why has no one shown it to me yet? I must see it!

It's a great book; this is the first time I've read all of it - when I was about 11 I think I read one of those 'picture book' versions of it, which had the rudimentary plot details but left out the good bits (such as that passage about 'objurgatory powers').

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Tim said...

There have been several film adaptations. The one I've seen was an Indiana Jones knock-off from the mid-80s.

 
At 9:58 AM, Anonymous martha said...

You know, what I saw might actually have been a film adaptation, but alas, I'm not sure. It's only that one little section that's been seared indelibly into my brain. Sorry.

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger TimT said...

It's one of those books that you read and you can see where literary/film cliches start. For instance, this one has possibly the first recorded instance in English literature of the sliding stone walls which trap the explorers inside (amongst other things)

I remember getting the same pleasing experience when reading a gothic horror story from the 18th century - the Castle of Otranto. I think that was where the cliche of the painting with moving eyes was first used!

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger JPW said...

That movie was great!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089421/

 

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