Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review::She by H. Rider Haggard

SheShe by H. Rider Haggard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She By Henry Rider Haggard.

I suppose, were I a scholar of those languages, the formatting might be a problem.

This is a great novel and a tremendous classic; but if I understood even a shred of Egyptian; Greek; or Latin, I might be as incensed as some others about the butchery of those parts of the book.(And once again we are looking at the e-book edition so one has to keep that in mind. As usual I would advise looking for a printed edition.)

As it is I thoroughly enjoyed the story and hope that there are not any plot points buried in the hashed up gobble-de-gook of old language. The standard form of prose from that era sometimes is enough struggle without having to consider the extra special effects.

I read She, in part, as a result of having had read Atlantida by Pierre Benoit; which someone had claimed was a major rip from She.

I find that argument to be quite thin upon examining both. To begin: I would like to say that Atlantida doesn't come anywhere close to being the intense classic that She is and such a claim might denigrate the work of Henry Ride Haggard. Atlantida differs considerably, so much so that such claims deserve only a shrug.

She, Ayesha, is liken to old Tropes in history and mythology and literature: amongst such greats as Aphrodite; Helen of Troy; Cleopatra; and Nefertiti-She finds her place. Women known for great beauty and seductive nature whom men will throw down kingdoms and fortunes to their very deaths, to stand beside. They have that certain something that draw men like moths to flame and probably today these types do not do so much in favor of helping the image of women. Yet it remains that these images are an excellent snapshot into the time from which they are drawn.

It would seem many key elements or threads that find their place in H.R.Haggard's She, later became the template for further lost world sub-genre and some of those elements end up in the dying earth or dying planet's genre of such greats as Edgar Rice Burroughs. So it might come as no surprise that Pierre Benoit may have borrowed elements when he wrote his Atlantida. It may even be argued that H.R. Haggard borrowed heavily from similar and more ancient tropes.

One point of interesting about She, is that there are mountains of exposition from one central character, Ayesha, that not only tell the backstory of her long life, but give insight into her philosophy and ideals about religion. Her arguments twist and sway the narrator who is also enthralled with her beauty and her very presence: often loosing a portion of his ability to argue rationally.

The narrator, Holly, is not a handsome man. He in fact is liken to a Baboon. But the orphan whom he has raised from childhood, Leo, perhaps has a handsomeness that could almost rival the beauty of She.

Of course this wouldn't be a story without the back-story of the family line of Leo. A back-story that may fatefully link Leo to Ayesha.

The story is written in that favored high and almost florid manner of prose of it's time; and might weigh heavy on the readers of this age, but I think it still stands well through time with a multilevel examination of several moral and ethical dilemma. Though it often seems that the narrator goes purple, the writing is strong and the story does not suffer.

Great Classic SFF that helps forge the way for further such adventure novels.

J.L. Dobias

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