n English in Africa - Romancing the Zulu : H. Rider Haggard, , and salvage ethnography




In the preface to (1892), H. Rider Haggard wrote that his aim, in producing a romance of Zulu life at the time of Shaka and Dingane, was to "convey, in a narrative form, some idea of the remarkable spirit which animated these kings and their subjects, and to make accessible, in a popular shape, incidents of African history which are now, for the most part, only to be found in a few scarce works of reference" (9-10). He notes, however, that "such a task has presented difficulties, since he who undertakes it must for a time " (10, emphasis added). This remark, positioned at the beginning of the text, is neither incidental to the narrative that follows nor meant purely sensationally. It is rather of central importance to the generic structure of , and provides, through the kind of authority it invokes, the first of many insights into the ways in which Haggard conceived of romance as operating within an anthropological as well as a literary paradigm.


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