oa Alternation - The Thirst for the Wilderness Was on Me': Africa-as-wilderness in Rider Haggard's African Romances

Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



One of Rider Haggard's first biographers, Morton Cohen, wrote that '[f]or many Englishmen, Africa became the Africa of King Solomon's Mines' (1960:94). What Haggard continued to do after this, his first successful African romance, was to work the same canvas, repeating certain features until he had created an instantly recognisable 'Africa' for his readers. Writing of Africa intermittently for the whole of his writing career of just over 40 years, Haggard sustained a remarkably constant construction of Africa, perhaps because of, rather than despite, a changing political climate at home. At odds with Britain's handling of territories in South Africa and the changing policy, post-Shepstone, particularly towards the Zulu people, Haggard drew a largely nostalgic landscape even from his earliest African romance. In his African romances, particularly those written pre-1892 before his only son died, he took a real geophysical space with current and past historical events to which he frequently referred, and moved the whole into a series of 'imaginative geographies of desire' (Jacobs 1994:34).

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