Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Daily Dose of Literature: H. Rider Haggard and Allan Quatermain

Henry Rider Haggard

H. Rider Haggard was an English writer of high action tales of adventure, sometimes incorporating elements of horror and the supernatural, and was a pioneer of the Lost World genre of fiction along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Born on June 22, 1856, his literary career began in 1882, but he did not find success until the first book starring the character for which Rider would become synonymous: Allan Quatermain.

The book was King Solomon's Mines, and it introduced the world in a huge way to the adventuring explorer who would later evolve into a figure we all know and love--Indiana Jones. While Indy wasn't a carbon copy of Quatermain, the literary origins cannot be argued. All in all, Haggard wrote fifteen Quatermain tales, which cemented him as a giant of the early pulps. He died in 1925 at the age of 68.

Like many of the tales of this era, Haggard's stories are bursting with the societal ideas and mores of the time, and include many concepts that today would be considered uncomfortable for readers. It should be noted, however, that especially in his views of native and tribal cultures, he was quite progressive for his day, even featuring Zulu heroes in some of his stories, something that was considered unheard of at the time, even if he did fall back on the "noble savage" ideal and overall appear to support the English imperialism and colonialism of the day.

Regardless of his social views, when read in the context of the era in which they were written, his stories are a collection of rip-roaring adventure tales, full of pulse-pounding pacing, great drama and even heartache. It's easy to see the influence that Haggard's Quatermain had on future heroes from Doc Savage to El Borak all the way down to Indiana Jones.

The Allan Quatermain stories on Feedbooks:

The H. Rider Haggard oeuvre on Feedbooks:

H. Rider Haggard on Wikipedia:

And when you're done reading, why not cook up some of your own exciting turn-of-the-century adventures in the deserts and jungles of Africa, exploring lost civilizations and ancient tombs? Check out Amazing Adventures for everything you need to get up and running!