Сочинение: Sir Henry Rider Haggard
Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856 – 1925). Public servant, reformer,
commissioner and wellknown storyteller, Rider Haggard was the author of
thirty-four adventure novels.
Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham in Norfolk in 1856. He was the sixth son
of a lawyer and was educated in Ipswich. In 1875 his father procured for him
the post of junior secretary to the Governor of Natal, Sir Henry Bulwer. He
set sail for South Africa and spent six years there, fascinated by its
landscape, wildlife, tribal society and mysterious past. Powerful, intense
and visually magnificent, “She” was written in Africa in six weeks in 1886.
Rider Haggard published “She” in London in 1887. By then he was thirty-one
year old, an established writer with his own fixed and hard-won ways, who had
written three first-rated novels: “King Solomon’s Mines”, “Allan Quatermain”,
and “Jess”. No other writer has absorbed into his work as much knowledge and
experience as Haggard had. He produced a whole series of spellbinding and
extravagant romances set in far-flung corners of the world: Iceland,
Constantinople, Mexico, Ancient Egypt and, of course, Africa.
Travelling widely fueled Haggard’s imagination and helped him get acquainted
with exotic placed and people, their old languages, laws, traditions, the
deepest corners of their ancient history and antiquity.
The events described in the novel take place first at Cambridge, then in Central
Africa, and refer to the period of the beginning of the 19th
century. “She” takes a reader to the deepest interior of Africa, searching not
for treasure but for treasure but for the secrets of a woman’s love. In Rider
Haggard’s greatest romance a father’s mysterious legacy to his son brings Leo
Vincey and his two fellow-adventurers to Africa. Travelling through crocodile –
infested rivers, across volcanic plains and marshes they reach the vast, eerie
catacombs of the Kingdom of Kór, where they encounter She, the white
Queen of the Amahagger people. A woman of legendary beauty, bewitching and
destructive, She has waited two thousands years for the rebirth and return of
the man she loved. And this man, she believes, is Leo Vincey.
The story begins one rainy night, when a man of twenty-two Ludwig Horace
Holly was sitting in his room at Cambridge, grinding away at some
mathematical work. At last, wearied out, he flung his book down and happened
to catch sight of his countenance in the glass. As he stood and stared at
himself in the glass Horace Holly thought about his physical deficiencies.
Most men of twenty-two are endowed at any rate with some share of the
comeliness of youth, but to him even this was denied. Short, thick-set, and
deep chested almost to deformity, with long arms, heavy features, deep-set
gray eyes, a low brow half overgrown with black hair he was strikingly ugly
person. It seemed that he was branded by Nature with iron strength and
intellect. Ludwig Horace Holly was so ugly that the spruce young men of his
College, though they were proud enough of his endurance and physical powers,
did not want even to be seen walking with him. Women called him a “monster”.
He had neither father, nor brother. And that is why it was not surprising
that Horace Holly became sullen, lonely person, who had no wife, no children,
Suddenly, there came a knock at the door. A tall man of about thirty, with
the remains of great personal beauty, came hurrying in, carrying a massive
iron box. The man looked ill and was coughing with blood. Horace Holly
recognized his only friend from College Mr. Vincey, whom he knew for about
two years. The man said that he was dying and that is why he asked Mr. Holly
to become a tutor for his five-year-old child, Leo Vincey. Before leaving he
handed Horace the iron chest and said: “On the twenty-fifth birthday of my
son your guardianship will end and you will then, with the keys I give you
now, open the box and let Leo.” see and read the contents, which will tell
the boy about his ancestors and about the ancient dynasty of Kallikrates that
he belongs to.” The next day Mr. Vincey died and Mr. Holly became a guardian
to his son.
Years flew by, the child grew into the young man. As he grew his beauty and
the beauty of his mind grew with him. Leo got a good education, took a
respectable degree at College and became the handsomest man in the
University. Young Leo looked like a statue of Apollo, he was very tall, very
broad, had a look of an abnormal power and grace. His face was almost without
flaw – a good face as well as a beautiful one, and his head was covered with
little golden curls. Women called Leo “the Greek God” for his beauty. Leo
Vincey was altogether too good-looking, and, moreover, he had none of that
consciousness and conceit about him, which usually spoils handsome men and
makes them disliked by their fellow, was his real son, and they became
At last, the day of Leo’s twenty-fifth birthday came and Horace Holly with
Leo opened the iron box, that Leo’s father had given Mr. Holly on the night
of his death. There was a magnificent silver casket with a letter, parchment
and a very large ancient potsherd of a dirty yellow color. From the letter
and the uncial Greek writing on the potsherd they got to know that Leo Vincey
was the only representative of one of the most ancient families in the world.
His sixty-sixth lineal ancestor was an Egyptian priest of Isis, though he
himself was called Kallikrates. This man fled from Egypt with a princess of
Royal blood, who had fallen in love with him, and they were finally wrecked
upon the coast of Africa. There they met the mighty and immortal Queen of a
savage people. This Queen fell in love with Kallikrates. It was an unrequited
love, so she used her magic and killed him.
On reading this writing Leo Vincey was determined to go Africa and find the
mysterious woman in order to revenge his ancestor and to investigate the
greatest mystery in the world – the secret of eternal Life and Youth. So, he
and his two fellow-voyagers (Horace Holly and Job) went to Africa. On the
ocean, not far from the place of their destination they were seized by the
horrible squall. Only four people were saved and all the remainder of their
company was destroyed. These four men, who were brought to the shore by the
wave from the very jaws of Death, were: Leo Vincey, his guardian and true
friend Horace Holly, their faithful servant Job, and swarthy Arab Mohammed.
Job has been serving Mr. Holly and Leo for twenty years, he loved his job and
could always be relied upon. He was a simple-minded, devout man with
prejudices. Not really brave or courageous, he was frightened by thrilling
adventure and unexplored lands, though he agreed to go with Mr. Holly, Leo
and dark-skinned sailors, whose manners and customs scared him to death.
Later the savages named this man the Pig on account of his fatness, round
face and small eyes. Job could not stand severe ordeals of the trip,
shattered by all he had seen and undergone, his nerves had utterly broken
down and he had died of terror.
Travelling though deep forests and marshes, the heroes of the book endured
great hardship, but at last they were entertained by “She-who-must-be-
obeyed”, the mighty Queen of a savage people. While woman, She ruled savages,
was seldom seen by them, but was reported to have power over all things
living and dead. The Queen was a magician, had knowledge of all things, and
life and loveliness that does not die. She had no regular army, but to
disobey her was to die. This mysterious woman had a powerful intellect, which
she always enriched by studying languages and different sciences. She was two
thousand years old and, of course, knew history and studied all religions of
the world. Ayesha (this was her name) even had her own philosophy. She was a
great chemist, indeed chemistry appears to have been her amusement and
occupation. Ayesha had one of the caves fitted up as a laboratory.
She was a woman of peculiar beauty. “Never may the man to whom her beauty is
once unveiled put it from his mind.” Ayesha looked like a young woman of
certainly not more than thirty years in perfect health. Her white and rounded
arms, ankles, snowy argent breast, perfect and imperial shape, gracious forms
were more perfect than ever sculptor dreamed of. “Her grace was more than
human.” This woman had the great changing eyes of deepest, softest black,
marble face, broad and noble brow, lovely smile and delicate, straight
features. One who ever saw her surpassingly beautiful and pure face, was
amazed and blinded by its beauty.
At the end of the story Ayesha decided that Leo Vincey was the man she has
waited for. She thought that Leo really was a reincarnation of her beloved
Kallikrates, because their likeness and resemblance amazed her. This woman
wanted to make Leo Vincey immortal in order he could marry her. That is why
he had to step into the Eternal Fire of Life. But Leo doubted how could he
know that it wouldn’t utterly destroy him. So, Ayesha asked him: “Oh, my
Kallikrates, if you see me stand in the flame and come out unharmed, will you
enter then.” Leo agreed and said: “Yes!!!” And Ayesha stepped into the Fire
and never came back.
So, this was the end of the first story about this mysterious woman. But When
I read the second book, I found out that after a while She restored to life
This book was not written for any specific group or class. The author even
does not insist on his point of view. He thinks that a reader must judge the
history (the story) himself, that is why the story is presented like memories
or the main hero – Horace Holly. But I think that the intended audience
should be young broad-minded people, who has bright imagination and will be
able to develop Haggard’s idea or, maybe on the contrary, - to dispute his
opinion. A story that began more than two thousand years ago may stretch a
long way into the dim and of the story is not reached yet. Haggard wrote an
endless story and in it, he raised a question of Life and Death that has
always occupied people minds. This is the question about rebirth of both,
mind and body after death.
The purpose of this book is to make a man reflect on the purport of life and
make him try to solve the most important problem for humanity – the question
about life prolongation.
The message of the book is to make a man believe that his life after death
does not come to an end, but after a while the rebirth of soul and body will
be and “to the world his is born again and again.”
Rider Haggard wrote this book with an intention to share with a reader his
thoughts and ideas about Past, Present and Future of mankind. He wanted to
bring up for discussion the subject of Immortality and Eternal Life.
Haggard in his novel uses specific literary method. He depicts all the events
very brightly and thus a reader finds himself in the deepest jungle of
civilization among the savages, in Africa. Excited about impending adventure,
with his heart filled with mingled dread and curiosity the reader shares the
adventures with the heroes. The main heroes of the story often turn over
their minds the events that they experienced and share their thoughts with
The author often uses inversion as a quite unusual rhetorical device in order
to lend the speech of the main heroes still greater importance.
Savages never called their Queen by name. Speaking about her they used to
say: “She-who-must-be-obeyed!” This and many other expressions make Ayesha
more powerful and majestic. Haggard uses many metaphors, epithets and
comparisons. For example, in order to describe the difference between young
handsome Leo and ugly appearance of Mr. Holly more vividly, the writer
compares the heroes with Beauty and the Beast.
Rider Haggard uses many words from Uncial Greek, Old English and Latin
languages. He even gives his heroes ancient Greek names. For example,
Kallikrates (means the Beautiful in Strength) and his wife Amenartas. All
these literary devices give the story a shade of antiquity and ancient times.
I found the book instructive and very interesting. Reading the novel I really
experienced a fascinating adventure to Africa. I like the story because the
author offers interesting insight into human nature. His idea differs from
the Bible interpretation of this question. I consider Haggard’s thought very
interesting because he thinks that not only soul exists after death, but body
The main hero of the story Ayesha appeals to me more than other ones. Her
intellect and wisdom amaze me. I respect this woman and admire her inquiring
nature, intellectual curiosity and diligence. Living two thousand years not
everyone could resist the temptations of life, but She dedicated these years
to studying different sciences and as a result of her endurance and hard work
Ayesha reveled the Secret of Nature and got the enormous power over all
things. I’m delighted with her devotion to the man she loved and waited for,
all these years. Ayesha’s power, youth and beauty – are not magic, but her
tireless work. The Queen even says: “There is no such thing as magic”,
thought there is such thing as knowledge of Secrets of Nature.
As to my opinion this book will be interesting for everyone, because the
questions of Life and Death, prolongation of Life and rebirth of body and
soul are eternal questions for mankind. All people are interested in it.
Little children ask their parents about Future, about life, as well as old
people often turn over these questions in their minds. I recommend to read
this book to everybody. I can’t say that after reading it you will be sure
that Eternal life exists, but still the story leaves a hope.