Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's Mine, All Mine!

I know that H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines is considered a classic. A lot of people really like the book, and some people even love it. Sadly, I'm not one of them.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate it. I just don't think it's a terrific book. I liked the beginning, and I thought the ending was exciting, but I didn't like the middle. I don't know why, but chapters 8 through 14 just seemed to drag for me.

Besides that, the book is very dated. The edition I bought (the Barnes & Noble one, which isn't the one linked to here) is full of endnotes and footnotes to explain all sorts of things that a modern reader wouldn't understand. It's not as bad a Shakespeare in that respect, but still it's pretty bad.

Then there's the racism. Haggard isn't as bad about that sort of thing as some of his contemporaries, but it has lines like "I know that he cannot cumber his life with such as me, for the sun cannot mate with darkness, nor the white with the black." That is spoken by a dying black woman who has fallen in love with one of the white heroes. There are other things too, like referring to Africans as "Kafir," which according to the footnotes is "a derogatory South African Term term for a black person."

With all of this, I can't see my way to giving King Solomon's Mines more than three and a half yo-yos.

3 and a half yo-yos

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