Who wrote this book and when?
H. Rider Haggard published it in September 1885.
Has there been a film version?
Four of them. One in 1937, one in 1950 (which won several Oscars), one in 1985, and a TV version in 2004.
Who are the important characters?
Allan Quatermain – an elephant hunter and adventurer
Sir Henry – an English aristocrat in search of his brother
Captain Good – a naval captain, Sir Henry’s closest friend
Umbopa – a native who accompanies them on their journey
Gagool – an ancient witch
King Twala – King of the Kukuanas
Foulata – a beautiful Kukuana girl
What’s it about?
Allan Quatermain is a talented elephant hunter who makes a living but not much else. He is approached one evening by an English nobleman named Sir Henry and his friend Captain Good. Sir Henry’s brother, Neville, had disappeared some time before after setting out in search for the fabled diamond mines of King Solomon. It so happened that Quatermain had received a map from a Spaniard some years earlier which showed the way. Sir Henry didn’t know this but was even more convinced he’d found the right man for the search. Quatermain agreed to take the men on the route the map marked, provided they agreed to support his son if he died. Which was highly likely, considering the vast desert, towering mountain range and native lands they had to cross. Not to mention the clue of “beware the evil witch Gagool.”
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It was the first fictional adventure novel to be set in Africa. It also was the first novel to introduce the “Lost World” genre and inspired many other famous novels of the sort such as “The Lost World” (Doyle) and “King Kong” (Wallace).
Do you recommend I read this book?
Yes – it’s pretty good.
Why did this book make your list?
My husband actually checked it out and I had run out of library books to read.
Has it won any awards?
“It was a perfect night, such a night as you only get in southern Africa, and it threw a garment of peace over everybody as the moon threw a garment of silver over everything.” – p 33
“Yet man dies not while the world, at once his mother and his monument, remains. His name is forgotten, indeed, but the breath he breathed yet stirs the pine-tops on the mountains, the sound of the words he spoke yet echoes on through space; the thoughts his brain gave birth to we have inherited to-day; his passions are our cause of life; the joys and sorrows that he felt are our familiar friends – the end rom which he fled aghast will surely overtake us also.” – p 139
Supposedly, Haggard wrote this because of a bet with his brother who said he couldn’t write a book to compete with “Treasure Island.”
This is the perfect adventure book – seriously. There is just enough of everything a perfect adventure story should have: hunting, treasure, impossible journeys, natives, evil witches, love, death, humor, and guns. Not to mention it’s set in my favorite continent on earth – Africa. All of the characters I found to be entirely likeable or unlikeable, depending on how the author wanted me to perceive them. I enjoyed the entire story – from the beginning until the letter at the end. And while I wouldn’t consider it “required reading” for anyone who wants to be well-read, I’m still glad I read it.