Che materia stai cercando?

Letteratura inglese e colonialismo

Dispensa messa a disposizione dalla Dott.ssa Tania Zulli contenente appunti per il corso di Lingua, cultura e istituzioni dei paesi di lingua inglese. Al loro interno sono trattati i seguenti argomenti: definizione dei termini "colonialism", "imperialism", "postcolonialism", "hibridity", "nationalism",... Vedi di più

Esame di Lingua, cultura e istituzioni dei paesi di lingua inglese dal corso del docente Prof. T. Zulli




a kind of ghost, marginal figure. Second phase (industrial colonialism): she

First colonial phase:

occupies central areas in the narration but is always regarded as an inferior, primitive being – only

considered for her reproductive force. Colonized women are doubly inferior (because of their sex

and race). mixed relationships are to be condemned since they come to influence the pureness


of the race, lascivious behaviours are permitted among people belonging to the same racial groups.

Haggard’s She: significant deviation from this idea of femininity: Ayesha’s domination over man is

total and unequalled, she is young and beautiful and rules her society. She is eventually submitted to

the hero/adventurer, meaning that nature succumbs to science, and colonies to the imperial city. Her

beauty is therefore illusory, limited to the African world.

Reference: Elio di Piazza, L’avventura bianca, Bari, Adriatica, 1999.



“Then suddenly there was a disturbance, and involuntarily I opened my eyes again, and looked

towards the scene of murder. The girl Ustane had thrown herself on Leo's prostrate form, covering

his body with her body, and fastening her arms about his neck. They tried to drag her from him, but

she twisted her legs round his, and hung on like a bulldog, or rather like a creeper to a tree, and they

could not. Then they tried to stab him in the side without hurting her, but somehow she shielded

him, and he was only wounded.” Lei


“Improvvisamente, udii come un leggero tafferuglio, riaprii gli occhi, e vidi che la ragazza, Ustane,

si era gettata sul corpo di Leo, per coprirlo col proprio. Gli uomini cercavano di trascinarla via, ma

lei si avvinghiava a Leo con le gambe, e non lo lasciava andare, come un bulldog aggrappato alla

preda, o piuttosto come un rampicante attorno a un albero; non riuscivano a scostarla di un

centimetro. Allora provarono a trafiggerlo di fianco, ma in qualche modo Ustane seppe fargli scudo,

e Leo rimase soltanto ferito.” Sir Henry Rider Haggard

Norfolk, 22nd June 1856 – London, 14th May 1925


Norfolk, 22nd June 1856 – London, 14th May 1925

Henry Rider Haggard, the sixth son of William and Ella Haggard, was born at Bradenham

Hall, Norfolk, England on June 20, 1856. His father was a flamboyant lawyer and country squire

who ruled his household strictly. His eccentricity as a lawyer earned him considerable local

notoriety, and his abusive treatment of his tenants and servants made him infamous throughout the


Though his father's short temper often made home life difficult, Haggard's gentle mother

was a published poet,

compensated somewhat for her husband's volatile behaviour. Ella Haggard

and she encouraged her son's interest in reading. Haggard read with relish such works as the

Arabian Nights' Entertainment, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and Alexandre Dumas's The

of all types, and his childhood reading anticipated

Three Musketeers. Haggard loved adventure tales

the exciting fiction which he himself would write years later. and after attending a small country

Young Haggard was not considered a promising student,

school he went to grammar school in Ipswich for three years, where his academic performance was

relatively undistinguished.

Squire Haggard secured his son an appointment to the staff of a friend, Sir Henry Bulwer,

who had been appointed lieutenant-governor of Natal in South Africa. Thus, in 1875, at nineteen,

Haggard made his first trip to Africa, the continent that would be the setting of many of his most

famous stories. While in South Africa Haggard kept detailed notebooks describing both the native

Zulus and his own travels throughout the country.

in South Africa, and after leaving the service, he bought a

He intended to settle permanently

farm in Natal province.

During a brief return to England in 1880, he fell in love with and married Marianna Louisa

Margitson, a friend of his sister, and returned with her to South Africa. But the warfare between the

British and the Boers had worsened and he feared for the safety of his wife and infant son. The

family sold their belongings, and on August 31, 1880, returned to England.

In 1882 Haggard published (at his own expense) a book on the situation in South Africa and

began writing fiction.

His first two novels, Dawn (1884) and The Witch's Head (1884) were critical successes but

financial failures. Though his desire for a literary career was growing, he could not support his

family as a writer. He finished his law studies and decided to give up writing fiction to devote

himself entirely to law. But Haggard's resolution was shortlived. Having bet his brother that he

could write a better novel than Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, he took six weeks to

complete the manuscript of an adventure story set in Africa.

He entitled it King Solomon's Mines. When King Solomon's Mines appeared on September

30, 1885, it was an immediate success. Haggard quickly wrote a sequel entitled Allan Quatermain

and in 1886, published his most famous novel, She. By the end of that year, Haggard had decided to

abandon law and devote himself completely to a career as a writer.

In 1905 Haggard was at the peak of his career. In the fall of that year, the sequel to She—

entitled Ayesha, The Return of She—was published. It sold an amazing 25,000 copies in the first

edition, and many of his previous works were being reprinted, sometimes in expensive, illustrated


Haggard's last years were spent writing, speaking, and travelling. The outbreak of World

War I dampened sales of his books, and he was forced to sell his farming interests. However, some

of his later novels, like Moon of Israel (1919), still sold respectably well. Nevertheless, until his

death on May 14, 1925, he remained discouraged by the declining sales of his works. The

readership of England had changed. The horrible realities of World War I and the deterioration of

the British Empire had left English and American readers little affinity for the adventurous modern

fantasy of Haggard's work. WORKS

3 main groups:





A history of South Africa

Books on gardening and agriculture

Two books on the Salvation Army

Articles and letters to periodicals

An Autobiorgraphy (The Cloak that I Left) Historical fiction:

Fifty-eight volumes of fiction:

Dawn (1884) Montezuma’s Daughter (1893)

The Witch’s Head (1884) Nada de Lily (1892)

King Solomon’s Mines (1885) The World’s Desire

Allan Quatermain (1887) (1890, with Andrew Lang)

The People of the Mist (1894)

She (1887)

Ayesha: The Return of She (1905)

Wisdom’s Daughter (1923)

She and Allan (1921) Rider Haggard


Commonly regarded as or as an unreconstructed

writer of adventure stories British imperialist.

Haggard’s fiction reflects imperial dissent, idealistic beliefs in the

Gerlad Mosman:

relationship between England and Africa, anticipates innovative cultural and anthropological


Haggard’s novels: complex works with multiple levels of interpretation → historical,

mythic, gender, political, and religious.

The expansion of exploration, trade, and colonial settlement in the late nineteenth century

had stimulated a curiosity about primitive peoples. Thus, adventure novels such as King Solomon’s

Mines, even if with a fantastic setting, were also implicated in Victorian politics and

anthropological theories.

Merits of Haggard’s novels:

- They covertly support racial mixing in their love plots;

- They claim native religious powers as superior to European religion;

- They celebrate autonomous female figures who defy patriarchal control.

Allan Quatermain

He is Haggard’s alter ego, an emblem of the European in dark Africa. Haggard’s hero was the son

of an idealistic missionary: “one of the gentlest and most refined men that I ever met; even the most

savage Kaffir loved him, and his influence was a very good one for me. He used to call himself one

of the world’s failures. Would that there were more such failures”*

R. Haggard, Allan’s Wife and Other Tales, 1889.

The Origin of Species

Charles Darwin, (1859)

This work introduced theories according to which primitive peoples were evolutionarily

arrested. Such inferior races should not intermarry with Europeans.

This view is partly present in Haggard’s novels, but more than a mere racist claim, it should be

regarded as a result of the influence of the Late Victorian mentality, shaped on the colonial

experience as well as on books such as Darwin’s The Origin of Species

Haggard racist?

Wendy Katz defined Haggard “an Imperial propagandist” who “contributed to the shaping of

Imperial mentality”*

As all colonial writers, Haggard must be seen in his historical context. It is also a question of

“language”, on how words are used.

1. helped to create an image of Empire

Haggard 2. gave us a ‘sense of history’

*Wendy Katz, Rider Haggard and the Fiction of Empire, 1987.




The story takes place during the late nineteenth century, the era the book was written.

Horace Holly's account begins in Cambridge, England, where he lives a solitary life as a scholar. As

the guardian of his dead friend's son, Leo Vincey, Holly accompanies the handsome young man on

his quest to Africa to avenge the death of his ancient ancestor, an Egyptian priest named Kallikrates.

Centuries ago Kallikrates had been killed by the goddess Ayesha when he rejected her love

for that of another woman. On his twenty-fifth birthday, Leo Vincey learns that, because he is the

sole descendant of the ancient family of Kallikrates, it is his duty to "seek out the woman [Ayesha,

or She] and learn the secret of Life, and if thou mayest, find a way to slay her." Leo also learns that

his own father had tried to carry out these ancient instructions but failed. Leo Vincey, Horace Holly,

and their servant Job set out for Africa (Zanzibar). Once there, he is brought face to face with

Ayesha, She-who-must-be-obeyed: dictator, femme fatale, tyrant and beauty. She has been waiting

for centuries for the true descendant of Kallikrates, her murdered lover…..


- Horace Holly: a scholar from Cambridge University, he is the narrator of the story

- Leo Vincey, a handsome young man, Holly’s protégé and protagonist of the story

- Job, Holly and Leo’s servant

- She, or Ayesha, the immortal queen of the Amahaggers

- Ustane, a native young woman who falls in love with Leo


The key to the successful rendering of settings in She lies in Haggard's ability to move from the

familiar, civilized world of late nineteenth century England to the unfamiliar, fantastic, and even

incredible world of Africa, without sacrificing the realistic elements of his narrative. No matter how

impossible the story's events become, Haggard presents them in such vivid, realistic detail that they

are completely convincing.

Like all great fantasy writers, Haggard has the ability to create marvellous and thoroughly

believable imaginary worlds.

Haggard, who had been a member of the British Foreign Service, bases his fictional

descriptions on his own firsthand observations of Africa and its peoples. His extensive records of

African customs, character studies, animal life, and geography enable him to write detailed, credible

descriptions. The journey into Africa's interior is vividly rendered by accounts of animal life (such

as the grisly battle to the death between a lion and a crocodile) and of the hardships and disease they

encounter as they approach the land of Kor. Eventually they are captured by the members of a tribe

known as the Amahagger, who take them to their queen.

The savages refer to their queen as "SheWho-Must-Be-Obeyed." No such tribe as the

Amahagger has ever existed, but in describing their physical appearance, which Holly compares to

the East African Somali tribe, Haggard undoubtedly draws on the physical appearances of

tribesmen he himself had observed. He describes the Amahaggers' peculiar customs regarding male-

female relationships and their cannibalistic rituals with equal specificity. Holly's account of these

people are both credible and engrossing.

Having entered the Land of Kor, they meet the title character, Ayesha. Once within this

world, Holly, Vincey, and Job are increasingly subjected to terrifying and often supernatural

powers, ranging from the cannibalistic attacks of the cruel Amahagger tribesmen to the

incomprehensible, and apparently magical, powers of Ayesha herself. The grisly realism of the

story becomes more pronounced, as in this account of Horace's battle with two cannibals: "My arms

were round the two swarthy demons, and I hugged them till I heard their ribs crack and crunch up

beneath my grip. They twisted and writhed like snakes, and clawed and battered at me with their

fists, but I held on." Having survived ordeals like this, Horace and Leo must face even greater

dangers in their confrontation with She.

She rules her subjects by sheer terror.

Her labyrinthine world is permeated by violence and death, undoubtedly originating in her

murder of her beloved Kallikrates many centuries before. The lost subterranean city of Kor is a

bewildering network of caverns which are filled with skeletons, embalming chambers, and

mummified corpses. The atmosphere of this underground realm is both claustrophobic and

disorienting. It strongly suggests that the characters are imprisoned in an irrational and primitive

world where the laws of nature and human reasoning do not apply.

The source of Ayesha's apparent immortality is to be found in a treacherous cave at the

centre of the Earth, and as the story's conclusion suggests, She herself may not fully comprehend

the powers which she claims to control.

With its frightening darkness, violent winds, and treacherous cliffs, the subterranean world

of Kor resembles a nightmare in which dreamers have little control over their own destinies. The

supernatural forces are simply too strong for them.


Some readers may object to Haggard's depiction of Africans in She. With two notable

exceptions, Billali and Ustane, members of the Amahagger tribe are evil and cruel. Thus they are

stereotypically presented as "dark" and "swarthy" villains in a story where "goodness" seems

heavily associated with the white heroes. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the genre in which

Haggard was working and the story's setting demanded such convention. Furthermore, it should be

emphasized that Haggard's personal experience with actual Africans and their country had given

him a deep and abiding respect for their humanity and their cultures. Horace Holly's respect for the

Amahagger marriage customs reflects Haggard's own conviction that people of all races were part

of a common humanity. Having lived in an imperialistic society, Haggard was remarkably free of

the ethnocentrism characteristic of his contemporaries. Later in life he actively campaigned for the

preservation of the Zulu culture which was being destroyed by colonialism and tribal wars.


Interestingly, the treatment of women in She also offers some interesting departures from the

norm for this type of fiction. Typically, the kind of story Haggard was writing was a "boy's book"

about a "man's world," in which women were peripheral. However, a major cause of this work's

enduring popularity is Haggard's characterization of a powerful—indeed almost omnipotent—

woman as the story's main character.

Victorian society typically described women as mothers and homemakers, and very few

literary works depicted women with any sort of power at all.

Ayesha must have mystified and even shocked Victorian readers precisely because of her

dominant character. Myth

Even the success of King Solomon's Mines did not prepare the English reading public for the

imaginative tour de force of She. In terms of broader literary traditions, Haggard's story draws on

ancient mythic themes, the most obvious of which is the search for spiritual knowledge through a

quest. In fact, the Pillar of Flame, which the heroes discover deep in the caves of Kor, embodies

"The Spirit of Life" itself. Either literally or symbolically, some type of divine knowledge is often

the goal of quests undertaken by heroes of myths.


Unlike many of Haggard's other adventure stories, She has a central romantic theme in

Ayesha's obsessive love for Kallikrates and Leo. Typically, though, in Haggard's day the term

"romance" referred to a story's mysterious and exotic settings, and to the fantastic struggles and

obstacles that the hero had to overcome. Characters in a romance usually have powers which exceed

those of normal human beings but fall short of the powers of the gods, and this is precisely the

nature of the character of Ayesha. In fact, given the magnitude of the obstacles they must overcome

to escape destruction, all of the characters in She are larger than life.

Literary Devices: the Editor

Haggard's novel is also a good example of a "frame story," a work of fiction in which a narrator, in

this case a man we know only as "The Editor," presents the story to the reader. In the

"Introduction," this editor tells us that he is simply presenting Horace Holly's account of "one of the

most wonderful and mysterious experiences ever undergone by mortal men," just as Holly himself

recorded it. Although the editor is only present for a few pages to introduce the story, his preface

prepares the reader for Horace Holly's fantastic account. The editor anticipates the reader's

scepticism by saying that when he first read Holly's incredible narrative, he was unable to believe

that it was literally true.

Instead, he thought it was "some giant allegory of which I could not catch the meaning" or

that it was "a bold attempt to portray the possible results of practical immortality. "Finally,

however, he has decided that, "To me the story seems to bear the stamp of truth upon its face."

Thus, the editor's response to this incredible tale becomes a prediction of the effect Haggard

wants his tale to have on the other readers of Holly's account: the belief—even if only while

reading—that these fantastic events are true. Language

Horace Holly's language is appropriate to his character. As a Cambridge scholar. Holly's

language is somewhat more polished than that of Allan Quatermain, the rugged adventurer who

narrated King Solomon's Mines. However, even during his philosophical meditations, Holly's

diction and vocabulary remain free of obscure terminology. His style is highly conversational,

providing both vivid details of his adventures and insights into their significance. Horace's

meditations upon the transitoriness of human life, the power and beauty of nature, or the meaning of

human relationships are often poetic, but they seem quite natural and are emotionally compelling.


Haggard's style is equally effective in less philosophical passages. Indeed, one of his greatest

strengths as a writer is his directness, particularly in passages such as this horrifying description of

Ayesha's death: "She raised herself upon her bony hands, and blindly gazed around her, swaying

her head slowly from side to side as a tortoise does. She could not see, for her whitish eyes were

covered with a horny film." Such graphic images are characteristic of Haggard's descriptions of

violence and death. Charcters

Since She first appeared, critics and readers have analyzed Haggard's tale to discover its

deeper meanings. Some critics have argued that the characters are allegorical figures who stand for

certain moral values or psychological attitudes. Leo Vincey, Ustane (the native girl who loves him),

and Job are common literary stock characters. Leo is the handsome and noble, but not particularly

intelligent, young hero. Ustane is the beautiful, self-sacrificing maiden, in love with the hero.

However, as her defiance of Ayesha shows, Ustane becomes a far stronger character than many

female characters in adventure stories. Job, as his name implies, is the long-suffering servant, who

is devoted, honest, and humble. Like his Biblical namesake, he patiently endures the numerous

trials of the expedition. As in most such adventure stories, these characters embody certain virtues.

However, because they are all relatively one-dimensional, they are far less interesting than

the story's main characters, Horace Holly and Ayesha.

Flat and Round Characters

E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel

“Flat characters are constructed around a single idea or quality […] One great advantage of

flat characters is that they are easily recognised whenever they come in [and] they are easily

remembered by the reader”

A "flat" character, according to Forster, can be summed up in a single sentence and acts as a

function of only a few fixed character traits.

"Round" characters are capable of surprise, contradiction, and change; they are

representations of human beings in all of their complexity.

Flat and round characters can coexist in the same novel.

Horace Holly

The characters in adventure stories tend to be uncomplicated, largely because the author's

emphasis is usually on action. However, by characterizing Horace Holly as a philosophical man

deeply concerned with the meaning of life, Haggard is able to introduce a number of meaningful

themes without impeding the action. Holly's interest in human motivations and moral questions, and

his ability to relate the story's events to some larger religious or philosophical framework give an

additional dimension to the action.

Part of the reader's immediate sympathy with Horace Holly stems from Haggard's characterization

of him as a man of noble character whose inner life has been one of loneliness and suffering. At the

beginning of the story, readers learn that much of Holly's unhappiness derives from his physical


When the native priest, Billali, nicknames him "Baboon", he apparently does so with good

reason. Holly's descriptions of himself border on the grotesque, and he has come to believe that he

"was set apart by Nature to live alone, and draw comfort from her breast, and hers only. Women

hated the sight of me." Although Holly has often been rejected and ridiculed by women and men

alike, he elicits sympathy by accepting his ugliness without letting bitterness or resentment corrupt

his character.

Nor is this an easy task. Haggard emphasizes Holly's physical ugliness by contrasting it with the

almost superhuman beauty of his ward, Leo Vincey, who "looks like a statue of Apollo come to

life." Leo is so handsome that women fall in love with him on sight, and when the two walk down

the street observers are shocked by the contrast in the two men's appearances. Ironically, this

remarkable contrast is heightened by the deep devotion the two men have to one another. Although

keenly aware—and even envious—of Leo's superior beauty, Holly always acts in Leo's best


Horace Holly's extreme physical unattractiveness heightens the nobility of his character. By

establishing Holly's character as one of great honesty and integrity, Haggard provides an ideal

narrator for these improbable adventures.

Readers trust Horace to record events accurately and to tell the truth, without letting his

imagination take over. In fact Holly seems to regard the imagination as a disease which prevents

man from discovering truth. Therefore, when his rational view of the world is contradicted by the

fantastic events of the story, our faith in him as an honest and credible narrator makes the

improbable events he recounts all the more startling.

Although he is physically ugly, Holly has been blessed with high intelligence and a talent for

intellectual and philosophical inquiry. Ironically, although Ayesha madly loves Leo, she is much

closer intellectually to Horace, who is the only character in the story with whom she is able to

converse about philosophical and historical questions.

Nevertheless, although she realizes Horace's worth, her obsession with Leo does not

diminish. Ayesha remains convinced that he is her lover, Kallikrates, whom she had killed in a fit of

jealousy two thousand years before.

Themes: Society and Custom

Although the novel bristles with the usual themes of adventure stories— suspenseful unravelling of

mystery, heroic struggles against the forces of nature, overcoming adversaries through

resourcefulness and bravery—Horace's narration provides a reflective intellectual quality which

such fiction usually lacks. For instance, Holly muses on the strange "marriage" customs of the

Amahagger with something of a sociologist's interest, and expresses an open-mindedness toward

the native society.

After describing the Amahagger women's custom of frequently changing husbands, Horace

comments, "It is very curious to observe how the customs of mankind on this matter [marriage]

vary in different countries, making morality an affair of latitude, and what is right and proper in one

place wrong and improper in another." Horace believes that there is nothing immoral about this

custom, and his tolerance seems to affirm his view that all humans share certain fundamental

values. Themes: Good and Evil

Holly's philosophical discussions with Ayesha develop one the novel's major themes: the

struggle between good and evil. However, Haggard's treatment of this theme is highly ambiguous,

largely because of his ambivalent characterization of Ayesha. On one hand she is supernaturally

beautiful, and her character is both noble and awe-inspiring.

She has also suffered considerably for murdering Kallikrates centuries before.

She claims to have awaited his return for the last two thousand years, "tormented by the memory of

a crime, tortured day and night with an unfulfilled desire—without companionship, without

comfort, without death." Thus her extreme longevity (she claims that no power on Earth can

provide complete immortality) has been a curse rather than a blessing. Although she did kill

Kallikrates, she did so in a fit of jealous rage, and her subsequent guilt and loneliness have been so

great that the reader feels sympathy for her.




975.44 KB




+1 anno fa


Dispensa messa a disposizione dalla Dott.ssa Tania Zulli contenente appunti per il corso di Lingua, cultura e istituzioni dei paesi di lingua inglese. Al loro interno sono trattati i seguenti argomenti: definizione dei termini "colonialism", "imperialism", "postcolonialism", "hibridity", "nationalism", "commonwealth of nations", "orientalism"; rapporti fra colonialismo, cultura e letteratura; rapporti fra genere, sessualità e colonialismo; l'età vittoriana, società e letteratura; il romanzo d'avventura; novel & romance; la figura della donna e dell'eroe nei romanzi di Stevenson; i romanzi di Sir Henry Rider Haggard.

Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze politiche per il governo e l'amministrazione
Docente: Zulli Tania
A.A.: 2011-2012

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Atreyu di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Lingua, cultura e istituzioni dei paesi di lingua inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Roma Tre - Uniroma3 o del prof Zulli Tania.

Acquista con carta o conto PayPal

Scarica il file tutte le volte che vuoi

Paga con un conto PayPal per usufruire della garanzia Soddisfatto o rimborsato

Ti è piaciuto questo appunto? Valutalo!

Altri appunti di Corso di laurea in scienze politiche per il governo e l'amministrazione

Balzac, la Comedie Humaine