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& #8230;Clearly, the old Kafir is being mocked by the Europeans who only use his superstition to further their own goals: reclaiming all their goods when they return."
The mere fact that white man in this extract knows more about eclipse than any native is an indication of this sense of superiority. In my objective analysis, I cannot ignore the theme because while I understand that the main purpose of the novel was to highlight the atrocities taking place in a lost world, it must be noticed that the people who are undertook the task of discovering the lost world were none other than white men. Is it a mere coincidence? I think not. There has been several instances of white superiority in literary works of the past and while at times they were more subtle, they still failed to hide writer's essential belief that white men were more enlightened and black people or African people were generally crude and ruthless savages.
The absurdity of Eclipse trick:
With their knowledge of the weather and the Almanac, Allan Quatermain and his team were able to play a trick on the people of the lost world. While on the surface, it seems like an intelligent and very exciting trick that helps the white men in their purpose, deep down it is simply ridiculous. To say that Africans were less educated and generally ruthless is one thing but to assume that they wouldn't know about eclipse is simply foolish. People in the old world were far more in tune with heavenly phenomena than any white man could ever be. This is because they had no way of predicting the weather changes, the tidal trends etc. except by means of watching the stars, observing the changes on the horizon, keeping an eye on the movement of sun and the moon and hence they of the all the people would be more aware of the dawning of lunar eclipse than anyone else.
It is not my objective to speak against white men or to highlight the virtues of the people of the lost world, however it would utterly wrong to analyze a work and not pinpoint some of its obvious flaws and prejudices. While very intelligent and simple, the trick would have no worth in the real world. It could only appear good in a work of fiction. Throughout the novel and specifically in this extract, we see how the natives are being mocked and how they are considered people who are oblivious to modern times or even common heavenly phenomenon. "Imperialist encounters are often portrayed as a clash of two time periods, with Europeans living in the present and the non-Europeans living in the past." (Cantor, p.40)
King Solomon's mines was an exceptional novel, not because of its simple language and exciting adventures but mainly because of it opened doors to a new possible world. It was then that many people actually went in search of King Solomon's mines and many excavations were made into the deeper corners of Africa. Africa had always been a forgotten land and by making it the subject of a famous novel, Haggard opened people's eyes to a "hidden" world. The element of fantasy woven into the novel had a huge impact on the success of the novel as Clute and Grant noted, "King Solomon's Mines is also important to the history of fantasy because the impossible lost world it depicts underlies later visions of the longed-for land from the deep past." (p. 445)
The novel occupies a pivotal place in the history describing the search for King Solomon's mines. The quest for the legendary mines grew even more intense after the success of this novel. Whether such mines actually exist is hitherto unknown however several attempts have been made to discover the exact location of the mines and many excavations in this regard are well documented by historians.
Jorina Vossebelt: Ambivalence towards Empire in King Solomon's Mines . Lethbridge Undergraduate Research Journal. 2006. Volume 1 Number 1.
Democracy's Literature: Politics and Fiction in America. Edited by Patrick J. Deneen and Joseph Romance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005
John Clute, John Grant The…[continue]
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