Monday, August 16, 2010

The Holy Flower by H. Rider Haggard.

The Holy Flower is part of the Allan Quartermain series, which began with King Solomon's Mines in1885. This undated copy looks like its from the 1920s or 30s.

“I do not suppose that anyone who knows the name of Allan Quatermain would be likely to associate it with flowers, and especially with orchids. Yet as it happens it was once my lot to take part in an orchid hunt of so remarkable a character that I think its details should not be lost. At least I will set them down, and if in the after days anyone cares to publish them, well - he is at liberty to do so.” Chapter 1, first paragraph.

Vintage adventure novels of this sort, seem to have lost their flavour.  I guess if you want to escape to an exotic location (preferably Africa), cut through the jungle, find the diamond, rip open bodices (it’s the heat you know), save the girl… all of this whilst wearing a pith helmet… well… you just don’t.  Not that this happens in this book (it may, I haven’t read it), I am generalising and stereotyping in the best tradition of doing this sort of thing.  In this day and age if you crave exotic locations, you go there.  When this book was written it was a little more difficult and required big dollars and lots of time, now you go on safari for a day or two after watching your country loose at the world cup and diamonds are available duty free at the airport.  Also colonialism and political incorrectness are no longer as fashionable as they once were (?), look at Conrad and Kipling (“Do you like Kipling?” “I don’t know, I’ve never kippled.”).  Nostalgia once again is the appeal with this sort of title.  If you read this book or this sort of book as a kid, you may want to relive the adventure once again, or avoid it (please correct me if I’m wrong).  The binding and artwork of this particular copy are quite beautiful and let the book sit quite handsomely on the shelf.  There is some other wear, but overall it does look great, which is probably one of the main reasons i selected this book to sell and to write about here.  Finally the last sentence of the opening paragraph is of interest and I truly doubt that any contemporary writer would write “…and if in the after days anyone cares to publish them, well - he is at liberty to do so.” …a publishers nightmare, and probably another example of why this sort of book has lost its flavour.

No comments:

Post a Comment