Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book Review: King Solomon's Mines, by Sir H. Rider Haggard (1885) - Writing Style

Right, well I'll jump in and start this thing with a quote from the introduction that is worth writing down
....books are easier to understand when they are written in plain language
...a true story, however strange it may be, does not require to be decked out in fine words.
This book, more than any book I've read from that period, reads in a style similar to modern writing.  Gone are the too-flowery descriptions and heavy language.  It's blunt, it's strong, and it's brutal.  I say, fine job.

However, before you say Haggard wasn't a decent writer, check out this description.
Slowly the sun sank, then suddenly darkness rushed down on the land like a tangible thing. There was no breathing-space between the day and night, no soft transformation scene, for in these latitudes twilight does not exist. The change from day to night is as quick and as absolute as the change from life to death. The sun sank and the world was wreathed in shadows. But not for long, for see in the west there is a glow, then come rays of silver light, and at last the full and glorious moon lights up the plain and shoots its gleaming arrows far and wide, filling the earth with a faint refulgence. 
We stood and watched the lovely sight, whilst the stars grew pale before this chastened majesty, and felt our hearts lifted up in the presence of a beauty that I cannot describe. Mine has been a rough life, but there are a few things I am thankful to have lived for, and one of them is to have seen that moon shine over Kukuanaland.
I'm not saying he's a Dickens or a Hardy.  But it's wrong to criticize his lack of descriptive or elegant style.  When I read this book I feel I am in Africa.  Or watching The Lion King, maybe.

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