[DWJ] Early fantasy?

Jane Scarlett mail at janescarlett.com
Sun Jun 18 09:06:00 EDT 2006


I'm reading Umberto Eco's "The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana" (highly 
recommended), and it's started me thinking ...

The title comes from an Italian comic book adventure, which is based on 
She (H Rider Haggard, which interestingly Eco doesn't mention, although he 
talks about the Italianisation of other comics - I don't know if HRH isn't 
that widely known, or just it wasn't relevant to the story).  Anyway, the 
comic version is described as an incredibly dumb story, which means I have 
to go back and re-read She, which I loved as a teenager.  I'm really 
hoping I find that it stands up, and it's in translating it to a comic 
story that the damage is done!

Well, this led me on to thinking about the other HRH stories I loved - 
King Solomon's Mines, anything with Allan Quatermain, etc.  And it 
occurred to me that these are very like fantasy, but set in this world in 
undiscovered areas, and that it's only as so much of the world has been 
discovered that fantasy has had to move to other planets and parallel 
universes.  Unlike SF, which was around at the same time HRH was writing 
(HG Wells, for example), but hinges on science rather than other 
civilisations.  

Does this stand up?  I haven't read anything else in the Rider Haggard 
genre, but I'm sure if the language was updated these could pass as modern 
fantasy now.   Not quite Tough Guide fantasy rules because it's generally 
modern explorers meet ancient civilisation rather than quest, but 
interesting.

I remember as a teenager someone on Mastermind doing the history of the 
Zulu Empire, and I could answer 2/3 of the questions from Rider 
Haggard:-))

Jane Scarlett



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