The imperial souvenir: Things and masculinities in H. Rider Haggard's king solomon's mines and allan quatermain

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Abstract

Both King Solomon's Mines (1885) and Allan Quatermain (1887) pursue a quest to regenerate the authority of the English gentleman as the highest rank that a man can reach upon this earth. The present essay focuses upon Haggard's construction of this ideal of masculinity through the combination of the qualities of the gentleman with those of the barbarian. The discussion follows both Laura Chrisman and Bradley Deane in attending to the relationship between the ideological structures of metropole and colony. This article, however, situates Haggard's masculinist ideology in relation to the wider cultural poetics of late-Victorian material culture, particularly as manifested in the imperial souvenir-a complicated category of thing that comprises artefacts, hunting trophies and human relics. Attention to their thingness entails reflection upon the complexity of textual representations of objects and practical encounters with them as constituent elements of late-Victorian material culture. In addition to examining the significance of hunting and battle trophies in Haggard's fiction, close attention is also paid to the keynote spectacle of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition at the South Kensington Museum in 1886, Rowland Ward's habitat diorama, The Jungle, and to Ward's subsequent forays into animal furniture. Through reflection on such formations of objects, the thingness of the imperial souvenir illuminates the ideological formations within which hegemonic masculinity and imperialism were articulated at this key moment in the mid-1880s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-92
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Victorian Culture
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013

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