There are some events of which each circumstance and surrounding detail seems to be graven on the memory in such fashion that we cannot forget it, and so it is with the scene that I am about to describe. It rises as clearly before my mind at this moment as thought it had happened but yesterday. It was in this very month something over twenty years ago that I, Ludwig Horace Holly, was sitting one night in my rooms at Cambridge, grinding away at some mathematical work, I forget what. I was to go up for my fellowship within a week, and was expected by my tutor and my college generally to distinguish myself. At last, wearied out, I flung my book down, and, going to the mantelpiece, took down a pipe and filled it. There was a candle burning on the mantelpiece, and a long, narrow glass at the back of it; and as I was in the act of lighting the pipe I caught sight of my own countenance in the glass, and paused to reflect. The lighted match burnt away till it scorched my fingers, forcing me to drop it; but still I stood and stared at myself in the glass, and reflected.
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Ayesha is She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, a 2,000-year-old queen who rules a fabled lost city deep in a maze of African caverns. She has the occult wisdom of Isis, the eternal youth and beauty of Aphrodite, and the violent appetite of a lamia. Like A. Conan Doyle's Lost World, She is one of those magnificent Victorian yarns about an expedition to a far-off locale shadowed by magic, mystery, and death.
Tim Stout writes, in Horror: 100 Best Books, "As the plot takes hold one has the fancy that [Ayesha] had always existed, in some dark dimension of the imagination, and that [H. Rider] Haggard was the fortunate author to whom she chose to reveal herself." Haggard did, in fact, write this book in a six-week burst of feverish inspiration: "It came faster than my poor aching hand could set it down," he later said.
This edition of the 1887 classic features an introductory essay by literary critic Regina Barreca, who likens Ayesha to Flaubert's Madame Bovary or Tolstoy's Anna Karenina--"literally fantastic female figures who must be stopped before they love again."From the Back Cover:
First published in 1886-87, H. Rider Haggard’s imperial romance follows its English heroes from the quiet rooms of Cambridge to the uncharted interior of Africa in search of a legendary lost city with an ageless white queen. The two men find their way to the ancient city of Kôr, where the beautiful and mysterious Ayesha, “She-who-must-be-obeyed,” rules. Despite her cruelty, both men become fascinated by Ayesha, who leads them on a harrowing journey to bathe in the underground “River of Life.” A thrilling "history of adventure," She also reveals the complexity of Victorian attitudes towards race, gender, exploration, and empire. This Broadview edition presents the novel in its original illustrated Graphic magazine version, never before republished, and includes a critical introduction and supporting materials that demonstrate the novel's relationship to late-Victorian issues such as imperialism, archaeology, race, evolution, and the rise of the "New Woman."
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Book Description Penguin Books, 1982. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0140052976