The book: King Solomon’s Mines, by Henry Rider Haggard
The edition: Italian translation by Stefano Sudrié, as published in Biblioteca Economica Newton (1995), 188 pages, with introduction by Silvano Ambrogi
The story: how three adventurers set off from South Africa to find the legendary diamond mines of Sheba, and the adventures that follow.
My experience with the book & my thoughts: this is the kind of book that people of my age would be given to read as children. The age of the great adventure books. Reading some of them (this and Journey to the Center of the Earth) for the first time as an adult, I wonder at how different they are from today’s YA literature, a genre I’m not too fond of. Of course, reading this as an adult, I am shocked at its intrinsic racism and full-fledged violence; but still I can see how I would read it as a child, only seeing the adventure of it, and it’s good. (This could open a whole discussion about — did the racism, sexism, violence in the books we read as children influence us, although we didn’t see it? Well, I don’t think it did. And that’s why I have little patience for all the politically correct books/movies aimed at children today. I’ll stop here, because it has nothing to do with this book anyway.)
The part with spoilers: as with Journey to the Center of the Earth, I was disturbed by the first person narrative. If you already know that the protagonist will live to tell the tale, how are you supposed to feel the thrill of the adventure?
What I liked: feeling like a child again.
What I didn’t like: endless battle descriptions, violence and racism.
Language & translation: I was amused to discover a translation mistake that I had heard about some years ago, and appalled at some other horrors, but as a whole the translation has strangely aged very well.
In the author’s own words: nothing to say.
Links to better understand this book: nope.
Random thought: too bad we’re not going to South Africa this year!
Read this if: if you are in your thirties and want to feel like you were a child again.
Counts as: Travel with books – South Africa