Spirituality in the fiction of Henry Rider Haggard

Senior, John (2004) Spirituality in the fiction of Henry Rider Haggard. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Neither an unquestioning support for British imperialism nor a personal pre-Jungian philosophy were the driving forces behind Rider Haggard’s beliefs or his literature. These two concerns were secondary to the author’s fascination with the supernatural, a theme prominent in his era, but less so in our own. A declining faith in European religion provided the dominant focal point in Haggard’s work. Although there are important overtones of imperial concern and indeed points of Jungian significance in the texts, these are generally subservient to an intensive wide-ranging spiritual discourse. The place of Haggard’s work in history and its literary merit are thus misunderstood when his spiritualism is not taken into account. No analysis of the author’s work can be complete without first coming to terms with his spiritual ideas and then with their impact on other topics of significance to both the author and audiences of his day. The spiritual or religious aspect of his writing has been largely ignored because of its subtle nature and its relative unfashionability throughout most of the twentieth century in the critical and intellectual climate of the Western world. However, in the Victorian era, under the materialist impact of Darwin, Marx and industrialization, Europe's Christian God was pushed from centre stage, creating widespread spiritual hunger and anguish. In the resulting religious vacuum Haggard's overtures were of particular significance to his audience. In fact, when considered in terms of his immense contemporary popularity, the pervasive presence of spirituality throughout Haggard's works and in his personal writing gives some indication of the subject's enormous importance not only to the author, but to late Victorian society as a whole. In light of this Victorian significance, the spiritual element rises, by its constant presence and persistent foregrounding, to subvert not only the imperial and the Jungian, but even Haggard's overt adventure text by dealing directly with the underlying metaphysical crisis in Western society.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Haggard, H. Rider (Henry Rider), 1856-1925 -- Religion, Haggard, H. Rider (Henry Rider), 1856-1925 -- Criticism and interpretation, Religion in literature
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English
ID Code:84
Deposited By: Rhodes Library Archive Administrator
Deposited On:20 Oct 2005
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:17
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