Looks like I’ll be part of a collection on H. Rider Haggard that’s coming out later this year. Now to write the piece I described thusly:

As an adventure writer, H. Rider Haggard, who wrote at the tail end of the British imperial enterprise, faced a major problem: all the maps had been filled in, threatening an end to the mysterious countries beyond the reach of most white men that promised treasure, romance, and entertaining danger. His first hit novel, King Solomon’s Mines (1885), includes a map with which Allan Quartermain and his companions find the eponymous treasure; but in Haggard’s later novels, such as The Yellow God: An Idol of Africa (1908), She and Allan (1921), and Treasure of the Lake (1926) maps are not graphically represented, even though they play essential roles in the plots of these books. Both The Yellow God and She and Allan, in particular, share the image of a map that must be looked at, memorized, and left behind or even destroyed before their heroes can begin their quests in earnest. Such an insistence on removing maps can be read as a metaphor for Haggard’s own authorial biography, from conscious adherence to a genre formula – as first established by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island – to a mastery that can afford to ignore such formulae. More importantly, Haggard’s effacement of maps from his narratives is fundamental to the critique of empire to be found in his stories. As Allan Quatermain’s many adventures make clear, colonial exploration is fun – after killing Allan off at the end of Allan Quatermain (1887), Haggard resurrected him for more than a dozen new stories. Managing an empire, however, is just more of the busywork that spurs adventurers. This article will argue that Haggard’s later novels put forward this critique most clearly in the absence of maps, which threaten to lay bare the mysteries of Africa to British “reinscription, enclosure and hierarchization of space, which provide[s] an analogue for the acquisition, management and reinforcement of colonial power” (Huggan 21). The absence of maps in The Yellow God and She and Allan turns away from the intensively managed colonies of imperial Africa in favour of an Africa perpetually in the process of being discovered, but not yet plotted and bounded. In this manner, the purposeful blind spots and cartographic exclusions that mark Haggard’s later novels serve to freeze time at the moment when maps were still empty to retain the possibilities for adventure that imperial consolidation precludes.

Huggan, Graham. Interdisciplinary Measures: Literature and the Future of Postcolonial Studies. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2008. Digital book.

This will be the second British genre literature by way of postcolonial African geography article I’ll publish. I’m once again a bit on edge that my cursory knowledge of postcolonial theory will lead me to write something that will piss people off. That grad school concentration in American literature and film is serving me well.

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