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Project: Project Gutenberg: The Ivory Child

May 27, 2010

[Project:  Project Gutenberg–where I’m reading and reviewing public-domain fiction from Project Gutenberg from A to Z]

My little world has more than its share of disappointments right now.  Spring changed its mind:  it’s cold and rainy and miserable here.  And Joan has flown off to New York City without me, to attend the Lambda Literary Awards.  She was nominated in the lesbian mystery category, but alas, did not take home the prize.

And my Project:  Project Gutenberg read for the letter “I” is a disappointment greater than any I have yet encountered–and that’s saying something.

The Ivory Child (1916) is H. Rider Haggard at his most racist/xenophobic and at his most mechanical and repetitive.  In fact, it’s such a stinker that I can’t really bring myself to review it.   All I want to say about it is this:  demonic African elephant uses telepathic powers to force a circus elephant in London to snatch a baby out of his pram and step on him.

I’m not angry.  Just disappointed.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mumsy permalink
    June 18, 2010 7:49 am

    *laughs really hard* That is the most awesome plotline EVER. But I don’t think I’ll read it either.

  2. mrparallel permalink
    June 22, 2010 10:23 pm

    Any baby, or some specific baby?

  3. June 22, 2010 11:55 pm

    “The Jumbo killed my baby!”

    Sorry. It is a specific baby–the heroine’s baby, a fine, upstanding English gentleman of 18 months or so. The baby’s death precipitates her into a state of mesmeric susceptibility which allows two Arab men to hypnotize her and smuggle her into Darkest (natch) Africa, where she becomes the high priestess of a strange cult which worships an ivory statue of a baby and fights against the forces of evil (who worship the aforementioned telepathic demon elephant. Her manly husband and more manly friend Allan Quartermain rescue her and kill Jumbo, as well as discovering an elephants’ graveyard–by no means the first of these for Mr. Q.

  4. mrparallel permalink
    June 24, 2010 4:15 pm

    Oh, well that makes perfect sense then.

    I’m guessing, Melynda, that you have already read The Beetle, Richard Marsh’s crazy-ass 1897 bestselling racial horror story, Arab villain of which is to bugs what vampires are to bats? I found it kind of awesome. The xenophobia was so throbbingly heartfelt and sincere, the homoeroticism so wishful yet self-closeted, it actually worked as a thriller.

  5. June 26, 2010 9:13 pm

    The Beetle! Oh, my God, I haven’t thought of that book in years! In fact, I briefly considered an entomological dissertation, using Ouida’s awesome *Moths* and *The Beetle,* but I couldn’t find another really good bug title.

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