She (2004 paperback)
by H. Rider Haggard
Decent but far from mindblowing fantasy/adventure "classic" from King Solomon's Mines author H. Rider Haggard. While thankfully not as overtly racist as I'd been led to believe, there's still plenty of casual misogyny, class bias, and unrepentant colonialism sprinkled throughout the novel to lend She that true period seasoning. The far-fetched main events have to do with a trio of British adventurers' discovery of a 2200-year old but still youthful-looking femme fatale/sorceress named Ayesha (a/k/a She-who-must-be-obeyed), an ill-tempered and seemingly all-powerful white empress of a black cannibalistic tribe living amid the ruins of a spectacular lost civilization in central Africa. A pretty loopy premise to be sure, but Haggard attempts to tone things down somewhat with a couple of intertwined love stories, an affectionate account of friendship under extreme duress, and some Brit-friendly nods to antiquarianism and archaeology that probably fared better with the work's original pre-post colonialist readers. All the chauvinism and goofy supernatural elements aside, I did enjoy reading about She's complex hottie of a title character (even more fetching and mysterious on the black border Penguin paperbacks than on the slightly altered illustration above) and coming across unintentionally funny moments like the one where a digression on queens and monarchy leads to an unfavorable comparison between the despotic Ayesha and Britain's own Queen Victoria, "venerated and beloved by all-right thinking people in her vast realms" (p. 254). 3 out of 5 stars for an Orbis Terrarum Challenge alternate and a guilty semi-pleasure. (http://www.penguinclassics.com/)
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
Hace 52 minutos.