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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Sunday, 5 May 2013

The noble savage

Thursday, May 5th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

Yesterday afternoon I went to an exhibition of 'Primitifs Francais' at the Pavilion Marsan in the Louvre. I was not overstruck by the exhibition; what impressed me was the colossal interiors of the pavillion, which after all is only a mere incident in the Rivoli facade of the Louvre.

I also saw one of the best-dressed women that I ever did see. She was tall, and, I think, American. She was wearing a fortune, and in perfect taste too. She set for me a new standard in frocks.

I have been reading some Rider Haggard. Though a popular and sensational writer there are good thing in his work. He can certainly tell a tale. "King Solomon's Mines", for example, carries the reader inexorably forward and is hard to put down. He is at his best when writing of the Zulus. Though he retains some of the prejudice towards 'natives' which characterise the white man, he is clearly an admirer of the Zulus. There is real poetry in some of his descriptive passages and my sense is that this derives from his knowledge of Zulu language and culture. Women are incidental to the story. Even "Nada the Lily" for example is about the hero Umslopogaas, not about Nada, and he is prone to idealise white women. Overall not to be sniffed at;  a useful relief from 'literature'!

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