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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
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Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

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cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

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cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

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The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Bleg: Adventure Girl in the 19th Century

Posted by Bill Benzon on 05/29/09 at 08:13 AM

I’ve just written a longish post about Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain (1887). The post focuses on an incident involving 10-year old Flossie Mackenzie, daughter of a Scottish missionary, raised in the jungle, has her own garden, and carries a Derringer for protection.* Thing is, she’s used that Derringer, twice. Once she killed a leopard who attacked her donkey (while she was riding the donkey) and, in this very story before our very eyes, she shoots a Masai warrior who was attacking her. She’s no Becky Thatcher.

Can you think of any other fictional 19th (or early 20th) Century girls like Flossie?

*This is the passage in chapter 4 where Flossie tells Quatermain about her Derringer. He’s asked her whether or not she feels lonely living “among all these savage people and without any companions of her own age”:

‘Lonely?’ she said.  ‘Oh, indeed no!  I am as happy as the day is long, and besides I have my own companions.  Why, I should hate to be buried in a crowd of white girls all just like myself so that nobody could tell the difference!  Here,’ she said, giving her head a little toss, ‘I am I; and every native for miles around knows the “Water-lily”,—for that is what they call me—and is ready to do what I want, but in the books that I have read about little girls in England it is not like that.  Everybody thinks them a trouble, and they have to do what their schoolmistress likes.  Oh! it would break my heart to be put in a cage like that and not to be free—free as the air.’

‘Would you not like to learn?’ I asked.

‘So I do learn.  Father teaches me Latin and French and arithmetic.’

‘And are you never afraid among all these wild men?’

‘Afraid?  Oh no! they never interfere with me.  I think they believe that I am “Ngai” (of the Divinity) because I am so white and have fair hair.  And look here,’ and diving her little hand into the bodice of her dress she produced a double-barrelled nickel-plated Derringer, ‘I always carry that loaded, and if anybody tried to touch me I should shoot him.  Once I shot a leopard that jumped upon my donkey as I was riding along.  It frightened me very much, but I shot it in the ear and it fell dead, and I have its skin upon my bed.  Look there!’ she went on in an altered voice, touching me on the arm and pointing to some far-away object, ‘I said just now that I had companions; there is one of them.’

She was pointing to Mt. Kenya.


Comments

They’re not written in the nineteenth century, just set there, but Philip Pullman’s first trilogy (the Sally Lockhart novels) is written in much this spirit, and I think you would find it worth your while - there are some adult heroines, like Marian Halcome in _The Woman in White_, who may figure in…

By Jenny Davidson on 05/29/09 at 10:30 AM | Permanent link to this comment

At the moment I’m just curious, Jenny, so I don’t suppose it matters much. But I’ll tell you what I’m curious about.

I’ve spent a good deal of time over the past few years looking at Japanese anime and reading some manga. There you find lots of adventuresome girls (& women too). While many of them have to utter some magic words and become transformed before they become adventuresome (and have super powers), that’s not always the case, e.g. in Hayao Miyazaki’s films. But this is post-WWII Japan.

Now, here I am reading a late 19th century adventure novel and wham!, I’m reading about a young girl who’d be right at home in one of those manga titles. So, I want to know what’s going on. And part of that is whether Flossie Mackenzie is a one-off creature in this one Rider Haggard novel, or whether there are other such girls, even lots of them, in other novels of roughly the same time.

By Bill Benzon on 05/29/09 at 01:53 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I was recently reminded of E.D.E.N. Southworth’s The Hidden Hand; or, Capitola the Madcap: I haven’t read it in many years but I think it does feature a fairly adventurous girl protagonist.

By Rohan Maitzen on 05/29/09 at 07:15 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Adventure girl in the 20th century:

http://www.thevalve.org/go/valve/article/plucky_heroines_from_haggard_to_hikaru_and_buffy/

By Bill Benzon on 06/01/09 at 09:12 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Shakespeare’s Miranda.  She doesn’t have a gun, mind.  But she totally would, if W.S. wrote the play now.

By Adam Roberts on 06/03/09 at 12:00 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Perhaps young Catherine Earnshaw.

By Bill Benzon on 06/03/09 at 12:18 PM | Permanent link to this comment

adventure girl is a racist

By on 06/23/09 at 09:17 AM | Permanent link to this comment

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