Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Durban. Port city in the British-ruled colony of Natal on South Africa’s eastern coast that is Quatermain’s base. Durban represents a mean between the exaggerated civilization and inflation of Cape Town and the unexplored, untamed open country of Southern Africa’s interior. Inland expeditions outfit at Durban and depart from and return there; it is a frontier town in which the best and worst of European and African residents can be found. Durban is a busy place in which the unexpected can always be expected to happen. The setting allows a preview of what can be expected in the interior and prepares readers for a fabulous adventure.


Dunkeld. Ship on which Quatermain meets Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good while sailing from Cape Town to Durban. Their voyage symbolizes the impact of progress and technology on Africa. Not many years earlier, rounding the Cape of Good Hope was dangerous, and shipwrecks were common. However, European progress and technology have tamed the seas to the point that such voyages have become the common and safe means of transportation between Southern Africa’s two main ports. Eventually, the African continent, like the seas surrounding it, will be tamed by European progress.

*Southern Africa

*Southern Africa. Region below the Zambezi River—which now separates Zimbabwe from Zambia—that is the broad canvas for King Solomon’s Mines. The trek on which Quatermain leads Curtis and Good takes them through dense forests, torrid deserts, and high mountains that exemplify the harshest, most unforgiving, and most extreme opposites in Southern Africa’s wide range of climates and topography. These extreme variations lend a mood of unrest to the novel: a sense of foreboding and danger, which is exactly what the author intends.

Haggard inclined toward the sensational in his writings, and since the British reading audience of his era wanted to be thrilled by near-death adventures set in exotic locales, Haggard obliged them with fantastic tales set mostly in Southern Africa. Drawing on bits...

(The entire section is 876 words.)