“She” by Henry Rider Haggard Part I

Have you read She?  Have you read He?  Have you read We?
Those are current books about psychology and they’re what I
ran into as I searched for a copy of She by Henry Rider Haggard–
the old classic.  I wondered why the store clerks would check
under the self-help books . . .

Well, I may need Self-Help by the time I finish the real She.
It’s on my summer reading list, and probably on yours, too.
I couldn’t find it anywhere at local libraries so I turned to my
Kindle and am reading it there, and also occasionally online
at gutenberg.org.

It’s another one of those 19th C books that starts off telling you
that the narrator is going to tell you a tale which he heard and
which may or may not be true, etc.  Kind of like Frankenstein
and that type–to lure you into the adventure.

There are two men at Oxford–one very handsome and pretty,
the other a good friend, but, to be kind, ugly.  Pretty boy Vincey
marries, has a boy child, mother dies.  Five years later, Vincey
asks ugly Holly to adopt his child because he’s dying.  Along with
the favor comes a mysterious large iron box, locked, which is not
to be opened until young Vincey is twenty-five years old.

Along comes Chapter Three  “The Sherd of Amenartas”.

I was kind of wondering what “sherd” means and if it’s like a
“shard” of pottery . . .but I didn’t bother to look it up.  (I don’t
care what Amenartas means . . .)

Twenty-five years go by, and Holly, and young Vincey along
with Job, the nursemaid/valet when Vincey was growing up,
begin the task of opening the mysterious locked box.

Now, I’m OK with this—it’s somewhat interesting.  I didn’t tell you
yet that as some background information, when Vincey and Holly were
college students V told H about his mystical family tree that goes way
back.

I’m not talking the Alamo here, but way back as in 300 B.C.  There
are names like Kallikrates and Isis to contend with—and tales of an
African nation where a giant woman rules the land and has power over
life and death.

There’s a lot of business of finding proper fitting keys and so forth and
then they remove a “silver casket” also locked.  The casket is decorated
with sphinx like legs and a sphinx as a finial.  I decide to make a sketch
to keep my interest up . . .

Silver casket" from She by Henry Rider Haggard ©booksandbuttons

Silver casket” from She by Henry Rider Haggard ©booksandbuttons

The box is unlocked and inside are a bunch of scrolls in “uncial” Greek.
I’m a little uneasy with the meaning of “uncial”, too, but don’t bother to
look that up either.

Well, Haggard feels that we should examine every word that’s written
in this “black-letter” uncial Greek and he prints it all out for us:  Click
on photo so you can read it more easily (heh-heh).

"uncial Black-Letter Greek" scroll from She by Henry Rider Haggard

“uncial Black-Letter
Greek” scroll from She by Henry Rider Haggard

and then “for general convenience in reading” he transcribes the
inscription on the scroll into Greek cursive character:

Greek cursive text of a scroll from She by Henry Rider Haggard

Greek cursive text of a scroll from She by Henry Rider Haggard

He then claims that the English translation is both elegant and accurate!

Ah, then they’re looking at the “sherd” and there is ancient writing on this,
too.  I may have drifted off during this part of the reading, but when I woke
up I had just finished reading another long “uncial” Greek text which was now
being translated into Mediœval Black-Letter Latin!  (The highlight of
this post for me may be that now I know how to write the “oe” together!)

Well, I took two years of Latin—maybe I can make some sense of this.
No.  Can’t.  I don’t think they are really Latin words except for an
occasional “Quod” or “regina”.  I don’t remember HOIBS, or MGNI or
IIIJ.   I am beginning to think something’s rotten in Denmark.

but IS it Latin?

but IS it Latin?

Having fought my way through the Greek, the cursive Greek, the
Mediœval Latin, I turn the page and read:

The Expanded Version of the above Mediœval Latin Translation:
(he’s kidding, right?)

to be continued . . .

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