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The Defeat of Death

A Reading of Sir Henry Rider Haggard’s "Cleopatra</I>

Afroditi-Maria Panaghis

The monograph reads Sir Henry Rider Haggard’s historical romance Cleopatra (1889) with the aim to delineate the last decade of the Victorian period, shed light on the attempt to forge identity, and demonstrate the author’s preoccupation with the concept of coincidentia oppositorum as the basic principle of life, death, and regeneration. Through the mythic figure of Cleopatra, the simulacrum of the goddess Isis, the writer underscores that death can be defeated and immortality attained. By simulating ancient Egypt, submerging in the unconscious, withdrawing from the ephemeral world and espousing the spiritual, he came to terms with his fear of mortality, rejuvenated his self, and redeemed his soul. In perusing the three papyri, discovered in the hero’s sarcophagus, the reader traces the progress from the Ptolemaic degenerate court to that of Isis.


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I would like to thank Vassiliki Markidou, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Athens for reading the manuscript, making constructive comments as well as editing it. I would also like to thank my sister Sofia-Zoe Panaghis, Lecturer of English Literature and Language at IST College, Heredforshire University, and Instructor at the Language Center of the University of Athens, for helping me with the structure of the book. Finally, I would like to thank the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens for funding my trip to the United States and enabling me to conduct my research at the Universities of Harvard, Tufts, and Boston.

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