The Riddle of the Sands

The Riddle of the Sands

Infobox Book |
name = The Riddle of the Sands
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Robert Erskine Childers
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
genre = Invasion novel, Adventure novel, Spy novel
publisher = Smith, Elder & Co
release_date = 1903
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn =
oclc = 3569143
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service" is a 1903 novel by Irish nationalist Erskine Childers.

It a novel that "owes a lot to the wonderful adventure novels of writers like Rider Haggard, that were a staple of Victorian Britain" [ Erskine Childers' log books] from the National Maritime Museum] ; perhaps more significantly, it was a spy novel that "established a formula that included a mass of verifiable detail, which gave authenticity to the story – the same ploy that would be used so well by John Buchan, Ian Fleming, John le Carré and many others." Ken Follett called it "the first modern thriller."Ken Follett (2006-10-31) " [ The Art of Suspense] " DVD, starting at 3 mins 30 secs ]

"The Observer", in a "fundamentally English" list published to coincide with the Big Read campaign in 2003 [ [,6109,1061083,00.html The 100 greatest novels of all time: The list] , from the website of "The Guardian"] , listed the book as #37 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Novels" from the past 300 years. [ [,,1061971,00.html The 100 greatest novels of all time] , from the website of "The Guardian"]

Literary significance and criticism

The book enjoyed immense popularity in the years before World War I and was extremely influential. Winston Churchill later credited it as a major reason that the Admiralty decided to establish naval bases at Invergordon, the Firth of Forth and Scapa Flow. [cite book
last = Knightley | first = Phillip | authorlink = Phillip Knightley | coauthors =
title = The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century
publisher = Pimlico
date = | location = London | pages = p17
isbn = 1844130916
] It was also a notable influence on John Buchan. [cite book
last = Clark | first = Ignatius | authorlink = | coauthors =
title = Voices prophesying war, 1763-1984
publisher = Oxford University Press
date = 1992 | location = Oxford, England | pages = pp142-3
isbn =0192123025
] Ken Follett described it as "an open-air adventure thriller about two young men who stumble upon a German armada preparing to invade England."

In 1998, nautical writer Sam Llewellyn wrote a continuation of the story named "The Shadow in the Sands". This is subtitled "being an account of the cruise of the yacht Gloria in the Frisian Islands in April of 1903 and the Conclusion of the Events described by Erskine Childers". [British Library integrated catalogue, system number 010084730]

Historical context

It was one of the early invasion novels which predicted war with Germany and called for British preparedness. The plot involves the uncovering of secret German preparations for an invasion of the United Kingdom. The whole genre of "invasion novels" raised the public's awareness of the potential threat of Imperial Germany and as a result the Royal Navy developed several bases (Scapa Flow, Invergordon and Rosyth) on the North Sea coast of the British Isles to prepare for the possibility of war with Germany.

The novel contains many realistic details based on Childers' own sailing trips along the East Frisia coast, though large parts of his logbook entries from an 1897 Baltic cruise "appear almost unedited in the book."

In August 1910, inspired by the book, two British amateur yachtsmen, Captain Bernard Trench RM and Lieutenant Vivian Brandon RN, undertook a sailing holiday along the Frisian coast, during which they collected information about German naval installations. The two men joined "Room 40", the intelligence and decoding section of the British Admiralty, on the outbreak of war. [cite book
last = Piper | first = Leonard | authorlink = | coauthors =
title = Dangerous Waters
publisher = Continuum
date = 2007 | location = London, England | pages = pp105-7
isbn =1847250203

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

"The Riddle of the Sands" also provided the plot for the film of the same title released in 1979, starring Michael York as Charles Carruthers. [imdb title|id=0079808 (1979 version)]

In Germany, the novel was popularized by the TV movie "Das Rätsel der Sandbank", produced in 1984 by the public TV and radio station Radio Bremen, starring Burghart Klaußner as Davies and Peter Sattmann as Carruthers. [imdb title|id=0093900 (1987 version)]


External links


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