- The Prisoner of Zenda
infobox Book |
name = The Prisoner of Zenda
orig title =
image_caption = Cover to 2nd edition
language = English
publisher = Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (January 1, 2000)
release_date = 1894
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 400 p. (paperback edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-14-043755-X (paperback edition)
The Heart of Princess Osra
Rupert of Hentzau
"The Prisoner of Zenda" is an
adventure novelby Anthony Hope, published in 1894. The king of the fictional countryof Ruritaniais abducted on the eve of his coronation, and the protagonist, an English gentleman on holiday who fortuitously resembles the monarch, is persuaded to act as his political decoyin an attempt to save the situation. The villainous Rupert of Hentzau gave his name to the sequel published in 1898, which is included in some editions of this novel. The books were extremely popular and inspired a new genre of Ruritanian romance, including the Graustarknovels by George Barr McCutcheon.
narratoris twenty-nine year old the Hon.Rudolf Rassendyll, younger brother of the Earl of Burlesdon and (through an ancestor's sexual indiscretion) a distant cousin and look alikeof Rudolf V, the soon-to-be-crowned King of Ruritania, a "highly interesting and important" [chapter 1] Germanic kingdom somewhere imprecisely between the German and Austrian Empires. Ruritania is, like Germany and Austria-Hungary at that time, an absolute monarchy. Rudolf Elphberg, the crown prince, is a hard-drinking playboy, unpopular with the common people, but supported by the aristocracy, the Catholic Church, the army, and the rich classes in general. The political rival to this absolute monarchis his younger half-brother Michael, Duke and Governor of Strelsau, the capital. Michael has no legitimate claim to the throne, because he is the son of their father's second, morganatic marriage: there are hints, from his swarthy appearance (he is nicknamed Black Michael) and Rassendyll's elliptically referring to him as a "mongrel", that he may be partly Jewish. Michael is regarded as champion of Strelsau's working classes, both the proletariatand the peasants, and of what Hope refers to as the criminal classes. The novel seems sympathetic, however, with those who would support the dissolute despot, King Rudolf.
When Michael has Rudolf drugged, abducted and imprisoned in the castle in the small town of Zenda, Rassendyll must impersonate the King at the coronation. There are complications, plots, and counter-plots, among them the schemes of Michael's mistress Antoinette de Mauban, and those of his villainous henchman Rupert of Hentzau, and Rassendyll falling in love with Princess Flavia, the King's betrothed. In the end, the King is restored to his throne — but the lovers must part.
The novel has been adapted many times, mainly for film but also stage, musical, operetta, radio, and television. Probably the best-known version is the 1937 Hollywood movie. The dashingly villainous Rupert of Hentzau has been played by such
matinee idols as Ramon Novarro( 1922), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.( 1937), and James Mason( 1952).
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1896) opened as a play in the West End, co-written by Hope and
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1913) - Starring
James K. Hackett, Beatrice Beckley, David Torrence, Fraser Coalter, William R. Randalland Walter Hale. Adapted by Hugh Fordand directed by Ford and Edwin S. Porter, it was produced by Adolph Zukorand was the first production of the Famous Players Film Company.
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1915) - Starring
Henry Ainley, Gerald Ames, George Bellamy, Marie Anita Bozzi, Jane Gail, Arthur Holmes-Gore, Charles Rockand Norman Yates. It was adapted by W. Courtney Rowdenand directed by George Loane Tucker.
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1922) - Starring
Ramon Novarro, Lewis Stone, Alice Terry, Robert Edeson, Stuart Holmes, Malcolm McGregorand Barbara La Marr. It was adapted by Mary O'Haraand directed by Rex Ingram.
*"Princess Flavia" (1925), an operetta with the score by
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937) - Starring
Ronald Colmanas Rassendyll and Rudolph, Madeleine Carrollas Princess Flavia, Raymond Masseyas Michael, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.as Rupert of Hentzau, and C. Aubrey Smithas Colonel Zapt. David O. Selznickdecided to produce the film, partly as a comment on the Edward VIII abdication crisis"The Brits in Hollywood" Sheridan Morley, Robson Books 2006, p. 161, ISBN978-1861058072] , and it was directed by John Cromwell. Of the many film adaptations, this is considered by many to be the definitive version. ["VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2008", Visible Ink Press 978-0787689810] Leslie Halliwellputs it at #590 of all the films ever made, saying that the "splendid schoolboy adventure story" of the late Victorian novel is "perfectly transferred to the screen", ["Halliwell's Top 1000", John Walker, HarperCollins Entertainment ISBN978-0007260805] and quotes a 1971 comment by John Cutts that the film becomes more "fascinating and beguiling" as time goes by. "Halliwell's Film Guide 2008" calls it "one of the most entertaining films to come out of Hollywood". "Halliwell's Film Guide 2008", David Gritten, HarperCollins Entertainment ISBN978-0007260805]
*Colman, Smith and Fairbanks reprised their roles for a 1939 episode of "
Lux Radio Theatre", with Colman's wife Benita Humeplaying Princess Flavia.
*"The Magnificent Fraud" (1939)) - Starring
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1952) - Starring
Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Louis Calhern, Jane Greer, Lewis Stone, Robert Douglas, James Masonand Robert Coote. Stone, who played the lead in the 1922 version, had a minor role in this remake. It was adapted by Edward E. Rose, (dramatization) Wells Root, John L. Balderston, Noel Langleyand Donald Ogden Stewart(additional dialogue, originally uncredited). It was directed by Richard Thorpe. It is a shot-for-shot copy of the 1937 film, the only difference being that it was made in Technicolor. Halliwelljudges it "no match for the happy inspiration of the original".
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1961) U.S. television adaptation (
DuPont Show of the Month), starring Christopher Plummerand Inger Stevens.
* "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1979) - A comic version, starring
Peter Sellers, Lynne Frederick, Lionel Jeffries, Elke Sommer, Gregory Sierra, Jeremy Kemp, Catherine Schell, Simon Williams and Stuart Wilson. It was adapted by Dick Clementand Ian La Frenaisand directed by Richard Quine.
*"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1984) -
BBCadaptation starring Malcolm Sinclair.
Moon over Parador" (1988), adapted by Leon Capetanosand directed by Paul Mazursky. More directly a remake of " The Magnificent Fraud", the story is set in Latin America with Richard Dreyfusas the President and his actor Jack Noah, Raúl Juliáas Roberto Strausmann (the "Black Michael" character), and Sonia Bragaas Madonna Mendez (the Flavia character). It is a romantic comedy.
*"Dave", a 1993 film version adapted by
Gary Rossand directed by Ivan Reitmanthat resets the story (with very minor changes) to contemporary Washington, DC, with Kevin Klineas the President and his double, Frank Langellain the "Black Michael" role, and Sigourney Weaveras the modern American Flavia. Like "Moon Over Parador", it is a romantic comedy.
Many fictional works that feature a political decoy can be linked to "The Prisoner of Zenda"; indeed, this novel spawned the genre known as
Ruritanian romance. What follows is a short list of those homages with a clear debt to Anthony Hope's book.
*The 1902 short story "Rupert the Resembler" is one of the so-called New Burlesques, a comedy parody by
Bret Harte, full text [http://184.108.40.206/words/authors/H/HarteBret/prose/newburlesques/rupertresembler.html|here] .
*The 1965 comedy film "
The Great Race" included an extended "Zenda"-like subplot, including a climactic fencing scene between Tony Curtisand Ross Martin. Curtis swims the moat, scales the wall, and despatches the guards, activities that Ronald Colmanperforms in the 1937 version of "The Prisoner of Zenda".
*Two episodes of the spoof spy
television series" Get Smart", "The King Lives?" and "To *Sire With Love, Parts 1 and 2", parodied the 1937 movie version, with Don Adamsaffecting a Ronald Coleman-esque voice.
*The 1970 Flashman novel "
Royal Flash", by George MacDonald Fraser, purports to explain the real story behind "The Prisoner of Zenda", and indeed, in an extended literary conceit, claims to be the inspiration for Hope's novel -- the narrator of the memoirs, in the framing story, tells his adventures to his lawyer, Hawkins, who can be assumed to be Anthony Hope (Hawkins). Otto von Bismarckand other real people such as Lola Montezare involved in the plot. It was released as a film of the same title in 1975, directed by Richard Lester, starring Malcolm McDowellas Flashman and Oliver Reedas Otto von Bismarck.
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" (1974) by Nicholas Meyeris a non-canonical addition to the Sherlock Holmesstories. Holmes meets Rassendyll on a train.
Doctor Who" episode " The Androids of Tara" (1978) had as a working title "The Androids of Zenda" and used a similar plot and setting. It featured Tom Bakeras the Doctor and Mary Tammin four roles: Romana and Princess Strella, and android doubles of each. The 1980 novelisationwas by Terrance Dicks, who was script-editor on the 1984 BBC serialisation of "Zenda".
*"The Zenda Vendetta (
TimeWarsBook 4)" by Simon Hawke(1985) is a science fictionversion, part of a series which pits 27th century terrorists the Timekeepers against the Time Commandos of the US Army Temporal Corps. A Commando is the hero, and Antoinette's rôle is adapted as a Timekeeper dominatrix.
John Spurling's novel "After Zenda" (1995) is a tongue-in-cheekmodern adventure in which Karl, the secret great-grandson of Rudolf Rassendyll and Queen Flavia, goes to post-CommunistRuritania, where he gets mixed up with various rebels and religious sects before ending up as constitutional monarch. The use of DNA fingerprintingcomes into play, as it had recently done for the Romanovs.
*"The Prisoner of Zenda, Inc.", a 1996
made-for-televisionversion, is set in the contemporary United Statesand revolves around a high school boy who is the heir to a large corporation. The writer, Rodman Gregg, was inspired by the 1937 film version. It stars Jonathan Jackson, Richard Lee Jackson, William Shatner, Don S. Davis, Jay Brazeauand Katharine Isabelle.
mangaseries released from 2002 -2007, references "The Prisoner of Zenda" in chapter 37, which gives an overview of the plot as one character reads the novel.
In a popular, but very questionable account, a German circus acrobat named
Otto Witteclaimed he had been briefly mistaken for the new King of Albaniaat the time of that country's separation from the Ottoman Empire, and that he was crowned and reigned a few days. However, the date of this claim (1913), and the lack of any evidence to back it up, suggests that Witte made up his story after seeing the first film version of the novel.
Salman Rushdiecited "The Prisoner of Zenda" in the epigraph to " Haroun and the Sea of Stories", the novel he wrote while living in hiding in the late 1980s.
The 1956 novel "Double Star", by
Robert A. Heinlein, shares plot elements with "The Prisoner of Zenda".
The Heart of Princess Osra"
Rupert of Hentzau"
*gutenberg|no=95|name=The Prisoner of Zenda
*gutenberg|no=1145|name=Rupert of Hentzau
* [http://www.silverwhistle.co.uk/ruritania/ The Ruritanian Resistance] - comprehensive fan site
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