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The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905)

de Baroness Orczy

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Sèrie: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1)

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7,169158933 (4.01)443
The first and most successful in the Baroness's series of books that feature Percy Blakeney, who leads a double life as an English fop and a swashbuckling rescuer of aristocrats, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" was the blueprint for what became known as the masked-avenger genre. As Anne Perry writes in her Introduction, the novel "has almost reached its first centenary, and it is as vivid and appealing as ever because the plotting is perfect. It is a classic example of how to construct, pace, and conclude a plot. . . . To rise on the crest of laughter without capsizing, to survive being written, rewritten, and reinterpreted by each generation, is the mark of a plot that is timeless and universal, even though it happens to be set in England and France of 1792."… (més)
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Anglès (150)  Suec (2)  Francès (2)  Italià (2)  Hongarès (1)  Totes les llengües (157)
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I continue to like this story, having read it some time back in the 1970's. Happily, this story is interesting and nothing as tedious as the Baroness' Tea House Detective novels (I only finished one in that series, Unravelled Knots). The Pimpernel character is well-drawn, with a character who provides many amusing stratagems and affectations to prevent discovery.

I reduced my original enthusiasm for the story as a whole (i.e. down from 4*'s) because the dialogue is too often ponderous, coming across rather awkwardly in many of the scenes. Even allowing for the conventions of conversation amongst the upper classes of the late 1700's, some gentling of the flowery periods and mendacious speech would not have ruined the historical setting.

As well, narratives need a variation in the pace of the action, angst and stress. The mood of an unremitting hell-bent-for-leather action and anguish is hard to sustain for long if it's to be an enjoyable read. Despite that caveat, Baroness Orczy's novel is a fine example of the early 1900's adventure format and recommended for those who love reading the romantic period of novels (meaning 'romantic' as in an emphasis on the imagination and emotions, such as arose in the 18th century).

An intriguing aspect about the setting for the Pimpernel ~ British aristos in Paris, French emigrés, swashbuckling heroes ~ the story theme resonates strongly in other writings by the authors of the day (such as Georgette Heyer). Comparatively, The Scarlet Pimpernel is written in a style that is a little too dated, although written not that much earlier than These Old Shades, one of Heyer's earliest Georgian/Regency novels, set close to a similar time period. So ~ in my mind, the execution compares poorly with Heyer's books. Nevertheless, Orczy's premise of a daring hero who cultivates a a meek, dandified manner to disguise his dangerous escapades has proved an enduring trope. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Feb 17, 2021 |
This gem of a book was originally published in 1933 by Baroness Orczy and it deservedly has been through many publications since. I had not read it before I received it as a SantaThing gift a year ago. It has been laying quietly on my TBR pile by my bed since then, and then I finally thought that I should read it. I found the book very enjoyable. My first thought was that it was an adventure story told in the "swashbuckling" style, and it is that, but it is, first and foremost, a very tender love story. (perfect for Valentine's Day reading). The book was set in the late 18th century in England and northern France, and the main plot driver was the revolution in France after The King and Queen of France had been deposed and beheaded. The citizens of France have taken over governance and have been keeping "Madame Guillotine" very busy every day beheading the French nobility. The mythical figure of the Scarlet Pimpernel has risen to the fore, pulling off brazen and successful soirees into France to get some of the nobility out of France and to England for safety. No one knows who he is but he has a very willing group of about 16 or 17 people who help him in these attempts. While reading of his exploits we meet the lovely and accomplished Lady Marguerite Blakeney and her husband Sir Percy Blakeney. Unbeknown to Marguerite, her dashing husband plays a larger role in the exploits of the Scarlet Pimpernel then she thought. As we watch the story unfold, we see a monumental love story opening up in front of us and in amongst all the danger and tempestuousness of this very dangerous time. Written with remarkable skill, the Baroness presents her story to us and draws us all into her web of honour, deceit, love and revenge. This is a great adventure story and a great romance Not often do you get both in the same book. The book very capably stands the test of time. ( )
  Romonko | Feb 15, 2021 |
Read in 1983 - pre-Goodreads

Review 12.01.17

OMG, I LOVED this book! I saw the movie on TV, I was in LOVE. I was in high school. I had to get this book at the store and I just devoured it. I think I kissed the cover. I had to find a guy with a pony tail to fall in love with. (That actually took many years.)

My memory of this book is mostly the memory of being a teenage girl. It's a good memory. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
felt comtemporary, intrigue
  Renaissancereader | Nov 24, 2020 |
The Reign of Terror is claiming aristocratic victims in 1792 France, feeding Madame la Guillotine. A mysterious master of disguises called by the name of a red flower has gone about saving those he can, but a French agent, Chauvelin, is out to stop the elusive rescuer in The Scarlet Pimpernel by author Baroness Orczy.

It'd been over a decade since the last time I read this classic. As I jumped into the novel rather blindly the first time around, I had the luxury of being delightfully surprised by the emotional married-couple love story in this tale of danger and intrigue. I also got to be surprised when learning the identity of The Scarlet Pimpernel that time.

Would I still enjoy the book even without being surprised?

Yes, I did enjoy the book this second time, though not quite as much as before. I can still appreciate the old-fashioned, fairly over-the-top drama for what it is, and the old-timey "oaths" the characters exclaim make me snicker, not wince. Plus, parts of the heroine's journey really speak my language as her moral crisis changes her and she opts to take "useful action" rather than to merely wallow in "empty remorse."

Yet, I've now noticed how redundant the writing is at times, and some scenes are pretty drawn-out, taking longer to get to the point and the action than they need to. Also, while it isn't the only aspect of the tale involving characters' ridiculousness, the negative Jewish stereotyping in the last third or so of the book indeed stretches itself into the realm of the ridiculous, and it may be more than the characters' doing.

This tale leaves some unfinished business that reemerges in further reading I haven't read about The Scarlet Pimpernel. Maybe I'll at least check out The Elusive Pimpernel sometime. We'll see. ( )
  NadineC.Keels | Nov 23, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Orczy, Baronessautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Cosham, RalphNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Daly, NicholasEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gheijn, Ed. van den, Jr.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lindström, SigfridTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mantel, HilaryIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mauro, WalterIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Morin, Maria EugeniaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Musterd-de Haas, ElsEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Page, MichaelNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Penzler, OttoIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Perry, AnneIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Weller, LucyIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Wildschut, MarjoleinTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Zimmermann, WalterNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.
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We seek him here,
we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven? -
Is he in hell?
That damned, elusive Pimpernel!
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The first and most successful in the Baroness's series of books that feature Percy Blakeney, who leads a double life as an English fop and a swashbuckling rescuer of aristocrats, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" was the blueprint for what became known as the masked-avenger genre. As Anne Perry writes in her Introduction, the novel "has almost reached its first centenary, and it is as vivid and appealing as ever because the plotting is perfect. It is a classic example of how to construct, pace, and conclude a plot. . . . To rise on the crest of laughter without capsizing, to survive being written, rewritten, and reinterpreted by each generation, is the mark of a plot that is timeless and universal, even though it happens to be set in England and France of 1792."

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