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Old 12-17-2018, 12:47 AM   #31
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Interesting it should be quoted, when Orczy was not French but Hungarian.
True, but the character's were French and I guess the article's author felt Orczy had got them right. I make no comment on the validity of the article's premise, but it is interesting that the author felt strongly enough about the depth and intensity of French anti-Semitism to cite this specific example. Smoke and fire, perhaps?
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Old 12-17-2018, 08:23 AM   #32
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Another factor I found plausible is that Percy spoke unaccented French. He did grow up abroad, so why not? And in one later book, I can't remember which one and this isn't spoilery, the choice of League member for a particular rescue included the ability to speak unaccented French, leaving out Lord Antony, as I recall. Quite coincidentally, I recently finished a social history of the Regency, broadly defined by the author as lasting from the first Regency crisis in 1788 through 1820 and it gave me a good context for The Scarlet Pimpernel. Apparently, the upper classes all spoke French.

Somewhat less credible is that Chauvelin spoke English well enough not to be detected as French at the Fisherman's Rest, but so be it. Perhaps that was a qualification for his being chosen as French emissary, given the spying on the side the job entailed.
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Old 12-17-2018, 04:04 PM   #33
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I found that Marguerite was a particularly interesting heroine. She certainly seemed rather ambiguous at her first appearance —particularly when she met the Comtesse. The blackmailing effort of Chauvelin forces her into a further highly questionable position. The conflicting feelings she has about her marriage add additional tension to her decisions. I think she is certainly an effective and credible witness to events and while I agree that she plays a subsidiary part in the action, her presence adds a great deal of excitement to the story.
I think it's fair enough that Marguerite's famed wit and intellect didn't necessarily correlate with the ability to plot, and at least she was able to act swiftly when the occasion demanded it. I agree that her conflicting feelings about her marriage and Percy also helped make her a multi-dimensional personality. I think Orczy herself hadn't quite made up her mind about Marguerite; I did get tired of variations of the word "child" to describe Marguerite.

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In the end that blazing plot of The Scarlet Pimpernel sweeps the reader along and I found it quite irresistible.
Yes! The tension is at a high level at more than one point of the story, but most especially at the ball and the end game.
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Old 12-17-2018, 04:10 PM   #34
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I think that's one of the things this book does quite successfully: skirt the edges of plausibility (at the time you are reading it).

In this scene it is the question of whether prejudice can hide him from the active search of not just Chauvelin but the soldiers with him. The additional factor is the unexpected boldness of the Pimpernel presenting himself again so quickly, but this must surely (if we wanted to treat this realistically) be offset by previous experience, such as...

At the start of the book we have the guard, Bibot, fearing of disease but also fearing the guillotine given the recent experience of Grospierre. Knowing such tales, who is going to accept anyone at face value?

But in each case we are given just enough reason to believe - for the sake of the story - that things would play out as given. That we can later see the flaws did not disturb the enjoyment of the tale - but only because the it is so apparent that the story is not taking itself that seriously; it doesn't so we don't.
Another factor aiding his disguise as the crone is that she'd already been through Bibot's gate several times; he knew her, or had reason to think he did. And as for the Jew, it was night time.
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Old 12-17-2018, 06:44 PM   #35
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I did get tired of variations of the word "child" to describe Marguerite.
The first time it came up on this re-read, I was thinking ill of her husband. Then I saw "24 years old" and thought of Orczy, "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means"

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Old 12-17-2018, 06:55 PM   #36
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The first time it came up on this re-read, I was thinking ill of her husband. Then I saw "24 years old" and thought of Orczy, "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means"
Inconceivable!
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Old 12-17-2018, 07:58 PM   #37
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I think Orczy herself hadn't quite made up her mind about Marguerite; I did get tired of variations of the word "child" to describe Marguerite.
It did add to the chocolate-box sickliness for me: "sweet childlike smile", "childish curiosity" and so on, and on, and on.

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The first time it came up on this re-read, I was thinking ill of her husband. Then I saw "24 years old" and thought of Orczy, "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means"
Unfortunately it was used very commonly, certainly when I was a young woman, as part of the way in which women were continuing to be infantilised. All part of the big strong man approach of "Don't bother your pretty little head about it" whether "it" was politics, something that needed fixing in the home, or whatever.

Earlier this year, the Club read a book called The Radium Girls, written recently but called that because that's how the women were referred to by the newspapers. It made me grit my teeth.
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:28 PM   #38
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I think it extends beyond mere sexism, and you wonder what was going on with Orzcy in that respect, although more on that. It wasn't just women, it was her social attitude in general.

Orczy clearly had a lot of sympathy for the emigrés presumably resulting from fellow feeling. Her parents had fled Hungary when she was a child in fear of a peasant resolution and her family which eventually fetched up in England had a penurious existence afterward. Orczy paid lip service to the underlying causes of the revolution, but it's obvious she's on Team Aristocrat. From the English point of view, the worst aspect of the French revolution and its excesses was that it postponed any reform in Britain for a good twenty years. Orczy no doubt thought that a good thing.

As for the sexism, one wonders. It's obvious that while happily married, she was the breadwinner. Was the nincompoop husband a projection or sheer venting?
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:48 PM   #39
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I listened to the audiobook narrated by Ralph Cosham. Then I skimmed through the book afterwards. The narration emphasized the dramatic story-telling aspect of the book and helped to build tension and capture excitement in the scenes. It was a fun and light read for the month of December. I don't think too critically of books like these so I tend to ignore or forgive the faults. I feel ambivalent on whether or not I will read more of the series. Maybe if the mood strikes me some day. It might be fun to watch one of the classic movie versions.

Chapters 16 & 17 in the mid-point of the book were pivotal. I think that it was here that the balance switched more from adventure to romance. I could have done with less of the overwrought emotions in the second half of the book.

I did not know anything about this book other than it was a classic. I can tell I certainly would have enjoyed reading this book as a young girl. I wish I had known about it then! It was not hard to guess the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. I think I figured it out during the recruiting scenes because by that time all the major characters had been identified. I thought that guessing the identity before Marguerite does added more tension because you know that she is compromising her husband's life.
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Old 12-18-2018, 01:31 AM   #40
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Ok, that was a lot of fun to read. I could see it being a favorite if I had read it as a pre-teen. As-is, it was still a lot of fun and I may try a couple of the others next year.

I did see the "twist" coming ahead of time so wasn't surprised when Percy was revealed as the Scarlet Pimpernel. As others have said, that is the trope. It's ok to use a cliche when you are the one who made it popular. He's not a masked man but certainly must have influenced many of our comic books superheros.

And I agree with Bookworm_Girl, I'm glad we were able to figure it out ahead of Margourite since it does add to the drama. I didn't care much for either of their wishy-washy feelings for each other and how they all of a sudden love the other so much. Her original motives for marrying him are suspect at the least. Maybe I'm just not built that way. Maybe it is just the time that this was set in.

Obviously B. Orczy was pro-nobility, but here is one take I saw that puts that in a somewhat mitigating light:
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For all the cult of nobility that surrounds Orczy's novel, she puts a premium on humility. Any character that shows the slightest bit of arrogance or pretension is taught the lesson of humility by the end of the novel. In that, perhaps, Orczy is not so much vindicating nobility as much as instructing a new persona for the "brave, just noble" -- one who fights for the right causes, for humanity instead of riches.
from here: https://www.gradesaver.com/the-scarl...y-guide/themes

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Old 12-18-2018, 01:42 AM   #41
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Obviously B. Orczy was pro-nobility, but here is one take I saw that puts that in a somewhat mitigating light:
from here: https://www.gradesaver.com/the-scarl...y-guide/themes
Indeed. She was very explicit in condemning the behaviour of aristocrats like those who abused Marguerite's brother
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Old 12-18-2018, 01:45 AM   #42
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Another factor I found plausible is that Percy spoke unaccented French. He did grow up abroad, so why not? And in one later book, I can't remember which one and this isn't spoilery, the choice of League member for a particular rescue included the ability to speak unaccented French, leaving out Lord Antony, as I recall. Quite coincidentally, I recently finished a social history of the Regency, broadly defined by the author as lasting from the first Regency crisis in 1788 through 1820 and it gave me a good context for The Scarlet Pimpernel. Apparently, the upper classes all spoke French.

Somewhat less credible is that Chauvelin spoke English well enough not to be detected as French at the Fisherman's Rest, but so be it. Perhaps that was a qualification for his being chosen as French emissary, given the spying on the side the job entailed.
Yes on both accounts. Certainly the English upper-classes spoke French, and often had native French-speaking governesses / teachers from a very early age.

The French, on the other hand, might have learned English, but rarely at such an early age, thus leaving them with an undoubted accent.
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Old 12-18-2018, 01:55 AM   #43
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The French, on the other hand, might have learned English, but rarely at such an early age, thus leaving them with an undoubted accent.
It may seem unlikely, but it's far enough from impossible not to be a plot hole or continuity failure in my view. There are several scenarios that could be devised to explain it. Especially since a facility for languages was a prerequisite for intelligence agents back then. I've just finished reading The British in India and the famous explorer Richard Burton is mentioned several times. He mastered Hindustani, Persian and several different variants of Arabic well enough to be mistaken for a local by the locals, and did so as an adult learner. So Chauvelin's feat gets a "peut-être" from me
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:12 AM   #44
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It amused me to think that The Three Musketeers was set only a few years before the revolution. Part of me wanted to say "they earned this". Then I refreshed my memory and realized TTM was about 170 years prior to this. Oh well, I was amused at least for a little while.
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:30 AM   #45
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It amused me to think that The Three Musketeers was set only a few years before the revolution. Part of me wanted to say "they earned this".
Hah! I can relate to this. A visit to Versailles in May of this year definitely coloured my reaction on this re-read to the plight of the "poor aristos" dashing Sir Percy was rescuing. "Karma, elle est vraiment une chienne"
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