“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.”– The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy
It’s been too long since I last enjoyed a classic novel and I was beginning to fear that I was falling out of love with my favourite genre. Well, I found the remedy with “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” What a lot of fun!
The French Revolution is one of my favourite periods of history to learn about despite the morbidity and the violence and cruelty. It’s shocking to be reminded of the fact that even children were guillotined. It makes you wonder why on earth people felt the need to be so barbaric and unforgiving.
Baroness Orczy also introduces us to one of the most interesting characters in literature, in my opinion, Sir Percival Blakeney, Bart., aka The Scarlet Pimpernel. His character is an example of what I’d call the Columbo effect, a dopey demeanour that puts people at ease and disguises sheer brilliance. Sir Percy is a fop who is obsessed with fashion and making inane comments that amuse those around him. Surely he can’t be the Scarlet Pimpernel???
Off-topic: I love the 1982 movie with Jane Seymour as Marguerite St. Juste, Anthony Anderson as Sir Percy, and Sir Ian McKellan as Chauvelin. I’ve watched it countless times. A few people recommended the 1934 version and I did enjoy it but in my opinion the Seymour version was superior. Neither of the movies follow the book’s chronology though the earlier one is more true to it. Jane Seymour plays a more convincing Marguerite.
And this quote from IMDB made me admire Anthony Anderson even more: What upsets me most is miscarriages in the legal system and seeing people suffering. When I was filming in Russia at the end of the Gorbachev era I saw peasants doff their caps to film company limos because they thought that there were government officials inside. The same thing happened in Mexico. Any regime that does that to its people upsets me. – 15 April 2003, Times Online