Welcome to Part Six of our latest audio adventure in our series Tales for Our Time: This tale is an undoubted classic, The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope. Last night Rudolf Rassendyll and Colonel Sapt returned to the hunting lodge at Zenda and discovered they were a king short. In tonight's episode Sapt is momentarily shocked at the realization that Black Michael has seized the King, but he quickly recovers:
Suddenly he burst into one of his grating chuckles:
'By Jove, we've shaken up Black Michael! ...And we'll shake him up a bit more,' he added, a cunning smile broadening on his wrinkled, weather-beaten face, and his teeth working on an end of his grizzled moustache. 'Ay, lad, we'll go back to Strelsau. The King shall be in his capital again tomorrow.'
'The crowned King!'
'You're mad!' I cried.
'If we go back and tell the trick we played, what would you give for our lives?'
'Just what they're worth,' said I.
'And for the King's throne? Do you think that the nobles and the people will enjoy being fooled as you've fooled them? Do you think they'll love a King who was too drunk to be crowned, and sent a servant to personate him?'
'He was drugged—and I'm no servant.'
Our latest serialization has prompted several listeners to go hunting down more background info on Ruritania. Mark Steyn Club member Judy Warner writes:
As I've been listening to The Prisoner of Zenda, I looked up Ruritania on Wikipedia today because my husband mentioned other people wrote about it too. The article was entertaining until I got to the last paragraph, which reads as follows:
'Vesna Goldsworthy of Kingston University, in her book Inventing Ruritania: the imperialism of the imagination (Yale University Press, 1998), addresses the question of the impact of the work of novelists and film-makers in shaping international perceptions of the Balkans. Goldsworthy considers stories and movies about Ruritania to be a form of "literary exploitation or narrative colonization" of the peoples of the Balkans.'
I guess that's entertaining too, in its depressing way. Not just PC but she hasn't read much, since only one of the other authors set Ruritania in the Balkans.
So all this systemic Balkaphobia is Anthony Hope's fault with his appalling "narrative colonization".
If you prefer me in video to audio, later this evening, Wednesday, I'll be back on air with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, coast to coast at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. On the other hand, if you prefer me in audio to video, I'll be back tomorrow evening with Part Seven of The Prisoner of Zenda.
If you're minded to join us in The Mark Steyn Club, you're more than welcome. You can find more information here. - and don't forget you can always sign up a pal for our new gift membership. See you on the telly in a couple of hours.