The Scarlet Pimpernel (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. In the year 1792, Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite Blakeney are the darlings of British society—he is known as one of the wealthiest men in England and a dimwit;she is French, a stunning former actress, and “the cleverest woman in Europe”—and they find themselves at the center of a deadly political intrigue. The Reign of Terror controls France, and every day aristocrats in Paris fall victim to Madame la Guillotine. Only one man can rescue them—the Scarlet Pimpernel—a master of disguises who leaves a calling card bearing only a signature red flower. As the fascinating connection between the Blakeneys and this mysterious hero is revealed, they are forced to choose between love and loyalty in order to avoid the French agent Chauvelin, who relentlessly hunts the Scarlet Pimpernel.

First published in 1905, The Scarlet Pimpernel is the best-known novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, a prolific author of popular fiction and plays. The novel pioneered the tale of the masked avenger and paved the way for such future enigmatic swashbucklers as Zorro, Superman, and the Lone Ranger. Repeatedly adapted for stage and screen—most recently as a successful Broadway musical—The Scarlet Pimpernel is a relevant and enormously entertaining tale of survival and pluck during times of widespread fear, hypocrisy, and corruption.

Includes 8 pieces of original art.

Sarah Juliette Sasson is a lecturer in the Department of French and Romance Philology at Columbia University and is the managing editor of the Romanic Review, a journal devoted to romance literatures. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Columbia. She specializes in nineteenth-century literature and particularly in the novel. She has published essays on Honoré de Balzac, Heinrich Heine, and on social mobility in nineteenth-century literature. Currently, she is working on a book on Balzac.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781411433106
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 06/01/2009
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 319,029
File size: 4 MB
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

From Sarah Juliette Sasson’s Introduction to The Scarlet Pimpernel

The volume we are presenting here is the first of a series of ten novels published between 1905 and 1940 that present the adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel. This first volume is certainly the most famous and widely read of them all and has had its own fabulous destiny. For it paves the way for the future plots, introduces the readers to the main characters, and vividly depicts and opposes the two theaters of the action: France and England, only a few hours apart by boat, but symbolizing two completely different universes. The date is September 1792, after the infamous September Massacres. The revolutionaries have decided to start history anew. In a few months, a new calendar will be established, beginning with l’An I (the Year I). Each month is rebaptized and given a new name selected for its agrarian associations, and the old Christian names are thrown out. France will become an ill-famed regicide regime with the public execution of King Louis XVI, on January 21, 1793. The bloodiest phase of the French Revolution, the so-called Reign of Terror (or simply the Terror), will soon begin. The Scarlet Pimpernel cycle takes place during these particularly brutal years—from September 1792 to the fall of the radical revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre in July 1794. In certain episodes, the fictional actions combine with authentic historical events: In the novel Eldorado, for example, the Scarlet Pimpernel will be instrumental in the escape of the young dauphin, Louis XVII, whose fate has fueled speculation for more than two centuries.

In Baroness Orczy’s imagination, France is a country in chaos; a mob runs amok, mercilessly murdering its former elite, the aristocrats. The fact that the action starts in September 1792 is significant; we, as readers, do not learn much about the French Revolution of 1789—its hopes, ideologies, and ethos. Instead, we are plunged into the violent and cruel context of the Terror. Here are the first lines of the novel:

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. . . . During the greater part of the day the guillotine had been kept busy at its ghastly work: all that France had boasted of in the past centuries, of ancient names, and blue blood, had paid toll to her desire for liberty and for fraternity. The carnage had only ceased at this late hour of the day because there were other more interesting sights for the people to witness . . . and so the crowd rushed away from the Place de Grève and made for the various barricades in order to watch this interesting and amusing sight.

We are in the thick of the action, shoulder to shoulder with the crowd, surrounded by a repulsive throng, immersed in a gruesome spectacle. Soon we witness an unequal yet fascinating cat-and-mouse game between the crowd and the helpless aristocrats pathetically attempting to go past the barricade and leave the city. The aristocrats are purposely and sadistically let go, taste freedom for a few moments of intense relief, and are apprehended minutes later—unless, thanks to some miraculous intervention of the Scarlet Pimpernel, they vanish into thin air before the guards’ very noses. Clearly a hero is needed, and these very first images give us the dramatic setup for the Scarlet Pimpernel’s extraordinary deeds. In the first minutes of the 1934 film adaptation of the novel, the guillotine presides over the scene as a ghastly and imposing apparition. We watch aristocrats being dragged from their tumbrils and executed at the regular intervals of a factory production line. Each falling head is followed by hurrahs; each provokes a few seconds of attention from the tricoteuses, those spiteful witches who raise their heads from their knitting for a few seconds to absorb the spectacle before taking up their needles again.

On the other side of the Channel, however, the picture is completely different. Not only do beauty and elegance reign, but courage, heroism, and wit ultimately prevail. The Scarlet Pimpernel introduces a mythical English hero, one who has indeed all the qualities of a typical avenger; he is what critics of popular novels call a "Promethean hero.” Although his identity must remain secret, he stirs passions in both France and England, and his name is on everyone’s lips. Well-known to the British public, he inspires fashions and trends:

“Heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel ? . . . Faith, man! we talk of nothing else. . . . We have hats ‘à la Scarlet Pimpernel’; our horses are called ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’; at the Prince of Wales’ supper party the other night we had a ‘soufflé à la Scarlet Pimpernel.’. . . Lud! . . . the other day I ordered at my milliner’s a blue dress trimmed with green, and bless me, if she did not call that ‘à la Scarlet Pimpernel’.”

But most important, like all great and fearless heroes, the Pimpernel leaves a trademark sign after every act of bravery. His passing is indicated by papers printed with a humble red flower, a “scarlet pimpernel,” a gesture that not only shows his debonair demeanor but also a playful taste for risk-taking. An aristocrat himself, the Pimpernel leads a group of nineteen wellborn young men, ready to sacrifice themselves for the perilous yet exhilarating task of snatching endangered French aristocrats from the bloody grip of the revolution. The Scarlet Pimpernel presents such rescues as moral actions, and also as an exciting sport. The Pimpernel and his men behave like knights, but the reader will find neither reflection nor justification for their actions in the text. Their deeper motivation is not expressed; explanations are unnecessary.

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The Scarlet Pimpernel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 319 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was definitely one of my favorite books in the entire world. It was so amazing...the Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the greatest characters in literature. He's extremely clever and just all around amazing. The book was totally captivating- a mixture of action, suspense, and romance. Orczy touches into the horrible events of the French Revolution in a great story. It deserves nothing less than five stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Scarlet Pimpernel was an outstanding book. It was a thriller that left me wanting to read more. It had all of the key components to an excellent book in my opinion: a romance, a big twist, and a thrilling ending. The way the author was able to create ways in which the Scarlet Pimpernel infiltrated France and was able to escape dumbfounded me. What was even more shocking to me is how submissive the other 19 of the League were to him. it truly shows an intense battle of good over evil. The Scarlet Pimpernel is an excellent book for people of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book, and I was very impressed. When I first started it, I thought it would have the usual classic novel stereotypes: hard to understand English and a plot that seems boring (to teens anyways..). I was definitely wrong! To me, this was one of those can't-put-down-until-I-finish books. The identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel is revealed at the end, but you pick up on subtle hints of who it is throughout the book (the surprise at the end is finding out if your suspicions are true). As a teen, I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently had to read this book for summer reading, and it was great. I assumed that it would be boring because it was a very old book. I found that the book was interesting throughout and I couldn't put it down. The Scarlet Pimpernel is a surprising book that keeps you guessing until you're done reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book and thought it would turn out very boring.But after you kind of get passed some of the beginning it is awesome. I loved how the book just kind of flowed. It was pretty easy to picture the characters!! You truly don't know where or who the Scarlet Pimpernel is!!! If you're reading this than get the BOOK!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Scarlet Pimpernel is an amazing book. It has so many qualities that make an intriquing story, i.e. adventure, mystery and romance. Now let me give you fair warning, this extrodinary novel does begin rather slow. However, if you give it a chance, you won't be sorry. It transforms into a major page-turner and you find yourself engrossed in the story. I would reccomend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I think I have it almost all the way memorized. It is veddy veddy good. I give it 5,412 stars!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an AMAZING book! One of my favorites and anyone who writes bad things about it read it backwards or upside-down! I wish I could give it 100,000,000....... stars! The movie is good too so buy this AND watch the movie!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I've been reading the whole series and I recommend this book to everyone. It's my absolute favorite, y'all! You wanna read a good book? I'd recommend this one definitely. The Scarlet Pimpernel rocks!
mcms More than 1 year ago
this is one of the classics on my "must read list". even though you "know", it is still romantic and interesting.
jazzybadger21 More than 1 year ago
A delightful adventure tale of one man taking on the blood-thirsty mass-mob of the French Revolution. A concise and highly readable thriller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This entreeging, romantic, and suspenseful tale that should be read by people my age agin and again. Orczy did a fantastic job. She made it to be about how good always triuphs over evil. In my opinion, i think the star of this book is none other than Margarrite. It's a wonderful book. Trust me. I know.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a well written and interesting book. It is full of suspence romance and mystery. The book has rich vocabulary and one of the most interesting story lines I have ever read. It is truly gripping novel and makes the reader feal as if they are there. Not only is it capturing but it also makes you use your head by trying to figure out the great mystery of `who is the scarlet pimpernel?¿. Overall It was a great read and classic. I recommend it to all readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Scarlet Pimpernel kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. I could not put the book down! If it had not been for my parents, I would have read the entire book in one sitting! The Baroness writes exquistly well. I cannot wait to get a hold of more fantastic books from her!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best book I have had to read for school, I am now reading the rest of the series. Eloquently written, with a fantastic mix of humor, adventure, irony, and romance. The characters are as real as you and me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! Yes, it did reveal the Scarlet Pimpernel's identity a little early, but the book contained an exciting plot. I also found the characters of Chauvelin and Sir Percy quite fascinating. The ingenuity of these characters make each of the sequels also a must-read. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for some adventure and romance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a required read when I was in high school. I loved it so much I would read ahead everynight--and then get in trouble with my teacher the next day...but I didn't care--it's amazing. I recommend this book to everyone!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Scarlet Pimpernel has something for everyone...mystery, romance, history. No book has ever been more difficult to put down. There are so many unexpected plots and so much passion. Everyone should read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wanted something simple to read and I came over the Scarlet Pimpernel. Even the first page caught me eyes. It was amazingly written with an ardent array of mystery, romance, and suspense. It was everything that you expect from a book! I recommend this book to anyone who's looking for something memorable (not to mention excellent) to read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book rocks!! It has so many qualities that make a good book; mystery, romance, memorable characters, etc.etc.etc. Make sure if you read it, don't give up right away, because the first few chapters are rather slow. However, when you get into the book it because a major page-turner. If you don't love this book you're crazy. Baroness Orczy uses great language. I'd reccomend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A French Government agent is hired to find the identity of a daring and elusive Englishman. The Scarlet Pimpernel tells of his attempts to discover him, and get him eliminated. Baroness Orczy cleverly tells of how he employs all sorts of methods to discover the character, while the reader is dumbfounded as well. The book starts out in France during the French Revolution. The leaders of the Revolution are outraged, since an Englishman is entering Paris and rescuing the aristocrats. No one, save the members of the league of the Scarlet Pimpernel know the true identity of the daring and elusive man. It is not until of the wife of Sir Percy Blakeney realizes the true identity, that the identity is revealed. She gets a tip that the agent will capture him, and races all over France and England to warn him. I really liked the book. It was full of action, and excitement. The plot was brilliantly laid out, so that the reader does not find out the personality of the Scarlet Pimpernel, until Lady Blakeney does. There are hints dropped throughout the book, but they are not fully understood until the character is revealed. The characters were very well laid out. They were believable; they did not seem overly unrealistic. In some books, the main characters are not quite believable. These were just normal characters looking for a little bit of fun. I really enjoyed the writing. It was interesting; there was a good balance between setting the scene, developing characters, and laying the plot. It was balanced very well in that sense. It was not too hard of reading, so that you have to have a PhD to understand it, but it is not so easy that it is boring. I think that this was a really good book, and I would definitely recommend it to people looking for some good reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Plow through the first two chapters of this book and you'll be hooked after that. I literally could not bring myself to put it down. I found myself feeling like I'd known Marguerite all my life, and at times I WAS Marguerite. This book has a fantastic twist, too. It's no wonder this book is considered an all-time classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this for a class that combines English and World History while studying the French Revolution and it's so fun reading a novel that you can connect with what you're learning and also talk about among classmates! FIRST 10 chapters: started off a little boring, but now that I think about it, if I were writing the book I probably wouldn't have thought of beginning it any better way. The depiction of characters is so intense and specific you start to LITERALLY fall in love with the characters. During the last chapter I started loving the book because the plot is so intriguing and there was already just so much to talk about. NEXT 10 CHAPTERS: Not as favorable, but still worth reading. The beginning actually a bit tedious to read-- if you're not big on romance. The culprit/hero (what is he really? you need to think on both points of view of the Revolution) is revealed toward the end of this section. Last 11 chapters: SO GOOD! You just really start to wonder a lot of things-- OVERALL: the book was GREAT. It just feels so good to feel strongly toward the characters; you either love them or hate them or start too love them and grow to hate them. Orczy used all 3 types of irony in the novel which makes it OH SO intriguing and you're just so frustrated all the time (WHICH IS A GOOD THING)! Read THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL by Baroness Orczy NOW.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you love romance, adventure, action, mystery, and comedy (and trust me, it's all in there) you must read this book! Such a classic story, but so ahead of it's time, giving the reader the best of everything. If you are like me, you will read it in a weekend, and find yourself gasping out loud as you travel through the story with the richly illustrated characters. My only regret is that I read it so fast, and it was over so quickly. A beautifully written book that appeals to readers who enjoy getting swept away completely into the world of the novel. An excellent read, and I can't say enough great things about it! Demmit, you MUST READ 'The Scarlet Pimpernel'!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I tought that this book would be terrible, because it was about the French Revolution, you understand... no, I was wrong!! You will enjoy this so much you will just have to buy it.