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The Prisoner of Zenda:  Being the History of Three Months
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The Prisoner of Zenda: Being the History of Three Months

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Author: Anthony Hope
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2007
J. W. Arrowsmith, 1894
Series: The Ruritania Trilogy: Book 2

1. The Heart of Princess Osra
2. The Prisoner of Zenda
3. Rupert of Hentzau

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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Synopsis

The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), by Anthony Hope, is an adventure novel in which the King of Ruritania is drugged on the eve of his coronation and thus is unable to attend the ceremony. Political forces within the realm are such that, in order for the king to retain the crown, his coronation must proceed. Fortuitously, an English gentleman on holiday in Ruritania who resembles the monarch is persuaded to act as his political decoy in an effort to save the unstable political situation of the interregnum.

The name of the villain in The Prisoner of Zenda, Rupert of Hentzau, is the title of the sequel novel, Rupert of Hentzau (1898), published four years later and included in some editions of The Prisoner of Zenda. The popularity of the novels inspired the Ruritanian romance genre of literature, film, and theatre that features stories set in a fictional country, usually in Central Europe and Eastern Europe, such as Ruritania, the Central European realm that named the genre.

The novel has been adapted many times, mainly for film but also stage, musical, operetta, radio, and television. Probably the best-known version is the 1937 Hollywood movie. The dashingly villainous Rupert of Hentzau has been interpreted by such matinee idols as Ramon Novarro (1922), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1937), and James Mason (1952).


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