The Prisoner of Zembla (Henry)

A king was furious with his daughter, Princess Ostla, for disobeying him. In his anger, he decided to hold a grand tournament, promising the winner the hand of the princess in marriage. A herald was sent out to announce the event, and many knights gathered to compete for the princess's hand.

On the day of the tournament, the king and Princess Ostla sat in the grandstand, watching as the knights prepared to fight. Among the competitors, the princess spotted a poor student she had once been in love with. As the knights rode past the grandstand, the king questioned the student about his shabby armor, to which the student replied with a witty remark, impressing the king.

Sir Knight, prithee tell me of what that marvellous shacky and rusty-looking armor of thine is made?

As the tournament began, many knights were intimidated by the princess's beauty and withdrew from the competition. Eventually, only two knights remained, one of them being the princess's former lover. The two fought for hours, and ultimately, the princess's lover emerged victorious.

The king granted the victorious knight any boon he desired. Instead of asking for the princess's hand in marriage, the knight requested the king's endorsement for a monkey wrench patent he had purchased. The king agreed, but informed the knight that there were no monkeys in his kingdom.

Enraged, the knight rode away without claiming the princess. The king suddenly realized the knight had left without taking the princess and died from the shock.

My God! he cried. He has forgotten to take the princess with him!

Meanwhile, a young woman named Miss Potter received a live count as a gift from her father, along with a new six-shooter from her uncle. She looked forward to having fun with her new gifts and giving her dogs some much-needed exercise.

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Alexei Navalny is the latest Putin critic to die in suspicious circumstances

James Hider

Scott Neuman

what is the conclusion of the prisoner of zembla

Protesters light candles on Friday in front of the Russian Embassy in Prague after the announcement that the Kremlin's most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, had died in an Arctic prison. Milan Kammermayer/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Protesters light candles on Friday in front of the Russian Embassy in Prague after the announcement that the Kremlin's most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, had died in an Arctic prison.

The death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a penal colony in Russia's Arctic north was shocking, but hardly surprising.

For years, critics and opponents of Russian leader Vladimir Putin have fallen victim to shootings, poisoning with radioactive or nerve agents, or have plunged to their deaths from open windows.

Alexei Navalny, Russian politician who opposed Putin to the end, has died in prison

Alexei Navalny, Russian politician who opposed Putin to the end, has died in prison

Navalny was only 47 and had appeared in court the day before his death in the penal colony known as "Polar Wolf," where he was serving a lengthy sentence.

Evgenia Kara-Murza, wife of another jailed opposition leader, said on X , formerly Twitter, that he "looked well and was, as always, in good spirits."

Navalny was seen smiling in a video from the court hearing and even managed to send Valentine's Day greetings to his own wife. Less than 24 hours later, prison authorities said he had died.

Before being sent to Russian jail in 2021, Navalny survived a poisoning attempt that nearly took his life during a flight from Siberia to Moscow. He sought emergency treatment in Berlin, where doctors said he had been poisoned with a nerve agent called Novichok . Once recovered, he returned to Russia, despite knowing the risk such a move posed.

Photos: See Russian anti-corruption leader Alexei Navalny's life in pictures

The Picture Show

Photos: see russian anti-corruption leader alexei navalny's life in pictures.

Navalny joins a long list of opposition figures, critics and journalists who have died under suspicious circumstances — or in some cases, survived poisonings — from London to Moscow.

Boris Nemtsov

One of the most prominent of those deaths was his own predecessor as the head of Russia's opposition to Putin's two-decade tenure in power, Boris Nemtsov.

An outspoken critic of Putin, Nemtsov served as a deputy prime minister under Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

Nemtsov was shot dead on a bridge close to the Kremlin in 2015, at age 55, as he was walking home at night with his girlfriend.

Alexander Litvinenko

Perhaps the most striking demise was of former spy Alexander Litvinenko , who was poisoned in a central London hotel in 2006 with the highly radioactive substance polonium. Litvinenko, a former agent of Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, fell ill and died after meeting with two Russian agents for tea in a London hotel. He was 44.

He had accused Putin of complicity in the 1999 bombing of a Russian apartment block that killed hundreds of people and provided Putin with an excuse to launch the Second Chechen War.

Sergei Skripal

Another famous poisoning was the case of Sergei Skripal, 66, a retired military intelligence colonel who fell ill , together with daughter Yulia, during a visit to the English cathedral city of Salisbury in 2018. Skripal had earlier served 13 years in a Russian jail for working with the British spy agency MI6 to identify Russian spies in Europe.

Skripal and his daughter survived the poisoning, which British doctors said was caused by the nerve agent Novichok — the same substance used against Navalny.

Anna Politkovskaya

Such suspicious incidents date back to the early days of Putin's leadership. In October 2006, the journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in the lobby of her apartment building. She was 48.

Politkovskaya came into conflict with the Kremlin over her critical reporting on Russia's war in Chechnya. She was intimidated by Russian forces in Chechnya, survived a poisoning and was subjected to a mock execution.

Yevgeny Prigozhin

And as recently as last summer, Yevgeny Prigozhin , known as "Putin's chef" before rising to lead the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, died when the plane he was flying in exploded in midair. He was 62.

The unexplained blast came two months after Prigozhin's mercenary army had marched on Moscow in protest over what he called a lack of support from Russia's military leadership as the Wagner Group spearheaded some of the deadliest battles in Ukraine. Putin and Prigozhin later brokered a deal that ended the rebellion in exchange for the rebels' amnesty and exile in neighboring Belarus.

Ravil Maganov

Just the year before, Ravil Maganov , head of Russia's second-largest oil producer, Lukoil, died after apparently falling out of a sixth-floor window at a Moscow hospital at age 67. He had called for an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine , launched by Putin earlier in 2022.

Sergei Magnitsky

And Navalny was far from the first critic of Putin to die inside Russia's prison system. In 2009, Sergei Magnitsky — who had accused Russian officials of massive corruption, before being jailed in Russia on charges of tax evasion — died in a prison cell at age 37.

Human rights groups, including the Kremlin's human rights commission, concluded he had been beaten and denied medical care. The case became a cause célèbre, spurring the U.S. Congress to pass the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which barred Russian human rights abusers from entering the U.S. In return, Russia banned American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.

  • Russian Opposition
  • Russian politics
  • President Vladimir Putin
  • Alexei Navalny

The Prisoner of Zembla

By o. henry.

The Prisoner of Zembla

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what is the conclusion of the prisoner of zembla

The Prisoner of Zembla

So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

And he sent forth a herald to proclaim that he would do this.

And the herald went about the country making his desire known, blowing a great tin horn and riding a noble steed that pranced and gambolled; and the villagers gazed upon him and said: “Lo, that is one of them tin horn gamblers concerning which the chroniclers have told us.”

And when the day came, the king sat in the grandstand, holding the gage of battle in his band, and by his side sat the Princess Ostla, looking very pale and beautiful, but with mournful eyes from which she scarce could keep the tears. And the knights which came to the tourney gazed upon the princess in wonder at her beauty, and each swore to win so that he could marry her and board with the king. Suddenly the heart of the princess gave a great bound, for she saw among the knights one of the poor students with whom she had been in love.

The knights mounted and rode in a line past the grandstand, and the king stopped the poor student, who had the worst horse and the poorest caparisons of any of the knights and said:

“Sir Knight, prithee tell me of what that marvellous shacky and rusty-looking armor of thine is made?”

“Oh, king,” said the young knight, “seeing that we are about to engage in a big fight, I would call it scrap iron, wouldn’t you?”

“Ods Bodkins!” said the king. “The youth hath a pretty wit.”

About this time the Princess Ostla, who began to feel better at the sight of her lover, slipped a piece of gum into her mouth and closed her teeth upon it, and even smiled a little and showed the beautiful pearls with which her mouth was set. Whereupon, as soon as the knights perceived this, 217 of them went over to the king’s treasurer and settled for their horse feed and went home.

“It seems very hard,” said the princess, “that I cannot marry when I chews.”

But two of the knights were left, one of them being the princess’ lover.

“Here’s enough for a fight, anyhow,” said the king. “Come hither, O knights, will ye joust for the hand of this fair lady?”

“We joust will,” said the knights.

The two knights fought for two hours, and at length the princess’ lover prevailed and stretched the other upon the ground. The victorious knight made his horse caracole before the king, and bowed low in his saddle.

On the Princess Ostla’s cheeks was a rosy flush; in her eyes the light of excitement vied with the soft glow of love; her lips were parted, her lovely hair unbound, and she grasped the arms of her chair and leaned forward with heaving bosom and happy smile to hear the words of her lover.

“You have foughten well, sir knight,” said the king. “And if there is any boon you crave you have but to name it.”

“Then,” said the knight, “I will ask you this: I have bought the patent rights in your kingdom for Schneider’s celebrated monkey wrench, and I want a letter from you endorsing it.”

“You shall have it,” said the king, “but I must tell you that there is not a monkey in my kingdom.”

With a yell of rage the victorious knight threw himself on his horse and rode away at a furious gallop.

The king was about to speak, when a horrible suspicion flashed upon him and he fell dead upon the grandstand.

“My God!” he cried. “He has forgotten to take the princess with him!”

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1881 short story, the prisoner of zembla.

Black and white Photo of Author O. Henry (1862 - 1910)

The Prisoner of Zembla is an English Surprise Endings short story by American writer O. Henry . It was first published in 1881.

The Prisoner of Zembla by O. Henry

So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

And he sent forth a herald to proclaim that he would do this.

And the herald went about the country making his desire known, blowing a great tin horn and riding a noble steed that pranced and gambolled; and the villagers gazed upon him and said: “Lo, that is one of them tin horn gamblers concerning which the chroniclers have told us.”

And when the day came, the king sat in the grandstand, holding the gage of battle in his band, and by his side sat the Princess Ostla, looking very pale and beautiful, but with mournful eyes from which she scarce could keep the tears. And the knights which came to the tourney gazed upon the princess in wonder at her beauty, and each swore to win so that he could marry her and board with the king. Suddenly the heart of the princess gave a great bound, for she saw among the knights one of the poor students with whom she had been in love.

The knights mounted and rode in a line past the grandstand, and the king stopped the poor student, who had the worst horse and the poorest caparisons of any of the knights and said:

“Sir Knight, prithee tell me of what that marvellous shacky and rusty-looking armor of thine is made?”

“Oh, king,” said the young knight, “seeing that we are about to engage in a big fight, I would call it scrap iron, wouldn’t you?”

“Ods Bodkins!” said the king. “The youth hath a pretty wit.”

About this time the Princess Ostla, who began to feel better at the sight of her lover, slipped a piece of gum into her mouth and closed her teeth upon it, and even smiled a little and showed the beautiful pearls with which her mouth was set. Whereupon, as soon as the knights perceived this, 217 of them went over to the king’s treasurer and settled for their horse feed and went home.

“It seems very hard,” said the princess, “that I cannot marry when I chews.”

But two of the knights were left, one of them being the princess’ lover.

“Here’s enough for a fight, anyhow,” said the king. “Come hither, O knights, will ye joust for the hand of this fair lady?”

“We joust will,” said the knights.

The two knights fought for two hours, and at length the princess’ lover prevailed and stretched the other upon the ground. The victorious knight made his horse caracole before the king, and bowed low in his saddle.

On the Princess Ostla’s cheeks was a rosy flush; in her eyes the light of excitement vied with the soft glow of love; her lips were parted, her lovely hair unbound, and she grasped the arms of her chair and leaned forward with heaving bosom and happy smile to hear the words of her lover.

“You have foughten well, sir knight,” said the king. “And if there is any boon you crave you have but to name it.”

“Then,” said the knight, “I will ask you this: I have bought the patent rights in your kingdom for Schneider’s celebrated monkey wrench, and I want a letter from you endorsing it.”

“You shall have it,” said the king, “but I must tell you that there is not a monkey in my kingdom.”

With a yell of rage the victorious knight threw himself on his horse and rode away at a furious gallop.

The king was about to speak, when a horrible suspicion flashed upon him and he fell dead upon the grandstand.

“My God!” he cried. “He has forgotten to take the princess with him!”

Black and white Photo of Author O. Henry (1862 - 1910)

O. Henry, the pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862–1910), was an American short-story writer known for his clever and surprise twist endings. His stories, including “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Ransom of Red Chief,” continue to be celebrated for their wit and humor. O. Henry’s contributions to the short story genre are enduring.

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Palestinian suffering and endurance in Gaza echo the Nakba

In the tragic stories coming out of Gaza, I see the pain and resistance of my grandparents as they faced the catastrophe of 1948.

Afaf Jabiri

For more than four months now, the world has been watching in shock as Israel has massacred, maimed, starved, tortured and humiliated the Palestinians of Gaza.

For us, the Palestinian refugees in the diaspora, witnessing this horror has been particularly poignant. Every story, every plea, all that unfolds resonates with the echoes of accounts we have heard for years from our parents, grandparents, neighbours and friends’ parents of what they had experienced during the Nakba of 1948, when they were ethnically cleansed from their homeland. Thus, every testimony we hear amplifies the weight of bearing witness beyond the immediate horrific scenes emanating daily from Gaza.

Keep reading

Palestine demands end to israeli occupation at icj hearing, the take: the story of hind rajab, israeli army fires on crowds of hungry palestinians waiting for aid, the foundation feeding thousands in hebron impoverished by israel’s war.

I grew up in the Baqa’a refugee camp in Jordan, where my mother and grandmother settled in 1970 after experiencing multiple displacements since the Nakba. Their ordeal began with expulsion from their home village, Iraq al-Manshiyya, 30km (18.6 miles) north of Gaza, in April 1949. Following a 10-month-long siege by the Jewish Haganah militia, people were ordered to “relocate temporarily” to an area near Hebron, now known as Arroub camp and were never allowed to return.

Due to the events of the 1967 war, they were once again forced to move, this time to al-Karama camp in Jordan. In 1968, they were relocated to ash-Shuna camp near Zarqa city in Jordan before moving to Baqa’a two years later.

My generation was surrounded by people with vivid memories of pre-1948 life and the harrowing events of the Nakba from 1947 to 1949. These narratives have become a canvas upon which I try to comprehend the profound impacts of atrocities committed in Gaza against the Palestinians.

Conversations within the camp consistently harkened back to the past, with every aspect of daily life measured against the backdrop of pre-Nakba times. The elderly recounted their losses, their painful journeys of exile, the profound trauma they endured, and the continuing sense of injustice in their hearts.

For us, the younger generation, it was not just about hearing historical events; it was a visceral experience of living alongside those who directly witnessed and endured the atrocities of that tumultuous period. The weight of their memories, losses and continuing struggles shaped our understanding of identity and fuelled the quest for justice.

Certain stories became enduring narratives within the camp, readily retold and passed down through generations, especially those related to resistance. Yet, there were stories that surfaced rarely or were deliberately concealed, particularly from strangers and researchers who intermittently visited the camp seeking to document narratives. 

Among the concealed stories were those entailing the agonising experiences of forced starvation, instances of sexual violence perpetrated by the Jewish Haganah militia against both men and women, and the heart-wrenching narratives of mothers who, amid bombardment, left their children behind. 

The latter stories, if resumed later by the fortunate reunion of parent and child, were recounted with a certain sense of pride for the strength displayed. For those who never knew the fate of their children and other loved ones, these stories were so painful that they were not spoken of in an attempt to hide the severe sense of loss and guilt.

Yet, it was the narratives of hunger that bore the most profound emotional weight. When recounted, these stories were often punctuated with the poignant expression, “I pray to God that these days are never relived or experienced by anyone, whether a friend or foe”.

Adding to the anguish in these stories was the underlying sense of shame. In a community once skilled in the art of food production, the recollection of starvation represented a dissonance – a stark departure from the strength and resourcefulness that defined their heritage.

The memory of forced starvation reflected not only physical deprivation but a profound departure from the self-sufficiency that had characterised their history. Planting wherever they went marked an important action for Palestinians, not only to prevent the recurrence of such suffering but also to restore a sense of dignity and self-sufficiency for a people that once thrived on its ability not only to produce sustenance but to treat food-making as an art.

As I read reports from Gaza about people grappling with forced starvation – unable to secure flour for bread, struggling to prepare a decent meal to nourish their families, and losing children to hunger – the anguished look and expressions of my grandmother while recounting the desperate days of famine persistently come to mind.

The Haganah militia laid siege on her village from around June 1948 to April 1949. During this time, those who challenged the blockade and tried to bring supplies to the village were either killed or forcibly disappeared; one of them was my grandfather, who disappeared and was never heard from again.

Not only were there no supplies entering the village, but also the Haganah fighters deliberately destroyed food storages, slaughtered cows and sheep, and burned fields of wheat and orchards of grapes, apples and apricots. My memories of my grandmother’s face as she recounted these hardships become a window into the emotions that accompany the struggle for existence – the feelings of desperation and helplessness, and the crushing weight of responsibility to provide for loved ones.

Through these memories, I glimpse into the harsh reality faced by besieged Palestinians in Gaza, where the simple act of securing basic food staples has become a formidable challenge.

But as I reflect on my grandmother’s experiences, I cannot reduce them to her desperation; that would not do them justice. During the siege on her village, my grandmother played a pivotal role in resisting the starvation tactics of the Haganah militia.

She led the fight against starvation by inventing new meals from whatever was available, a fact she proudly shared in her accounts. Through her experience of starvation and determined efforts to combat it, my grandmother’s story encapsulates not only the suffering of Palestinians in 1948 and the brutality that forced them to leave their homes but also the indomitable will to defy and overcome those adversities.

Much like my grandmother, Palestinians in Gaza are suffering and enduring brutality but they are also displaying their distinctive ability to resist Israel’s tactics of starvation, displacement and degradation.

As we navigate through the tragic stories coming out of Gaza, the life of a Palestinian unfolds as a paradox – a delicate equilibrium between enduring suffering and embodying steadfast resistance. This dual experience resonates with the beautiful verses in Mahmoud Darwish’s poem And We Love Life: “And we love life if we find a way to it. We dance in between martyrs and raise a minaret for violet or palm trees.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

Arthur Pyle "Two Knights Do Battle Before Cameliard"

The Prisoner of Zembla by O. Henry

Photo of HydraGT

Arthur Pyle “Two Knights Do Battle Before Cameliard” So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

And he sent forth a herald to proclaim that he would do this.

And the herald went about the country making his desire known, blowing a great tin horn and riding a noble steed that pranced and gambolled; and the villagers gazed upon him and said: “Lo, that is one of them tin horn gamblers concerning which the chroniclers have told us.”

And when the day came, the king sat in the grandstand, holding the gage of battle in his band, and by his side sat the Princess Ostla, looking very pale and beautiful, but with mournful eyes from which she scarce could keep the tears. And the knights which came to the tourney gazed upon the princess in wonder at her beauty, and each swore to win so that he could marry her and board with the king. Suddenly the heart of the princess gave a great bound, for she saw among the knights one of the poor students with whom she had been in love.

The knights mounted and rode in a line past the grandstand, and the king stopped the poor student, who had the worst horse and the poorest caparisons of any of the knights and said:

“Sir Knight, prithee tell me of what that marvellous shacky and rusty-looking armor of thine is made?”

“Oh, king,” said the young knight, “seeing that we are about to engage in a big fight, I would call it scrap iron, wouldn’t you?”

“Ods Bodkins!” said the king. “The youth hath a pretty wit.”

About this time the Princess Ostla, who began to feel better at the sight of her lover, slipped a piece of gum into her mouth and closed her teeth upon it, and even smiled a little and showed the beautiful pearls with which her mouth was set. Whereupon, as soon as the knights perceived this, 217 of them went over to the king’s treasurer and settled for their horse feed and went home.

“It seems very hard,” said the princess, “that I cannot marry when I chews.”

But two of the knights were left, one of them being the princess’ lover.

“Here’s enough for a fight, anyhow,” said the king. “Come hither, O knights, will ye joust for the hand of this fair lady?”

“We joust will,” said the knights.

The two knights fought for two hours, and at length the princess’ lover prevailed and stretched the other upon the ground. The victorious knight made his horse caracole before the king, and bowed low in his saddle.

On the Princess Ostla’s cheeks was a rosy flush; in her eyes the light of excitement vied with the soft glow of love; her lips were parted, her lovely hair unbound, and she grasped the arms of her chair and leaned forward with heaving bosom and happy smile to hear the words of her lover.

“You have foughten well, sir knight,” said the king. “And if there is any boon you crave you have but to name it.”

“Then,” said the knight, “I will ask you this: I have bought the patent rights in your kingdom for Schneider’s celebrated monkey wrench, and I want a letter from you endorsing it.”

“You shall have it,” said the king, “but I must tell you that there is not a monkey in my kingdom.”

With a yell of rage the victorious knight threw himself on his horse and rode away at a furious gallop.

The king was about to speak, when a horrible suspicion flashed upon him and he fell dead upon the grandstand.

“My God!” he cried. “He has forgotten to take the princess with him!”

Photo of HydraGT

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O. Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter, an American short story writer who is known for his tales about the life of ordinary people, especially in New York. His stories generally expressed ...   [+]

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The Prisoner of Zembla

By Anthony Hoke

So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Astla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

And he sent forth a herald to proclaim that he would do this.

And the herald went about the country making his desire known, blowing a great tin horn and riding a noble steed that pranced and gamboled; and the villagers gazed upon him with awe and said: “Lo, that is one of them tin horn gamblers concerning which the chroniclers have told us.”

And when the day came, the king sat in the grandstand, holding the gage of battle in his hand, and by his side sat the Princess Astla, looking very pale and beautiful, but with mournful eyes from which she scarce could keep the tears, and the knights who came to the tourney gazed upon the princess in wonder at her beauty, and each swore to win her so that he could marry her and board with the king. Suddenly the heart of the princess gave a great bound, for she saw among the knights one of the poor students with whom she had been in love.

The knights mounted and rode in a line past the grandstand, and the king stopped the poor student, who had the worst horse and the poorest caparisons of any of the knights, and said:

“Sir knight, prithee tell me of what that marvelous shaky and rusty-looking armor of thine is made?”

“Oh, king,” said the young knight, “seeing that we are about to engage in a big fight, I would call it scrap iron, wouldn’t you?”

“Ods bodikins!” said the king. “The youth hath a pretty wit.”

The tourney lasted the whole day and at the end but two of the knights were left, one of them being the princess’s lover.

“Here’s enough for a fight, anyhow,” said the king. “Come hither, oh knights, will ye joust for the hand of this lady fair?”

“We joust will,” said the knights.

The two knights fought for two hours and at length the princess’s lover prevailed and stretched the other upon the ground. The victorious knight made his horse caracole before the king, and bowed low in his saddle.

On the Princess Astla’s cheek was a rosy flush; in her eyes the light of excitement vied with the soft glow of love; her lips were parted, her lovely hair unbound, and she grasped the arms of her chair and leaned forward with heaving bosom and happy smile to hear the words of her lover.

“You have fought well, sir knight,” said the king. “And if there is any boon you crave you have but to name it.”

“Then,” said the knight, “I will ask you this: I have bought the patent rights in your kingdom for Schneider’s celebrated monkey wrench and I want a letter from you endorsing it.”

“You shall have it,” said the king, “but I must tell you that there is not a monkey in my kingdom.”

With a yell of rage the victorious knight threw himself on his horse and rode away at a furious gallop.

The king was about to speak when a horrible suspicion flashed upon him and he fell dead upon the grandstand.

“My God!” he cried, as he expired, “he has forgotten to take the princess with him.”

by Vladimir Nabokov

Pale fire summary and analysis of commentary on cantos 1-2.

Commentary/Canto One: Summary:

Charles Kinbote does not offer commentary on Shade's poem as a whole. Instead, Kinbote adds notes of clarification for specific words and phrases that appear in the poem. The reader quickly realizes, however, that these clarifications are not very relevant to Shade's poem. In fact, many of these comments may seem to be chosen at random. It would be hasty to characterize the commentary as random, though. These notes do evolve into a pattern: Kinbote is telling us a story that he believes to be of vital importance. For better or worse, he has hijacked Shade's poem in order to do this.

Kinbote's efforts are pretty hilarious when we consider what an actual "commentary" might have been. Kinbote's commentary tells us less about New Wye, John Shade , and poetry. Instead, we read about a land called Zembla, learn a good deal about Charles Kinbote, and get some classified information regarding political intrigue in the land of Zembla.

Kinbote does occasionally make reference to John Shade. In discussing one of the poem's early lines, Kinbote describes the birds that held Shade's childhood fascination. The discussion of the bird then shifts to a discussion of Zemblan birds, and then proceeds to other Zemblan topics.

Kinbote argues that he is Shade's muse: he has taught the poet much about Zembla and, as a result, Shade has written " Pale Fire "‹a poem that is largely about Zembla. Because Kinbote sees "Pale Fire" as an inspired poem about Zembla, he sees his discursive commentary on Zembla as relevant and perhaps even necessary information. Kinbote helped John Shade to write about Zembla. So it makes sense that Kinbote is especially (uniquely) qualified to give us the definitive commentary on the poem.

In terms of Zembla, a few main "facts" of the story are established in the commentary on Canto One. The later commentary proceeds from these main facts to fill in the details‹but the skeleton of the plot is presented early on:

King Charles of Zembla was the last of the royal line, having fled into exile when revolutionaries captured the government. Charles is a quirky, enigmatic‹but likeable character who never really enjoyed the politics and strictures of the monarchy. One gets the sense that Charles is almost relieved to be rid of the obligations (though he misses the palace and its perks). Furthermore, the king's life is in danger. Though they have captured the Zemblan government, the revolutionaries (Kinbote calls them "The Shadows") are intent upon assassinating King Charles. A man called Gradus (one of several aliases) must fulfill this mission.

As fictional characters go, Charles Kinbote is rather unique in terms of psychological complexity. From the beginning, Kinbote's sanity and reason are called into question. At this juncture in the novel, our estimation of Kinbote's sanity depends upon whether or not we think Zembla is an actual place (within the fictional world). Of course, there is no country called Zembla on our map, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a Zembla within the novel Pale Fire. However, if Kinbote has invented Zembla, he is not merely dishonest‹he is delusional and probably a little dangerous as well. As the novel progresses, Kinbote gives us more information about his personal history. And it shouldn't take the reader too long to catch on to Kinbote's heavy-handed hints that he, Charles Kinbote, is in fact the Zemblan King Charles in disguise.

Though there is no actual nation called Zembla, Zembla does bear strong parallels to Russia, which is Nabokov's homeland. The overthrow of the monarchy parallels the Bolsheviks' termination of the Romanov dynasty. As described, the language, climate and geographic location of Zembla also bear strong correlation to Russia: The Zemblan phrases sound like Russian, or another Slavic language. Zembla is capable of producing Russian winters. Zembla is at the eastern edge of the European continent.

Nabokov took the name "Zembla" from a poem by Alexander Pope; Pope's "Zembla" is an imprecise reference to Novaya Zemlya, an Arctic Russian island. In terms of narrative structure, Zembla represents one of the "post-modern" features of Pale Fire. Nabokov has taken details of the actual world and created a duplicate. The humorous references to Zemblan literature and translation are parody. In post-modern circles, Nabokov's compilation of these "Zemblan" details (Russian sounds, Russian winter, Russian geography, Russian names, and Russian political history) is described as "pastiche"‹a collage.

This doesn't suggest that all Zemblan details correspond to Russia. Nabokov's diverse academic interests (for example: Alpine butterflies, American media, British poetry) prevent Russian-ness from being a totalizing theme. Zembla's "Charles the Beloved," for example, is the namesake of France's similarly polarizing King Charles VI (1368-1422). Charles VI had two nicknames: "Le Bien-Aimé" (" The Well -beloved") or "Le Fol" ("The Insane") and both are applicable to the Zemblan King Charles.

Ironically, Kinbote tells us that Charles the Beloved's reign from 1936-1958 was a "reign of peace." The facts of Nazi aggression, World War Two and its horrors, and the friction of the Cold War make it difficult for us to imagine 1936-1958 as a "reign of peace." Zembla seems believable as a "pastiche" or illustration of Russia‹but if Zembla is like Russia, how was this a time of peace?

Pale Fire borrows the motif of "synchronicity" from James Joyce's works. For the duration of the commentary, Gradus' travels are synchronized with Shade's writing. As the assassin travels westward, the poet moves closer to completing his final work. The synchronicity motif foreshadows Shade's death: Gradus arrives in New Wye as Shade is completing his poem, and soon after Shade stops writing, Gradus unintentionally kills the poet.

Kinbote describes the long course that will take Gradus "from distant dim Zembla to green Appalachia." This speaks to theme of exile. In Pale Fire and Lolita, Nabokov illustrates how the barriers of memory and language complicate distances of time and space. "[D]istant dim Zembla" becomes increasingly difficult to remember and describe. Furthermore, as Gradus leaves Zembla for America, he comes into the light. Zembla remains vague and mysterious, but mysteries unravel in America. Aliases and motives are revealed.

As an exile, Charles Kinbote is a parallel character to Lolita's Humbert Humbert (though Humbert is not Russian, but French-Swiss). Both Humbert and Kinbote are "unreliable narrators." In part, language barriers complicate communication between the narrator and the reader, but both men are psychologically unsteady. Over the course of the novel, unfolding details about Kinbote will strengthen the parallel: Both men are continental Europeans and social/political conservatives. They are both writer-teachers on the fringes of the university establishment, but their academic efforts are complicated by insanity, and are pseudo-intellectual at best. Trapped in a New England small town, neither man can play a sustained role within a traditional family structure, but both men have nontraditional sexual interests. Both exiles become itinerant and go into hiding at some point: Humbert hides because he is a murderer, but Kinbote is hiding from a murderer.

Kinbote and Humbert's similarities emphasize the moral confines of small town provinciality; the psychological complications of immigration and exile; and the proven vulnerability of social structures, like marriage or monarchy that once seemed durable. In sum, both men are unsuccessful in their attempts to integrate the mainstream society. One ends up in prison, and the other in a cave.

There are a few literary references worth noting. The word "stillicide" alludes to "Friends Beyond," an 1898 poem by Thomas Hardy. Lines 6-8 of the poem read:

"They've a way of whispering to me‹ fellow-wight who yet abide-

In the muted, measured note

Of a ripple under archways, or a lone cave's stillicide."

Hardy's "stillicide" refers to a cave's silence (a death to noise), but Kinbote's stillicide refers to Gradus' murderous intentions.

As indicated in the text, the phrase "Pale Fire" does in fact come from Shakespeare's play Timon of Athens. In an English-Zemblan-English translation exercise, Kinbote re-writes Shakespeare's phrase "pale fire" as "silvery light." The implications of such an error are vast. This error speaks to the theme of translation, and more specifically, what is lost in translation. Shakespeare uses the word "resolves" but Kinbote replaces it with "dissolves." Kinbote's translation of Shakespeare "dissolves" the original intent. This is a parallel to how Kinbote "dissolves" Shade's "Pale Fire" into something different. In this passage of Timon of Athens, Shakespeare's "pale fire" is moonlight, light that the moon has stolen from the sun. We might ask ourselves whether the relationship between Kinbote's criticism and the original texts (Shade's and Shakespeare's) is similarly thieving.

Literary criticism often enlists actual psychological terms and theories as a means of better understanding fictional human characters. The term "cathexis" is defined as a relationship where one person "binds" another person to himself, and then defines that person by their relationship with and utility to him. Consistently, literary critics have used the term "cathexis" to describe Kinbote's relationship with John Shade. ( Sybil Shade later uses the words "parasite" and "tick"). Kinbote is not mentioned anywhere in Shade's poem; for all of Kinbote's protestations, it is doubtful that the two men were friends. Kinbote claims that he and Shade were neighbors, but Shade gives no evidence to substantiate this claim. Kinbote "binds" Shade to himself as friend and neighbor. Having done this, Kinbote tells us that he has inspired Shade to write "Pale Fire." Kinbote only focuses on the pieces of the poem that are useful and interesting to him. Kinbote makes a motif out of the poem's phrase "I could make out" and writes:

"By the end of May I could make out the outlines of some of my images in the shape his [Shade's] genius might give themŠ"

Kinbote is only interested in what Shade's poem can be made to say about Zembla. Substantially portions of the poem's "Fair Copy" are deleted and rewritten. Additionally, numerous passages are added on to the 999-lined poem‹which Kinbote's claims is unfinished. Unsurprisingly, Kinbote will give himself permission to finish the poem once he reaches the end of the commentary.

Commentary/Canto Two: Summary:

King Charles makes a breathtaking, narrow escape from the Zemblan palace. By the time the king is in France, a group of "anti-Carlists" called the Shadows is plotting assassination. The Shadows are bumbling and ineffectual, however. Gradus, the chosen assassin, is particularly dense and inept. Again, Kinbote reminds us that Gradus' westward travels (to find the king) are synchronized with John Shade's writing schedule.

Back in New Wye, John Shade celebrates his July birthday. Kinbote is sure that Shade would have invited him, but Sybil ostracizes Kinbote. Because Sybil is jealous of Kinbote's relationship with John, Sybil has prevented Kinbote from attending the party. Over time, Kinbote has learned that Sybil would call him "an elephantine tick; a king-sized botfly; a macao worm; the monstrous parasite of a genius." Kinbote expresses sympathy for his dead friend. Kinbote saw that John Shade was both "capricious and henpecked." Shade couldn't stand up to Sybil, as she tyrannical determined who his friends would be.

Kinbote also mentions " Hazel Shade ," the daughter of John and Sybil. Kinbote describes the daughter as a "poltergeist" who haunts the house. Hazel tries very hard to become an intellectual. At one point, she discovers a "talking light" in a barn, but this episode brings only embarrassment. When Hazel brings her parents to witness the scene, the "talking light" fails to show up.

Gradus spends some time in Copenhagen before leaving for Paris. By chance, Gradus meets a man named Bretwit. Bretwit is an old Royalist but not a very smart one. He talks freely with Gradus and confirms that the king has, in fact, left Zembla. Midway into the conversation, Bretwit discovers that Gradus is not a Royalist and refuses to say anything more. Bretwit does not know that Gradus is an assassin, instead accusing him of being a tabloid reporter.

This commentary section takes the motif of synchronicity and incorporates it as part of the narrative structure. Kinbote tells us that the story will "become gradually clearer as gradual Gradus approaches in space and time." This indicates that the relationship between Gradus and Shade is neither minor nor coincidental. This synchronicity gives structure to the plot. Like other characters in Nabokov's novels, Gradus has a name with a meaning. The alias "Gradus" suggests obscurity: the presentation of Gradus is "gradual." Another alias, "Le Degre," suggests that Gradus will emerge by degrees.

Gradus/Le Degre suggests an obscurity or mystery that is gradually explained over time. On the other hand, the name "Shade" is like the name "Haze" in Lolita. "Shade" suggests an obscurity that remains obscure. "Shade" does not emerge nor become clearer by degrees. Kinbote's commentary fails to illuminate Shade's poem in a significant way. The suicidal daughter is doubly mysterious as "Hazel" ("Haze") and "Shade." Indeed, the reader should note that Kinbote tells us Hazel's name‹John Shade never names Hazel in his poem.

The commentary alludes to Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson. Boswell's work is the definitive prototype of modern biography. Boswell is renowned for his accurate recollection and attention to close detail. Kinbote's depiction of John Shade is less balanced than Boswell's depiction of Dr. Johnson. Much unlike Boswell, Kinbote seeks to integrate himself within near every aspect of Shade's life. Kinbote lacks the personal distance that worked towards Boswell's credibility as a fair observer.

Kinbote injects so much of his personal life into the commentary that the lines between literary criticism, biography, and autobiography are blurred. For example, Kinbote offers a biography of the exiled king. Whenever Kinbote suggests that he is, in fact, the exiled king, the commentary becomes more autobiographical.

The commentary also mentions Professor Pnin , the main character of Nabokov's novel Pnin. Pnin blocks Kinbote's chance of becoming a tenured professor. Here, Nabokov refers to his own ill fated though highly publicized attempt to become a tenured professor at Harvard. Nabokov's chief adversary famously argued that having Nabokov teach Russian literature simply because he was a Russian writer, would be like having "an elephant teach biology." In Pnin, Nabokov's bitterness is on full display.

Again, the text alludes to the literature of Pope and Shakespeare. Kinbote cites lines that refer both to "Zembla" and a "king." Asking if the reader has "guessed my secret," Kinbote suggests that he is the exiled king of Zembla.

GradeSaver will pay $15 for your literature essays

Pale Fire Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Pale Fire is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

What is the novel trying to tell us about story-telling in the post-modern world?

Check out the first section in the GradeSaver themes page below. Hopefully you can pull something out of that. 

who is the audience in pale fire by nabokov?

That's a question up for debate. Check out this link,

http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~wcd/palenarr.htm

Nabakov is a jerk.

yes yes we completely agree with you man..he deserves that for making us read such schizo stuff!!!

Study Guide for Pale Fire

Pale Fire study guide contains a biography of Vladimir Nabokov, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Pale Fire
  • Pale Fire Summary
  • Character List
  • Foreword to Canto 2 Summary and Analysis

Essays for Pale Fire

Pale Fire literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Pale Fire.

  • Pale Fire Pale Fire
  • Literary Criticism as an Autobiographical Form in Vladimir Nabokov’s 'Pale Fire'

Lesson Plan for Pale Fire

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Pale Fire
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Pale Fire Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for Pale Fire

  • Introduction
  • Novel structure
  • Plot summary
  • Explanation of the title

what is the conclusion of the prisoner of zembla

Stuff Nobody Cares About

A not so random collection of observations about things you should care about.

Stuff Nobody Cares About

Patrick McGoohan Explains The Meaning Of The Prisoner, A TV Cult Classic

A rare television interview with patrick mcgoohan, mcgoohan answers many questions about one of the most enigmatic and brilliant shows in the history of television – the prisoner.

what is the conclusion of the prisoner of zembla

(l-r) Angelo Muscat, Patrick McGoohan Leo McKern in The Prisoner

Yes, Patrick McGoohan has been dead for nine years. But this long format television interview with Warner Troyer originally broadcast in Canada circa 1977 has rarely been seen.

If you are a fan of the The Prisoner , this interview will be a revelation. McGoohan was the creator, writer and star, and details the making and the meaning of The Prisoner .

During the interview McGoohan admits The Prisoner was intended for a very small audience- intelligent people. It was meant to provoke and have people question its meaning. The show succeeded.

50 years later, The Prisoner has as much cultural relevance today as it did when it was first broadcast in 1967. It is still debated and analyzed and considered as being WAY ahead of its time. Many of McGoohan’s concerns about mankind are currently and unfortunately playing out.

WARNING -SPOILERS AHEAD –  DO NOT WATCH if you have never seen The Prisoner and intend on watching it. I’ve summarized the plot of the series below. If you have seen The Prisoner and have always wondered what is the meaning of it all, Patrick McGoohan answers many of those questions.

Breaking it down to its most simplistic level, The Prisoner’s basic plot involves a government intelligence agent (played by McGoohan) who has resigned his position for reasons unknown. In short order, when he returns to his home he is gassed unconscious . He is then taken by persons unknown to a strange place that he awakens in called The Village.

The people who inhabit The Village are essentially his captors and enemies; but others are also prisoners. It turns out no one can be trusted. It is difficult to discern who is a fellow prisoner versus who is an informer or jailer keeping him in captivity.

In The Village no one has a name, everyone has a number. McGoohan is dubbed “number 6. The ex-agent rejects being addressed as a number, and defiantly reminds his incarcerators, “I am not a number. I am a free man.”

Throughout the 17 episode series number 6  is interrogated for “information.” The interrogation is usually conducted by number 2 (supposedly the second in command of the Village). The person who is Number 2 changes in most episodes. The interrogators do everything they can to gather information and to break number 6’s spirit. Besides trying to escape, Number 6 has his main question – Who is number 1? Who is behind all this?  I won’t go beyond this basic summary because the complex ideas presented within the series are open to interpretation on many different levels.

Below is the first episode of The Prisoner : Arrival. If you are intrigued, I strongly suggest you buy the series on DVD or watch it on one of the streaming services. If you question the collective versus the individual and how technology affects us, the series is well worth watching.

Be seeing you.

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23 thoughts on “ Patrick McGoohan Explains The Meaning Of The Prisoner, A TV Cult Classic ”

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I have just been watching the entire 35th Anniversary Edition set of “The Prisoner” (yes even though it is 2023 now). It is plain to me that “The Prisoner” is John Drake (though of course he remains nameless). If anything, the “Living in Harmony” episode is absolute proof with J.D. as the Sheriff refusing to have anything to do with guns until absolutely being pushed to it in the end and to top it off, though he obviously is drawn to the “dance hall girl”, he does not even get near to touching her in any way. It is “Drake, John Drake” through and through. I enjoyed the series when first seeing it back in the early 1970s, and have enjoyed going through it again, now. Good, innovative, thoughtful productions with top notch production values stand the test of time. Combine those aspects with a talent such as that possessed by Patrick McGoohan in his prime and it continues to be a series to relish.

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I’m a bit surprised that no one seems to ever comment on what seems to be obvious Masonic allusions in the final episodes.

Welcome to the Village, my brothers.

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All 17 episodes can be found here: https://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/the-prisoner

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Great interview, appreciate the insights and generous sharing. I also believe that McGoohan is kidding us, with his explanation of ‘Dem Bones’ and a lack of intentional religious imagery. Not a lie, but misdirecting some of us. He has a high regard for the people he is intending to understand the show.

Some observations to share: 1) The opening sequence, Number 6 is followed home after resigning by a man (Undertaker?) driving a hearse. 2) The question of ‘free will’ is addressed in ‘The Arrival’ where Number 6 orders breakfast, and each custom item is prepared and ready just as he declares it. While the easy explanation is that Number 6 has a verificable history of great detail, including his breakfast, another approach is that he may not really have free will. 3) Episode “Many Happy Returns” includes a visual image of Number 6 dressed a military pilot parachuting to the ground. This image appears to be the same as the dead pilot from “Lord of The Flies” (1963). The image is also repeated in the TV series ‘Lost.’ Those who’ve enjoyed ‘Lost’ know what the island represents. 4) ‘Once Upon A Time’ the questioner in the interviewer asks an insightful question, #2 says ‘I’ll Kill You, #6 replies “I’ll die.”, #2 says “You’re dead!” McGoohan again deflects, but I also see that the Agent is ‘dead’. He wakes up still dressed, and his residence on Portmerion is identical to his London flat. He never needs clean clothes, always has a clean shave. “Which side are you on?” “That would be telling!” Some see this as communism/west in conflict, but I think it is heaven/hell. I think he is dead, and in purgatory. He has to reveal his reason for resigning, and declare himself which side he is on, i.e. good/evil.

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Was Number 6 supposed to be John Drake from Secret Agent / Danger Man? I think it’s pretty clear that he was. The parallels are too numerous. George Markstein said he was. The only person that said he wasn’t, was McGoohan himself. Why would he do that? Simple. McGoohan didn’t own the John Drake character, that character was created for Secret Agent by series creator Ralph Smart. In the TV business, ownership of ideas and characters is huge! The creator of a show receives much more share of royalties, licensing, etc, than anyone else connected with the show — cast members, writers, directors. Apparently McGoohan didn’t want to share the rights. Maybe his relationship with Smart wasn’t very good after Secret Agent. Who knows the reason.

I think this situation was responsible for the extreme lengths they went through in the writing to NOT reveal Number 6’s real name. Which certainly contributed to making the show more mysterious and intriguing. Probably the most cumbersome episode is when he’s having drug-induced flashbacks to scenes with his fiance back home. She only calls him “you.” A little awkward. But it worked!

McGoohan only paid himself £5,000 per episode, about $6,000 in 1967. A lot of money then, but the entire budget was £75,000 per episode from ITC. So I’m agreeing with your very sound reasoning, thank you for the background.

My favourite quote from the series, and McGoohan is, “a still tongue makes a happy life.”

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I saw the show as a rerun in New Zealand in my early teens in the mid-80s. It had a large impact on my intellectually and emotionally. I was impressed by the cryptic, airy, and subtle over/undertones. Im keen to watch it again and to check out this interview!

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What an amazing interview. So grateful Mr. McGoohan was actually so willing and forthright in sharing all the insight that he did.

Interesting about Leo McKern having a breakdown after filming “Once Upon A Time”

Wonder what Mr. McGoohan would have to say about the global state of affairs here in our global “village” here in 2021. I suspect I already know— what a true visionary he was. And what a gift he gave us through the creation of this unique series!

I recently discovered the pleasure of The Prisoner, and this web site about it. Intrigued by the series, I’ve researched all I can about it, including interviews and articles. In the interview of McGoohan by Troyer linked above, McGoohan isn’t very specific about Leo McKern’s problem, but he implies it was nervous/mental. However in an interview with Production Manager Bernard Williams that’s included on the DVD set, Williams makes several comments about McKern, suggesting his illness was more physical, a heart problem or heart “episode” of some type, if not an actual heart attack. Less surprising. Heart problems are frequently triggered by stressful situations, especially in someone not in the best physical shape to begin with.

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I watched that series in the 60s when it first aired. It remains one of my favorite TV series of all time. I have the entire series on BluRay disc.

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The Series is over-rated. It is just awful and the ending is Looney Tunes. Skip it and you will not be disappointed.

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Obviously not an intellectual then.

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Based on what McGoohan, said about having to sign in to the building where this video was filmed, imagine what he would say about life now…

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I was 14 years old when I first saw the show and it has remained in my mind ever since having watched it at least again when i was about 30 maybe. And again now on Amazon Prime. Patrick McGoohan became one of my favorite actors after first seeing the show and remained so. I tried to watch everything he played in and as you know he appeared in Colomboa a few times. As stated before, the show was way ahead of it’s time and remains so today kinda like the show “Profit” with Adrian Pasdar which aired in 1996 and was pulled only after a few episodes because of the highly controversial subject matter at the time.

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I watched the Series when it first hit TV screens, for the 60s that was a great step forward in a weekly series couldn’t wait for Sunday Night. Then the show went off the air, unlike today we could find little if any information as to why. I found it again during the lock down and remembered just how good that series was.

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In the intro each week, the new number 2 replies when asked “Who is Number 1 ?” either answers it with “You are, Number6” or ignores the question and says “You are Number 6.” With the unveiling of Number 1 in the finale and the overall importance of the individual expressed in the show, I feel “You are, Number6.” is correct …

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I always liked the series Secret Agent. And the Prisoner. The Ending was shocking yet satisfying. A truely complicated plot. Loved Leo Mckern as number 2. The only number 2 to survive. And Dem Bones. Plus the Buttler Angelo Muskat. And great performance by Patrick Mc. Goohan.

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Fascinating interview. I’ve been re-watching (part) of the series because ChargeTV ran a marathon in June — but NOT all 17 episodes, unfortunately :-(. I was in a collectibles shop last week outside Akron, OH (I’ve never seen so many different Funko Pops in my life!) and the guy behind the counter agreed with me that not making space in their schedule for the entire thing was just dumb…. Love the part about “Rover” in particular. And the suggestion at the end of the interview that in fact #6 was NOT free… that it wasn’t the end, but “a beginning….”

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I just finished the series. What a blast. I loved it! I’m glad I found your post so I could check out the actor interview.

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I’m going to get the series to view again. I’m happy that my recollections of the show resound with his interpretations. I’ve always stayed away from deep analysis, as the majority of artistic creators disavow such intricate intent. “I just wanted to make it fun” , regarding the finale of the series. I have argued the meaning of #1’s identity (which I thought was rather obvious at the time) for many years now and feel quietly vindicated, but I would like to see the whys and wherefores again.

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Very interesting hearing everyone’s impressions of the series. I grew up around it, but never watched it directly myself. My parents were fans, so I picked up some of the general atmosphere of it and became more intrigued in later life. My favourite medium for programs is audio (radio/podcast/etc), and I discovered a BBC Radio dramatisation of it which is superb. For anyone wishing to revisit the prisoner, I might suggest checking this radio version out too. It’s available on BBC sounds at the minute as the episodes are aired, and can probably be found in it’s entirety (without having to wait for the BBC to broadcast the next episode) on the likes of archive.com, or on your favourite podcast application (which I believe typically links to various databases, including things like archive.com).

It’s very interesting to me experiencing the various forms and expressions of artworks like the The Prisoner through different media. I first read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and then found and fell in love with the BBC radio dramatisation of it. It’s not a replacement, but an exploration of the piece in a different form, each with their own unique merits.

With all that said, only one question remains.

Why did you resign?

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Thanks for mentioning the BBC Radio dramatisation of The Prisoner – I hope to find it and listen.

Regarding the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it was the BBC radio series (the original 6 episodes) that was the original version. The book came later, an adaptation of part of that radio series. I still listen often to the radio series, all these decades later!

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Stripe

The Prisoner Of Zembla

Narrator Maria Tolkacheva

Publisher: SmartTouch Media

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The Prisoner Of Zembla

So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

And he sent forth a herald to proclaim that he would do this.

And the herald went about the country making his desire known, blowing a great tin horn and riding a noble steed that pranced and gambolled; and the villagers gazed upon him and said: “Lo, that is one of them tin horn gamblers concerning which the chroniclers have told us.”

And when the day came, the king sat in the grandstand, holding the gage of battle in his band, and by his side sat the Princess Ostla, looking very pale and beautiful, but with mournful eyes from which she scarce could keep the tears. And the knights which came to the tourney gazed upon the princess in wonder at her beauty, and each swore to win so that he could marry her and board with the king.

Suddenly the heart of the princess gave a great bound, for she saw among the knights one of the poor students with whom she had been in love.

The knights mounted and rode in a line past the grandstand, and the king stopped the poor student, who had the worst horse and the poorest caparisons of any of the knights and said:

“Sir Knight, prithee tell me of what that marvelous shacky and rusty-looking armor of thine is made?”

“Oh, king,” said the young knight, “seeing that we are about to engage in a big fight, I would call it to scrap iron, wouldn’t you?”

“Ods Bodkins!” said the king. “The youth hath a pretty wit.”

About this time the Princess Ostla, who began to feel better at the sight of her lover, slipped a piece of gum into her mouth and closed her teeth upon it, and even smiled a little and showed the beautiful pearls with which her mouth was set.

Whereupon, as soon as the knights perceived this, 217 of them went over to the king’s treasurer and settled for their horse feed and went home.

“It seems very hard,” said the princess, “that I cannot marry when I chews.”

But two of the knights were left, one of them being the princess’ lover.

“Here’s enough for a fight, anyhow,” said the king. “Come hither, O knights, will ye joust for the hand of this fair lady?”

“We joust will,” said the knights.

The two knights fought for two hours, and at length the princess’ lover prevailed and stretched the other upon the ground. The victorious knight made his horse caracole before the king, and bowed low in his saddle.

On the Princess Ostla’s cheeks was a rosy flush; in her eyes the light of excitement vied with the soft glow of love; her lips were parted, her lovely hair unbound, and she grasped the arms of her chair and leaned forward with heaving bosom and happy smile to hear the words of her lover.

“You have foughten well, sir knight,” said the king. “And if there is any boon you crave you have but to name it.”

“Then,” said the knight, “I will ask you this: I have bought the patent rights in your kingdom for Schneider’s celebrated monkey wrench, and I want a letter from you endorsing it.”

“You shall have it,” said the king, “but I must tell you that there is not a monkey in my kingdom.”

With a yell of rage, the victorious knight threw himself on his horse and rode away at a furious gallop.

The king was about to speak when a horrible suspicion flashed upon him and he fell dead upon the grandstand.

“My God!” he cried. “He has forgotten to take the princess with him!”

Written by O. Henry

Tricks of a Red Fox

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  2. The Prisoner of Zembla. Summary of O. Henry's Short Story

    A king was furious with his daughter, Princess Ostla, for disobeying him. In his anger, he decided to hold a grand tournament, promising the winner the hand of the princess in marriage. A herald was sent out to announce the event, and many knights gathered to compete for the princess's hand. 👑

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    by O. Henry Arthur Pyle "Two Knights Do Battle Before Cameliard" So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

  6. The Prisoner of Zembla

    "My God!" he cried. "He has forgotten to take the princess with him!" So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the...

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    "The youth hath a pretty wit." About this time the Princess Ostla, who began to feel better at the sight of her lover, slipped a piece of gum into her mouth and closed her teeth upon it, and even smiled a little and showed the beautiful pearls with which her mouth was set.

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    The Prisoner of Zembla. [From The Rolling Stone .] So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess. And he sent ...

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  15. The Prisoner of Zembla by O. Henry

    The two knights fought for two hours, and at length the princess' lover prevailed and stretched the other upon the ground. The victorious knight made his horse caracole before the king, and bowed low in his saddle. On the Princess Ostla's cheeks was a rosy flush; in her eyes the light of excitement vied with the soft glow of love; her lips ...

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    The Prisoner of Zembla. By Anthony Hoke. So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Astla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess.

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    The Prisoner of Zembla - Free download as Word Doc (.doc / .docx), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. 321

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  25. The Prisoner Of Zembla

    1 0 Summary Read an amusing story of a famous American writer O. Henry. It will leave a pleasant feeling and make you smile after reading. The Prisoner of Zembla is a story about an incident happened long time ago in one kingdom. From the first sight the plot is quite common - the King argued with his daughter and announced about a joust.

  26. The Prisoner Of Zembla

    The Prisoner Of Zembla. So the king fell into a furious rage, so that none durst go near him for fear, and he gave out that since the Princess Ostla had disobeyed him there would be a great tourney, and to the knight who should prove himself of the greatest valor he would give the hand of the princess. And he sent forth a herald to proclaim ...

  27. PDF THE PRISONER OF ZEMBLA

    "The youth hath a pretty wit." About this time the Princess Ostla, who began to feel better at the sight of her lover, slipped a piece of gum into her mouth and closed her teeth upon it, and even smiled a little and showed the beautiful pearls with which her mouth was set.