Saturday, 10 September 2011

the four feathers

above are soldiers from my range.
The novel tells the story of a British officer, Harry Feversham, who resigns from his commission in the East Surrey Regiment just prior to Sir Garnet Wolseley's 1882 expedition to Egypt to suppress the rising of Urabi Pasha. He is faced with censure from three of his comrades, CaptainTrench as well as Lieutenants Castleton and Willoughby for cowardice, which is signified by the delivery of three white feathers to him. He loses support of his Irish fiancée, Ethne Eustace, who too presents him with the fourth feather. His best friend in the regiment, Captain Durrance becomes his rival for Ethne. below urabi

Harry talks with Lieutenant Sutch, a friend of his father, who is an imposing retired general and questions his own true motives, moreover he talks of his resolution to redeem himself by acts that will force his critics to take back the feathers, this might in turn encourage Ethne to take back the feather, which she gave him. He travels on his own to Egypt and Sudan, where in 1882 
Muhammad Ahmed proclaimed himself the Mahdi (Guided One) and raised a Holy War. On January 26 1885, his forces which were called Dervishes, captured Khartoum and killed its British governor, General Charles George Gordon.
 It was mainly in the eastern Sudan, where the British and Egyptians held Suakin, where the action takes place over the next six years. Durrance is blinded by sunstroke and invalided. Castleton is reportedly killed at Tamai,where a British square is briefly broken. Harry's first success came when he recovers lost letters of Gordon. He is aided by a Sudanese Arab, Abou Fatma. Later, disguised as a mad Greek musician, Harry gets imprisoned in Omdurman, where he rescues the Colonel Trench, who had been captured on a reconnaissance mission and they escape.
Harry has his honour restored by Willoughby and then Trench giving to Ethne the feathers they've taken back. He returns to England, and sees Ethne for one last time as she has determined to devote herself to Col. Durrance, but Durrance explains that his travel to Germany to seek a cure for his blindness has been a pretense, to wait for Harry to redeem himself. Ethne and Harry wed, and Durrance travels to 'the East' as a civilian.
This novel's story has been filmed several times with all films retaining much of the same storyline (i.e. young Feversham disgracing himself by quitting the army followed by his redemption of manhood by various deeds in the Sudan). The enemy forces, Islamic rebels called Dervishes, of The Mahdi, are the same, as are the geographic settings, England, Egyptand the Sudan). The films also feature a British square broken, only mentioned in the novel in a battle in which the square recovered. The various film versions differ in the precisehistorical context. For example, the celebrated 1939 cinematic version, produced by Alexander Korda and Ralph Richardson its chief star, begins just after the death of Gordon in 1885 and most of its action takes place over sa three-year period between 1895 and 1898, with its climax the Battle of Omdurman when British soldiers wore khaki uniforms. The more recent 2002 version with Heath Ledger takes place during the 1884-1885 campaign, when some British still wore red coats and when some of the novel's action occurs, and features the Battle of Abu Klea, January 17, 1885, fought by the Desert Column that included the Camel Corps dressed in gray jackets and khaki trousers, but not in red coats. While the square was briefly broken, unlike the film version, the British won the battle, but their advance was delayed. The battle is more accurately treated in the movie Khartoum (1966). In the 1929 silent version of The Four Feathers, a square of Highlanders is broken, but saved by Feversham and the Egyptian garrison of a besieged fort. Set in the 1880s, its great moment comes when wild hippos in a river attack the Dervishes pursuing Feversham. The many versions also differ in the racial ethnicity of the local Sudanese guide, Abou Fatma, who assists young Feversham in his desert adventure. For instance, this local guide is an Arab man in the 1977 version while he is a Black man in the 2002 version.t
The story is rich in characters and sub-plots, which the filmed versions perforce trim, along with making major changes in the story line, with the best known 1939 version centered on the 1898 campaign and battle of Omdurman, only hinted at as a future event in the novel.

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