First edition, 1876
|Original title||Michel Strogoff|
|Translator||W. H. G. Kingston (published under his name, but actually translated by his wife Agnes Kinloch Kingston)|
|Series||The Extraordinary Voyages #14|
|Published in English||1876|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Preceded by||The Survivors of the Chancellor|
|Followed by||Off on a Comet|
Michael Strogoff: The Courier of the Czar (French: Michel Strogoff) is a novel written by Jules Verne in 1876. Critics, including Leonard S. Davidow, writing from Reading, Pennsylvania, in his 1937 introduction to The Spencer Press reprint as a volume in its "Classic Romances of Literature" series consider it one of Verne's best books. Davidow wrote, "Jules Verne has written no better book than this, in fact it is deservedly ranked as one of the most thrilling tales ever written." Unlike some of Verne's other famous novels, it is not science fiction, but a scientific phenomenon is a plot device. The book was later adapted to a play, by Verne himself and Adolphe D'Ennery. Incidental music to the play was written by Alexandre Artus in 1880. The book has been adapted several times for films and cartoon series.
Michael Strogoff, a 30-year-old native of Omsk, is a courier for Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The Tartar Khan, Feofar Khan, incites a rebellion and separates the Russian Far East from the mainland, severing telegraph lines. Rebels encircle Irkutsk, where the local governor, brother of the Tsar, is making a last stand. Strogoff is sent to Irkutsk to warn the governor about the traitor Ivan Ogareff. Ogareff, a former colonel, was once demoted and exiled and now seeks revenge against the royal family. He intends to destroy Irkutsk by setting fire to the huge oil storage tanks on the banks of the Angara River.
On his way to Irkutsk, Strogoff meets Nadia Fedor, daughter of an exiled political prisoner, Basil Fedor, who has been granted permission to join her father at his exile in Irkutsk, the English war correspondent Harry Blount of the Daily Telegraph and Alcide Jolivet, a Frenchman reporting for his 'cousin Madeleine'. Blount and Jolivet tend to follow the same route as Michael, separating and meeting again all the way through Siberia. He is supposed to travel under a false identity, but he is discovered by the Tartars when he meets his mother in their home city of Omsk.
Michael, his mother and Nadia are eventually taken prisoner by the Tartar forces. Ivan Ogareff alleges that Michael is a spy. After opening the Koran at random, Feofar decides that Michael will be blinded as punishment in the Tartar fashion, with a hot blade. For several chapters the reader is led to believe that Michael was indeed blinded, but it transpires in fact that he was saved from this fate (his tears at his mother evaporated and saved his corneas) and was only pretending.
Eventually, Michael and Nadia escape, and travel to Irkutsk with a friendly peasant. They are delayed by fire and the frozen river. However, they eventually reach Irkutsk, and warn the Tsar's brother in time of Ivan Ogareff. Nadia's father, who has been appointed commander of a suicide battalion, and later pardoned, joins them and Michael and Nadia are married.
Sources of information
Exact sources of Verne's quite accurate knowledge of contemporary Eastern Siberia remain disputed. One popular version connects it to the novelist's meetings with anarchist Peter Kropotkin; however, Kropotkin arrived in France after Strogoff was published. Another, more likely source, could have been Siberian businessman Mikhail Sidorov. Sidorov presented his collection of natural resources, including samples of oil and oil shales from Ukhta area, together with photographs of Ukhta oil wells, at the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna where he could have met Verne. Real-world oil deposits in Lake Baikal region do exist, first discovered in 1902 in Barguzin Bay and Selenge River delta, but they are nowhere near the commercial size depicted by Verne.
While the physical description of Siberia is accurate, the Tartar rebellion described is entirely fictional and rather implausible. Wars with Tartars and Mongols were a major aspect of Medieval Russian history, but the Russians gained the upper hand long before the 19th Century, and no Tartar Khan at the time of writing was in a position to act as Feofar is described as doing; depicting late 19th Century Tartars as able to face Russians on anything resembling equal terms is a manifest anachronism.
Films and TV
- Michael Strogoff, a 1926 US silent film with Technicolor sequences
- Der Kurier des Zaren, a 1936 German film directed by Richard Eichberg. Anton Walbrook starred as Michel Strogoff.
- Michel Strogoff, a 1936 French film, co-directed by Jacques de Baroncelli & Richard Eichberg. Anton Walbrook starred as Michel Strogoff.
- The Soldier and the Lady, a 1937 US film, produced by RKO and directed by George Nichols Jr. Anton Walbrook reprised his role as Michael Strogoff for this US version.
- Strogoff (1970)
- Michael Strogoff: Der Kurier des Zaren (1975) (German 4-part TV drama produced by ZDF, starring Raimund Harmstorf)
- The Courier of the Czar (1999)
- Michael Strogoff (2002) French film, directed by Hubert Chonzu; Alexandre Huchez genre film child.
- Fuks, Matveychuk, pp. 371-373
- Fuks, Matveychuk, pp. 374-375
- Fuks, Matveychuk, p. 372
- Fuks, Igor; Matveychuk, Alexander (2008). Istoki rossiyskoy nefti (Истоки российской нефти) (in Russian). Moscow: Drevlekhranilische. ISBN 978-5-93646-137-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Michael Strogoff.|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|French Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Michael Strogoff at Project Gutenberg
- Michael Strogoff - A play in Five Acts and Sixteen Scenes from JV.Gilead.org.il
- Free download in Microsoft Reader format