Sir Winston Churchill’s ‘Savrola’: A review

:Indranil Sarkar

Introduction: Sir Winston Churchill was a prolific writer besides being an artist, orator, diplomat and a key-figure and architect of the World War-II. Sir Winston Churchill received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953 for his numerous published works. Till date, he is the only politician and diplomat to be honoured with the Nobel in Literature. Although his essays, letters and Magnum Opus, six volumes of prose work entitled ‘The Second World War’ are well known to the reading world, his position as a writer of fiction is not so well acclaimed. Again, although every English knowing man knows that it was Sir Winston Churchill who shaped the final course of World War II and as such shaped the destiny of the Modern World, it remains almost overlooked that writing was the main earning source of this versatile personality. But, his writing career continued parallel to his political career of nearly sixty years. Churchill started writing under compulsion.

After the death of his father he had no alternative but to write for survival and also to pay off his father’s debts. His first published work was a series of five articles captioned ‘Cuban War of independence in the Graphic’. At that time it was just a bread earning source for him. His first published book was ‘The Story of the Malakand Field Force’. It was published in 1898 and was a narrative of the military campaign in the present day Pakistan and Afghanistan. And since then his pen went on pouring out one after another beautiful and highly intellectual literary gems from the fountain of his creative and active mind. These writings ultimately established him as a stalwart in English prose especially non-fiction. His comment on writing is really memorable. “Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public”, Churchill said in one of his speech. Strange though, it’s a fact that the great military General as well as the most powerful war-time diplomat also tried his hands not only in writing a fiction but also a poem entitled ‘Our Modern Watchwords’. The 40-line Churchill poem was written in 1899 or 1900 when Churchill was serving in the 4th Hussars. It was published only in 2011. Critics call it a nature poem in the line of Wordsworth and Tennyson. It was the only signed poem of the poet that got published. The name of his only fiction is ‘Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania’. It was published in 1899. Here, Churchill poured his maturing political philosophy into the character of his hero Savrola. It has been argued that this lifted the novel from the 'Ruritanian romance' genre and made it one of Churchill's most significant literary efforts. It's a moderately fun read, but at heart remains a 'Ruritanian

romance'. The writing style appears bad when read through modern eyes. It is also speculated that some of the main characters of the story were members from his own family heritage. Ruritanian Romance: - A Ruritanian Romance gets its name from the central European country Ruritania. This genre is also called Graustarkian Romances. This genre of novels deals mainly with love, romance, and battle in a fictional country. The characters belong to the aristocratic ruling circle of the society. They are mainly Kings, Princes, and the like. Here, a tune of Myth remains dominant. The battle is generally fought for honour and national peace and prosperity. The general endings of these novels are the restoration of monarchy after a fierce battle for the throne. Anthony Hope’s ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ (1894) is said to be the first of this genre of fictions although R.L.Stevenson wrote a similar novel named ‘Prince Otto’: A Romance’ in 1883, which was published as early as 1885.

Blenheim Palace, the Churchill family home

Author’sBio.:Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG,OM,CH, TD, DL, FRS, Hon. RA (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. He was born in an Aristocratic family as the grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Marlborough family was a branch of the noble Spencer family. His

mother Jennie Jerome was the daughter of the American millionaire Leonard Jerome.

. The Story:- Savrola is Winston Churchill's first major literary effort and his only full-length work of fiction. It was published in 1899.The novel's subtitle, A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania, reflects the story's modern political focus. Laurania was a long-established republic. But it became subjected to the autocratic rule of President Antonio Molara. President Molara was a former general who become the Dictator. Exploited People start revolutionary agitation under the leadership of Savrola, the man of the multitude. Savrola leads the democratic effort to restore the political liberties of the people. A riot breaks out when the register of eligible electors is mutilated and the popular franchise compromised. The stage is set for a fight to the death between Molara and Savrola over who will rule Laurania. General Molara enlists the assistance of his beautiful wife, Lucille, to undermine Savrola's influence with the people. But Lucille falls in love with Savrola, who is equally moved by the beauty and charm of the First Lady. As is indicated by

the last chapter's title, "Life's Compensations," all ends well in Laurania after the victory of the democratic force under Savrola. After the violent troubles of the revolution, Molara dies. Lucille marries Savrola. Peace and prosperity returns to the Mediterranean republic.

The famous ‘V’ sign of Sir Churchill [V=Victory] A Critique: - Savrola contains the seeds of Churchill's exceptional talents as a statesman, a political philosopher, and a man of literature. The ambition of Savrola to rule foreshadows Churchill’s own life-long career as the greatest democratic leader of the past century. In the novel, Churchill the thinker explores the challenges of securing democratic order and avoiding mob rule. He sketches a model of the education needed for modern statesmanship and describes the kind of rhetoric that appeals to a modern democratic people. Elements of Churchill's literary style in the novel anticipate the greatness of his later prose works that would merit him the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is worth remembering the words of President Kennedy while declaring Winston Churchill an Honorary Citizen of the United States, (Churchill was the first personality to receive an honourary Citizenship of U.S.A): "He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."

Kennedy was referring in particular to 1940, but Churchill’s stimulating use of his native language was constant throughout his long and distinguished life. Language has two forms, written and spoken. Churchill was a master of both. As a journalist, essayist, author, novelist, historian, biographer, editor, correspondent,

communicator, conversationalist and speaker he had few equals in any one of those fields, much less all of them. He has been described as a law unto himself in his use of words, as in so many other matters. (Quote from Ed Murrow). After the initial journalistic writings he worked as biographer. In this case he penned the biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill and the Duke of Marlborough, his great ancestor. These were published in between 1933 and 1938. His scholarly researched ‘History of the World War I’ was published in 1948-1953 under the title ‘The World Crisis’.

1st Duke of Marlborough He then published the memoirs of the Second World War in between 1948 and 1954.After retiring from the life of active political activities he wrote a ‘History of the English speaking people’. Although he had stammering problem in his early life, he established himself as one of the greatest orators of the world. The published volumes of his magnificent oratory were preserved under the captions ‘The Unreeling Struggle (1942), The Dawn of Liberation (1945), and ‘Victory (1946)

etc. He wrote a very important book on Art highlighting his own views and opinions that he believed to be the best as an amateur painter. He also wrote a partly autobiography encapsulating the incidents of his childhood days. It was entitled ‘My early life’. It was published in 1930. Last but not the least relevant in this regard is to mention that Churchill was not a good student [He ranked 20 amongst 130 students] and was advised by one of his teachers not to spoil his career in pursuing Major in French or Latin but to study the comparatively easier Vernacular. Churchill obliged and made his mother tongue as well as his nation glorified by winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. (English)

Indranil Sarkar
Links & References:i. iv.
v. vi. NB. Creative Commons laws are oblige.

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