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Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers, #2)
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message 1: by RoHa (new)

RoHa | 2 comments The second packet of the Flashman papers (published as “Royal Flash”) presents us with a couple of mysteries. I will explain the mysteries, but I give fair warning now that I have no solutions to either of them.

It is clear even to the casual reader that Flashman intended his memoirs to be read, and perhaps even published, at a later date. (And many of them have been published to great success, without him having even a sniff of the royalties!)

It is also pretty clear that, while writing, he adopted – late in life – the virtue of honesty. He is straightforward in his assessments of people, and has no concern for his own reputation, his wife's, or even a granddaughter's.

To this he adds the virtue of accuracy. He has, we can see, supported and supplemented his memory with reading of histories and official reports. There are very few occasions on which his editor corrects those of his claims that can be checked.

And yet, in the second packet, he plunges into fiction. He cooks up a totally non-existent German state, and a non-existent Danish prince, and attaches them to the very real Bismarck and the Schlesvig-Holstein question.

Why would he present a fiction which would have been glaring to anyone equipped with a good map of 1840s Europe? My suspicion is that he wanted to give an account of his dealings with Bismarck, but for some reason felt the need to disguise them, and disguise them in a way that would be obvious but not easily penetrable.

So the first mystery is “What really happened between Flashman and Bismarck”?

The second is “Why did he feel the need to disguise it?”

We know that his main concern was preserving the life and well-being of Harry Flashman, and that he was fairly interested in preserving his grandchildren and even his wife. What secret could threaten them even at the end of his life?

(The secret of the real paternity of some European royal personage? His concern for his grandchildren could well extend to those we do not know about.)

Since I give him a charitable reading, I get the impression that, as long as the above concerns were satisfied, he would be averse to the British Army suffering yet another great disaster, and would probably keep a secret that could lead to such an outcome.

But what fifty-plus year-old secret could be so damaging to the army?

As I said, I have no answers, but I hope that some other reader can provide some better-educated suggestions.

message 2: by RoHa (new)

RoHa | 2 comments A much less important puzzle is Flashman's reference to Danish as "on of the hardest tongues in Europe".

I know Danish (yes, I can say "rødgrød med fløde") and I can affirm it is actually pretty easy for an English speaker. The syntax is almost the same as English, the verb system is much simpler than that of the Romance languages, and most of the vocabulary is easy for anyone who has read Chaucer or anything written in Scots, or just has a bit of sense. The definite/indefinite system is easy to get used to, and there are no complicated declensions. The only case marked on the noun is genitive, and that is done by adding "s", just as in English.
The hardest bit is the pronunciation, but Flashman was capable of native pronunciation of Indian languages, so that would not have been a great obstacle for him.
Of course, he never had the opportunity to learn it properly from Danish women, but even so it is strange to see him class it as harder than (e.g.) Polish or Hungarian.

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