Savrola: A Tale Of Revolution In Laurania by Winston S. Churchill | Goodreads
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Savrola: A Tale Of Revolution In Laurania

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Churchill's only novel. A melodramatic tale of intrigue and daring escapades, it may shed some light on certain aspects of his career.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published November 1, 1898

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About the author

Winston S. Churchill

1,171 books2,325 followers
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. A noted statesman, orator and strategist, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army. A prolific author, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his own historical writings, "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values."

Out of respect for the well-known American author, Winston Churchill, Winston S. Churchill offered to use his middle initial in any works that he authored.

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Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Nicholas Whyte.
4,914 reviews190 followers
June 16, 2012[return][return][return]Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but this was his only actual novel, published in 1900 when he was 26. Savrola is the liberal opposition leader in the small western European republic of Laurania; once it becomes apparent that the dictator's wife is secretly in love with him, you know how the story is going to work out, but Churchill tells a good yarn, in particular with some brilliant descriptions of the street-fighting as the revolution takes place, only marred slightly by a rushed last couple of pages.[return][return]It's impossible to read the book without bearing in mind the author's future career. The dictator is wrong because he has trampled over ancient rights and freedoms in the name of stability; the radicals on the other hand want to take the revolution toward repression and socialism, and Savrola has to steer a course between them. I was particularly attracted by this early passage in which Savrola writes the speech which will kickstart the revolt:[return][return]"His speech - he had made many and knew that nothing good can be obtained without effort. These impromptu feats of oratory existed only in the minds of the listeners; the flowers of rhetoric were hothouse plants. [return][return]"What was there to say? Successive cigarettes had been mechanically consumed. Amid the smoke he saw a peroration, which would cut deep into the hearts of a crowd; a high thought, a fine simile, expressed in [return]that correct diction which is comprehensible even to the most illiterate, and appeals to the most simple ; something to lift their minds from the material cares of life and to awake sentiment. His ideas began to take the form of words, to group themselves into sentences; he murmured to himself; the rhythm of his own language swayed him; instinctively he alliterated. Ideas succeeded one another, as a stream flows swiftly by and the light changes on its waters. He seized a piece of paper and began hurriedly to pencil notes. That was a point; could [return]not tautology accentuate it? He scribbled down a rough sentence, scratched it out, polished it, and wrote it in again. The sound would please their ears, the sense improve and stimulate their minds. What a game it was! His brain contained the cards he had to play, the world the stakes he played for. [return][return]"As he worked, the hours passed away. The housekeeper entering with his luncheon found him silent and busy; she had seen him thus before and did not venture to interrupt him. The untasted food grew cold upon the table, as the hands of the clock moved slowly round marking the measured tread of time. Presently he rose, and, completely under the influence of his own thoughts and language, began to pace the [return]room with short rapid strides, speaking to himself in a low voice and with great emphasis. Suddenly he stopped, and with a strange violence his hand descended on the table. It was the end of the speech. [return][return]"The noise recalled him to the commonplaces of life. He was hungry and tired, and with a laugh at his own enthusiasm sat down at the table and began his neglected luncheon."[return][return]I think we can safely assume that Savrola's method of speech-writing was much the same as his creator's. (I wonder if they also shared Savrola's private passion for astronomy?)
171 reviews23 followers
February 18, 2022
Savrola is a page-turner all right. One simply must find out what happens next and how this will all end so one is propelled to read on. Many - but not all - of the turns and twists are discernible from some distance yet one reads on.

Overall, however, I think there is no urgent and pressing need to read it in the 21th century. The whole thing is, alas, dated. In particular the female characters exist only as props for the men to interact (or shall I say - toy?) with. Consider this passage from the end of Chapter XV:

And so he departed to play a great game in the face of all the world, to struggle for those ambitions which form the greater part of man's interest in life; while she, a woman, miserable and now alone, had no resource but to wait.

Come on, dude!

This was not even an entirely accurate historical account for its own time, since many women actually took part in barricade fighting of the sort so ably described in this book. But it's also false and risibly so in a deeper sense. We simply know so much better today.

There is yet another big problem with the world-picture of Savrola . It is perhaps slightly less obvious but is for me a rather jarring one nevetheless. Let me explain. The whole fracas is about a popular rising against the despotic government of President Molara. But it is stressed a number of times that this government was formed by the victorious side after a protracted and bloody civil war and that Molara had been one of the pre-eminent war leaders of said side.

In fact, let us have it in Churchill's own trenchant prose:

For five long years since the Civil War the people had endured the insult of autocratic rule. The fact that the Government was strong, and the memory of the disorders of the past, had operated powerfully on the minds of the more sober citizens. But from the first there had been murmurs. There were many who had borne arms on the losing side in the long struggle that had ended in the victory of President Antonio Molara. Some had suffered wounds or confiscations; others had undergone imprisonment; many had lost friends and relations, who with their latest breath had enjoined the uncompromising prosecution of the war. The Government had started with implacable enemies, and their rule had been harsh and tyrannical. The ancient consitution to which the citizens were so strongly attached and of which they were so proud, had been subverted. The President, alleging the prevalence of sedition, had declined the people to send their representatives to that chamber which had for many centuries been regarded as the surest bulwark of popular liberties. Thus the discontents increased day by day and year by year: the National party, which had at first consisted only of a few survivors of the beaten side, had swelled into the most numerous and poweful faction in the State; and at last they had found a leader. The agitation proceeded on all sides. The large and tirbulent population of the capital were thoroughly devoted to the rising cause.

Do you see the problem?

A civil war cannot be won without a broad base of social support.

In fact, in many cases the winners get to benefit materially at the expense of the losers, providing them with an incredibly powerful stimulus to safeguard the new order. (For instance: who bought all the monastic lands that Henry VIII threw on the market? And isn't that one of the reasons England has never reverted to Catholicism again? Same thing on an even larger scale happened during the French Revolution: 6.5% of all French land changed hands and these sales were duly upheld even after the monarchy was restored.)

But even if no large-scale redistribution of property had occurred in Laurania, it is ipso factor certain that the winning side of the civil war must have enjoyed the support of some classes of the population. And not simply lukewarm or fair-weather support only because fighting and winning a civil war calls for far more than that.

Who were its supporters? It's hard to tell for sure without knowing any of the political, economic, social (and religious too!) history of Laurania, but I may hazard a guess. If indeed the population of the capital was overwhelmingly against the govenrment, then perhaps said government had been established by and for the landed aristocracy?

Once again, we don't know anything really about Laurania. Chapter 2 contains an amusing but useless precis:

Elaborate mosaics on the walls depicted scenes from the national history: the foundation of the city; the peace of 1370; the reception of the envoys of the Great Mogul: the victory of Brota; the death of Saldanho, that austere patriot, who died rather than submit to a technical violation of the Constitution. And then coming down to later years, the walls showed the building of the Parliament House: the naval victory of Cape Cheronta, and finally the conclusion of the Civil War in 1883.

- and that is all we ever get.

But what we do know is that if the State of Laurania had been subject to the regular laws of history, political economy, and sociology - then the Government of President Molara would have rested on more than the author had allowed it, namely the inertia of incumbency, some political dexterity, and ultimately the bayonets of just three battalions of Guards.

In reality, any government - unless it was led by utter fools - would call on its supporters in its hour of direst need. And whatever else one may think of President Molara and his advisers they were no fools.

(If my earlier guess was correct, for example, they would have had at their disposal a considerable number of armed retainers of the large aristocratic clans. But really any number of possibilities exist, we simply do not know enough beyond the certainty that committed and sufficiently militant supporters they would have had by definition).

To sum up: Winston Churchill went on to be a great man and I personally intend to remain an admirer even in spite of all the warts and blemishes that have inevitably come to light. He was also a really good writer and that prize was well-deserved. But the present book, while well-written and a jolly good caper, is forgotten by posterity with considerable justification.
Profile Image for Xenophon.
169 reviews9 followers
October 13, 2020
Caesar conquered Gaul because it was the Roman thing to do. Benjamin Franklin played with lighting like a redneck because it's the American thing to do. Likewise ,the British penchant for novel-writing is probably what drove Churchill to write a political thriller.

Ol' Winston was at the very least a competent writer. The overall plot has a twist interesting enough to make me avoid spoiling a 120 year-old book. It's very well-paced to the point Churchill could insert blatant philosophical statements of his own without derailing the story. The action scenes are some of the best out there, being vivvid and punchy while leaving the gory details to the imagination.

Critics note that Savrola suffers from obvious faults and they're right- it's no Picture of Dorian Gray, but it does hold its own with the long list of mid-tier Victorian novels, and unlike those other novels, Savrola also offers some biographical insight into one of history's finest statesmen. What the young Churchill valued, how he saw himself, and how he saw where he was going are all there for the reader to chew on.

All in all, Savrola is an overlooked and underrated classic.

Profile Image for Manuel Alfonseca.
Author 75 books174 followers
February 18, 2022
ENGLISH: A novel in the tradition of "The Prisoner of Zenda", taking place in an imaginary European country, where a revolution takes place against a tyrannic dictator. The characters are stock puppets, but the fight scenes are impressive. They reminded me of the barricade scenes in "Les Misérables" by Victor Hugo.

SPANISH: Esta novela sigue la tradición de "El Prisionero de Zenda", porque tiene lugar en un país europeo imaginario, donde estalla una revolución contra un dictador tiránico. Los personajes son de cartón-piedra, pero las escenas de lucha son impresionantes y me recuerdan las de las barricadas en "Los miserables" de Victor Hugo.
Profile Image for Adam.
Author 9 books36 followers
January 6, 2019
A Promising Work by a Young Man

This classical romantic tale tells the story of a revolution against a despotism in a fictional Mediterranean country. The author’s youth shows in places as the primary character, the eponymous Savrola, conducts long conversations with his lady love. Still, it moves briskly. I am sure that we will hear more from this promising young man in the future.
Profile Image for Harith Alrashid.
900 reviews69 followers
November 20, 2020
رواية نادرة للقائد العظيم ونستون تشرشل كتبها في العشرينات من عمره قبل ان يشتهر ويصبح زعيم بريطانيا والمنتصر في الحرب العالمية الثانية
في هذه الرواية يتبين فيها اطلاع كبير من المؤلف على طبيعة السياسين والاعيب السياسية رغم انه كتبها قبل خوضه غمارها كما ابدع الكاتب في وصف معارك المدن اثناء وصفه للثورة في الدولة الخيالية التي ابتكرها
Profile Image for gbkMnkii.
265 reviews
August 16, 2022
I was positively surprised by this book, I’ve received it 20 years ago as a gift from my high school and I was not tempted to read at that time.
Very easy read (it was originally published in a newspaper chapter by chapter) and don’t expect depth but there is still something which makes it as a four star book for me.

[HU - Hardcover]
Profile Image for Vehka Kurjenmiekka.
Author 7 books87 followers
December 28, 2023
Well, this was okay. Churchill isn't at his strongest when writing fiction, and there isn't anything particularly unique in this novel, but it was an easy read and an interesting view to his artistic side. However, if you want to read something from Churchill, I highly recommend his autobiographical works or collections of speeches.
Profile Image for Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides.
2,081 reviews79 followers
Shelved as 'maybe-read-sometime'
October 15, 2012
Noteworthy mostly because it's Churchill's only published novel. Quoth Wikipedia: "Churchill first sought the opinion of friends and relations about the book. He asked his grandmother, Frances, Duchess of Marlborough, to comment, with particular reference to the character of Lucile. She responded that she felt the book was worthwhile for publication, particularly since it already had the prospect of a reasonable financial return, but felt the plot might be improved. She was impressed by the descriptions of fighting, but agreed with Churchill's concerns about Lucile, suggesting that the character betrayed his lack of experience of women."

Yeah. One of those books where the heroine only exists to look pretty and motivate the hero, ya know?

I'm not at all sure this is really a Ruritanian story, but because it deals with an imaginary company I'm leaving it there.
7 reviews1 follower
January 1, 2016
Well, the nobelprize in literature, hardly because of his stilistic abilities.
Profile Image for Julio Pino.
1,170 reviews76 followers
March 18, 2023
"My dear Winston: a lifetime of experiences has taught me that nothing ever happens". A friend, speaking to Winston Churchill

Believe it or not, there were two Winston Churchills writing novels at the start of the Twentieth century. The first Winston Churchill was a best-selling writer of adventure stories, such THE SPY, whose books I remember gathering dust at our neighborhood library in Los Angeles when I was a teen. The second was an ex-minister of the cabinet under Edward VII (the lover of Winston's mother, Jennie) who suddenly found himself unemployed after the Liberals came to power and decided to write fiction for money. (And, yes, the two Winston Churchills were aware of the other's existence. They even exchanged correspondence after this novel was published.) SAVROLA, a ghastly novel, nevertheless gives a great and even prophetic view of the author's politics. His hatred of revolution, in any form, was surpassed only by his hatred of socialism, in any form. SAVROLA takes place in a mythical European country that undergoes a revolution, led by a well-meaning and visionary liberal, against a tyrannical monarch, only to have the new democracy overthrown by a socialist revolution! All of this before World War I, the February Revolution in Russia, Kerensky, and the Bolshevik Revolution. As a writer Churchill made the classic first-time novelist's mistake of piling on characters and plots with subplots. Let him be his own critic: "I once published a novel entitled SAVROLA. I have since done all I can to persuade any of my friends from reading it."
Profile Image for Badr Mokrai.
127 reviews
January 23, 2023
رواية ممتازة،كشفت لي عن جانب لم أكن أعرفه اطلاقا عن تشرشل، نشأت و أنا أحسبه من سافكي الدماء و السياسين المجانين الذين شاركو في الحرب العالمية الثانية. لكنه من الرقة و الابداع و الخيال ما جعلني أندهش. نعم تشرشل هو صاحب رواية '' سافرولا''، تلك الرواية التي تحكي عن الدكتاتور أنطوني مولار العاشق لكرسي السلطة و الرافض التنازل عنه، الذي خدع الشعب بانتخاباته المعدلة و سنوات من الحكم الجائر و التصفيات و الحيل اللا أخلاقية. الذي سيلقى هو و نظامه مصرعهم على يد الحزب الوطني المنتفض الثائر بقيادة البطل سافرولا و المستشار المتحمس موريه و العمدة غودو، و باقي الأعضاء و كذا المواطنين الثوريين الأبطال. و لا أنسى قصة الحب الرقيقة و الغريبة التي جمعت زوجة الرئيس المخلوع لوسيل و بطلنا سافرولا. تلك القصة التي أضفت جانبا عاطفيا رائعا على القصة، و أيضا سافرولا مع مربيته العجوز التي لن ننساها رغم ثانويتها و قلة ذكرها، لكنه ذكر عميق في الشعور.
Profile Image for Jamie Bennett.
46 reviews3 followers
July 22, 2019
Churchill's first book and only novel. The protagonist, as well as the author, masters rhetoric to save a nation.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews10 followers
Want to read
February 13, 2016
Description: Churchill's only novel. A melodramatic tale of intrigue and daring escapades, it may shed some light on certain aspects of his career.

Opening: There had been a heavy shower of rain, but the sun was already shining through the breaks in the clouds and throwing swiftly changing shadows on the streets, the houses, and the gardens of the city of Laurania. Everything shone wetly in the sunlight: the dust had been laid; the air was cool; the trees looked green and grateful. It was the first rain after the summer heats, and it marked the beginning of that delightful autumn climate which has made the Lauranian capital the home of the artist, the invalid, and the sybarite.

The shower had been heavy, but it had not dispersed the crowds that were gathered in the great square in front of the Parliament House. It was welcome, but it had not altered their anxious and angry looks; it had drenched them without cooling their excitement. Evidently an event of consequence was taking place. The fine building, where the representatives of the people were wont to meet, wore an aspect of sombre importance that the trophies and statues, with which an ancient and an art-loving people had decorated its façade, did not dispel. A squadron of Lancers of the Republican Guard was drawn up at the foot of the great steps, and a considerable body of infantry kept a broad space clear in front of the entrance. Behind the soldiers the people filled in the rest of the picture. They swarmed in the square and the streets leading to it; they had scrambled on to the numerous monuments, which the taste and pride of the Republic had raised to the memory of her ancient heroes, covering them so completely that they looked like mounds of human beings; even the trees contained their occupants, while the windows and often the roofs, of the houses and offices which overlooked the scene were crowded with spectators. It was a great multitude and it vibrated with excitement. Wild passions surged across the throng, as squalls sweep across a stormy sea. Here and there a man, mounting above his fellows, would harangue those whom his voice could reach, and a cheer or a shout was caught up by thousands who had never heard the words but were searching for something to give expression to their feelings.
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