Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Household. London barracks of the 1st Life Guards, a British military unit that serves the government in a largely decorative capacity. Although the Life Guards are a military brigade, its members are mostly the pampered sons of royalty. Great camaraderie and fellowship exists within the ranks, but discipline is lax. The men spend most of their time indulging the vices of the privileged class: drinking, smoking, gambling, racing horses, and attending balls and parties. Life in the Household is characterized by dissipation and ennui.


Royallieu. Country estate of the Viscount Royallieu, and home of the Cecil family, to which the protagonist, Bertie Cecil, belongs. The estate is located in the Melton countryside of central England. The estate’s expansive grounds are well stocked with game for hunting, and its manor house is magnificently outfitted with servants, cooks, and grooms who cater to its distinguished visitors. Though its banquet halls, decorative paintings, and costly furnishings bespeak the luxury of wealth, in truth its luxury has been purchased at the cost of the future. Members of the Cecil family no longer have enough money to sustain the magnificence of their estate. Nevertheless the proud viscount refuses to change his spendthrift ways or sell part of the estate to subsidize his profligate sons. Royallieu embodies the unrealistic expectations of its idle-rich owner and represents the prodigality of the wealthy society the Cecil family keeps.


(The entire section is 636 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Beerbohm, Max. “Ouida.” In More. London: John Lane, 1899. The finest essay ever written on Ouida. Praises her energy, the fascination of her discursive plots, her characters, and her scenic range and store of information. Admires her love of beauty in nature and art.

Bigland, Eileen. Ouida: The Passionate Victorian. London: Jarrolds, 1950. Praises Under Two Flags as Ouida’s deservedly most famous romantic extravaganza. Sees Cigarette as hauntingly vital and lovable, especially when compared to Guinevere and Corona. Admires Ouida’s description of desert action.

Porch, Douglas. The French Foreign Legion: A Complete History of the Legendary Fighting Force. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. Discusses the maneuvers of the Emir Abd el-Kader, Arab resistance leader, against the French near Oran. In criticizing novels and movies about the Foreign Legion, approvingly quotes one commentator who calls Under Two Flags “giddy [and] romantic.”

Smith, R. Dixon. Ronald Colman, Gentleman of the Cinema: A Biography and Filmography. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1991. Discusses the 1915, 1917, 1921, and 1936 film adaptations of Under Two Flags. Summarizes the considerably altered plot of the 1921 version.

Stirling, Monica. The Fine and the Wicked: The Life and Times of Ouida. New York: Coward-McCann, 1958. Includes high praise of Under Two Flags. Relates several elements in it to contemporary society, art, and literature, and to Ouida’s personal life.