Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Brigadier Gerard

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Brigadier Gerard httpswwwarthurconandoylecomimagesthumba
Played by  Peter McEnery, Rod La Rocque
Movies  The Adventures of Gerard, The Fighting Eagle
Similar  Prof George Challenger, Lord John Roxton, Baker Street Irregulars, C Auguste Dupin, Brigadier Lethbridge‑Stewart

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Brigadier Gerard is the hero of a series of historical short stories by the British writer Arthur Conan Doyle. The hero, Etienne Gerard, is a Hussar officer in the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars. Gerard's most notable attribute is his vanity – he is utterly convinced that he is the bravest soldier, greatest swordsman, most accomplished horseman and most gallant lover in all France. Gerard is not entirely wrong, since he displays notable bravery on many occasions, but his self-satisfaction undercuts this quite often. Obsessed with honour and glory, he is always ready with a stirring speech or a gallant remark to a lady.

Contents

Conan Doyle, in making his hero a vain, and often rather uncomprehending, Frenchman, was able to satirise both the stereotypical English view of the French and – by presenting them from Gerard's baffled point of view – English manners and attitudes.

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Biography

Gerard tells the stories from the point of view of an old man now living in retirement in Paris. We discover that he was born in Gascony in the early 1780s (he is 25 in "How the Brigadier Captured Saragossa"). In "How the Brigadier Rode to Minsk" he attends a review of troops about to depart for the Crimea (1854–5), and this is the last identifiable date in his life, although "The Last Adventure of the Brigadier" has a still later setting, with Gerard about to return to his Gascon homeland. He first joins the 2nd Hussars – the Hussars of Chamberan – around 1799, serving as a lieutenant and junior captain. He first sees action at Marengo in Italy in 1800. He transfers to the 3rd Hussars of Conflans in 1807 as a senior captain. He speaks somewhat idiosyncratic English, having learned it from an officer of the Irish Brigade of the French Army. By 1810 he is colonel of the 2nd Hussars. He serves in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Russia. He is awarded the Grand-Cross of the Légion d'honneur by Napoleon in 1814. There are various discrepancies in the accounts of his life, not the least that in none of the stories except the last is he married.

Conan Doyle enthusiasts have noted that Gerard is modelled on the real-life Baron Jean Baptiste Antoine Marcellin de Marbot, a noted French light cavalry officer during the Napoleonic Wars. Conan Doyle wrote with great affection about Marbot's memoirs in Through the Magic Door.

The fictional Gerard is not to be confused with the real Napoleonic officer Étienne Maurice Gérard (1777–1852), who rose to become a Marshal and later Prime Minister of France.

Stories

The stories were originally published in the Strand Magazine between December 1894 and September 1903. They were later issued in two volumes: The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard in February 1896 and The Adventures of Gerard in September 1903. Some of the titles were changed on re-publication. The last story, "The Marriage of the Brigadier", was published in September 1910. All the stories were published in The Complete Brigadier Gerard in 1995, which includes the story "A Foreign Office Romance" (1894) – a precursor to the stories, but not actually featuring Gerard.

George McDonald Fraser cited Brigadier Gerard as a major inspiration for his own fictional comedic adventurer Harry Flashman, and wrote the introduction to a 2001 collection of Gerard stories. Although rare, the Brigadier Gerard stories are still in print. Twin Engine Publishing HB, Barnes & Noble Books, Echo Library and New York Review Books are some contemporary publishers. In May 2008, Penguin Classics published the complete short stories as The Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard as part of their Read Red series.

Adaptations

In 1915 a silent film Brigadier Gerard was made, directed by Bert Haldane with Lewis Waller in the title role. In 1970 the The Adventures of Gerard was directed by Jerzy Skolimowski with Peter McEnery playing Gerard.

As of 2014 television and movie writer John Altschuler is developing Brigadier Gerard as a feature, with Steve Carell attached to play Brigadier Gerard and Ricky Gervais attached to play Napoleon.

References

Brigadier Gerard Wikipedia


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