The Prisoner of Zenda, Chapter 2

An exercise in Listening & Reading Comprehension …


The Prisoner of Zenda is an adventure novel by Anthony Hope (UK, 1863-1933), published in 1894. The king of the fictional Ruritania has been given a soporific on the eve of his coronation and thus becomes unable to attend the crucial ceremony. The internal situation in the kingdom is such that in order for the king to retain his crown his coronation must go forward. An English gentleman on holiday who fortuitously resembles the monarch –being a distant cousin to him– is persuaded to impersonate the king in an attempt to save the situation. In the end, the king is restored to his throne.

As we go on with this exercise on listening and reading comprehension started on 2011-09-20, Chapter 2 has Rudolf Rassendyll traveling from London to Ruritania –the fictional kingdom located somewhere in Central Europe where most events in the book take place– by way of Paris and Dresden. As this chapter unfolds, several new characters are introduced while we are also taught a bit of geography: Ruritania’s capital is Strelsau, while Zenda is a small town near-by.

By clicking on this link you may listen to a podcast of the book’s Chapter 2 (be patient, the audio file does take some time to load). Read along (this link opens its pdf file on a separate window) before attempting to answer any plural number of questions of your choice from among the following:


  1. Who are
    a) Antoinette de Mauban;
    b) ‘Black Michael’, Duke of Strelsau; and,
    c) Princess Flavia?
    What can you tell thus far about each of these characters?
  2. Upon reaching the Ruritanian frontier, Rudolf reads in the papers news which affect his movements. What were these news and how did they affect his movements?
  3. How far is Zenda from the capital city of Strelsau?
  4. What, if anything, did you find interesting in this chapter?
  5. Try to write a summary of the chapter (in 10-20 lines)