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Author Topic: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune  (Read 1095 times)

Offline Nogbad

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The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« on: November 18, 2021, 03:48:14 AM »
All the excitement around the new Dune film reminded me to mention on this forum a little-known fact that the sci-fi novel was actually heavily inspired by an equally obscure - but very good - history book. The book was The Sabres of Paradise, a 1960s work by British writer Lesley Blanch about the 19th century conflict in the Caucasus mountains between Russia - mostly Cossack troops - and dogged Chechens. (The latter were acclaimed in Victorian Britain and their leader was presented to the Queen).
People often ask for BoB reading suggestions and so I commend one that you may not have heard of - and topical too!

Offline cuprum

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2021, 05:16:09 AM »
I would not dare to call a women's novel, written in the entourage of the Caucasian War and having extremely little relation to reality, a historical source)))
  By the way, the Chechens are just one of the many peoples of the Caucasus who fought against the Russians in the 19th century. And Imam Shamil, their leader, was a Kumyk by nationality, who grew up among the Dagestanis. And it was the Dagestanis who were the main organizing force opposing the Russian invasion.

Offline Nogbad

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2021, 02:49:29 PM »
Hmm. I am sure something may have been lost in translation here but most reviewers - certainly in the West - have never dismissed this book as you do. Yes, Lesley Blanch was a woman and she had a romantic touch in her writing but most people agree the book was well-researched, if not very sympathetic to Russia.
There are loads of reviews out there on the web so people can make up their own minds!

Offline cuprum

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2021, 04:11:29 PM »
I do not want to impose my opinion on anyone. I just expressed mine.
This book was published twice in Russia in Russian, so everyone here had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with its contents.
The author of a science fiction novel has the right to be inspired by whatever he wants, but to get acquainted with the events in the Caucasus, I would definitely recommend a more objective literature.

And the theme for the games looks quite tempting - the storming of inaccessible mountain settlements, the attacks of the mountaineers on the settlements of the Cossacks and ambushes on the army transports. Shamil even tried to form regular army units, he had his own artillery ...

By the way - an interesting fact. During the Second World War, the Shamil tank column, named after the very same Imam Shamil, the national hero of the Dagestan people, operated as part of the Red Army. The column was built in 1942 with voluntary donations from the residents of the Dagestan Autonomous Soviet Republic.

https://tankfront-ru.translate.goog/ussr/names/colums/shamil.html?_x_tr_sch=http&_x_tr_sl=ru&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=ru&_x_tr_pto=nui

Offline Leapsnbounds

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2021, 08:07:21 PM »
Wasn't there a Steve Reeves movie,"The White Warrior" or the White Rose about this?

Offline Nogbad

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2021, 04:51:19 PM »
No, you make a fair point, Cuprum. History is seen very differently depending on where you're looking from. Foreign takes on British history often annoy me so I can understand why The Sabres of Paradise may do the same in Russia as it's clear where the author's sympathies lie. With the Caucasians.
The point I was really making is how even the most obscure (at least it is in the West) episodes in history don't go unnoticed!


Offline cuprum

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2021, 02:46:37 AM »
Oh no, you misunderstood me. I am not annoyed with a different view of events - everyone has the right to evaluate events as he sees fit.
The Russians treat the same figure of Imam Shamil, as well as, for example, the Polish rebel leader (against Russia) Todeusz Kosciuszko with respect. There is nothing reprehensible in a worthy assessment of a worthy opponent. It is also impossible to condemn any people in their striving for independence - this is their right.
I also know about the methods used to wage these wars and about the cruelty shown by the Russian troops and their opponents. Such were the realities of the time, and this was happening not only in Russia, but all over the world.

I am irritated by the mention of fiction, which has very little relation to real events, as a historical source.
In general, now there is a tendency among people to take the fiction of authors (fiction books, films) as a source of historical information - and this is a bad tendency in my opinion. Fiction replaces real events.

Would you consider Braveheart or Kingdom of Heaven a credible historical source? In my opinion, these are just stories about people who are placed in a certain historical environment. Fantasy. Great fun - but nothing more.

Offline vodkafan

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2021, 04:36:57 PM »
Ha! This is the way all internet conversations should go. Two people have slightly different points of view, they both expand on their reasoning with logic and politeness, and apologise to each other for any misunderstanding.
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Offline leadfool

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2022, 07:30:44 PM »
Vodkafan,
I could not agree more.  Cuprum and Nogbad thank you for this discussion. 
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Offline carlos marighela

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2022, 08:01:33 PM »
I’m not sure the word ‘inspired’ can be associated with Dune. Not the novel, the ghastly waste of celluloid from the ‘80s featuring Sting or, according to my son who suffered through it, its latest iteration.

I feel heartily sorry for the estate of Lesley Blanch.
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Offline Deflatermouse

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Re: The Back of Beyond story that inspired Dune
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2022, 07:27:38 AM »
 If I remember correctly, this might be a book that I came across in a book fair in Edinburgh 30 years ago.
I thought it was an account of a Russian Prince in his Pre-Crimean battles in the Caucasus Mountains.
It was in the historical section so I just took it as such.
Been trying to track it down ever since. (I'd put the book back as I only had a couple of quid and had to choose this or Tanganyikan Guerrilla. Which I still have)
Thank you for posting this.
If there are any actual accounts of Russian Princes fighting in the Caucasus, would someone please point me in the right direction?  Thanks

 

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