Ouida: Under Two Flags

(168 words)
  • Talia Schaffer (Queens College, CUNY )

Under Two Flags (1867) was a best-selling novel of the late 1860s. The Hon. Bertie Cecil (nicknamed Beauty of the Brigades) is an unflappable dandy with strongly homoerotic ties to his best friend and his servant. To protect others’ honour, Bertie voluntarily exiles himself to Algiera where he joins “Chasseurs d’Afrique”, a regiment comprising soldiers from various countries, rather like the French Foreign Legion. The dangerous conditions of the desert service toughen Bertie. It also gives his servant Rake an acceptably heroic context for his passionate fidelity. Cigarette, a cross-dressing, sexually adventurous, boyish camp follower, falls in love with Bertie. Both Rake and Cigarette die in his arms, and Bertie is …

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Schaffer, Talia. "Under Two Flags". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 January 2002; last revised 10 May 2006.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8551, accessed 29 September 2016.]