Jingo is the twenty-first novel by Terry Pratchett, one of his Discworld series. It was published in 1997. The title can be related to the word jingoism, meaning an attitude of belligerent nationalism.
Plot:[edit | edit source]
With the opening of the novel, the island of Leshp, which had been submerged under the Circle Sea for centuries, rises to the surface. Its position, exactly halfway between Ankh-Morpork and Al Khali (the capital of Klatch), makes the island a powerful strategical point for whoever lays claim to it, which both cities do.
In Ankh-Morpork, a Klatchian Prince named Khufurah is parading through Ankh-Morpork, where he will be presented with a Degree in Sweet Fanny Adams (Doctorum Adamus cum Flabello Dulci), but an assassination attempt occurs, and the Prince is wounded. Sir Samuel Vimes, Commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, begins investigating the crime, originally suspecting both a Klatchian named 71-Hour Ahmed and a senior Morporkian peer, Lord Rust, of being involved.
The attempted assassination breaks off relations between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch as Prince Khufurah's brother, Prince Cadram, effectively declares war on the city of Ankh-Morpork. At this point, Havelock Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, resigns—apparently of his own free will—and Lord Rust takes command of the city. Vetinari has refused to become involved in the war with Klatch, due to the fact Ankh-Morpork does not have an army to stand against any opposing forces (the reason given being that killing enemy soldiers makes it difficult to sell them things afterwards), but Rust declares Martial law and orders the city's noble families to revive their old private regiments.
Vimes, refusing to follow Rust, stands down as Commander of the Watch. Captain Carrot resigns as well, as doSergeant Colon, Sergeant Detritus and Corporal Angua. The idea of putting the watch under the command of Corporal Nobbs is rejected by the ruling Council of Guild leaders and the Watch is disbanded. Vimes then recruits the Watch into his own private army regiment, reasoning that, as an official noble, he is entitled to do so by law and by Lord Rust's command, with the group remaining independent as knights legally falling under command of the king or his duly appointed representatives, neither of which exist in Ankh-Morpork.
Angua, following 71-Hour Ahmed, is captured by the Klatchians and taken to Klatch. Carrot, rather than rush off to save her, reports back to Vimes, who gets his private army to head for Klatch. Meanwhile, Nobby and Sergeant Colon have been recruited by Vetinari and his pet inventor, Leonard of Quirm, on a secret mission of their own, unknown to Vimes.
Vetinari, Leonard of Quirm, Colon, and Nobby end up in Leonard's "Going-Under-the-Water-Safely Device" and discover that Leshp is actually floating on top of a huge bubble of gas, and that the gas is escaping from said bubble, meaning that Leshp will, ultimately, sink back under the sea again.
Vimes catches up with 71-hour Ahmed and has, by this time, figured out that Ahmed is a fellow policeman. Ahmed and his band of Klatchian D'regs and Vimes army head towards Gebra, in Klatch, where the war is due to start.
To help blend in, Vetinari, Nobby and Fred Colon get hold of some Klatchian clothing, though Nobby ends up wearing the costume of a dancing girl and gets in touch with his feminine side. The three also head to Gebra. Arriving at Gebra they discover that Carrot has convinced the two armies to get together and play a game of football (he has an inflatable football in his backpack for just such an emergency), Vimes is preparing to arrest both Klatchian Prince Cadram and Lord Rust for various breaches of the peace (such as being prepared for war) and 71-hour Ahmed is supporting him. Vetinari prevents an international incident by ostensibly declaring the surrender of Ankh-Morpork and offering war reparations. To be ratified on Leshp in one week.
Vetinari is returned to Ankh-Morpork, under arrest and in disgrace, but as Leshp has vanished back under the sea again, the treaty was to be signed in a non-existent territory and thus the charge of treason is invalid. Seeing he has been tricked, and with the people and generals turning against him, Prince Cadram flees, with 71-hour Ahmed in pursuit and his brother Khufurah recovers and resumed control of Klatch. Vimes is informed by Carrot that Vetinari has been "reminded" that the old rank of Commander was the same as the old rank of Duke. He objects, claiming that only a King can make a Duke, but then realises that Carrot was speaking to Vetinari. Since Carrot is, of course, very much not the King of Ankh-Morpork his reminding of Vetinari is all that is required for Vimes to get his new position and rank.
Vimes "accidentally" loses his "dis-organiser" (given to him by his wife) which kept giving him incorrect information. It is explained that, had Vimes reacted slightly differently in the beginning—staying in Ankh-Morpork rather than attempting to follow Ahmed and rescue Angua—the whole history of the Ankh-Morpork v. Klatch war would have gone very differently.
Popular References:[edit | edit source]
A similar real life incident happened in 1831 off the coast of Sicily when an underwater volcano produced the island of Ferdinandea. As in the book several nations contested for the new land and while they were arguing it eroded back into the sea by 1832.
There are also parallels to the Britain vs Iceland cod wars of the 1970s where fishing vessels from both nations sabotaged each other's nets and a collision between opposing naval vessels led to the death of an Icelandic Engineer.
Lord Vetinari's statement that "We have no ships. We have no men. We have no money, too." is a direct reference to a 19th Century British song about war enthusiasm surrounding the Russo-Turkish War: "We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do, we've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too." The song is the origin of the phrase Jingoism and of the book's title.
Vimes says to Detritus, "'His ship is the Milka, I believe.'" - This is a pun on an old British milk-marketing ad campaign from the 1980s - 'Drinka pinta milka day'. One of Christopher Columbus' ships was named the Pinta.
The connections to both World Wars are numerous; Pratchett says in one footnote:
“It is a long-cherished tradition among a certain type of military thinker that huge casualties are the main thing. If they are on the other side then this is a valuable bonus.”
This is a jab at the "military geniuses" in all levels of military command from the Napoleonic wars up to WWI who seemed to subscribe to the theory that if they lost 100,000 men and the enemy lost 100,001, they were the winner. The incredible carnage of WWI was the result. Pratchett takes another shot at these geniuses later in the book when he says that the Ankh-Morpork General Tacticus (the name a play on the Roman Senator and historian Tacitus) was unique among generals in that he usually brought back most of his men which was one reason history did not approve of him. Similarly, the discussion of tactics between Lord Rust, the Ankh-Morpork military leader, and his adjutant reflect the stupidity and inflexibility of military command very reminiscent of the leaders during WWI where men were slaughtered in futile charges out of trenches (going over the top) to gain a few feet of ground, with little or no change in tactics from year to year; the classic example being the opening battle of the Somme on July 1st, 1916 and the slaughter of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont Hamel with an 80% casualty rate of the 800 troops involved.
The line during the battle at the end of the novel plays on similar naive and misguided notions in Roundworld during WW1: "We were going to sail into Klatch and be in Al-Khali by teatime, drinking sherbet with pliant young women in the Rhoxi." A similar line was used by British officers in the First World War who encouraged their men to go over the top, with "We'll be eating tea and cakes in Berlin at teatime." The Rhoxi is an obvious play on the various Roxy nightclubs.
The line, "'Oh, Lord Venturi says it'll all be over by Hogswatch, sir.'" is an ironic reference to the common WWI saw from summer of 1914 where the political pundits said that "It'll all be over by Christmas" .
Johnny Klatchian - In WWI the British press referred to the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire as "Johnny Turk" and Johnny Foreigner is a common British pejorative for any undesirable foreigner.
The line "...the long and the short and the tall!" refers to a popular WWII song first recorded by George Formby in 1940. It was written in by either Fred Godfrey or Jimmy Hughes in 1917 to music composed by Robert Kewley. The Formby version says "
Bless 'em all, bless 'em all! Bless the long and the short and the tall! Bless all the sergeants and double-you o-ones, Bless all the corporals and their blinkin' sons."
The version sung in the barracks of the Allies substituted "Fuck" for "Bless".
Fred Colon's regiment was the "'Pheasant Pluckers.' [....] 'We even had a marching song,' he said. 'Mind you, it was quite hard to sing right.'" This is a reference to the fact that many British army regiments had, nicknames, based either on some historical event or on some idiosyncrasy of their uniforms. Fred Colon's regiment had poached pheasants off an estate and wore the feathers in their cap. The marching song is the old tongue-twister: "I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son/ I'm only plucking pheasants til the pheasant plucker comes" with it's obvious humorous outcome. The feather in the cap is foreshadowing of Nobby receiving a white feather as outlined below. Rory Gallagher, the Irish musician plays with this tongue twister in his song "Handyman" - "I ain't no doctor, I ain't no doctor's son, But I'll fill your prescription, Till the real doctor comes".
Nobby is given a white feather by an elderly woman, a reference to the practice of shaming young men who were not in uniform as cowards in an attempt to get them to join up. This practice was common in Britain particularly during World War I although it started earlier in the 18th Century. The practice had mixed success as often people who were serving their country in other capacities vital to the war effort were targeted as well as soldiers home on leave and those who had been injured in battle, both groups justifiably insulted by the gesture. Nobby, wisely is hoping to collect enough white feathers to make a pillow.
Nobby also carries a massive book called the Book of Om for protection. This is a takeoff on the many true and apocryphal stories of soldiers being saved when a bullet pierced the Bible they carried in a breast pocket. Nobby calculates that the thickness and size of the book will save him from any arrow which will only penetrate as far as the Apocrypha. This theme has been used seriously and parodied throughout popular literature and film - Rowen Atkinson in Blackadder III uses this theme at the end.
Near the end of the novel, Vimes reflects on the three old men on the bench talking about not looking down when you put your foot in something horrible. This is a reference to the trenches of WWI when bodies, limbs and everything else just vanished into the mud.
Similarly, near the end of the novel, Carrot organizes a football match between the Klatchian and Ankh-Morpork troops similar to the Christmas Day truce and football match between the Germans and British troops in 1914 in No man's land. Pratchett used this reference in the novel Pyramids as well when the Ephebian and Tsortean soldiers meet.
Lord Downy says, "'Unfortunately, the right words are more readily listened to if you also have a sharp stick.'"which is a reference to Theodore Roosevelt famous quote: "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."
The Prince from Klatch is receiving an honorary degree from Unseen University, Doctorum Adamus cum Flabello Dulci which actually means 'Adam of Doctors with Fanny Sweet' but it is intended to mean Doctor of Sweet Fanny Adams which would really have been Doctor Adami Flabelli Dulcis. This is British slang for "Doctor of Sweet Fuck All" or "nothing". The term has a macabre origin in the British navy in 1869 when tinned mutton rations were introduced. The sailors, who were not impressed called them Fanny Adams after a little girl who had been murdered and dismembered a couple of years earlier - the suggestion being that they were her remains. The term eventually broadened to mean any useless or worthless thing.
Pratchett often uses "mock Latin" in his novels. When Vimes is reading the works of Tacticus he observes that Tacticus' famous statement Veni, Vidi, Vici (really from Julius Caesar) probably came about because he was looking through the "Vs" until he found three short applicable words - rejecting Veni, vermini, vomui (I came I got ratted, I threw up) and Visi, veneri, Vamoosi (I visited, I got an embarrassing disease, I ran away) before settling on the famous phrase.
"it is even better than Ironcrufts ('T'Bread Wi' T'Edge') - This is a take off on a long-running series of British commercials for a certain brand of bread which emphasized the Yorkshire origins of the manufacturer. The slogan is in a parody of a Yorkshire accent, presumably for similar reasons. Crufts are something that is left over and unnecessary (particularly coding in computer software) and Dwarf bread is always baked rock hard so Ironcrufts is an appropriate name for the makers of this bread. It also has connotations to "Crufts" the famous international dog show which was named after Charles Crufts, the general manager of a dog biscuit company, as well as the obvious bread "crusts" - the edge of the bread.
Pratchett says, "There was a tradition of soap-box speaking in Sator Square." which is a parallel to Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park. Satyrs are also lustful drunken Greek woodland gods - appropriate given the type of person a place like Sator Square seems to attract both as speakers and audience.
Leonard of Quirm is an obvious reference to Leonardo de Vinci.
The trio of Gulli, Gulli, and Betti is an allusion to Wilson, Keppel and Betty, popular English music hall performers in the mid 20th Century.
The Patrician mentions that Ankh-Morpork hasn't had a war ship for four hundred years since the sinking of the Mary-Jane, a reference to the English carrack style naval vessel the Mary Rose part of Henry VIII's fleet and also a reference to a slang term for marijuana.
The Artful Nudger is a play on Dicken's Artful Dodger.
When Carrot forms Ankh-Morpork's first Cub troop with the two rival gangs (reminiscent of the Bloods and the Cripps or any other rival gangs) they say "Wib, Wib, Wib, Wob Wob Wob" a parody of the traditional scouting salute of Dyb, Dyb,Dyb (Do your best), to which the reply is Dob, Dob, Dob (Do Our Best). Carrot says that Corporal Angua is going to teach them the campfire howl - appropriate given that it s a Wolf Cub pack and she is a were-wolf.
There are several disparaging references to Klatchian inventions such as "'They invented all the words starting with al '" which in Arabic is the definite article and is joined to the word that it defines. They also say that the "Klatchians invented nothing. [...] they came up with zero." which is a reference to the fact that western mathematics adopted the concept of the number zero from the Arabs.
There is a reference to the surgeons of Ankh-Morpork being able to give a decent shave as well - a reference to the early days of surgery when barbers were often the surgeons.
Colon and Nobbs are referred to by Vimes as the "keystones of the Watch" a reference to the Keystone Kops who were a bumbling bunch of policemen in early 20 century silent films by Mack Sennet.
Sweeney Jones, the Barber of Gleam Street is a reference to Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who made his customers into meat pies and is immortalized in Steven Sondheim's musical of the same name. He was supposedly based on a real character but this is doubtful.
There are many references to the assassination of John F Kennedy, US President. The Klatchian dignitary is shot from the University likely the library building,'" Lee Harvey Oswald is supposed to have shot John F. Kennedy from the Texas Schools Book Depository. The Klatchian dignitary has been "shot in the back by a man in front of him who could not possibly have used the bow that he didn't shoot him with from the wrong direction...'" This line pokes fun at the inconsistencies in the official account of the Kennedy assassination. The second crossbow man killer is a reference to the second gunman on the grassy knoll in the Kennedy shooting. The line about "he thinks it'll magically improve his shot.'"is a reference to the official Kennedy assassination report that describes how the bullet moved in some very strange ways through his body which the conspiracy theorists referred to as the "magic bullet theory". In addition there is the very bad pun of Stoolie (who is a stool pigeon or informer) who is a gnoll covered in vegetation (ie a grassy knoll) a very obvious reference to the Kennedy assassination.
The description of Stoolie also has parallels to the depictions of the lower levels in society from medieval times to Victorian England: The rag and bone men, the night soil collectors and the body collectors in the plague years depicted by everyone from Dickens to Monty Pythons in the movie, The Holy Grail.
Captain Carrot disguises himself as another vegetable; "Mr Spuddy Face" which is a take off on the child's toy Mr Potato Head.
Warrior of Fortune and Bows and Ammo are references to the magazines Soldier of Fortune and Guns and Ammo.
The book on "Klatch" that Mr. Wazir has sold Carrot is called the Perfume Allotment or the Garden of Delights. this is a reference to The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight by Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Nafzawi, a fifteenth-century Arabic sex manual and work of erotic literature.
The argument between Mr. Wazir and Mr. Gorrif arises out of a dispute between their two peoples, the Elharibians and the Smalies. "'Apparently it's over a word in their holy book, [...] The Elharibians say it translates as "God" and the Smalies say it's "Man".'" This section is in reference to the dispute in early Christianity over the nature of Christ and to what extent he was God or man. In 325 AD the Council of Nicea tried to settle the question with the Nicean Creed but the dispute immediately resurfaced over a single word of the creed: one faction said that it was "homoousios" (of one substance), the other that it should be "homoiousios" (of similar substance). The difference in the words is a single (i) iota -- the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet just as in Jingo where it is said the letter actually might even be a speck of fly droppings. The dispute led to the split between the Western and Eastern branches of the church that continues to this day. In 632 AD similar divide occurred between the two branches of Islam, Shiites and Sunnis when the Islamic Prophet Muhammad died and a debate emerged about who should be his successor. While both sides agreed that Allah was the one true God and that Muhammad was his messenger, one group which became the Shiites believed that Muhammad's successor should be someone in his family (his cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali), while the other group which became the Sunnis said that any true believer who would follow the Prophet's standards was acceptable. This split was a political not a religious one.
Leonard of Quirm asks Nobby if he is of a nautical persuasion and then says "have you ploughed the ocean waves...?" These are variations on the old sexual innuendo jokes about "Have you ever been to sea Billy, ever seen the great white whale, etc:
Nobby and Colon's mission of vital importance and the line "this note will self-destruct in five seconds [...]'" is from the beginning of each episode of the television series Mission: Impossible.
Leonard of Quirm says of his submarine "'But usually I just think of it as the Boat.'" This is a reference to the German submarines of WW II which were called Unterseeboot - shortened to U-boats. The 1981 German film by Wolfgang Petersen Das Boot (The Boat) in 1981 tells the story of one German submarine in 1941. The Ankh-Morpork submarine is similar in design to the first military submarines, the Turtle used during the American Revolution with no success against the British. The Anhk-Morpork version had a screw at the front for attaching itself to ships so that they could tow it along - the Turtle's screw was supposed to drill through the enemy hull and sink the ship; an idea which Leonard of Quirm views as a monstrous suggestion and very unsporting.
The names of the Ankh-Morpork war ships Indestructible and Indolence are takeoffs on a long list of ships of the Royal Navy starting with "In..." such as Indefatigable, Inscrutable, Indomitable, Inveterate, etc.
St. Ungulant's fire is a takeoff on St. Elmo's fire, which is a weather phenomenon involving electrical discharge that often occurs at sea around the rigging of a ship during a thunderstorm. In the Discworld, St Ungulant has a sidekick called Angus - appropriate given that an ungulate is a hoofed animal and an Aberdeen Angus is a breed of cattle.
Visit says to Vimes that "'The Sykoolites when being pursued in the wilderness [...] were sustained by a rain of celestial biscuits, sir.'" In the Bible, the Israelites, while fleeing from Egypt, were sustained by a divinely provided rain of bread (Exodus 16:4).
Solid Jackson says, "'"Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set him on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life."'" The original proverb is "Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach him to fish and he can eat for the rest of his life." Pratchett also plays with this proverb in the Hogfather when Albert tells Death "Big part of belief, hope. Give people jam today and they’ll just sit and eat it. Jam tomorrow now – that’ll keep them going for ever."
The line about agony aunts Dot and Sadie is a reference to women newspaper columnists who give advice to people who write in with personal problems, but generally not of an explicit sexual nature as alluded to in this context.
There are many parallels in the book between Lawrence of Arabia, both book and man. Carrot in the desert has a strong resemblance in action to Lawrence of Arabia as he takes charge and organizes the men. Vimes holds a hot coal in his hand and dares Rust to do the same, reminiscent of Lawrence holding the burning match in his fingers. Both say, "The trick is not to mind that it hurts."
Klatchian soldiers are referred to as the finest in the world when led by white officers - again a reference to Lawrence leading the Arabs.
Similarly, at the end of the David Lean's 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia, Prince Feisal tells Lawrence: "There's nothing further here, for a warrior. We drive bargains, old men's work. Young men makes wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Old men make the peace and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." Near the end of Jingo, Vimes is told "'Why don't you take some well-earned rest, Sir Samuel? You are [...] a man of action. You deal in swords and chases, and facts. Now, alas, it is the time for the men of words, who deal in promises and mistrust and opinions. For you the war is over. Enjoy the sunshine. I trust we shall all be returning home shortly.'"
The line "'En al Sams la Laisa'" is, as Vetinari translates, almost-Arabic for "where the sun shines not" which ties in with Nobby's words earlier in the book to Lord Rust to "put it where the sun doesn't shine".
When Nobby as Beti is telling stories s/he says "'Oh, I've got a thousand and one of 'em.'" This is in reference to The Thousand and One Nights the best known, in the west, of Arabic literature. Another reference to this book is the line "[...] those nautical stories about giant turtles that sleep on the surface, thus causing sailors to think they are an island" This is one of the many adventures of Sinbad, in The Thousand and One Nights. Nobby and Colon know this is ridiculous because turtles are not that small - a reference to the great turtle that supports Discworld.
When the Patrician goes up the tower to rescue the donkey and the crowd hears the clip clop of hooves, one says, "He's probably banging a couple of coconut shells together" which is a reference to the scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail where the knights have no horses but fake it by making a clip clop sound with coconuts instead.
The city Tacticum named after the Ankh-Morpork general Tacticus who conquered the area is a parallel to Alexandria named after Alexander the Great. Tacticus is also referred to as the man who was outnumbered 10 to 1 when he took the Pass of Al Ibi mounted on elephants, a comparison to Hannibal crossing the Alps.
Further reference is made about a famous charge where everyone is killed, a parallel to the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade immortalized by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson. After this reference a series of more and more preposterous victories is recounted ending in the single-handed victory of Baron Mimbledrone over the army of the Plum Pudding Country where he eats their Sultana - a pun on Sultan (ruler) and Sultana, a grape variety which originated in the Ottoman empire used as a type of raisin.
Sergeant Willikins, Vimes butler mentions that his company has had nothing to eat because the mutton barrels had exploded from the gas inside them. Rotten meat was a common problem in both the army and Royal Navy with unscrupulous victuallers making profits by selling inedible food to the services knowing that by the time the scam was discovered the army or navy would be in the field or at sea and unable to get reparation.
Nobby's line "'It is a far, far better thing I do now [...]'" is from the end of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities when Sydney Carton, goes to the guillotine instead of his true love's sweetheart.
Translations[edit | edit source]
- Jingo (Swedish)
- Шовинист (Bulgarian)
- Fliegende Fetzen (German)