June 09, 2005
Gratuitous Patrick O'Brian Posting (TM)
After much cajolery on my part, Mom finally started in on the Aubrey/Maturin novels recently. Below, a partial review:
Yes, curse you, I am now suffering from a new addiction--reading those d*mned sea novels, two in just the last week--Master & Commander and Post Captain. Indeed, ripping good yarns, and I do greatly like the sea battles and in fact even just the routine of life on a man o'war.
Most of the male characterizations are also first rate, especially Jack Aubrey, with his terrier-like keeness, his violin, his dull wit and thick skin - a delightful and original sort of hero. Alas, I do find Stephen Maturin rather tiresome [and] the whole bit about the introspective journal rings hollow - no man I ever heard of and very few women would take such an analytical interest in someone else's love affair, especially in one involving one's own unrequited devotion. Bah, humbug.
And I don't believe in any of the women, although I do like poor, stupid Sophie. Diana Villiers is the sort of great lady/vixen/whore/ice queen all you
fellahs secretly long for but who is never found in nature any more than Mr. Rochester.
So it follows that I don't like any of the love scenes and long for them all to get back to sea and fight somebody, which they do splendidly. Many times I actually found my heart pounding a bit when it looked certain as if our hero was going to catch it, even knowing that of course he wouldn't because of there being so many more books in the series.
Mr. O'B has certainly been reading his Jane Austen,--there's probably a
master's thesis in the Significance of the two JA's-- and cribbing from her like anything--the vices and rears joke, e.g., and a superficial similarity between Diana and Mary Crawford, the femme fatale of Mansfield Park. Also, the Jack-Sophie situation was quite snitched from the beginning of Persuasion. But then he has the good sense to steal from the best. And he certainly does love Mozart. These are mighty points in his favor.
I should say, overall, a b-plus. And, of course I'm going to read the rest of
them, even the ones that you say aren't so good.
Heh. My work is done here.
And on another note, how about a show of hands from those of you out there who think Mom ought to start blogging herself?
YIPS from Steve: Absolutely!
Posted by Robert at June 9, 2005 03:42 PM
Depends - mom isn't gonna subject us to posts about gardening, is she?
Because I'm here to tell you, the blogosphere is full up!
I have been listening to the books on tape versions I get from the library. I have very long drives quite often and these are far preferable to radio stations. I started with abridged versions but have now found the unabridged versions and they are great.
Your mom has some great insights. She should definitely blog.
The JA/JA insight (Jack Aubrey as Jane Austen?) has some real merit. It reminds me of the ballet by Sir Charles Mackerras, "Pineapple Poll"* where, at the end, all the sailors reveal that they are actually women. Was O'Brian planning to reveal something big at the end?
*(Not to get too obscure. Mackerras is best known as a conductor of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas (of which I have about 10); in Pineapple Poll he writes not an original line of music but takes every note from the operas and rearranges/transposes them into a new form, around which he stages the opera. It's really very cool -- a line of music from The Mikado suddenly morphs into something from the Gondoliers, and then to Trial by Jury. And so on. I can identify most of the changes, but he goes into some of the really obscure ones at different points.
But mom is wrong about Diana Villers. I've encountered her about six times in my own life, always to my ruin.
I know, I know. Go blog on my own site . . .
I just finished H.M.S. Surprise and need to go get the next one. Though I'm thinking it would be more cost effective to get the boxed set -- assuming I can put together the cash for it all at once.
Yes, your mom should get a blog.
Yes Mom should get a blog. And I agree with her about Jack Aubrey, definitely my favorite character, though everyone else seems to prefer Maturin. I love the way he's a complete numbskull on land--very Bertie Woosterish--and a natural leader at sea.
I've never read any of the Jack Aubrey books. How do they compare to C.S. Forester's Hornblower series?
The only Forester I've read is The African Queen--
which I thought rather a good bit better, actually;
I'd give it an A minus--but have no idea if the Hornblower series is as good. The stone age movie made of one of same seemed, if memory serves, like pretty standard adventure stuff with poor old Gregory Peck, as Capt. H H, being made to perform gruff throat-clearing noises in moments of stress or great emotion in an effort to establish character. (I suppose that was why.)
Did you know that former Ambassador (now Director, National Intelligence) Negroponte's wife is named Diana Villiers Negroponte?
At one time, she was on Habitat for Humanity International's board of directors:
My mom just runs from the computer -- sorta like the dog from a vaccum cleaner.
NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.
Thanks for your kind and flattering responses, but I'd rather just do the odd book review or literary
mini-essay. (Of course if Bill insists, I could also keep you posted on my little perennial garden.) I hope you'll keep on reading and commenting. My goodness, how I like a really good discussion! Feel free to be emphatic--I take nothing personally.