Sunday, September 13, 2015

Trying to Read Master and Commander . . .

On the recommendation of my friend Sperwer, I'm currently reading Patrick O'Brian's naval novel Master and Commander, the first volume in the Aubrey-Maturin series, and after struggling through more than 100 pages of mostly obscure nautical terminology, I dashed off a terse email to Sperwer, titling it "Flummoxed!":
Following your advice. Reading Master and Commander. Didn't realize the book was in a foreign fecking language!
And how did my friend Sperwer reply? Why, with evil, maniacal laughter, that's how:
Just listen to that. Laughing at my poor linguistic skills. Well, I'll show him. I'll learn this foreign fecking language and read this godforsaken book!

Take that, Sperwer!



At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Sperwer said...

When I first read O'Brien, I had much the same reaction. Puzzling through the nautical stuff reminded me of having to deal with all the zoological stuff about whales in Moby Dick. Imagine if Melville had combined the two!

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If that had been the case, I'd still be struggling to finish Moby Dick!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:19 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

I recall Master and Commander to be unreadable. I seem to recall C.S. Forester does a better job at this sort of thing. Also, check out Alexander Kent's nautical hurrah for England novels; I think I read one or two of them when I was a boy.

Such books are juvenile, jingoistic and poorly written. For the real story about the Royal Navy, early 19th century sea warfare, Napoleonic wars, etc, read Melville's novel WHITE JACKET about his experiences on frigate USS United States. He will disabuse you of any illusions.

And never forget Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill's assessment of the royal Navy: "Founded on rum, sodomy and the lash."

At 3:26 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

Scroll down to chapter XC "The Manning of Navies." (almost all of the way down)

For some reason it won't let me hot link, so here is the URL:

At 4:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Let's see if the code I supply in "Leave your comment" works: "The Manning of Navies."

Jeffery Hodges

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