Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #101  
Old 12-06-2016, 07:57 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,650
I agree with Sangahyando.

That doesn't mean that good historical novels can't have wild and improbable adventures, but they should at least be possible, and the history should be accurate.

IMHO a series that does this right is the Flashman books. Brilliantly funny, and with some improbable events... but every time some unusual character appears in the novels, and you check whether such a person actually existed, you will find he did, and was exactly as described. Every time the novels deal with historical events (which is often), you'll find that all the facts are accurate.

For the uninitiated, the original Flashman was the villain in the novel Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes (1857). Flashman is a bully, a coward, and a liar. In the end he is expelled from Rugby School, and the virtuous Tom Brown lives happily ever after.

In 1969 George MacDonald Fraser revived the character as an anti-hero in his own novels, and took up the story after Flashman's expulsion.

Flashman tells the reader his own story in the first person, looking back at his life from the age of 80. He has been extremely successful (far more so than Tom Brown). He is now General Sir Henry Flashman, VC, KCB, KCIE, Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur, U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, San Serafino Order of Purity and Truth, 4th Class - and a member of the Board of Governors of Rugby School. He is extremely wealthy, a personal friend of the royal family, and esteemed by one and all as a perfect English gentleman.

However... in reality his character has remained unchanged from his schooldays with Tom Brown. He is, as he tells the reader, "a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward - and, oh yes, a toady." He's just been very good at it. The books are very, very funny - but are also unusually historically accurate.

Read the Look Inside on Amazon to get a taste of it.
  #102  
Old 12-06-2016, 08:12 AM
carnivorousplant is offline
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 58,983
Let us not forget that Flashman served in the US Civil War.
On both sides.
  #103  
Old 12-06-2016, 11:23 AM
Sangahyando is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 2,436
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
I agree with Sangahyando.

That doesn't mean that good historical novels can't have wild and improbable adventures, but they should at least be possible, and the history should be accurate.

IMHO a series that does this right is the Flashman books. Brilliantly funny, and with some improbable events... but every time some unusual character appears in the novels, and you check whether such a person actually existed, you will find he did, and was exactly as described. Every time the novels deal with historical events (which is often), you'll find that all the facts are accurate.

For the uninitiated, the original Flashman was the villain in the novel Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes (1857). Flashman is a bully, a coward, and a liar. In the end he is expelled from Rugby School, and the virtuous Tom Brown lives happily ever after.

In 1969 George MacDonald Fraser revived the character as an anti-hero in his own novels, and took up the story after Flashman's expulsion.

Flashman tells the reader his own story in the first person, looking back at his life from the age of 80. He has been extremely successful (far more so than Tom Brown). He is now General Sir Henry Flashman, VC, KCB, KCIE, Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur, U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, San Serafino Order of Purity and Truth, 4th Class - and a member of the Board of Governors of Rugby School. He is extremely wealthy, a personal friend of the royal family, and esteemed by one and all as a perfect English gentleman.

However... in reality his character has remained unchanged from his schooldays with Tom Brown. He is, as he tells the reader, "a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward - and, oh yes, a toady." He's just been very good at it. The books are very, very funny - but are also unusually historically accurate.

Read the Look Inside on Amazon to get a taste of it.
"Flashman" is indeed great fun; though IMO some books in the series are better than others.

The one big requirement for willing suspension of disbelief which I find with the Flashman books, is: in sober reality, it would be quite impossible for one person not only to have been present, throughout the period 1840 -- 1900, at virtually all the British Empire's big historical events and many of those of other countries too; but to have played significant roles in all of them. I live with that issue, by reflecting that the series is, in its way, a comical and satirical "take" on history (albeit with, in the course of the books, many decidedly serious and perceptive thoughts and comments being expressed) -- whereby, I feel, earning "license" for the big impossibility of "he couldn't have been everywhere, and been vitally important to the action in every instance !"

In the catalogue of Flashman's ignoble traits: as well as scoundrel / liar / cheat / thief / coward / toady, he is an obsessive and irremediable lecher and unfaithful husband (and, it would seem, highly attractive to many of those of the female persuasion): by his account, the number of different women he had sex with during his life, is several hundreds -- and more or less his only redeeming feature, is that in the novels, he is unsparingly honest about his wicked propensities and deeds -- one feels he is not exaggerating re his sex life ! (In parallel with all this, he harbours a genuine love in a weird kind of way, for his wife of very many years.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Let us not forget that Flashman served in the US Civil War.
On both sides.
And Fraser died before he could write the "Flashy in the Civil War" novel, damn it ! We have only tantalising hints in the other books. From certain things said by Fraser, it would appear that he never in fact planned to write the actual Civil War volume.
  #104  
Old 12-07-2016, 03:49 PM
Airk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,964
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parenchyma View Post
I'm noticing that most listeners are Patrick Tully fans. I listened to all the audiobooks over a few years, with judicious spacing between books as needed, and much preferred Simon Vance as a reader. Probably because I was already about ten books in, and had already imprinted on Mr Vance's voice, when the only version of the next book available at the library was by Mr Tully. I just couldn't handle it. Kind of the same as never watching the movie so it doesn't destroy my mental pictures of the characters (and that I'm not a Russell Crowe fan). I like Mr Vance's reading enough that I'm happy since to listen to even marginal books that he's reading.
This is completely me. I've listened to a bit of both, and Mr. Tull just couldn't do voices that conjured the characters in my mind the way Simon Vance did.

Actually, I started out with a third reader, whose name I have embarassingly forgotten, who I felt was better than either, but he didn't seem to do past book 5 or so.
  #105  
Old 04-23-2019, 03:06 PM
Elendil's Heir is offline
SDSAB
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: my Herkimer Battle Jitney
Posts: 85,214
Bumped.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
I saw Master and Commander and enjoyed it, and read HMS Surprise and liked it, but didn't feel compelled to rush out and read any of the other books.

As I've posted on the Dope before, a high school friend of mine is a huge O'Brian fan but doesn't enjoy the long descriptions of sails, ropes, masts, yardarms, etc. Whenever he gets to such a passage he thinks to himself, "They are handling the ship very skillfully," and skips ahead.
Three years later, and I'm now working my way through the entire series. Great stuff! I finished the fifth, Desolation Island, not long ago.

For anyone who'd like a replica of Aubrey's Royal Navy flag, from 1801 and thereafter: http://www.militaryissue.com/British...ctinfo/101659/
  #106  
Old 04-24-2019, 04:20 AM
mako88sb is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
Bumped.


Three years later, and I'm now working my way through the entire series. Great stuff! I finished the fifth, Desolation Island, not long ago.

For anyone who'd like a replica of Aubrey's Royal Navy flag, from 1801 and thereafter: http://www.militaryissue.com/British...ctinfo/101659/
The Leopards encounter with the Dutch SOL, subsequent long chase and how it all unfolded was without a doubt the most gripping thing I ever read. I was actually late for work(only the second time in 33 years) because I simply couldn't put the book down until I found out what happened.
  #107  
Old 04-24-2019, 09:14 AM
carnivorousplant is offline
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 58,983
Quote:
Originally Posted by mako88sb View Post
The Leopards encounter with the Dutch SOL, subsequent long chase and how it all unfolded was without a doubt the most gripping thing I ever read. I was actually late for work(only the second time in 33 years) because I simply couldn't put the book down until I found out what happened.
Yes, the series is good stuff.
  #108  
Old 08-18-2019, 10:18 PM
Elendil's Heir is offline
SDSAB
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: my Herkimer Battle Jitney
Posts: 85,214
Dr. Maturin is not always an admirer of particular members of the fairer sex, as seen in these two passages from HMS Surprise:

“The nymphs in green? Delightful girls.’ [Capt. Aubrey said, after a dinner party]

‘It is clear you have been a great while at sea, to call those sandy-haired coarse-featured pimply short-necked thick-fingered vulgar-minded lubricious blockheads by such a name. Nymphs, forsooth. If they were nymphs, they must have had their being in a tolerably rank and stagnant pool: the wench on my left had an ill breath, and turning for relief I found her sister had a worse; and the upper garment of neither was free from reproach. Worse lay below, I make no doubt.” [Dr. Maturin replied]

He had earlier said of Aubrey's future mother-in-law:

'I particularly wished to serve my friend Aubrey [who] was on the point of becoming engaged to a most amiable young woman. They are deeply attached to one another; but since her mother, a widow with considerable property under her own control, is a deeply stupid, griping, illiberal, avid, tenacious, pinchfist lickpenny, a sordid lickpenny and a shrew, there is no hope of marriage without his estate is cleared and he can make at least some kind of settlement upon her.'

Now THAT'S how you insult someone!
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:05 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017