Jack Aubrey quotes

I never manage to say anything very sensible about the Aubrey/Maturin books except that I love them to bits. One of the very many reasons I love them is Jack Aubrey’s way with words. Or lack of way with words, more accurately. He can turn any perfectly well known idiom or proverb into something quite delightfully ridiculous.

For example:

It will not do to meddle with him. He is the kind of lamb that lies down with the lion, in wolf’s clothing.

From The Letter of Marque, page 134. And from HMS Surprise, page 157:

‘It is not what you would call handsome,’ said Jack laughing, ‘but a bird in the hand is worth any amount of beating about the bush, don’t you agree?’

And this exchange between Jack and Stephen in The Far Side of the World (Jack being the first speaker), page 106:

‘It was the strangest experience: there he was, telling me things to my face as though he were invisible, while I could see him as plain as…’
‘The ace of spades?’
‘No. Not quite that. As plain as… God damn it. As plain as the palm of my hand? A turnpike?’
‘As Salisbury Sphere? As a red herring?’
‘Perhaps so.’

And later in the same novel, at page 293:

‘That would be locking the horse after the stable door is gone, a very foolish thing to do.’

Indeed. Again at page 306:

‘Only this morning I was thinking how right they were to say it was better to be a dead horse than a live lion.’ He gazed out of the scuttle, obviously going over the words in his mind. ‘No. I mean better to flog a dead horse than a live lion.’
‘I quite agree.’ [Stephen]
‘Yet even that’s not quite right, neither. I know there is a dead horse in it somewhere; but I am afraid I’m brought by the lee this time, though I rather pride myself on proverbs, bringing them in aptly, you know, and to the point.’
‘Never distress yourself, brother; there is no mistake I am sure. It is a valuable saying, and one that admonishes us never to underestimate our enemy, for whereas flogging a dead horse is child’s play, doing the same to a lion is potentially dangerous, even though one may take a long spoon.’

Stephen is quite as bad as Jack when he tries to use nautical expressions, otherwise he spends a bit of time confusing his friend further unless he is in a particularly amiable mood (as he is in that last exchange). Though how you’d bring a long spoon to flogging a live lion, I’m not so sure…

En smakebit på søndag #1

fortuneWell, ok, Tuesday. As challenged by Mari at Flukten fra virkeligheten – and on bokelskere.no – here is a quote from my current read, The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian:

Though they liked the notion of prize-money, they could not see much sense in fighting the Americans: there were half a dozen Americans aboard at this moment, and they were practically the same as Englishmen – no airs or graces about them – and you could not say fairer than that. Fighting the French was different; they were foreigners, and somehow it came natural.

Yes, I’m at it again. So now you know what I’m reading this month or so.

At it again

I succumbed. I realised a little while back that one of the reasons Fiction and I were at odds was that whatever I tried to read had one major fault: It was not Patrick O’Brian. I tried to resist starting another reread because, really, there are so many books in mnt tbr and a reread takes two months at least, two months when I don’t get to reduce the mnt at all. So I read some non-fiction, which kept me amused, but then decided that O’Brian was worth it, and now I’m half-way into Master & Commander.

I’m not given to envy, but oh, how I envy those lucky people who get to read the Aubrey/Maturin saga for the first time. I even envy my past self. Had I realised what was going on I would have savoured it more. However, a reread is no bad thing, either, I still discover new treasures (and smile in recognition at old).

The 20-book set must be one of my best book-puchases ever. Talk about value for money. I bought most of them at «3 for 2» in Worthing, and at least one second-hand – in the Oxfam bookshop i Oxford, in fact. And I read them when I first bought them in 2000 (pre-blog days), and again in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007. And my father has read them once. So with this reread we’re up to 7 reads. See why I buy books rather than borrow them?

Oops. It’s been a while…

Ah well.

After American Pastorale, I reread the Aubrey/Maturin series for the umpteenth time, so that accounts for about two months…

Since then I have no excuse, except it’s hard to keep both a baby and a laptop on your knee at the same time. Anyhoo, I’ve been reading:

Citizen Girl by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus – not a high point. It’s engaging, but seems rather pointless and left me feeling that it lacked any sort of conclusion.

Nattelangs av Gro Jørstad Nilsen var noe meningsløs. Ingen god reklame for norsk litteratur denne heller. Er det bare jeg som er uheldig eller står det så dårlig til?

Matilda, litt av en robot av Philip Newth. Ny Matilda-bok! Litt skuffende, riktignok. Historien hang litt dårlig sammen, synes jeg, særlig har jeg vanskelig for å godta at robotene skulle kunne ønske seg følelser dersom de ikke har en slags følelser allerede (kan man ønske seg noe hvis man ikke kan føle?). Vanskelig å si om Newth er blitt dårligere eller jeg eldre… Det finner jeg vel ut om noen år når det er på tide å begynne å lese Matilda-bøkene for ungen.

The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich – a reread, as it was one of the few books I could find on my shelves with a botanical word in the title and therefore useful for Alvhyttan’s May Flowers / Botanical Challenge 2007. Hence this is going to be bookcrossed shortly, but I wanted to reread it first. As usual with Louise Erdrich this story was magical and down to earth at the same time. Definitely an author to note on your TBR-list if she’s not already there.

Uncle Dynamite by P.G. Wodehouse – Wodehouse being Wodehouse, this was funny and clever.

I’m sure there’s more… In which case I’ll add them later.

American Pastoral – Philip Roth

When I was admitted to hospital for observation rather unexpectedly because of high blood pressure in the last week before my due date, Martin had to be sent in to the town centre to provide reading material, as we had both, inadvertently, left home without a book. Philip Roth’s American Pastoral was not a bad choice for an emergency read. The novel is engaging and touches on some profound issues around identity and image. However, I found it ended somewhat prematurely, I would have liked another few chapters to «round off» the narrative. I assume Roth has his reasons for ending the way he does, and I suppose, in retrospect, I can see that it makes sense on some levels. And it should not put you off reading the book.

I finished American Pastoral while waiting for the inducing of the kid’s birth to take effect, and the next book I picked up was Master & Commander. Jupp, I’ve started my – uhm- is it fourth or fifth? – reread of O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, so if I do not update the bookblog for a month or two (what with a newborn baby in the house, there is limited time available for reading) you’ll know why.

The Aubrey/Maturin series

No, I’m not dead. Neither am I «might has well have been dead», that is: Not reading. I just made the mistake of looking into The Final, Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey and, as is quite natural when it comes to O’Brian, simply had to reread the series. Which takes a while. It’s time well spent, though, and if you’ve still to read Master and Commander (just forget about the silly film and read the book, I tell you), then shame on you.


In which we finish at last.

I just put down Blue at the Mizzen, which means I am done with this year’s reread of O’Brian. For a few weeks now I’ve really been itching to read other books, but somehow I just can’t stop reading the Aubrey/Maturin books once I’ve started. Oh, I wish there were 20 more, of course, but as there aren’t, I am very happy to be done.

But, if you have not yet read any O’Brian, then shoo. Off with you! Go read Master & Commander. And come back in a few days when I»ll have something else to write about.

Gosh. Time flies.

I’m still reading O’Brian. I’ve got to The Far Side of the World, now, which is half-way though the canon and is the book Peter Weir has based the upcoming film on. I can see his point about it being filmable, however, considering how much they have reportedly changed the plot, I can’t quite see why they couldn’t just have started at the beginning and changed the plot of Master & Commander in order to make it filmable too. But then I’m not a film maker, maybe I’d see things differently if I were.

Master & Commander

In which we’re back to Patrick again.

So, since Christmas, what have I been reading? Well, I’m afraid I started Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels again. It is unfortunate, in a way, because there are 20 of them, and it is quite impossible to stop once one has started. I say 20, I may have to make do with 19 as I seem to have mislaid HMS Surprise (mislaying a Frigate is quite impressive, really). I cannot imagine where it has gone to. It is highly annoying and I am quite put out about it.

Well, so far, then, I have read Master & Commander which is where Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin meet for the first time. It is the year 1800, Jack is in Mahon pining for a ship and Stephen has been left in rather difficult circumstances because the patient he was to accompany to the Mediterranean died mid-voyage and Stephen does not have any money to pay for a passage back home. After a first unfortunate meeting which nearly ends in a duel, Jack, in his joy over having been appointed Commander of the sloop Sophia, invites Stephen to dinner, and on discovering that he is a physician, suggests that he «join the navy», that is, become a naval surgeon. Stephen accepts, and that is the start of the delightful 20 books…

I’ve also finished Post Captain, which is why I’ve discovered that HMS Surprise has gone AWOL, it ought by rights to have been next. As it is, I have skipped on to The Mauritius Command.

I would like to know where the dear ship has gone, though. My flat isn’t that big. How can a novel simply disappear?

Blue at the Mizzen

blue_mizzenIn which we wave goodbye and say hello.

Finished Blue at the Mizzen yesterday. I had to wave farewell to Jack and Stephen. Desolation Island ain’t innit. I suppose I could start all over again, but first I have to reread Pamela for a course. Lucky for Pamela she’s not a real person, as I think I might have strangled her. I would certainly have drowned Robinson Crusoe, the «hero» (using the term very loosely) of the book we read for the last session. But perhaps he were to be hanged? That would explain why he was so unperishable. I’m looking forward to Shamela, being next on our list. It might possibly reconsole me to Richardson that at least he furnished food for such excellent pulling of legs.

Saw The Shipping News Saturday. What a wonderful film. I have no idea what it was all about, though.

Funny moment Saturday evening: I have a somewhat squewed concept of time, especially as regards my own age. I was 13 last year, I’m sure (at least I don’t feel any older), unfortunately that would make this, uhm, 1988. Which it obviously isn’t. Anyway, was out with a friend and we went to TGI Fridays. They had a sign saying you had to be 24 to enter. I actually had to stop: «Am I?» Well, a quick calculation told me I had nothing to worry about. However, earlier in the day we had been to an Irish pub (excellent fish and chips!) where the sign was 20 years. And I had actually hesitated just for a moment…

Funnily enough I never seem to forget that I’m above legal drinking age, though.

The bottle stands by you, sir.