Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm Reading O'Brian Again

I do this every few years; I start reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series again. I ran out of library books to read during the pass-by of Hurricane Irene in late August so I went to my personal collection and grabbed Master and Commander. Again.

It may be the start of another run through the whole 20-book series. Maybe. Last time, it was May to October of 2006. That has been the only time I have read through the series start-to-finish. I've read most of the novels in the series at least twice, but usually in a disconnected, non-sequential way.

I enjoy sea-stories and stories from the Napoleonic wars. But what I love most about these books is the language. Writing like this:
...it would have been difficult to imagine a pleasanter way of spending the late summer than sailing than sailing across the whole width of the Mediterranean as fast as the sloop could fly. She flew a good deal faster now that Jack had hit upon her happiest trim, restowing her hold to bring her by the stern and restoring her masts to the rake her Spanish builders had intended. What is more, the brothers Sponge, with a dozen of the Sophie's swimmers under their instruction, had spent every moment of the long calms in Greek waters (their native element) scraping her bottom; and Stephen could remember an evening when he had sat there in the warm, deepening twilight, watching the sea; it had barely a ruffle on its surface, and yet the Sophie picked up enough moving air with her topgallants to draw a long, straight whispering furrow across the water, a line brilliant with unearthly phosphorescence, visible for a quart of a mile behind her. Days and nights of unbelievable purity. Nights when the steady Ionian breeze rounded the square mainsail -- not a brace to be touched, watch relieving watch -- and he and Jack on deck, sawing away, sawing away, lost in their music , until the falling dew untuned their strings. And days when the perfection of dawn was so great , the emptiness so entire, that men were almost afraid to speak.
I marked this passage as I read by it the other day and thought it might make a good blog post. In searching back through this blog for previous O'Brian posts I realized I've done this kind of post a few times before.

I finished Master and Commander yesterday. The library is closed, so I moved on to Post Captain, the second in the series. I don't know if this is the start of another run through all 20 novels. That would probably carry me into January.

1 comment:

rob's uncle said...

The very odd thing about this is that POB had done virtually no sailing at all, ever. A yachtsman who invited him to join him for a Mediterranean cruise was astounded by his ignorance of, for example, how far apart ports were and how many days it would take to sail from A to B - something he is always very vague about in purple passages such as this.

It's great reading, nonetheless . .

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