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Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by reb01501 on Sat 23 Nov 2013, 15:31

Gaps in POB's knowledge? Can you please provide an example or two?

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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by pauljm on Sat 23 Nov 2013, 20:50

Rodger cites an episode in which Aubrey complains that the Navy Board has not supplied enough gunpowder to carry out gun-drill, when in fact (as any captain would know), it was the Ordnance Board and not the Navy Board that was responsible for the allocation of gunpowder.

He also notes: "O'Brian's view of the Admiralty and of naval intelligence is vague and not altogether convincing; his highly-placed traitors have no counterpart in reality." In a footnote Rodger points out that O'Brian did not have the benefit of Sparrow's authoritative book on the Secret Service, which only appeared in 1999.

In summary, Rodger feels that O'Brian is a great novelist, but that "...O'Brian's naval world, so complete and satisfying in itself, is not the whole world of the real Navy."

These seem to me fair comments (rather than criticisms) in an article which clearly demonstrates how effectively O'Brian used history in his novels.
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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by reb01501 on Sun 24 Nov 2013, 13:54

Was the Ordinance Board subordinate to the Navy Board? As in, the Navy Board set the rules and the Ordinance Board carried them out?

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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by pauljm on Mon 25 Nov 2013, 20:34

No, it wasn't that simple. The Ordnance Board was an entirely separate organization, despite having responsibilities which would seem to overlap with those of the Navy Board. In fact the Ordnance Board was probably more powerful, since its head (the Master General of the Ordnance) sat as a cabinet member most of the time, which the head of the Navy Board did not.

If you are interested in how the Royal Navy was supplied, and the problems caused by the proliferation of quasi-independent boards, a good recent title out check out is "The Transformation of British Naval Strategy: Seapower and Supply in Northern Europe 1808-1812" by James Davey (Woodbridge, 2012). This goes into extensive detail about the process of supplying the Baltic Fleet over the last years of the Napoleonic War.
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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by reb01501 on Tue 26 Nov 2013, 11:39

Thanks, I will look it up.

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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by pauljm on Sun 26 Jan 2014, 19:38

Here is yet another obscure piece of literary criticism, this time dealing with the relationship between Forester's hero and O'Brian's. The author looks at the three key names in writing fiction about the Royal Navy in the age of sail (Marryat, Forester and O'Brian), and not surprisingly, finds that in each case the personality and attitudes of the fictional sailor reflect those of the reader (and society at large) at the time when the novel was published. The author does a nice job of defining the key qualities that each hero embodies, and by and large avoids the use of academic jargon that often makes critical pieces frustrating to read. Don't be put off by the title, which makes it sound as if the article is part of a gender-studies course!

'Cabin'd Yet Unconfined: Heroic Masculinity in English Seafaring Novels' by Susan Bassnett: in Fictions of the Sea - Critical Perspectives on the Ocean in British Literature and Culture; ed by Bernhard Klein, Ashgate, 2002

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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by clearwater on Mon 27 Jan 2014, 02:07

Indeed, the title brings to mind a rancid clutch of hairy-lipped feminazis muttering ""not appropriate"' as they slurp their Latte's Smile
I'll hunt it down and read it, even so.
I find far more similarity in the friendship of Captain Rennie and Lt. Hayter in Peter Smally's HMS Expedient series, pauljim, to that of O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin.
The main thing that sets the Hornblower and Aubrey/Maturny series apart I feel is O'Brian's wealth of information regarding the food and music of the period, both of them described in loving detail.

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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by pauljm on Mon 27 Jan 2014, 15:39

I don't quite understand what you are getting at with your comment comparing the friendships between the protagonists in Smalley's series to those in O'Brian's. Just to be clear, the piece by Bassnett doesn't deal with the friendship of Aubrey and Maturin (or Hornblower and Bush for that matter). She is solely interested in how the personalities and actions of the individual heroes (Jack Easy, Hornblower, Aubrey) reflect the zeitgeist of the time in which they were written.
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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by Kade1301 on Sat 19 Jul 2014, 17:41

@glen55 wrote:Finally, whatever Roddenberry says, I see a lot of Aubrey in Captain Kirk, and little to no Hornblower.

But O'Brian's books were written after Star Trek was aired (and Kirk has the First Lieutenant and the surgeon - and the girls - life's not fair...)

Somebody has wondered, I believe on page 1 of this thread, whether O'Brian might have started by creating Maturin and made an Aubrey to fit. Whereas I obviously know nothing about O'Brian's way of writing, I have just learnt that Maturin was perfectly typical of a surgeon - in the French Navy! (In the other books I've read so far the British surgeon seems to be a drunkard only interested in getting limbs off as quickly as possible.)

But the Naval History Museum in Rochefort writes about naval surgeons (I'll translate in the nex paragraph):

"Les officiers de santé, comme on les appelle à partir du 19e siècle, sont plus que des médecins, pharmaciens ou chirurgiens. Leur formation, comme leur pratique, repose sur une approche généraliste de la science. Au-delà de leur connaissances médicales, ils maitrisent l'ensemble de disciplines : botanique, géologie, zoologie, ethnologie. A bord, il considèrent le monde avec les outils de la raison et décrivent, dessinent et rapportent des échantillons d'espèces nouvelles."

Translation: Health officers, as they were called from the 19th century onwards, are more than doctors, pharmacists or surgeons. Their training and their practice are based on science in general. In addition to their medical knowledge they master all disciplines : botany, geology, zoology, ethnology. On board they consider the world from a rational point of view and describe and draw new species and bring back samples of them.

Back to the original post: I too read O'Brian soon after Forester and was struck by the almost too obvious/artificial differences between Hornblower and Aubrey. On the other hand - I really don't need another Hornblower! As for Aubrey's love of music: When I saw the film (before reading the book), and wondered about a cello and a violin - both rather sensitive, valuable instruments, the former cumbersome as well, it struck me that way back then, when you wanted to hear music, in many cases you just had to make it (or find somebody to do it for you) - no recordings! For these sudden, lightbulb-switched-on insights into the past (the air above Gibraltar being black with birds, or the sea around the ship being filled with whales are other examples) I love O'Brian. Now if the man could just write about sea battles!

(Almost) Last but not least Aubrey is neither ugly nor bald - he has long yellow hair (which is mentioned about every time he goes swimming) and Maturin speculates about the handsome couple Jack and Sophie probably producing perfectly ordinary-looking children...

Somebody above mentioned that they would have liked to read about Jack's time before the mast - so would I! Guess I'll just have to find a book written from the point of view of an ordinary seaman... (any recommendations?)

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Re: Hornblower vs. Jack Aubrey

Post by Astrodene on Sat 19 Jul 2014, 21:33

@Kade1301 wrote:(any recommendations?)
That would take us off topic. Feel free to start a new topic in "The Wardroom" where they can be listed & discussed

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