Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Re^3: O'Brian on the power of novels


I always thought that quote was from Boswell. Well, you can learn something new every day whether you want to or not.

On Wed Mar 29, Max wrote
>Apparently Jack was also  reader of Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield:>>
>Sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.
>On Tue Mar 28, Don Seltzer wrote
>>On Mon Mar 27, Brian O'Patrick wrote
>>>I'm looking for a passage from one of the books where O'Brian, through Stephen Maturin, reflects on the wonderful ability of novels to plumb the depths of what it means to be human, much more effectively than any textbook or factual treatise can.

>>I think that we should give equal time to Jack's view of the novel,

>>'I never was a great reader,' said Jack. His friends looked down at their wine and smiled. 'I mean I never could get along with your novels and tales. Admiral Burney - Captain Burney then - lent me one wrote by his sister* when we were coming back with a slow convoy from the West Indies; but I could not get through with it - sad stuff, I thought. Though I dare say the fault was in me, just as some people cannot relish music; for Burney thought the world of it, and he was as fine a seaman as any in the service. He sailed with Cook, and you cannot say fairer than that.'

>>'That is the best qualification for a literary critic I ever heard of,' said Yorke. 'What was the name of the book?'

>>'There you have me,' said Jack. 'But it was a small book, in three volumes, I think; and it was all about love. Every novel I have ever looked into is all about love; and I have looked into a good many, because Sophie loves them, and I read aloud to her while she knits, in the evening. All about love.'

>>'Of course they are,' said Yorke. 'What else raises your blood, your spirits, your whole being, to the highest pitch, so that life is triumphant, or tragic, as the case may be, and so that every day is worth a year of common life? When you sit trembling for a letter? When the whole of life is filled with meaning, double-shotted? To be sure, when you actually come to what some have called the right true end, you may find the position ridiculous, and the pleasure momentary; but novels, upon the whole, are concerned with getting there. And for that matter, what else makes the world go round?'

>>*Frances Burney

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