Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Re: O'Brian on the power of novels


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. My
> fervent hope is that someone here will say, "Oh, sure, that's
> right here." I need it for a literacy narrative in school. It
> isn't the end of the world (nor even The Far Side of the World
> lol) if I can't find the passage, but it would certainly be nice
> to have since it perfectly supports a point I'm making.
> Thank you in advance,

From "The Nutmeg of Consolation":
  ‘Sir,’ said Stephen, ‘I read novels with the utmost pertinacity.
  I look upon them – I look upon good novels – as a very valuable
  part of literature, conveying more exact and finely-
  distinguished knowledge of the human heart and mind than almost
  any other, with greater breadth and depth and fewer constraints.
  Had I not read Madame de La Fayette, the Abbé Prévost, and the
  man who wrote Clarissa, that extraordinary feat, I should be
  very much poorer than I am; and a moment’s reflection would add
  many more.’


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