It's a remarkable tale of survival and solitary achievement, of a rank-and-file soldier who lives by his wits and slowly learns to make plans without orders, and shows leadership qualities and a knowledge of warfare. It's also a grim portrait of the conditions behind French lines in "the Peninsula" meaning the Iberian Peninsula, which contains Spain and Portugal at the turning point of Napoleon's war against the rest of Europe.
Basically, the whole book depicts a semi-guerilla war in which starvation is the chief weapon and the two sides must simply out-starve each other. There's a lot of brutality and death in it, and that's to be expected because it depicts war realistically and unsentimentally. An odd thing about this book is that it depicts all the same events twice, alternating points of view between Dodd and a handful of his French counterparts, a group of boyhood friends from Nantes following their pal Sgt.
They're really just boys yet--decent enough kids, appealing characters, you really feel for them. And of course Dodd has nothing against them personally, it's just that he cuts them all down one by one more or less by chance in his struggle to survive and to get back to his regiment. You really feel the heartbreak of being a French soldier at that time. And the final fate of Godinot is so bitterly ironic that it's practically tragic, though with the cold indifference toward human life that is a part of warfare, the crowning irony is that Dodd never even knew he existed.
It's a thin book, and action-packed, but not for the faint at heart. Godinot isn't the only person who has to pick himself up and move on after witnessing the death of his friends. The first acquaintance Dodd makes is a gentle young idiot I mean, cracked in the head who follows him like a puppy dog, then due to the exertion of a long march combined with cold, wet, and starvation, catches a fever and Dodd makes the tough decision to leave him in his delirium to die alone on a hillside.
A whole villageful of Portuguese "irregulars" who join him are slaughtered by the French, to the last man, woman, and child. And his last two friends, including the one that was with him through most of the novel, are hanged before his eyes. Godinot meanwhile loses one buddy after another until But it is by chance, mainly - chance, and the grim determination of Dodd's character - that the Englishman wins and the Frenchman loses.
And in the final solution neither of them really matter, because they're just footsoldiers in an age when only Generals mattered. The Horatio Hornblower tales by C. Besides the celebrated novels and short stories about Mr. Horatio Hornblower of the British Navy at the time of the Napoleonic wars, Forester also wrote a biography of the Empress Josephine , a novel called The Captain from Connecticut about an American naval officer in the same era, and representing the sharp-shooters who fought against the French in Portugal Rifleman Dodd.
Forester also wrote on the World Wars, including a controversial critique of the British management of WWI called The General , and a story about a spinster missionary and a cockney pilot who harry the Germans in the heart of the dark continent, called The African Queen memorably filmed with Bogey and Kate Hepburn. I can personally recommend each of these books. But I especially recommend the Hornblower saga, which is what first brought me into the world of C. The philandering British writer was in Hollywood, working on a screenplay about pirates for one of the major studios, when a rival studio released a film of Captain Blood and stole Forester's thunder.
Tag Archives: Horatio Hornblower
Rather than let all his painstaking historical research go to waste, Forester sketched Beat to Quarters while fleeing back to England to avoid a paternity suit in the States. The result was the smashing trilogy that continued with Ship of the Line and Flying Colours , all published in and '39, and the magnetic, contradictory, eternally enigmatic character of Horatio Hornblower. So fascinating was this character, and so enthusiastic his reception, that Forester obliged the public with several more novels and short stories, until his sudden death in cut short what would have been the novel Hornblower During the Crisis.
The Hornblower novels combine magnificently realized historic research with suspenseful chases, heartpounding battles, fevered love stories, and - best of all - the always fruitful study of the inner workings of Hornblower the man. In these books you feel that you are living virtually an entire naval life, and a remarkable one at that. Now you are going to ask: Are you crazy? Why should anyone who likes Harry Potter like this stuff?
Well, that's a good one. Give it a shot and see for yourself. But maybe a better answer is what I wrote in my review of The Coral Island , which I won't repeat here. If that works for you, then try these books! Only one other question must now arise: what order should I read the Hornblower stories in? Answer: It's up to you. But I can offer you not one, but TWO suggestions for you to consider.
Either you can take the route I took, and read them - as a current series of paperbacks numbers them - in chronological order from the beginning of Hornblower's career to the end. Or you can do what I often wish I had done, which is read them in the order Forester published them, so you can experience Hornblower the way his first generation of fans did, and meet him where the world first met him Beat to Quarters , etc. The books are reviewed below in the order of publication.
Get A Copy
The "Career of Hornblower" order of the eleven books is as follows: Mr. Midshipman Hornblower --actually a series of short stories about Hornblower's earliest naval adventures, published between and Lieutenant Hornblower --published in about Hornblower and the Hotspur --the tale of Hornblower's first command, Hornblower During the Crisis --the beginning of the novel Forester left unfnished at his death in , plus two short stories one of them from which actually belong at different points in Hornblower's career.
Hornblower and the Atropos --another "first command" sort of scenario, written in Beat to Quarters --the beginning of the original trilogy, Ship of the Line --the heart of the first trilogy, Flying Colours --the conclusion of the first trilogy, Commodore Hornblower --the story of Hornblower's rise through the ranks continues, Lord Hornblower --drawing the Napoleonic wars to a climactic close, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies --another set of short stories dating from and These are somewhat adult stories.
They aren't smut by any means, but there is a bit of questionable morality particularly in the romantic area , so parents might want to read the books themselves before deciding whether to give them to their kids. Also, there is some pretty graphic violence and death in them, and some of the deaths are pretty heartbreaking. War is hell, don't you know. And last but not least, readers might want to warm up for these books by skimming a history of the Napoleonic wars, and keep a dictionary of naval terms handy if you aren't a sailor yourself.
Some Americans might not even know who Wellington and Nelson were, leave alone the difference between a main brace and a main sheet. Some of us might even think Waterloo is a college town in Iowa, and Trafalgar is a character in The Lord of the Rings , and the yardarm is the thing they use in football games to mark first downs. If you resemble these remarks, you have a choice of doing a bit of preliminary study, or picking things up as you go along.
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower - Wikiwand
If you're the type who gives up easily, I recommend the preliminary study. As for me, I just guessed my way through all 11 books, and then looked up reference books to find out how much I had learned along the way. It was quite a bit! Beat to Quarters by C. Forester This is the real "first Hornblower novel," even though the present edition lists it as 6th of It is not only a masterpiece of naval adventure but also a kind of tragic love story, but most of all, a magnificent feat of characterization--Horatio Hornblower is, in complexity and depth and contrariness, in inner conflict and appealing self-deprecation, one of the most awesome creations in all the fiction I have read.
I would spoil it to say what became of the temptation of Lady Barbara in this volume, perhaps even by saying that my worst fears were unfounded and yet, in his typical complex fashion, Hornblower does not get off with a clean conscience. One of the most telling things about him, as I've said all along, is his ambivalent friendship with Lt. Bush--there's nothing ambivalent about it from Bush's side.
Bush is a strong, brave man of war and a capable seaman, but he has none of the penetrating intelligence, creativity, or imagination that Hornblower has--Hornblower the brilliant strategist, who is himself a good seaman and navigator, but who lacks physical prowess and is constantly tormented by inner conflict, the side effects of his intellect I suppose.
- Hornblower and the Atropos Summary & Study Guide.
- Handbook of Chemical Engineering Calculations, Fourth Edition (Mechanical Engineering).
- Lila Shortcuts?
- Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester.
- Hornblower and the Atropos [Hornblower Saga #5].
- Preaching the New Testament.
Hornblower holds Bush at arm's length, partly envying him and taking a certain mean delight in Bush's rare signs of human vulnerability, but depending on him as his own right hand as far as the ship is concerned. He snaps at Bush when he feels his dignity has been threatened, though he inwardly repents of it afterward; he finds it next to impossible to show any human feeling toward Bush, and even harder to tolerate the affection and admiration Bush shows towards him. The interplay of their characters is always fascinating, and in this book Bush, who has already shown himself a keen observer especially of his Captain, gets a chance to talk about it and bring it out in the open thanks to a compelling third character, Lady Barbara Wellesley.
My favorite passage is the one in which Bush and Lady Barbara are "sitting talking in the warm moonlight night beside the taffrail. They would do anything for him. Look how much he has done this commission, and the lash not in use once a week, ma'am. That is why he is like Nelson. They love him not for anything he does or says, but for what he is. But it wouldn't matter if he were as ugly as sin as far as he was concerned.
He never can guess how clever he is. It's that which always surprises me about him. You'd hardly believe it, ma'am, but he has no more faith in himself than--than I have in myself, ma'am, to put it that way. Less, ma'am, if anything. Hornblower had come up on deck.
They could see his face, white in the moonlight, as he looked round to assure himself that all was well with his ship, and they could read in it the torment which was obsessing him. He looked like a lost soul during the few seconds he was on deck. That inner torment was partly a result of what had gone on in the previous chapter, of course, but you get the idea.
And in this story there is plenty of fodder for Hornblower's self-torment machine. For one thing, he gets virtually impossible orders from the British Admiralty, to carry out on pains of court martial, and in spite of all odds being against him he carries them off with miraculous skill and flair.
Then he finds out that, while he was out of touch with the authorities, England and Spain became allies and his miraculous capture of a Spanish ship of war has become, in fact, a dreadful embarrassment--and even worse, he has to go back and risk his life and his ship to recapture or destroy the same ship AGAIN in order to repair the damage he has done; only this time, no matter how brilliantly he distinguishes himself, he knows that he will get no glory for what is essentially an unnecessary battle or would have been, if he hadn't followed orders so well.
I can't even begin to explain the knots and conflicts in this tale without telling you the whole darn story, so you might as well just read it and see if you agree that poor Hornblower gets pulled through the ringer, and no matter how heroically and magnificently he performs, he continually lives under an interior cloud of failure and shame. PLUS through it all he has to deal with a woman with whom he has the most complicated conceivable relationship, owing to both of them being equally complicated people. And the miracle of it is that, in addition the towering creation of his main characters, C.
Forester manages to deliver a page-turner of an adventure full of stomach-turning violence, exquisite dread, and the smell of salt spray. Ship of the Line by C. Forester The sequel to Beat to Quarters is one of the most gripping books in the series. At the end of Beat to Quarters , after surviving a brutal duel of ships in which he and his frigate Lydia vanquished the renegade Spanish ship Natividad , Capt. Hornblower found himself propositioned by his beautiful female passenger, Lady Barbara of the all-important Wellesley family.
Somehow or other they had managed to fall in love with each other. Not because of moral qualms such as faithfulness to his dumpy wife Maria but out of cowardice fear of public humiliation mainly he turned down the proposition and deeply hurt Lady Barbara. Well, as Ship of the Line begins, Hornblower and his surviving crew and officers have been transferred to a big gun ship of the line, the HMS Sutherland. This is obviously a promotion and Hornblower deserves it, but his feelings about it are complicated by various factors. Among them: the admiral in command of his squadron is Leighton, a rather unimaginative and arrogant bastard whose whirlwind marriage to the very same Lady Barbara Wellesley is a source of pain and confusion to the lovestruck Hornblower.
Another problem: by hook or by crook he has to find enough sailors or landsmen pressed into service to man his new ship, but he's hands short and there are no more hands to be found. And his mission, to escort a convoy along with the admiral's flagship and another ship of the line as far as the Mediterranean, and then to blockade the French-occupied Catalan coast of Spain, gets off to a shaky start when the convoy is immediately separated thanks to Adm.
Leighton's incompetence. After successfully defending six English merchant ships from two French privateers, Hornblower risks career suicide by forcibly taking seamen off the merchant ships and pressing them into his crew. Even so he arrives at the rendezvous point ahead of the other two ships in the squadron, and when the second ship arrives the higher-ranking captain allows the restless Hornblower three days to seek adventure along the Spanish and French coast before returning to the rendezvous.
In those three days Hornblower proves that he has turned a ship full of landlubbers and merchant marines into an A-1 fighting ship, leading five 5 glorious raids against the enemy, including the capture of several prize ships, the burning of an inland coaster an escapade that humorously results in Hornblower and his landing party returning to the ship naked , and shooting artillery at a column of Italian soldiers marching along a coastal road.