‘Master and Commander’ and nautical historical novels


[ Music ]>>Welcome back to Read This
Book, I’m Lisa Von Drasek from The Children’s
Literature Research Collections of The University of Minnesota. And back with us again
to talk about communities that are brought
together by books is>>Jan Fransen and I
am the service lead for Researcher Information
and Discovery Systems at The University of
Minnesota Libraries.>>What did you bring us?>>Well this is something
you might not think that someone would me, a land
locked girl from the Midwest, would really love, but
it’s Master and Commander, which is the first in
the Aubrey-Maturin series of books by Patrick O’Brian. Let’s see, I read the first
one years ago, probably looking at the book about the
time the movie came out with Russell Crowe, and
I was enthralled with it, and I ended up reading all 20
of the books in the series.>>Wow.>>Over the course of time. And I’m a member of a Facebook
group called The Aubrey Maturin Appreciation Society,
which is shockingly active, and has thousands of members.>>And what do you think
draws these people together?>>Oh gosh, I think
really at the bottom of it is a love for
the characters. There’s certainly many people
in the group who love to think about sailing in the
Napoleonic wars and battles and that sort of, aspect of
it, and are really interested in the technical aspects of
sailing, and all of that. But I think those
people and everyone else in the community really are
interested in these characters and where they go, and
how they live their lives.>>Can you say a little bit
about who these characters are?>>Sure. The Aubrey
Maturin are the, obviously the central
two characters. Aubrey is Captain Jack Aubrey, who is a captain in
the British Navy. His dear friend is
Steven Maturin who, and of course they meet in
the first chapter of the book. Maturin is a physician and
becomes a surgeon aboard most of Aubrey’s sailing adventures. And he’s also a naturalist
so he’s always looking for interesting things, new animals that been
cataloged yet, and so on. And he’s also a spy. So there’s an element
of that going on.>>So there’s a little mystery,
there’s a very strong sense of place and time, and
you have these characters. You brought a stack of books. I was very interested
in this Lexicon.>>Yes, so Patrick O’Brian does,
I should say right off the bat, they’re historical but they’re
not like historically accurate. You couldn’t do a timeline and have it make any
sense or anything. They’re wonderful stories about
a particular place in time, but he’s wonderful
with the vocabulary. Both of the sea and the sailors,
the language that they use, and then just of the times,
and I’ll flip open the book and read you a couple. Something that catches
people a lot when they started reading these
books is not really having an understanding of all of
the parts of a ship or all of the language that
they’re using about sailing, and I contend that it’s not
that important that you do. It’s sort of like the
language that doctors in a TV show are using.>>Right, it doesn’t matter.>>But if you want to know,
say, what a close reefed means, well it means that a top sail,
with three or four reef bands, one or more of which can be
taken in to reef the sail. When the final reef is taken in, the sail is said
to be close reefed. Or a better one perhaps,
close to the wind. When the ship’s bow is pointing
as far into the wind as possible without luffing the sails.>>Luffing the sails.>>You can luffing.>>Now I have to
go look up luffing.>>So if you really want to know
that stuff you certainly can.>>I’m going to take this back. I’m going to take the book back,
because I don’t want you to go without telling me about
this gorgeous volume.>>Oh, this is a beautiful
coffee table type book that walks through,
basically the whole adventure, but has a lot of things about,
for example, the world, well, the title of this
chapter happens to be The World That Jack Knew.>>Oh.>>And a little bit about what
England would have been like at that time, what London would
have been like, what working within the system of the Royal
Navy would have been like. And then of course
at sea as well, so, there are pictures throughout
of actual people, portraits, caricatures and so on.>>So, what we’re looking at
here is not only information about the titles that he wrote, but also archival
materials that surround them.>>Yes, exactly.>>So as we look
through these, wow, so you can truly immerse
yourself in this world.>>You certainly can, yes.>>Wow, well thank you for bringing us these fabulous
volumes because I have to say, now I am interested, and I
don’t think I was before. So I hope you come back again
and talk about another community that revolves around a book.>>Thank you for
having me, Lisa.>>Lisa Von Drasek, read
this book, see you again. [ Music ]

3 thoughts on “‘Master and Commander’ and nautical historical novels

  1. Maturin would balk at the term "spy". He is an intelligence agent, but still great review. I have been through the books 5 times! Looking forward to my sixth.

  2. When you visit San Diego please come the San Diego Maritime Museum. You can come aboard the HMS Surprise. Master and Commander.

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