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Blue at the Mizzen

From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 1:28 PM
Subject: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

Right on page 1 of Blue at the Mizzen, prize money is being distributed.

I'd like to know how much Jack's share will be. (There's a Hundred Days spoiler here: you've been warned.)

You'll remember the galley loaded with coins -- gold, silver, and copper -- enough to supply an entire army with two month's pay. You'll remember that Jack took it, and you'll have noticed how elusive POB was about how much it was worth: all those charming barrels, enough to use as ballast, but Jack told the admiral he didn't know how many there were. The admiral may have believed this. Lissuns won't.

But when BATM came along, POB told us precisely how much ordinary seaman John Anderson received. "One hundred and fifty-seventh part of a half share," says the clerk, and John gets "seventeen pound, seventeen shillings, and fourpence."

Not bad. But that ain't 'arf. POB is playing a trick.

Because the clerk goes on to say that three hundred and sixty five pounds more is remitted to Anderson's wife. A cahoopit sum.

Now we have all we need to know.

Wd some Lissun more money'd than I pls figure out Jack's share? (Remember the admiral who grabs some of it away.)

Then we might figure Maturin's share. And even what those shares might have bought in those days.,

Charlezzzzz, setting up his coach


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 1:48 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

And nobody minded that the Doctor went picking through, taking out the coins he liked. That would never happen where _I_ work.


From: Don seltzer
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 7:29 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

Jack's share as captain was 20,0036 14s 2d (approximately). Stephen's was about 2146 15s 10 d

As to how to rech that figure, we can ask Mr. Daniel:

'Well, sir, the captain has two eighths of the value of the prize; but if he is acting under a flag-officer he must give the admiral a third of what he receives: then the lieutenants, master and captain of the Marines have equal shares of one eighth: then the Marine lieutenants, surgeon, purser, bosun, gunner, carpenter, master mates and chaplain, equal shares in another eighth; while everybody else shares the remaining half, though not equally, the reefers having four and a half shares each, the lower warrant-officers like the cook and so on, three; the seamen, able and ordinary, one and a half, landmen and servants one, and boys half a share each.' -THD

Don Seltzer


From: Anthony Gary Brown
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 8:06 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

Jack's share as captain was 20,0036 14s 2d (approximately). Stephen's was about 2146 15s 10 d

Astonishing sums of money. Looooong ago in the Gunroom we had a loooong thread about how much a pound sterling of, say, 1810, would be worth today (we came to blows over it, as I recall). There are so many imponderables that it's difficult to really come up with one figure that is universally meaningful. But Jack's 20 thousand (if that's what Don means - his figure is a tad odd!) is between 1 1/2 and 2 million today.

Gary
in Dallas (who won the Texas Lotto last week - all 8 dollars of it)


From:Batrinque@AOL.COM
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 8:55 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

Well, let's see ... 157th part of a half share is 376 pounds, 17 shillings and 4 pence. That would make the full value of the prize a healthy 118,331 pounds, 1 shilling, and 9 pence, more or less. And Jack's one-eighth, less one-third of that for the admiral, comes out to 19,721 pounds and 17 shillings. Which with an exchange rate at the time of roughly 5 American dollars per British pound and an approximate inflation factor of 20 since the early 19th Century would bring Jack's taking to the equivalent of about 2 million US dollars today.

Bruce Trinque
Amston, CT


From: Jebvbva@AOL.COM
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 10:04 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

figures seem wrong- I think the first post says jack got 2/8, the upper officers got 1/8, lower officers got 1/8 and the crew got the other half!=(4/8) If 1/157 of a half share was 382 pounds, then 1 share(=4/8) would be 314 x 382 or 118,000.

This would be 1/2or(4/8)of the value- so Jack would get half of that(2/8) or 59,000 of which the admiral gets 19,600. So jack nets 39,400 lb, by my calculation.

John B


From: Jebvbva@AOL.COM
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 10:12 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

In a message dated 7/16/2003 8:30:51 PM Eastern Daylight Time, dseltzer@DRAPER.COM writes:

then the Marine lieutenants, surgeon, purser, bosun, gunner, carpenter, master mates and chaplain, equal shares in another eighth;

How many marine lieutenants and master mates are there ? If 2 lt and 1 MM, that makes 9 . Reading it over, I think POB is mixing things up-

John B


From: Jebvbva@AOL.COM
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 10:14 PM
Subject: Re: [Disregard my calculation-

Disregard my last abbout surgeon share- i hit send while calculating

John B


From: Batrinque@AOL.COM
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 10:35 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

In a message dated 7/16/03 11:05:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Jebvbva@AOL.COM writes:

figures seem wrong- I think the first post says jack got 2/8, the upper officers got 1/8, lower officers got 1/8 and the crew got the other half!=(4/8) If 1/157 of a half share was 382 pounds, then 1 share(=4/8) would be 314 x 382 or 118,000. This would be 1/2or(4/8)of the value- so Jack would get half of that(2/8) or 59,000 of which the admiral gets 19,600. So jack nets 39,400 lb, by my calculation.

Two things -- First, I don't entirely follow your line of argument here. What are you saying is the total value of the prize? 118,000 or double that? I think it clear that if 382 pounds, more or less, is equal to one-half of 157th (or 157th of one-half, if you prefer) of the total. Then the whole must be worth two times 157 times 382 pounds, or about 118,000 pounds. Second, Jack's portion of 2/8 is reduced by 1/3 of that going to the Admiral (this is after the reforms of 1808 which reduced the captain's and flag officer's take). So Jack ends up with two-thirds of two-eighths of 118,000 pounds, or around 20,000 pounds.

Bruce Trinque
4137'52"N 7222'29"W


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 8:46 AM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

But Jack's 20 thousand (if that's what Don >means - his figure is a tad odd!) is between 1 1/2 and 2 million today.

Oops! That should be 20,036 14s 2d for Jack's share, based upon a little more than 120,220 value for the entire prize. Some of the confusion in understanding POB's calculations is in the use of "share" in several ways. There are the initial 1/8 shares of the total prize value, with 2/8 to the captain, 1/8 to other commissioned officers and master, 1/8 to other gunroom officers, and 4/8 to the rest of the crew.

Within these groups, there are further subdivisions by various rules. Of the captain's 2/8, Jack gets 2/3 and either Admiral Barmouth or Admiral Keith gets 1/3 (this would likely lead to a nasty law suit between the two admirals, arguing whose orders were in effect for the capture. Nelson, St. Vincent, and Keith were once involved in a similar 3 way suit over prize money).

The officers' subdivisions were simple even shares of their respective 1/8's. Stephen and the other senior warrant officers did very well because there were so few of them. No marine officers onboard at the time, and either one or two master's mates, so their 1/8 share would have been divided into only 6 or 7 parts. Jacob is likely cut out of the sharing, as he was listed on the ship's books as a supernumerary.

The 4/8 that went to the crew is more complicated. Rather than equal shares, each sailor received a weighted share according to his rating. With few landsmen and boys aboard Surprise, the most common individual payout would have been 1.5 shares per seaman.

In BATM, I think that POB is simplifying the system when he writes that seaman Anderson received a 1/157 half share. What he likely means is that that there are 157 ordinary crew members sharing 1/2 of the total prize. On that basis, Anderson's 382.8 suggests a total prize value of 120,220.

Note the cute political move that the new Algerian Dey pulls at the end of THD. He agrees to relinquish his claim to the gold aboard the galley for a mere 'loan' of 250,000. What a deal, considering the limited lifespans of his three immediate predecessors.

Don Seltzer


From: Jebvbva@AOL.COM
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

In a message dated 7/16/2003 11:36:23 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Batrinque@AOL.COM writes:

Then the whole must be worth two times 157 times 382 pounds, or about 118,000 pounds

I take 118 000 as being 1/2 the value of the prize or 4 shares. Value is 236000. I am taking a share as that group's portion of the pot. That is; there are 8 shares to the whole. Jack gets 2,shares, the senior officers get 1 share , the junior staff get 1 share and the other half of the pot is split among the crew. Another confusion factor is that Anderson is a seaman, so he gets 1 1/2 share as apposed to the lower ratings that get 1/2 share.

so half of the total value is split amongst the crew and it is this amount that is divided into shares. Steven gets about 1/9 or 1/10 of the officer's share of 1/8 of the total.,depending on how many Marine LTs there are.( I get about 2900 pounds.(238000/8/10)

John B


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 9:02 PM
Subject: Re: Money, money, money (Blue at the Mizzen)

So...now we can get down to the important stuff. I've been wondering...if the Surprise had carried a radio officer, how much wd he have got?

No doubt he'd have been a warrant officer.

Now...if the entire prize was worth 120K pounds, one eighth of that wd be 15K pounds. Divided by 7, each warrant guy wd have got about 2K pounds.

Following Bruce's rule: "Which with an exchange rate at the time of roughly 5 American dollars per British pound and an approximate inflation factor of 20 since the early 19th Century would bring Jack's taking to the equivalent of about 2 million US dollars today."

The radio guy, like Maturin, wd get $200,000. (Plus interest, of course, over nearly 200 years since then.)

Charlezzzzz, born too late


From: Ed Mini
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2003 9:14 AM
Subject: Present value of British pounds

A very useful site to see present values is:

http://www.eh.net/ehresources/howmuch/poundq.php

As pointed out in main page, you have to fill in all the blanks -- s d

As a child I became fascinated with things English and learned about pounds and shillings, as well as the rules for cricket. When I finally got to London this spring it was to early for cricket and the shilling had disapeared!

--------------------------------
Ed Mini
Master & Commander, S/V Margalo


From: Linnea
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 9:05 PM
Subject: GPRD: Blue at the Mizzen: Great Speculations

Are we not going to talk about this book? I raced through all the others and finished months ago, saving this so that it would be fresh in my mind when we came to it. And now I am caught up in too many other things. I can not get caught up in BATM the way I did with the others, not yet anyway, and I can remember very little from my reading of it when it was first published. I could not make sense of the first 100 pages that I have read, until I speculated.

The first thing that we learn is that the crew are radiant with joy: the SURPRISE has taken a very elegant prize, a Moorish ship laden with gold. As soon as each man's share has been counted out, Jack sets sail from his anchorage in the channel near Gibraltar; they must sail through a storm at night and they collide "with a huge, dark and otherwise lightless craft coming right before the wind at ten knots or more," which crosses her shattered stem and runs down her larboard side....breaking free but badly damaging the SURPRISE. We hear no more of this ship---an unknown dark wreaker. The SURPRISE limps back to the mole at Gibraltar

The ship is in need of almost complete rebuilding, but Lord Barmouth cannot repair it ahead of his men-of-war as she is now a hired hydrographical vessel. He rescinds this when he suspects Jack of having an affair with his wife, and adquate repairs are made. Jack informs Stephen that this is just a patching job until they can reach the professional yard in Madeira. There they find that Coelho's famous yard is burning and they must return to England after all before they dare set out for Chile.

Madly speculating, it seems to me that POB is commenting upon this time in his life. He has taken a golden prize: he is a revered author, his books are selling, and for the first time he and his wife are very comfortably off. But then Mary becomes ill and they must sail through a storm where a dark unknown ship called Death claims her life. O'Brian must find his way back somehow but no matter where he turns, his life, his well being, cannot be rebuilt. Perhaps the burning yard in Madeira is a metaphor for the fact that there is now no safe harbor for him, as his past is investigated and has been thrown open to the world. He must go home, or at least what he had always styled his home, and is taken in by Trinity College in Dublin, where his physical needs are attended to and he can continue to write. Mary of course had probably done all that for him. I hope that his stepson will throw light on just how much she did contribute to the books. She must have typed his manuscripts, and made many suggestions.

Some other theme may emerge as one continues reading, but so far, this is all I have seen as a pattern among a recounting of many small, rather meaningless episodes.

I think it is remarkable that O'Brian wrote so well at such an advanced age after his terrible loss. I am happy that he was finally given his due, but oh so late.

There are certain references to the Ringle and its crew who were unable to share in the prize, but I can't quite say if there is anything there that's significant or not.

I love the Geoff Hunt painting for this book's cover: the ship is shown in stormy seas with the crew in their oilskins and the entire deck is open to view. A very small ship to hold such a lot of men, cannon, sails, rope, barges and skiffs---I wish I had had this at hand while I read the previous 19 books!

So, what think you all?

~~ Linnea Angermuller


From: Batrinque@AOL.COM
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 9:31 PM
Subject: Re: GPRD: Blue at the Mizzen: Great Speculations

In a message dated 7/23/03 10:06:36 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ronlin@BRINET.COM writes:

Madly speculating, it seems to me that POB is commenting upon this time in his life. He has taken a golden prize: he is a revered author, his books are selling, and for the first time he and his wife are very comfortably off. But then Mary becomes ill and they must sail through a storm where a dark unknown ship called Death claims her life. O'Brian must find his way back somehow but no matter where he turns, his life, his well being, cannot be rebuilt. Perhaps the burning yard in Madeira is a metaphor for the fact that there is now no safe harbor for him, as his past is investigated and has been thrown open to the world. He must go home, or at least what he had always styled his home, and is taken in by Trinity College in Dublin, where his physical needs are attended to and he can continue to write.

A fascinating speculation upon the parallels between events POB's life and those in BATM. I wonder if there might be some backwards extension of this into the final section of THD, whether in some way this might throw light upon that very odd chase of the galley to the isle of Cranc ... I'll have to think about this. "Weel, I can promise nothing ... but there might be some remote possibility . . . come and see me next week. In the meantime I will look into this question ...; and I will turn over the possibilities. Come and see me on Wednesday. Mind me, now, if I do find anything, it will be no plum: that is the one thing I can promise you. But I bind myself in no way at all."

Bruce Trinque
4137'52"N 7222'29"W


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 10:10 PM
Subject: Re: GPRD: Blue at the Mizzen: Great Speculations

On Wednesday, July 23, 2003, at 10:05 PM, Linnea wrote:

The ship is in need of almost complete rebuilding, but Lord Barmouth cannot repair it ahead of his men-of-war as she is now a hired hydrographical vessel. He rescinds this when he suspects Jack of having an affair with his wife, and adquate repairs are made.

Linnea, your speculations are interesting -- so interesting that I have to go back and read THD again. Whether the plot sequence grows out of POB's life, as you think it may, is a question that I, for one, am not ready to even try to answer. But that first hundred pages, with Surprise dashing here and there, has puzzled me since my first reading.

Some of the recent Gunroom postings on this book discuss its skewed time sequence and its duplication of some of the last scenes of the previous book: the whole business is unlike much of POB's earlier work.

But let me point out that your "Lord Barmouth" paragraph quoted above is perhaps the *only* time when Jack's extra-curricular lovemaking has brought him success and got him out of trouble.

Charlezzzzz


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: GRP:BATM: Great Speculations

Linnea has posted some intriguing ideas. I do wonder if POB would have set out to deliberately link his own personal life with his writings. But even if not, some aspects might easily creep in subconsciously.

From his notes for earlier books, I have observed that POB was generally planning a book or so ahead, with the boundary between two books not always clearly defined. Human interactions, particularly conflicts, often took precedence, and he would manipulate events to bring the right people together in the desired relationships. For instance, the collision of the Surprise with a merchant ship was included not because POB wanted to write about such a nautical event, but because a damaged Surprise would be useful to justify other directions that POB wished to drive the story (I'll try to explain this more below).

Continuing with wild speculation, I think that POB wanted to introduce the following to the narrative late in THD or early on in BATM:

1. Conflict with a new commanding officer.
2. The potential for more sexual/marital complications for Jack
3. A look at the typical sailor's reaction to peace time, accompanied by sudden riches
4. More focus on the young gentlemen in the midshipmen's berth

Conflict with a commanding officer is a frequent element of nautical fiction. Old friend Adm. Keith was not the best choice, hence the introduction of the less friendly Lord Barmouth, a thinly disguised Sir Edward Pellew, later Lord Exmouth (in fact, the soon expected CiC is identified as Pellew at the beginning of THD). This is basically a recycling of the Sir Francis Ives character from TH and FSOW.

Personality differences are not enough to make an interesting conflict. The war is over, the Surprise is no longer under Barmouth's command, and the recent prize money should create an atmosphere of good will. Hence the introduction of young wife Isobel, with her past history and ambiguous relationship with Jack. Good for stirring things up in the present, and sets the stage for further marriage problems between Jack and Sophie. A damaged Surprise is very useful at this point, to explain Jack's delay in Gibraltar, to provide an interesting way to resolve the potential three-way love triangle, and to also justify a return to England.

The bare bones of this was presented at the end of THD, but with a deadline looming, POB just rushed over it. The Surprise even had a previous serious collision with a merchant ship, severely damaging the bows. But all of that got forgotten with the final chase scene.

So with BATM, POB went back and rewrote part of the final chapter of THD. We are treated to a more leisurely development and resolution of the Jack-Isobel affair. The Surprise is damaged once again in a collision with a merchant ship, stranding Jack in Gibraltar until Barmouth agrees to dockyard repairs. The paying out of the prize money is repeated, and now we can see the breakdown in discipline of the suddenly rich sailors at the onset of peace. And the damaged Surprise serves another purpose, justifying a return to England.

The short return to England is necessary to both reintroduce Sophie and Jack's family life, but more importantly to allow for the introduction of Horatio Hanson, along with the interesting meeting between Jack and the Duke of Clarence.

One last lingering detail needs to be taken care of, and that is the recovery of poor Wantage from his exile in Madeira since the end of TYA. POB now his midshipmen's berth filled with unusual characters he can play with, much like in his pre-canon works of The Golden Ocean and The Unknown Shore. With the cast complete, and past loose ends adequately rewritten, he can finally get on to the story of BATM.

What I cannot satisfactorily explain is the inclusion of the burning shipyards in Madeira, a continuation perhaps of the burning shipyards of THD. I like Linnea's suggestion that it is a metaphor.

Don Seltzer


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 12:02 PM
Subject: Re: GRP:BATM: Great Speculations

On Thursday, July 24, 2003, at 11:37 AM, Don Seltzer wrote:

Continuing with wild speculation, I think that POB wanted to introduce the following to the narrative late in THD or early on in BATM:

Very well said, sir, I believe. This whole thread is demmed interesting.

Charlezzzzz


From: Linnea
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 9:13 PM
Subject: Re: GRP:BATM: Great Speculations

Very well said, sir, I believe. This whole thread is demmed interesting.

I concur and defer. Once I began re-reading the books again I couldn't stop, and read THD ages ago now, and must go back and try to link up its ending with Blue at the Mizzen, which I've only really dipped into. So I did see all this out of context, but thought it was interesting enough to speculate upon. Yes, Don is right, plots have to be driven by events and circumstances and mean old admirals! And of course I can't remember how this book continues nor ends.

I think that these first pages left me dissatisfied---I had no idea what was really going on.

And if anyone new to O'Brian were to read this book first, alas. One had better have had a solid grounding in the previous books. I am too scattershot myself these days to remember much and can't imagine that I could write anything at the age O'Brian was then. I did like the scene where Colonel Roche describes Waterloo to an attentive dinner party.

I am just happy that my speculations evoked such interesting (and kind) responses and more food for thought.

~~ Linnea


From: swaine
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 9:21 AM
Subject: Re: GPRD: Blue at the Mizzen: Great Speculations

Linnea - I've only now read your post on BATM. (Am soooo far behind. Again) I feel that knowing what POB was going through (while writing the last 2 in the series) makes comparing and contrasting his reality and his fiction much more significant.

karen
4030'07" N
7426'10" W

BTW, I noticed that the "degree" symbol (which I produce by holding down ALT while typing 0816 on the far right of keyboard) changed to a lower-case o in one of my posts.... and wonder - are they all that way??? I guess I'll know when I get a copy of THIS one.



Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003 2:50 PM
Subject: Island of Bitter Disappointments (spoilers)

'We always call Madeira the Island, in the Navy,' said Stephen with great complacency.

Madeira appears a few times in the Canon. Almost every time, it is anticipated with great hope, that turns into great disappointment.

HMSS: Lt. Nicolls, having marital problems, expects to find a reconciliatory letter from his wife at Madeira. '...every time I had the middle watch I used to walk up and down composing the answer I should send to the letters that would be waiting for me at Madeira. There were no letters. The packet had come and gone a fortnight before, while we were still in Gibraltar; and there were no letters. I had really thought there must be a remaining . . . but, however, not so much as a note. I could not believe it, all the way down the trades; but now I do, and I tell you, Maturin, I cannot bear it, not this long, slow death.'

HMSS: Jack arrives at Madeira, expecting Sophie to be waiting there to wed him. No Sophie, or even a letter. But a far crueller blow is dealt Stephen who learns that Diana has broken their engagement and run off to America with Johnstone.

TYA: Jack, Stephen, and families arrive, expecting a period of pleasant holiday before embarking on the Chilean expedition. Just a day or two after their arrival, news comes that the war has resumed.

BATM: Jack expects to repair the damaged Surprise and recruit seamen for his depleted crew at Madeira.

...The captain of the port, however, was a master of the lingua franca spoken over most of the Mediterranean and even beyond, as well as the archaic Catalan still current in his mother's part of Sardinia, and it took him very little time indeed to destroy Jack Aubrey's hopes entirely . 'Had not the gentleman seen with his own eyes that Coelho's yard, the glory of Funchal, of Madeira, of the western world, was utterly destroyed? That there was not another in the whole island to be mentioned in the same breath?' . he wondered where the gentleman had been in his youth, and during all the years since then, not to know that at this time of the year there was not a seaman in Madeira, with two hands and both legs, to be had...

Wantage went up into the hills looking for love, and came back down, uh, severely disappointed.

Don Seltzer


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003 4:37 PM
Subject: Re: Island of Bitter Disappointments (spoilers)

Wantage went up into the hills looking for love, and came back down, uh, severely disappointed.

And his lady love was also severely disappointed.

To what do you attribute the focus on Madeira? It produces good wine, yes, but is there some significance to disappointment at Madeira?


From: Martin Watts
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003 5:05 PM
Subject: Re: Island of Bitter Disappointments (spoilers)

is there some significance to disappointment at Madeira?

Perhaps POB was a Flanders and Swann fan?

Martin


From: Linnea
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 6:22 PM
Subject: GPRD: BATM: Odds and ends

I closed this book with a sigh of relief that Jack can fly his blue flag, and that the book was over as I couldn't keep events or names straight. We must never recommend that a newcomer to POB read this book first! I wonder why Latin American politics hold no interest for the average person; certainly I should have been more interested, as I lived in Panama for 25 years and studied Latin American history and politics.

The episode of Stephen and Christine in the mangrove swamp reminded me of the movie The African Queen--black stinking mud and leeches, Africa, a missionary here and there. Christine is as intelligent and forthright as Katherine Hepburn but not a Victorian prude, and when Stephen looks wretchedly from side to side at the question of his being away so long on the voyage, we can just see Bogart.

At the very end of BATM, Stephen is sitting on the gray pebbles of an island, and his attention is seized "by a very noble sight--two black-necked swans flying steadily south, low over the water.." One wonders if this is a harbinger that there is hope for Stephen and Christine to wed in the future.

And on page 254 (Norton hardback) there is a great prophecy:

"I could not dislike the man, although he is a politician," said Jack. "And I believe he loves the service. He has a nephew aboard GLADIATOR, who speaks perfect English, and thinks of himself as at least half a sailor already; and he is not far wrong."

~~ Linnea Angermuller


From: Linnea
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 6:13 PM
Subject: GPRD:BATM: Great Speculations Pt. 2

As Don Seltzer wrote, POB was not given to linking his personal life with his writing. But now I wonder, when you are at the end of the road, you might say, What the hell. I wrote before:

"Madly speculating, it seems to me that POB is commenting upon this time in his life. He has taken a golden prize: he is a revered author, his books are selling, and for the first time he and his wife are very comfortably off. But then Mary becomes ill and they must sail through a storm where a dark unknown ship called Death claims her life. O'Brian must find his way back somehow but no matter where he turns, his life, his well being, cannot be rebuilt. Perhaps the burning yard in Madeira is a metaphor for the fact that there is now no safe harbor for him, as his past is investigated and has been thrown open to the world. He must go home, or at least what he had always styled his home, and is taken in by Trinity College in Dublin, where his physical needs are attended to and he can continue to write. Mary of course had probably done all that for him. I hope that his stepson will throw light on just how much she did contribute to the books" (Rest snipped out.)

But, on page 138 ff., Stephen is contemplating a blue shark which was following the Surprise, "always there just this side of the turbulence," with the rest of his mind concerned with Christine and his awareness that Jack was gravely playing an adagio below in the cabin. There we have almost all the themes in this book: Stephen's love of Christine and his sorrow that Jack may not earn his flag. The blue shark alerts us: as in previous episodes, a mention of an animal, fish or bird has been the harbinger of something important.

Mr. Woodbine joins him and they discuss the shark, and Stephen says, "....and although I suspect that there are at least half a score of his brethren in the darkness of our hull, they do not presume to make their appearance; nor will they, unless we offer them blood."

Just then Killick appears to remind him of the Gunroom entertaining the Captain to dinner, and they are all interrupted by the cook's mates who carry a bucket in either hand, and they say to Stephen, profferring a bucket, "With the cook's respects, sir."

The mates seize the buckets and the foaming wake becomes scarlet, and scarlet sharks race to the surface, "lashing and snapping in a blind frenzy of greed and when it was found that the wounded bleeding prey did not exist they turned on the king shark, the big fellow, and a seething mass of long thin fishes not half his size tore and worried and wrenched him to pieces. It was over in barely a minute."

If O'Brian actually did write his personal opinions into a book that he must have realized might be his last, the blue shark may have represented himself, torn apart by the press and public when the first or any blood is smelt or shown. The representation shows a certain arrogance: the king shark, the big fellow; but I think he knew how gifted he was and he certainly had adoring fans by then.

I still have no investment in this theory, but am wondering why this blue shark was written into the script.

Another ironic note is struck in the episode where the Chilean junta president, Miguel Carrera, brings Jack news of his great estate. [And this news is given in an octagonal room; was it Katherine who said that such rooms figure when prime events happen in the canon?]

"It is a little far away and it has been neglected by the former owner, a royalist of course; but with the river just at hand there are great possibilites of irrigation. And after all six thousand acres is scarcely negligible." (P. 253 Norton's hardback)

Jack and Stephen can both interpret this as: "...the land in question lying in an arid stretch of country south of the Bio-Bio river, inhabited, as far as it was inhabited at all, by Araucanian Indians, the most formidable and warlike of their kind, while much of the land was thickly covered with the Chilean pine, the puzzle-monkey tree."

If I keep to my speculations, O'Brian has been handed a great estate of wealth and prestige in the literary world, all wrought to dust by the death of Mary, the sharks out for blood, and his bleak future of age and solitude.

~~ Linnea Angermuller


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 7:07 PM
Subject: Re: GPRD: BATM: Odds and ends

Who Is Linnea?

I need to meet her!

a


From: Tharp, Katherine
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 9:07 PM
Subject: Re: GPRD:BATM: Great Speculations Pt. 2

[And this > news is given in an octagonal room; was it Katherine who said that such > rooms figure when prime events happen in the canon?]

No, I wish it had been. It was Margarita Baez who made that perceptive comment, and Charlezzzz who started the octagon thread.

If I keep to my speculations, O'Brian has been handed a great estate of wealth and prestige in the literary world, all wrought to dust by the death of Mary, the sharks out for blood, and his bleak future of age and solitude.

Wonderful interpretation as always. I hope that POB's final days weren't entirely bleak. I hope that he received some solace from finally getting the recognition he deserved, and meeting some of the people, including real naval dignitaries and respected writers, who appreciated his work.

Katherine


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 9:31 PM
Subject: Re: GPRD: BATM: Odds and ends

On Monday, August 4, 2003, at 07:22 PM, Linnea wrote:

At the very end of BATM, Stephen is sitting on the gray pebbles of an island, and his attention is seized "by a very noble sight--two black-necked swans flying steadily south, low over the water.." One wonders if this is a harbinger that there is hope for Stephen and Christine to wed in the future.

Given POB's propensity for using animal symbolism in just this way, I think you've found a cheerful bit that he chucked in. Good job!

Here's one stanza from Yeats miraculous poem, "The Wild Swans at Coole."

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold,
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

Charlezzzzz, on another topic noting that some 30 years before he wrote Master & Commander, POB has his character Hussein take an opium pill because he wants a clear mind.


From: J. Richard McEachern
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 10:27 PM
Subject: Yeats; was GPRD: BATM: Odds and ends

Well if you keep posting things like this, I may have to reconsider poetry after a lapse of 30 some years due to 6 wretched hours of college lit "taught" by folks more interested in getting tenure than in imparting knowledge of such a wonderful passage.

Post of the day for sure.

Thanks,

Dick


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 11:40 PM
Subject: Re: Yeats; was GPRD: BATM: Odds and ends

Thanks, Dick, There are lots of glorious things on earth. Some poems ought to be included.

Charlezzzzz


From: Jean A
Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2003 10:00 AM
Subject: Yeats, Wild Swans at Coole

I went to Coole Park back in the eighties.

I was alone, and rather glad to be, because Yeat's poetry was an important part of my adolescence.

Sadly, the house is long gone, but the garden with the 'autograph tree', where many of the most prominent literary figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries have carved their names, is there.

I made my way to the lake. The shore was overgrown with a species of trees, or shrubs (they were not very tall) that I could not identify.

It was almost impossible to walk through them.

I got as close to the lake as I could. Alas. No swans.

But I did stand there for a long time, just looking.

Jean A.


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 11:56 PM
Subject: Re: GPRD:BATM: Great Speculations Pt. 2

On Monday, August 4, 2003, at 07:13 PM, Linnea wrote:

If O'Brian actually did write his personal opinions into a book that he must have realized might be his last, the blue shark may have represented himself, torn apart by the press and public when the first or any blood is smelt or shown. The representation shows a certain arrogance: the king shark, the big fellow; but I think he knew how gifted he was and he certainly had adoring fans by then.

Or perhaps he might well have been aware that the shark hottest for blood, the biographer trying to jimmy the keyhole into his past life, was named King.

Charlezzzzz


From: Linnea
Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2003 10:57 AM
Subject: Re: GPRD:BATM: Great Speculations Pt. 2

For heaven's sake, I missed that completely!

Good job back to you, Charlezzzz.

Well, I'm strutting off to make some tea (from Upton's of course).

~~ Linnea, dorsal fin aloft


From: Linnea
Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2003 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: GPRD:BATM: Great Speculations Pt. 2

Thank you all! My head is now so swelt up (sic) that I may not get thru the door!

Yup, I just tried, I'll have to sit here a while and let it shrink back to its normal dimensions.

~~ Linnea


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 3:54 PM
Subject: Re: GPRD:BATM: Great Speculations Pt. 2

I have a door widening toolset. Never used Selling cheap.

alec



































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