O'Pinions & O'Bservations O' O'Bscure O'Briania


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The Far Side of the World (2nd Page of Discussions)

First Page of Far Side of the World Discussion

From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 2:21 PM
Subject: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

I asked this before but it was included in a bundle!

Sorry for coming back about it but I just wonder is there a something that I'm missing?

page 261 just before he falls into the sea

'Perhaps it was Wednesday' replied Stephen.

Snip

'Probably Wednesday I said' in rather an impatient tone.

What is the Wednesday reference ?

I've lost(sorry -never had) the significance -is it just to show that himself and Jack are on different wavelengths?

alec


From: Mary S
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 5:09 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

I posted on that, alec (were you into the Mandaretto at the time?) but regretfully reported that I, too, could find no significance to attach to the "Wednesday" reference.

Deeply, obstinately ignorant, self-opinionated, and ill-informed,

Mary S
35 58' 11" N
86 48' 57" W


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 5:32 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

I saw your post but it didn't add any value!!

as fer the Mandaretto- it does!

alec

hehe


From: Rowen 84
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 9:46 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

I've missed earlier posts on this, Alec, so perhaps someone else has discussed it, but to me it sounds like O'Brian is implying that the noise level is so high that the two are misunderstanding each other. Jack says, "There is scarcely a star to be seen, Jupiter is no more than a blur, and I do not suppose that even he will last another five minutes.'" to which Stephen incongruously replies, "Perhaps it was on Wednesday."

Clearly Stephen has misheard Jack. Stephen has answered what he thought Jack asked, but what he _thinks_ Jack said is a puzzle to me.

I wonder if POB's notes for FSOW would show his train of thought at this point? Don? Do you have those?

Rowen


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 11:44 AM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

No, the Lilly Library acquired the notes to only half a dozen books, and FSOW was not one of them. However, there was a single, misfiled page that found its way into the collection, concerning the "Polynesian Ladies". It is mostly details of a pahi, including a sketch by POB, with notes of references to consult about provisioning, sailing ability, etc.

I believe that Susan Wenger transcribed this page for the Sea-room project. Perhaps she can repost them for the current Groupread discussion?

Don Seltzer


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 6:10 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

Here is my transcript of that page. Underlines (____) represent my inability to read his handwriting - sorry there were so many on this page. Items in < > are my own notes, not his.

O'Brian's notes show his research and his attention to detail. There isn't a lot of PLOT in the notes - just the things he wants to include when his actual writing session begins. His notes are just that: notes to himself.

- Susan Wenger

The Polynesian ladies' canoe is to be shunted. As that can equal in size to the other part. So the outrigger is always to windward. A pahi, two masted & two-hulled. 50-70 feet long.
Caulked with fine coconut fibre and sticky breadfruit sap.

Cook said a pahi (____) or a tongiuki (Samoa & Batavia) could travel 150 miles a day.

[Follows: pictures of the boat and its platform]:

Sails are taller than this

There appears to be a piece of curved wood running right round the sail. Platform's width about 1/3 the length of the hulls.

QUARE: Did bamboo grow in those parts? Perhaps Cook will tell.

Yes, says Encyclopedia Britannica under (I think) Polynesia

MEM: Tattooing

Coconut plaited baskets with leaf-wrapped bundles of breadfruit
Sour fermented breadfruit that keeps for weeks
Green drinking coconuts in the hulls
Barters
Dried bananas (?) \/
Little or no wake
fish
Taro
Sweet potatoes

____ all on ____ covered with ____ ____and lashed down

fish eaten raw

Steering by a large paddle thrust down (not rotated) to send the canoe down-wind
Raised to come closer - framework <?> with a smaller
paddle - sheet for steering to windward
(including leeway)
a course of 70'-75'/from the wind ____
sewn planks
QUARE: could they sail very close?

Fire in a ____ ____

Trade-wind fluffy cumulus gathers over islands, pass by Surf & coral sand reflecting white
dry reef - pink
trees dark
shallow lagoon green

Perhaps a pair of boomed lateens (or even one) would make the description of the shunting more comprehensible - but would it be exact?


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 6:14 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

Now that Alec's mentioned it, I've been puzzling over this passage also. We've seen twice that something can get dropped from one edition to another. Does anyone have the first Fontana "Far Side of the World?" Is there anything there around page 261 just before Stephen falls into the sea that might explain the "Wednesday" remark?


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 6:42 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

I think I mentioned Jack and Stephen being 'on different wavelenghts' in my original post.

POB is working overtime to show how Jack's very loud voice might not be heard when he roars after jumping in to save Stephen and 'this' appears to be part of the build up to that scenario.

There seems to be no other explanation because Stephen's and Jack's comments are repeated.

What would be interesting is to try to discern what Stephen thought Jack was saying -I've tried but i've given up!

Some people use the words/letters In My Humble Opinion(imho) here.

Please assume these from me whenever I talk of POB-- always!

Goes without saying imho

alec


From: Pete the Surgeons Mate
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 7:24 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

I thought it was a reference to the old joke about three little old ladies.

"Windy, isn't it?"

"No, Thursday."

"So am I. Let's all go have a drink."

Peter, sipping his coffee out of a big mug bearing the legend "Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence" which he got at a junk shop and gives him a feeling of evil superiority.


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 7:21 PM
Subject: GROUPRead:FSOW- Irish bits

Ref -page 308 top

Totally alive and real Irish greeting and reply in Gaeltacht areas and between all Irish speakers to this day-

Dia agus Muire Duit (god and mary be with you) shortened to---

Stephen--Dia's Muire Duit

Padeen --Dia's Muire 's Padraig (adding patrick)

The Irish sounds like

Diasmuraghut! (soft-- totally different from german now!)

The answer normally is just 'agus Padraig' shortened to -'s Padraig (and Patrick) without repeating the earlier greeting.

But you could sometimes you do hear -phonetically

'Diasmuraghut 's Pawrick

alec


From: Gregg Germain
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 6:55 AM
Subject: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

I just recently came back to the list and when I saw pwople were doing a group read of FSOTW, I thought re=reading it would be a good thing to do.

This leads me to wonder which "bits" if the book will appear in the movie.

By "bits" I don't mean major themes but the priceless little things such as:

"Lead on, MacBeth"

or Jack first never hearing of Colnett then telling a superior a short while later that everyone reasonably proficient has heard of Colnett, etc.


From: Ted
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

Oh I wish, but that would require them to tell the audiance who Colnett was & why that was funny. I have the most extreme doubt that a movie maker will risk that in the first place & that much of a cinema audiance would really get it if he did.

Ted

(elitest Benny Hill fan)


From: Bob Saldeen
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 9:11 AM
Subject: Re: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

For little bits, I'd like to see a scene or two where Jack or one of the other officers is pointing out something to Stephen, saying "look to starboard....no, the other way, Stephen. Starboard."

Knocking some weevils out of the biscuits would be a nice touch too. Along with the requisite joke, of course.

bs


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 10:12 AM
Subject: Re: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

There is a postscript to the running joke about Colnett. POB's reliance upon Colnett's book led him to make several errors regarding whaling. It was Joan Druett who observed that POB made a number of errors that matched those in Colnett's book. Joan, as many lissuns know, is the author of several books on women and the sea, particularly during the whaling days of the mid-19th century.

Joan observed:

" POB's whaling details were so strange that a few years back I made queries, and was told that he made a rule of never using sources that had been published later than the time of the tale. Thus, his source for the whaling was Colnett's *Voyage of the Rattler,* which has all the mistakes that POB made."

James Colnett is a mysteriously obscure character despite his various exploits. Gary Brown nearly missed him on his first research pass for PASC because his name was strangely omitted from several standard references. Colnett sailed with Cook, independently explored the Pacific Northwest, and almost singlehandedly provoked the Nootka Sound incident in 1789. War between Britain and Spain was narrowly averted, otherwise Colnett might have acheived the same notoriety as Jenkins and his ear a half century earlier. One result of the British naval buildup was that midshipman Jack Aubrey got his promotion to lieutenant.

Colnett's next mission was to explore the Pacific in 1793-4 for purposes related to the whaling industry. His subsequent account of the voyage of the Rattler is the one that Dundas recommends to Jack. Despite whatever errors on whaling it may contain, it was also a reference cited by Darwin and Melville.

Colnett's career closes out with a voyage transporting convicts to New South Wales in 1802-3. Some scandal arose over an affair with a female convict that he kept in his cabin. William Bligh wrote of the matter to Sir Joseph Banks.

Don Seltzer


From: Ted
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 10:30 AM
Subject: Re: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

Okay, so that was the Spanish Armament. What did this chap do to cause it?

Ted


From: Gregg Germain
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 1:18 PM
Subject: Re: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

Ted wrote:

Oh I wish, but that would require them to tell the audiance who Colnett was & why that was funny.

Actually I thought that was all made pretty clear in the book. I didn't know who Colnett was - neither did Jack. Dundas makes it all very clear.

Also, I wonder if the script will start of f with all character interrelationships already established JA/SM, etc) or not.


From: Pete the Surgeons Mate
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 4:09 PM
Subject: Re: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

Colnett's career closes out with a voyage transporting convicts to New South Wales in 1802-3. Some scandal arose over an affair with a female convict that he kept in his cabin. William Bligh wrote of the matter to Sir Joseph Banks.

Ooooh! What was the scandal?

Peter, racking his brains


From: Pete the Surgeons Mate
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: FSOTW bits appearing in the movie

I would hope they include one of Jack's jokes, but I don't think the audience would "get" it. Maybe a few of his fractured aphorisms.

Peter, sure that a bee in the bonnet is worth two in the boot


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 5:01 PM
Subject: GRP: FSOTW Colnett, was bits appearing in the movie

Ted wrote:

Okay, so that was the Spanish Armament. What did this chap do to cause it?

In the 18th century, the eastern Pacific was dominated by the Spanish, who held the territory from South America to Mexico (also some missions further north, but nobody considered California to be of much worth). Ships of other nations were forbidden access to Spanish ports, and even ship-wreck victims were treated harshly.

But it was Captain Cook who discovered and explored the Nootka Sound region (any SLUGs from Seattle, feel free to jump in and elaborate). The British recognized the potential for fur trading, plus the opportunity to gain a foothold in the Pacific. Various Cook proteges such as Vancouver, Meares, and Colnett led subsequent expeditions of exploration and trading. The Spanish responded by sending their own expedition to Nootka Sound to found a settlement in 1789, at the same time that Colnett arrived in the Argonaut with the same goal. The Spanish commander, Martinez, had superior forces and ordered Colnett to leave. Colnett stubbornly refused, and under the influence of alcohol, got into a heated argument with Martinez, forcing Martinez to arrest him and seize the Argonaut.

When word of the arrest and seizure reached Europe, Britain responded by "mobilizing" the Royal Navy, preparing to go to war over the issue. Many young passed masters mates got their step, like Jack. Spain backed down, Colnett was released, and Britain's rights in the NW territories were recognized.

Colnett was soon placed in command of the Rattler, on a mission to explore the potential for British whaling in the Pacific, particularly possible islands and other ports for refitting, watering, and replenishing. The book he wrote became an early reference for British whaling.

Don Seltzer


From: Ted
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 12:23 AM
Subject: Re: GRP: FSOTW Colnett, was bits appearing in the movie

Thank's Don,

So from Britain's, the Royal Navy's & even his own point of view Colnett getting into a drunken row was a good thing?

Ted


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 8:41 AM
Subject: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

page337

Jack was having difficulty is determining whether Palmer was telling the truth.

He relates to Stephen...

'..it is awkward talking to a man with hair all over his face;you cannot tell what he is thinking, what he really means, whether he is false or not. Some people wear blue spectacles, which is much the same.'

Was Jack having a litte dig at Stephen here?

If so, Stephen seems to ignore the comment.

Alec


From: Ted
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

Yep, that was my assumption when I read it too.

Ted


From: Marian Van Til
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 2:41 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

I read that just the other day and also stopped to contemplate it for a moment. I concluded that Jack just happened to think of that as an example and threw it in because, yes, Stephen's blue spectacles do disconcert him, even though he knows Stephen well, and this is a way to let Stephen know that without making a big deal of it (and Jack probably isn't surprised that Stephen ignores it). And/or he's also letting Stephen know how other people respond to those blue spectacles.

I've noticed in reading four books of the canon immediately after each other recently that there are a surprising number of times when either Jack or Stephen makes a remark that the other doesn't respond to at all, though it happens more often with Stephen not responding than Jack not responding. In some cases it involves someone else and Stephen. And the flow of the story just goes on, as if whatever was said wasn't said.

There's an instance when Martin does the non-responding to an unkind remark of Stephen's. (I'm thinking back to which book now; I think *Treason's Harbor*). Martin accidentally steps on Stephen's shin/foot. As one would, he asks apologetically if he has hurt Stephen. Stephen doesn't acknowledge Martin's apology at all and replies, apparently sarcastically (I'm paraphrasing), "I enjoy having my feet stepped on." To which Martin says nothing, and there's no further "narrator" comment on the incident.

Marian


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 3:02 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

I think maybe it shows two things(imho)-

(1) that Jack is in terms of rapartee a lot quicker 'on his feet' that sometimes given credit for.

(2) The very close bond of friendship between them.

I sometimes try little picky remarks like that with good friends as an innocent 'throw away' and then coyly look for their reaction. It's generally a smile -and a 'hmmm so you noticed'- and move on.

But in some strange way these little throw away comments(mainly unreplied to verbally) are a sign of friendship and in a stranger way-a mechanism of testing it also!

alec


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 11:32 AM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

There is little reason for Stephen to be insulted, because that is exactly the reason he sometimes chooses to wear blue spectacles, or the green eye shade while playing cards.

Don Seltzer


From: J. Bennett
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 2:10 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

Some people with pale eyes (reptilian or no) are very light sensitive and do have to wear shades of some sort in bright lights. Honest.

Jill, squinting thru pale eyes in bright CA


From: Marian Van Til
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 2:44 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

I'm one of them; with light-sensitive eyes, that is, not reptilian eyes (I hope).

But at one point, or possibly even more than once (which, of course, I can't find when I want it) Stephen acknowledges the reason he wears those glasses. And, as Don suggests, it ain't because he needs protection from bight lights!

Marian


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 3:40 AM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW- A little dig at Stephen?

Don replied

There is little reason for Stephen to be insulted, because that is exactly the reason he sometimes chooses to wear blue spectacles, or the green eye shade while playing cards.

But do you not think that Stephen might have been a little surprised that Jack is fully aware that that is the reason he wears the blue glasses?

I was!

Alec


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 6:53 AM
Subject: GrOUPRead;FSOW;Honey

Page 41- '..the Surprise's launch commanded by William Honey.'

Is this the same Honey as page 80 in Ionian Mission?

...and they filled his chair with a lean,deserving master's mate called Honey,Joseph Honey

Or are there Two Honeys?

Or do we know?

Alec


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 8:45 AM
Subject: Re: GrOUPRead;FSOW;Honey

O'Brian created, probably, over a thousand characters. He didn't use a computer, and I can imagine it was difficult to keep them all straight. His friend was working on a companion book that would keep things straight, but died before it was completed.

PASC describes Joseph Honey as a young Master's Mate in "The Ionian Mission" and "Treason's Harbour" who will soon sit for his lieutenant's examination, as William Honey he becomes an acting Lieutenant in "Far Side of the World" and "Reverse of the Medal," and he goes back to being a Master's Mate in "The Truelove."

- Susan, not at all bothered by this, I love the stories and didn't get so attached to William/Joseph Honey as to care much about his promotion/demotion : }


From: Alice Gomez
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 9:10 AM
Subject: Re: GrOUPRead;FSOW;Honey

In a message dated 9/1/02 5:52:51, alec1@EIRCOM.NET writes:

Or are there Two Honeys?

Maybe POB thought everyone should have two Honeys.

Alice


From: Pete the Surgeons Mate
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 7:50 PM
Subject: Re: GrOUPRead;FSOW;Honey

Or are there Two Honeys?

Alike as two bees in a boat! 7


From: marja millard
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 4:07 AM
Subject: Two Honeys

In a message dated 9/1/02 5:52:51, alec1@EIRCOM.NET writes:

Or are there Two Honeys?

Alice answered, Maybe POB thought everyone should have two Honeys.

Alice,

Jack certainly had -- *numinous* times

Oh, ha, ha, ha!

Marja, up too late and getting very strange indeed

"Man is the only animal that blushes--or needs to."
"If you crossed man with the cat, it would improve man, but deteriorate the cat." -- Mark Twain
"What should *you* name the Bosun's pet cat, Doctor?"
"Why, Scourge, of course," said Stephen. -- Patrick O'Brian (IIRA)


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2002 3:10 PM
Subject: GROUPRead:FSOW Spehen before that fall

My interpretations of the 'Wednesday' scene. Pge-261

Theory 1

I think there is a combination of the 'more than usual noise' from the forecastle and a touch of stubbornness here.

Stephen leaning out the window has asked Jack for the long handled net a few times.

Jack either does not hear or pretends not to hear and continues to stare at the sky -uttering the words -'I am glad I cancelled the youngsters.There is scarcely a star to be seen. Jupiter is no more than a blur, and I do not suppose that even he will last another five minutes.'

Stephen is annoyed - and to show Jack his total disinterest in Jupiter and the stars he reflects on how long it has been since he first requested the long handled net -he replies-

'Perhaps it was last Wednesday'

fairly sure that this comment would bring an immediate reaction and the net from Jack.(i.e. the normal reply would be 'what was last Wednesday?')

Jack decides to play hardball and repeats-

'I think Jupiter will not last another five minutes'

Stephen digs in-

'Probably Wednesday I said' (in an impatient tone)---

but realising he wasn't winning -adds

'Will you not pass the long handled net, now. I have asked for it three times.'

Theory 2(probably more likely)

Because of the racket on the forecastle-neither Jack nor Stephen heard any of each others remarks.

The same rationale for the use of the 'Wednesday' remark as in 'theory one' applies because Stephen feels his three requests for the net were being deliberately ignored.

Theory 3(probably most likely)

Neither of the above 2 theories

Any other ideas?

alec


From: DJONES01
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 9:52 AM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW Spehen before that fall

In setting up the "Wednesday" scene, POB seems to put particular emphasis on the fact that "the hands .... were making much more noise than usual". It seemed straightforward to me that Stephen and Jack had misheard one another - but then I grew up with just such bizarre responses.

My Dad has always been somewhat hard of hearing and it used to take me at least three attempts to get a sensible reply to a simple question. Now he has a state-of-the-art hearing aid, of course, and there's no problem, unless the battery runs down, of course! "Would you like a cup of tea, Dad?" "Perhaps on Wednesday."

Elaine Jones
Walsall, England
52 36' 01" N 1 55' 46" W


From: John Finneran
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 3:23 PM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

Rowen 84 wrote:

it sounds like O'Brian is implying that the noise level is so high that the two are misunderstanding each other. Jack says, "There is scarcely a star to be seen, Jupiter is no more than a blur, and I do not suppose that even he will last another five minutes.'" to which Stephen incongruously replies, "Perhaps it was on Wednesday."

Clearly Stephen has misheard Jack. Stephen has answered what he thought Jack asked, but what he _thinks_ Jack said is a puzzle to me.

My guess of what Stephen heard:

There is scarcely = Thursday
star to be seen = Stephen
Jupiter = You
I = I
last = last
five minutes = fine minuets (PO'B mentions before this scene that Jack and Stephen were playing music again).

So Stephen heard, "Blah Thursday blah blah blah Stephen, you blah blah blah I blah last blah fine minuets", to which he put the sense of "Was it Thursday, Stephen, that you and I last played those fine minuets?"

John Finneran


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 6:33 AM
Subject: Re: GROUPRead:FSOW-Stephen before that Fall

I like it John.

I'm not saying I'm totally buying into it, mind.

But I do like it.

Alec


From: M Sullaway
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 6:06 PM
Subject: music in POB - FSOW

Is it in FSOW that the melody "Rose in June" is sung? ("I will enjoy my rose in June")? with the singer coming to a bad end ultimately...

If you wish to hear a beautiful rendition of this traditional song, I highly recommend June Tabor's version - which you can listen to a short sample of via real audio- from your computer at www.greenlinnet.com, search under June Tabor.

(June Tabor is a wonderful singer with a rich contralto voice who has recorded, among other things, traditional English/Irish/Scottish songs, such as "Admiral Benbow" and "Dark eyed sailor")

I am a fan of her singing and would love to see it worked into the movie version of FSOW....and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. (My pet peeve is that "period" movies virtually never use the incredible treasures of traditional melodies that are out there).

By the way, thanks to everyone for such a friendly welcome to this new member of the list...

Megan


From: marja millard
Sent: Sunday, September 01, 2002 9:02 PM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance of all things nautical

Susan wrote: Early in the series, the Frenchman warns Jack about Stephen spying on the French fleet during peacetime. Jack's genuine laughter at the possibility that Stephen is a spy is so unfeigned that the Frenchman believes him.

(Isn't Jack still innocent regarding SM's Intel life?)

Yet, Stephen is already far too discreet to be studying the fleet withOUT understanding what he is seeing. He does have some naval intelligence at this point, although he conceals it by his bumbling mannerisms.

(I don't know if he's *acting* the bumbling mannerisms -- I think your thought below, where you say SM is so well cared for by the sailors that he never needs to learn, is more to the point -- cause that fella can sure climb a rope! (TSM) )

Stephen's nautical knowledge and abilities change with the need of the storyteller, but the basic persona is consistent. I could always see myself or someone I know in his actions - in his bewilderment at the array of sails and lines, his landlegged inability to judge the roll of the ship he's boarding, his general ineptitude about nautical matters. Very early on, Jack learns that Stephen needs help in boarding any vessel, and ever after, Stephen has had no experience in boarding unaided to learn from. Some of his ignorance is stubbornness, some is camoflage for his intelligence work, some is convenient - if he can't be counted on to paddle a boat without losing the oars, then someone will be assigned to paddle him about.

(Hmmm -- and if one is helpless and hopeless when it comes to housework, either a caring woman or a kindly naval captain will soon put it to rights)

Most of it is his attentiveness to what matters to him and inattentiveness to everything else. Stephen not knowing starboard from larboard is similar to the stereotypical literary college professor forgetting to tie his shoelaces, or losing his eyeglasses that are perched on his forehead.

(There is a story of Professor Albert Einstein at Princeton -- exchanges the greetings of the day with someone around lunchtime. They finish their brief conversation, and Dr Einstein says, "When you met me, which direction was I coming from?" The person points. "Ah, good..." says Einstein, "... then I have eaten.")

Stephen doesn't learn "ropes" because he has no need to learn ropes - he relies on Jack for that, and he burrows into his intelligence, his naturalizing, his doctoring, his interests. O'Brian has fun with Jack's total reliance on Stephen's medical abilities, while Stephen insists there isn't much a doctor can do most of the time; Jack's confidence that Stephen can fix anybody he chooses to fix by rousing out their brains and setting them aright is humorous.

("What is all this whipping off of legs?" Stephen says to Jack, after the captain praises his surgical ability - TMC - LoL)

Stephen has the same total confidence in Jack at sea - Stephen never worries about falling overboard in the dead of night, trusting entirely that Jack will notice that he's gone and will rescue him. Stephen doesn't worry a bit about being adrift in Fleche's lifeboat - he KNOWS that Jack will take care of everything.

(I sometimes think, too, that Stephen trusts in Jack the way he trusts in God. He is religious or spiritual enough to pray, so the thought occurs -- maybe that is why SM has such *sang-froid* -- he has made his peace with God, and trusts in Jack and his crew for the rest)

(Marja, parenthetically


From: Skylarker
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 7:30 AM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance...

I've been reading this thread wondering if anyone would mention what I perceive to be a major anomoly. In M&C as the Sophie is preparing to board the Cacafuego, Jack hands over the helm to Stephen who steers the Sophie alongside the Cacafuego. The scene is even more anomolous as it is Stephen who offers - " 'I shall steer, if you choose' ". M&C p330. And by the following, as Stephen is ready to take the helm Jack says - " 'Dear Doctor, you know what to do?' Stephen nodded, taking over the spokes..." M&C p331

Would the Jack of later novels, who believes that Stephen is still confused by port and starboard (FSOW?), hand over the helm so readily (AND by asking "you know what to do?"), if at all? Would the Stephen of later novels even make the same offer?

Whether perceived or not, Stephen's ignorance, in my humble opinion, is there for the sake of humour. It's a joke that POB uses throughout the Canon and I for one do not get tired of it.

Lindsay
Which I'm all humble pie if this has been discussed before


From: Alice Gomez
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 7:49 AM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance...

Thanks, Lindsay - you have supplied the page numbers for the scene I was thinking of in support of the argument that Stephen knew a lot more about things nautical than he lets on in later books.

I am of the same mind as you in that it may be a POB joke. Either that or POB changed his mind about having Stephen proficient in sailing. I prefer the former.

Alice


From: Adam Quinan
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 8:34 AM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance...

The historical incident of the ship's surgeon taking the helm during the action of Speedy vs Gamo was part of POB's wholesale borrowing from the life of Cochrane in M&C. I believe that POB had not yet planned out the remaining 19 books and Stephen's place in them. Later he decided to keep Stephen (apparently) a nautical ignoramus. The mask slips occasionally when Stephen discusses nautical matters with other non-nautical folks, but sometimes Stephen's explanations are less than accurate, possibly intended as humourous, though whether by POB or Stephen is hard to tell. On other occasions, such as describing club hauling in SM they are correct.


From: Alec O' Flaherty
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 9:51 AM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance...

I think this Gerry Strey explanation from the Archives is as good an explanation as can be!

'POB's account of the taking of the Cacafuego was taken almost literally from Cochran's account of the Speedy's successful assault, and Cochrane's surgeon did steer the ship during the battle. I've assumed that in this first book of the series POB had no idea that he'd be writing 19 more about Jack and Stephen. I think he found it useful in the later books to make Stephen an incompetent in all things naval for humor, for character development, and because when explanation of naval technicalities was necessary, Stephen could always ask Jack for the answers.'


From: Johnny the Bassman
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 10:21 AM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance of all things nautical

Was Stephen actively spying at the time? (I can't recall) perhaps he WAS birding making the coincidence even more spine tingling. Post Captain? I suppose I'll be reading PC tonight.

Johnny the Bassman

Back from Boston, missed the races, saw the Bounty and the crewmates therin, the little Irish/Oyster festival was a disappointment, except for the peat fire. The wedding I was to attend occured - the more weddings I attend the greater my odds of seeing someone left at the altar, right?


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 12:23 PM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance: POB's solution

Last night, falling asleep in my hammock while I was pondering on the change of Dr M. from a "normal" landsman to one who could never keep any nautical matters straight in his mind, I was visited by an apparition--the ghost of POB himself.

"Lobcock," said he, "Mome, fool, natural, clown, mollymawk."

"Sir," I said.

"The solution to your tiny problem with my doctor is as clear as ... swans."

"Glory," says I, "and what is the solution? Five hundred Lissuns want to know."

"You have asked me a question," says he. "You know what I think of question and answer."

"Aye," says I. "No question and answer between gentlemen."

"And if you were to ask, I should not tell you."

"Um," says I.

"I shall tell you this: I am under no obligation to make every point of plotting clear to the meanest understanding. Something Happened to Maturin between his Cacafuego activity and his next going to sea. Something so dreadful, so tied to his early infancy, so redolent of a personal trauma, so symbolic, that it wiped from his mind and body any possibility of becoming in the least bit nautical."

"Ah, " says I, with child to learn what that event cd have been.

"You are with child to find that trauma in my books, I see. It took place in the vast space between M&C and PC, and so I have never mentioned it. It has never, consequently transpired.

"Last week I dined with my friends Aristotle, Freud, and Austen, and we discussed just that point--matters that happen to the characters but wch are never mentioned by the author.

"You see, had I been given a greater span of days, I intended to go back and write novels that wd fill the spaces between novels, putting in just those matters wch I left unstated in the books I actually wrote. The sex scenes; the traumas; the unnoticed murders; Sophies' liaisons; Diana in the nunnery; the incest; Jack's being secretly made a Companion of the Bath; Mrs Williams' recruitment by the French secret office; Bonden's unexpected recovery wch I have earlier symbolized by the regrowth of Reade's arm. Oh, a thousand delightful clarifications and mystifications.

"But," he lifted his head. "Oh dear," he said. "Dawn is approaching, or, as my friend the Earl of Oxford wrote, 'The glowworm shows the matin to be near, and gins to pale his ineffectual fire.' I shall not bid you farewell. Fare as best you can, and ask no more questions."

He was gone.

Charlezzzzz


From: Richard O'Neill
Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 7:06 AM
Subject: Re: Stephen's perceived ignorance: POB's solution

Gone...without a sweet smell and a melodious twang?
Thank you, Charlezzzzz--I'm still laughing!

Richard O'Neill


From: Samuel Bostock
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 8:33 AM
Subject: Re: GRPRead FSOW -Stephen s Naval Expertise

I think what Stephen (Chambers) was trying to get across was that its a bit of a mess. Stephen's thoughts, yes, when he smiles at the two hulled ship, but O'Brian is adding author's description into Stephen's thoughts when he talks about counterpoise. Its a bit like stream-of-conciousness sort of stuff, with the author's own mind, and that of his character becoming blurred. (apologies for grammatical errors)

Another recent example was when Jack was supposedly 'thinking' about County Clare.

Sam.


From: John Finneran
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 3:23 PM
Subject: GRP: FSOTW: Memorable line

What I found to be the most memorable line in the book:

"'I have heard of maniacs so devilishly cunning,' said Pullings, 'that they pretend to be sane, so they can creep into the magazine and blow up the whole ship and themselves with it.'" (p. 73)

the concept of which POB used somewhat in his short story "The Walker".

John Finneran


From: Jeffrey Charles
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 3:24 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: FSOTW: Memorable line

Sadly, an occurance or set of mind which we see all to often in this modern age.


From: Ted
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 6:08 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: FSOTW: Memorable line

I always thought all the really dangerous maniacs were sane.

Ted


From: William Nyden
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 10:52 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: FSOTW: Memorable line

Now, Jeff... no politics in the Gunroom. ;-)


From: John Finneran
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 3:23 PM
Subject: GRP: FSOTW: The End?

On p. 127, Stephen is discussing the Iliad, and it occurred to me that perhaps PO'B is giving us a clue as to how he was considering ending the Aubriad.

Stephen says, "And the truly heroic scale, that makes us all look so mean and pallid; and the infinite art from the beginning to the noble end with Achilles and Priam talking quietly together in the night, both doomed and both known to be doomed -- the noble end and its full close, for I do not count the funeral rites as anything but a necessary form, almost an appendix. The book is full of death, but oh so living."

John Finneran


From: Ted
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 6:05 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: FSOTW: The End? (very minor spoilers?)

Thank you for that reminder. POB is full of grief but oh so living, lots of humans are, one way & another. Then again we are all doomed in one sense (leaving aside religion in the Gunroom). Mind you I'm not sure that the Aubrey-Maturin books are so very full of death. Though there is a good passage when Stephen is talking to another Doctor -a Protestant Irishman, IIRC, though that don't signify- & talks about losing the joy & interest in life & the spritual death that follows & how this can proceed physical death by many years. Profound I thought, & not cheerful.

Ted


From: Vanessa Brown
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2002 12:28 AM
Subject: Stephen's ignorance confirmed.

I do believe that this quote from Treason's Harbor, tips the balance. Stephen does not want to be perceived as unseamanlike. He and Martin are urinating, attempting to retrieve the treasure at the bottom of the sea. They are having difficulty connecting hook, line and tackle. Martin suggests that they ask for help; Stephen replies: "I am very unwilling that they should suppose I am not the complete seaman, let us try just once again." p206 Norton

I am convinced that Stephen's ignorance is not feigned. In the first book, as has been pointed out, POB did not know he was creating a character he would live the rest of his life with, he let Stephen steer, because the surgeon in fact had done so. Later he adjusted the character. As to the bit with the proa, it seems a fairly glaring distinction. The proa has two hulls. It is different from any ship he has known. It looks like a good idea to him. His appreciation of it is not that of a sailor, but as a person with a certain amount of common sense who has spent countless hours at sea.

As many folks have posited before me, I propose that S was ignorant of those naval things that he did not NEED to know. His mind is occupied with spoonbills, sloths and the deadly upas.

Vanessa, frowsty and dissolute.


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2002 8:34 AM
Subject: Re: Stephen's ignorance confirmed.

A touch of POB's humor. IIRC, he made a comment once about his dread of appearing in the least eccentric or out of the ordinary. I think it was just before he boarded Jack's new ship wearing "the garment."

- Susan, vaguely


From: Mary S
Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2002 1:14 PM
Subject: A POB note - on FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD

I began this one the other day - being hopelessly out of sync with the Group Read - and was pleased to see POB being so kind as to give Dr Maturin company in his hopeless unseaworthiness.

Maturin, Pocock and Yarrow have a laugh together over the silliness of sea-terms, and then, =all= of them being unhandy and fearful, are shepherded down the side of the ship into the "little harbour-tub."

"I believe we may advance together, in a kind of human chain, without too much peril." (p. 56, FSOW)

gluppit the prawling strangles, there, [FoW8]

Mary S
35 58' 11" N
86 48' 57" W


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