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The Truelove (Clarissa Oakes)

From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Saturday, February 01, 2003 7:53 PM
Subject: GroupRead Schedule: "The Truelove," or "Clarissa Oakes"

Today opens the group read discussion of "The Truelove." As Russell Crowe says in the trailers:

Fire!

Fire away, lissuns - discussion is open!

=====
To learn about "The Port-Wine Sea," my parody of Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Aubrey-Maturin series, please visit http://www.sea-room.com


From: Batrinque@AOL.COM
Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2003 9:44 AM
Subject: Re: GroupRead Schedule: "The Truelove," or "Clarissa Oakes"

Don Seltzer has written in another thread:

TL/CO often seems to be a disappointment to readers upon the first reading. I remember that I kept looking for the naval actions, which never developed. Only in later readings did I come to appreciate that Clarissa and her unintended disruption of the social fabric of the ship's community was the story. It is really a nicely contained story, and not one of POB's lesser efforts in my opinion.

As I have indicated before on several occasions, I rate TL/CO as among the better entries in the Canon, partly for its comparative unity of plot and especially for the character of Clarissa and, as Don puts it, her disruption of the social fabric of the ship's community. The character and her actions are all the more frightening, I think I can say, because of the subtlety of POB's approach. No raving lunacy or blatant promiscuity, just quiet emotional flatness and amorality induced by her history of abuse. I find it to be a deeply convincing fictional portrait.

I suspect that my initial strongly positive reaction to TL/CO, in contrast to Don's experience, was influenced by the circumstance in which I first read it -- as part of an unbroken reading of the Canon straight from "Master and Commander" to its then ending of "The Wine-Dark Sea". Thus, I perhaps felt less of an absence of a typical element such as the stirring description of a hard-fought naval action. And, maybe, the disruptive consequences of Clarissa's presence were made all the more powerful by intruding into that continuity of experience.

Readers of classic naval literature may recognize Captain David Porter's "Journal of a Cruise Made to the Pacific Ocean" as something of a source for the activities on Moahu in the latter part of TL/CO. The "Journal", originally published in 1815, was Porter's account of his raiding (and exploring) cruise aboard USS Essex into the Pacific during the War of 1812. In particular, Porter's experiences with the warring native inhabitants of "Madison's Island" in the Marquesas provide parallels to what Jack Aubrey did on Moahu. There is no connection so direct as existed between Cochrane's Speedy with Jack's Sophie in "Master and Commander", but I think there are echoes and shadows. I wonder if POB first became acquainted with Porter's "Journal" while researching TFSOW in which the fictional USS Norfolk plays the role of the genuine USS Essex.

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


From: C. Krusen Heller
Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 2:47 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove - Is this an error?

Hi Group,
On Pg. 62 of the Norton Paperback edition: Jack is telling the tale of the capture of the Hermione in Puerto Cabello to Clarissa and others at dinner. He starts out " 'Captian Hamilton - Edward Hamilton, not his brother Charles - who then had the Surprise, took her in to have a look at the Hermione."

This is nit picky as it dosen't really influence the story but I'm confused about just who was in command of the Surprise? I think it was Edward but then what ship would Charles have commanded? Am I mis-reading or are they both in command of the Surprise at the same time? Is this a misprint in the Norton edition? Or is this the way POB wrote it? How does that paragraph read in "Clarissa Oakes" or in one of the earlier editions?

Kru Heller
37 34" N, 77 55" W


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 3:06 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove - Is this an error?

Nothing incorrect here. As it suggests, there were two brothers named Hamilton serving as captains in the Navy at the time of the Hermione, and Jack is simply clarifying that by 'Captain Hamilton' he means Edward rather than older brother Charles. Charles had nothing to do with Surprise.

I think that Jack makes a similar comment about the Brenton brothers, Jahleel and Edward, in a different book.

Don Seltzer


From: C. Krusen Heller
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 7:04 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: The Truelove

Hi Group,
What can some other lissuns tell me about Guy Fawkes Day? What is it, how when, where and why is it celebrated? Thank you.

Kru Heller
37 34" N, 77 55" W


From: Anthony Gary Brown
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 7:19 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: The Truelove

Guy Fawkes (1570-1606) was a fervent Catholic convert who participated in a plot to blow up the Westminster Parliament as it was convening under the assertively Protestant King James I (he who was also King of Scotland and succeeded Elizabeth I). The plot betrayed, he was arrested on 5th November 1605 whilst setting his charges in the cellars; he was tried, convicted, hung, drawn and quartered.

In Britain "Guy Fawkes Night", or "Bonfire / Fireworks Night" is celebrated on the anniversary of his arrest; stuffed "guys" are tossed onto bonfires and fireworks are let off (or they used to be - I think now people gather round and tut loudly whilst waving a safety torch and singing kum-by-yar......). It's hard to say whether the crowds are more enthusiastic about a) the thwarting of the plot, or b) its near success.

Gary
in Dallas, who used to love a bang......


From: Kerry Webb
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 7:41 PM
Subject: Guy Fawkes was Re: [POB] GRP: The Truelove

I can tell you how we used to celebrate it in Australia back in the 60s (the golden age).

It was celebrated on 5 November - there's a rhyme that I recall:

Remember, remember
The 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot

It was usual to buy fireworks - rockets, fountains, catherine wheels and bungers - and let them off in the evening, possibly at a party or barbecue.

The bungers - explosive fireworks of which the largest and most famous was the threepenny bunger - were often used to blow up letter boxes, startle pets or explode under cans to see how high they's jump.

One of the problems was that early November was getting into the bushfire season here, so the date was moved to the Queen's Birthday weekend in June a couple of decades ago, and now that's the only time that ordinary folks can buy and let off fireworks, except for the Asian community for the Lunar New Year celebrations and also for those of a lawless persuasion.

Over the years too, because of the abovementioned impact on letterboxes and pets, the range of fireworks generally availbale has become much milder, so that now just about all you can get are small fountains and underpowered rockets.

Even in the good old days, it was nothing to do with Guy Fawkes. It was just an excuse for a lot of bangs.

But it was fun.

Kerry


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 8:24 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: The Truelove

Except for deliberate name selections such as "the surgeon's mate" and "blueatthemizzen.com," surely "Krusen" is our most aptly named lissun. How Jack Aubrey enjoyed "cruisin'" on the job : }


From: Marshall Rafferty
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 9:42 AM
Subject: Blood Pressure; was: Taking Latitude (TL/CO Spoilers)

On Mon, 10 Feb 2003 23:07:11 -0800, Gary Sims wrote:

besides I never had this conversation and we never spoke and I'm not talking >about controversial subjects this week until this blasted sequence of BP readings if complete...

While I was thinking about how our bodies sometimes seem to work against us, I remembered an early line from _The Truelove/Clarissa Oakes_ :

"Profound attachment to Stephen Maturin did not preclude profound dissatisfaction at times: even lasting dissatisfaction."

Kind of captures our love/hate relationship with our sometimes balky physical frames.

I don't give medical advice, and don't think new-age stuff does much for lowering BP, but I find that if I try to relax my teeth (yes, I know... "teeth?") a natural easing of the jaw soon follows.

Just as effective is reading a random passage from POB, e.g.(again from TL/CO:

"She had just come about, with her larboard tacks aboard, and as he expected her wake showed that curious nick where, when the sheets were hauled aft, tallied and belayed, she made a little wanton gripe whatever the helmsman might do." (Page one, of any edition).

"little wanton gripe." Lovely

Marshall Rafferty

________
At, or about:
4740'54"N. 12222'8"W.


From: Tharp, Katherine
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 3:49 PM
Subject: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes was Re: Maturin's Age???

From: Anthony Gary Brown

Don Seltzer wrote:

> Stephen was born in 1769, and is 2 or 3 years older than Jack.

I would never disagree with Don on a point of fact (well, I might, but I'd certainly be wrong.....), but the age issue is doubly complex. Not only do we have to deal with the extraordinary number of months that POB managed to squeeze into 1813, we I think also have to deal at the different rates at which Jack and Stephen seem to age. It seems to me that Jack progresses from just under 30 to his late 40s; Stephen seems to me to be pretty much stuck in his mid-30s throughout. That is, 181333333333 much ages Jack, but doesn't much age Stephen.....

Stephen himself explains this ambiguity to Jack at the beginning of Truelove:

"Navigators are notoriously short-lived, and for them middle age comes sooner than for quiet abstemious country gentlemen. Jack, you have led as unhealthy a life as can be imagined, perpetually exposed to the falling damps, often wet to the skin, called up at all hours of the night by that infernal bell. You have been wounded the Dear knows how many times, and you have been cruelly overworked. No wonder your hair is grey."

Jack protests: "My hair is not gray. It is a very becoming buttercup yellow."

So, in dog watch years, you might say, Jack has become older than Stephen -- who is hardly a quiet abstemious country gentleman, but has not spent as much time exposed to the falling damps.

Katherine


From: Nathan Varnum
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 4:25 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes was Re: Maturin's Age???

Surely Stephen, the Stephen who perpetually falls 'twixt ship and slip, has been more exposed to the *falling* damps than Jack.

Nathan, creeping, chortling, back into the hold


From: Marshall Rafferty
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 11:01 PM
Subject: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - a musing

At work today I was again musing over that opening passage from TL/CO (Sorry, Charlezzzz):

"...as he expected her wake showed that curious nick where, when the sheets were hauled aft, tallied and belayed, she made a little wanton gripe whatever the helmsman might do."

It occurred to me that the phrase almost presages the coming disruption of Surprise' routine by Clarissa.

Not much, I grant, but I'm trying.

Marshall, whom one might suspect hasn't gotten past page one


From: Marshall Rafferty
Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2003 10:08 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Historical Question

I'm trying to come to some conclusion about when the events of TL/CO might have been happening and am growing more befuddled. I've found little information about British activities in the Hawaiian islands about that time.

1810 is given as the date when Kamehameha unified the islands, in time adopting a flag which included the British Union Flag because of his great friendship with the British.

(Hawaii is certainly the only US state with the Union Flag in their own).

There was one brief comment at a Hawaii site that Kamehameha used foreign advisers and mercenaries in his conquest of the islands.

Oh, yes, the question: Is there any historical record of a RN ship (or hired ship) involved in any activity similar to TL/CO, for any contender for power in Hawaii?

Marshall


From: Gary W. Sims
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 2:33 AM
Subject: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

She'd say it's ill bred of me to consider her past, but a thought about Clarissa occurred to me as I read once more this passage from page 79 of Norton:

Clarissa: "I was talking about children that have not been properly house-trained. Left to their own impulses and indulged by doting or careless parents almost all children are yahoos. Loud, selfish, cruel, unaffectionate, jealous, perpetually striving for attention, empty-headed, for ever prating or if word fail them simply bawling, their voices grown huge from daily practice: the very worst company in the world. But what I dislike even more is the affected child, the hulking oaf of seven or eight that skips heavily about with her hands dangling in front of her -- a little squirrel or a little bunny rabbit -- and prattling away in a baby's voice. All the children I saw in New South Wales were yahoos.

I pass over without discussion the derogation of Southern Australians in comparing them to such children. We must grant Clarissa the right to some ill feeling for that now fine region. We also may stand in awe of a talent that can balance a peroration so fine on sentences so long and whippy. But we already know POB's talent, so that's not new.

What struck me probably has been discussed earlier, during one of my absences from the list, but I must raise it anyway. It is her original offense, and her duties in Australia before escaping.

This does not seem to me a casual condemnation of feral children. However accurate. Does not this passage suggest that Clarissa was compelled to care for children, without influence on their early training, and without the freedom to discipline them properly? Three speculations about Clarissa, to some extent contradictory:

1. She was a governess in England. And transported for a crime in the household. Given that she has the sexual character of a fishing lure, with barbs in, we might speculate that she engaged the attention of the husband. Perhaps, when discovered by the wife and threatened with dismissal without a character, she killed or beat her violently. Or perhaps one or more of the hulking oafs went too far and was not whipped, which would have been too usual for sentencing as a crime, but brutally beaten or killed by Clarissa. Who then claimed she was carrying the father's child to avert hanging.

2. In Australia, presuming she was not sentenced for killing or injuring a child, perhaps her duties while under sentence were to act as governess for children. No, that implies a role higher than I picture. Housemaid and child nurse is closer to the sense I mean. The status of a transportee was indistinguishable from slavery in most respects, and she might well have been treated as badly by the children as the parents.

3. Oates met her in this context: caring for loutish children in a home of lower quality than she felt was her right station. I suggest this latter because Oates does not strike me as a young man that would gain entry to a higher class home, except in the course of a duty situation. And because it would account for her bitter condemnation of the children she encountered.

Finally, a thought along the well-worn path of likening Clarissa to Louisa Wogan. One I'm even more sure is not original: can I be forgiven for thinking the man who describes these women for us has experienced their like? Somewhere in life? I grant the power of imagination, and insist we allow for dramatic exaggeration -- but the mind turns unbidden to O'Brian's first wife.

Gary W. Sims, Major, USAF(ret)
--------------------------------------------
Suffering fatigue of the phalanges
At or about 3442' N 11808' W


From: Nathan Varnum
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 8:04 AM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

1. She was a governess in England. And transported for a crime in the household. Given that she has the sexual character of a fishing lure, with barbs in, we might speculate that she engaged the attention of the husband. Perhaps, when discovered by the wife and threatened with dismissal without a character, she killed or beat her violently. Or perhaps one or more of the hulking oafs went too far and was not whipped, which would have been too usual for sentencing as a crime, but brutally beaten or killed by Clarissa. Who then claimed she was carrying the father's child to avert hanging.

My poor memory recalls Clarissa as someone who would not commit a crime of passion. I can readily picture her killing to preserve her life, but not her lifestyle. I cannot see her killing a wife or children out of anger. Cold-bloodedly, with a purpose in mind...that's a different story. She was not a pushover, certainly.

2. In Australia, presuming she was not sentenced for killing or injuring a child, perhaps her duties while under sentence were to act as governess for children. No, that implies a role higher than I picture. Housemaid and child nurse is closer to the sense I mean. The status of a transportee was indistinguishable from slavery in most respects, and she might well have been treated as badly by the children as the parents.

3. Oates met her in this context: caring for loutish children in a home of lower quality than she felt was her right station. I suggest this latter because Oates does not strike me as a young man that would gain entry to a higher class home, except in the course of a duty situation. And because it would account for her bitter condemnation of the children she encountered.

With those observations I agree. Surely she had been responsible for or had to tolerate some hateful children.

Nathan


From: Gerry Strey
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 9:38 AM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

IIRC, Clarissa was transported for blowing off a certain gentleman's head with a shotgun. Given her history of emotional neglect and sexual abuse, I'd expect her to have a large reservoir of anger (you may remember she says the nuns at her boarding school condemned her violent temper), which could express itself in an uncontrolable outburst of violence.

She is also quite unsocialized--she wants to be liked, but simply does not understand how distributing her sexual favors in a closed society could be disruptive.

Gerry Strey
Madison, Wisconsin


From: Robin Welch
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 10:45 AM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

Clarissa: "I was talking about children that have not been properly house-trained. Left to their own impulses and indulged by doting or careless parents almost all children are yahoos. Loud, selfish, cruel, unaffectionate, jealous, perpetually striving for attention, empty-headed, for ever prating or if word fail them simply bawling, their voices grown huge from daily practice: the very worst company in the world. But what I dislike even more is the affected child, the hulking oaf of seven or eight that skips heavily about with her hands dangling in front of her -- a little squirrel or a little bunny rabbit -- and prattling away in a baby's voice. All the children I saw in New South Wales were yahoos.

I think this is more a reflection of POB's own feelings about children (in Testimonies, all the children in Wales were the same). He throws these negative comments in wherever he gets a chance. In that particular aspect, I think Clarissa is a somewhat autobiographical character for him. The guy just didn't like kids.

My firt time through Truelove/Clarissa Oakes, I was sure that Clarissa was going to murder someone on the ship. I think she really did throw Martin's cat overboard! She just suffered from violent outbursts. Later I was shocked when Stephen trusted her with Brigid.

Robin


From: Nathan Varnum
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 11:04 AM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

From: Robin Welch [mailto:turdus@PEOPLEPC.COM]

My firt time through Truelove/Clarissa Oakes, I was sure that Clarissa was going to murder someone on the ship. I think she really did throw Martin's cat overboard! She just suffered from violent outbursts. Later I was shocked when Stephen trusted her with Brigid.

Wow, this is quite different than my recollection of Clarissa. Although I've read the first 6 or 7 books several times, I've only read through the entire Canon twice, so I don't have as clear a picture of her as I do some other characters.

When I think of CO, I think of submission. Not for lack of strength, but for lack of caring. I don't get a sense of latent violence (other than for self-preservation which most or all rational humans share).

What am I missing or remembering improperly? What violent outbursts of hers have I thrown into the sea of forgetfulness?

Nathan


From: Tharp, Katherine
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 11:10 AM
Subject: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - SPOILERS FOR COMMODORE

1. She was a governess in England. And transported for a crime in the household.

I believe she had been employed at Mother Abbott's (not a day care center) before she was transported, and her crime was blowing a man's head off with a fowling piece.

2. In Australia, presuming she was not sentenced for killing or injuring a child, perhaps her duties while under sentence were to act as governess for children. No, that implies a role higher than I picture. Housemaid and child nurse is closer to the sense I mean.

She had not been convicted of any crimes in Australia, but she suggests to Maturin that she had committed a capital crime while there -- for example, throwing a baby down a well. Although this was just a hypothetical, she certainly doesn't like children.

3. Oates met her in this context: caring for loutish children in a home of lower quality than she felt was her right station. I suggest this latter because Oates does not strike me as a young man that would gain entry to a higher class home, except in the course of a duty situation. And because it would account for her bitter condemnation of the children she encountered.

POB does not provide any details as to how Clarissa met Oakes. Since she indicates that she had committed a crime, she may have been on the run, and not in a higher class home, when she somehow latched onto him.

Finally, a thought along the well-worn path of likening Clarissa to Louisa Wogan.

I don't really see Clarissa as having much in common with Louisa Wogan. Clarissa was a victim of sexual abuse from an early age, was still very young, and often emotionally numbed or overcome by anger. Louisa was much more mature and in control of her situation, and at least believed that she was playing an active role as an intelligence agent. Of course, both of them resorted to whatever assets they possessed to make the best of their situations.

SPOILER FOR COMMODORE

My attitude toward Clarissa Oakes changed considerably after having read the remaining books in the series. But the first time I read Truelove/Clarissa Oakes, I couldn't understand why Stephen had such a trusting attitude toward her, and recommended that she look up Diana and his yet unseen child when she got back to England. Even if she hadn't thrown a baby down a well, she was outspoken about hating children, and she had certainly done something to make Sarah and Emily dislike and possibly fear her.

As a matter of fact, when I first read The Commodore, I was quite alarmed when Stephen returns to Barham and Clarissa meets him at the door with a loaded gun, announcing that Diana has "gone away." Clarissa is alone with an uncommunicative child, in an isolated old house on a desolate moor, with a couple of elderly servants who lurk in the background but never actually appear. It's a perfect setup for a Gothic melodrama. Diana is known to be jealous and hot-tempered, and has been drinking heavily. Stephen is rich, and Clarissa has as much affection for him as she is capable of feeling for anyone. It's easy enough to imagine a scenario in which there is a confrontation between the two women, and Diana ends up down a well, while Clarissa supplants her in Stephen's life. Luckily for Diana, POB was a fan of Austen rather than Radcliffe. I was glad to find out that my suspicions were unjustified.

Katherine


From: Anthony Gary Brown
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 12:39 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - SPOILERS FOR COMMODORE

I believe she had been employed at Mother Abbott's (not a day care center) before she was transported, and her crime was blowing a man's head off with a fowling piece.

Indeed - though I think there is enough lack of specificity in the time-line to at least allow for the possibility that the speculations of that rather finely-named retired USAF Major are on-target. Although it's difficult to think that the cashier at a whore-house (and occasional helper with the services on offer) would be offered a governess' position, it's not impossible that some cad who wanted to have her, but met with reluctance, could arrange to 'save' her from Mother Abbott's by landing her such a household job. Another speculation is *why* was she saved from execution, after blowing a man's head off, by some influential customers of Mother Abbott's? Why would they have sympathy for the whorehouse cashier? Unless perhaps she, an educated woman after all, *had* been betrayed by a known bounder..... We will never know. One thought does occur to me about Clarissa's character here - did her somewhat protected position at Mother Abbott's (cashier, not mere whore; some influential people took a liking to her) lead her to think that, confronted by a sexual assailant in whatever circumstances, she for once had an opportunity and desire to resist? If so, then she was soon to find that, one way or another, resistance was useless. So maybe thereafter she decided merely to comply with whatever sexual demand was made of her, as leading to a more tranquil life.

On another point, who in the canon *does* like children? Sophie, certainly. But is there anyone else?

Gary
in Dallas


From: Ted
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 12:43 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

Gary W. Sims" wrote:

Finally, a thought along the well-worn path of likening Clarissa to Louisa Wogan. One I'm even more sure is not original: can I be forgiven for thinking the man who describes these women for us has experienced their like? Somewhere in life? I grant the power of imagination, and insist we allow for dramatic exaggeration -- but the mind turns unbidden to O'Brian's first wife.

Interesting thought. I've often thought some of POB's women might have had a basis in fact. Jack's mother is extremely shadowy. Jack's Step Mother is a former Dairy Maid married 'above her station' Jack's Mother in Law is simply vile.

I always thought that Sophia was some kind of POB 'ideal' & perhaps, in a different way, so was Diana, though Diana has a truer ring to me that Sophia.

Ted


From: Robin Welch
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 1:01 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

At 11:04 AM 2/18/03 -0500, Nathan wrote:

What am I missing or remembering improperly? What violent outbursts of hers have I thrown into the sea of forgetfulness?

At some point in her private conversations with Stephen she mentions "my violence," which indicated to me that it was a recurring problem for her. Also, I don't see the throwing the baby down the well as hypothetical. She was asking Stephen what the chances were that she could be retransported once she got back to England. He was going to try to arrange a pardon for her, but she then realized that she had to then confess that there might be other crimes that might need pardoning. I don't have the book in front of me and probably couldn't find the passage if I did, but her words were something like, "Suppose I had committed some other capital crime, like, for example, throwing a baby down a well?" Now if she had said "murder" rather than "throwing a baby down a well," I'd see the crime as hypothetical. But "throwing a baby down a well" is way too specific to really be hypothetical.

Toward the beginning of the book, when one of the officers turns up in the gunroom with a badly bruised face, I assumed that Clarissa was lurking around the ship, sticking her foot out to trip them or committing random violent acts. And it seems to me that POB set that up as a suspense theme. Only later, I think, it was revealed that they were fighting over her sexual favors.

My three year old daughter is now summoning me to the chess board. She set it up properly all by herself! And she knows the rules, too, though she's not on to the strategy thing yet.

Robin


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 1:02 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

At 11:33 PM -0800 2/17/2003, Gary W. Sims wrote:

Finally, a thought along the well-worn path of likening Clarissa to Louisa Wogan.

Well-worn path? I don't recall anyone previously making this comparison, and I'm having trouble seeing much in the way of similarities between Clarissa and Louisa.

One I'm even more sure is not original: can I be forgiven for thinking the man who describes these women for us has experienced their like? Somewhere in life? I grant the power of imagination, and insist we allow for dramatic exaggeration -- but the mind turns unbidden to O'Brian's first wife.

When asked in an interview about the women in the canon, POB stated that they were inspired by women he had known, without being specific, of course. But from what little is known about POB's first wife, it is hard for me to match her up with either Clarissa or Louisa.

As Robin Welch has posted, Clarissa might even be a bit autobiographical, speaking at times with POB's voice regarding ill-mannered children, her intense dislike for personal questions, and the exhausting difficulty of trying to remember previous versions of her past history that she has claimed. And wasn't she the originator of the famous "question and answer are not a civilized form of conversation" remark?

And I think that there is something about Clarissa's remarkable tranformation from child-hating, baby killer to trusted governess of Brigid that touches upon POB's own fantasies.

Don Seltzer


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 1:28 PM
Subject: Maturin and children, was GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes

Gary Brown asks:

"On another point, who in the canon *does* like children? Sophie, certainly. But is there anyone else?"

BIG SPOILERS FOLLOW

x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x

There's Maturin, who is almost overwhelmed in his love for his daughter -- a child endangered by what seems to be autistim but who is, against all odds, cured. By Padeen -- by Little Patrick. Is not the inarticulate-in-English Padeen in some way a "holy idiot," capable of surprising cures? And is not Padeen named after the Author Himself?

And the two little girls, Thursday and Bohemoth, who are endangered by being the only survivors of a pestilence that wipes out their tribe. Maturin brings them to the ship, tries to hand them off in Australia, and eventually settles them with Mrs. Broad.

And the little girl and little boy, twins, enslaved, monoglots like Padeen, who Maturin buys and then arranges to send back to Ireland. Their names are strangely chosen: Kevin and Mona FitzPatrick. I dunno about Kevin, but Mona is the name of Maturin's first, lost, love; and FitzPatrick, "son of Patrick" is surely an odd name for this particular Author to choose for his little new characters.

Then there's Dil. For whom Maturin's kindness and affection leads to death.

Maturin, it seems, is particularly taken by children in bad situations. Especially if they are two of them, or if they are his own offspring, or are in desperate trouble, or can be said to have been abandoned.

Charlezzzzz, not wishing to dot every tee or cross every eye


From: Tom Collin
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 2:47 PM
Subject: Re: Maturin and children, was GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes

Charlezzzzz,

You make a very strong case for a general theme of rescue, men overboard et al. And it seems so often to involve Stephen, who sometimes appears to keep surviving only through ongoing acts of rescue, which turns one's mind to the Buddhist sanctuary, wherein rescue is not necessary. Aum

Tom Collin


From: Anthony Gary Brown
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 1:42 PM
Subject: Re: Maturin and children, was GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes

There's Maturin, who is almost overwhelmed in his love for his daughter -- a child endangered by what seems to be autistim

I'd forgotten that particular overwhelming, and had only really recalled Maturin's rather philosophical comapssion for children in parlous states, which I don't think quite rises to the level of 'love' or even 'liking'. But that overwhelming is something else, indeed. I'm half-recalling another scene, where some passing character is said to be happily surrounded by little ones - but I can't quite bring it to mind.

Gary
in Dallas


From: Tom Collin
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 2:23 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - SPOILERS FOR COMMODORE

Anthony Gary Brown wrote on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 10:40 AM:

On another point, who in the canon *does* like children? Sophie, certainly. But is there anyone else?

Mrs. Broad of the Grapes (that earthly haven) in caring for the two rescued South Sea Island girls Emily and Sarah.

And Stephen cares a great deal for them, rescuing them a second time from that well-intentioned but unsuitable orphan's home. But these two survivors may be a special case. They seems like an emblem for "life force" and weigh in the balance against all the death and deceit that Stephen deals in. Still, even they do not fit readily into Larger Purposes. When they are brought onboard, we get POB's little sermon on the pleasures of parenthood:

'Jemmy Ducks, you are a family man, I believe?' At the Captain's wholly unusual ingratiating tone and smile Jemmy Ducks' eyes narrowed and his face took on a reserved, suspicious expression; but after some hesitation he admitted that he had seven or eight of the little buggers over to Flicken, south by east of Shelmerston.

'Are any of them girls?'

'Three, sir. No, I tell a lie. Four.'

'Then I dare say you are used to their ways?'

'Well you may say so, sir. Howling and screeching, teething and croup, thrust, red-gum, measles and the belly-ache, and poor old Thurlow walking up and down rocking them in his arms all night and wondering dare he toss 'em out of window . . . Chamber-pots, pap-boats, swaddling clouts drying in the kitchen . . . That's why I signed on for a long, long voyage, sir.'

'In that case I am sorry to inflict this task upon you. [snip]'

'Lousy as well as poxed and filthy, sir?'

'Of course. And I dare say he will have their hair off too. When that is done you will feed them in a seamanlike manner and stow them where the lambs were: you may ask Chips or the bosun for anything you need. Carry on, Jemmy Ducks.'

'Aye aye, sir.'

'And if it lasts, you shall have a mate, watch and watch.'

'Thank you kindly, sir: just like by land. Well, they say no man can escape his fate.'

'And if there are no survivors, you shall have two shillings a month hardship money.'

What could be fairer?

Tom Collin


From: Gary W. Sims
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 2:30 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

From: "Gary W. Sims"

She'd say it's ill bred of me to consider her past, but a thought about Clarissa occurred to me as I read once more this passage from page 79 of Norton:
[...]
Suffering fatigue of the phalanges
At or about 3442' N 11808' W

And perhaps the brain as well. I completely forgot the next part of the book, which I read not an hour later. The part where Clarissa reacts so badly to Stephen's question about her familiarity with a shotgun. Not to speak of the entire revelation of her past that comes later.

You see how I can enjoy reading the canon this fourth or fifth time: my memory is no more. A wisp on the breeze. Any character less dominant than Captain Augerman or Doctor Mattley completely escapes me from one reading to the next. Ah well, it heightens the entertainment to remain in the moment of a each book, each passage. And those speculations indeed crossed my mind early last night as I read that passage about children.

Personally, I have always found the similarity in personality between Wogan and Clarissa striking. And the latent violence has seemed obvious to me. So much so I twisted details of their background in my memory. Now I'm off back to Desolation Island to read it in parallel with Truelove and see whether I've been completely misled all these times.

Gary W. Sims, Major, USAF(ret)
--------------------------------------------
Sadly out of countenance, going straight through the door with a bowed head, a mumble and a gesture towards his forelock (TL, p147)
At or about 3442' N 11808' W


From: Martin Watts
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 3:28 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

Ted wrote:

Jack's Step Mother is a former Dairy Maid married 'above her station'

I've always thought Jack's step mother owed a lot to Mary Ann Bullock of Uppark House in West Sussex (where H.G.Wells grew up). See: http://www.touruk.co.uk/houses/housewsuss_uppark.htm

Note the naval connections - Mary Ann followed an earlier period when Emma Harte was installed as the mistress of the house.

Martin


From: Marshall Rafferty
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

On Tue, 18 Feb 2003 10:30:49 -0800, Gary Sims wrote:

Sadly out of countenance, going straight through the door with a bowed head, a mumble and a gesture towards his forelock

Not at all, Gary... it's a joy to see any discussion of this month's book; besides, I'd never noticed before how Clarissa's description:

"But what I dislike even more is the affected child, the hulking oaf of seven or eight that skips heavily about with her hands dangling in front of her -- a little squirrel or a little bunny rabbit -- "

brings to mind Australia's national animal, whose early description by Cook I'm just reading in "Blue Latitudes."

Marshall


From: EB
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 6:02 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - SPOILERS FOR COMMODORE

Tharp, Katherine" wrote:

It's a perfect setup for a Gothic melodrama. Diana is known to be jealous and hot-tempered, and has been drinking heavily. Stephen is rich, and Clarissa has as much affection for him as she is capable of feeling for anyone. It's easy enough to imagine a scenario in which there is a confrontation between the two women, and Diana ends up down a well, while Clarissa supplants her in Stephen's life. Luckily for Diana, POB was a fan of Austen rather than Radcliffe. I was glad to find out that my suspicions were unjustified.

Bravo! Sounds really good. I hope you write this.

=====
Edmund
32 33'N
94 22'W


From: John Gosden
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 9:17 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - Gazing along the wake

Gary quoted from Clarissa Oakes:

Clarissa: "I was talking about children that have not been properly house-trained. Left to their own impulses and indulged by doting or careless parents almost all children are yahoos.

Which reminded me of a guesthouse in West Argyll, whereof the letterhead read:

All dogs, and well-behaved children, welcome.

--
John R. Gosden
7*51'59"N / 98*20'28"E


From: Marian Van Til
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 9:23 PM
Subject: Disliking children (was: RE: [POB] GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes)

On another point, who in the canon *does* like children? Sophie, certainly. But is there anyone else?

Even Sophie wasn't so sure for quite a while. She certainly didn't like how one got them, at either end of the process. She had a very hard delivery with the twins and I always inferred that that (as well as her distaste for sex) was what led Jack to tell Stephen (was it in Desolation Island? can't remember which book) that there would be no more children, and thus he would never have a son.

Marian.


From: John Gosden
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 9:36 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - SPOILERS FOR COMMODORE

AGB wrote:

On another point, who in the canon *does* like children? Sophie, certainly. But is there anyone else?

The ordinary seamen, who cherished the little orphan girls rescued from the island. Their attitude reminded me rather of the pirates in High Wind in Jamaica.

--
John R. Gosden
7*51'59"N / 98*20'28"E


From: Robin Welch
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 2:40 AM
Subject: Re: GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes - SPOILERS FOR COMMODORE

It seems that POB disliked children in life, but there seems to be a theme running through the entire canon that he has strong sympathy for the underdog, presented in whatever form. Even children can qualify as underdog, under certain circumstances.

Robin


From: Isabelle Hayes
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 1:19 PM
Subject: Re: Maturin and children, was GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes

I just read, in Fortune of War, that Kevin was the name of a cousin of Stephen's, who was killed, and it was a woman who loved him, who was an valued acquaintance of Stephen's who had told him it was better never to think of the past unless it was of good things. Stephen reflects this philosophy didn't help the woman, who died after Kevin did, seemingly of the loss.

Isabelle Hayes


From: Stephen Chambers
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 9:46 PM
Subject: Re: Disliking children (was: RE: [POB] GRP: Truelove/Clarissa Oakes)

led Jack to tell Stephen (was it in Desolation Island? can't remember which book) that there would be no more children, and thus he would never have a son.

I don't remember Jack having said that, but if he did it certainly wasn't in Desolation Island. I have just restarted it and only just finished Mauritius Command, where he discovers he has a son at the end. :-)

Stephen Chambers
50 48' 38"N 01 09' 15"W
When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer our friend.


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2003 1:00 PM
Subject: Re: Disliking children

I didn't get the impression that Sophie had a choice in this. I don't think she knew how to not have babies, I got the impression there was a medical condition resulting from the childbirth.


From: Thistle Farm
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2003 1:09 PM
Subject: Re: Disliking children

I understood it to be *entirely* Sophie's choice-- much the same way my father-in-law was an only child. Never ever again was great-grandma going to risk the horrible experience of childbirth. As I recall, George only arrived because Sophie desperately wanted Jack to spend one more night ashore instead of leaving the minute he got notice of his ship. She played the one card that was sure to keep him.

Sarah


From: Aari Ludvigsen
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2003 2:39 PM
Subject: Re: Disliking children

"Sophie had been brought up so straight-laced that she possessed no very exact notion of how babies were made in the first place or born in the second until she learnt from personal and startling experience."

-- The Commodore

(which it's not completely relevant but I just happened to be reading it)

Aari


From: Marian Van Til
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2003 3:21 PM
Subject: Re: Disliking children

Sarah (Thistle Farm) wrote:

I understood it to be *entirely* Sophie's choice-- much the same way my father-in-law was an only child. Never ever again was great-grandma going to risk the horrible experience of childbirth. As I recall, George only arrived because Sophie desperately wanted Jack to spend one more night ashore instead of leaving the minute he got notice of his ship. She played the one card that was sure to keep him.

Yes, that's exactly how I've always read this.

Marian


From: Charles Munoz
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 3:07 PM
Subject: GRP: Clarissa; POB's and Richardson's

Thinking of the novel Clarissa, Sam'l Johnson says that if you read Richardson for the plot, you will hang yourself. But, for awhile, that novel from the mid-18th century was the best selling book in England.

In "Fortune of War" Maturin and Captain Yorke discuss Richardson. Richardson's greatest heroine is that fantastic letter-writing 2000 page bore and saint, Clarissa Harlowe. Several books later, POB's Clarissa Harvill shows up.

But lookee here -- to a considerable degree Richardson's heroine Clarissa Harvill is a twisted mirror-image of the POB Clarissa, who is chaste to the point of ... well, I can hardly say how chaste she was. After she was raped, she died, and she died forgiving the villain.

Here's a bit of a summary I extracted from Google; the bits in square brackets are mine:

"The novel [Clarissa] has perhaps the greatest villain ever in the field of a man's ill will towards a woman.

He is Robert Lovelace, described by Richardson in his list of principal characters as: a man of birth and fortune, haughty, vindictive, humorously vain, equally intrepid and indefatigable in the pursuit of his pleasures--making his addresses [addresses --ha! -- he wanted her, body, mind and soul] to Miss Clarissa Harlowe.

"Lovelace is powerfully attracted by Clarissa, but she does not want to be courted by him. He is furious at this and as the novel goes on [and on and on for volume after volume] his plans for revenge become terrible.

He threatens her family with physical injury if she doesn't reconsider his suit. He tricks her into fleeing her home--seeming to offer protection when her family tries to force a marriage on her with another man, whom she loathes. He keeps her prisoner in a London house of prostitution [bingo!] making it at first appear a respectable home, a temporary lodging until she is safely beyond the reach of her family.

There he persistently tries, in her words, "to break my spirit"--to have her cheapen herself by giving him a bodily approval [bodily approval -- well put, writer] he does not deserve.

Clarissa does not want to betray herself and she resists his attempts to seduce her. Lovelace takes the strength of a woman as an insult, as a gnawing wound. He takes her critical mind ... as a cause of humiliation he has a right to get revenge on. He is determined to bring her down in her own eyes and those of her family."

He uses an 18th century date-rape drug to have his wicked will of her. She comes to during the rape. She dies eventually. She forgives him. Still, he wants to dismember her body. I forget why.

Charlezzzzz, who never has read Clarissa and never hung himself... but it seems to me that the conection between both C. Harville and C. Harlowe is, allowing for a round turn, about as close as close can be: the murderous whore in body, pure at heart, cat-killing (ah! POB) Clarissa


From: Anthony Gary Brown
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 3:20 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Clarissa; POB's and Richardson's

Charles Munoz wrote:

But lookee here -- to a considerable degree Richardson's heroine Clarissa Harvill is a twisted mirror-image of the POB Clarissa, who is chaste to the point of ... well, I can hardly say how chaste she was. After she was raped, she died, and she died forgiving the villain.

Though authors can have it both ways. The villain Lovelace is a) forgiven by Saint Clarissa, and b) promptly skewered by her cousin, Col. Morden.

Gary, in Dallas


From: Don Seltzer
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 4:26 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Clarissa; POB's and Richardson's

Thank you, Charlezzzz! It has long bothered me that POB was making an obvious connection between Clarissas Harvill and Harlow, and I couldn't fathom the similarities.

Don Seltzer
which there are different ways to skin a cat, or to toss it overboard


From: Linnea
Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2003 10:04 PM
Subject: Re: GRP: Clarissa; POB's and Richardson's

I'm coming in so late with this, and sorry, and you all posted such great insights but of course I'll have to go with "The Munozzzzz" to jog your memories on the discussion of Clarissa in The Truelove/Clarissa Oakes.

I really dreaded reading that book again, because of her pathetic past, and now I find that I've re-read it months ago and MY sad memory needs jogging. Charlezzzzz helped me understand why Clarissa is named for Richardson's heroine, but I still couldn't figure out why O'Brian would write such a sordid tale. Many of you have cast light on O'Brian's feelings about children (we must presume, we can only guess).

The two little girls who were found on the island and brought aboard (in The Nutmeg of Consolation) have been civilized, to a degree, running sometimes at first naked around the ship, climbing the rigging, exploring the hold. Two little girls, as Clarissa and another girl were in the hands of her guardian (an ironic name, when O'Brian could have made him an uncle, which he was to the other girl). But what a contrast. Of course, the little heathens may perhaps not be very attractive little girls, but still they run free in a ship full of rough seamen who are far from shore and the opposite sex, and there is never a hint of molestation. Is this one of the reasons that POB writes about these little girls, who are found and cared for, to compare to the behavior of Clarissa's molester, a "gentleman," who lived in the civilized world of England?

It is when Clarissa muses over their future, hoping that they'll be safe, that she tells Stephen her story.

~~ Linnea (who hasn't read Clarissa but saw the Masterpiece Theatre production on PBS, and learned more about villainy than she wanted to) (and is glad that Charlezzzzz has never hung himself!)


From: Susan Wenger
Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2003 9:49 PM
Subject: GroupRead: Truelove: Age

Yes, we've moved past "The Truelove," but I'm running behind : }

It seems to me that the matter of AGE recurs several times in "The Truelove:" was aging weighing on POB's mind when he wrote TT?

Here are four that I noticed:

Page 17: You are to consider that a certain melancholy and often a certain irascibility accompany advancing age: indeed, it might be said that advancing age equals ill-temper. On reaching the middle years a man perceives that he is no longer able to do certain things, that what looks he may have had are deserting him, that he has a ponderous great belly, and that however he may yet burn he is no longer attractive to women; and he rebels. Fortitude, resignation and philosophy are of more value than any pills, red white or blue."

page 17 (JA to SM) 'My hair is not grey. It is a very becoming buttercup-yellow.' Jack wore his hair long, clubbed and tied with a broad black bow. Stephen plucked the bow loose and brought the far end of plait round before his eyes. 'Well I'm damned,' said Jack, looking at it in the sunlight.'

Pge 106: Lord Howe was a very ancient gentleman, seventy.

Page 115: Stephen said nothing either for a while, but then he observed, 'Pudding. Sure, it starts with pudding or marchpane; then it is the toss of a coin which fails first, your hair or your teeth, your eyes or your ears; then comes impotence, for age gelds a man without hope or retrieve, saving him a mort of anguish.'


From: Linnea
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2003 10:49 PM
Subject: Re: GroupRead: Truelove: Age

Good to read these again, Susan----I'm so far ahead that I had forgotten these (or is it my age?).

I finished the series through The Hundred Days ages ago and am waiting, waiting to read Blue at the Mizzen at the proper time so for once it shall be fresh in my mind--what's left of it! Gads, I'm married to a man older than Lord Howe! Howe did that happen?

I can't really see Jack saying that his hair was a very becoming buttercup-yellow--I just can't. Well, perhaps the maidens had told him that often and often.

~~ Linnea


From: Heather Robertson
Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2003 7:34 AM
Subject: Re: GroupRead: Truelove: Age

Perhaps PO'B is hinting that ageing can occur for a fair while before we notice? For the grey hairs to have grown long enough to show at the end of a long plait, they've been grey for years: if hair grows at half an inch a month, approximately, and would have to reach the length of a foot or so (I'm guessing, probably even longer), that's at least two years' greying time. It's funny how we don't notice changes in ourselves, they happen so gradually.

Heather
which she noticed her first couple of grey hairs last week; and a few nascent wrinkles too, forsooth


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