O'Brian's women

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O'Brian's women

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Editat: abr. 29, 2008, 3:20 pm

I read once that the women in the Aubrey-Maturin novels are poorly drawn - and I have to say I agree with this.

Whilst even the smallest male bit part character is invested with idiosyncracies to make him feel like a real living breathing person, women are either faintly drawn, or - if Stephen is interested in them - they seem to be all versions of Diana Villiers (Louise Wogan and Clarissa Oakes in particular).

I include Jack's wife Sophie in the list of faintly drawn characters. It is as if O'Brian's descriptive powers and ability to desribe a person's foibles in a deftly crafted sentence deserts him when it comes to women.

What do you guys think?

maig 1, 2008, 3:48 pm

I have to agree with you there. I've often thought that Sophie and Diana are rather flat, and they seem to exist only to be foils for each other in some ways.

But then again, the novels are set in a man's world, and we don't get to see all that much of the wives and sweethearts anyway. A more rounded female character does eventually surface as Christine Wood in Blue at the Mizzen. I have a feeling I would have liked her better, if only there had been a complete 21st novel.

maig 1, 2008, 5:30 pm

Yes you are right about Christine Wood, she seems to be the first of Maturin's women interests who seems like him in character, rather than as a contrast to his character.

maig 9, 2008, 10:10 am

I also agree. I recommend Patrick O'Brian: The Making of the Novelist by Nikolai Tolstoy (Patrick's stepson and a famous writer in his own, er, right). It may go some way to explaining the phenomenon you noticed.


maig 20, 2008, 4:09 pm

I don't think the women are any more "flat" than any of the other minor characters. I mean, how much do we really know about Bonden or Killick or Joseph Banks? I really love Diana, and Mrs. Williams is a great annoying MIL, imho.

maig 21, 2008, 8:30 pm

How about Clarissa Oaks--not exactly feint of heart, that one.

maig 22, 2008, 10:07 pm

We know a lot about Sir Joseph Banks from history, so we should not expect details about him in a novel.

maig 23, 2008, 1:18 am

We were talking about character, tho. There isn't much revealed about Sir Joseph in the novels other than his love of insects. And we know that O'Brian knew a lot about him as he wrote his biography.

jul. 5, 2008, 12:21 am

It has been sometime since I read the series but I somewhat agree with the observation of the women being 'flat'. I'm not sure if flat is the right word but it did seem to me that O'Brian didn't match the men to the women as I would have expected. I always thought Aubrey was a better match for Villers then Stephen. But then maybe my expectations were more romantic then real world.

O'Brian's biography of Bank is an outstanding read. One of the best bios of an 18th century naturalist I've read.

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