[read online pdf] Beat to QuartersAuthor C.S. Forester – Bilb-weil.de

I started reading these years ago and still enjoy them I ve recently been trying to fill in gaps in my reading of the story chronologically speaking This is the story where Hornblower first meets Lady Barbara.In the book Hornblower is thrown into an untenable political situation where again his lack of self confidence convinces him that his career is ruined as I said, again.As always good narration, good plot, good characters These are excellent books.Recommended. Another good Hornblower novel, a bit shorter than some This one concentrates on the hardship of a long time at sea What the sailors would put up with is incredible The food is enough to gag a maggot , surrounded by water, they barely get enough fresh water 7 months in a cask to live When repairs are needed, the efforts are truly heroic They empty the ship entirely, refit fix her as if she were in a refit yard, sail off in 2 weeks Hornblower s navigation is fantastic Twice he mana Another good Hornblower novel, a bit shorter than some This one concentrates on the hardship of a long time at sea What the sailors would put up with is incredible The food is enough to gag a maggot , surrounded by water, they barely get enough fresh water 7 months in a cask to live When repairs are needed, the efforts are truly heroic They empty the ship entirely, refit fix her as if she were in a refit yard, sail off in 2 weeks Hornblower s navigation is fantastic Twice he managed to hit tiny targets after months at sea Latitude is one thing It can be checked fairly often, but longitude relies on clocks the knowledge of speed the distance covered How he managed that after 7 months with the old clocks, all the currents storms, is nothing short of miraculous.There are plenty of other wild adventures issues that come up It s packed with adventure It ends rather abruptly, though Can t wait to read the next There s a thread dangling that holds some real promise Glad I didn t read any of the short stories or books further along in the chronology Long ago I read the first Aubrey Maturin book and absolutely hated it Easily one of my most hated fiction books of all time To this day I am baffled at the popularity of the series Maybe later books are vastly better Maybe people didn t read them in order I don t know.The Hornblower books are one of those things that I ve always been vaguely aware of I had always associated them with bad, mindless best seller pablum Like a 1930s James Patterson, all action, no nuance For some reason I ca Long ago I read the first Aubrey Maturin book and absolutely hated it Easily one of my most hated fiction books of all time To this day I am baffled at the popularity of the series Maybe later books are vastly better Maybe people didn t read them in order I don t know.The Hornblower books are one of those things that I ve always been vaguely aware of I had always associated them with bad, mindless best seller pablum Like a 1930s James Patterson, all action, no nuance For some reason I came across a copy of this and decided to give it a go I m glad I did because it was nothing like what I expected.There is some action quite a bit of it but there was farcharacterization of Hornblower than I expected Forester does a tremendous job of giving us someone who is, outwardly, the pinnacle of British captaincy during the Napoleonic era But, because we are privy to his inner thoughts and feelings, we understand how much of it is a facade and how deep his inner turmoil runs The ITV series of Hornblower telemovies arguably constituted one of the high points of my childhood That s the first point The second point is that I recently read several installments in Patrick O Brien s excellent Aubrey Maturin series, and developed a fondness for the Napoleonic period and all its accoutrements the Sharpe series is another example of the Napoleonic page turner Thirdly, the publication date helpfully informs me that Beat to Quarters was copyrighted in 1938, which puts i The ITV series of Hornblower telemovies arguably constituted one of the high points of my childhood That s the first point The second point is that I recently read several installments in Patrick O Brien s excellent Aubrey Maturin series, and developed a fondness for the Napoleonic period and all its accoutrements the Sharpe series is another example of the Napoleonic page turner Thirdly, the publication date helpfully informs me that Beat to Quarters was copyrighted in 1938, which puts it at the tail end of the interwar period, a time during which I believe some of the very best literature ever to be produced was being written and published on both sides of the Atlantic.So, imagine my surprise when I found that I loathed Horatio Hornblower or, at least, his first literary incarnation It is said that O Brian, writing thirty years later, drew much inspiration from C.S Forester s Hornblower series But O Brian did better than that he improved Forester s concept immeasurably Beat to Quarters reads very much like a child s impression of an Aubrey Maturin novel It has a smaller dose of naval jargon, which I might have once welcomed, but the simplified treatment of life on board HM frigate Lydia seems like a cop out or a charicature We are never shown something when we can be told it we can t properly appreciate the complexity of commanding a warship because, instead of laying out the complexity for all to see, Forester resorts to telling us repeatedly how very, very, awfully, jolly difficult it is to be a captain, and that you must have a heart of gold and nerves of steel and so forth This oversimplification also manifests itself in the narrative voice, which persistently intrudes on the narrative with Forester s editorial asides, which should have been turned into footnotes in the second draft and then thrown out altogether in the third Take this beauty, for example, and tell me if you can maintain a sense of total narrative immersion when faced with such writing Any woman who could transfer herself in that fashion from boat to ship in an open roadstead, and could ascend a rope ladder unassisted, must be too masculine for his Hornblower s taste Besides, an Englishwoman must be unsexed to be in Panama without a male escort the phrase globe trotting with all its disparaging implication, had not yet been invented, but it expressed exactly Hornblower s feeling about her pg 125 126 Three thing about that passage Well, four The first is that I have been pulled by my thesis supervisors two historians about using anachronistic language I use it sometimes because I m from the 21st century and I try very hard to forget that I am but it is often jarring and occasionally, OCCASIONALLY defensible and I eliminate it where I can I don t draw attention to it by launching into a little nudge nudge, wink wink, women these days eh discourse with my reader.Which brings me to the second point I don t think Forester is joking I have previously commented on this site that i consider myself to be unoffendable sex, violence, drug use, swearing, whatever the part of my brain that is supposed to rail against these things has packed up and left and has left all its duties up to whichever hemisphere or cortex says things like, Oh, isn t that fascinating I don t get in a huff, about anything Except for other people getting in a huff But here s the thing Forester is recording an attitude towards women here that is attributable entirely to his character, and it appears to be a very histoorically accurate rendering of a Napoleonic English naval captain s internal dialogue But it s also self evidently Forester s internal or, now, external dialogue, and the reader then begins to suspect very strongly that what they are witnessing is not an excellent rendering of contemporary social norms, but rather a boorish modern writer with retrogressive views using his creation as convenient cover In short Forester makes no attempt to conceal his authorial presence, and at times I found that presence to be quite odious.Along that vein, let us consider the literary implications of this passage and others This is not a good book, in the conventional sense of the word, because it aspires to qualities it does not have Maybe Forester s authorial asides were attempts at aknowing, cozy, postmodernist style of writing where the readership is invited to participate in a limited way in the narrative by responding to asides and being directly addressed by the author I ve read a few books that pull this trick off convincingly, and a few which do not While I haven t read it, Italo Calvino s If On a Winter s Night a Travaller seems to fit the bill perfectly Beat to Quarters does not It all feels very hackneyed stylistically tired vague on details in a childrens literature kind of way boring even when it s exciting full of love themes apparently written by someone with a favourite cat, but nothing.That s the third point The fourth is that if I had read this in, say, 1939 newly published and exciting and whatnot the take home message for me would be that, by Jove, the British Empire is a place well worth defending and I m going to toddle off down to the local recruiting station and join the RAF in case Jerry ever decides to have another crack at Blighty Bish bosh Tally ho It has dated very poorly It reminds me of that episode of Jeeves and Wooster when Jeeves sets about ghost writing a book on botany or ornithology or some such thing The resultant text is laden with pedagogical asides along the lines of, Now remember, children, that if you really want to knwo about the North American barking swallow, you should put this modest volume aside and pick up SIr Ernest Beedlewomp s Birds and Bees etc etc There aren t any specific or direct appeals, but one gets the distinct impression that Beat to Quarters is an educational tool as well as a piece of entertainment It s the kind of artform that peaked in the late Victorian era but continued until the Empire had been completely dismantled, whose aim is not aesthetic beauty or intellectual daring, but to produce an idealised version of society Beat to Quarters is like socialist realism you know all the painting of Stalin sitting with cherubic children on his lap while combine harvesters bring in a bumper crop in the background , just with a late imperial bias I may have completely gotten the wrong end of the stick in this last point, and Beat to Quarters may well be a brilliant piece of satire, or a perfectly pitched and formulated period drama But I doubt it When Forester s pomposity is the most believable thing in the whole book, I know it s time to revisit the Hornblower DVDs and see the naval hero as he should be seen uninhibited by the inadequacies of his creator I quite enjoyed Beat to Quarters and thought it was a fine sea adventure tale I didn t understand most of the nautical terms used so some of the action probably went over my head however, I never felt lost or completely confused I enjoyed the writing style, which was pleasant and easy to read, with plenty of humorous touches The ocean battles were exciting and dramatic Hornblower was a good character, and the strategies he uses were interesting and never boring. This review is for the complete 11 book series of THE HORNBLOWER SAGA by C.S Forester, which I just finished reading last night Note Individual books have individual star ratings mostly 5 star, a few 4 star , but the descriptive review will be the same for each, and encompass the entire series, as follows Actually, I just finished reading the complete series for the second time, the first being as a teenager some 30 years ago.It s remarkable to me that I have only just this moment realized This review is for the complete 11 book series of THE HORNBLOWER SAGA by C.S Forester, which I just finished reading last night Note Individual books have individual star ratings mostly 5 star, a few 4 star , but the descriptive review will be the same for each, and encompass the entire series, as follows Actually, I just finished reading the complete series for the second time, the first being as a teenager some 30 years ago.It s remarkable to me that I have only just this moment realized that my own timeline regarding the two readings corresponds almost exactly to the age progression experienced by the main character in the course of these 11 novels.It s a 30 year journey unlike any other I have ever taken in books full and deep and satisfying.This is the epic saga of fictional British naval hero HORATIO HORNBLOWER, who goes from a 17 year old midshipman to a 46 year old admiral during the golden age of sail which encompasses the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century.I ll list the 11 books in chronological order not the order they were written , which is the best way, I believe, to read them MR MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER LIEUTENANT HORNBLOWER HORNBLOWER AND THE HOTSPUR HORNBLOWER DURING THE CRISIS HORNBLOWER AND THE ATROPOS BEAT TO QUARTERS SHIP OF THE LINE FLYING COLOURS COMMODORE HOWNBLOWER LORD HORNBLOWER ADMIRAL HORNBLOWER IN THE WEST INDIESI ve read other sea faring novels, but to me, Forester earns the crown.Why Many reasons, but I ll list just three 1 All the rousing action you could ask for in a well paced adventure series2 coupled with a complex main character This is the true secret of the Hornblower books that Hornblower himself is not some one dimensional, infallible, faultless hero On the contrary, he is filled with self doubt and doesn t always choose the best course, especially in personal matters But by building the main character this way, Forester allows you to recognize, empathize, and eventually care deeply about him rooting for his success rather than merely expecting it It s this complex characterization that complements and actually allows for the heroics of the plot because it all comes at a price One price is so high that, as a teenager, I couldn t believe that Forester had actually done it I can t go into detail because this is a spoiler free review, but something happens that is so devastating that literally for entire books afterwards, I kept expecting Forester to make amends But it doesn t happen And finally, as an older adult knowing it will happen, knowing there will be no reprieve I realize Forester was saying, This is the price of war 3 The Language of Sailing Ships I m not nautically minded, and there is much use of nautical language in these books But rather than being annoyed, I had a very different reaction First, I learned a few things But muchimportantly, I also grew to appreciate the language itself, whether I understood its technical details or not To me, it became like poetry Or even music.And I loved it.All 11 books.It s an investment, to be sure.But, for those able bodied , a wonderfully entertaining journey awaits.Should you set sail Aye aye Of all the Hornblower books so far, I ve most looked forward to reading Beat to Quarters or The Happy Return in the UK because it is the very first Hornblower book I was very curious about what differences there might be between the earlier and later Hornblower books, and it turned out there were many It was immediately apparent to me that Beat to Quarters was written many years before the prequels It was not that Forester s writing style was substantially different no, it was that Hornbl Of all the Hornblower books so far, I ve most looked forward to reading Beat to Quarters or The Happy Return in the UK because it is the very first Hornblower book I was very curious about what differences there might be between the earlier and later Hornblower books, and it turned out there were many It was immediately apparent to me that Beat to Quarters was written many years before the prequels It was not that Forester s writing style was substantially different no, it was that Hornblower felt dramatically different than the character I had grown fond of in the previous five books Whereas in the previous books, young Hornblower s reclusive and awkward behavior is a result of his shyness and self doubt and thus is easily empathized with by the reader the captain that we meet in Beat to Quarters is often deliberately frigid and isolated These qualities combined with the petty displays of pique make Hornblower a very human character, but just as importantly a not very likable one either at least for the first segment of the novel Reading Forester s essay in The Hornblower Companion gave me some insight into these discrepancies Forester was interested in exploring the concept of the Man Alone but it was still unsettling to experience the abrupt shift in Hornblower s personality There were also several inconsistencies, which, however understandable given the gap between the originals and the prequels, are nonetheless jarring for the reader who is making their way through the series in terms of Hornblower s chronology For example, Hornblower treats Captain Bush that competent and devoted friend quite coldly, especially so for reader who is not far off from reading Lieutenant Hornblower or Hornblower and the Hotspur Despite all of this, Beat to Quarters is a great story of adventure on the high seas This book is set in a unique location for Hornblower off the Pacific coast of Central America The main antagonist in this story is the enemy ship Natividad which outguns and outmans Hornblower s frigate Lydia The battles that these two ships engage in are captured marvelously by Forester In fact, these battles just might be the best action sequences in the whole series I was enthralled by the drama and tension as I read about the maneuvering of the ships and the broadsides that were relentlessly traded As I mentioned above, I was rather unsettled while reading the first bit of the book, but Beat to Quarters gradually won me over thanks to Forester s excellent writing June , somewhere west of Nicaragua a site suitable for spectacular sea battles The Admiralty has ordered Captain Horatio Hornblower, now in command of the thirty six gun HMS Lydia, to form an alliance against the Spanish colonial government with an insane Spanish landowner to find a water route across the Central American isthmus and to take, sink, burn or destroy the fifty gun Spanish ship of the line Natividad or face court martial A daunting enough set of orders even if the happily married captain were not woefully distracted by the passenger he is obliged to take on in Panama Lady Barbara Wellesley Before there was Master and Commander, there was Horatio Hornblower The name might sound goofy to modern ears, but for a few generations, it has been synonymous with high seas adventure in the age of sail Created in the late 1930s by C S Forester, the character has endured a long, successful series of novels and short stories, a feature film starring Gregory Peck, and a series of TV movies starring Ioan Gruffold It even influenced other pop culture pieces, such as Star Trek The director Before there was Master and Commander, there was Horatio Hornblower The name might sound goofy to modern ears, but for a few generations, it has been synonymous with high seas adventure in the age of sail Created in the late 1930s by C S Forester, the character has endured a long, successful series of novels and short stories, a feature film starring Gregory Peck, and a series of TV movies starring Ioan Gruffold It even influenced other pop culture pieces, such as Star Trek The director of The Wrath of Khan has repeatedly said his goal was to create Horatio Hornblower in space These stories chronicle the career of Horatio Hornblower as he rises through the ranks of the British Navy in the Napoleonic era Beat to Quarters is the sixth book in terms of in world chronology, but was actually the first one written Yes, Forester pulled a George Lucas on us and wrote a bunch of prequels at one point, skipping around a bit to produce a confusing reading order But whatever order you read these in, they re pure naval fun, if you re into that sort of thing Which I definitely am.Beat to Quarters is the tale of Hornblower crossing the Pacific to land on the Western coast of central America, where he gets embroiled in negotiations while trying to aid a local leader rebelling against Spanish rule Just when things are looking up, however, the Spanish and French strike an alliance and Hornblower has to undo all the work he has done, destroying the very forces he built up Oh, and he meets a girl and there s some kind of romantic tension or something The bulk of the story revolves around life on a ship of the line in the early 1800s, the relationships among the upper levels of the crew, the tension of being alone at sea, and the exciting action of naval battle The book shines in two areas, the first being the battles Forester has a knack for balancing accurate description while keeping the pacing fast and tense The action scenes really make the reader feel like they re right there on the deck, feeling every cannon blast, gripped with the roller coaster ride of alternating anticipation and terror of exchanging gunfire with a rival ship He also emphasizes the ridiculously high level of skill that must be displayed by competent ship captains while also not neglecting the role of pure luck in engagements like this In between battle sequences, glimpses into the daily life of a ship captain are accurate and enlightening, and Forester is able to keep them from being dull I really enjoy all the military jargon and technical stuff that goes into these types of stories, so for me, even the boring parts of this book are exciting.The other area the book really shines is the character of Hornblower himself Forester could have created a grand captain, bold and egotistical while never doing anything wrong like a James Bond of the sea Instead, he creates a muchbelievable and relatable character Hornblower struggles with the dichotomy of presenting just such a commanding presence to his men, while his inner thoughts are full of self doubt and questioning What makes him such an inspiring character is the way he routinely is able to overcome his inner fears and take bold, decisive actions, earning the accolades his impressive deeds deserve while remaining humble All this makes him somewhat aloof from his men, and downright bumbling when it comes to women Lady Barbara, the female lead of the book, is as empowered as a realistic female character can be for a story set in this time period, but Hormblower s is almost incapable of interacting with her with the confidence he routinely displays when commanding his ship Overall, the love plot feels a little forced and irrelevant to the story When I read a story about adventure on the high seas, I rarely want to be distracted with a token love story However, Lady Barbara s character is interesting enough, especially when contrasted to Hornblower, that it stays interesting.One aspect of the story I found particularly great was the sense of isolation These men are hopelessly alone on the ocean, and the lack of communication hits home both emotionally and in terms of plot The careful negotiating and political intrigue, already difficult for Horatio to navigate on his own becomes that muchstressful because the political landscape can and does change on a dime and he may or may not hear of it in time to prevent disasters This diplomatic tension, combined with a deep rooted sense of loneliness, create a powerful mood for the book Talking about diplomatic relations might sound boring, but Forester makes it fascinating, at least for a nerd like me The ever evolving dynamics of native uprisings interacting with powerful European monarchies is interesting and thought provoking.All in all, this is a great read, but I m not sure what cross over appeal it has I love it because I m a nerd for anything relating to the Age of Sail, and I m a sucker for military action narratives If you aren t already interested in an eighteenth century naval action piece, I m not sure if this would win you over, but it s worth a shot Its a fun, action packed, well paced tale with captivating characters that even has some romance And it s a very quick and easy read You ve got nothing to lose by checking this one out Read this again over the weekend It s fun and engaging, and a much lighter read than O Brian, although I ve been reading about Jack Aubrey for so long that it s hard to sympathize with Hornblower s insecurities the way his insecurities make him behave, anyway He s only redeemed when you see him through Lieutenant Bush s eyes.Hornblower s internal commentary when he meets Lady Barbara is just awful An Englishwoman must be unsexed to be in Panama without a male escort Her disregard for her c Read this again over the weekend It s fun and engaging, and a much lighter read than O Brian, although I ve been reading about Jack Aubrey for so long that it s hard to sympathize with Hornblower s insecurities the way his insecurities make him behave, anyway He s only redeemed when you see him through Lieutenant Bush s eyes.Hornblower s internal commentary when he meets Lady Barbara is just awful An Englishwoman must be unsexed to be in Panama without a male escort Her disregard for her complexion explains her unmarried state He s glad when a misuse of naval terminology revealed her to be only a feeble woman after all , although that last smug impulse reveals his suspicion that she may in fact be an admirable character.I was so pleased when she mocked his habitual throat clearing