Since I started reading Patrick O'Brian I have
discovered the pleasures of reading older authors, not all of whom are
"literary", but some of whom certainly are.
- Jane Austen "It is a truth universally acknowledged,
that a single man with a large fortune must be in want of a wife."
- Erskine Childers for "The Riddle of the Sands".
Also note the echo with "The Flying Childers", the name of
a fast, well-known smuggling ship in Patrick O'Brian's books.
Thanks go to C. Johnson, Bookseller here in London for pointing
this book out to me.
- Joseph Conrad. I borrowed a copy of "Lord Jim",
twenty years ago. I'll return it, just as soon as I am finished...
- Chas. Dickens. My Grandfather was president of the
Toronto chapter of the Dickens Society, many moons ago.
- C. S. Forester for Hornblower.
- Charles Robert Maturin for "Melmoth the Wanderer".
This is a brilliant 18th century book, the original horror
novel---and clearly an inspiration for Patrick O'Brian in
some ways, not just the name Maturin for the main character,
along of Aubrey of course, but also in some sense the mood,
occasionally. There is even a clear echo in a sentiment
expressing something like "and humanity returned, like a slowly
rising tide", meaning Stephen Maturin's temper improving after
he eats his breakfast, and also a similar experience for one
of Melmoth's victims.
- the person who wrote "Clarissa", that extraordinary work
`Sir, I honour your judgement, but when you spoke of Clarissa,
did the name of Richardson slip your mind?'
`It did not. I am aware that Samuel Richardson's name appears on
the title page. Yet before ever I read Clarissa Harlowe
I read Grandison, to which is appended a low grasping ignoble
whining outcry against the Irish booksellers for invading the copyright.
It is written by a tradesman in the true spirit of the counting-house;
and since there can be no doubt that it was written by Richardson, I
for my part have no doubt that Clarissa, with its wonderful
delicacy, was written by another hand. The man who wrote the letter
could not have written the book. ...'
---from "The Nutmeg of Consolation", by Patrick O'Brian, p. 253
- Laurence Sterne, for "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy".
This book is a delight!
- Hugh Walpole for "Rogue Herries". Rich, rich, rich;
often subtle. One minor snag is that
when picking up Walpole I find it difficult to avoid thinking of John
Cleese in the cheese-shop sketch ("I curtailed my Walpole-ing
activities, and sallied forth in search of cheesy comestibles").
Actually, I feel a bit esurient myself at the moment.