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    O'Brian, Forester and Parkinson
    From: Jan Kalivoda
    Date: 2003 Dec 8, 15:54 +0100

    I didn't see M&C yet, but I will - in our globalized world, we will have the 
    premiere after a week in our landlocked Prague.
    I have read many Forester's stories, but I am not great on him. I had read him 
    in old Czech translations and although the translators were diligent and used 
    the full support of our river boaters, the result wasn't fully successful. 
    But above all, Forester is a bit juvenile for my rotten mind.
    But I delighted very much in "Horatio Hornblower, his Life and Age" from 
    Parkinson - the author of Parkinson's laws, but also the renowned historian 
    of the British sea trade and trade politics. He probably loved Forester in 
    his youth and in the mature age, he declared that he had found a box with 
    Hornblower's unknown correspondence in the loft of an old lawyer firm in 
    London. Based on it, he was supposedly able to rewrite Hornblower's tale more 
    precisely than Forester, who didn't know the most important documents to H.'s 
    life. Funny metafiction, isn't it?
    Therefore, with the approval of Forester's widow, Parkinson narrated 
    Hornblower's life again in one concise book, concentrating himself on pauses 
    between Forester's stories, summarizing them, supplementing a bit and above 
    all, colouring them by his silent humour and historical scepticism. After 
    all, Parkinson left Hornblower to die in the circle of his family after the 
    Crimea war, with Gibbon's Fall of Roman Empire in his lap.
    As an appendix, a letter is printed out, written by Hornblower to his heirs, 
    where he admits that he had organized the murder of Captain Sawyer in the 
    Caribbean, when he began recovering from his mental illness and being 
    dangerous for the career of lieutenants that had demoted him from his post. 
    Parkinson says that he obtained this letter from the 9th lord Hornblower, 
    living in the South Africa, of course only after much persuasion.
    This book gave me more pleasure than all Forester's novels. Certainly, it 
    wouldn't have been written without Forester.
    Jan Kalivoda

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