Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Damning your eyes!

In this, the first packet of the Flashman papers, young Harry Flashman is expelled from Rugby School for "beastly drunkenness." He enlists in the Army, serves under Lord Cardigan until he fights a duel with a foreign soldier, Bernier. A short period of service in Scotland during the Chartist riots follows, which introduces him to his wife-to-be, Elspeth. Flashman is then assigned to service in Afghanistan, where he is caught up in the Afghan rebellion of 1842. He is hailed as a hero upon return to England.

Flashman on learning foreign languages: ... if you wish to learn a foreign tongue properly, study it in bed with a native girl - I'd have got more out of the classics from an hour's wrestling with a Greek wench than I did in four years from Arnold.

Sir Willoughby Cotton's reaction to hearing that Flashman was expelled from Rugby because of drunkenness: "No! Well, damme! Who'd have believed they would kick you out for that? They'll be expellin' for rape next."

Flashman sums up the leadership ability of General Elphinstone: Only he could have permitted the First Afghan War and let it develop to such a ruinous defeat. It was not easy: he started with a good army, a secure position, some excellent officers, a disorganised enemy, and repeated opportunities to save the situation. But Elphy, with a touch of true genius, swept aside these obstacles with unerring precision, and out of order wrought complete chaos. We shall not, with luck, look upon his like again.

Flashman on an odd Victorian England custom: It was a common custom at that time, in the more romantic females, to see their soldier husbands and sweethearts as Greek heros, instead of the whore-mongering, drunken clowns most of them were. However, the Greek heros were probably no better, so it was not so far off the mark.

From the Complete Review:

"There are few literary pleasures that can compare to the perusal of a Flashman-novel. Each new installment is eagerly awaited and greedily read. Flashman fans are a devoted, enthusiastic lot, and we have yet to meet anyone who has read a Flashman and not enjoyed it (though there must be some such fools out there). Oddly, we have met lots of people who are still unfamiliar with the Flashman series -- poor deprived folk who think it might not be quite their thing. Oh, how we envy them that first flash of Flashman, the thrill of the novelty and discovery as Flashy-fever takes hold..." Continue...