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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jun, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: RIP George MacDonald Fraser         Reply with quote

I was just about to post this in the "Who Interests You In History" thread when I noticed that George MacDonald Fraser died in January. What a pity, but what a legacy! The post below begins with my vote for an "historical" figure I plan to learn more about and goes on (and on) about Fraser's work.
-------------------------------

Brigadier-General Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE (1822 – 1915) Wink

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Paget_Flashman

Okay...he's fictional, but George MacDonald Fraser (The Steel Bonnets) places him--through meticulous research--in the thick of the great English military campaigns of the Victorian age--Afghanistan, India, Crimea, etc. Real historical figures, events and military historical details are packed in all around him. Savant linguist, punk junior officer, indefatigable lech, brutal ne'er do well, racist, admitted and oft-proven coward, cheat and unrepentant connoiseur of every vice....Forrest Gump+James Bond+tomcat=Flashman.

The game here is that Fraser pretends to be merely the editor of Flashman's personal papers, discovered long after his death. Fraser even includes detailed endnotes to elaborate on historical points. But Flashman tells his own story in his own over-the-top style. He's so politically incorrect in every way you sometimes expect the books to burst into flames, but there's often a very sharp point being made by the true author.

The first book, Flashman, (covering the British rout in Afghanistan) and Flashman in the Great Game (covering the Indian Mutiny) are my favorites of this famous series (so far). Both serve as engaging and insightful introductions to the people, places and military affairs of the conflicts. Fraser pays particular attention to details of arms and their use--the new pattern muskets and cartridges issued to Indian "sepoys," the Colt pistol he uses while crewing a slave ship, the edged weapons of his own and enemy soldiers.

Fraser's historical accuracy and authenticity of military voice is highly regarded and probably owes much to his own military service--Border Regiment, Indian 17th Infantry Division, Gordon Highlanders, Middle East, North Africa, etc. Wrote about those experiences as well.

Those of you who have praised the Three Musketeer movies of the 1970s already know a bit about Fraser's screenwriting career. Look at the rest of his film work:
The Three Musketeers (1973)
The Four Musketeers (1974)
Royal Flash (1975, adapted from his novel)
Crossed Swords (US) or The Prince and the Pauper (UK) (1977)
Force 10 From Navarone (uncredited) (1978)
Octopussy (1983)
Red Sonja (1985)
The Return of the Musketeers (1989)

Note that Fraser was also a talented historian. The Steel Bonnets remains the definitive book on the Anglo-Scottish border reivers, as far as I know.

Read and enjoy!

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Thu 19 Jun, 2008 2:03 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jun, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, a sad passing.

As a reminder I will tip a drink tonight to dear ole Flashy

Mike J Arledge

The Dude Abides
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jun, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just discovered that Frasier's last novel was published in April, and it sounds like a hoot.

The Reavers

After twelve gloriously scandalous Flashman novels, the incomparable George MacDonald Fraser gives us a totally hilarious tale of derring-do from a different era.

It’s the turn of the seventeenth century (sort of), we’re in the wild Borders of Scotland, and a casket of jewels, an accidental murder, an estate at risk and a plot to overthrow the king are the order of the day. The irresistible and feisty Lady Godiva Dacre and her “chocolate-box pretty” companion Mistress Kylie Delishe find themselves stranded on a desolate road as highway robbers threaten their lives and possessions. Seemingly out of nowhere, the dashing Bonny Gilderoy (think Johnny Depp on a horse) single-handedly defeats the villains, but not before stealing Lady Godiva’s treasured jewels—along with her heart.

After making it safely to their destination, Godiva and Kylie find themselves thrown back together with that charming scoundrel Gilderoy. A mysterious man named Archie Noble comes to their aid and also makes a play for Godiva’s affections. Despite preposterous alliances and uproarious complications of the heart, they must rely on one another as secret identities are revealed and a perilous coup endangers the Scottish throne. It is through equally daring feats of courage and outlandish costumes that our heroes wade through salacious nightlife, confront wizards and witches and endure terrifying and ridiculous odds to preserve national pride and resolve the love triangles that threaten national security.


He apparently wrote something similar called Pyrates but I don't know anything about that.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jun, 2008 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found this at Amazon.com. The heroic first sentence of Pyrates gives you some idea of Fraser's acid humor, depth of historical knowledge and ability to evoke a sense of place:

It began in the old and golden days of England, in a time when all the hedgerows were green and the roads dusty, when hawthorn and wild roses bloomed, when big-bellied landlords brewed rich October ale at a penny a pint for rakish high-booted cavaliers with jingling spurs and long rapiers, when squires ate roast beef and belched and damned the Dutch over their claret while their faithful hounds slumbered on the rushes by the hearth, when summers were long and warm and drowsy, with honeysuckle and hollyhocks by cottage walls, when winter nights were clear and sharp with frost-rimmed moons shining on the silent snow, and Claud Duval and Swift Nick Nevison lurked in the bosky thickets, teeth gleaming beneath their masks as they heard the rumble of coaches bearing paunchy well-lined nabobs and bright-eyed ladies with powdered hair who would gladly tread a measure by the wayside with the gallant tobyman, and bestow a kiss to save their husbands' guineas; an England where good King Charles lounged amiably on his throne, and scandalised Mr Pepys (or was it Mr Evelyn?) by climbing walls to ogle Pretty Nell; where gallants roistered and diced away their fathers' fortunes; where beaming yokels in spotless smocks made hay in the sunshine and ate bread and cheese and quaffed foaming tankards fit to do G. K. Chesterton's heart good; where threadbare pedlars with sharp eyes and long noses shared their morning bacon with weary travellers in dew-pearled woods and discoursed endlessly of 'Hudibras' and the glories of nature; where burly earringed smugglers brought their stealthy sloops into midnight coves, and stowed their hard-run cargoes of Holland and Brussels and fragrant Virginia in clammy caverns; where the poachers of Lincolnshire lifted hares and pheasants by the bushel and buffeted gamekeepers and jumped o'er everywhere . . .

The Flashman novels are much more conversational (and first-person, of course) but this at least gives a taste.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Thu 19 Jun, 2008 2:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Russ Thomas
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jun, 2008 1:39 pm    Post subject: Flashman.............         Reply with quote

I have never read any of the books, but I do of course know of his film work. I just wondered, is this the same Flashman that features in Tom Browns schooldays ??

Regards ,

Russ

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero !


http://www.living-history.no
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jun, 2008 1:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Flashman.............         Reply with quote

Russ Thomas wrote:
I have never read any of the books, but I do of course know of his film work. I just wondered, is this the same Flashman that features in Tom Browns schooldays ??

Regards ,

Russ


That's him. Fraser appropriated the surname-only thug from that 19th century novel and built an entire life for him. It's part of the joke, and Flashman often refers to his wretched and abortive time at school (expelled for drunkeness, if I remember correctly). At the end of Flashman In the Great Game, when he is puffed up on the highest honor of his life so far (one of the few he actually earns,) an enemy sends him a copy of the newly published Tom Brown's Schooldays and thoroughly deflates him.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jun, 2008 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, Russ, I noticed that you mentioned Custer in the other thread. Flashman apparently turns up at the Little Bighorn in one of the later novels. He ends up "partially scalped," a typical Flashman injury. Laughing Out Loud

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashman_and_the_Redskins

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Morgan Butler




PostPosted: Fri 20 Jun, 2008 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike J Arledge said:
"Yes, a sad passing.

As a reminder I will tip a drink tonight to dear ole Flashy"



I wouldst have to say that one of my seminal influences/inspirations for swords and swordplay was the 70's film versions of the 3 and 4 Musketeers. His screenplay adaption was quirky and contemporary while seeming very historic. It really reached me in a big, big, Big way! As a matter of fact I was re-reading a few Flashy chronichles when I heard of his passing. I always felt he wrote with a real enthusiasm that only someone from another country can have when Flashman was having adventures in America. I agree with one of the posts above, some kind of harmless decedant indulgence should/will be performed in fond memory to the many, many good things he has left us[/b]

inkothemgard!
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