Thursday, August 11, 2011
Master and Commander
I'm leaving on an epic fight to Ireland tomorrow and the prospect of a 19 hour journey in economy class with a bad knee is causing me a fair amount of stress. I have prepared some counter measures such as getting a book that looks interesting (The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross), buying some jelly babies, and picking up a magazine or two. The one thing I've made sure to do is to load a copy of Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander on my iPod. This will be my third time reading or listening to the novel. I think its the most comforting audiobook I've ever heard. It's narrated by Patrick Tull and there's something special about his voice especially in the long passages when the Sophie is at sea and Maturin is watching the birds and the breeze is gentle and not much is happening...in these sections there is a wonderful sense of Mediterranean calm that drips into your psyche and lowers the blood pressure. As far as I remember the film version of Master and Commander took precisely zero plot points from the book and it was a real shame because the story of the two Irishmen, Dillon and Maturin, is one of the best in the entire O'Brian canon. Guilt, loyalty, betrayal, courage, cowardice, regret - this is what Master and Commander is about. My little brother is an intelligence officer in the royal navy and I spent many years nagging him to read it even though it's not his sort of thing at all. When he was bored out of his mind in a tent in Afghanistan he finally did read it and he confessed that he really enjoyed it. I'm sure some people might find it slow or esoteric but you should try it, it is far more than a sea story and I do recommend it for long commutes or very long flights.