Thursday, February 27, 2014

Horatio Hornblower

It took me a long time but finally I finished a book called Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, which is a story about the adventures of  a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic Wars. The first Hornblower novel The Happy Return was written in 1937 by Cecil Scott Forester, an Englishman born in Egypt. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower was written much later, in 1950, but if you read the series in chronological order, you should start with this one as it covers the period of time from 1794 till 1798.

While later in life Horatio goes on to become an admiral, we first meet him when he is just 17 and goes to sea for the first time. He is taunted by other midshipmen who are all older than him and even thinks of committing suicide but it all changes when he challenges his principal enemy to a duel. Though nobody dies, Horatio gains a great deal of respect, is soon transferred to a better ship and thus embarks on his brilliant career. In the end of the book he is 21 and already a lieutenant.

The book was great fun to read and having been written a long time ago it was rather politically incorrect as well, which naturally added to its charms. It consists of 10 chapters which are a separate story each of them. There was a great deal of fighting, though no gory details, but also no romance, though from other books we know that Horatio will marry and not once, but twice.

There was a 1951 movie with Gregory Peck called Captain Horatio Hornblower which shows an older Hornblower  and tells us the story of his love affair with Lady Barbara. I watched it on YouTube last year but it disappeared ever since and the only thing I could find was a trailer. It was a nice film with good actors and I can recommend it to anyone. There was also a recent TV series which is also on YouTube, which I haven't watched so I can't say anything about it, good or bad.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is a nice old-fashioned adventure story and it's suitable for anyone to read, yound and old. 

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