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Thread: Hornblower and War and Peace

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Hornblower and War and Peace

    I have been reading Commodore Hornblower, in which Captain Hornblower sails the Baltic and hinders Boney's invasion of Russia in 1812. Why didn't St Petersburg fall? Well, that was down to Hornblower. Something I learnt that I did not gather from War and Peace was that Russia invaded Finland and some Baltic states a year or two before Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Another thing I did not know was that Tzar Alexander's father and grandfather were both assassinated. Hornblower thinks Tzar Alexander will be assassinated by his own officers if he is unsuccessful at defending Russia. I certainly did not get the impression that Tzar Alexander was in danger of being assassinated by Russian nobility. I got the impression the Tzar was adored by the Russian nobility. Nikolai Rostov adores him.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    I'm also fond of Horatio Hornblower and would suspect that Forester deviated from history to create a plotline that was personal and immediate, and soluble by an individual hero.

    I haven't read that one but I've just taken it out of the shelves and put t on top of the stack.

    Do you like Patrick O'Brian?

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spikepipsqueak View Post
    I'm also fond of Horatio Hornblower and would suspect that Forester deviated from history to create a plotline that was personal and immediate, and soluble by an individual hero.

    I haven't read that one but I've just taken it out of the shelves and put t on top of the stack.

    Do you like Patrick O'Brian?
    I thought that C.F. Forester had made too much of Hornblower's involvement. I did not know how much effect a flotilla of about seven ships, containing about 1200 men, could have. I was quite excited to read on Wikipedia that there was some significant Royal Navy involvement in the Siege of Riga (1812).

    The English Admiral, Martin, contributed greatly to the defence of Riga with his gunboats.
    The division of gunboats under Captain Stuart had proceeded up the Boldero river, to cooperate with the garrison of Dunamunde. The British destroyed the only bridge of Kalnezeen.
    In August, Martin led a British-Russian force on a diversionary naval raid on the major French base at Danzig.


    Hornblower does not do exactly what Admiral Martin did, but the story appears to have been inspired by these exploits.

    All the same, General MacDonald (who was a French general, and a grandson of a Scottish Jacobite) had 30,000 men. Napoleon Bonaparte's main invasion force was about 600,000 men strong. So the attack on Riga, even if a preliminary to on an attack on Petersburg, was only a side show.

    I did like Patrick O'Brian's books. I read all except the unfinished one. However, I prefer the Hornblower books. For decades I thought Hornblower was like Biggles on sea, but that's not the case.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Thanks for the background. It will inform the book when I get to it.

    Way too lazy to do much historical delving for myself .

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