Flashman

Flashman

by George MacDonald Fraser

Join Flashman in his adventures as he survives fearful ordeals and outlandish perils across the four corners of the world.Can a man be all bad?

  • Series: Flashman Papers
  • Language: English
  • Category: Historical
  • Rating: 4.07
  • Pages: 299
  • Publish Date: 1999 by HarperCollins
  • Isbn10: 0006511252
  • Isbn13: 9780006511250

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In this first installment, we follow Flashy from his schooling disgrace to his Machiavellian career in the Army, during which he travels from Scotland (where he seduces the young daughter of the family he billets with), to India (where he bangs everything with a pulse), to Afghanistan, where hes a participant in the major events of the First Anglo-Afghan War. At every turn, through a combination of luck, quick thinking and timely cowardice, Flashman comes out smelling like a rose and ends this first novel as a famous war hero. I feel like a bit of a heel for saying so, but Frasers polished, wonderfully paced, historically accurate story-telling, combined with Flashmans unique, humorous voice won me over. Its a combination of historical fiction, scoundrel lit, and dry British humor. Many of his best barbs are reserved for his commanding officer in Afghanistan, General Elphy Bey. Here are a few examples: But I still state unhesitatingly, that for pure, vacillating stupidity, for superb incompetence to command, for ignorance combined with bad judgment --in short, for the true talent for catastrophe -- Elphy Bey stood alone. If you had taken the greatest military geniuses of the ages, placed them in command of our army, and asked them to ruin it utterly as speedily as possible, they could not I mean it seriously -- have done it as surely and swiftly as he did. In the end, while I never liked Flashy, nor do I think I ever will, he did make me laugh.

This is the first book of the Flashman papers, much-loved by many. I disapprove of him more than intended, but hes disarmingly honest about his dishonesty, immorality, and other faults. The conceit of a real historic record This book claims to be Flashmans memoirs, written between 1900 and 1905, and found in 1965. When it was published in 1969, some thought it was what it claimed - despite Flashman explicitly being the same Flashman as the bully in the (fictional) Tom Brown's School Days! Daisy chain First there was Flashman in Tom Brown's Schooldays, then there was the adult Flashman that Macdonald Fraser wrote. If you have money a wife need be no great encumbrance. He says its the only time he raped a woman.

There are readers who assume that if a main character does something racist or sexist, that means the author is, too. For the most inexperienced author, their main character will be a reflection of how they view themselves. On one hand, this is an easy character to write, because all the author has to do is place themselves in the situation and imagine what they would do. In stories like this, it's common for authors to simply put their own opinions into the mouths of the main characters, and to put opposing opinions into the mouths of the 'bad guys', a la Ayn Rand. A slightly more sophisticated author will intentionally create a character who is more naive than them (at least, to start out with). Then they can have the character make the same mistakes the author used to make when they were younger, before they figured things out. But there's still a steep hill to climb for authors who want to write characters unlike themselves. If the narration actually refers to a character by that slur, we have a problem--where is that judgment coming from, if not the author? It's often a problem with genre authors, who try their hardest to make strong female characters, making other characters speak self-consciously about the power and strength of women, but then completely undermining all of that by never actually having the women do anything active or make any important decisions. Whenever an author completely veils himself behind the character, we must decide what to believe--this technique is called the 'unreliable narrator', for obvious reasons. Certainly, Flashman recognizes that, according to social ideals, he is not a good man, nor a deserving one--but then, he is surrounded by important, influential men who are even worse than he is.

'Flashman' is a wonderful way to learn about history whilst enjoying a ripping yarn that is both funny and gripping.

I strongly recommend it for anyone who's interested in a good read of historical fiction - just don't expect to like Flashman himself, though his unflinching honesty about his own cowardly, racist, misogonistic, classist, bullying character is extremely refreshing and entertaining.

I am not a big historical fiction buff, but I fell head-over-heels in love with this book. Naturally, 100 years later George MacDonald Fraser decided to write a series of historical novels starring a grown up Flashman as the hero. The book is written as a sort of diary penned by Flashman in his old age, later discovered by Fraser (who provides endnotes). Fraser is pitch-perfect writing in Flashmans style, and overall the prose in this book is top notch. While the character Flashman is fictional, the history his adventures take him through is very real and I actually learned a lot in reading this book. If reading about a fictional character doing these sorts of things will upset you, this is not the book for you. This book featured a thoroughly enjoyable anti-hero, razor-sharp writing, a fine sense of pace and plot, and plenty of laughs.

The fact that Flashmans justification for his actions is often hilarious and at times insightful does not redeem him in any way. Despite his flaws, Flashy often provided a refreshingly honest account of the incredible events he lived through and his part in them. All of which makes Flashy a highly engaging character through which to discover the large-scale Afghan catastrophe which was caused by the likes of Macnaghten and Elfinstone. Although this novel makes no bones about the brutality of the Afghan tribes, the savagery of the puppet King is not referred to.

The first book in what is almost certainly the finest series of historical comic novels ever written. Over the series, written over a 30 year period, Harry Flashman becomes one of Victorian England's most decorated military heros while in actuality he's its most craven coward. This book introduces Mr. Flashman, a character, borrowed or stolen perhaps, from one of Victorian England's most famous boy hero novels, "Tom Brown's School Days" where Flashman appears as one of Rugby's worst villians and greatest bullies of young stalwarts like Tom Brown and projects what he must have become after being tossed out of Rugby for drunkeness in "School Days".