C S Forester

View previous topic View next topic Go down

C S Forester

Post  eddie on Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:54 pm

The Pursued by CS Forester – review

A long-lost gem finally sees the light of day

Andrew Taylor
guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 November 2011 22.55 GMT

A new noir crime novel by CS Forester? It's an improbable claim at first glance – not only did Forester die in 1966, but in any case he is best known now for his naval and historical novels, particularly the Hornblower series. At the start of his career, however, when he was a struggling young writer, he wrote two crime novels. Payment Deferred (1926) and Plain Murder (1930) weren't the usual whodunits of British crime fiction between the wars, where the corpses never smell, the blood washes out of the drawing-room carpet and deferential policemen remove the murderer before the vicar comes to tea.


The Pursued
by CS Forester

Instead, Forester's crime novels are Faustian fables of damnation set among London's lower middle-class. They reveal the temptations, the pinched lives and the shabby contrivances of their characters. The ambience is closer to the fiction of George Orwell and Patrick Hamilton than to the polite and essentially reassuring puzzles of Christie and Sayers, or to the glamorous, gangster-packed novels of Chandler and Hammett.

These two short novels establish Forester as the improbable pioneer of a very English form of noir crime fiction – domestic, darkly ironic and as hard as a hanging judge. His criminals aren't professionals but merely weak people who yearn, like all of us, for what they hope is happiness, and are sometimes tempted to take short cuts to obtain it. Penguin Modern Classics has now reissued them and is also publishing for the first time Forester's Pursued, which he wrote in 1935. The manuscript was lost for more than 70 years.

The central character is Marjorie, a suburban housewife who returns home after a decorous evening in town to find Dorothy, her pretty young sister, lying dead with her head in the oven. The two young children upstairs have heard nothing. The police arrive – and so does Marjorie's loathsome husband, Ted, returning from a night out of his own. Afterwards, when the body has been taken away, the drama of it all makes him "troublesome", which means he forces sex on her.

Dorothy turns out to have been pregnant, and the death is ascribed to suicide. But her mother, Mrs Clair, a tough-minded woman who lives nearby, is not convinced. Evidence emerges to suggest that Ted was Dorothy's lover and killed her to prevent her from revealing the affair. Soon there's another complication in the form of George, a clerk from the Gas Company showroom where Ted works. George is a gentle, naive young man and, when he becomes Mrs Clair's lodger, he falls passionately in love with Marjorie.

It is, in its own quiet way, a tragedy of character. For much of the narrative, the viewpoint is Marjorie's, itself an interesting challenge for a middle-class male author. The brutal mechanics of her sex with Ted contrast with the breathless excitement of her relationship with George. The novel's impact gains immeasurably from Forester's description of a claustrophobic world where money is always short and crushingly respectable neighbours are constantly on the watch.

Why wasn't the book published in 1935? It's vivid, technically accomplished and compelling. Perhaps the fact that it is so unsettling had something to do with it. By the standards of the time, Forester is extraordinarily frank about sexual behaviour and family life. Nor does he rush to condemn, though every now and then he remembers his likely readership and adds a snooty but unconvincing comment about his characters' lack of education being the cause of their faulty morality. Finally, in the very last sentence, Forester slips in an unobtrusive twist that reminds us that life is essentially amoral and we must make the best of it. If that's not noir, what is?

• Andrew Taylor's The Anatomy of Ghosts is published by Penguin.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 60
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:30 pm


CS Forester (Wikipedia).

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 60
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:35 pm

Horatio Hornblower Series

The popularity of the Hornblower series, built around a central character who was heroic but not too heroic, has continued to grow over time. It is perhaps rivalled only by the much later Aubrey–Maturin series of seafaring novels by Patrick O'Brian. Both Hornblower and Aubrey are based in part on the historical Admiral Lord Dundonald of Great Britain (known as Lord Cochrane during the period when the novels are set). Brian Perett has written a book The Real Hornblower: The Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon, GCB, ISBN 1-55750-968-9, presenting the case for a different inspiration, namely James Alexander Gordon. In his work "The Hornblower Companion", however, Forester makes no indication of any historical influences or inspiration regarding his character. Rather, he describes a process whereby Hornblower was constructed based on what attributes made a good character for the original Hornblower story, "A Happy Return" (published in America as "Beat to Quarters"). Forester does reveal that the original trigger for his central character as an officer in the Royal Navy was his finding of three bound volumes of the Naval Chronicle when looking in a second-hand bookshop for some reading matter to take on a small boat; this, he implies, provided enough material for his subconscious to work on to ensure the eventual emergence of the Hornblower we know.

The novels, in the order they were written:
1.The Happy Return (1937, called Beat to Quarters in the US)
2.A Ship of the Line (1938, called simply Ship of the Line in the US)
3.Flying Colours (1938, spelled Flying Colors in some US editions)
4.The Commodore (1945, called Commodore Hornblower in the US)
5.Lord Hornblower (1946)
6.Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (1950, collected short stories)
7.Lieutenant Hornblower (1952)
8.Hornblower and the Atropos (1953)
9.Hornblower in the West Indies (1958, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies in some US editions)
10.Hornblower and the Hotspur (1962)
11.Hornblower and the Crisis (1967, unfinished novel and short stories, Hornblower During the Crisis in some US editions)

Other Works

Forester wrote many other novels, among them The African Queen (1935) and The General (1936); Peninsular War novels in Death to the French and The Gun (filmed as The Pride and the Passion in 1957); and seafaring stories that did not involve Hornblower, such as Brown on Resolution (1929), The Ship (1943) and Hunting the Bismarck which was used as the basis of the screenplay for the 1960 film Sink the Bismarck!. Several of his works were filmed, most notably the 1951 film The African Queen directed by John Huston. Forester is also credited as story writer for several movies not based on his published fiction, including Commandos Strike at Dawn (1942).

He wrote several volumes of short stories set during the Second World War. Those in The Nightmare (1954) were based around events in Nazi Germany, ending at the Nuremberg Trials. Stories in The Man in the Yellow Raft (1969) followed the career of the destroyer USS Boone, while many of those in Gold from Crete (1971) followed the destroyer HMS Apache. The last of the stories in the latter book - If Hitler had invaded England - offers a plausible sequence of events starting with Hitler's attempt to implement Operation Sea Lion, and culminating in the early military defeat of Nazi Germany in the summer of 1941.

In addition to his novels of seafaring life, Forester also published two crime novels, Payment Deferred (1926), and Plain Murder (1930), and two children's books. One, Poo-Poo and the Dragons (1943), was created as a series of stories told to his son to encourage him to finish his meals while Forester was left alone to care for him as his wife was absent.[1] The second, The Barbary Pirates (1953), is a children's history of those early 19th-century pirates.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 60
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:38 pm


HMS Lydia from the 1951 film "Captain Horatio Hornblower" with Gregory Peck in the title role.


Gregory Peck as Captain Horatio Hornblower.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 60
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  pinhedz on Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:04 am

I wonder how Gregory Peck did with the accent.

pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat

Posts : 11534
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : DC

http://www.balalaika.org/

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  eddie on Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:39 am

pinhedz wrote:I wonder how Gregory Peck did with the accent.

I can't say I really noticed the accent, this being the wonderful GREGORY PECK, and all. But the pursuit of strict historical accuracy in his costume had inspired poor Greg to wear silk stockings. Not a good move in an action hero role. Shocked

Most of the publicity shots for the movie wisely cut him off at knee-height:



...or else they chicken out and falsify the effect by cladding Greg (quite inaccurately) in a conventional pair of trizers:



This Thomas Rowlandson drawing gives a better idea of the overall impression made by Mr Peck's costume:




eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 60
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  pinhedz on Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:06 pm

eddie wrote:
That's not just chicken--it doesn't go together at all. Rolling Eyes

pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat

Posts : 11534
Join date : 2011-04-11
Location : DC

http://www.balalaika.org/

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  eddie on Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:14 pm

Strangely cognizant of the coming trizers/stockings controvery, in one of the very last Hornblower tales, Forester has (by then) Admiral Hornblower order his servant Brown to mutilate a pair of silk stockings because he has absent-mindedly put on his clothes in the wrong order, making the stocking in question far too long.

eddie
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 60
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: C S Forester

Post  Sponsored content Today at 12:34 am


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum