Introduction to Flashman

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Introduction to Flashman

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1myshelves
Maio 2, 2007, 7:27 pm

How did you discover Flashman? Had you previously read Tom Brown's Schooldays?

I had read the Hughes book, and heard about the continued adventures of Flashman from a lady with whom I already shared an interest in medieval British history. (Thanks, Kit!)

2kawebb
Maio 2, 2007, 11:02 pm

I read the first Flashman in paperback in the early 70s and was hooked. It's interesting to note that some people these days are put off by his cruelty in that book, and won't read further.

I knew of Tom Brown's Schooldays but hadn't read it at the time. I have dipped into it since then.

I admire all of Fraser's writing - and have read just about everything he's written. I guess, after Flashy, the McAuslan books would be my favourites.

Mr American I like a lot, but have never re-read it. there's something about the story and his betrayal that's too sad to revisit.

I did write to Fraser once, thanking him for what he's given us. He replied very warmly and told me of the upcoming Flashman and the Angel of the Lord.

I wish him a long life.

Kerry

3juliebean
Editado: Maio 3, 2007, 2:47 pm

I think I read a recommendation somewhere for the Flashman series, read one book, and then had to stampede through them all.

But I must admit that I think McAuslan Entire (which includes The General Danced at Dawn, McAuslan in the Rough, and The Sheikh and the Dustbin) and Quartered Safe Out Here are even better.

The reason I was so intrigued by the series was, of course, because of all of the historical details he recounts along the way, having happily thrown Flashman into the mix.

I found them especially interesting because he covered a lot of history that I did not learn about previously, such as British activity in Asia. So reading about Flashman's escapades there were fascinating, and it really opened the door to other histories I wanted to read.

I haven't read them in a while, but I'm thinking about starting over again...

4RobertMosher
Maio 3, 2007, 3:47 pm

I remember reading a couple of reviews of the very first book, which actually fooled one or two reviewers into thinking the memoirs were genuine rather than fiction. I picked up a copy of the first book and have since collected a copy of every one as it appears - usually in the British edition which seems to appear as much as a year before it reaches US bookstores.

Robert A. Mosher

5myshelves
Maio 3, 2007, 4:03 pm

#2
It's interesting to note that some people these days are put off by his cruelty in that book, and won't read further.

(Shakes head sadly.)

I think Fraser was 81 last month. I hope that he has many productive years to go.

#3
When I first read Flashman at the Charge I had just read The Reason Why by Woodham-Smith. That would have been enough to sell me on Flashman as history.

#4
I didn't know that reviewers had been caught. That's priceless. Probably the footnotes convinced them.
I was in England when one of the books came out, and passed one of the large book stores that had windows filled with Flashman posters and books. I was a very happy tourist!

6sloopjonb
Maio 3, 2007, 5:19 pm

I only read Tom Brown's Schooldays after reading Flashman - I thought it was an awful book, and only interesting at all because of the light it shed on Flashy's character. One of the reasons I like Flashman (apart from being funny and well-written) is because Fraser often sets his stories in almost entirely forgotten episodes of history. You wouldn't ever know we'd had an Empire from what I was taught at school.

I don't think we'll ever see that Flashman in The Civil War book now, though.

7ocianain
Maio 3, 2007, 8:11 pm

New member here, I first heard of Flashman 30 years ago while reading a article by fantasy writer L Sprague DeCamp, he was discussing the different kind of heroes, on one end of the scale was Conan, the other, Flashman, he was of the opinion Flashy was a more realistic "hero". I've read him everr since.

MacDonald has also written a number of other fine books, The Steel Bonnets tells the story of the Scottish border people and Light on at Sign Post is a memoir, like all his work top notch. His reading reccommendations alone worth the price of the book, very powerful book.

8myshelves
Maio 3, 2007, 8:23 pm

9Trystorp
Maio 4, 2007, 12:43 am

I'm a long-time reader of historical fiction, but only picked up Flashman this year on a whim in my local bookstore. A month later I owned and had read the entire series.

Black Ajax is also most definitely worth a read. The different points of view and dialects in each chapter make it a fascinating book.

10Macbeth
Maio 4, 2007, 2:58 am

I can remember rejecting the thought of reading the Flashman series in my teens. At the time I was somewhat idealistic and preferred 1D heroic heroes in my novels.

As I've grown older and more cynical I prefer the Anti Hero more often and so sometime in my mid 30s opted to collect them - at the time Flashman and the Angel of the Lord was the most recent. I have the series right up to Flashman on the March which I haven't read yet and have managed to get all of the earlier ones except Flashman's Lady in the same publication edition. It seems that with each new book there is a new edition with new cover art and the whole series is re-released.

It is interesting to note that Flashy's cruelty and attitude to women has softened with each new packet of the papers - despite the fact that they may relate to earlier incidents.

Cheers

11PaulFAustin
Maio 4, 2007, 7:30 am

I've loved Flashman ever since discovering him in the middle seventies. I read anything that Fraser writes. You may also try Richard Lester's "Three Musketeers" and "Four Musketeers", of which Fraser wrote the screen play. It's full of Fraserian bits of business.

12Akiyama
Editado: Maio 4, 2007, 7:55 am

I was into role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons when I was younger. I once bought one called Castle Falkenstein, which was set in an fantastical swashbuckling 19th Century with magic, elves, dwarves and dragons, and steampunk technology. The author raved about Flashman in the "recommended reading" section at the back of the game rules.

Actually, it's embarrassing how many books I've bought because they were recommended in the back of an RPG rulebook.

13thorold
Maio 4, 2007, 9:22 am

I'm pretty sure that Fraser was one of the authors I discovered in my teens by raiding my father's stack of library books (I always got through my own before library day came around again...). I was keen on C.S. Forester at the time, and probably expected something similar..!
I had read Tom Brown's Schooldays before, and I think what appealed to me most about Flashman was the debunking of all that Victorian sentimentality. Of course, it was really all just Lucky Jim with footnotes and extra facial hair, but I don't think that makes it any the less funny.

14desultory
Maio 4, 2007, 11:49 am

I was about 13 when I first read Flashy - the first one, of course - and I thought it was real too. Those bloody footnotes completely convinced me! (Damn their eyes.)

I think the books are very variable in quality. I haven't read Flashman at the Charge for years, but I remember being deeply impressed by it at the time, and I recently reread Flashman and the Redskins - still great. On the back of that, however, I got the new one - Flashman on the March - and found it a bit sluggish by comparison.

I haven't read The Light's on at Signpost, but I should. It's a brilliant name for the autobiography of an elderly gent.

15kawebb
Maio 4, 2007, 4:18 pm

I agree that Redskins was great - and probably the best so far. And it got me interested in the US Civil War, so that's not a Bad Thing.

Kerry

16bibliotheque
Maio 4, 2007, 5:31 pm

Can't remember a time I didn't know of Flashy - my Dad's a huge fan, which meant I was reading things such as Flashman and the Dragon at an absurdly young age, long before I understood either the history or exactly what Flashy was *doing* with the heroine ;)

And yes, Fraser did fool at least one reviewer into thinking them genuine - in the foreword to Flash for Freedom! he writes "if any doubters remain they are recommended to study the authoritative article which appeared in the New York Times of July 29, 1969, and which surely settles the question once and for all". :D

17ocianain
Maio 4, 2007, 7:44 pm

Black Ajax is a tremendous book, Fraser has a incredible ability to tell a story, he does it so well you may be unaware of how much detail he is including in his books. In Ajax he relates many fine examples of boxing lore, these tidbits fleshes out the story, they add depth, he does this in the most unobtrusive manner. Again, a great writer.

18myshelves
Maio 4, 2007, 7:52 pm

I have Black Ajax on my wishlist, but I've hesitated because I'm far from being a boxing fan. (I've watched a couple of times, and been bored.) Would I enjoy the book anyway?

19gautherbelle
Maio 4, 2007, 7:52 pm

I discovered (Fraser) Flashman a couple of years ago. I read the first three. It's a wonderful conceit. He is hilarious. I like the way Flash does not spare himself any more than anyone else. The part in Afganistan where he is being held prisoner and becomes a hero is just about the funniest thing I've ever read.

20ocianain
Maio 4, 2007, 9:21 pm

Myshelves, If you like good historical fiction, I think you'll like it. It's written in a choppy, episodic style Melenoix (people in Melinox life share rememberences). It's also about more than boxing, it's more about how fast and far the mighty can fall when they start their descent.

21myshelves
Maio 4, 2007, 10:28 pm

Thanks ocianain. I'll bump it up to the "buy" list.

22Levitron
Maio 7, 2007, 10:51 am

I picked up Flashman on the March as no.3 in a three for two offer - had never heard of the series and wasn't aware of the Tom Brown's School Days connection. Have since read a number of the series through my local library (hence why only two listed in my library).

Like others I find them hilarious and enlightning - I gave up History at school as soon as I could, but I find myself looking up events that arise within the series.

23stringcat3
Maio 8, 2007, 2:49 am

>14 desultory: agree that the Flashman books are uneven. The latest, Flashman On the March, is tedious. I lost my copy and haven't bothered to replace it. The earlier (by publication date, that is) books are much stronger as a group. Angel of the Lord is the strangest - an almost compassionate Flashman! - but one of the most compelling. I'd have to say my favorite is Flashman and the Dragon, for the astonishing details of the palaces and their gardens, the Chinese torture methods (yikes!) and the cello (or was it a bass?) playing general. The exotic setting edges out Royal Flash.
And I like a villain who knows he's a villain and is good at it, dammit. Cf. Al Swearingen of the late lamented HBO show "Deadwood."

24Tane
Jun 17, 2007, 3:37 pm

I found Flashman in probably an unconventional way... I used to work in a bookshop, where I liberated a couple of Flashman books (Flash for Freedom and Flashman and the Dragon) from the to-be-trashed pile... they're not in the greatest of condition, but still readable. After that I picked up a few more along the way... he's just kinda followed me around wherever I go ;-)

However, I've never read Tom Brown's School Days.

25stringcat3
Jun 17, 2007, 11:42 pm

To address the original question: I remember seeing the Masterpiece Theater adaptation of TBSD a long time ago, and a roommate back in the early 80s was into Flashman, but I didn't pick up the books until a couple of years ago when I ran across Royal Flash. Was totally hooked, especially by the footnotes (I'm such a geek).

26christiguc
Jul 11, 2007, 5:03 pm

I just started reading Flashman almost two years ago. I grabbed Flashman at the Charge off a friend's bookshelf as we were heading out the door because it looked light and I needed something to read by the pool. After that, I went out and bought every one. However, I still haven't read Tom Brown's School Days.

27stringcat3
Jul 12, 2007, 12:55 am

I have had a copy of Tom Brown sitting on the shelf for lo these many years, and still haven't been able to get past the first few pages. Not a terribly inviting style.

28myshelves
Jul 12, 2007, 1:01 am

#27

Might explain why Flashy didn't fit in. :-)

29Unreachableshelf
Jul 12, 2007, 9:53 am

I stumbled across the series in a little bookstore in Stratford, Ontario on summer vacation before my junior year of high school. They didn't have the first book, so I started with Royal Flash. I had never heard of Tom Brown's School Days at the time, though a couple of years ago I did run across a copy on the incinerator shelves at the library where I work. It seemed structurally sound enough- just old- and I didn't know why it hadn't been put on the booksale shelves instead. I rescued it, because nobody cares much if an aide takes a book home from the incinerator shelf now and then; nobody's going to make any money off of it anyway. I never brought myself to read it though, and eventually I passed it along to somebody else.

30samgb Primeira Mensagem
Jul 27, 2007, 9:27 am

Estelle
Dont bother with Tom Brown. I had to read it when I was at school and absolutely loathed it. Which may explain my extreme fondness for Flash Harry!

31Akiyama
Jul 27, 2007, 9:57 am

I liked Tom Brown's Schooldays - enough to have read it twice. It is very old fashioned but I think that's part of its charm. I never got very far into the sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, though.

32ThosD
Set 22, 2007, 5:56 pm

I discovered Flashman through the writings by the Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda. I don't recall Tom Brown's Schooldays having been mentioned, so I hadn't heard of it until I read Flashman. Still haven't gotten around to reading it.

It's been mentioned recently in a couple of reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as typical of a certain type of English boarding school novel.

I think I'd rather read about the exploits of Flashy.

33btuckertx
Editado: Jun 5, 2011, 5:16 pm

{Well, never mind... I did a little more digging and found this link:

http://www.librarything.com/series/The+Flashman+Papers+-+chronological

Just what the doctor ordered!}

A friend of mine, in the early 70's, said, "Here I think you'll like this, it reminds me of you", and handed me a copy of Flashman. I fail to see the resemblance, then or now, but am forever indebted to him for turning me on to a great, great fictional character.

Has anyone put together a chronological list of events (not publishing dates) for the entire Flashman series?

34MartinLake
Ago 27, 2011, 12:34 pm

I stumbled upon him in a library at about 2.30. I turned the first page and noticed that the light was getting dim. It was 5 pm and the librarian said she was going to close. I just had time to check out three more Flashman's for the weekend. Instantly besotted!