Ken-ichi's Reviews > The Thirteen-Gun Salute

The Thirteen-Gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian
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Jan 14, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, maritime, favorites
Read from December 08 to 16, 2010

Glad I bought the next two, because this doesn't end at the end. Scads of good fun, as always. Probably the most memorable part of this adventure was Stephen's trip to the Buddhist temple, where men and beasts live together in harmony and Stephen basically gets to have the on-shore naturalizing experience he is repeatedly denied while sailing with Jack. Too good. Also, enemy dissection.

Words & Notes

p. 29 As usual, Stephen is at the cutting edge of medical technology, stocking "plaster of Paris for healing broken limbs in the oriental manner (much favoured now by Dr Maturin)". Wikipedia has an extensive article on orthopedic casts, and traces their origin in Western medicine to observations made in Turkey around 1800.

popliteal (adj): referring to the back of the knee. (p. 40)

plansheer (n): possibly the same as plancer, the underside of a cornice (p. 61)

spirketting (n): I think this is the wooden lining around a port. (p. 61)

roborative (adj): restorative, giving strength (p. 63)

sillery (n): Sillery is a region in France known for its wine. (p. 87)

'Bears I have borne, sir, and badgers...' said Mrs. Broad, her arms folded over a formal black silk dress.
'It was only a very small bear,' said Stephen, 'and long ago.' (p. 112)

chilblains (n): ulceration of the extremities due to cold and humidity (p. 149)

"a true Job's muffler" This verbal gaff of Jack's was completely lost on me. Apparently "Job's comforter" is a phrase. So much more at http://www.hmssurprise.org/Resources/... (p. 156)

Oh man, this passage from p. 162 is way too good not to recount in full. Jack is interviewing one of his midshipmen on his historical knowledge:

'What do you know about the last American war?'

'Not very much, sir, except that the French and Spaniards joined in and were finely served out for doing so.'

'Very true. Do you know how it began?'

'Yes, sir. It was about tea, which they did not choose to pay duty on. They called out No reproduction without copulation and tossed it into Boston harbour.'

Jack frowned, considered, and said, 'Well, in any event they accomplished little or nothing at sea, that bout.' He passed on to the necessary allowance for dip and refraction to be made in working lunars, matters with which he was deeply familiar; but as he tuned his fiddle that evening he said, 'Stephen, what was the Americans' cry in 1775?'

'No representation, no taxation.'

'Nothing about copulation?'

'Nothing at all. At that period the mass of Americans were in favour of copulation.'

'So it could not have been No reproduction without copulation?'

'Why, my dear, that is the old natural philosopher's watchword, as old as Aristotle, and quite erroneous. Do but consider how the hydra and her kind multiply without any sexual commerce of any sort. Leeuenhoek proved it long ago, but still the more obstinate repeat the cry, like so many parrots.'

'Well, be damned to taxation, in any case. Shall we attack the andante?'

murrain (n): infectious disease among cattle and sheep (p. 163)

p. 189 describes a form of corporal punishment in Pulo Prabang in which a bag partially filled with pepper is placed over the criminal's head and the victim's family then beats him with sticks. A cursory search turned up no supporting evidence, sadly.

babirussa (n): presumably Babyrousa babyrousa, a kind of wild pig native to Indonesia. (p. 200)

colophony (n): another name for rosin (p. 211)

kedgeree (n): a semi-horrifying mixture of fish, rice, eggs, curry, parsely, and curry powder, eaten by, who else, Britons. For breakfast. It actually doesn't sound that bad as dinner, but not first thing in the morning, thanks. (p. 216)

"past mark of mouth" apparently means "old" and has some equine origin, but what the actual mark might be I'm not sure. Any equestrians out there? (p. 233)

subjacent (adj): below (p. 262)

frowsty (adj): stale, musty (p. 263)

crapulous (adj): irritable from having eaten or drunk too much (p. 263)

colcannon (n): Irish dish of mashed spuds and cabbage or kale. Maybe I'll make some this week... (p. 270)

pugil (n): same as a pinch, as in the quantity (p. 275)

garstrakes (n): the first planks of wood adjacent to the keel of the ship (p. 275)

comminatory (adj): warning or punishing (p. 288)

castramentation (n): possibly a misspelling of "castrametation," so aptly defined by Jack himself as "the learned word for setting up tents and so on." (p. 307)

"and music shall untune the sky" This beautiful excerpt is from Dryden's "Song for St. Cecilia's Day," the full text of which and an interesting description can be found at Harpers.
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Reading Progress

12/08 page 30
9.0% "Started on the way down to LA. Somewhat concerned Maturin's gonna be back on the opium by the end."
12/09 page 138
43.0% ""lapsus calami" Oh Stephen."
12/13 page 200
63.0% "So many cool animals and plants in this one. Not sure how Stephen can focus."
12/14 page 221
69.0% ""God be with you, ape.""
12/15 page 298
93.0% "Oh boy, more island fun. The scene with the spleens was intense."
03/08 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jane (new)

Jane Matteis Forget the colcannon and make the kedgeree. For dinner or lunch, not first thing in the morning, you are right about that.


message 2: by Jane (new)

Jane Matteis A horse's age can be determined by its teeth. Not sure how, though.


Ken-ichi Well, maybe if I see kedgeree being served somewhere I'll order it to see. Not sure I can bring myself to make it.


Jeffrey Yes, "Also, enemy dissection."


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