Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Research can be done from those things called books...

Many lit blogs have linked to this article, which reports on a recent piece that proves that Patrick O'Brian, despite his authorship of a million books about sailing, did not actually know how to sail. The point of the piece is curious. The reporter seems to think that it's deeply problematic that O'Brien lied about his name and his history, and that the sailing know-how is a clincher: "But now fresh claims have emerged that will test the loyalty of even his most vocal supporters. It appears that the man who wrote so brilliantly and so accurately about naval warfare and life aboard ship during the Napoleonic wars did not actually know how to sail."

Why do we care whether or not he knew how to sail? You can write brilliantly and, yes, accurately about something without having done it in person! That's what books are for....

BTW, if you like that sailing stuff, you should read the underrated and rather excellent novel by Erskine Childers, The Riddle of the Sands.

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