Friday, March 02, 2012

Friday Reading Assignment: Politically Incorrect

The Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser has grown on me over time.  When I read the first book,  Flashman, I was so shocked by the violence, the sexism and racism barely crossed my radar.  Then I read the second book, Royal Flash, and thought, "oh," but by that time (like most ladies) I had succumbed to Flashy's charm.  Flashman gets around.

The Flashman book I'm featuring today is Flashman and the Mountain of Light.  There is no need to read these books in order, because the order in which they were published is does not a chronological account.  Mountain of Light follows the basic Flashman formula:  It's 1842, Flashman is in a foreign land (India, this time) thinking he can finally board a ship for England and have a nice long rest, when he is recruited into the army's service again, this time to infiltrate a potential uprising among the Sikhs.  Flashman has a hero's reputation, acquired by accident, as he's actually a coward.  This is what makes these books so funny, as Flashman contrasts his outward behavior with his cynical thoughts.  Anyway, in this book, Flashman escapes various dangers, sleeps with several women, and spends some time undercover in disguise--all standard Flashy fare.

I've often wondered what Flashman is supposed to look like. The book covers depict a mustache-twirling bounder in tight pantaloons but I can't imagine women being attracted to that.  Flashman's age, depending on which book you're reading, ranges from early twenties to mid-forties.  I've been trying to figure out what celebrity would make a good Flashman.  It would have to be someone muscular, with dark hair, dashing and bluff and not very sensitive.  Any suggestions?

The Flashman books are a lot of fun, but you must keep in mind that Flashman is a white, upper-class, Victorian man, and has the opinions of a white, upper-class Victorian man.  You might wince, you might feel (rightly) he's telling only one side of a complicated story, but Flashman never pretends to be giving any version of history but his own.  (The author, on the other hand, provides footnotes and appendices to give more information about the real people and events in the books.)


  1. Have you tried Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series?

  2. Flashman just sounds kind of cool by the name alone.

  3. Flashman is a pompous ass. The sort of pompous ass that made the British Empire.
    Kind of sad, thinking that hypocracy, cowardice, and extreme selfishness made it so great.

    Good books to read though.

    Try the McAuslan series and the Pyrates by the same author.

  4. I've heard very good things about the Flashman series, all from politically incorrect friends, so I'm adding them to my "to read" list.