Patrick O’Brian’s Bodies at Sea

Sex, Drugs and the Physical Form in the Aubrey-Maturin Novels

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About the Book

An exploration of the complex roles that bodies—both literally and figuratively—play in the 21 volume Aubrey-Maturin series reveals much about the novels’ many meditations on mind and body. Beginning with a consideration of genre norms and the bodies of the novels’ main characters, the book’s focus shifts to the ways the series offers interconnections between the human body and history.
More literal considerations of the body examine O’Brian’s depictions of drug use, particularly the opium addiction that afflicts Stephen Maturin, and human sexuality in its many guises. The work then focuses on Desolation Island, the fifth novel in the series, in light of the discussions above but also in terms of political and psychological tropes that draw upon the relationship of mind and body. Questions are examined about the relationship of reader to author, and what sustains such a long narrative and what continues to bring a reader back again and again.

About the Author(s)

Michael Leigh Sinowitz teaches English literature at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana. His previous publications include essays on Graham Greene, Thomas Berger, and Angela Carter. He lives in Greencastle.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Leigh Sinowitz
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7555-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1484-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments viii

Introduction: Toes to the Line 1

1. Against Type: The Problem of Bodies and Genre 9

2. Scars, History and Historical Fiction 48

3. “The Virtuous Shrub”: The Drug Problem 80

4. Sex at Sea, at Sea with Sex 119

5. The Captain’s Bodies: Desolation Island, a Case Study 150

Conclusion: Weighing Anchor 184

Chapter Notes 191

Works Cited 193

Index 197