Our Dad in Detroit on Tuesday, me on Wednesday, Terry on Thursday: we fell like dominoes this week before Peter Weir’s majestic vision of Aubrey-Maturin. Didn’t matter whether we’d read Patrick O’Brian’s books before (Terry and ODID) or not (OGIC). But ODID has just written to register a slight caveat to Terry’s view that “the essence of Patrick O’Brian’s books…is the inner life of Stephen Maturin.” ODID thinks the books evolve in that direction but don’t start there, and he puts it most interestingly:
I’m not sure I totally agree that the books are about Maturin’s inner life. I think there is more of that in the later books than the earlier ones, Master and Commander, Mauritius Command, Desolation Island, and a couple of others. Maturin is a complex character, and I believe that O’Brian fell in love with developing his story as the saga went on.
The notion that O’Brian created this character, set him loose in the novels, and proceeded to fall in love with him and let his story take over, makes me want to read those novels even more. The whole idea of literary characters having, or acquiring, a life of their own, apart from the mind of the author, is of course a seductive one. I may have first encountered it in Edward Gorey’s first book, The Unstrung Harp, or, Mr. Earbrass Writes a Novel, where the tortured author, uncomfortably mid-book, is confronted by his characters at the top of his staircase in the middle of the night. They hover there, mutely imploring him to do something with them.
But when the character is in a series–i.e., the relationship is long-term–then serious emotional involvement must threaten to supplant mere stalking. So what do you think, TT? Does O’Brian fall for Maturin in media res? And how does Aubrey feel about that?