Captain Blood (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Captain Blood, one of the most popular adventure tales of the early twentieth century, recounts the story of a seventeenth-century medical doctor who turns pirate when his respectable, quiet life is overtaken by political events beyond his control. It imagines how lives were altered by the turmoil surrounding the English succession following the death of Charles II in 1685.

In the early years of the movie industry, the book spawned several ...
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Captain Blood (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

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Overview


Captain Blood, one of the most popular adventure tales of the early twentieth century, recounts the story of a seventeenth-century medical doctor who turns pirate when his respectable, quiet life is overtaken by political events beyond his control. It imagines how lives were altered by the turmoil surrounding the English succession following the death of Charles II in 1685.

In the early years of the movie industry, the book spawned several films, including a 1935 film that catapulted Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland to stardom. Captain Blood remains an entertaining page-turner and an excellent example of early historical fiction.
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Product Details

Meet the Author


Rafael Sabatini (1875-1950) was born in Jesi, Italy, to Vincenzo and Anna Trafford Sabatini, both professional opera singers. Early in his life, Rafael Sabatini attended school in Switzerland and Portugal, learning five languages before he moved to England as a teenager and mastered English. His skill with languages enabled him to work briefly in international commerce, later for a publishing house, and during World War II as a translator for the Intelligence Department of the British government's War Office. As a novelist, Sabatini's linguistic abilities allowed him to read a wide variety of historical materials in their original languages, and he freely adapted their content for his novels.
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Introduction

Captain Blood, one of the most popular adventure tales of the early twentieth century, recounts the story of a seventeenth-century medical doctor who becomes a pirate when his respectable, quiet life is overtaken by political events beyond his control. A work in the historical-fiction genre, the novel imagines how lives were altered by the turmoil surrounding the English succession following the death of Charles II in 1685. The author provides in Peter Blood a hero whose actions reassured readers living in the aftermath of World War I that a talented individual of average means, could overcome accidents of birth and cataclysmic world events; prevail over corrupt governments, institutions, and individuals; and reclaim a peaceful, respectable life. In the early years of the movie industry, the book spawned several films, including a 1935 film that catapulted Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland to stardom. Despite elements that are occasionally racist or sexist by today's standards, Captain Blood remains an entertaining page-turner and an excellent example of early historical fiction.

Rafael Sabatini (1875-1950) was born in Jesi, Italy, to Vincenzo and Anna Trafford Sabatini, both professional opera singers. Early in his life, he attended school in Switzerland and Portugal, learning five languages before he moved as a teenager to England, where he also mastered English. His skill with languages enabled him to work briefly in international commerce, later for a publishing house, and during World War II as a translator for the Intelligence Department of the British government's War Office. As a novelist, Sabatini's linguistic abilities helped him to read a widevariety of historical materials in their original languages, and he freely adapted their content for his novels. Stylistically, Sabatini was influenced by the work of Victorian writers who, following Sir Walter Scott, wrote historical novels. He respected Joseph Conrad as another multilingual writer who settled upon English rather than his native tongue for his writing and admired his descriptive writing style and romanticized subject matter. Both Conrad and Sabatini, in fact, were criticized by writers such as H. G. Wells, who believed in the sparer language and subjects of realism.

Although Sabatini honed his skill for many years before he became a successful novelist, his reputation grew following the publication of his first story in 1904 and Bardelys the Magnificent in 1906. By the time his most famous works were published-Sea Hawk in 1915, Scaramouche in 1921, and Captain Blood in 1922-Sabatini enjoyed a loyal readership, and his reputation was bolstered by the rising popularity of historical romances in Europe and the United States following World War I. Captain Blood was so popular that several years later Sabatini published two collections of short stories, Captain Blood Returns and The Fortunes of Captain Blood, which featured new adventures and more detailed versions of Blood's exploits in the 1922 book. Aside from the three works about Peter Blood, Sabatini wrote thirty novels, seven short-story collections, several works of nonfiction, many short stories printed in the periodical press, and one play. Sabatini died in Switzerland in 1950; his epitaph was taken from the opening lines of his book Scaramouche and reads, "He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad."

The enduring appeal of Captain Blood as a historical novel can be traced in part to its use of conventions drawn from earlier popular literature. Peter Blood's arrest, trial, and transportation to Jamaica recall similar stories from early criminal literature, such as criminal biographies, execution and gallows literature, and trial reports, all popular in the eighteenth century. Such sensational accounts of actual trials are recycled throughout eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fiction. In the novel's historical context, Blood finds himself enmeshed in the religious and political turmoil surrounding the succession of the English monarchy between 1685 and 1688. After Charles I had been deposed and executed in 1649 by the Puritan-led Commonwealth government under Oliver Cromwell, his son, Charles II, went to Scotland and later fled to France. Following Cromwell's death in 1658, he returned by invitation to rule England in 1660. Although nominally Anglican, Charles II died a Catholic. Without a legitimate child as heir, his Catholic brother James II succeeded him in 1685, much to the chagrin of the Protestant establishment, which urged Charles II's illegitimate son, James, Duke of Monmouth, to rebel against his uncle's rule. Monmouth's rebellion failed, and he was executed, but nonetheless his daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William deposed James II in 1688.

Captain Blood begins with Monmouth's rebellion and ends with Peter Blood's appointment as Governor of Jamaica by King William's representative. As the story opens, Peter Blood, an Irish-Catholic physician, is a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although Peter Blood's Catholicism would seem to make his alliance with James II natural, Blood has a twentieth-century sensibility in that he appears to have no particular political or religious allegiance, a position that a seventeenth-century audience would find inconceivable. Blood finds himself on the wrong side of the law because his personal and professional ethics lead him to tend the wounds of a Monmouth supporter, Lord Gildoy. Captured in Gildoy's company by the historically ruthless Kirke's Dragoons, Blood is arrested and brought before Judge Jeffreys as a Monmouth supporter. The fictitious Blood is convicted, sentenced, and ultimately transported, during the proceedings known as the Bloody Assizes, by the historical Judge Jeffreys. Sabatini's narrative tapped into readers' expectations about eighteenth-century court proceedings and about Jeffreys, whose actions in hanging Monmouth's followers earned him the nickname "Hanging Judge Jeffreys" and are still remembered in England today. To twentieth-century readers, such proceedings appear unfairly skewed in the favor of the prosecution (the judge and the empanelled jury). Blood's transportation is consistent with the outcome of the Bloody Assizes, in which 1,100 prisoners convicted of treason were transported to the Americas for a period of ten years rather than facing the usual punishment, that called for the convict to be briefly hung before being disemboweled, dismembered, and drawn and quartered. Although transportation was not regularized until after 1714 with the Transportation Acts, it was a punishment of expedience when labor was needed in the colonies.

Drawing upon the conventions of exploration and travel narratives, Captain Blood establishes through its narrator the importance and value of the narrative by identifying as its source an eyewitness, Blood's trusted navigator Jeremy Pitt. To establish the veracity of a travel account, narrators also frequently dismiss what appear to be their sources by accusing earlier writers of plagiarizing from what is actually a later account. This tactic is particularly prevalent among the successors of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Similarly, the narrator of Captain Blood claims that A. O. Exquemelin plagiarized from Jeremy Pitt when he wrote accounts of Captain Morgan in Buccaneers in America. A careful reading of Morgan's exploits in Exquemelin's seventeenth-century narrative, however, reveals that Blood's military tactics-for example his raids on Maracaybo and Gibraltar and his subsequent escape from the Spanish despite overwhelming odds-are borrowed directly from the pages of Exquemelin. Other parallels that appear both in Captain Blood and in Exquemelin's account include the code of the "Brethren of the Coast," details about history of the Isle of Tortuga, and the possibility that a pirate can enter into legitimate military and political service after engaging in piracy.

However, if Peter Blood's military tactics are drawn from Exquemelin's account of Morgan's exploits, his character is not. By all accounts, Morgan became a pirate by choice and was notorious for his ruthlessness toward the Spanish prisoners and towns he attacked. Peter Blood resorts to piracy to escape unfairly enforced servitude to Jamaica's ruthless governor Colonel Bishop and willingly attempts to give up piracy three times: in service to James II, in service to France, and in service to William III. Only the Dutch and English representatives of King William deal honestly with Blood, and only this attempt to leave piracy is successful.

Aside from his innate sense of morality and ethics, Blood is inspired by Arabella Bishop, Colonel Bishop's niece, to stick to his ideals despite the treachery of nearly every figure in authority. Blood exercises mercy and compassion where possible, and, if he cannot always act honorably in the eyes of legitimate authority, at least he can follow the least dishonorable course. In her positive influence on Blood's actions, Arabella Bishop resembles many Victorian heroines. Readers will also find in Peter Blood the embodiment of several earlier heroic types, all of which combine in the hero of historic romance novels. Blood resembles earlier picaresque heroes of the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries in that he is a rogue (from the perspective of those in authority) who traverses an episodic plot by using his wits; in some ways, he is a victim of circumstances whose character does not change dramatically. Unlike earlier picaresque heroes, however, Blood differs from such characters as Don Quixote, Candide, and Tom Jones in that he is not a passive victim or a satiric vehicle; instead, he is an adroit hero whose incredible resilience allows him to remain a few steps ahead of government officials appointed by three imperial powers-England, France, and Spain. He repeatedly turns adversity into advantage with unbelievable dexterity. As a result, he resembles the heroes of late nineteenth-century adventure novels in his ability to take control of his own destiny and extricate himself from any disaster through his superior intellect and capacity for strategic planning; in this sense, he can be seen as the sort of hero still present today in action-adventure films.

Despite the novel's seventeenth-century setting, Peter Blood embodies heroic qualities that earlier readers would have found perplexing, if not downright objectionable. Early novels featured heroes whose progress could often be measured in spiritual terms, as evidenced by their explanations of natural adversity as the workings of Providence. Despite the centrality of religion to seventeenth-century life, Blood's Catholic faith, which would have made him an expected ally of James II by seventeenth-century standards, is only tangentially important to the plot, mentioned only to demonstrate Judge Jeffrey's stupidity in his inability to identify Blood as "a papist." Like religiously motivated heroes, Peter Blood often acts against his own self interest in trying to do the right thing, but unlike earlier heroes, his motivation comes not from religious belief, but from his unwillingness to compromise a personal ideal and a personal code of ethics anchored in his innate sense of right and wrong-and noticeably missing from virtually any sanctioned institution, whether religious, or political. Earlier audiences would have found Peter Blood's strongly individual, non-Providential ethic objectionably unreligious. They would also have considered it ludicrous that an Irish-Catholic doctor of low descent would be the sole repository of virtue and heroism.

The idea that Peter Blood turns out to be a twentieth-century hero in a seventeenth-century setting says much about Sabatini's approach to historical material. Although he read widely in several languages for inspiration in his works, Sabatini never attempts or pretends accuracy. Harold Orel suggests that Sabatini distrusted the idea that history could be equated to truth, and that his primary interest was in the truth that could be revealed through the type of hero represented in his novels, a hero who is a "scoundrel by the world's light, but ethically consistent, gallantly faithful to his true love, and in all his actions motivated by burning hatred and a desire for revenge." Such a character, especially one who could overcome the influence of corrupt institutions, was particularly attractive to a post-war, middle-class audience. Peter Blood was made possible, according to Margery Fisher, by writers such as Stanley Weyman, whose individualistic romantic heroes influenced Sabatini to "put a respectable man into a dangerous situation with no way out but villainy."

Roxanne Kent-Drury is an associate professor at Northern Kentucky University, where she publishes and teaches courses in early world literature, eighteenth-century British and American literature, and the literature of exploration and travel. She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the University of Oregon.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(43)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 84 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    This was a totally fun read!

    I'd been planning on reading this oldie classic for several years, but truth be told I was expecting a shallow dime novel type story. I ended up being pleasantly surprised. As far as I can make out, Captain Blood is a fictional character, but based on several true life historical figures. It is also the first of three Peter Blood books. Apparently, the second two books are not sequels, but are accounts of Blood's adventures that chronologically occurred within the story of the first book. Several movies have been based on this old classic. This was a totally fun read. It has all the melodrama of an early black and white movie. You'll love the sarcastic wit and humor of the main character, Peter Blood, M.D. The book also has one of the cutest romances I've ever read written by a man. I thought it was interesting how Blood remained a gentleman and kept himself from turning a cold-blooded killer by the memory of a woman he knew was impossible to win. There really wasn't anything I disliked about the book. With all the swashbuckling adventures, it never gets boring. The last chapter left me with a grin and a sigh, and as I closed the cover I said, "That was a good book!" So I was thrilled to find there are more in the series. I had a little trouble trying to picture how Blood should look, though. Finally about midway through the story, I settled on an image of Richard Chamberlain from the old 1977 "Man in the Iron Mask" movie-- he's the only one I know who can look good in a black periwig!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2011

    Free copy will not download

    The free copy will not download onto my NookColor. B&N's advice does not work: turn the Nook off and on, archive and reload. I would like to read and review this book, but until B&N fixes the file, it is not to be.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2006

    A Desert Island Five

    Easily one of the most entertaining books I have ever read. Sabatini's knack for combinging historical fact with a carefully woven fiction is a marvel to witness on the page. Here, historical personages like Henry Morgan are realized and idealized through the character and story of Peter Blood. I am torn over which part of him I admire more his sheer cleverness, or his strict moral code. Peter Blood is a rebel in the finest sense of the word one who values truth and holds the welfare of others above his own. I can't guarantee that this book will make you a better person, but it will certainly make you think about being one.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2006

    Tremendous fun!

    Peter Blood, an Irish physician recently settled in Bridgewater, England after serving in the Dutch navy, goes out to attend a patient and finds himself thrown into prison for his trouble. Blood's patient was fighting on the Duke of Monmouth's side in rebellion against King James, and that makes Blood equally guilty of treason in the law's eyes. Instead of being sentenced to execution, he's 'lucky' enough to be shipped off into slavery. In the British colony of Barbados, Colonel Bishop buys him and sets him to work as a physician rather than as a field hand. That gives Blood a great deal easier life, but slavery is still slavery so he still takes the opportunity for escape when it comes. As a fugitive slave, he cannot return to England. Blood, who served the Dutch as a sea officer in wartime rather than as a ship's surgeon, bases himself in the pirate haven of Tortuga. He's soon known throughout the Caribbean as Captain Blood, the most feared and yet most curiously honorable of pirates. Whose flagship is called the Arabella, which happens to be the given name of his owner Colonel Bishop's niece. I'm told that this novel defined its genre when it was first published, well over 80 years ago. I can well believe this. It's historical fiction solidly researched and accurately written, a rousing adventure tale, and a romance in the best old-fashioned sense of that word, all rolled into one. Tremendous fun to read!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2005

    One of my favorites

    I was really dubious about the book at first, but then I read and I absolutely loved it! It was so thrilling and suspenseful, I couldn't put it down! It's just as good as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Scarlet Pimpernel. If you loved those books, then you'll love this one!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    get away from it all

    i was looking for a book of fiction to take me far from modern day stress. this book languished on my library shelf for about a year before i picked it up. it certainly has the desired effect.sabatini writes a picturesque novel about peter blood, a doctor who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. it has almost hitchcock like qualities in that way.<BR/>the reader will enjoy sabatini's ship discriptions from the seventeenth century.and the carribean descriptions are fun.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    Will not download

    Also will not download on my color Nook. I wish someone was responsible to check on problems like this.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Best Pirate Book Ever

    I did not have any expectations before reading this book, but as soon as I'd read the first page, it sucked me in. I literally could not put it down. The writing style is amazing, the plot is thrilling, and the main character is so amazing that you really wish you could have met him. It is a literary masterpiece, and is one of my favorite books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Swashbuckling Good Time

    The adventure of Captain Blood is amazing. The writing is beautiful and captivating. Peter Blood's wit and logic are wonderful and help create him as an amazing hero, pirate and gentleman. His resolve is indefatigable. His creativity and persistence are superb. His adventures are tense and exciting while also being well crafted and believable.

    Sabatini creates in the world of Captain Blood, a vision of 17th century Caribbean that falls right in line with everything that encapsulates my visions of buccaneering pirates sailing the seas.

    The characters are vivid and believable. There are certainly stereotypical typed characters, but even with these, Sabatini adds subtle nuances to create some depth. To the central character of Blood, I found myself sympathizing and relating to intimately. At times he felt a little too cool and collected, so I was glad that, as we reached the climax and started to wrap things up, his personality took on a harder edge based on the trials and his even keeled personality took on a cynicism worth exploring. He became a truly n-dimensional swashbuckler that I'll hold up for examination when diving into other pirate adventures.

    While this story was filled with tons of wonderful adventure, excruciating tension, and exciting scenes of ingenuity, there were also some passages that slowed the pace down considerably through historical narrative and exposition on the nature of things in this time and place of history. In spite of slowing things down, these passages were still very interesting and added a wealth of depth to the story. I merely point this out to warn potential readers who are looking for a non-stop adventure that there will be moments of expository narrative as you sail the seas with Blood.

    In addition to these historical interludes, readers should also be aware that a budding romance adventure lurks beneath the surface here. This certainly isn't a romance of the Victorian style such as you might find with Jane Austen, but there is a romantic feel.both in terms of romanticizing the life and times and in terms of an actual romantic relationship between Blood and another character. To those adverse to romance in their adventures.don't worry, the romantic scenes are short enough that you should survive discussions of culture, civility and the nature of man while Blood 'chews the fat' with the girl of his dreams. I actually found the romance a delightful addition to the narrative. Like the adventure itself, the romance was well constructed and full of tension and problems. In fact, I sometimes found myself more frustrated at the perils of romance than at the perils of the battles.

    So, if you have any inkling towards historical adventures, particularly pirate adventures, I definitely recommend you pick up Captain Blood. He'll swash your buckle and plunder your adventuring spirit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2006

    Amazing!

    Like nothing I'd listened to before! This is not a group of people reading lines from a book - this is true theater! sound affects, orchestra - just amazing. My kids learned a valuable lesson - listening to this show, they discovered their own imaginations could exceed any movie's widescreen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2003

    The best book you will ever read

    I have read this book for the first time when I was ten and I absolutely loved it. I have read it at least 20 times since then and it's as exciting every time as it was the very first time. The story is absolutely amazing and captain Blood is a caracter that I admire - he is a real gentelman and a corsar at the same time. How many times I have imagined myself to be Arabela Bishop - the most wonderful and charming lady taht Peter Blood was in love with. I definetely recommend this book to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2002

    Excellent Read

    Excellent book for teenagers and older about the romantic life of a pirate in the Carribian during the 17th century. The author did an awsome job developing the characters. The naval battles are described so well, you feel like you've been there. According to the foreword in my Russian languache edition of the book, the battle scenes are done so well, the book was a required read at some British Naval academies. Don't know if its true, but I could believe that.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2014

    Good read!

    This book is written in another time from modern day, which gives it a richness in addition to the story itself. This is a classic adventure story. It is relatively short, yet a good read.

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  • Posted December 16, 2013

    Great story, terrible format. I loved this book but the formatt

    Great story, terrible format. I loved this book but the formatting errors and chopped up words made it hard to follow and understand at some points. I would recommend paying for this story because it will be a lot easier to read.

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  • Posted October 15, 2013

    Great Pirate Story and Fun Read!

    I love the energy and flow of this book, and the story. This is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read, and I read a lot. This is no dry classic; it is an armchair adventure. Captain Blood is a great character. Do not miss out, read it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Suprisingly Great!

    I didn't think I would like Captain Blood, but boy was I wrong. I got it as a gift for a friend and then read it before giving it to him. It was very good, with a well-balanced combination of adventure, moral, and romance. I also loved the happy ending. I plan on reading other books by Sabatini.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Bad format

    Looks like an old high scool term paper typed up on a manual typewriter and very chopped up

    The book itself is great. Five stars for the book but one star for the format so three stars total.

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  • Posted August 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Yep wont download

    Nothing

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2011

    Won't Download

    I teally wanted to read this, but it wouldn't download. Guess that I'll buy a paper copy.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2011

    Rather pricey...

    ... for a public domain ebook you can get for free from several sources elsewhere.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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