The Rendezvous and Other Stories

Overview

A collection of startlingly vivid short stories from Patrick O'Brian, author of the highly acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series.
Patrick O'Brian has emerged, in the opinion of many, as one of the greatest novelists now writing in English. His fame rests mainly on the achievement of the epic Aubrey/Maturin novels, but few readers know that O'Brian first made his reputation as a writer of short fiction. Collected here for the first time are twenty-seven stories that O'Brian wishes to ...

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Overview

A collection of startlingly vivid short stories from Patrick O'Brian, author of the highly acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series.
Patrick O'Brian has emerged, in the opinion of many, as one of the greatest novelists now writing in English. His fame rests mainly on the achievement of the epic Aubrey/Maturin novels, but few readers know that O'Brian first made his reputation as a writer of short fiction. Collected here for the first time are twenty-seven stories that O'Brian wishes to preserve: stories of uncommon lyricism and beauty that will confirm his rightful place in the front rank of short-story writers as well as of novelists.
Although the tone of this collection ranges effortlessly from the humorous to the dramatic, the most characteristic and memorable stories often have to do with a glimpse of savage, destructive forces through the fragile shell of human civilization. The threatened chaos may be psychological, as in "On the Wolfsberg," or it may be lurking in the natural world, as in "A Passage of the Frontier," or, as in the dark masterpiece "The Chian Wine," it is suddenly discovered in the ancient, irrational impulses of human nature.
The setting may be the marshes of western Ireland, the Pyrenees, or the claustrophobic confines of a clockmender's house, but each story is a showcase for Patrick O'Brian's fresh and meticulous prose; each story reaffirms his sympathetic understanding of human passion and suffering. This collection proves that O'Brian is not simply the master of a genre, but an author who will long be honored as one of our most eminent literary figures.

Collected here for the first time are 27 stories that O'Brian wishes to preserve--stories of uncommon lyricism and beauty that will confirm his rightful place in the front rank of short story writers as well as of novelists. Patrick O'Brian is the author of the highly acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of sea novels.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“If a measure of good short fiction is its continuing ability to arrest attention, Mr. O'Brian's collection can surely be counted a success.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Relentlessly detailed exposition and naturalistic description are the strengths of British novelist O'Brian, esteemed for his Aubrey/Maturin nautical adventure historicals ( Master and Commander ; Post Captain ). The author's rather monochromatic technique doesn't translate well to short form, however, and these 27 tales, many of which date back to the '50s and the dawn of O'Brian's career, often lack narrative drive and any semblance of character development. Moreover, they frequently close with surprise endings that are apparently meant to be deep and profound but emerge instead as borderline non sequiturs. On the plus side, O'Brian's prose is often beautiful and always impeccably crafted, and his eye for detail in the wild gives a number of the stories considerable power and rural charm. The bright spots include ``The Last Pool,'' a brief yet epic account of a fisherman's struggle with an oversize salmon, and the explosive ``On the Bog,'' in which a hunting trip taken by two friends ends in unanticipated violence. Readers with a bent for British fiction that describes village life and the characteristics of the land may enjoy this collection, but others will find it not up to O'Brian's usual snuff. (Sept.)
Library Journal
O'Brian is the author of the famed Aubrey/Maturin novels (e.g., The Wine-Dark Sea, LJ 10/15/93), great depictions of the 18th-century seafaring world and considered among the best of historical fiction. This collection of obscure stories, written between the 1950s and 1970s, shares little with his acclaimed novels. Except that here, too, our characters-nearly always lone men-are also often journeying, albeit now to the mountains for trout fishing. There is a feeling throughout of quiet desperation, although we usually don't know why. More lost, however, are the characters themselves, who often don't know who or where they are. In the end nature often turns nasty. It's all very much like an L.L. Bean catalog gone awry. Better are the tales of marital unrest like the title story, in which a woman believes her husband to be unfaithful. Unlikely to appeal to either O'Brian's fans or to short story enthusiasts, this can be safely skipped by most libraries.-Brian Kenney, Brooklyn P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393313802
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,030,553
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick O'Brian

Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherrière's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.

Biography

In addition to the twenty volumes of the highly-respected Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's many novels include Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore. O'Brian has also written acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and has translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle. Born in 1914, he passed away in January 2000.

Patrick O'Brian was one of the great authors of the twentieth century, whose novels were often compared by critics to the work of Jane Austen and even Homer. A writer of breathtaking erudition, Mr. O'Brian evoked in complete and dazzling detail an entire world -- that of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. In addition to formidable scholarship, Mr. O'Brian brought to his work keen psychological insights, a sharp wit, and fast-paced, heart-stopping action.

In a cover story in The New York Times Book Review published on January 6, 1991, nine years to the day before Mr. O'Brian's death, Richard Snow wrote that Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin naval adventure novels are "the best historical novels ever written. On every page Mr. O'Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change but people don't, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives." In a Washington Post article published August 2, 1992, Ken Ringle wrote, "The Aubrey/Maturin series far beyond any episodic chronicle, ebbs and flows with the timeless tide of character and the human heart."

W.W. Norton & Company began publishing Patrick O'Brian's books in 1990. The previous year, Norton's editor-in-chief, Starling Lawrence, had read The Reverse of the Medal on a trans-Atlantic flight, fallen hard for the series, and had become convinced that Norton ought to publish Mr. O'Brian's works in the U.S. Norton decided to publish each new book in hardcover as it was completed and to bring out the earlier books in the series in paperback until they had caught up. The first season, Norton published The Letter of Marque (# 12) in hardcover and Master and Commander (# 1) and Post Captain (# 2) in paperback. Most recently, Norton published Blue at the Mizzen (# 20) in hardcover in 1999 and in paperback in 2000. At present, Norton has all of the books in the series available in uniform hardcover and paperback editions.

In addition to the twenty books in the Aubrey/Maturin series, Norton has published a short story collection (The Rendezvous and Other Stories) and three of Mr. O'Brian's other novels: Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore. O'Brian has also written acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and has translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle. In April of 2000, Norton published Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda-Leopard, his very first book, begun when he was just twelve, and Hussein: An Entertainment, written when he was about twenty years old. Both of these books had long been out of print.

Starting in the early 1990s, Mr. O'Brian achieved, at long last, the critical and popular recognition that was his due. All of his new books published since 1993 have appeared on national bestseller charts, and his books have sold well over three million copies in the U.S. alone.

Mr. O'Brian once said, "Obviously, I have lived very much out of the world: I know little of present-day Dublin or London or Paris, even less of post-modernity, post-structuralism, hard rock or rap, and I cannot write with much conviction about the contemporary scene." [Patrick O'Brian: Critical Essays and a Bibliography, edited by Arthur Cunningham]. In fact, Mr. O'Brian often seemed to have walked out of another era, and in his interactions with his publisher, he displayed a level of courtesy and civility rarely seen in our times.

Author biography courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard Patrick Russ
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 12, 1914
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire
    1. Date of Death:
      January 2, 2000
    2. Place of Death:
      Dublin, Ireland

Table of Contents

The Return 7
The Happy Despatch 16
The Dawn Flighting 27
Not Liking to Pass the Road Again 35
The Slope of the High Mountain 38
The Little Death 51
The Passeur 57
The Tunnel at the Frontier 63
The Path 66
The Walker 70
The Soul 81
Lying in the Sun 83
Billabillian 90
The Rendezvous 104
The Stag at Bay 117
Samphire 123
The Clockmender 129
The Chian Wine 137
The Virtuous Peleg 148
A Passage of the Frontier 160
The Voluntary Patient 175
The Long Day Running 185
On the Bog 203
The Lemon 215
The Last Pool 223
The Handmaiden 233
On the Wolfsberg 245
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