"O'Brian was only 15 when [Caesar] was published, but he already possessed an instinct for deft plotting and uncomplicated narrative."The New York Times
A stark tale encompassing the cruelty and beauty of the natural world, and a clear demonstration of the storytelling gift that would later flower in the Aubrey/Maturin series. When he was fourteen years old and beset by chronic ill health, Patrick O'Brian began creating his first fictional character. "I did it in my bedroom, and a little when I should have been doing my homework," he confessed in a note on the original dust-jacket. Caesar tells the picaresque, enchanting, and quite bloodthirsty story of a creature whose father is a giant panda and whose mother is a snow leopard. Through the eyes and voice of this fabulous creature, we learn of his life as a cub, his first hunting exploits, his first encounters with man, his capture and taming. Caesar was published in 1930, three months after O'Brian's fifteenth birthday, but the dry wit and unsentimental precision O'Brian readers savor in the Aubrey/Maturin series is already in evidence. The book combines Stephen Maturin's fascination and encyclopedic knowledge of natural history with the narrative charm of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. It was published in England and the United States, and in translation in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Japan. Reviews hailed the author as the "boy-Thoreau." "We can see here a true storyteller in the making....a gripping narrative, which holds the reader's attention and never flags."The Spectator
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.88(w) x 7.88(h) x 0.30(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
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.
Date of Birth:December 12, 1914
Date of Death:January 2, 2000
Place of Birth:Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire
Place of Death:Dublin, Ireland
Education:Shebbear College, Devon
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Martin did one of his first book reports on this book. It may have been the first works of fiction he ever read all the way through, Written by O'Brian when he was quite young 12 or 13? it is a good book of some length for boys who don't go for the typical fantasy adventure or sci fi story. The elements that make it readable are all employed in O'Brian's later books -conflict, adventure, sacrifice, relationships that change and grown and allow characters to influence one another. The imagined world of an imagined creature coming alive on the page is what makes it a page turner, even for a young reader.
This book was written when O'Brian was twelve and published when he was fifteen. For my part, by the time I was fifteen I barely remembered what it had been like to be twelve-- I had a short memory back then. I can only wonder what O'Brian must have thought when, a teenager, he saw this particular story published. It's something that would really only captivate a twelve-year-old, yes-- the plot is about ninety-five percent aimless killing and five percent wry humour-- but it's got an astonishing vocabulary and shows remarkable skill and control for a pre-teen. Even if you calculate for the fact that everyone back then was smarter and better-educated than we generally are today, it's still amazing. Nevertheless, the story doesn't actually have a 'point.' There are also no characters, per se. It's merely a kind of catalogue of what a child might imagine a carnivorous beast's life to be like. In places it's laughably incorrect-- the youthful O'Brien seems to believe that the great cats of the world eat about fifty pounds of meat a day-- but it remains a vaguely interesting curiosity throughout.Now, don't get me wrong: I love O'Brian. But you must remember that we all started out as stupid little kids, and though he was a cleverer kid than most, this is still a book with little interest of its own. Read it if you're a major O'Brian fan and you absolutely can't get enough of him. If you actually want to read something edifying, don't waste the money on this one. It's a curiosity.