Sunday, December 16, 2007

A simple method for determining whether you ought to try George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels

From Flash for Freedom (1971), by George MacDonald Fraser
By and large I'm partial to Americans. They make a great affectation of disliking the English and asserting their equality with us, but I've discovered that underneath they dearly love a lord, and if you're civil and cool and don't play it with too high a hand you can impose on them quite easily. I'm not a lord, of course, but I've got the airs when I want 'em, and know how to use them in moderation.
Having just returned from traveling and therefore having little time to write, I find this a particularly good topic for tonight because in a pinch it can be boiled down to a single question:
Do you instinctively smile when you see the word "roger" used as a verb?
If so, you are likely to find that the Flashman novels will provide you with hours of pleasant entertainment and disreputable diversion. Other indications of possible affinity are a healthy appreciation of swashbuckling and swordfighting; momentous events in British history related in first-person from the head of the retreat; the words "gallop" and "rattle" used as transitive verbs synonymous with "roger"; knavery, roguishness, scoundrelsy, and scampism; self-justification, judicious self-dealing, and frantic poltroonery; phrases like "boil his bile" and words like "harridan" and "mumchance"; or lines like these:
With the danger safely past, I was soon in good fettle again. As I've said before, there's nothing so cheering as surviving a peril in which companions have perished, and our losses had been heavy.
or this one:
We also serve who only turn and run.
But really, it all comes back to the rogering, with which sentiment I'm sure Flashman would agree.

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