January 18, 2008


How I fell for a sexist, racist, reactionary cad (Christopher Hitchens, January 19, 2008, The Australian)

LOOKING back over the nearly 40 years since I first found myself immersed in a Flashman story, perhaps the single most striking thing about the experience is the date.

It somehow didn't seem to "fit'', amid all the feverish enthusiasms of the late 1960s, that one should be so thoroughly absorbed by the doings of a racist-sexist-imperialist-you-name-it military officer. I can remember the mingled shock and glee with which my radical friend Andrew Cockburn and I discovered, over a steaming curry that was another colonial legacy, that we had both recently fallen for the same author and character. I have met that look, of the confirmed addict and fellow-sufferer, many times since.

Maybe it was partly the period that explained the fatuity by which a dozen British publishers greeted George MacDonald Fraser with rejection slips. But he eventually found a home with Herbert Jenkins, the independent house that had already earned itself immortality by bringing out P.G. Wodehouse.

And there is charm in the fact that Wodehouse himself, who seldom commented on other writers, said, "If ever there was a time when I felt that `watcher-of-the-skies-when-a-new-planet' stuff, it was when I read the first Flashman.'' [...]

Of Fraser's robust Toryism there can be no doubt. He described the British Empire as "the greatest thing that ever happened to an undeserving world''...

No one is PC in private and Mr. Hitchens can barely manage it in public these days.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2008 9:25 AM
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