Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Mr. Midshipman Easy (eBook)

Availability: Ready to download

Captain Marryat (1792 - 1848) was a contemporary of Charles Dickens noted for his sea stories. Marryat began writing after a distinguished career in the British Navy. His time and personal experience in the Navy enhance his stories.


Compare
Ads Banner

Captain Marryat (1792 - 1848) was a contemporary of Charles Dickens noted for his sea stories. Marryat began writing after a distinguished career in the British Navy. His time and personal experience in the Navy enhance his stories.

30 review for Mr. Midshipman Easy (eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manray9

    On opening Captain Marryat's Mr. Midshipman Easy I expected a straightforward historical novel. Instead I discovered the picaresque story of a coddled and naive young man, Jack Easy, who considers himself a philosopher. Jack, the fruit of an unconventional upbringing, joined the Royal Navy anticipating life at sea to conform to his firm beliefs on social equality and the fundamental rights of man. He was soon disabused of such notions. Jack embarked on a series of madcap adventures featuring: sea On opening Captain Marryat's Mr. Midshipman Easy I expected a straightforward historical novel. Instead I discovered the picaresque story of a coddled and naive young man, Jack Easy, who considers himself a philosopher. Jack, the fruit of an unconventional upbringing, joined the Royal Navy anticipating life at sea to conform to his firm beliefs on social equality and the fundamental rights of man. He was soon disabused of such notions. Jack embarked on a series of madcap adventures featuring: sea battles, Sicilian nobles, duels, storms, cutting out expeditions, North African houris, shipwreck, romance, an Ashanti prince, murder, and the discovery of his own destiny. In the end he returned home a wiser man converted to a orthodox view of life within an established social system based on the superior qualities of the better classes. Tim Fulford, in his introduction to the 2001 Signet Classic edition, wrote: Essentially a bildungsroman, the book draws on Marryat's memories of his callow and idealistic fourteen-year-old self, confronted with the strange, complex, and romantic world of a fighting ship... Marryat's endorsement of social hierarchy is less than the whole story. While he is conservative on land, at sea he embraces adventure. And it was for the sea, and the life of liberty and transformation that the sea represents, that he is always read. And it is for the sea, and the human variety and difference that it let him explore, that we should read him again. A notable facet of Mr. Midshipman Easy was the inclusion of a black man as a prominent and admirable character. Mephistopheles Faust, known to all as Mesty, was dubbed such due to his diabolical appearance. He was an Ashanti prince and warrior enslaved in America and escaped to the Royal Navy. Mesty, like Jack, learned how to adapt to the broader world. He was not depicted as a stereotypical savage, but as a figure more intelligent and responsible than most of Jack's white shipmates. He, again like Jack, developed as a character in the course of the novel. Tim Fulford pointed out “Mesty is one of the most interesting portraits of a black man by a white writer in all nineteenth-century literature.” Mr. Midshipman Easy was funny and perceptive. It provided an agreeable window into life and literature in 1836. The novel was acclaimed by authors as diverse as Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain and earned Four Stars from me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    I had the pleasure of reading "Mr. Midshipman Easy" several years ago. It lives up to its billing as a novel full of exciting seafaring adventures on the high seas during the Napoleonic Wars. The human interest elements in the novel are also compelling and true-to-life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dominick

    I'm a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Not that I expected reading it to be a chore, but I read it more just to have a book on the go than out of any particular enthusiasm. However, I was very quickly won over by its satirical tone and wry humour--not to mention Marryat's fondness for puns. Many of these are amdittedly strained (he has more fun than he should with Easy's name, for instance), but I quite like bad puns, as a rule, as part of the punning humour, I think, is an arch self I'm a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Not that I expected reading it to be a chore, but I read it more just to have a book on the go than out of any particular enthusiasm. However, I was very quickly won over by its satirical tone and wry humour--not to mention Marryat's fondness for puns. Many of these are amdittedly strained (he has more fun than he should with Easy's name, for instance), but I quite like bad puns, as a rule, as part of the punning humour, I think, is an arch self-consciousness about their awfulness. Anyway, I laughed out loud several times reading this book, especially in its satirical treatment of philosophy, and of the difference between theory and practice. Our hero (as he is consistently called throughout the book) has a foolish gentleman-philosopher for a father--foolish because he believes in the equality of all men, a perspective which Marryat is at some pains ultimately to discredit--and absorbs his lessons, until going to sea beats silly philosophy out of him. The book is highly episodic (early on, indeed, I wondered whether Marryat had any real idea of where he was going), as Jack Easy gets into innumerable scrapes, and then out of each one, as often as not by sheer luck, but at times through wit or cunning. Marryat does occasionally address some of the more serious implications of life in the British navy in the early nineteenth century, but overall one gets the impression that it's mostly larks, apart from the occasional combat at sea, leading to a few unnamed supernumeraries getting reduced to fragments which are thrown overboard, their blood then scrubbed away. (As this might suggest, this is not a children's book, though it is often seen to be one--my edition is published by Puffin, for instance). Even murder tends to be treated with humorous sang-froid, as in one scene where Jack and his buddy debate whether throwing the still-living body of a guy they've shot overboard would be murder or not; they debate whether they should just shoot him dead first, then debate over whether the fact that he's half-dead already mitigates any guilt that might accrue to them for finishing the job. So, if you're reading this expecting realism, or trenchant political commentary on the abuses of power, you will be disappointed, if not repelled. (There is, however, a remarkably sympathetic depiction of a black character--sympathetic for 1836, anwyay--in the figure of Mesty, a prince in his own land who was enslaved, then escaped, joined the navy, and ends up one of Jack's trusted crew). Indeed, at times, Marryat's endorsement of monarchical power and the less than humane practices of the navy grate somewhat. Fortunately, however, he devotes most of his energy to humour, satire, and adventure. I'm more likely to quibble about this edition's lack of explanatory notes, as the nautical jargon gets pretty thick at times, than I am about Marryat's conservative politics. and though he is conservative, that doesn't stop himm having some good runs at other topics worthy of satire, such as religion and love.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Although he's mostly forgotten today, Marryat was a tremendously popular author of naval yarns who actually was a captain in the Royal Navy during the Golden Age of Sail. This book is the story of Jack Easy, a wealthy young man raised up to believe in a ridiculous version of equality - no one has to work, all property is held in common, the thief is equal to the philanthropist, etc.. I think the author was taking aim at republicanism with his satiric representation of Jack's philosophy. Of cours Although he's mostly forgotten today, Marryat was a tremendously popular author of naval yarns who actually was a captain in the Royal Navy during the Golden Age of Sail. This book is the story of Jack Easy, a wealthy young man raised up to believe in a ridiculous version of equality - no one has to work, all property is held in common, the thief is equal to the philanthropist, etc.. I think the author was taking aim at republicanism with his satiric representation of Jack's philosophy. Of course this brand of 'equalism' is inherently ill-suited to the Royal Navy in which rank is everything and disobeying orders subject to harsh punishments. This doesn't prevent Jack from yearning to go to sea, and with the influence of one of his relations, he succeeds in gaining a place as a midshipman. Middies have a peculiar fascination for fans of naval fiction. Sometimes as young as 12, they were expected to behave like officers, but did not have the true benefit of rank. Nevertheless they had duties and responsibilities, including overseeing the hands who were considerably older and more experienced. It was not unheard-of for a teenage mid to be given command of a prize vessel. Like all officers they were of the gentlemanly class, required to be able to read and write, to learn complex navigational mathematics, and to have considerable personal income to outfit their sea-trunks, buy uniforms, and sustain themselves while at sea. Jack does not especially excel at his shipboard duties, and often tries to "argue the point" and fall back on his equalist philosophy instead of obeying orders. He is so likeable that he manages to stay in the captain's good graces. Although initiially unpopular, he stands up to a bully and gains the goodwill of all the "young gentlemen." His defense of equalism wins him the affection of Mephistopheles or "Mesty,", formerly an African prince who was sold into slavery and eventually gains a kind of freedom aboard the English vessel. It is thanks to Jack that Mesty is upgraded from "boiling the kettle" or serving as cook and steward, to a corporal aboard the ship. Mesty's dialect and depiction may offend some readers; ironically, while trying to demonstrate that Africans are not inferior to Europeans, Marryat may end up giving offense to those who would judge 18th-century people by today's standards. Although not particularly diligent about his daily tasks, Jack is courageous in battle, and Marryat's naval experience really shines in these exciting passages. All the horror, the valour, the fear and battle-lust is brilliantly described and the action passages are real page-turners. At one point, Jack even jumps ship for a rather long time in Spain, initially to fight a duel, and yet somehow returns and manages to avoid being hung as a deserter. At times the goodwill of the captain towards his upstart mid defies all reasonable belief, even given Jack's wealthy, influential father. During his hiatus, Jack falls for a girl and promises to return to marry her. Eventually he decides he must leave the service, and his father's death hastens this decision, which surprises no one, as his inheritance leaves him much too absurdly wealthy to be a midshipman. After setting his father's estate in order, banishing the shiftless servants who have been told they are "equal" to their master, he purchases his own ship and sails back to Spain to collect his inamorata, all notions of equalism entirely forgotten.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    This nautical novel focuses on the adventures of "our hero," Jack Easy. The story begins thus: "CHAPTER I - Which the reader will find very easy to read." I burst out laughing when I read this, and I was similarly amused by the whole novel. It is written in a whimsical style that includes references to the reader (e.g. "the reader will remember that..."), humorous understatements/overstatements, ridiculous circumstances and a large quantity of blunt puns. For instance, after Jack Easy has literall This nautical novel focuses on the adventures of "our hero," Jack Easy. The story begins thus: "CHAPTER I - Which the reader will find very easy to read." I burst out laughing when I read this, and I was similarly amused by the whole novel. It is written in a whimsical style that includes references to the reader (e.g. "the reader will remember that..."), humorous understatements/overstatements, ridiculous circumstances and a large quantity of blunt puns. For instance, after Jack Easy has literally fallen into a well, he thinks: "...all's well that ends well; but how the devil am I to get out of the well?" (Chapter 6). This may be a brand of humor that many people find stupid, but I still giggled and chuckled a lot. The basic essence of the story is that Easy gets into a ton of scrapes, gets out of them and has a bunch of arguments about morals with almost everyone he meets. In short, Easy can out-wit anyone he meets and is loved by most. He's a rascal that can get away with anything because he commands peoples' favor, including his commanding officers'. There is a heavy-handed theme of "equality" throughout the entire novel, and I say "heavy-handed" because the author is obvious about it. In Chapter XXI, Marryat breaks the narrative to say: "And now we must be serious. We do not write these novels merely to amuse,--we have always had it in our view to instruct, and it must not be supposed that we have no other end in view than to make the reader laugh." He describes novel-writing "...as a channel through which we may convey wholesome advice in a palatable shape." The problem is, I am not sure what Marryat intended to teach. The literary criticism I've read posits that Marryat is promoting imperialism by arguing against equality and human rights. However, because the whole story is so farcical, I have a hard time taking it at face value. "Equality Jack's" father taught him all he could about equality and the rights of man. In the beginning, Jack spends his time asserting his rights by stealing and trespassing, and arguing the point with anyone who would confront him. He goes into the service teaching people around him about equality, but he comes out of the service almost four years later arguing the opposite side. So, Jack seems to be converted from one who believes in equality to one who believes that each man is awarded his share according to his own abilities (citing the story of the ten talents in the Bible). The question is, is the reader supposed to agree with him at the beginning or the end? As you can tell, I find this novel very thought-provoking even though I spent most of the time laughing while reading it. I only wish that the theme wasn't so heavy-handed: it became tiring after Jack's umpteenth confrontation about equality. The ending in particular was unsatisfactory in terms of the theme, but still entertaining.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Wilson

    I know this is supposed to be Marryat's best work, and I also realize that the problems I had with it were because of where and when it was wrtten, but I found large parts of this book regpugnant. The adventures are pretty well written, although they presuppose a far greater understanding of sailing than I have, so many passages now fail for lack of that knowledge. The writing in general is only okay, although there are glimpses of effective humor. The part that I found most objectionable was tha I know this is supposed to be Marryat's best work, and I also realize that the problems I had with it were because of where and when it was wrtten, but I found large parts of this book regpugnant. The adventures are pretty well written, although they presuppose a far greater understanding of sailing than I have, so many passages now fail for lack of that knowledge. The writing in general is only okay, although there are glimpses of effective humor. The part that I found most objectionable was that the main character's father was meant to be seen as (initially) a complete fool, and then as literally insane. Why? Because he believed in the equality of men! The sociological and political discussions that are dotted throughout the novel start with a vaguely sympathetic tone, a kind of amused tolerance of such a silly idea, but eventually, as I said, the idea becomes considered complete insanity. In addition, there is a black character, Mesty, an escaped slave, who is presented with something _close_ to sympathy, and as an early proponent of equality (for obvious reasons), but there too his sympathy lasts only until his own situation improves, at which point he decides equality is a mirage, in agreement with our hero. Then there are the political arguments that conclude that monarchy is the best of all systems, and asserts that the leader of a democracy must necessarily be almost a despot (although why is never explained; perhaps that is thought to be self-expanatory). Anyway, for a novel written in the early 1800's, in England, where the American and French revolutions were not all that far in the past, the novel's attitudes make complete sense. Unfortunately, knowing that does not make the reading experience any less aggravating when those attitudes intrude. So, plus points for the naval adventure, which is passably written. But more points off for the preachifying, which ruined the experience for me. I think I'll try Hornblower next, and see how that stands up to the passage of time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sylvester

    I wanted to hold off, but I couldn't help myself. I loved Jacob Faithful so much that I didn't want it to end. Well! I liked J.F. better, as it happens, but this book was great too, just a different dolphin. If J.F. reminded me of Dickens, Midshipman Easy reminded me of Henry Fielding (Tom Jones) and wasn't like Jacob Faithful at all. (I didn't mind. I love Tom. I'm trying to think how it was like him - just in that Jack gets in all manner of messes, but all with a heart of gold. Like Tom, he is I wanted to hold off, but I couldn't help myself. I loved Jacob Faithful so much that I didn't want it to end. Well! I liked J.F. better, as it happens, but this book was great too, just a different dolphin. If J.F. reminded me of Dickens, Midshipman Easy reminded me of Henry Fielding (Tom Jones) and wasn't like Jacob Faithful at all. (I didn't mind. I love Tom. I'm trying to think how it was like him - just in that Jack gets in all manner of messes, but all with a heart of gold. Like Tom, he isn't about following the rules, goodness isn't about rules. Thank goodness. -Har har har. ) And Jack - Equality Jack, as the crew calls him, has a philosophy of life (drilled into him by his father) that makes him lovable and funny - he believes in equality and the rights of man. He gets to test it out in the real world, and its funny and sad all at once. His biggest ally turns out to be a former slave, Mesty, who loves him for his ideals, and happens to be 100 x more ship-smart and life-smart than Jack, and guides him through, well, you'll have to read to find out what. And friendship - between Mesty and Gascoigne, Jack manages to survive and thrive - in a world with neither equality nor the rights of man. Lots of humour and satire and fun in this book. I highly recommend to anyone who likes sea tales.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    Unless you are a dedicated fan of fiction from the age of fighting sail and are moved to research the origins of this genre there is no reason to read this book. I hated this book. While it is true that the author was a friend of Dickens and is credited with either inventing or at least being an early contributor to Age of Sail fiction he is in no way in Dickens' class and his book hasn't aged as well as Dickens' work. Written in 1836 this book really showed its age. I found the hero to be utter Unless you are a dedicated fan of fiction from the age of fighting sail and are moved to research the origins of this genre there is no reason to read this book. I hated this book. While it is true that the author was a friend of Dickens and is credited with either inventing or at least being an early contributor to Age of Sail fiction he is in no way in Dickens' class and his book hasn't aged as well as Dickens' work. Written in 1836 this book really showed its age. I found the hero to be utterly annoying and the plot to be juvenile. In fact knowing that this author went on to write books for children has me wondering if this wasn't meant for juvenile readers. This book has no value beyond its historic position as an early work in the genre of Age of Sail fiction. Thank God for Forester and O'Brian.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    A very amusing and entertaining read concerning how a young philosopher doesn't mix entirely well at first with the British Navy (for with everything, Easy prefers to "argue the point"). Captain Marryat has a delightful sense of humor, but I particularly found his three pages of moralizing in chapter XXI to be particularly interesting and REFRESHING. Captain Marryat's fiction was influencial enough to bring forth some reform in the Navy in real life. Now that's a true mark of successful literatu A very amusing and entertaining read concerning how a young philosopher doesn't mix entirely well at first with the British Navy (for with everything, Easy prefers to "argue the point"). Captain Marryat has a delightful sense of humor, but I particularly found his three pages of moralizing in chapter XXI to be particularly interesting and REFRESHING. Captain Marryat's fiction was influencial enough to bring forth some reform in the Navy in real life. Now that's a true mark of successful literature. Not only does it aim to improve life, but it leaves a strong enough impression on its readers to actually do it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Ricker

    This is a fictionalized story of Marryat’s own experience in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era. Obviously, this is right up my alley. Regrettably, though, I did not enjoy Marryat’s work nearly so much as the Horatio Hornblower books by C.S. Forester. Marryat actually lived during the time period, while Forester lived about a hundred years later; perhaps that has something to do with it. Or possibly it was the social satire axe that Marryat had a penchant for grinding. Either way, This is a fictionalized story of Marryat’s own experience in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era. Obviously, this is right up my alley. Regrettably, though, I did not enjoy Marryat’s work nearly so much as the Horatio Hornblower books by C.S. Forester. Marryat actually lived during the time period, while Forester lived about a hundred years later; perhaps that has something to do with it. Or possibly it was the social satire axe that Marryat had a penchant for grinding. Either way, while the book was enjoyable, it was not at all enthralling.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Marryat, during his height, was at least as popular as Dickens. Socially, more popular. He began writing while still a captain, but when his books became successful, took to London literary life with gusto. Eminently readable, there are portions of this novel that will make modern sensibilities wince with the easy cruelty. An excellent evocation of life on a tall ship, and full of early nineteenth century adventure mores, this is a fun read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    I was a little slowed down by the Tristram Shandy-esque origin story, but soon enough this picks up pace, and becomes delightful. I have to assume Marryat was inspired by Sterne, because the satirical aspect of this novel is by far the most entertaining part. At times, my jaw dropped, or I laughed out loud. I haven't enjoyed a book this much in quite awhile.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Axslingin

    The adventures of a spoiled rich kid who had been brainwashed by his father into believing in the rights of man, a philosophy that could have easily been concocted in Frankenstein's laboratory as it was in the mind of his father. With a glancing blow to our forefathers, our hero, Jack Easy learns that life ain't fair, and you can't make it fair without infringing on the rights of man. The book starts off amusingly enough, reminiscent of Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, mostly playing off t The adventures of a spoiled rich kid who had been brainwashed by his father into believing in the rights of man, a philosophy that could have easily been concocted in Frankenstein's laboratory as it was in the mind of his father. With a glancing blow to our forefathers, our hero, Jack Easy learns that life ain't fair, and you can't make it fair without infringing on the rights of man. The book starts off amusingly enough, reminiscent of Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, mostly playing off the eccentricity of Jack's father, with his laudable, if not misguided tenets. Mr. Easy fancied himself a philospher, mocked humourously by Marryat while peppering the narrative with philosphy of his own. Papa Easy didn't realize that he himself routinely violated his mantra of the rights of man. in that, apparently, it didn't include women, because Mr Easy was overbearing, but made the argument with his wife that she had free will: as long as she agreed with him. However, the philosphy was duly applied as to raising the only son Jack, and as a result, he grew to be an insolent, spoiled brat. Whether it was comically intended or not, Marryat bemoaned how dull the narrative of a child's upbringing was, then proceeded to detail that of Jack's. Eventually, Jack's father was diplomatically pressed and grudgingly agreed to send Jack off to school to "learn the basics" and could then come home and imbibe himself with his father's philosphy with intelligence. Of course, the rights of man didn't exist at schools in those days. Back then, it was spare the rod, spoil the child, and the rod was not spared on poor Jack. He was an arguer. Using his father's "rights of man" meme as justification, he got himself into so much trouble that he felt the only place where a man could be free was on the sea. He used his father's philosophy against him to get him to consent. Jack heads to sea, but not before stopping off and partying for three weeks. Not much the captain could do about it; Jacks father gave him the money to outfit the ship. He's stuck with the bastard...Anybody else would have been in a world of misery, but not our hero Jack. He always seemed to come out of a scrape smelling like a rose. The captain used Jack's philosophy of equality and "rights of man" (from his father) to his advantage, explaining that everyone was equally taking orders, ultimately, from higher ups. It was all he could do to get Jack to comply with anything. Contrary to the rights of man, Jack immediately establishes himself as a bully by kicking ass on another bully, a fellow midshipman. Sure, it was to protect another, weaker midshipman, but he then established that his foe was indeed, not equal to might of our hero. Jack then embarks on a series of adventures, that would have ended up in court martials (at it's most benign), or death, of which Jack had a magical way of avoiding. A mutinous crew aboard a captured ship (the capture a tale in and of itself), a ludicrous three-way duel, temporary desertion, a run in with murderous robbers, shipwrecked on rocks that would have finished...just about anybody else, and of course, the girl. A hot little 14 year old. That's Freddy Marryat folks, not me. But she would have to wait until Jack got his wild side out of his system. Remember the temporary desertion? Tossed in irons, after a drunken confession to another captain in his majesty's command. But the captain made the mistake of insulting Jack, and friends he made along the way made the captain pay. After all this, Jack tells all to his captain and the governor, but instead of being thrown in irons and flogged, he was elevated to something likely unheard of in that day, in that time, and certainly in that profession. The adventures continued, sea battles, explosions, bloody hand to hand combat, storms-you name it and Jack saw it, with nary a scratch. All this time, Jack's idea of equality was being tested, and by the time he got home, dad was but a crazed shell of a man, and Jack was-a man. A man's gotta' do what a man's gotta' do, and Jack did so, freed from the untenable philosophy that drove his father mad. A good story, although initially I thought that some of the scenes were so ludicrous that they just couldn't be reasonably possible. But then I thought of those who had done everything conceivable to destroy themselves (like rock stars), and ended up as legends. That's what Jack was, a rock star in another time. Management put up with him because he was so dynamic and things got done-somehow. Now his approach would be disastrous for 99 percent of the population, but Jack was in the top 1 percent, apparently. Our hero. I give it a solid 3 stars, a significant departure from the much more dense and serious James Fenimore Cooper sea tales in that Marryat has quite the sense of humor, and displays it more than Cooper ever would.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike Franklin

    Mr Midshipman Easy was written 1836 about the Napoleonic wars, in which Marryat himself had served with some distinction, attaining the rank of captain before he retired. When Marryat first joined the Navy he had served as a midshipman under the famous Captain Thomas Cochrane; one of the inspirations for characters like C S Forester’s Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey. Add to that the fact that he was much admired as a novelist by the likes of Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Earnest Hemingwa Mr Midshipman Easy was written 1836 about the Napoleonic wars, in which Marryat himself had served with some distinction, attaining the rank of captain before he retired. When Marryat first joined the Navy he had served as a midshipman under the famous Captain Thomas Cochrane; one of the inspirations for characters like C S Forester’s Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey. Add to that the fact that he was much admired as a novelist by the likes of Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Earnest Hemingway and it’s hard to imagine anyone being better suited to writing exciting nautical adventures set in the Napoleonic Wars. However it is a mistake to approach this book as simply a more authentic version of Hornblower or Aubrey, rather, characteristic of his time, family and social issues tend to overshadow the naval actions. In fact around the middle of the book Marryat even interrupts the narrative for several pages to address the reader directly and justify the death of a character in a duel based upon a social transgression and continuing with a defence against the criticism of his writings being too critical of the Navy of the time. He even describes with, no little hubris, how a humanitarian approach to punishment described in one of his books came to be adopted by the navy as formal procedure. The end result is a slightly strange mix of social commentary and Boys’ Own style adventure written with a heavy dose of wry humour and a slightly trying love of puns. Jack Easy is the only son of a wealthy landowner with somewhat unusual beliefs in the equality of all men, especially when laid against the then current fear of the spread of revolution from France. These beliefs are firmly instilled in Jack’s developing teenage mind and then taken with him into the navy. The reader gets no prizes for guessing that this will not make a harmonious mix. These beliefs are constantly challenged throughout the book and highlighted by Easy’s strong friendship for Mesty, who, so he tells us, used to be a ‘prince’ in his land before being taken as a slave and eventually ending up a lowly cook. Jack considers that everyone is born equal, including Mesty, for which he duly receives Mesty’s love. Throughout the book the social distance between Jack and Mesty is constantly used to highlight both the strengths and flaws of Jacks egalitarian beliefs. However late in the book we get the following: " Now I tink a good deal lately, and by all de power, I tink equality all stuff." "All stuff, Mesty, why? You used to think otherwise." "Yes, Massa Easy, but den I boil de kettle for all young gentleman. Now dat I ship's corporal and hab cane, I tink so no longer." A rather nice summary of the parallel change in Jack’s thinking. However the book is my no means just a social commentary. It is also a coming-of-age adventure but even here much of Jack’s adventures take place on land rather than at sea. And a fairly unlikely set of adventures they are, especially in the largely absent consequences experienced by Jack. These aspects of the book would definitely put it in the young adult category today; not surprising considering much of Marryat’s later output was books for children. But they do make for an enjoyable piece of adventurous hokum. It’s a fun romp, an interesting social commentary and age-of-sail writing straight from the pen of a man who experienced it himself. A slightly odd mix but one that did somehow work for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Mr Midshipman Easy and will probably read more from Marryat.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Taylor

    This is one of the first Napoleonic sea novels ever written, a tradition followed up by later authors such as CS Forester and Patrick O'Brian. Written by a Midshipman under Nelson who later became a Captain himself, this book tells the story of a radical midshipman whose leveling ideas and democratizing inclinations gets him into all manner of mischief and adventures. The book is written more or less as a comedy, and while I was looking forward to tales of sailing as seen through the eyes of a bo This is one of the first Napoleonic sea novels ever written, a tradition followed up by later authors such as CS Forester and Patrick O'Brian. Written by a Midshipman under Nelson who later became a Captain himself, this book tells the story of a radical midshipman whose leveling ideas and democratizing inclinations gets him into all manner of mischief and adventures. The book is written more or less as a comedy, and while I was looking forward to tales of sailing as seen through the eyes of a boy who grew to a man under Nelson's guidance, instead its a bit of a farce, and a strangely jarring one from modern eyes. In the middle of the generally humorous storytelling, Marryat includes a plea for better treatment of Midshipmen, particularly by the warrant officers, but not anything for the lower ranks of seamen. The protagonist Mr Easy is more or less democratic, but presumes superiority over any men he's with, particularly the one black sailor aboard the ship. His ideas of leveling are always tempered by his time, so he ends up being rather inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. I wanted a great sea adventure and instead got a series of misadventures and humorous stories about a guy who lives largely on luck and the unrealistically kind treatment of his superior officers. As such it was a bit of a disappointment, although still entertaining at one level.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    John (Jack) Easy is a spoiled child who has adopted his father's philosophy that everyone is equal - which means Jack is entitled to take what isn't his, do what he wants, and justify his actions through debate and argument. He signs on as a midshipman in the Royal Navy, thinking he'll find perfect equality on the seas. Fortunately, the captain he signs under is a friend and doesn't have him court martialled, but instead is patient, helping wean him off his father's flawed philosophy. In an era o John (Jack) Easy is a spoiled child who has adopted his father's philosophy that everyone is equal - which means Jack is entitled to take what isn't his, do what he wants, and justify his actions through debate and argument. He signs on as a midshipman in the Royal Navy, thinking he'll find perfect equality on the seas. Fortunately, the captain he signs under is a friend and doesn't have him court martialled, but instead is patient, helping wean him off his father's flawed philosophy. In an era of sailing ships and state-sponsored piracy, we have a hero who cannot help but get into "scrapes". What results is an entertaining yarn. There's lots of gore (sharks, grape shot, and hand-to-hand combat will do that), but it's offset by lots of comedic situations. A fun story!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Casey

    Based in part on the author's own sea faring days, this is a novel about a young man improperly raised by his lenient and eccentric parents. Jack's early years are pretty hilarious (and accurately portray the apparently timeless spoiled and undisciplined child that we occasionally have the misfortune to observe usually at Walmart) The rest of the story is composed of seafaring adventures taking place over a span of 4 years during which time Jack learns to be a better man though he gets in plenty Based in part on the author's own sea faring days, this is a novel about a young man improperly raised by his lenient and eccentric parents. Jack's early years are pretty hilarious (and accurately portray the apparently timeless spoiled and undisciplined child that we occasionally have the misfortune to observe usually at Walmart) The rest of the story is composed of seafaring adventures taking place over a span of 4 years during which time Jack learns to be a better man though he gets in plenty of unusual and sometimes farfetched escapades. In spite of being published in 1836, I found my interest did not lag and it was a quite engaging British classic.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ches Torrants

    The hero is brought up to believe in the equality of mankind, but harsh schooling and then naval service put his philosophy to the test. He is lucky to have a father who is a rich landowner, and again lucky to be big and strong. He even serves under a tolerant captain, thanks to his father's influence. Written in 1836 and set in the wars of 1803-1815, the story is probably accurate in terms of the sailing ships and warfare of the day. But I found the details puzzling, and the storytelling too sk The hero is brought up to believe in the equality of mankind, but harsh schooling and then naval service put his philosophy to the test. He is lucky to have a father who is a rich landowner, and again lucky to be big and strong. He even serves under a tolerant captain, thanks to his father's influence. Written in 1836 and set in the wars of 1803-1815, the story is probably accurate in terms of the sailing ships and warfare of the day. But I found the details puzzling, and the storytelling too sketchy at times. An interesting piece of our history.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Markus Schmutz

    I love naval fiction, in particular the Hornblower series by C. S. Forester. Marryat was supposedly the inventor of the genre and heavily influenced Forester, O'Brian, etc. I found the book to be overly simplistic. There is barely any challenge in the fights at sea. Every problem is solved within a few paragraphs and Easy wins the day. The book was also short on details of life on board as well as the handling of ships, guns and fighting in general. A substantial part of the book is dedicated to p I love naval fiction, in particular the Hornblower series by C. S. Forester. Marryat was supposedly the inventor of the genre and heavily influenced Forester, O'Brian, etc. I found the book to be overly simplistic. There is barely any challenge in the fights at sea. Every problem is solved within a few paragraphs and Easy wins the day. The book was also short on details of life on board as well as the handling of ships, guns and fighting in general. A substantial part of the book is dedicated to political ideology (are all men equal), which again is overly simplistic and very dated.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Gregory

    I read over and over again as a child. I remember the excruciating pain of reaching the end of the book the first time... I did not want it to end. It will be a different experience reading it as an adult, I think...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Oismiffy

    Not sure what to say about this one. Certainly parts of it I enjoyed, but for the most it was just annoying and verging on the boring, as the main character wanted to argue pointlessly about everything.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Johannes Kristian

    I really liked this book. This is the first book that I have read that is really naval literature and I liked it. The first chapter, entitled "Which the reader will find easy to read" set the tone somewhat, with dry humor, puns, and even some thought provoking comments.

  23. 4 out of 5

    betty

    jack Aubrey's forerunner. just wish Mr. Marryat had continued the story of midshipman Easy in a series of books. Best fiction I've read in quite a while.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Smuts

    Well written (as books of this time were) but not really timeless so I can understand why this book is no longer in print.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I stumbled on this book while reading In The Kingdom Of Ice by Hampton Sides, which is an interesting book about the testosterone-laden attempts to reach the north pole, and the interesting characters involved. Sides mentions that a major character, George De Long, had been influenced by the books of Frederick Marryat, who had lived at the end of the 18th century. A quick search of Project Gutenburg produced several of Marryat's books, including this one. I was first surprised by Marryat's writin I stumbled on this book while reading In The Kingdom Of Ice by Hampton Sides, which is an interesting book about the testosterone-laden attempts to reach the north pole, and the interesting characters involved. Sides mentions that a major character, George De Long, had been influenced by the books of Frederick Marryat, who had lived at the end of the 18th century. A quick search of Project Gutenburg produced several of Marryat's books, including this one. I was first surprised by Marryat's writing style. Were it not for a few archaic terms I would have thought that the book was written in the last few years as a historic novel rather than being fiction of the times. No wading through the tedious language of other early 19th century writers. The story, being of a naval theme, does require some understanding of sea life. There is some gentle derision of some of the popular culture of the time, such as an interest in 'leveling' society and in phrenology, some humorous situations, much less blood and gore than might be expected in a naval book, and the moral that good and honest sometimes wins the day. If 'historical novels interest you, particularly the Hornblower books, try this one. I am now reading another Marryat book, The Children of The New Forest, which is a story of England in the times of Charles I and Cromwell, with a bit of Robin Hood about it. Once again, the good guys win.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Most of the way through, this would have been an easy 5 stars. But, then it kept going and going and going...so, 4 stars. Other than dragging out too long, this was so fun! Plenty of adventures at sea and on land, endearing characters, and interesting philosophical ideas to think about. I love his phrase, "Let us argue the point!" :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    John

    An odd book. A self styled "philosopher" with an odd philosophy joins the navy to spread the truth. What follows is one mad cap adventure after another. There is a story but frankly it reads as random events that happen to this guy. It's funny. What happens is so unbelievable that it's worth reading about. Yet it also is a serious look at the British navy and its problems. And it's also a discussion of life and how it's held together. If you enjoy stories of the open sea, you'll love this. It re An odd book. A self styled "philosopher" with an odd philosophy joins the navy to spread the truth. What follows is one mad cap adventure after another. There is a story but frankly it reads as random events that happen to this guy. It's funny. What happens is so unbelievable that it's worth reading about. Yet it also is a serious look at the British navy and its problems. And it's also a discussion of life and how it's held together. If you enjoy stories of the open sea, you'll love this. It reminded me a bit of The Pickwick Papers as the characters go from one ridiculous thing to the next.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Glen Raffel

    Entertaining work with a wry sense of humor. Became a bit preachy towards the end. Also need to get past the period racism and anti-Semitism to enjoy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Much enjoyed. The ideas held by Jack's father re. property held in common and challenging everything with argument are interesting and strangely modern. It's a bit of a shame when Jack repudiates these ideas and conforms. Also interesting is the concept of privateering which I wasn't aware of before. Ordinary seamen could become privateers which consisted of a kind of legalised piracy - attacking other ships, taking goods and money to finance future voyages. "Going on a cruise" also has new mean Much enjoyed. The ideas held by Jack's father re. property held in common and challenging everything with argument are interesting and strangely modern. It's a bit of a shame when Jack repudiates these ideas and conforms. Also interesting is the concept of privateering which I wasn't aware of before. Ordinary seamen could become privateers which consisted of a kind of legalised piracy - attacking other ships, taking goods and money to finance future voyages. "Going on a cruise" also has new meaning for me as being a holiday from the navy to have adventures condoned by senior officers. The book is great fun.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Deming

    This story is hilarious. Satire and fun all the way. Jack Easy isn't so easy as a youth and drives his parents to distraction. Quite an unruly boy with a phrenologist father who tries to judge character by reading bumps on the skull. Jack upsets the household, gets sent off for schooling with a preist who basically tries to beat some sense into him and then unruly Jack gets sent to sea in an attempt to get him some disciple and face the real world. This is farcical and fun all the way. Lot's of l This story is hilarious. Satire and fun all the way. Jack Easy isn't so easy as a youth and drives his parents to distraction. Quite an unruly boy with a phrenologist father who tries to judge character by reading bumps on the skull. Jack upsets the household, gets sent off for schooling with a preist who basically tries to beat some sense into him and then unruly Jack gets sent to sea in an attempt to get him some disciple and face the real world. This is farcical and fun all the way. Lot's of laughs!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.