Caesar is a tale of survival, love, and loyalty, by a young O’Brian who was rightly hailed, even at fifteen, as the ‘boy-Thoreau’. The fascinating career of the literary genius behind Aubrey-Maturin began here.
‘I dimly felt sorry that I had needlessly killed these two useless things, for though I was hungry I could not bring myself to eat these smelly men.’
Written when Patrick O’Brian was just fourteen, this is the enchanting, bloodthirsty story of Caesar – whose father was a giant panda, but his mother a snow leopard. With the dry wit and unsentimental precision O’Brian would come to be loved for, we see the tragedies of Caesar’s childhood, his capture and taming, and finally his rise to fatherhood under the iron rule of human masters.
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‘Full of the fantasy that has made O’Brian’s seafaring yarns such a success. Caesar is full of engaging adventures, curious lore, fond descriptions of food and scenes of battle… and delightful, often hilarious reading.’
David Sexton, Evening Standard
‘We can see here a true storyteller in the making.’
JULIET TOWNSEND, Literary Review
‘A delightful story told in the first person by an unlikely hybrid panda-cum-leopard. Sustained and well-written… ['Ceasar'] highlights the foundations of O'Brian's mastery of writing, his value far beyond that of a historical novelist.’
MARTIN BOOTH, Daily Telegraph
‘O'Brian admirers can now appreciate another dimension to his writing’
ALEX O'CONNELL, The Times
'Caesar' was Patrick O'Brian's first novel. At the age of fourteen, suffering from chronic ill health, he sets about creating his first fictional character. 'I did it mostly in my bedroom, and a little when I should have been doing homework,' he confessed in a note on his first dust-jacket. It tells the picaresque and enchanting, if bloodthirsty, story of Caesar – whose father was a giant panda and whose mother was a snow leopard. It tells of his life as a cub, his first exploits hunting, his first encounters with man, his capture and taming.
'Caesar: The Life of a Panda Leopard' was published in March 1930, three months after his fifteenth birthday, but the dry wit and unsentimental precision O'Brian's readers savour is already in evidence. Caesar furiously mauls two shepherds, then suddenly laments, with utter sangfroid, 'I dimly felt sorry that I had needlessly killed these two useless things, for though I was hungry I could not bring myself to eat these smelly men.' 'Caesar' combines Stephen Maturin's dry wit and encyclopaedic knowledge of natural history with all the sanguinary charm of the 'Jungle Book'. It was an instant success: translations appeared in Sweden, Denmark and Japan and O'Brien was hailed as the 'boy-Thoreau'.
A delightful book, 'Caesar' bears the unmistakable signs of O'Brian's genius for story-telling; all admirers of his writing will be enthralled.
'We can see here a true storyteller in the making. There is the sheer zest of setting down a gripping narrative, which holds the reader's attention and never flags, and an endless fertility of invention. Never did heroes, human or animal, lead more eventful lives.
JULIET TOWNESEND, 'Literary Review'
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Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780006513735 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0980790