O'Brian, Patrick Caesar

ISBN 13: 9780002259545

Caesar

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9780002259545: Caesar

Caesar is the first book ever written by Patrick O’Brian – made available, at last, for the first time since the 1930s.

Best-known for his acclaimed Aubrey-Maturin novels, HarperCollins is delighted to announce the republication of the first two books ever written by Patrick O’Brian – who is now widely recognized as our greatest living writer. Fans of Jack Aubrey and his elusive, intriguing friend and ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin just grow and grow in number.

Caesar was the first fictional being created by Patrick O’Brian and the first novel he published: he was 14 years old when he wrote it and 15 when it was published in 1930.

Caesar 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.

At the age of fourteen, suffering from chronic ill health, Patrick O’Brian set about creating a fictional character: the offspring of a male giant panda and a female snow leopard. ‘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 book’s dust jacket.

Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda Leopard was finished 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.’

In the autumn of 1930, the book was published in England and in the United States. Translations appeared in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Japan. O’Brian was hailed as the ‘boy-Thoreau’.

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Review:

‘Both books are full of the fantasy that has made O’Brian’s seafaring yarns such a success. Like them, they are full of engaging adventures, curious lore, fond descriptions of food and scenes of battle… Caesar makes delightful, often hilarious reading… Hussein is more sophisticated. Here fully thirty years before Master and Commander was published is the unmistakable texture of O’Brian’s historical fiction. Hussein has it all: the immersion in another world, full of local colour, the delight in a specialised vocabulary, the relish of male camaraderie, travel, treasure and fighting.’
David Sexton, Evening Standard

From the Back Cover:

'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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