Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

I've been busy reading the Captain Alatriste novels of Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte. I've been hearing of Perez-Reverte for years now; I think that his The Fencing Master was the first book review that made me want to investigate further. Anyway, Oleg Volk recently reviewed the books and the resulting movie, and pronounced them worthy, so I decided to plunge in; read the first one in the series, liked it, and quickly acquired all the others that have been published and translated into English. Part of the additional draw for me was my three years in Spain itself, being able to see many of the places described in the books: Seville, Cadiz, Sanlucar, Puerto de Santa Maria.

They are worthy books; Perez-Reverte speaks in aphorism at times, so I constantly find myself reaching for a highlighter pen:

In this Spain full of crooked, rapacious functionaries,you could get anything you liked, so long as you had stolen enough to pay for it.

I had once heard the captain say that the thing that helps a man die well is knowing that he had done all he can to avoid death.

Honor is a very complicated thing to acquire, difficult to preserve, and dangerous to sustain.

It is said, and it is very true, that the moment when vice becomes the custom marks the death of a republic, for the dissolute person ceases to be considered loathsome, and all baseness becomes normal.

...but there are things you must say when it is time to say them, or risk regretting it all your life. Although what one may later regret is having spoken at all.

...this was the custom of veteran soldiers, who establish escape routes before a combat, for when a bad card is dealt, there is not always sufficient time or clarity of judgment to make such useful appraisals.

But no one is in complete control of whom he hates or whom he loves.

I'll have to re-read the series again in the future, so as to highlight some more of these; I didn't realize at first that there would be so many of these scattered throughout the texts.

The series isn't yet complete; two proposed books remain unwritten, and one has yet to be translated. Hopefully Perez-Reverte, a man still in middle age, will find time to complete the series.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Sounds like I need to add him to the read list!