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G A Henty

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sun May 6th, 2012, 2:36 pm

my post was not imtended as a comparison between trease and henty. as you say different writers different eras different perspectives. only ive noticed that treases characters had more depth and flaws in their lives as compared to hentys perfect protagoists which makes treases characters more relatable i think. granted ive only read three books by each author but treases characters are conflicted and make mistakes and are even sometimes female which i havent seen in hentys characters yet. thats not to say im not enjoying hentys stuff. otherwise id not read any more. as i mentioned im findind hentys myrid of settings very interesting. i was just hoping for more descriptive writings from him.

SGM
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Post by SGM » Sun May 6th, 2012, 2:52 pm

[quote=""Kveto from Prague""]my post was not imtended as a comparison between trease and henty. as you say different writers different eras different perspectives. only ive noticed that treases characters had more depth and flaws in their lives as compared to hentys perfect protagoists which makes treases characters more relatable i think. granted ive only read three books by each author but treases characters are conflicted and make mistakes and are even sometimes female which i havent seen in hentys characters yet. thats not to say im not enjoying hentys stuff. otherwise id not read any more. as i mentioned im findind hentys myrid of settings very interesting. i was just hoping for more descriptive writings from him.[/quote]

Well let's face it, as 20th- and post-20th century readers, Trease is much more likely to correspond with our tastes. Henty was very much a Victorian writer (and apart from the obvious classics) most of those are completely unreadable by the modern readers-- and Henty's skill did not extend to the exaulted heights of "Classic". The fact that we can still read him at all says something.

i was merely asking for a rather more indepth analysis than the "Ra Ra British Empire" one that came up from somewhere else, that tends to be associated with Kipling or the "Boys Own" genre and onwards (although that is rather too simplistic an analysis of Kipling too). Henty was writing well before that era although he might well have continued later to have been read in that context.

We just need to take Henty for what he was -- a Victorian writer who rather surprisingly is still to some extent readable and covered an awful lot of different periods in history.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sun May 6th, 2012, 4:47 pm

[quote=""SGM""]Well let's face it, as 20th- and post-20th century readers, Trease is much more likely to correspond with our tastes. Henty was very much a Victorian writer (and apart from the obvious classics) most of those are completely unreadable by the modern readers-- and Henty's skill did not extend to the exaulted heights of "Classic". The fact that we can still read him at all says something.

i was merely asking for a rather more indepth analysis than the "Ra Ra British Empire" one that came up from somewhere else, that tends to be associated with Kipling or the "Boys Own" genre and onwards (although that is rather too simplistic an analysis of Kipling too). Henty was writing well before that era although he might well have continued later to have been read in that context.

We just need to take Henty for what he was -- a Victorian writer who rather surprisingly is still to some extent readable and covered an awful lot of different periods in history.[/quote]

Henty is certainly still readable. and ive specifically sought out non-empire books of Henty (jacobite exile is actually about the great northern war between sweden and russia) because I wanted to see his take on other events. Ive read enough "boys own" to see that Henty is not that simplistic.

(speaking of "boys own" one of my favourite examples. Long ago I read a book, cab't remember the author, but it concerned Hannibal and Scipio Africannus. The author hillariously made a point of there being something particularly "british" in Scipio's character :-) . Ive just always had a laugh at that.)

As I find little to relate to in modern fiction, I don't think its just living in the 20th century that makes Trease more relatable. I prefer Harold Lamb to Trease, and Lamb is from a much earlier period. I think it has more to do with characterization. Henty just needed more neuance to his characters to make them more memorable (of course Im reading in freedoms cause now and the hero Archie seems to have a bit more depth than other heros, although he is still ridiculously competent in all things, has no fear and emerges from every fight with nary a scratch :-)

In one way, Henty reminds me of Frank Yerby. Yerby touched on many periods, had riproaring adventures and was quite spare in his descriptions of action/battles/scenery/emotion, etc. Yerby and Henty never really comment on the difficulty of travelling round in their eras. I once missed out a sentence in a Yerby novel and the hero had moved from southern Italy to France in that sentence. Similarly, in "in freedom's cause", robert the Bruces dramatic ride from London to Scotland took all of a sentence as well. (To be fair, there was a very dramatic boat/storm scene to make up for it later)

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Post by SGM » Sun May 6th, 2012, 9:59 pm

[quote=""Kveto from Prague""]
. I prefer Harold Lamb to Trease, and Lamb is from a much earlier period. I think it has more to do with well)[/quote]

Yes but Harold Lamb is a better writer and is more of his time (20th-century). He is after all only ten years older than Trease. Henty is merely a Victorian writer who covered an awful lot of historical ground and has survived slightly better than some of his contemporaries.
Last edited by SGM on Mon May 7th, 2012, 8:59 am, edited 2 times in total.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sat January 5th, 2013, 3:20 pm

this was kind of the year of Henty for me with my kindle so I thought I'd try ranking them. I'd often find myself racing into a story based on the subject matter then getting slogged down at some point. I've ranked them from worst to best.


6. Knight of the White Cross (Knights Hospitallter)

Usual Henty fare. the hero is far too young and competent. they put him in charge of a galley at age 18.

the annoying thing is that in a henty novel he spends so much time having characters recite the exploits of the main character over and over again. Just so the protagonist can be all modest about it. it gets really annoying.

but the adventure is decent.



5. A Jacobite Exile (Great Northern war)

It's a pity that Henty wasn't a very good writer, because his choice of subject matter is his strongest suit. A young English Jacobite is exiled to Sweden in about 1697 or so. He joins up with the ultimate soldier, Charles the 12th of Sweden and later his arch rival Peter the great.

The trouble is Henty's characters are so one dimentional, even for a kids' book. His battle scenes read like a description from a text book. His hero Charlie is basically good at everything, he gets a sabre wound to the shoulder which serves only to introduce him to a doctor character, then the grevious wound is never mentioned again.

I can only recommend this if you are interested to read something about Charles the 12th.

4. true to the old Flag (American revolution)

ok Henty fare. You probably won't read many books written from the loyalist perspective in the American revolutionary war. About half of the book is taken up with battle statistics as Henty makes his case that the English (he uses this term rather than British) were superior to the Americans in almost every way but numbers, although he states there were many more loyalists than rebels.
Still its refreshing to see things from the other side, especially that Henty doesn't downplay American soldiers' brutality during the conflict.


3. Through the Fray (Luddite Rebellion)

A bit better. A nice picture of the school system of the time. Unfortunately, Henty doesn't really explore the problems that the Luddites were rebelling against. They seem little more than lower-class rable-rowsers who harass our young (monied) hero.



2. A Roving Commision (Haiti)

A lot of readers might be turned off by the very un-PC nature of this book, which covers the black slave uprising against french plantation owners in Haiti round about 1789. However, you will be missing out on a pretty good aventure book if you do so. The hero is a typical remarkably competent Henty boy, Nat, who is likeable. He saves a French family from the slaves and goes on several naval adventures in the Carribian. The book pulls few punches, discussing the slaughter of French families and retailiation by the soldiers. It presents some positive black characters, like a loyal maid and the future dictator of Haiti, Tolusse. Sadly, the novel ends on the poverty and tragedy that the revolution and poor governence that followed inflicted on the island, something unfortunately still true today as in Henty's day.


1. In Freedom's Cause (Bruce and Wallace)
the best henty ive read so far. i was curious which side, english or scots,henty would choose. he has no problem relating english atrocities to the scots and even points out how scotland was a much more civilized country than england. also the hero archie is somewhat interesting. like all henty protagonists he is far too competent to be relatable.




books i havent finished:

Girl of the Commune (Paris commune)

I'm only halfway through this one and not sure if I\'ll finish it. Henty is at his worst when writing about anything class related. He just can\'t help but see the lower classes with nothing but contempt and rabble-rousers. In an almost ironic twist his hero constantly looks down on the French for their revolutionary tendencies. Why can't they be like proper Englishmen and just do as they're told? Henty would not see any irony in this, sadly.

I'm gonna stay away from any Henty books dealing with social issues. After the Luddite story and now this one I have learnt my lesson.

Among Malay Pirates

Seems a decent adventure read.



Anyway, overall I'm still interested in Henty. He obviously really loved history in many eras and I have a lot of his books on my kindle. I think I'll probably start the books searching for gems like "In freedom's cause" and "Roving commision", but not be afraid to give up if the books don't look like they will be so good.

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