No more Flashman.
January 3, 2008 5:03 PM   Subscribe

George MacDonald Fraser, R.I.P. I fear this means we'll never know just what Harry Flashman did at the Battle of Gettysburg and elsewhere during the American Civil War. His creator died on Wednesday at the age of 82. He leaves behind a large body of work, and dedicated bands of followers. Previously.
posted by Man-Thing (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
. and :(

The Flashman books really bonded my Dad and I together in during my moody High School years. I can't imagine what would be more effective at uniting a Father and a teenage Son than education, rebellion, and a heavy dose of sex packaged into a paperback.
posted by aburd at 5:18 PM on January 3, 2008


I love the Flashman books as much as I once loved the Lord of the Rings, and that's saying something. R.I.P., Flash Harry.
posted by e.e. coli at 5:44 PM on January 3, 2008

posted by Billegible at 5:46 PM on January 3, 2008

Crap. I'd forgotten how funny those were.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:13 PM on January 3, 2008

awww, I adored reading about that hawt Flashman cad of his creation. Had fights with an otherwise intelligent and educated ex-boyfriend who insisted these were not novels but a real story. George MacDonald Fraser's wonderful, juicy, totally readable books brought me years of pleasure. Winter after winter, a whole passel of hippies living up on the Indo-Tibetan border village of Manali were kept snuggled up in their sleeping bags around wood burning stoves in local houses reading his books, while all around the snow covered the Himalayan mountains.

His death makes me want to send emails to all the living authors whose work I've enjoyed.

Glad he had a long and good, full and interesting life. Condolences to his wife, Kathy, three children and grandchildren.
posted by nickyskye at 6:15 PM on January 3, 2008

Quartered safe out there now.
posted by Abiezer at 6:17 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Damn. :(
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:24 PM on January 3, 2008

Having never heard of Flashman, I now he the inspiration for Rik Mayall's Lord ("WOOF!") Flashheart characters in two Blackadder series episodes? I look forward to discovering more about Fraser's work, but it saddens me that it takes his passing to bring Harry Flashman into my little world.
posted by bonobo at 6:34 PM on January 3, 2008

bonobo -- Flashman does not bear much relationship to Lord Flashheart ("I give a chair an orgasm by sitting in it"), very funny as that character is. But you must by all means check out the Flashman novels, they are superb. (Strangely enough, Fraser's two novels based on his own actual military experience -- "The General Danced at Dawn" is one of them -- are not too interesting in comparison to the deathless Flashy.) The non-Flashman "Pyrates" is also very good, as (of course) are the Fraser-penned Three Musketeers films directed by Richard Lester.
posted by Faze at 6:50 PM on January 3, 2008

I still don't know how I ended up buying my first Flashman book, but I remember being knocked out not just by the story and characters, but by the exhaustively researched endnotes. Of course, I devoured the rest of the series like crack-coated peanuts after that.
posted by maudlin at 7:14 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Aburd - my experience was identical. The Flashman books were quite the male tradition in my family.
posted by tkchrist at 8:11 PM on January 3, 2008

posted by Verdant at 8:17 PM on January 3, 2008


One of my history profs introduced me to the Flashman series, saying, "These are good historical novels. Fraser gets the history right." Though he admitted that, considering Flashman's sexual statistics, ol' Flashy really ought to have contracted syphilis early in his adventures. I haven't read the books for yaers, but I remember one line (can't remember from which book) where Flashman, observing the antics of a young horny colleague, says something like "It reminded me of my own youthful indiscretions, when every coupling began with an eager stagger across the floor with one's trousers around one's ankles." And the scenes with Ravalona, the mad queen of Madagascar.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:40 PM on January 3, 2008

i am always surprised and delighted when i discover there is yet another flashman book i have not yet read. now i know there will be a finite end.

rip to one of the best.
posted by altman at 10:10 PM on January 3, 2008

posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:58 PM on January 3, 2008

Shakespeare's Sister on GWF and Flashman. And Terry Pratchett is a fan, too.
posted by maudlin at 11:29 PM on January 3, 2008

GWMF. Damn.
posted by maudlin at 11:30 PM on January 3, 2008

Am now sad.

posted by YouRebelScum at 2:28 AM on January 4, 2008

I hate that time period, and I still couldn't resist them. I detest horny, superior men, yet I must read Flashman.

Damned talented man, Fraser.
posted by QIbHom at 5:58 AM on January 4, 2008

I love the Flashman books, but my introduction to Fraser came via The General Danced at Dawn. I read those stories over and over again as a teenager. I think it's time to read them again.
posted by maurice at 6:24 AM on January 4, 2008


Truly sad news, Fraser was one of a kind and I am heartbroken that we will never get to the other events that Flashman often hinted at, such as Gettysburg. I think my favorite will always be Flashman at the Charge but they're all great. My favorite anti-hero in all of literature.
posted by Ber at 7:08 AM on January 4, 2008

I was introduced to him via The Pyrates, which is page for page my favorite fictional book on pirates. I am just now discovering he also wrote the screenplay for Octopussy, and this small quote: "George was educated at Carlisle Grammar School and Glasgow Academy, where his performance as Laertes was distinguished by his unscripted defeat of Hamlet in the pair’s duel" and comparatively my life seems all the duller.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:22 AM on January 4, 2008

I'm pretty sure that I was introduced to Flashman by metafilter - I think there was an ask.mefi thread a few years back about good historical novels. I've been putting off Flashman and the Angel of the Lord, since it's the only one I have left. Now I know it's the only one I'll ever have left. How sad.


I prefer the early ones, since Flashman is more obviously craven in those. In later novels, it's clear that Frasier is finding it hard to have a cowardly soldier as a protagonist. And the footnotes become more and more Frasier's justification for the British Empire, which begins to grate (Flashman and the Dragon is especially obnoxious in this regard). Minor quibbles, though - the books are fantastic. And thank you metafilter for introducing me to them!
posted by bonecrusher at 8:16 AM on January 4, 2008

Boo. I really love the Flashman series.

Now to whom will I send my excruciatingly detailed Flashman/Fletch slashfics?

(Fletch has a time machine, you see.)


posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:34 AM on January 4, 2008

P.G. Wodehouse, who thought Fraser "the goods", on the first Flashman book:

"Now I understand what that ‘when a new planet swims into his ken’ excitement is all about."

I nourish the hope that there were at least some notes for the civil war years. Even if a lesser writer gets the task of cobbling up a story (and publishing being what it is, that's all too possible), we would at least know what happened.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:46 AM on January 4, 2008

Had fights with an otherwise intelligent and educated ex-boyfriend who insisted these were not novels but a real story.

(I've at least once found them in the history section of otherwise intelligent bookshops. Foolish customer helping out? Foolish staff? Witty customer or staff? I shall never know.)
posted by IndigoJones at 9:50 AM on January 4, 2008

Oh, this is sad news. I love those books, and really admired Fraser's voluminous and always entertaining output.
posted by GriffX at 9:58 AM on January 4, 2008

Oh and by the way- his American publisher (Random House only noted his passing ("in 2008) within the past hour.

His British publisher (Harper Collins) appears not to have read the papers.

Shameful, that.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:47 AM on January 4, 2008

I've never read any of the books, but wasn't Flashman's creator actually Thomas Hughes, author of Tom Brown's Schooldays?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:28 PM on January 4, 2008

Yes, PeterMcDermott. Which is part of the joke.

Besides, Fraser took a one-dimensional small time bully, and created art. Eat your heart out, Andrew Dice Clay.
posted by QIbHom at 6:16 PM on January 4, 2008

Fraser took a one-dimensional small time bully, and created art.

Much like Tom Stoppard had done three years before the first Flashman book (1969) with Hamlet’s minor characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Both fantastic achievements. I too like the earliest books the best, when Sir Harry was at his most craven and cowardly. In fact, I didn’t realize the series had continued on into the 1990s and even 2000s.

I also can’t help but think that the way for Flashman was paved by almost my favorite novel of all time, Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man (1964). Anyway, thanks for the post, Mr. Thing. It reminds me I’ve got another four or five Flashman books left to read, a happy thought despite this sad news.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:29 PM on January 4, 2008

posted by jlbartosa at 9:41 PM on January 6, 2008

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