ERIC Number: ED382982
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Good Guys Finish Last: "Tom Brown's School Days" and "Flashman."
Riga, Frank P.
Instructors and students of literature should look to George McDonald Fraser's "Flashman: From the Flashman Papers, 1839-1842" for a clever critique of 19th-century notions of character, virtue, and moral teleology. Written to criticize Thomas Hughes's famous 19th-century novel, "Tom Brown's School Days," Fraser's 20th-century novel turns on end the Victorian assumption that courage, virtue, fortitude and leadership, as taught in the English schools, lead to good deeds and success in the real world. In Fraser's novel, Harry Flashman, the rogue and scoundrel from "Tom Brown's School Days," tells his side of the story through some papers that fall into the fictive narrator/editor's hands. Far from the failure "Tom Brown's School Day's" suggests he will grow up to be, Flashman, with none of the qualities needed for success, has acquired four inches of meritorious accomplishments in "Who's Who." In his old age, Flashman goes about explaining the discrepancy between his public image as a heroic soldier and his private notion of himself as cheat and fraud. He has no use for military character. By giving the reader an engaging and humorous rogue for a hero and narrator, Fraser can look at the history of the 19th century with the caustic vision and cutting satire associated with picaresque realism. (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Flashman (Fraser); Historical Background; Tom Browns School Days; Victorian Period
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Joint Meeting of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (Philadelphia, PA, April 12-15, 1995).