The Aubrey-Maturin novels depict historical events took place during Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the 19th century. O'Brian does not follow a strict chronological order depicting events from 1801-1813, and 1813-1814. The uniqueness is that O'Brian vividly portrays cultural and religious settings and values of the epoch, its historical significance and social traditions. Two main characters, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin may be compared in matters of general cultural background, including politics and religion, as well as in three key elements of natural philosophy: the anatomical emphasis on pre-adapted functional design, the treatment of extinction, and the belief in fixity rather than transformation. All of these topics help define Maturin's patterns of thinking as a naturalist and shed light on subtly significant moments within the novels. Maturin was educated among the philosophes of the French Enlightenment, but both men, Aubrey and Maturin, also maintained a political and religious conservatism that some people found incongruous (King, 2001).
The Aubrey-Maturin novels carry out the paradoxical process of instruction found in the most interesting historical fiction: at the same time they make readers conversant with ideas, tropes, and habits of an earlier world, they also perform the noble literary work of defamiliarization. ...Show more