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A light goes out

Diminishing the world’s supply of zest, George MacDonald Fraser has died at 82.

Mr. Fraser was the creator of the Flashman series of comic historical novels. His great creation, Harry Paget Flashman, womanizer, reprobate and blowhard whose cowardice is invariably mistaken for heroism. Flashman shows up at many of the great events of the 19th century; at the Battle of Balaclava, for example, he rides with the Light Brigade. He is at the Indian Mutiny and the Afghan frontier, etc. etc. He is as admirable and appealing a character as only a thoroughgoing scoundrel can be.

Flashman is the narrator of all his adventures, purportedly written in retirement at an advanced age. In one of the stories in Flashman and the Tiger (1999), he resigns himself to the end of adventurism — both the military and sexual forms — and prepares to devote himself to “booze, baccy and books.”

Not a bad trio of consolations. Not a bad retirement plan. I hope that Mr. Fraser was able to enjoy them fully.



Posted by John McIntyre at 12:54 PM | | Comments (1)


A first-rate historian and an incredibly talented writer.

He will be missed.

Aside from the Flashman books, which I enthusiastically recommend, he wrote The Steel Bonnets (a great history of the border reivers) and the McAuslan stories, fictionalized accounts of his service in the Gordon Highlanders.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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