The Horatio Stubbs Trilogy
Part of the Brian Aldiss Collection
The Horatio Stubbs Trilogy comprises:
The Hand-Reared Boy
A Soldier Erect
A Rude Awakening
Introduction to The Horatio Stubbs Trilogy
1. The Hand-Reared Boy
2. A Soldier Erect
3. A Rude Awakening
About the Author
About the Publisher
INTRODUCTION TO THE HORATIO STUBBS TRILOGY
This trio of volumes was published between 1970 and 1978. Its use of coarse language, masturbation, prostitution and sexual intercourse marks it out as a work appearing after – perhaps, only able to appear after – the famous trial of D. H. Laurence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the 1960’s.
I had tried to deal with some of this tropical material before the Chatterley trial, in a novel I entitled Hunter Leaves the Herd. In this novel, a British soldier in Sumatra is offered a woman and a comfortable life in a kampong in exchange for deserting the army and joining the opposing side, bringing with him rifles and a load of ammunition. A similar event occurred while I was serving in Sumatra. However, I was unable to proceed with the story because it was too full of ‘obscenities’. My soldiers were not permitted to talk as real soldiers talked. I had to shelve the project.
All three Stubbs volumes were well received, although A Rude Awakening appeared rather tardily after the two earlier volumes. Of the volumes, A Rude Awakening is possibly my favourite. The humour is better grounded than in the others. As a writer I had become more experienced.
My closest interests at the time of writing these books included history, particularly contemporary history, as well as the science and science fiction for which I was better known. Later would come Walcot, a large one-volume story of the war against Nazi Germany and what followed.
My life in Sumatra was unlike Stubbs’s. I was given a theatre to manage and to decorate with large cartoon murals. Two sepoys helped me to keep the place clean. I had a charming Chinese lover, and life could hardly have been better. Indeed, when I returned to England and demobilisation I found life to be considerably worse!
Ah, how those of us exiled in the hardships, real or imaginary, of the East felt…
We were stationed in Madras, preparing for an assault on Japanese-held Malaya, when a sergeant came along and said simply, ‘Right, you men. War in Europe’s over. Break off for a smoke…’
All told, then, these three volumes stand as a kind of memorial, both to my writing life and, rather more importantly, to that distressing period when the British Empire was having to close its doors for business.
Table of Contents
I was once travelling on a London bus. The young woman sitting opposite me was reading a book. It took me some time to realise it was my novel she had in her dainty hands!
Such occurrences are rare – rare and startling. You are never sure that real people will read your books. On another occasion, I was travelling with my children on a ferry to Gothenburg in Sweden. The boys discovered there was a chap with his girlfriend sitting on the upper deck reading Hothouse. The girl kept talking to him, breaking his concentration. My sons were genuinely cross with her!
This girl on the bus was about to get off the bus. I followed her and tried to strike up what one might call an acquaintance. She would have nothing to do with it. All the same, I realised the connection between real people, the real world, and the books I wrote.
… Later, I met a young woman who preferred masturbation to actual intercourse.
Although I have received many abusive – if not self-abusive – letters from readers, I felt and still feel I had hit upon a popular and real hobby in The Hand-Reared Boy.
Recently an American reader remarked that ‘If God had not wanted us to masturbate, he would have given us shorter arms.’
‘Extremely funny, genuinely erotic.’ was the verdict of the TLS to The Hand-Reared Boy. With that, I tended to rest my case.
The protagonist is key, and the name Horatio Stubbs held resonance for me. Was it quintessentially English? Horatio, fine – as in Horatio Nelson. As for Stubbs, Professor Stubbs was the editor of many old English charters, while one of the painters I most admired was George Stubbs, the 18th-century artist with a preference for painting horses.
Who could be more English than that?
ON the one occasion that Sister Traven came to tea with us we were all in confusion beforehand, and my mother was the organizer of the confusion.
She darted here and flounced there, using what she called The Light Touch to bring me or Beatrice to heel – that is, saying in a Tone of Charm something more acceptable delivered in an ordinary voice. ‘No, Beatrice, dear, I think we won’t have our ordinary serviettes, if you don’t mind. Let’s have some of the special ones, shall we, the paper ones, out of the bottom drawer of the sideboard. Or I’ll get them, shall I? I’d better get them!’
Beatrice was not ruffled. She had been our maid for several years and was used to Mother’s ways. She was now married and no longer ‘living in’, but she still came in the mornings, when an older married sister looked after her increasing number of children. Today she was obliging and coming in the afternoon also, as she did on these special occasions. Among the alarms of setting the tea table I watched her with interest. A rather ordinary СКАЧАТЬ