I have to wonder: are Sabatini fans divided between, say, Captain Blood persons and Scaramouche persons? Just one of those entirely irrelevant questions – and after all, I am a Sabatini fan, without feeling the least compulsion to be either sort of person…
So, never mind – and let us remark instead that yesterday would have been the 140th birthday of Rafael Sabatini, the author of historical adventure in the Twenties, Thirties and Forties. Actually, his career was much longer – he published his first novel in 1902 – but true success took two decades to happen, with Scaramouche, followed by Captain Blood, and Bellarion the Fortunate, and so on and so on for nearly thirty years.
This means that, if you are into the genre, there is a wealth of novels and short stories ranging from good to really great. At its best, Sabatini’s work is first-rate historical adventure: colourful, sparkling tales of derring-do, with engaging characters, sparkling dialogue, a sense of humour, swordplay galore, a wonderful sense of the time-period, and the general feel of those long-ago, breathless afternoons of make-believe – you know what I mean.
Perfect, but perfect summer books.
Plus, there is the fact that Sabatini was not a native speaker. He was half-Italian, and a polyglot since childhood, but didn’t become really fluent in English until his late teens, when he went to live in England permanently. After which, he proceeded to become a writer – and a very popular and beloved one, at that. For obvious (and more than a mite wishful) reasons, I find his story very, very inspirational.
So, let us all wish Mr. Sabatini a belated happy birthday – and, on the chance that I have managed to make you curious, here is a dedicated website with biographical notes, illustrations and reviews, and you can find a good deal of his novels, stories and historical non-fiction at Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive.