Time, Tide and Narrative: Adapting Chronology in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.


  • Jeremy Strong University of West London


This paper is concerned with the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and with the book – or more accurately – books from which it is adapted. The film’s source material comes from novelist Patrick O’Brian who, between 1969 and his death in 2000, wrote 20 completed novels, plus one unfinished work. While no single text manifests a glaring temporal anomaly, taken as a whole it is apparent that numerous factors including the age of characters, aspects of their backstory, and especially the cumulative duration of several epic sea journeys do not cohere. It is not the object of this paper to treat this distortion as a failure. Rather, it is to focus on how the single screen adaptation engages with this aspect of its literary predecessors.