Books: Ha-h'm

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HORATIO HORNBLOWER by C. Northcote Parkinson. 304 pages. Little, Brown. $6.95.

Unlike their more evanescent brothers of the flesh, the great figures of fiction are not covered by the laws of libel. Did not Sherlock Holmes admirers helplessly endure odious allegations asserting that Dr. Watson was a woman? Accordingly, anyone fond of Midshipman, Lieutenant, Captain, Commodore or Admiral Horatio Hornblower naturally approaches this new biography with suspicion. Will Britain's second greatest seaman, one wonders, be spuriously presented, for example, as a Hermaphrodite Brig? Or Nelson's long-lost younger brother?...

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