Today’s post is a part of the Classics Circuit discussing Alexandre Dumas.
Somewhere around the age of thirteen, I fell in love with French classic novels. I devoured Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo; Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables; to name a few. I spent my summer lounging on my bed or out in the sun, immersed in the romance, the adventure, and the just downright FUN of reading these chunkster books. Just picture it. I was a short, skinny bean-pole of a girl with knock-knees, white as a lily skin, brace-faced teeth and was painfully shy, naive, and as ungraceful as they come. I was convinced that no boys would ever LOOK AT ME let alone want to romance me. I was reading stories of high adventure, death-defying daring-do, revenge, and romances that were instantaneous, passionate and lasting.
Can you see how I fell in love? Who needed BOYS? The added bonus of all the historical detail (even then, I loved history!) was just icing on the cake. And my all time favorite of all those French novels from long ago continues to be The Three Musketeers.
The Three Musketeers is set in the 17th century, during a fascinating time in French history. It follows the adventures of a young man from Gascony named d’Artagnan and his three Musketeer friends; Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. And, as you may know, they all live by the motto “All for one, and one for all!” Or, rather, “Tous pour un, un pour tous!”
I don’t know about most people, but my favorite character isn’t d’Artagnan. It is Athos; the Comte de la Fère. Perhaps it was because he is more of the father figure of the group, or maybe it’s because Keifer Sutherland played him in that Disney movie. Or maybe it’s because, at least for me, he’s such an ambivalent character. I was never *quite* sure whose side he was on and even then I was fascinated by such unreliable characters. It’s also likely it’s because he’s such a melancholy man, something even at thirteen I was familiar with. Mostly likely though, I think I found his relationship with Milady to be romantic, which is probably pretty twisted, but I still think his love was unrequited, as in, he still had feelings for her, even if he did want her dead.
Upon rereading it as an adult, I was surprised at how much I still loved it, and maybe hated it a bit too. I didn’t really notice, at 13, the horrible portrayals of women. Indeed, if they aren’t just plain stupid, they are evil, manipulative, and petty. I’m not sure that I liked one female character and was surprised to find myself rooting for Milady! Despite that though, I still enjoyed the adventure of the books; it’s my favorite thing about it. I have the rest of the the series; The Man in the Iron Mask, Twenty Years Later and The Vicomte de Braglionne: Ten Years Later but haven’t read them yet. Perhaps I will soon; I feel about ready for some more adventures with these guys.
The Three Musketeers
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Category: French Literature/Classic
Published by: Barnes & Noble
Format: Trade Paper
On Sale: December 2004
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