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The Three Musketeers ()

Orrin's All-Time Top Ten List - Novels

    'My son,' said the old Gascon gentleman, in that pure Béarn patois of which Henry IV could
    never rid himself, 'this horse was born in the house of your father about thirteen years ago, and has
    remained in it ever since, which ought to make you love it. Never sell it; allow it to die tranquilly
    and honorably of old age, and if you make a campaign with it, take as much care of it as you would
    of an old servant. At court, provided you have ever the honor to go there,' continued M.
    DíArtagnan the elder, '--an honor to which, remember, your ancient nobility gives you the
    right--sustain worthily your name of gentleman, which has been worthily borne by your ancestors
    for five hundred years, both for your own sake and the sake of those who belong to you. By the
    latter I mean your relatives and friends. Endure nothing from anyone except Monsieur the Cardinal
    and the king. It is by his courage, please observe, by his courage alone, that a gentleman can make
    his way nowadays. Whoever hesitates for a second perhaps allows the bait to escape which during
    that exact second fortune held out to him. You are young. You ought to be brave for two reasons:
    the first is that you are a Gascon, and the second is that you are my son. Never fear quarrels, but
    seek adventures. I have taught you how to handle a sword; you have thews of iron, a wrist of steel.
    Fight on all occasions. Fight the more for duels being forbidden, since consequently there is twice
    as much courage in fighting. I have nothing to give you, my son, but fifteen crowns, my horse, and
    the counsels you have just heard. Your mother will add to them a recipe for a certain balsam, which
    she had from a Bohemian and which has the miraculous virtue of curing all wounds that do not
    reach the heart. Take advantage of all, and live happily and long. I have but one word to add, and
    that is to propose an example to you-- not mine, for I myself have never appeared at court, and
    have only taken part in religious wars as a volunteer; I speak of Monsieur de Tréville, who was
    formerly my neighbor, and who had the honor to be, as a child, the play-fellow of our king, Louis
    XIII, whom God preserve! Sometimes their play degenerated into battles, and in these battles the
    king was not always the stronger. The blows which he received increased greatly his esteem and
    friendship for Monsieur de Tréville. Afterward, Monsieur de Tréville fought with others: in his first
    journey to Paris, five times; from the death of the late king till the young one came of age, without
    reckoning wars and sieges, seven times; and from that date up to the present day, a hundred times,
    perhaps! So that in spite of edicts, ordinances, and decrees, there he is, captain of the Musketeers;
    that is to say, chief of a legion of Caesars, whom the king holds in great esteem and whom the
    Cardinal dreads--he who dreads nothing, as it is said. Still further, Monsieur de Tréville gains ten
    thousand crowns a year; he is therefore a great noble. He began as you begin. Go to him with this
    letter, and make him your model in order that you may do as he has done.'

    Upon which M. DíArtagnan the elder girded his own sword round his son, kissed him tenderly on
    both cheeks, and gave him his benediction.
        -The Three Musketeers

Like every boy, I'm sure, I grew up addicted to swashbucklers.  Pretty much all you had to do was put a sword in a book or movie and you had me hooked.  Of course, the greatest of all these tales of derring-do was The Three Musketeers.  But there are so many abridged versions, bad translations, comic book and juvenile versions, that beyond the "all for one, one for all" motto, you never knew what kind of story you were going to get when you picked up a book or sat down for a movie.  Which is why it was such a revelation when our Mom took my little brother and me and two neighbor's kids to see the Richard Lester film version in 1973.  The movie--with a screenplay by the novelist George MacDonald Fraser, creator of the very amusing Flashman series of books--was not only a faithful adaptation, it was also funny and sexy, but without ever losing track of great themes of the book : honor, duty, loyalty, friendship.  It's almost thirty years ago now, but I remember, as if it were yesterday, racing out of the theatre and fake swordfighting our way to the car.    The movie had been so different from what we were used to having presented to us, that I found an unabridged version and read it; and, lo and behold, it was just as much fun as the movie.  Though it does darken considerably toward the end, as does the movie sequel, The Four Musketeers.  But it had everything--swords, duels, political manuevering, treachery, loyalty, sacrifice, love, comedy, villains, heroes, kings, queens, commoners, rescues, escapes, revenge,...--everything you could want to get a twelve-year-old's heart racing (or a man-of-forty's).  Of such experiences are our love affairs with great literature made.

If you have been so unfortunate in your life as to never have read The Three Musketeers, do so now.  If you've read it before, but not in awhile, it's time to read it again.  If you just finished reading it, time to move on to the rest of the series.


Grade: (A+)


Book-related and General Links:
    -Alexandre Dumas (sr.) (1802-1870) - known as Dumas père  (kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA :  "Alexandre Dumas"
    -PHOTO : Nadar [Gaspard-Félix Tournachon] (French, 1820-1910). Salted paper print from wet collodion negative, 1855 (The Cleveland Museum of Art)
    -ETEXT : The Three Musketeers
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : The Three Musketeers  by Alexandre Dumas (SparkNote by James Carmichael)
    -The Alexandre Dumas père Web Site
    -FireBlade Coffeehouse: Alexandre Dumas
    -Alexandre Dumas, Two Centuries of Living Literature :  a website devoted to the author
    -Alexandre Dumas père (Legends : Swashbucklers & Fops)
    -Alexandre Dumas (Ex Libris Archives)
    -ESSAY: The real three musketeers: the historical Athos, Porthos and Aramis (and d’Artagnan) revealed: The musketeers, made famous by Alexandre Dumas and the many films his stories inspired, are the most well-known of the regiments of ancien regime France. Moreover, the heroes of Dumas’s stories – d’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis – have real historical counterparts too. (Dr Josephine Wilkinson, 4/09/22, History Extra)
    -ESSAY : A GOSSIP ON A NOVEL OF DUMAS'S (Robert Louis Stevenson)
    -ESSAY : The life and resurrection of Alexandre Dumas  (Smithsonian, July 1996)
    -ARCHIVES : "alexandre dumas" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : "alexandre dumas" (Mag Portal)
    -ARCHIVES : "alexandre dumas" (NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW : of Alexandre Dumas Genius of Life By Claude Schopp (JOHN GROSS, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of ALEXANDRE DUMAS: Genius of Life. By Claude Schopp. Translated by A. J. Koch. (OLIVER CONANT, NY Times Book Review)

    -FILMOGRAPHY : Alexandre Dumas pere (Imdb)
    -INFO : Three Musketeers (1973) (Imdb)
    -BUY IT : Three Musketeers (1973) DVD (
    -INFO : Four Musketeers (1974) (Imdb)
    -BUY IT : Four Musketeers (1974) DVD (
    -INFO : Queen Margot (1994) (Imdb)

    -REVIEW : The chief executive wore red Noel Malcolm reviews Cardinal Richelieu and the Making of France by Anthony Levi  (booksonline uk)

Camille : The Lady of the Camellias (1848) (Alexandre Dumas fils  1824-95)

    -Alexandre Dumas (jr.) (1824-1895) - known as Dumas fils   (kirjasto)
    -ESSAY : Dumas "fils"  (Louis Auchincloss, New Criterion)

    -FILMOGRAPHY : Alexandre Dumas fils (Imdb)
    -FILM REVIEW: The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)