Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (pere)

Title: The Three Musketeers
Author: Alexandre Dumas, pere
Publisher: Century eBooks (2012) Originally serialized March to July 1844 in Le Siecle

We do a lot of older books in our series but we’re hanging out in the way, WAY back machine this month. I had a hankering to read some Dumas so I threw out a couple of titles. It wasn’t until I actually started re-reading The Three Musketeers that I recalled I’m not the biggest fan of this particular Dumas and I don’t think I’ve previously ever actually made it to the end. I’m curious to hear what Michael thought of it. I have to say my Dumas of re-reading choice is The Count of Monte Cristo. But, even if I’m reading a Dumas that’s not a fave I still enjoy their larger than life vitality and my preoccupied musings on the author himself.

For those that are new to our monthly series, this is when Michael reviews a film adapted from a book which gets a review here.

Click here for Michael's film review of The Three Musketeers 
at It Rains... You Get Wet

Seriously, though, if you don’t know a lot about Alexandre Dumas, pere I highly recommend doing a bit of reading. You can start with everyone’s favorite Wikipedia or go here or here or here. And if, in your reading, you notice a mention of his father, a General in the French army, rest assured his story is pretty compelling, too. (And you can read about it in this great book that I never lose a chance to recommend.)

Whoa? This won a Pulitzer? Guess I got my copy before that happened.


But what about those musketeers? Well, as with many of Dumas’ novels they’ve been translated into about a 100 languages and are very popular in many English speaking countries. Film adaptations come out on the regular and playwrights adapt it as well (Dumas was a playwright before he was a novelist so I wonder if he ever adapted his own work for the stage?), but I’ll still include a synopsis. D’Artagnan is a hot-headed, talented youth who sets out for the city with very little outside of his embarrassing mount (quickly sold), his father’s axioms, and his mother’s cure-all recipe for injuries (liberally applied). Turns out all a bold, resourceful person needs is those few items and before you know it you’ll be making friends with those you were previously meant to duel. After offending the titular musketeers one right after the other, he becomes fast friends with them after getting to kill some of the Cardinal’s guards (The Cardinal is our resident baddie.). D'Artagnan and his new friends then get up to all sorts of hijinks in the midst of court and international intrigue.

So while it's not my favorite it is hard to resist the charm of characters who feel compelled to sword fight over a shoulder jostle. The plot twists around with fun cliffhangers and the baddies are sinister enough to satisfy and provide a good counter to the heroes. It's a fun, swashbuckling tale but there's real depth to be found, as well. It's what makes Dumas so easy to come back to again and again. Fun and humor are always there but so is something to really bite into.

Not to mention those quietly genius lines

Monsieur, I love men of your kidney... 

Let us say in passing that he had changed his baldric and relinquished his cloak.

"Oh, good lord," cried Porthos, "what precautions for the study of theology!"

Definitely give this one a go but don't stop here. Make sure you give Dumas a solid perusal. 

Now about that movie... Don't forget to check out Michael's post. 

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Coming up next:  
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why lie when the truth would do?

I was really excited to see The Eagle Huntress doco, and with good reason. As it turns out, Aisholpan and her family are immensely charming and lovely to spend time with. Their support for each other is inspiring and the young Aisholpan's hard work and dedication would encourage anyone to follow their dreams. I was even more interested in the fact that she was, as purported by the synopsis, the first woman to participate in the eagle hunting tradition of her family and nation.

Imagine my surprise when it turns out that wasn't true. And, moreover, that the truth is just as good if not better than the fiction the doco makers felt they needed to cultivate.

The Eagle Huntress Ancient Traditions and New Generations by Adrienne Mayor is well worth the read. Aisholpan is following in the traditions of the men and women who came before her and the truth inspires on its own merits.

I am wholly mystified by these film makers. Why lie when the truth would do?