Great Books of the World – Part 25

“You are always someone’s
favourite unfolding story.”
Ann Patchett

“Moonlight Shadow” by Mike Oldfield featuring Maggie Reilly:

In this post, I am reviewing more books that stormed the world with the power of imagination, dynamic storytelling, and always a moral message that would transcend cultural differences and be understood everywhere.

24 July 1802  –  5 December 1870

Courtesy of Universal Videos:

Alexandre Dumas was born in Villers-Cotterets, France, in 1802, and when his father died in 1806, the family lived in abject poverty. As soon as Dumas was able, he travelled to Paris to find work. After a few years, he made a name for himself as an innovative playwright. He became famous for his action-packed historical plays. From 1840, he began to produce action novels, including The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Statue of D’Artagnan in Montreal, Canada

To be able to produce so many large volumes, he created something of a story mill; employing other writers, 75 of them, and researchers to provide him with the material. The flamboyantly gifted Dumas would add his own inspiration  – refining and embellishing the particulars in action-packed instalments published under his own name. The popularity and influence of his tales are undeniable. To thousands of readers, the compelling force of Dumas’s storytelling  – his unrivalled command of a tale’s movement across a large historical canvas – marks every page of his novels as his own.

The Three Musketeers

Set in the seventeenth-century reign of Louis XIII and full of historical personages such as Cardinal Richelieu and the Duke of Buckingham, the story recounts the swashbuckling adventures of an impetuous young swordsman named D’Artagnan and the trio of soldiers in the king’s service who give the book its title: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.

Cardinal Richelieu

Louis XIII, King of France

Courtesy of SandRhoman History:

Aspiring to join their ranks as a musketeer, D’Artagnan follows his temper and his taste for amorous entanglement into perilous situations from which his new friends must extricate him. Duels, romantic liaisons, and court intrigue come fast and furious as the dialogue-driven chapters fly by. The heroes’ primary antagonist, the scintillatingly seductive Milady, is one of the most vivid and alluring villains in all literature, and nearly a match for D’Artagnan and his fellows.

Literary entertainment gets no better than this; you will lose hours and hours of valuable time and relish every moment.

“String Quintet in E Major”, G. 282 III. Minuetto – Trio by Luigi Boccherini, performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra:


Dumas wrote two sequels to The Three Musketeers: Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne (sometimes called The Man in the Iron Mask.) There have been countless adaptations of The Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan has been played on-screen by Douglas Fairbanks, Gene Kelly, Michael York, and Chris O’Donnell.

Coming soon, courtesy of Pathe:


An extract from The Three Musketeers:

“As Athos and Porthos had foreseen, at the expiration of half an hour D’Artagnan returned. He had this time again missed this man, who had disappeared as if by enchantment. D’Artagnan had run, sword in hand, through all the neighbouring streets, but had found nobody resembling him whom he was looking for. While D’Artagnan was running through the streets and knocking at doors, Aramis had joined his companions, so that on returning home D’Artagnan found the reunion complete.  ‘Well?’ cried the three musketeers all together, on seeing D’Artagnan enter with his brow covered with perspiration and his face clouded with anger.

‘Well’ cried he, throwing his sword upon the bed; ‘this man must be the devil in person. He has disappeared like a phantom, like a shade, like a spectre.’

He then told his friends, word for word, all that had passed between him and his landlord, and how the man who had carried off the wife of his worthy landlord was the same with whom he had had a difference at the hostelry of the Franc-Meunier.

‘And did the mercer,’ rejoined Athos, ‘tell you, D’Artagnan, that the queen thought that Buckingham had been brought over by a forged letter.’

‘She is afraid so.’

‘Wait a minute, then.’ said Aramis.

‘What for?’ demanded Porthos.

‘Gentlemen,’ cried Aramis, ‘listen to this.

‘Listen to Aramis,’ said his three friends.

‘Yesterday I was at a house of a learned doctor of theology whom I sometimes consult about my studies.’

Athos smiled.

‘This doctor has a niece,’ continued Aramis.

‘A niece, has he?’ interrupted Porthos.

‘A very respectable lady,’ said Aramis.

The three friends began to laugh.”

“Concerto in C Major”, RV 425: II. Largo (Arr. for Guitar and Mandolin) by Antonio Vivaldi, performed by Craig Ogden and Alison Stephens:


The Count of Monte Cristo

These are the fastest 1,200 pages you will ever read! When it comes to page-turners, The Count of Monte Cristo is the greatest of them all. Despite the novel’s gargantuan dimensions  –  it runs to more than twelve hundred pages – each of its chapters is like an exhibit in a compendium of narrative suspense; it is hard to imagine any thriller plot on page or screen that isn’t foretold in the fantastic adventures of Edmond Dantes.

Dantes is an earnest, responsible young sailor who, as the novel begins, has returned to Marseilles to marry his beloved Mercedes. Yet, on the eve of their wedding, he is nefariously accused of being a traitor, wrongfully convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment in an impregnable chateau. So begins Dumas’s sprawling tale of vengeance, cunning, patience, and hope. As Dantes is transformed into the unforgettable figure who gives the book its title, he comes to combine the attributes of Odysseus, Robin Hood, and James Bond, a Western gunslinger, and James Bond meting out his artful and implacable justice with equal doses of vindictiveness and generosity.

“Parce mihi Domine” by Cristobal de Morales, performed by Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble:


An extract from The Count of Monte Cristo:

“The vague disquietude which prevailed among the spectators had so much affected one of the crowd that he did not await the arrival of the vessel in harbour, but jumping into a small skiff, desired to be pulled alongside the Pharaon, which he reached as she rounded into La Reserve basin.

When the young man on board saw this person approach, he left his station by the pilot, and hat in hand, leaned over the ship’s bulwarks. He was a fine, tall, slim young fellow of eighteen or twenty, with black eyes, and hair as dark as raven’s wing, and his whole appearance bespoke that calmness and resolution peculiar to men accustomed from their cradle to contend with danger.

‘Ah, it is you, Dantes?’ cried the man in a skiff. ‘What is the matter? and why have you such an air of sadness aboard?’

‘A great misfortune, Mr Morrel,’ replied the young man – ‘a great misfortune, for me especially! Off Civita Vecchia we lost our brave Captain Leclere.’

‘And the cargo?’ inquired the owner, eagerly.

‘It is all safe, Mr Morrel, and I think you will be satisfied on that head. But poor Captain Leclere -‘

‘What happened to him?’ asked the owner, with an air of considerable resignation. ‘What happened to the worthy captain?’

‘He died.’

‘Fell into the sea?’

‘No, sir, he died of brain fever in dreadful agony.’ Then turning to the crew, he said. ‘Bear a hand there, to take to sail!’

All hands obeyed, and at once the eight or ten seamen who composed the crew sprang to their respective stations at the spanker brails and outhaul, topsail sheets and halyards, the jib downhaul, and the topsail clewlines and buntlines.” 

A clip from the 2002 film (courtesy of sergeson):


























37 thoughts on “Great Books of the World – Part 25

  1. Another intriguing title in the your saga. I love the illustrations.


  2. Thank you, Pat, for establishing the tradition to be the first reader to comment.
    The Three Musketeers story is so well known that it became a part of the vocabulary.



  3. Indeed, I remember the Three Musketeers from when I was very small and the story seems to appeal to every generation. All that swashbuckling, rushing about and saving the day. I did not realise that they were based on actual people, I must admit. How did they survive the revolution? Must have kept a very low profile! Such fun, as always.


  4. Wonderful to go over these classics by Dumas! Thank you.


  5. It’s amazing that another film version of The Three Musketeers is coming out this year. What an enduring story. Dumas would have been very pleased.


  6. Beautiful illustration indeed 💕🙏


  7. He was my favorite author, growing up. I think I need to read his books again


  8. Wonderful, excellent and great post with lots of information about the culture of the then period. This post is also full of pictures, videos and required documents as illustrations.
    It requires a great plan and dedicated time, or else it would not be possible.
    I have best regards always for your work and your support which you extend to your co-bloggers.
    I can’t find sufficient time to go through your posts. But I must find time to read to gain knowledge. You are special and unique.
    Namaskar 🙏🙏🙏😊


  9. I’m pleased to see that your posts appear to be back on course Joanna. Have the gremlins disappeared now? I hope so, because this is yet another fabulous post about two very good books and a tremendous author. The Three Musketeers was a favourite of mine when I was a youngster, and the Count of Monte Cristo was brought to life when I visited Chateau d’If, which Alexandre Dumas used as one of the settings in his book. I’m wondering if you took the photograph of the castle, and whether you’ve been there too.

    I would definitely be interested to see the new Three Musketeers film(s) coming out this year, so thank you for pointing it out, and also thank you Joanna for providing yet another Saturday morning gem 😊


  10. Thank you, Malc, for your wonderful, as always, comments! I hate to scandalize you with my revelation/confession but I did not travel anywhere, although would love too. It is all down to researching with a military precision. I am also interested in the new film, in the meantime,

    Thank you again, Malc, greatly appreciated!


    PS. The pesky gremlins are just grumbling here and there, today I had to start twice as I did not have all emails, and my name is spelled wrongly…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you, Neil, for your kind comments! I am also looking forward to a new film!


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Dhirendra, for your kind comments. Greatly appreciated.


    Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s ok Joanna. Your travelling mind is more than good enough for me, and fancy them gremlins spelling your name wrong 🙂


  14. Another fascinating post Joanna. I particularly enjoyed the “Concerto in C Major” on mandolin and guitar. My Mum and Dad both played mandolin! Thank you so much.


  15. Thank you, Peter, for your kind comment, greatly appreciated. I am glad that you liked the music!


    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you, Joanna, for one more interesting post on a prolific writer and his two famous classics. It reminded me of my father, when I read in this post that Dumas’ father had expired when he was just 4, and lived thereafter in the abject poverty. You have rightly pointed out that he had created a story mill by employing around 75 writers, because he was accused of using ghost writers. He was also known for his numerous affairs. Incidentally, I have also ghost written articles for my MDs.

    Coming back to his works, The Three Musketeers was my favourite, due to its adventure and unique plot. The adventure of D’Artagnan and trio of inseparables, Athos, Porthos and Aramis is said to be inspired by a true story. The Count of Monte Cresto is also inspired by a real life story of a vengeful shoemaker, and so its central theme is revenge.

    I had some apprehensions due to gremlins troubling you. I hope they have disappeared. Thanks again, Joanna, for making this Saturday evening enjoyable. Illustrations by way of pictures and video clippings are superb as usual. Kudos to you!


  17. A wonderful post and yet another great storyteller, although I didn’t realise he had help (ers)! I’ve not read either story for a very long time although there have been TV remakes of The Three Musketeers, one not so long ago! Another cracking post, Joanna, and what a way to open with Mike Oldfield and Maggie Reilly! 🎸 That takes me back too! 💌💓🌹🙋‍♂️


  18. Thank you, Kaushal, for your wonderful comments! The greatness of Dumas lies in his ability to add to the popular conception and make us to use his creation as a every day saying.

    Your comments Kaushal are of the great importance to my writing, thank you!


    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you, Ashley, for your excellent comments! The new film based on his book is coming soon.

    Thank you again, Ashley, greatly appreciated!



  20. Another outstanding post on an excellent writer and his masterpieces!
    I loved everything: explanations, images, music and videos
    Your research effort is amazing ❤️❤️❤️


  21. Thank you, Dear Luisa, for your outstanding comments! You make me happy and I can only hope you will like as much the posts that will follow. I greatly appreciate your word!.


    Liked by 1 person

  22. Namaskar. My respect to you, Arun, and thank you!



  23. Always a pleasure, Joanna, you’re welcome!


  24. You’re more than welcome, Joanna 🌺
    I love ALL of your wonderful posts


  25. Your posts provide such important info on pieces of culture that I should have been introduced to during childhood but often was not. Thank you for that, Joanna. By the way, I laughed out loud when I read your line “you will lose hours and hours of valuable time and relish every moment.” 🌞


  26. Thank you, Lisa, for your wonderful comments! I did miss you’re your outstanding, spirit lifting words!


    Liked by 1 person

  27. Just when I think there could be nothing more to say, you capture another jewel to share with us all. Thanks for sharing this incredible man Dumas with us Joanna! 💗


  28. Namaskar 🙏🙏


  29. Your comment warms my heart, Joanna! 🌞


  30. Thank you Joanna for such a wonderful share, it’s filled with so much enjoyment.


  31. Thank you, Henrietta, for your wonderful comments! Greatly appreciated.


    Liked by 1 person

  32. What a nice post you bring us. History and Literature of the great Alexandre Dumas who with one of his books illuminated my way through college.
    Great job, dear Joanna.


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