“You are always someone’s
favourite unfolding story.”
“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.
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.’
‘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?’
‘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):