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Old 06-18-2018, 11:49 AM   #61
Catlady
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Her switch at the end reminds me a bit of Angels with Dirty Faces, when Pat O'Brien, playing a priest, gets Jimmy Cagney to act cowardly and terrified on the way to the chair, in order to discourage the young hoodlums who have taken him as a role model.

There's nobody on the scene to benefit from Milady's last-minute chickenheartedness, so I think your conclusion is correct; we, the readers, are the hoodlums who are in danger of being seduced by Milady's beauty and charm and manipulation and Dumas is Father Pat O'Brien, pulling the strings. Didn't work, though; she's still the most interesting and forceful character in the book.
We must be on the same wavelength; I was thinking of Cagney too! And that movie has always puzzled me, because while the kids in the movie believe that their hero is just a cowardly thug, we in the audience see that he's incredibly noble to let himself be thought cowardly. Talk about a mixed message!
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Old 06-18-2018, 11:55 AM   #62
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And perhaps more to the point, I don't see anything here inconsistent with what we had been shown up to now. Her captivity in England, and her reputation prior, all indicated that there was not much she would not stoop to to protect herself; I never saw any indication that she was the type that would walk quietly to the chopping block and lay down her head.
No, not quietly, but defiantly. Spitting in their faces. Calling down the wrath of God on them. Putting a curse on them. Threatening to haunt them. Something.
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Old 06-18-2018, 02:36 PM   #63
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Earlier, someone made a comparison between Dickens and Dumas as serial writers. I get the impression that Dumas was writing "on the fly", that is, each instalment as it was due; whereas Dickens would write a novel in instalment form. That would explain the rapidly shifting tone and changing characters (much like a television series does nowadays).

Perhaps it is only me, but I had the impression that Milady's breakdown at the end is partly from pure exhaustion--most of her exploits were thoroughly thought through. Her capture and seduction of the supposedly unbreakable lieutenant shows her cunning in this aspect. But then she is caught again---D'Artagnan and company show too early, and she finds all her plans unravelling.

I read this last part as pure panic. She has decided that her exceptional luck has run out, and though she made some feeble attempts, she knew these men were proof against her talents--her brother-in-law, her former husband, D'Artagnan who was very susceptible but still played her (she didn't know exactly how well she had played him)...


(sorry for the unintentional alliteration there)
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:47 AM   #64
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I went into this looking for it to be subversive, in part because Dumas was writing during the lead up to the revolutions of 1848, where I would have expected his sympathies to be on the side of the insurgents, especially given that his adored father was an ardent Republican who was badly treated by Napoleon in the long run, although he served him brilliantly in the field.
This is an interesting thought issybird, as I believe all the arts can show the influence of contemporary historical events. One extreme example is the way in which both music and art after the Great War seemed to be fractured by the way that war had changed the world, especially in Europe.

Then I read that Dumas had worked for the Duke of Orleans, who became King Louis-Philippe, a more liberal monarch replacing Charles X who seemed to be more of a "divine right of kings" sort of monarch, and was forced to abdicate. (I don't know much about French history, so please excuse this rather simplistic summary!)

So it would seem that Dumas did dislike the almost god-like status of rulers like Louis XIII, and politicians with the vast power of someone like Cardinal Richelieu. He wouldn't have cared too much for Napoleon either, given the way in which Napoleon's regime treated Dumas' father, leaving him to rot in jail for two years after he was captured.

This probably explains why Louis XIII is pretty well a nonentity in the book, and why Richelieu is depicted as being someone to fear because of his sweeping powers.
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:32 AM   #65
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Earlier, someone made a comparison between Dickens and Dumas as serial writers. I get the impression that Dumas was writing "on the fly", that is, each instalment as it was due; [...]
See what I posted here. So it looks as if the entire novel was planned and drafted first - even if the plan was not done by Dumas himself.
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:11 AM   #66
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On the subject of that quote from Richard Pevear's introduction:
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[...] Art is cruel but just, as someone once said. Ninety pages of Maquet’s first draft of The Three Musketeers have been preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and are included in the Garnier edition. A comparison with the finished version shows just how important Dumas’s reworking was. Maquet’s Musketeers would have been forgotten at once; Dumas’s touch transformed them into immortals.
I think this is quite a naive and unfair assessment. Naive because it supposes that we can predict what work is going gain such longevity; we cannot. Unfair because drafts are not finished works; we cannot know what Maquet may have made of this story if left to his own devices. See this quote I posted from Guy Kavriel Kay about Tolkien that speaks of the possible gulf between draft and finished product.

That Dumas had a prolific talent is not in dispute (it seems to have been a talent for being prolific, which is something distinct), but it's possible that this talent overshadowed others that may have bloomed if not in his shadow ... or not; there's no way to know now. Given the odds and difficulties in earning an income at this work, it is easy to understand that Maquet might be content to ride on the coattails of Dumas rather than risk obscurity on his own. Success breeds success is a truism of long standing (it may have something to do with luck), so it was probably a good choice on Maquet's part.
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:19 PM   #67
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While I can agree with Pajamaman's sentiment that this book is 17th century, so of course gender issues etc. will be different (although not so different as we'd like), I don't see that that excuses the fact that it turns into a story of an (apparently) evil woman hounded by men from all sides until she is cornered and killed. Where is the chivalry? Where is bravery required for this? She had no special powers, just intelligence and consistency. It doesn't say much for any of our "heroes" in the story that it takes so many of them to best her. And the side stories of adultery and seduction don't offer anything better.

<SNIP>

At least, that's my explanation. I can't really think of how else a modern audience can overlook what a grubby little story this is at its core.
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But as latepaul mentioned earlier, the novel's tone later becomes so much darker; it's like a different book. The whole thing is so disjointed--and I can't give Dumas a pass just because it was serialized. Dickens's works were serialized too, at about the same time, and those seem to be generally consistent in tone and characterization.
These two comments pretty much sum up my dread of reading the book and my total lack of joy in the reading.

Women as maiden/mother/crone (or whore) just destroyed this whole story for me. And as this was my second Dumas of the year, I must say, that the picture is much starker than it was in the Count of Monte Cristo.

I am also appalled by the post indicating that this meandering soap-operatic mess was plotted out in advance of its serialization.

One of my goals for 2018 was to re-read the newest translation of War and Peace in its entirety. As a novel of massive scale, Dumas is suffering horribly by comparison. The language is poor, and almost lazy. The characters (or caricatures) are wholly unloveable. And, of course, the only smart woman in the novel is the prime villain.

So disappointing.

Last edited by astrangerhere; 06-19-2018 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:06 PM   #68
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This is an interesting thought issybird, as I believe all the arts can show the influence of contemporary historical events. One extreme example is the way in which both music and art after the Great War seemed to be fractured by the way that war had changed the world, especially in Europe.

Then I read that Dumas had worked for the Duke of Orleans, who became King Louis-Philippe, a more liberal monarch replacing Charles X who seemed to be more of a "divine right of kings" sort of monarch, and was forced to abdicate. (I don't know much about French history, so please excuse this rather simplistic summary!)

So it would seem that Dumas did dislike the almost god-like status of rulers like Louis XIII, and politicians with the vast power of someone like Cardinal Richelieu. He wouldn't have cared too much for Napoleon either, given the way in which Napoleon's regime treated Dumas' father, leaving him to rot in jail for two years after he was captured.

This probably explains why Louis XIII is pretty well a nonentity in the book, and why Richelieu is depicted as being someone to fear because of his sweeping powers.
There must be some connection between Richelieu and the Orleans branch of the French royal family, given that Richelieu's residence, the Palais Royal, became the seat of the Orleans. That might be why Dumas ultimately pulled his punches in regard to the Cardinal, who ended up on reasonable terms with d'Artagnan.
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:43 PM   #69
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There must be some connection between Richelieu and the Orleans branch of the French royal family, given that Richelieu's residence, the Palais Royal, became the seat of the Orleans. That might be why Dumas ultimately pulled his punches in regard to the Cardinal, who ended up on reasonable terms with d'Artagnan.
Yes, you could well be right. I wondered why, in the end, the Cardinal was almost portrayed as a sympathetic character.
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:25 PM   #70
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Yes, you could well be right. I wondered why, in the end, the Cardinal was almost portrayed as a sympathetic character.
But since Dumas was writing 200 years later, would any connection still have mattered enough to influence his characterization?
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:52 PM   #71
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But since Dumas was writing 200 years later, would any connection still have mattered enough to influence his characterization?
It might have mattered in the practical sense, signaling his loyalty to the Citizen King. My sense is that the French had long memories for that sort of thing.
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Old 06-19-2018, 08:36 PM   #72
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Yes, like orlok, I wondered why Richelieu's portrayal changed, and that link makes sense. Thanks for that titbit, issybird.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:56 PM   #73
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The most likely plotter to try to undermine the reputations of Louis XIII and his queen would have been Monsieur (Gaston, 9th Duc d'Orleans). He was constantly trying to supplant Louis. I suppose that is why Dumas cast Richelieu as the plotter in the affair of the diamonds; he would not have wanted to offend his patron, Louis-Philippe. In the novel, Monsieur is only mentioned in the context of the siege of La Rochelle, where he is depicted somewhat sympathetically. Given Gaston was off-limits, that left Richelieu as a logical target.

Aside from Dumas' novel, Richelieu actually has a fairly good reputation in French history. He was the founder of the Academie francaise. The biggest French warships ever built were the Richelieu-class battleships Richelieu and Jean Bart, built prior to WW2. In Quebec, the biggest southern tributary of the St.Lawrence is named after him (Rivière Richelieu). It would not have been patriotic to slag him too much in the novel.
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:38 PM   #74
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I went back to Google to see if I could find out more. It seems the Palais Cardinal reverted to the crown on the death of Richelieu, becoming the Palais Royal and subsequently the home of the next Duc d'Orleans, Philippe the younger brother of Louis XIV, ie the younger son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.

So I think Richelieu apparently becoming one of the good guys may have been because of his general reputation as you say, bfisher, and perhaps a bit of encouragement by the church as well? (I don't know whether Dumas would pay any attention to that or not.)

Right back at the beginning, D'Artagnan's father says to him:

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For your sake and for that of your kind – by your kind, I mean your relations and your friends – don’t stand for anything from anyone except the cardinal and the king.
So the Cardinal was not being painted as a villain then, and perhaps it was more in the mindset of the Musketeers and their rivalry with the Cardinal's men - a bit like two football teams being sworn enemies, so that then their followers finish up getting heated with each other for no logical reason. "We hate each other because we hate each other."
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Old 06-20-2018, 07:19 AM   #75
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The most likely plotter to try to undermine the reputations of Louis XIII and his queen would have been Monsieur (Gaston, 9th Duc d'Orleans). He was constantly trying to supplant Louis. I suppose that is why Dumas cast Richelieu as the plotter in the affair of the diamonds; he would not have wanted to offend his patron, Louis-Philippe. In the novel, Monsieur is only mentioned in the context of the siege of La Rochelle, where he is depicted somewhat sympathetically. Given Gaston was off-limits, that left Richelieu as a logical target.
Given Louis XIII's childless marriage to date, Monsieur must have had high hopes and perhaps thought, "If later, why not now?"

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I went back to Google to see if I could find out more. It seems the Palais Cardinal reverted to the crown on the death of Richelieu, becoming the Palais Royal and subsequently the home of the next Duc d'Orleans, Philippe the younger brother of Louis XIV, ie the younger son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.
Thank you for that correction!

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So the Cardinal was not being painted as a villain then, and perhaps it was more in the mindset of the Musketeers and their rivalry with the Cardinal's men - a bit like two football teams being sworn enemies, so that then their followers finish up getting heated with each other for no logical reason. "We hate each other because we hate each other."
This makes sense. The constant dueling which the Crown and Cardinal was trying to contain has a modern echo in sports hooliganism. But I still think the portrayal of the Cardinal was inconsistent; the wrap-up had him a good guy but his attempts to undermine the Queen, for example, were antithetical to the good of the Crown and were part of Richelieu's own power grab.
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