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Old 06-17-2018, 06:18 AM   #31
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I read the book 40+ years ago and had completely forgotten about the second half of the book after the diamonds were returned. I had also forgotten about how obnoxiously self-centered they could be.
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Old 06-17-2018, 11:13 AM   #32
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I always carried the idea that it was a novel about disinterested, unshakeable friendship - I had read it twice previously. It was a different experience to read it a bit more critically this time around.

There is an astonishing amount of cynicism and farce in this book.

For example, when D'Artagnan is following his landlord's wife, and discovers her companion is Buckingham, he instantly offers to switch allegiances

"...tell me how I can risk my life to serve your Grace?"

"You are a brave young man," said Buckingham, holding out his hand to D'Artagnan, who pressed it respectfully. "You offer me your services; with the same frankness I accept them. Follow us at a distance of twenty paces, as far as the Louvre, and if anyone watches us, slay him!"

D'Artagnan placed his naked sword under his arm, allowed the duke and Mme. Bonacieux to take twenty steps ahead, and then followed them, ready to execute the instructions of the noble and elegant minister of Charles I.

Fortunately, he had no opportunity to give the duke this proof of his devotion..."

Then there is the aftermath of his trip to London:
"In his projects of intrigue for the future, and determined as he was to make his three friends the instruments of his fortune, D'Artagnan was not sorry at getting into his grasp beforehand the invisible strings by which he reckoned upon moving them."

I was thinking afterwards how much similarity there was between this novel and Animal House.
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Old 06-17-2018, 02:18 PM   #33
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Is there ever any explanation of how the three musketeers bonded together in the first place?
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Old 06-17-2018, 03:31 PM   #34
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Posting my notes without reading anyone else's comments. I will read them after this.


At the start of this writing, I am barely a fifth of the way through the book. I must admit, I am not really getting into The Three Musketeers, though I am certain I have read it before. I know I have seen a couple movie adaptations, and I may be confusing this book with some other similarly-themed novels like [i]A Tale of Two Cities[/], The Red Badge of Courage, and Les Miserables.

What strikes me immediately is the thought that the author does not know women. Be it the chauvinism at the time, many of these women do not act as I imagine they would/should. But then, perhaps it is I who does not know women so well, that I expect different of them than what is portrayed in this book so far.



I paused in my reading because of the insipid romance chapter between Buckingham and the Queen. I'm not much on romance, and after that chapter, I feel a need to cleanse my mental palate, if nothing else.

So, now one third of the way through, and I am absolutely disgusted that the Queen would just hand over a box full of jewelry to this man whom she has already insisted must not have any contact with her again.

Seriously, the woman is broke, and she just hands off a small fortune to a veritable stranger just to get him to leave? He would have been satisfied with the box alone! To top it off, the aforementioned were a gift from the king--does she not think that he would want to see her wearing it, at some point?

From what I am understanding from the translator's notes in this edition (Richard Pevear), this jewelry incident was an actual event, which I can only hope occurred in some other fashion that this woman blithely handing a box over just to get the besotted princeling to go away.



Now about fifty percent through, and I must say that D'Artagnan has very poor taste in friends. I mean, these men are far from the worst that humanity has to offer, but they are pretty generous with other people's money, property, and even lives.

Not that D'Artagnan himself is a paragon of sainthood (then again, if one looks at the biographies of actual saints... many aren't any better, now that I think about it).

I have decided by this point that I have not read this book before--I think I would have recalled such a detail as Athos killing his wife for being branded! I mean, seriously, he and his compatriots are little more than government-sanction Highwaymen themselves!

I have just realized that this novel is a very early form of Historical Romance!


SO... with some persistence I finally made it through. I am sure that my younger self would have enjoyed this book more than my current self has. I am... less tolerant, I suppose, of certain stereotyping and such.

At any rate, I finished, and I am glad it's over with, hah.

I had issues with the timing in one key part-- how did the Count de Winter get word about Milady's arrival so quickly? Yet I was not bothered enough to go back and reread that chapter to figure it out.

Then there is the whole scene with the Cardinal at the end... suddenly he and D'Artagnan are best buddies? How well should he really be received
in the Musketeers when their traditional enemy is his sponsor? If anything, I think the book would have been better ended without the "and they lived happily forever after" epilogue.


*** Edit: based on some of the comments so far, it seems to me like this may be one of those rare exceptions where the movie(s) is better than the book!

I am thinking that the only real constant character throughout this book is Buckingham. He at least doesn't appear to change much throughout.

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Old 06-17-2018, 07:19 PM   #35
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Is there ever any explanation of how the three musketeers bonded together in the first place?
I don’t think so. Just a mutual enjoyment of thuggish behaviour!

I agree Dngrsone - the whole idea of the Queen handing over something which was a gift from the King was just stupid. She gave D’Artagnan a diamond ring for getting them back, so she could have given that to the Duke. That whole chapter was a particularly clunky one.
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:25 PM   #36
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I don’t think so. Just a mutual enjoyment of thuggish behaviour!

I agree Dngrsone - the whole idea of the Queen handing over something which was a gift from the King was just stupid. She gave D’Artagnan a diamond ring for getting them back, so she could have given that to the Duke. That whole chapter was a particularly clunky one.
Was Dumas trying to say all the way through this novel that monarchy, the aristocracy and the notion of chivalry and courtly love are all farcical?
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:35 PM   #37
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Was Dumas trying to say all the way through this novel that monarchy, the aristocracy and the notion of chivalry and courtly love are all farcical?
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.
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Old 06-17-2018, 09:04 PM   #38
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Was Dumas trying to say all the way through this novel that monarchy, the aristocracy and the notion of chivalry and courtly love are all farcical?
When he introduced d'Artagnan as a young Don Quixote he did have me wondering if this was going to be an aspect of the story. But for that to work you need a Sancho rather than another three Don Quixotes, and all with lackeys all as lacking as their masters.

But I do agree that such an interpretation would make more sense of the first half/two-thirds of this book. Men that hold honour and loyalty as their highest ideals, and that have sworn their service to the king, but their actions throughout the first part of the book is all about betrayal of their king and their country. That their actions seem half-hearted (so easily swayed from their course that d'Artagnan is soon left on his own) does not excuse this betrayal of their sworn service. (I remember some mention of also having sworn service to the queen, but since she is not French, and since she is being courted by an enemy of France, where should a French soldier's allegiance be expected to lie?)

Perhaps we misread when we read the last third as dark. Perhaps it was intended to be hilarious that these (in the end 6) brave and chivalrous men had such trouble cornering and then murdering a woman - perhaps they see themselves as destroyers of a powerful dragon just as Don Quixote saw windmills as giants. (I don't really think so. If this were the case I'm sure some of the adaptations or interpretations since then would have pointed this out. I'm just trying to find some way of looking at the book as a consistent story.)

Or perhaps, at the start, he really did intend this to be a farce, but as it was published as a serial (and is very long), it may have become apparent that his audience thought he was being serious and so he had to change plans as he went? That could explain some of the inconsistencies.
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:44 PM   #39
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I think he kept changing as he went along. For example, the Cardinal starts off being painted as a villain, but in the end he is painted for the most part as a good guy after all, and rather relieved to have had Milady dealt with - as if he couldn't have dealt with her himself if he wanted to. Mind you, there was the reference to Constance's husband being "disappeared" when he made a bit of a nuisance of himself. I suppose nobody cared about him, so that didn't matter.

I assumed that Constance was done in by Milady because (despite other liaisons) D'Artagnan claimed she was his one true love, she was a married woman, and so that would have been too sinful to contemplate as a permanent relationship. Though why that would matter given that everyone else seemed to have one or more mistresses apart from Athos ...

I don't think a high moral tone was Dumas' aim somehow!
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:31 AM   #40
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Another possible reason for what appears to be changes character (in the story and the characters themselves) is that this was a collaborative work between Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet (not their first nor last), and also Gatien de Courtilz. From Richard Pevear's introduction:
Quote:
A year later, [Maquet] brought Dumas a project for another collaboration: the plan of a novel involving Richelieu, Louis XIII, Anne d’Autriche, and the Duke of Buckingham, which eventually became The Three Musketeers.
[...]Their relations, and Dumas’s work with other collaborators, have given rise to accusations of exploitation and mercantilism on Dumas’s part. As early as 1845, he was attacked in a crude pamphlet entitled The Novel Factory: Alexandre Dumas and Co. [...] Maquet himself never accused Dumas of any exploitation or unfairness (though he did lodge a complaint later about Dumas’s habit of spending his collaborator’s royalties along with his own). Maquet knew the crucial importance of Dumas’s contribution to their work and acknowledged it openly [...]
They would draw up the plan of a novel together. Then Maquet would do the initial development, including historical research, producing a rough draft which he would turn over to Dumas. Dumas would rework Maquet’s material, expanding it, recasting it, removing characters, adding others, elaborating the plot, and above all imparting to it the movement, the invention, the life of his own unmistakable style. 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.
Maybe what we're seeing is the conflict between two different authors' ideas of what the characters and story were.
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:04 AM   #41
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I tried to read this in the context of when it was written, rather than compare it to more modern fare. I part listened, part read my way through it in a relatively short space of time (for me) and didn't really lose my way much, though there were a couple of times when listening that I had to go back.

That said, I did find the characters two-dimensional, and at times acting contrary to character for no good reason. I should have made notes at the time, as it's a month since I finished it and I'm finding it difficult to remember specific examples (I mostly listened to it, so taking notes was out). I did find Dartagnan an engaging character, with his youthful exuberance and naïveté, and his unswerving loyalty to friends and the cause (except when he change alliagence ). I read it mostly as a comedy, so wasn't particularly disturbed by the way they treated eachother, though at times did consider it a bit heavy-handed.

Dumas didn't go to the writing school of "show don't tell", that's for sure, but I put that down to the time. He breaks the 4th wall quite frequently, which I took as an attempt at humour, and mostly it worked.

I felt that I missed a lot of the references, not being well acquainted with this period in French history, and that I might have enjoyed it all the more if I was more aware of certain historical events.

Unlike some, I found the character of Artemis somewhat tedious. His pious leanings did not seem to sit well with his actions at times, and I couldn't really see why an overtly religious man would want to be a Musketeer.

As with other reviews here, one thing I couldn't quite understand was Milady's cowardly collapse. At first I thought it was a pretense, and she'd suddenly reveal her devious plot. Quite went against the grain of this powerful character, what with her pleading that she herself is "too young" to die (despite having just poisoned Constance).

Did I enjoy it overall? Yes. I think listening to a well-read story helps to gloss over some of its failings. Will I read any more in the series? Probably not.

Last edited by orlok; 06-18-2018 at 06:07 AM.
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:53 AM   #42
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[...] As with other reviews here, one thing I couldn't quite understand was Milady's cowardly collapse. [...]
Has anyone here read both the Hobson and the Pevear translations?

With the Pevear translation I didn't get the sense of cowardly collapse*. There was obvious desperation (asking lackeys to protect her escape, and various other elements that I would describe - based on Pevear's translation - as desperate rather than cowardly), but surely some desperation is to be expected when there a 6 men before you, all determined to see you dead.

* Disclaimer: It's also possible that I was skimming a bit by this time.
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:56 AM   #43
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This is a bit of a minor issue, and I accept it's largely on me, but I confess I found the footnotes in the Pevear edition annoying.

I wasn't reading for a knowledge of the history so I didn't really need to know all the background. I didn't really care whether the 'real' so-and-so would have been five at the time.

However I kept checking the footnotes because of the few that were useful - e.g. when he tells us that a particular road was where the police station was and therefore a phrase referring to that road, where readers would have known it was a reference to the police, that was useful. And whilst I generally got the Biblical references I didn't begrudge those.

I realise this is my slightly OCD-ish need to have read all the footnotes, which is why I say it's on me really.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:15 AM   #44
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Has anyone here read both the Hobson and the Pevear translations?

With the Pevear translation I didn't get the sense of cowardly collapse*. There was obvious desperation (asking lackeys to protect her escape, and various other elements that I would describe - based on Pevear's translation - as desperate rather than cowardly), but surely some desperation is to be expected when there a 6 men before you, all determined to see you dead.

* Disclaimer: It's also possible that I was skimming a bit by this time.
Can't tell from either my Kindle version or the Audible version which translation I have. I get what you are saying, but if you take the cold-hearted Milady of many nefarious deed earlier in the story, then her total collapse seemed surprising to me. I would have expected her to present a more haughty and dismissive pose in the face of her accusers. some of the instances of her collapse from my version are as follows:

"No, no! it is an infernal apparition! It is not he! Help, help!" screamed she, turning towards the wall, as if she would tear an opening with her hands.

"Oh, grace, grace, pardon!" cried the wretch, falling on her knees.

Milady uttered a frightful shriek, and dragged herself along several paces upon her knees towards her judges.

To be fair, she rallies somewhat towards the end - "You are cowards, miserable assassins--ten men combined to murder one woman. Beware! If I am not saved I shall be avenged." But I still feel, given how cold and calculating she had been, that her end was an ignominious one.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:51 AM   #45
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The Hobson translation of the above:

Quote:
“Oh, no, no, it’s a ghost from hell! No, no, it’s not he! … Help! Help!’ she cried in a hoarse voice, turning to the wall as if she could tear a hole in it with her bare hands.”
Quote:
“Oh, mercy! Mercy! Forgive me!’ cried the wretched woman, falling to her knees.”
Quote:
“Milady let out a dreadful scream and dragged herself on her knees a few paces closer to her judges.”
Quote:
“Then she broke her silence to cry out, ‘You are cowards, you are vile murderers – ten of you banding together to cut a woman’s throat. Watch out – there may be no one to help me, but there will be to avenge me.”
So the words are slightly different, but the general impression is the same.
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