The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas père Well now, that was a rollicking tale. It's one of those novels you think you may have read when younger, at least in an abridged edition, but it turns out that it's just been part of your general cultural soup. I found it rather episodic and offputtingly flippant at first, but rather to my surprise by the end I had grown to know the characters so well that I was actually moved by the dramatic final events (the murder of Mme. Bonacieux, and the subsequent, quasi-judicial murder of Milady by the four musketeers, her wronged British brother-in-law, and the truly Gothic figure of the Executioner of Amiens, in his red cloak, first introduced to us assembling a skeleton). No historical figure escapes unscathed in Dumas' account, though the Duke of Buckingham, despite being English, comes off comparatively well (and, incidentally, as entirely heterosexual, in Dumas' version of the world). Furthermore, by the end I was finding the flippancy of the narrative voice rather funny: it was therefore interesting to see how drastically the tone changed during the imprisonment, scheming and escape of Milady; it is almost as if Dumas half fell in love with his villainess and wished us to sympathize with her, despite the way he vituperates her elsewhere.

There is yet another movie version of this story reputed to be coming out in 2011, but by the early reports it will have, other than the names of the characters, next to nothing to do with the actual novel. A pity.