by Alexandre Dumas
translated by Tina A. Kover
2007 (originally 1843) • 336 pages • Modern Library
You may have recently seen that The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones recently wrote an article about how the late Terry Pratchett was not a genius—where he cops to never reading Pratchett in his entire life before calling his work trash and not real literature. I’m not linking you to it, dear reader, because I want your day to go well, and also because we’ve been here a thousand times at the screeching ghostly foothills of the false dichotomy of high and low culture. To reiterate: the line between high culture and pop culture is largely imaginary and constructed mostly of ideas of whose work really counts (which is why dead old white guys are vastly overrepresented in the Western canon, a thing also agreed upon by dead old white guys.)
Case in point: Alexandre Dumas, one of the greatest writers in history, wrote a scene where a man fights a shark. It’s all art, baby.
Georges is one of Dumas’ most little-known works—so little-known that even some of his most devout English-speaking fans didn’t know it existed. Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, who both found Dumas and the relative racial freedom of France inspirational as writers of color, never seem to have read or heard of it. And Frederick Douglass, who loved Dumas’ work enough to make sure to see Dumas-related sites around France while visiting, criticized Dumas for never writing about race. Sometimes, there’s an air of gatekeeping around works in translation—there’s certainly something suspicious in the fact that The Count of Monte Cristo is so accessible to English speakers that it’s in American public domain but Georges is not. Continue reading
As you may know, I like checking the search terms that bring people to my blog; it’s fun and it lets me see what I can possibly add. So you can imagine when “the+three+musketeers+2011+vs+1993” popped up on my search terms widgets that I looked up to the heavens and declared, “Challenge accepted.” What can I say? You just gotta ask. In one corner, Disney’s 1993 adaptation of The Three Musketeers—in the other corner, Summit’s 2011 adaptation of The Three Musketeers. Fight!
The Three Musketeers
based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Ever since April, when the first trailer came out, I have been beyond excited for this film. I’m part of a film depreciation society (read: Mystery Science Theater 3000, the home game) and my particular taste in bad movies runs to big budget extravangazas, which this most certainly is. I’m also a huge fan of The d’Artagnan Romances in general—I’m trying to polish off The Vicomte to Bragelonne, the infamously long third novel in the series, at the moment. In short, I have rarely encountered a film so thoroughly aimed at me personally, right down to the inclusion of Orlando Bloom. (Leggy will always have a place in my heart. My glittery, Elvish-speaking, preteen heart.)
I’ve never mentioned it, but I absolutely love poking at my site stats. How people get to my blog (I’m apparently linked on my college’s website! This is completely new information to me!), which posts people read the most (my review of the film adaptation of Atonement and my review of A Clash of Kings), and, of course, the search terms that lead people to my blog. There are many paths to my establishment, it seems, and several of them are paths trod by very confused people. Today, then, I will help these poor souls by answering their search terms, as culled from search terms that led actual people to my blog this September.
Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas
I loved The Three Musketeers. While the pace of a serialized novel is very different than a traditional novel—think of it more like a television series than anything else—I love the swashbuckling, friendship, and bitter sweetness that characterizes that novel. Luckily, it has sequels. The most famous is The Man in the Iron Mask, which is actually just part of the third installment in The D’Artagnan Romances, but the true sequel is Twenty Years After. And I have to read series in order, which brings us to this novel.
The Man in the Iron Mask
based on The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas
I love Channel Awesome, which you probably principally know from the Nostalgia Critic, a foul-mouthed character of Doug Walker’s that reviews ‘80s and ’90s nostalgic films to hilarious effect. When the Nostalgia Chick came back after a while (Lindsay Ellis, who plays her, was balancing grad school and the show), I was delighted—and delighted that she reviewed The Man in the Iron Mask, a dimly remembered Leonard DiCaprio vehicle with Jeremy Irons in it. (I’d say I saw it during my Jeremy Irons phase, but that would imply my Jeremy Irons phase ended.) Her review is hilarious (and dead-on about John Malkovich’s enunciation). After finding a VHS copy at the library, I settled in for what surely could only be the finest in bad ‘90s period pieces.
And then I found myself enjoying it without a trace of irony. Whoops!
I’ll cut to the chase, since I’ve had this post scheduled for two weeks; I like campy movie versions of The Three Musketeers, and the universe has responded by releasing the first trailer for The Three Musketeers. I don’t often indulge in the phrase “shaking and crying” (it’s, uh, a thing on the fannish Internets), but I will admit to shaking as I watched this trailer. I think it was my spine trying to wag my nonexistent tail. It’s going to be big and dumb and gorgeous, guys, I love it already. Have a shot by shot analysis, because nobody else will do it.
The Three Musketeers
based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
When I was a little kid, we owned the soundtrack to this film—and my favorite song was “All for Love”. I would make my parents play it over and over in the car. But I forgot about The Three Musketeers, which I seriously doubt I saw as a child—until I came across a VHS copy of it at the library. I watched it… and watched it… and watched it. The Three Musketeers has, in the past year, rapidly become my favorite bad movie; thoroughly ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious, complete with a ludicrously star-studded cast. It truly must be seen to be believed.
The discovery that Robin McKinley’s Pegasus was the first half of a novel floored me; yes, I thought the ending was abrupt, but the idea that Robin McKinley, a much loved author who could probably get away with publishing a hearty, predator-repulsing tome, found the “freller too fricking long” to the point that she thought it better to hack a novel in half (her word! Not mine!) kind of threw me for a loop. (To be fair, Ms. McKinley does have deadlines to reach.) In fact, she describes Pegasus’s eventual sequel to be analogous to the way The Return of the King is the sequel to The Two Towers, which is to say not a sequel at all, but the rest of the story. It’s almost as infuriating as the term “literary fiction” to be quite honest. As the very wise Brian Cronin puts it, “serialized fiction is judged – as a whole, yes, but also as each part individually”. This sort of amputation has been running wild through speculative fiction recently–so much so, in fact, that it’s time I stopped complaining and listened–does this sort of thing suggest that some authors ought to go in for serialized novels instead of traditional ones?
(To preface, I am not talking about publishers deciding to separate out a novel, such as the overseas publications of some of the novels in A Song of Fire and Ice and The Lord of the Rings, which, if you’ve been paying attention, is a single novel. I’m talking about authors making that decision for themselves.)
Name a book (or books) from a country other than your own that you love. Or aren’t there any?
When it comes to foreign books, I read and enjoy a lot of British literature; Jane Austen, Harry Potter, Brideshead Revisited. I’m a pretty poor Frenchwoman most of the time, but I love and adore Alexandre Dumas, especially The Count of Monte Cristo. However, beyond Europe, I don’t read too much in translation, which is something I’m trying to fix.