dumas pere discussion


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message 1: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Nov 30, 2008 01:42AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments I last read The 3 Musketeers about 20 years ago and have been thinking about re-reading as a prelude to the whole Musketeers cycle. I think they're now all available from the Oxford press.
Couple of questions though folks:
1:- Is the Herculean task work the effort? (Achh...who am I kidding, I'll read them anyway. Just have to finish what I have on the go at the minute. But comments welcome.)
2:- Is this the correct order to read them?
The Three Musketeers
Twenty Years After
The Vicomte de Bragelonne
Louise de la Vallière
The Man in the Iron Mask
I watched the George MacDonald Fraser scripted movies recently and loved them.

message 2: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia | 77 comments Mod
OF COURSE it's worth it to read the trilogy again!! Great adventure, great romance. I'm always amazed at how casually they ride their horses until they simply drop dead at their feet... Different world...

This trilogy is definitely among the best of Dumas, great adventure and plot and characters. It's not work to read any of these titles... cause as much as you love Dumas, some of those history novels really are kind of a slow slog... The end of the trilogy is kind of poignant and heartbreaking.

Technically, Louise de la Valliere and the Man in the Iron Mask are part of Vicomte de Brag. Apparently in the English translations they are broken into the three parts. I believe you have them in order.

message 3: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Jings, if VdB/LdlV/MITIM is one book no wonder it's broken into 3 volumes. I'd have to start weight training otherwise...to start talking about book yardage rather than number of volumes.
I will be hunting these down next time I'm on dry land (prefer to actually shop for books rather than use online stores, love the thrill of the hunt and the smell of bookshops).
Will post updates on my progress.

message 4: by Moon (new)

Moon I'm working on Vicomte de B at the moment. I was impatient earlier to get the first two books and just went ahead and read Iron Mask since I owned it and was done with 20 Years After. It was very sad...

message 5: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia | 77 comments Mod
Are you really on a boat? The black pearl, perhaps?

message 6: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Nope, on an oil rig in the North Sea (between Scotland and Norway).

message 7: by Pandora (new)

Pandora  | 73 comments Good reading. I will be curious what you think about Raoul.

Oil rig huh. Well, that was unexpected. It's an image to ponder. Better than librarian.

message 8: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Well, that's me ready for the Musketeer's challenge. Found all the books in Blackwell's bookshop on South Bridge in Edinburgh, the Oxford World Classics editions. Great shop, by the way, one of my favourite bookshops.
Will start 3M over the next couple of days, have a couple of other books on the go and would like to finish at least one before diving in.

message 9: by Pandora (new)

Pandora  | 73 comments Have fun. Be curious what you think about the books especially the characters Mordaunt and Raoul. Right now I'm trudging my way through Les Mes again. It's a good read but, not as fun as Dumas. There is some humor but, overall Hugo is just so sad and serious.

message 10: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia | 77 comments Mod
Enjoy! I guess this means you're on dry land, for a while at least. Here in America, today is national Talk like a pirate day (Sept. 19), too late for you for this year but you can go to talklikeapirate.com to learn more. Keep us up to date on how you do with Dartagnan and company. I'm having trouble finding something compelling to read right now, maybe I'll pick up my 3M again and keep you company.

message 11: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Managed to get a couple of "avasts" and a few "me hearties" in yesterday.

message 12: by Pandora (new)

Pandora  | 73 comments By the way Cynthia have ever tried East of Eden it is simlar to The Count of Monte Cristo and is more readable than Hugo. Just put aside Les Mes found it to be too much to go through a second time. So backlogged with other books I want to read. Another antidote when I can't find something new to read is to refresh myself with children/YA literature. They are usually quick reads 2 to 3 days and with lots of action. After awhile I find myself charaged up to tackle a deeper book.

Barbarossa how are you doing with the 3M project?

Are we still up for The Thousand and One Ghost in October? Only a few more days to go before October. I'm exicited my favorite time of the year.

message 13: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Trying to finish a big chunky Hx of the crusades first (Tyerman's "God's War"). Might have to pause it between the 3rd and 4th Crusade though for some light relief with D'Artagnan and the boys. All the genocide is pretty depressing after a bit. Jerusalem has fallen and Lionheart has now appeared on the scene, so all fun and games in the Levant. Read a Hx of the Brit Empire prior to this, so really need some escapism...yes, bring on the Dumas.
I'm between houses at the minute and a bunch of stuff is stored away (including my library) but if I can find the ghosty book I'll be up for it for Samhain.
Anyway, the siege of Acre is about to start, must dash...

message 14: by Brannon (last edited Oct 20, 2008 10:46AM) (new)

Brannon (brannongreen) | 3 comments I've just started this exact endeavor and I'm finding it great. I read the abridged Monte Cristo in high school, read the full version a few years ago and loved it. Just started the D'artagnan Romances this fall. Read 3M about a month ago and was very impress. I'm a third of the way through 20YA and it's making me very excited to read VdB.

message 15: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Welcome aboard Krio. I'll be starting the voyage over the next week or so, re-reading 3M then off onto the rest of the saga.

message 16: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 69 comments I've read the entire series and loved it. Dumas does an awesome job depicting the court of Louis XIV and his many loves, including Louise de Lavalliere (sp?).

One thing I've learned about Dumas from reading his French Revolution series is be careful of what translation you pick up. There are some bad ones out there and can seriously hamper your enjoyment of the book.

message 17: by Brannon (new)

Brannon (brannongreen) | 3 comments I agree misfit. I'm reading the oxford series and it's not bad. I have read versions that are a lot easier to read, but i think the word choice helps maintain that sense of history.

Thank you Barabrossa, I'm glad I found you guys.

message 18: by Laura (new)

Laura I read the whole series in French just to avoid the translation problems...

message 19: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 69 comments "I read the whole series in French just to avoid the translation problems... "

Wish I could have done that :)

I agree, the Oxford Classics on the Musketeers is excellent. I ran afoul with The Queens Necklace. Dumas with mediocre dialogue and two page chapters? Not going to happen.

message 20: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 69 comments I recall when starting this series reading some reviewer comments to stick one one publisher throughout, or else you might end up with story overlapping and/or missing chapters. I'll leave it to the Dumas experts.

I never realized what a difference the translation could make until I got that crappy one of The Queen's Necklace from a Wildside Press.

message 21: by Pandora (new)

Pandora  | 73 comments I loved Robin Buss translation of The Count. It was the best one that I have read.

As for the 3M I believe it was mostly Oxford Classics I read because those were the ones I could find.

By the way did you know there is a game called The Queen's Necklace that is based on 3M? Even includes quotes from the book. It is from the European market of games.

Read the 3M series. Loved the first two part but, wasn't as thrilled with the trilogy of The Man in the Iron Mask. Too much of the French court and I didn't like Rauol. I perfer heros that have a dark edge like the Count.

message 22: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 69 comments See now I loved the last three, but then the foibles and machinations of the French Court I found quite fascinating, as well as the story of Louis and Louise. I'm forever spoiled though, I'm one of the very few that could not stomach Gulland's Mistress of the King because of reading Dumas first.

OT, but here's an Amazon Listmania (not mine) that I've kept for reference on the order of his books. I've found it quite helpful, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-books-b...

message 23: by Terry (new)

Terry  (dulac3) | 7 comments Mark,

I personally don't like the Oxford translations myself. As I've said elsewhere I had read _Twenty Years After_ in an old library edition many years ago and loved it...maybe even more than _The Three Musketeers_. I picked up a copy of the Oxford translation recently and I haven't been able to finish. It may just be me, but I think the translation also seems a bit joyless and un-Dumas-like somehow. I much prefer the Penguin editions when I can find them, or else older translations (if unabridged, which can be difficult).

message 24: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments I couldn't source VdB or LdlV other than the Oxford editions, so I just got all 5 as Oxford World Classics.
First read 3M in a cheap paperback edition with a rubbishy scetch on the front, picked it up reluctantly but was sucked in and that was that...now one of my top books. No idea the translation or publisher. Lost the book years ago between seedy wee flats...possibly filtched by a seedy flatmate. Anyway, will be finishing 1001 Ghosts soon and then it's time for swords, plots, revenge, and heaving bosoms with D'Artagnan and the boys.

message 25: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 69 comments One more thought on the Oxford editions -- some of the notes from the publishers have a spoiler or two on the later books. I'd recommend skipping them until you've finished.

message 26: by Terry (new)

Terry  (dulac3) | 7 comments A slightly unrelated note, but I'm currently reading Robin Buss' translation of _The Women's War_ which is a Penguin edition. It's great. There are a few infelicities in the language (some words that seem a bit 'modern' to me in the context of the story), but overall it's great fun and 'sounds' like the Dumas I know and love.

Unfortunately it appears as though Mr. Buss has passed away and so we will receive no new translations of Dumas from him.

I haven't read his translation of _The Count of Monte Cristo_ mentioned above, but I imagine it is quite good if _The Women's War_ is anything to go by. I myself have the Wordsworth unabridged paperback version of that one and absolutely love it (don't know who the translator was unfortunately).

message 27: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments If eating it was the worst they did I'd stop having the nightmares...

message 28: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments OK, now started to re-read 3M. I remember it being smutty in bits (with D'Artagnan sleeping his way through a fair bunch of wenches), half full of slapstic, half full of serious duels, part serious and part light hearted comradery. I forgot how clueless and how much a pain in the arse D'Artagnan is at the start...still he has rubbish clothes and a worse horse which makes it all the funnier. But the second half of the book is so much darker.
Having said all that, the big duel where he meets the 3M and fights the Cardinal's men is a great set-piece. The build up to this when he schedules duel after duel with the 3M is also great...Michael York in the MacDonald Fraser scripted movies does this very well.

message 29: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Oct 24, 2008 12:51PM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Nails indeed, but could D'Artagnan take Alatriste in a square go? (OK, I'm mixing authors here, but humour me.)

message 30: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Oct 25, 2008 03:27AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Translation wise the Oxford World Classics version of 3M is a reprint of the 1846 translation by William Barrow, which in the introduction David Coward (the editor of the edition) states is "the earliest and most pungent of the half-dozen or so English translations which have been made". "Most pungent"??? My copy smells fine...
OK, checked my big chunky Collins, seems pungent is being used as satirical, biting, or caustic. Now back to the swordplay...

message 31: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia | 77 comments Mod
While you're reading, see if you can keep a count of how many horses he and the other lads ride until they (the horses) drop dead under their legs — and are casually replaced (I wouldn't leave a CAR on the side of the road with the indifference these guys leave animals!). Despite that PETA moment however, I do love this book, I hope you're having fun with it.

message 32: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Different times, different morals...to be fair they kill each other as easily as they run the horses into the ground. Is it maybe just a dramatic device to emphasise the haste and distance of the journeys? Anyway, it is fiction, so no actual horses or musketeers were harmed during the writing. The treatment of women by D'Artagnan is also fairly poor by 21st century standards, and the duels if moved to current innercity Paris would make tabloid headlines as gang war and knife crime related articles but as its a bunch of chaps with swords it's a swashbuckling romp...but I don't think "La Haine" will be viewed as a romance in the mould of 3M in 150 years.

message 33: by Brannon (new)

Brannon (brannongreen) | 3 comments i agree that the penguin versions have been the most entertaining, I haven't found anything but Oxford editions for the D'artagnan series, other than 3M of course. I'm fine with Oxford though, it's working well for me.

message 34: by Pandora (new)

Pandora  | 73 comments Barbarossa thanks for the laugh about no actual horses were harmed. I do agree with Cynthia it was hard to read about all those poor horses dying. Still, it is only fiction and a different time.

It seems Penguin has the best versions. I love my copy of The Count and The Women's War by Robin Buss. Sorry to hear he is gone. At least I now know he is a man. Wasn't sure with the name.

message 35: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Some thoughts so far:
I know some folk consider this a kid’s book, but it’s full of death and betrayal so I don’t know how they figure that out. There are men butchering each other over imagined offences and using women to their own ends. It’s like gang war in the streets of Paris half the time.
I remember Buckingham from my first reading as a tragic romantic hero, but on second reading he is an animal. He starts a war with France just so he can return to Paris to negotiate a truce and while there see Queen Anne. “My enjoyment will have been bought by the blood of thousands of human beings; but what will their lives be to me, provided that my eyes are blessed once more by seeing you!”
The cardinal and his realpolitik world of plot and counterplot may prove to be the hero on this reading, and Milady his James Bond like hired gun. We’ll see.

message 36: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments !!!POTENTIAL SPOILER!!!

I was sure D'Artagnan "got jiggy" with Milady? My translation (first published in 1846) doesn't even mention it in the (modern) notes. I know there's not going to be a Henry and June moment, but it's not even hinted at. He meets her in the dark and pretends to be De Wardes...was sure they put some Barry White on in the background...OK maybe not Barry White...
Apart from that I'm still enjoying 3M...the boys are off to La Rochelle for tea and cakes now...
Dead horse count only 2, so far more dead Frenchmen...lost count and some might just be badly wounded...difficult to keep track due to poor triage in 17th cent Europe.

message 37: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Anyone understand the currency in 3M?
Louis, sous, livres, crowns, francs, pistoles?
Doesn't explain much in the notes of my edition.

message 38: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments There wasn't even any implied hanky-panky in the Oxford World Classics translation by Barrow...don't know who did the version I read first years back. Without this the dynamic between Milady and D'Artagnan is very different.

message 39: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments 3M is great, the boys have just had breakfast under fire...balls of steel.

message 40: by Cynthia (last edited Nov 03, 2008 04:42PM) (new)

Cynthia | 77 comments Mod
i know, this is more than you want or need to know but since you asked....
(from association-gauthier.org/anglais/life/measures.html)

What was the value of a "livre" or "franc" in the daily life of our ancestors? What could one buy with one "livre"? Today, we know that with $1 one can buy a litre of milk and that 454 grams of butter cost approximately $3. In the days of our ancestors, the smallest cash value coin was the "denier" and 12 "deniers" were worth 1 "sol". In New France, early in the colony and when our ancestor Bernard Gontier arrived here, the "livre" was worth 20 "deniers" or 20 cents while in France, the mother country, a person, bringing money from the colony, had to pay 22 or 23 "sols" for a "livre" and sometimes more.

Here is a list of the currency of that era:
"denier", was foremost a roman currency.

"sol" or "sou", a copper or bronze coin which, as of 1793, was made in pieces of 5 "centimes".

"livre" or "franc".

"écu", silver coin.

"louis", gold money. It had equivalents as does today's dollar, be it Canadian or American, which is worth 100 cents (we still call them "cennes" while the British say "copper" while the Americans and English speaking Canadians call them "pennies"). Perhaps in memory of our ancestors?

12 "deniers" equal 1 "sou" or 1 "sol".

1 "livre" or "franc" is worth 20 "sols" or 20 "sous".

1 "écu" equals 3 "livres".

1 "louis" equals 20 "livres", struck with the effigy of the reigning king. The "louis d’or" (gold Louis) was called a napoléon during the reign of the emperor.

1 "pistole" equals 10 "livres". It was at first an ancient Spanish currency then it became French money.

Moreover, contraband brought foreign money into the country such as the "piastre espagnole" (Spanish dollar) which was worth 20 "livres".

We know that the "deniers" and the "sols" were in free circulation. Moreover, one saw "liards", copper coins, which were worth 3 "deniers", while "sols" were made of a copper and silver alloy. Pure silver was reserved for " petit louis" (small Louis), "écu blanc" (white écu) and "gros écu à couronne" (large crown écu). Gold, the precious yellow metal was used for "louis", "pistoles" and " guinées" which were worth the equivalent of 21 English "shillings".

In 1670, we had copper pieces of 5 "sols". Along with a piece of 15 "sols", this coin was one of the first to be circulated by France for its colony in America.

Previously, in 1640, the "louis" and the "demi-louis d’or" were issued in order to stop the forging of gold pieces. These pieces were marked with the effigy of kings and the first pieces of the kind were issued by Louis X111. The first "louis d’or" bore, on the reverse side, "fleurs de lys" (effigy of a lily flower) which gave its name to the money that numismatists know as the "Lis d’Or".

Later, under the reign of Louis X1V and after 1693, the "louis d’or", also called the "louis au deux L" came into being. The reverse side was generally marked with an oval écu and this piece was named after the initial letter of the first name of the king of France engraved on it.

message 41: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia | 77 comments Mod
I'll check the French version and see what Dumas said about them getting Jiggy with it (sometimes those translations are a bit prudish, depending on when they were wrought). My memory of it is that they DID get naked but he doesn't describe it in great detail. Do you remember roughly what chapters it all happened in?

message 42: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia | 77 comments Mod
i can't find my 3 musketeers in french but i found the translation from my high school library book sale (so it's pretty umm old) and it doesn't give a lot of details about what happens in the boudoir with milady.It just says they're in her bedroom until 1 a.m. and he leaves delirious with amour, basically. I think it's just... suggested. I guess it's up to us to decide what base they got to; I've always assumed it was all the way home. France esp back then wasn't very prudish.

message 43: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Cynthia, many thanks. I am very glad of decimal coinage.

message 44: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Nov 26, 2008 08:00AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments OK, just finished 3M and off to pick 20YA out of my wee bag of books. Not sure of the Oxford translation though. Amongst other things it leaves the "liaison" between D'Artagnan and Milady fairly vague, not even implying a bit of "jiggy" action. The first time I read 3M (can't remember the translation) this was made fairly plain, not smutty but you were in no doubt they made the beast with 2 backs. Now, by modern standards this incident is basically a daterape and changes the whole dynamic between these characters and allows some sympathy with Milady. The Oxford translation avoids this and therefore Milady can only be viewed as bad to the bone.
Also, this translation is very low on the dead horse count.
On this reading the Cardinal was my favorite character though.
Anyway, onto "20 Years After"...

message 45: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Dec 02, 2008 11:51PM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Misfit (post 27), you're right about the notes to the Oxfords. Also, they seem to be random...by that I mean they go into detail about buildings and streets at times, then when I occasionally find something I want more detail on they remain silent. Urban Grandier gets a mention in passing in the text but no notes. I only know him as years ago I read Huxley's The Devils of Loudun (where I first met Mazarin), but nothing in the notes.

message 46: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Cynthia, you're right about the horses. Not yet 1/2 way into 20YA and there's a mountain of dead horses by the side of the road already.

message 47: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Dec 07, 2008 08:53AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Anyone reading 20YA here's something worth a look for background: The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man Who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold.
Also, in Galway in the West of Eire there's a pub of note: http://www.thekingshead.ie/history2.php

message 48: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Anyone still reading the saga?
I'm into Louise de la Vallière now, anyone else into the last act?

message 49: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Apr 17, 2009 12:52PM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Well, finished the lot. Sad stuff at the end.
The VdB saga isn't Dumas at his best, but still very good in parts. The start and ending being standout points for me. The portrayal of our old friends and their changed, and at times strained, relationships.
The whole second book though is like a high-school farce with folk falling for each other or being spurned; conversations overheard/misheard; social one-upmanship. Some of the problems I had with this can be put down to the editions (mid 1800s translation) and the notes (dull and fairly repetitive data about streets and then without warning spoilers). But at times you know Dumas is being paid by the line. The dialogue can go on for pages and nothing gets said. Very frustrating.
Frustrating? How so?
Do you want me to tell you?
Please do.
I shall.
Go on then.
Soon, soon.
When you are ready you must explain.
I shall...etc, etc, etc.
The last part of the saga, is nothing like I expected. Sad, noble, a portrait of how friendships change and age and sorrow come to us all. A bittersweet endnote.
Won't say anymore.

message 50: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Apr 17, 2009 06:50AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 115 comments Sir, every part of my reading head screams "Do not abridge!"
And yet...I found LDV a chore at times. Mark, you know my reading habits, so when I say that it should give you some insight into the book or maybe the translation.
Dumas could have done with a ruthless editor.
I've only read the Oxford versions so don't know if there's a more reader friendly version of LDV, or even the best MITIM to restart with after jumping it.
At times LDV has a school disco feel to it: "My mate fancies you"/"Check her, what is she wearing?"/"You are so uncool."
That's it, I shall retranslate into Paisley Ned speak and publish...

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