August 10, 2008


Hats off to France's literary star: The historical novels of French writer Alexandre Dumas have thrilled generations. As a once-lost, last book is published, Dumas devotee Hugh Schofield explains the author's enduring appeal. (Hugh Schofield , BBC)

I have been a devoted follower of Dumas ever since I was introduced to The Three Musketeers, about 15 years ago.

Not just the first book, of course, but the series of musketeer novels, culminating in The Man in the Iron Mask and (much to my surprise at the time) the deaths of Porthos, Athos and d'Artagnan.

The Count of Monte Cristo followed (to my mind not as good, the second half is rather flat), and since then bit by bit my collection has grown, until I have now about 20 novels in translation and the original French.

Not many people realise it, but the Dumas books taken as a whole actually comprise a kind of swashbuckling novelistic accompaniment to the length of French history, starting from the late Middle Ages through practically to the writer's own day.

The so-called Valois novels tell the stories of the wars of religion at the end of the 16th Century, the musketeer books deal with the reigns of Louis Treize (XIII) and Quatorze (XIV).

Later there is the Marie Antoinette series, and finally a trilogy set in the time of Napoleon, the last of which, Le Cavalier de Sainte Hermine, is now being published in book form for the very first time.

The story of how The Last Cavalier was found is an exciting enough tale in itself

...the cartoon classics they used to show on tv, back in the day? One suspects that's how most boys of our generation got hooked on Dumas, Cyrano (speaking of which, the Ferrer version is available on-line), etc.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2008 12:13 PM

While in no way equating to Dumas, a very enjoyable/readable 20th Century version of "The Count of Monte Cristo" is available in Jeffrey Archer's "A Prisoner of Birth".
Highly recommended!

Posted by: Mike at August 10, 2008 9:42 PM
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