“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis
Owned and Unread Project
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Three Musketeers, Part 1
Well, it is long, and it's not exactly what you'd call great literature. But it is a beloved adventure novel that has stood the test of time, so therefore it is considered a classic.
And isn't that an awesome cover? This is so shallow of me, but it was really the cover that finally attracted me to this book. I remember watching an old 1970s film version starring Michael York and Richard Chamberlain, years and years ago, but I'd never had much desire to read it. However, this recent edition translated by Richard Pevear intrigued me. I realized I'd read hardly any classic French literature, so I put it on my birthday list. And the book sat on my shelves and was moved from house to house unread, until the combination of the TBR Dare and Allie's Readalong inspired me to finally start it.
If you are not familiar with the story, basically, young D'Artaganan (I don't even know if he HAS a first name), from Gascony, travels to Paris with a letter of introduction from his late father to the head of the Musketeers, who are the king's guards. Unfortunately, the letter is stolen, so by his wits and skills alone he must attempt to join this elite group. Along the way, he accidentally insults three different musketeers, who each challenge him to a separate duel. He has no idea that these are the three famous friends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and when they arrive for the challenge (Porthos and Aramis are the seconds so they show up for the first duel early), they are insulted by the cardinal's guardsmen, and end up combining forces against their common enemy. D'Artagnan impresses the Musketeers with his fighting skills and bravery and becomes their protege.
D'Artagnan soon becomes caught up in political intrigue between the Queen and the evil, power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu; meets a the love of his life (who is married to his nasty landlord); and has to save the day with the help of his brave comrades.
Honestly, this is a really fun book. Yes, there is sword-fighting and action, but what I like best about this book is the friendship between and the four friends, and the relationship between D'Artagnan and his lackey Planchet. And it's really quite funny. For such a long classic, it's an easy read, and I had no trouble reading eighty or so pages at a single stretch.
The only problem I have with this book so far is the lack of morals some of the characters are displaying. These guys think nothing of gambling away a friend's horse, stealing wine, and challenging someone to a fatal duel over a mere insult. And for such amoral people, they think nothing of meting out some pretty harsh justice for others -- there's a pretty shocking scene toward the middle of the book that I won't give away. Maybe that's the way things were in the 17th century France, or maybe it's just a fantasy that amused people at the time when it was published in 1840; maybe the musketeers are just doing what all the readers were fantasizing about. Either way I'm not taking it seriously enough to let it detract from my enjoyment of the book. I look forward to completing the second half soon.
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Glad you're liking it!ReplyDelete
That is a great cover, and the action/adventure part sounds great. About not being great literature - do you find it's just poorly written?ReplyDelete
I agree that is a great cover and I also agree about the morals part. But at least the adventure part is very exciting!ReplyDelete
Bookworm1858 -- I'm sort of considering it like Huckleberry Finn and Gone With the Wind -- there are some elements I don't like, but overall the book has enough things I like to outweigh the bad. And I wish my library had a paperback edition of the Pevear translation so I could check it out, I'd read it faster if I had smaller copy to carry around with me. The hardcover is so big I can't shlep it around with me -- it would be nice to sneak in extra pages now and then.ReplyDelete
That cover is stunning!ReplyDelete
I read this a few years ago and thought it was silly but fun. I didn't pay attention to translations, though, and now I really want to give the new Pevear translation a go! Especially since I haven't been able to connect with the other Dumas books I've tried.
It's a great book! I love, love, LOVE French literature books!ReplyDelete
I have just finished Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser and I had the same thoughts about that. Great adventure story, but a completely amoral main character.ReplyDelete
I've been looking at reading this for quite some time. It sounds in many ways quite similar to Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, which I loved/hated for many of the reasons you stated here. Isn't it funny how one can feel both ways about a book?ReplyDelete
I'm glad you're enjoying it! I feel the same way you do about-it IS fun and kind of silly. It is completely different than the Count of Monte Cristo (which I LOVED), so it took a little getting used to. But I like the light-hearted nature of it, and it seems to be doing the trick in terms of getting me back into reading. I feel inspired by the silliness.ReplyDelete
The morals are kind of obnoxious. I'm hoping they realize the error of their ways sooner rather than later, but I don't think they will. The whole scene with the innkeeper and Athos being trapped in the cellar really irritated me.
Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying it! Thank you for participating!
Good review. I remember the movie.ReplyDelete
I love the Musketeers & Monte Cristo as well. Great adventure stories to wallow in. It's been a long time since I read them but I remember them fondly. Interesting that Pevear has translated this. He's well-known for his Tolstoy translations so multilingually talented.ReplyDelete
LOVED the Count of Monte Cristo, but still enjoyed the Musketeers. Dumas has a way of story-telling. (To truly enjoy the Count, you have to read the unabridged version, which is harder to find than you would think.) This is a great cover, btw! Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
I read this for a book club about a year ago, and I picked this very same edition based on the cover. My kids would see it though and ask why there were four people on the cover when there are only three Musketeers, lol!ReplyDelete
This was quite funny. At the book club, we spent most of the time reading funny lines we had underlined and busting up. Great fun!
I think part of how they seem amoral is the 17th-C romantic notion of the "rogue." It's very much the way teenagers view pirates these days, in the wake of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. My kids make fun of the "piracy" warning on DVDs and, like their friends, don't really see the harm in sailing too close to Somalia.ReplyDelete
I really wanted to read this, but I kmew I wouldn't have the time this month. One day! I can take a little amorality, just as long as the characters and the plot stack up.ReplyDelete
Sounds like such a fun read! Like you, I love the cover ( it would have caught my eye and had me considering reading the book ). I know judging a book by a cover is wrong, but sometimes I can't help it :) Your enthusiasm for this book has me convinced I should give it a go - looks like I'll be adding another classic to my TBR. THanks :)ReplyDelete
Eva -- I like this cover much better than the paperback version, which is one of the Penguin Deluxe Classics (which was not included in the big box of Penguins I won in January). It's a doorstop though!ReplyDelete
Tatum -- I'm really excited about French lit lately. I've recently discovered Zola and I loved Madame Bovary so I want to read more Flaubert. I still have Victor Hugo and Guy de Maupassant on my TBR shelf.
Seagreen Reader -- I think it's a testament to a great writer when they can make you interested in a character you disagree with or even dislike.
Bellezza -- I have the same feelings about Huckleberry Finn and Gone With the Wind. I hate the racism but I feel like the books are still worthy.
Allie -- it's great but I agree they aren't exactly role models. Athos is actually pretty dark. I don't know if I could trust him! I do want to read more Dumas, will probably tackle Monte Cristo once the TBR shelf is under control. I have so many long books to read!
Lyn -- I was so interested in Peavear after starting this so I started Googling him. I think this is the only work he's translated without his wife. He doesn't actually read Russian, she translates and he does the English part. They're still working on Russians but I'd love it if he did more French works.
Cozy in Tx -- I never saw the 1990s version but it sounds silly. I look forward to the new adaptation this fall.
Susan in TX -- I do want to read Monte Cristo. I started it a few years ago but it was so huge I got overwhelmed and put it off. I really dislike it when books are abridged, it makes me wonder what I'm missing. I'd like to read Les Miserables someday also but that's another doorstop of a book.ReplyDelete
Shelley -- I'd love to read this in a book group, how fun! And I agree with your kids, I've always thought it should be The Four Musketeers. It is much funnier than I thought.
Jeanne -- I was thinking of Johnny Depp too! I suppose it's okay as long as you don't imagine them as role models. They're sort of cartoonish, aren't they? But I'd steer clear of Somalia if I was sailing!
Fleur -- for such a big fat book, it's a very easy, fast read. It was a nice break from Villette which was starting to drag.
Nadia -- I think everyone judges covers. We're just human, we like attractive things. This book is one of the most fun classics I've read, I'm really glad I got around to reading it.
I think "not taking it seriously" is the way to enjoy this book! And yes, I like that cover a lot!ReplyDelete
That is a good cover. I must admit that I never read this but I know my dad was a big fan.ReplyDelete
This is the kind of book that is not my cup of tea, yet I read it about four years ago and loved it. So much so that I bought The Count of Monte Cristo.ReplyDelete
I love the cover! I read this book when I was in college, I think, and I also read its sequels. They all completely run together in my mind, but I remember enjoying them. I also remember ADORING The Count of Monte Cristo. Not sure if I'd have that same reaction now, though- very long!ReplyDelete
I believe that sometimes the cover is what you should use to decide whether or not to read the book. If it seems there is a lot of effort put into it or has something that stands out, then the book will follow along with it. From what you've said, your decision was a good one and it does seem like a very interesting book that could be an easy read; and I will definitely have to read it.ReplyDelete