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Thread: Advice on reading Dumas

  1. #1
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Advice on reading Dumas

    I have just finnished reading The Three Musketeers and I really quite enjoyed it. I had someone tell me that the book was part of a series including:

    Twenty Years After
    The Vicomte de Bragelonne
    Louise de la Vallière
    The Man in the Iron Mask

    I had not known that the Three Musketeers was part of an acutal series, and I had already planned on reading The Man in the Iron Mask, but thought it was a completely seperate book.

    Is this the kind of series where you can read the books out of order? Or do they have to be read chronologically, from the first book to the last in order to make sense?

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    You could read it out of order of course, but I found certainly the last part of Bragelonne, The Man in the Iron Mask very powerful and I don't think you'd want to read anything after that. I won't spoil it for you, but the end is a good ending and I can't imagine wanting to read what happened before.

    The characters also develop and so, I suppose it could be quite puzzling why certain characters do certain things if you don't know what happened before. The Vicomte, which is The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Vallière and The Man in the Iron Mask in order, in the beginning draws heavily on what happened in Twenty Years After. Not only on the history of Engand, because then it wouldn't be a problem, but also certainly for d'Artagnan, Charles and Louis XIV/Mazarin.
    Some chapters in the Vicomte even have the same name as chapters in its prequel, so I wouldn't jumble them up...

    I think Dumas draws on detail and developments behind the scenes (like French films), which the reader gets an impression from but doesn't totally know the real extent of, and that is spoilt by jumbling the order up.

    Twenty Years After is important for what happens to d'Artagnan in the Vicomte and his mindset. Louise is important for the characters Louis XIV and Bragelonne, and by extension for d'Artagnan and Athos. Twenty Years After is important for Athos and Bragelonne, but also for Mazarin. the Vicomte and Louise are both important to understand the political developments which play an important role in the Iron Mask and particularly the end of that.

    I hope I didn't spoil it for you... I read them in order and I got so much out of it..; It would be a shame to not get half of it because of being in a hurry...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Thank you, considering how much I enjoyed the Three Musketeers I will probably read all of the books in order now.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    I did find the sequels a lot less dense than the original, but certainly the Vicomte is interesting politically and diplomatically. They do not draw so much on the four themselves, but they put it in a wider perspective.

    What they do do, sublimely, is develop the same character traits, really to the most lovely extent, almost Platonic, maybe. The funniness of the plot does not go away in places, but it is as if Dumas paired up the maturing of his characters with a maturing of the situations in which they move and how they deal with it. D'Artagnan, but also the rest, keeps suprising. Even towards the end. It is puzzling how much you know them and how little, even after 3000pages worth.

    It is so touching at times that I cried in several places, but at the same time it stays funny and interesting throughout, although sometimes in Twenty Years After it is kind of slow...

    Truly magnificent! I hope I didn't embarras myself with the crying bit...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    I'm a great fan of Dumas, I have even another book that is said to have been written by him that is after "The Man In The Iron Mask", "Son of Porthos". Dumas was extremely prolific and on reading I was a little disappointed - but then realised that despite his name appearing as the author, he may not have even written it - but this was a classic series of books!

  6. #6
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Hello! Welcome to the forums! Nice to meet another (!) fan.

    I looked up The Son of Porthos. I knew I had seen it somewhere on Wikipedia in my research and turns out that it was published under the pseudonym 'Alexandre Dumas' by a person called Paul Mahalin. He published it in 1883, 13 years after real Dumas's death.

    Mahalin also published a second book in 1900, D'Artagnan Kingmaker that was based on one of Dumas's plays. The Son of Porthos was entirely his own (Mahalin's) doing.

    I guess, if it had been really Dumas it would have been included in the series for everyone to know... But it's a nice thought. If I meet it somewhere for a reasonable price, I'll try it.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    Yeah there are a couple of sequels to Monte Cristo that are mistakenly attributed to Dumas but are written by posers. These include The Countess of Monte Cristo and Son of Monte Cristo.

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