Alexander Dumas père

Discussion on any 19th century written works by authors other than Hugo.
humanracer
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Alexander Dumas père

Postby humanracer » Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:55 am

Has anyone read the d'Artagnan Romances or Count of Monte Cristo? How does he compare to Hugo as a writer?

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MmeBahorel
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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:15 am

Dumas writes pulp; Hugo writes deep thoughts.

Seriously. Dumas is so much fun, but he's pretty much the epitome of what I call (fondly) "junk classics". These things never went out of print because they're too awesome to go out of print. They are adventure stories with love plots and random lesbians and drug use and the crazy badass Milady deWinter.

It's like Dracula compared to Frankenstein: one is an adventure novel about monsters with loads of sexual overtones, and the other is trying to say something important about society. I can love both, but they really don't merit much comparison to each other, because it makes one look boring and the other look lowest-common-denominator.

Junk classics are great. Three Musketeers, Monte Cristo, Dracula, Scarlet Pimpernel, Phantom of the Opera, Tom Sawyer (the real classic is Huck Finn; Sawyer doesn't transcend its plot): no analysis required, any deep thoughts are incidental, they're just a ripping great read. Not everyone was trying to change the world like Charles Dickens or create an entirely new literature like James Joyce. Some people just wrote really entertaining stories but with a better grasp of grammar than Dan Brown. (I kid - i haven't read DaVinci Code. But seriously, some of the plot points Dumas pulled out of his ass, murderous albino monks are probably somewhere I haven't seen yet because I haven't read enough.)

More junk classics need to be studied in school because they are so easy to pick out elements of plot and character but so much happens you can't get bored. And they always end up saying something about the hang ups of the period in which they were written, which can make for interesting analysis, largely because they aren't trying to talk about these issues. (There are random lesbians in Count of Monte Cristo for a reason.) But the analysis is rarely going to end up too ponderous because these are adventure stories first and foremost. They're proof that "classic" doesn't have to mean "Henry James", just like "Shakespeare" can mean Twelfth Night and not just Hamlet.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby humanracer » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:23 am

Thanks for the detailed reply. I guess you could add Sherlock Holmes to the "junk" list, though I am a huge fan. I read somewhere that Dumas was worried that his work would not endure after he had gone. He was wrong of course as his novels are part of popular culture. I guess I should avoid the Hugo comparison and just ask if the novels are a good read?

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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:30 am

They're fantastic. So much fun.

Start with an unabridged Monte Cristo because it's sort of a pulpy anti-LM. A friend of mine was writing an internet serial based on his time with the LM tour, and he used TCOMC as his fake LM (everyone had full bios of fake shows, from "Imelda" as the fake Evita to "Alpha-Bits" as fake Cats, and the mega producer was a Japanese dude named Taki Toshiba). Because there are character alignments and plot alignments (at one point, you can basically stage Javert's suicide in reverse). Seeing all the parallels is lots of fun. Plus there's orientalism that somehow doesn't skeeve me out quite so much as usual, random hash eating, the aforementioned lesbians who completely steal the novel at one point, and some really awesome plotting. It also has some kneeslappers such as the hero never managing to get normal skin colour back after escaping several years imprisonment in a dungeon but is always weirdly, deathly pale, even though he spends his time sailing the Mediterranean in his yacht and hanging out on his private island (which is why I put nothing stupid past Dumas). It is awesome.

I think I'm going to reread Three Musketeers now. I need something compelling to keep me off twitter during my commute (last thing that worked was Vanity Fair, which sort of dances on the line: it's way more fun if you don't analyze it, but there's so much there to work with).
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby simosax24601 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:39 pm

I read the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo and I really enjoyed it, but I think Dumas went through and through digressions without any purpose... Apart from the digressions, it's a great book.
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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby humanracer » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:36 pm

I just won a 25 book set of Dumas Works on ebay. I wonder if I will ever make it through the 5 volume Vicomte de Bragelonne, which is longer than the Three Musketeers and the sequel Twenty Years After put togther.

Some of his other novels seem interesting, especially The Queens Necklace which I have heard good things about.

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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby 23623 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:58 am

A while ago I watched a few episodes of the new BBC adaption of 3M. There are times like this when I feel really frustrated about the lack of swear words in my vocabulary...I'd be running out of them before I could properly describe how terrible this so-called adaption is. :evil: Anyway, I then decided to do a reread to remind myself of the good stuff, which somehow didn't really work. :? 3M was the very first work of "classic literature" that I loved. I read it when I was like 9 or 10 and got helplessly obsessed with it. But, rereading it ten years later (... :wink: ), I realized that the book is not as good as I used to think it is. The story is still fun to read even though I know the plot, but an interesting story is really all that there is in Dumas novels. One thing I find quite puzzling about Dumas is how he managed to write such intriguing stories with such lame characterization. Seriously, there are few characters with well-defined, complex personality in 3M and Monte Cristo. In fact I HATE the protagonists in both novels. I like Edmond when he's still Edmond, but there's hardly anything likeable about the Count. D'Artagnan on the other hand is simply annoyingly cliched, a young, brave, hot-headed hero blessed with all the good luck in this universe. :roll: Athos and Aramis have interesting backgrounds that could have been better developed but are somewhat underused. I think Noirtier is probably the best written character in these two novels. I'm so in love with that cool old man and all the Villefort family drama. :D

I've been debating for a long time whether I should read the sequels of 3M. The plot seems quite promising according to wikipedia. It's interesting to see the four friends become sort of enemies, though in fact it all depends on how well Dumas writes it...it could be huge surprise or epic fail. So are the sequels worth reading? Are they any better than 3M? I may give them a try one day if they are.

Btw, for those who are curious about the crimes of that BBC adaption, here's some highlights. Consider yourselves warned.
- No Rochefort. No recommendation letter incident. At the beginning D'Artagnan is going to find the murderer of his father.
- D'Artagnan duels with the others because he thinks Athos kills his father.
- D'Artagnan meets Constance when he's running away from someone. He randomly kisses her on the street.
- No Duke of Buckingham. Apparently, BBC think it's better to let Aramis do that part because book-Aramis looks so like the Duke and it's a perfect excuse to cut a character...
- ...while they are still busy inventing a ton of others that don't exist in the book at all, like some random bandits planning to blow up the palace

Just. WTF. :shock: :roll: :evil:
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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby CC21106 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:48 pm

I don't like the Count either. He's just mean, carries his revenge way too far. Gets a child killed. How much worse can you get than that? (Trying out font color and size for first time to hide spoiler.)

Haven't read all of 3M. I bogged down in the middle of it. Ought to read it just because it is world literature, and had an effect on other people's writing. Sort of like Sir Walter Scott. I re-read "Ivanhoe" every once in a while, but couldn't get through more than half of "The Heart of Midlothian" because of the suspense.
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Re: Alexander Dumas père

Postby Rachel » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:00 am

Love 3 Musketeers. D’Artagnan is hilarious. He can’t go ten pages without dueling someone.

Also, not really a major spoiler but the scene in Count of Monte Cristo where that guy does that thing with the water and the knife is just so awesome that epic music started playing in my head.

Dumas is so much fun. Especially 3 Musketeers. Swords, duels, espionage, racing across the country, and the power of friendship? Count me in.
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