Dumas, The Vicomte de Bragelonne

Now, I am led, most willingly, to the 3rd installment of the epic D’Artagnan romance series, written by the masterful hand of Alexandre Dumas; to think that just a few months ago, I was relatively oblivious to the bold swordplay and fearless bravery of the, Three Musketeers! Pardieu! And to think that I was even more ignorant of the daring heroe’s continued grandeur across the countries of France and England(Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne), with missions and plots that scandalized, restored and sabotaged  the largest political figure heads of their time. Mordieux!

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Oxford Word Classic, Translator, David Coward; One of the best translators of Dumas’ works.

In this staggering Dumas frenzy I’ve plunged myself into, I think I have inadvertently become a Dumasophile; such is his power of wit, mirth and adventure that I too have been in the heat of the chase with all these legendary men, Athos, Porthos, D’Artagnan and Aramis.

Again, I’m not one for giving a synopsis instead, I’d like to highlight a few parts, that made me either laugh out loud (like in the middle of public transit) or made gaze up from an engrossing page and into my mug of beer in reflective solemnity.

Here are some quotes and advice I’ve gleaned from my highly esteemed French friends that I’d love to share with you, dear readers and friends alike:

P.80, A miserly Cardinal Mazarin to the Young Louis XIV: “Rejoice at being poor when your neighbor is poor likewise.”

P.286, “Planchet, suffocated with joy, had lost his senses. D’Artagnan threw a glass of white wine in his face, which immediatly, recalled him to life.” Dumas describing the craze of Planchet upon seeing the heaps of gold: “At this time, as they do now, grocers wore a cavalier moustache and full beard but money baths, already rare in those days, have become almost unkown now.”

P. 91 D’artagnan to Louis XIV: “Sire, an order is given by a sign, by a gesture, by a glance, as intelligibly, as freely, and as clearly as by word of mouth. A servant who has nothing but ears is not half a servant.”

P. 255 D’Artagnan to Athos: “My friend, pleasures to which we are not accustomed oppress us more than the griefs we are familiar.”

P.276 D’Artagnan’s Reflection: “Now, in times past all went wrong with me, and every month found a fresh hole in my cloak and in my skin, a gold crown less in my poor purse: of that execrable time of small beer and ups and downs, i regret absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing, save our friendship; for within me I have a heart, and it is a miracle that heart has not been dried up by the wind of poverty which pssed through the holes of my cloak or pierced by the swords of all shapes which passed through the holes in my poor flesh.

P. 136, Mousqueton to D’Artagnan, recounting the leisure of the week he and his master Porthos engage in: “Monsieur, on monday we see society; we pay and receive visits, we play on the lute, we dance, we make verses, and burn a little incense in honour of the ladies.” “Hell’s teeth! that is the height of gallantry,’ said the musketeer,…”

P.281 Athos to D’Artagnan, a paradise: “You are free, you are rich, I shall purchase for you, if you like, a handsome estate in the vicinity of Cheverny or of Bracieux. On the one side you will have the finest woods in the world, which join those of Chambord; on the other, admirable marshes. You who love sporting, and who, whether you admit it or not, are a poet, my dear friend, you will find enough pheasants, rail and teal, not to mention the sunsets and ample opportunities for excursions on the water, to make you think you are Nimrod and Apollo rolled into one.

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Twenty Years After, Alexandre, Dumas

The next installation Romances that follows, The Three Musketeers, is, Twenty Years After. Alexandre Dumas does not fall short of simply swashbuckling in this novel. As you’d expect from this great novelist, general and gourmand, the contents of this book are rich with timeless wit, burning friendship, adventure, savory food spreads and fine french wine. (some Spanish too.)

This month, I encourage you to find yourself a copy and read along with me and share your thoughts. Don’t worry, if you have not read, The Three Musketeers, it is not necessary for understanding this book. I recommend that you do read it though as it fills in nuances and beautiful subtleties in the following series.

If you need further convincing, please allow yourself the privilege of skimming some quotes to whet your appetite.

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Athos to his Raoul viscomte de Bragelonne: “I see your future as through a cloud. It will be better than ours. We have had a minister without a king; you, on the contrary, will have a king without a minister. You will be able then to serve, love and honor the king. If he prove a tyrant-for power in its giddiness often becomes tyranny-serve, love and honor the royalty; that is the infallible principle.”

 “There is no figure so expressive as that of a real gourmand before a good table…”

D’artagnan: “’Should that diamond ever fall again into my hands,’ he was saying, ‘I should turn it at once into money, I should purchase certain properties around my father’s Château -a pretty residence, but which has for all its dependencies only a garden scarcely as large as the Cimetière des Innocents -and there I would await in my majesty, until some rich heiress, attracted by my good looks, came to spouse me. Then I would have three sons; I would make of the first a great nobleman like Athos; of the second, a handsome soldier like Porthos; and of the third, a pretty Abbé like Aramis.’”

To his lacky Bazin: Because you always have your beadle’s costume on your shoulders,’ interupted Aramis, ‘and pass all your time reading breviary. But I forwarn you that if by dint of polishing the things in the chapels you forget how to clean my sword, I will make a great fire of all your holy images and roast you in it.’”

“Bazin, scandalized, made the sign of the cross with a bottle…”