Archives For Alexander Dumas

Guest post by A. Lampard.

“The Man in the Iron Mask,” by Alexandre Dumas, is a continuation of Dumas’ classic, “The Three Musketeers.” The story takes place in France, where the three musketeers have retired, and d’Artagnon remains in his majesty’s service. Unknown to d’artagnon, his two friends, Aramis and Porthos, seek to remove the current king of France, Louis XIV, and put his twin brother, Philip, on the throne. While the plot is underway, d’Artagnon must decide where his loyalty lies: with his most trusted friends or his King. Dumas’ use of heartbreak, loyalty and conflict in “The Man in the Iron Mask” creates a narrative that fascinates the reader, but ultimately leaves them hanging.

The “The Man in the Iron Mask,” has gaps in its storyline. The first gap consists in Raoul’s (Monsieur de Bragelonne and son of Athos) heartbreak.[i] Raoul’s fiancée, Mademoiselle de La Valliere, appears to have fallen in love with Louis XIV, and him with her. Raoul’s lover seems to have then left him for the corrupt king, leaving the young man drowning in depression and heartache. The result of this action causes Raoul to long for death, however his overall role in the narrative is unclear and mostly unresolved.

The second gap, concerns the futures of Monsieur Fouquet and (particularly) the prisoner, Philip. Fouquet’s role is mentioned once in the epilogue long after his being captured. However, his role is not spoken of again. Philip is not mentioned or acknowledged in the book after his arrest. His future seems to imply that he will continue to be mistreated and left to rot in prison. Unfortunately, a drastic plot twist causes him to be arrested, which dulls down the intrigue of the story. The outcome of their fates is anything but complete, as information concerning their futures is left out, and the story ends.

Porthos’ death was the worst part of the book. One of the most painful experiences in “The Man in the Iron Mask” is his death. Porthos’ death removes a boisterous cheerfulness that brightened the story.  Good Porthos’ kind heart and humor banished the dark atmosphere of the book. After “the Death of a Titan”[ii] (as Dumas put it) the story seems overly burdened by its incessant despair and gloom.

“The Man in the Iron Mask” is not as much a swashbuckling narrative as “The Three Musketeers.”  The themes constantly present in the story are despair and sadness, which contrast deeply with its predecessor. “The Three Musketeers” is an incredible story full of danger, intrigue, and drama, leaving the reader enchanted. The same cannot be said of “The Man in the Iron Mask.” The plot of this story isn’t nearly as adventurous or mysterious as one would hope, leaving the reader to wonder about the ending.

The lack of swashbuckling heroism and adventure, which was constantly present throughout “The Three Musketeers,” was disappointing. Despite this, “The Man in the Iron Mask” did have some good parts. For example, when two hundred men heard they were fighting two of the legendary, four musketeers,  and were struck with both terror and enthusiasm. The dull story-line isn’t affected by this though, which still leaves the reader in confusion about how Dumas ends his story.

In conclusion, “The Man in the Iron Mask” is often tedious, dull, and leaves the reader hanging. Unnecessary changes throughout it slow down the story. There are frustrating gaps in the story-line, such as: Philip and Fouquet’s futures, and what Raoul’s overall role in the story was. In addition to these gaps, there is the death of Porthos, which causes all humour to disappear from the book. Dumas seems to have lost his flair for the adventure and boisterous, in “The Man in the Iron Mask” he isn’t at his best.

 


Notes:

[i]  Please note that I have only read ‘The Three Musketeers’ and ‘The Man in the Iron Mask.’

[ii] “The Man in the Iron Mask,” Chapter 50 (‘The Death of a Titan’) – Dumas calls Porthos a ‘Titan.’

(Disclaimer: no remuneration of any kind was received for this review.)

Windmills & Giants!

June 19, 2018 — 1 Comment

As a father, who happens to homeschool his five kids, I also have the distinct honour of managing the general household paradigm.  Here’s a retelling of an event involving one of those responsibilities.

 

 

Chores are not like a small kitten’s purr,

No. Chores are torture.

Run the linen up the flag poles,

Stoke the spinning bucket with garments,

And it’s still hungry.

Such is this monster, which I have,

    daily, gallantly met.

It makes me Don Quixote against

Windmills and giants!

With the same checklist,

 gusto and loyalty,

  as that of D’Artagnan’s servant, Planchet.

Into the chilling wind I stride,

Weighty basket in hand,

Like an explorer in wet clothes, traversing unexplored Antarctic land.

The south winds blow in from hills covered in Australian snow,

My uncovered hands are no match for the cold.

My destination is only ten steps from the back door,

but the wind is like a frozen invisible wall.

My climb against it has become a solitary fight

Like the one faced by an imprisoned, Edmond Dantès

stuck inside a cell with no light.

the minutes drag on, the seconds slow down.

Like the resuscitated Dantès, become Count,

fighting back against all that was unfair;

Where is my Prisoner Priest, like Abbe Faria?

Where is my Island of Cristo,

with its hidden treasure made ready for me to bare?

the wind chill hitting my hands,

it’s a solitary stand.

This, these darkened minutes are testing my resolve,

It’s a saga even Dumas would have, with bravado, retold.

All because I went out into the cold

To hang up on a line, a bunch of wet clothes.


©RL2018

Photo credit: Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

count-of-monte-cristo-caviezel-and-harris

From, The Three Musketeers, to The Man in The Iron Mask, to The Count of Monte Cristo; in the novel department only Clive Cussler’s, Dirk Pitt fiction series comes close to how much of a fan I am of Alexander Dumas.

If there’s a movie made available about either, I’ve probably seen it, or would sign petitions for more to be made.

I would have to say that outshining all three of Dumas’ works listed is The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s my affection for this book that’s applied to the new instrumental below. The story of Edmond Dantes, betrayed by his friends in their quest for power and privilege. Imprisoned falsely and lost to the world he once knew. Stuck in the depths the Château d’If, the now, number 27, Dantes ‘ desperation drives him back towards God.

Praying for deliverance, he meets Abbé Faria (#34), a priest, who while attempting to escape digs up into Dantes’ cell. From this meeting comes the revolution of Dantes.

“[For] Dantes was a man of great simplicity of thought, and without education”.[i]

Dantes reflects on the limitations of their imprisonment and wonders how the Faria came to still be able to read, when no books are allowed, let alone light to read them by:

“I had nearly five thousand volumes in my library at Rome; but after reading them over many times, I found out that with one hundred and fifty well-chosen books a man possesses, if not a complete summary of all human knowledge, at least all that a man need really know – [recall to memory].”

From here, Dantes asks to be taught by Faria. He subsequently goes from being a naive simpleton to an intellectual giant. Dantes learnt to “see in the dark.”

In the final scene between the two, an unwell Faria farewells Dantes by giving him the treasure of Spada’s location; hidden in the rocky island of Monte Cristo:

“This treasure belongs to you, my dear friend,” replied Dantes, “and to you only. I have no right to it. I am no relation of yours.”
“You are my son, Dantes,” exclaimed the old man. “You are the child of my captivity. My profession condemns me to celibacy. God has sent you to me to console, at one and the same time, the man who could not be a father, and the prisoner who could not get free.”

Through prayer, a teachable attitude and education, Dantes started a personal revolution that would take him further than he probably should have gone.

The Count of Monte Cristo is the story of the salvation and dark revolution of a man sold by his friends into the abyss, in exchange for power, money and privilege.The path is mixed with tension. Full of ethical dilemmas which permeate action and decision, each moving through complex relationships built on a web of deceit. Something Dantes carefully unravels as he seeks justice for the wrongs done to him.

I think the instrumental captures that tension. The joy of freedom, of learning new things, of hope, of wrestling with wrongs done to us, and awakening to the knowledge that we all have to be responsible with that freedom.

For the physical side of the creative process. After finishing, I decided to redo the lead guitar part.  The low quality of the work reminded about the importance of having a determined melody. I am doing this as much for practice as I am posterity, so if I’m not being challenged to move beyond what I’ve already created then, as can happen, the art will stagnate.

Instead of having a wandering lead solo that does nothing but show off my flawed run up and down a fret board, having a fixed lead part works to launch the fillers (& all the frills which snap to attention with it).

The hardest part was mixing the layers. There’s an improvement between my earlier recordings and the more recent ones. I’ve pushed Audacity as far as it can go. Although, it has it’s limitations,  I’ve appreciated being able to work with a program that works. The next level is Pro-tools or an equivalent. If I was going to follow that road, I’d be looking at making that kind of investment pay for itself.

 


Source:

[i] Dumas, A. The Count of Monte Cristo Acheron Press. Kindle Ed.

Music is my own.

Image is from The Count of Monte Cristo, 2002 Jay Wolpert & Kevin Reyonalds, (source.)