Without Ms. Cooper’s notes it would quite difficult to read. Dumas would compare a character in the book with a fictional character in a story or play of that era. Cooper’s notes explained most of the comparisons advising the reader where the author was getting his comparison. This version of the story used vocabulary that was current for that time. Some words were beyond my vocabulary, I was glad to have an on-line dictionary available. I also found the pronunciation of the French names difficult and it took quite a while before I was comfortable with the spelling and pronunciation.
I have seen a couple of “The Three Musketeers” movies and each had their way to make it interesting to the American public. More sword play and grand chases. They all had bits of the original book in them but none told the real story. Too many people want the happy ending. Not to spoil it, I figure most have seen a movie adaptation, but it is not the typical happily ever after that Hollywood portraits.
The book does give us insight into the ways of the “genteel class”. These Musketeers or Kings Guard were mostly members of a higher class, and were not paid for the privilege of fighting. They were expected to provide their own weapons and food to lie on while on the march. They needed to have an outside form of income, whether from a family endowment or other means. It seems that most would find a rich patron that would help provide for their lively hood. Plus they needed a servant or “lackey” to handle the day-to-day jobs. It must be known that a job in the service of a Musketeer was not looked upon badly at the time. These “Lackeys” were considered lucky to be in the service of famous “Musketeers”. Sort of like being a butler at the “Whitehouse”.
There was a definite class distinction. The “Lackeys” were appreciated but also not expected to mix with their employers. The loss of an employee was considered troublesome because they had to be replaced with someone else, not because they were missed but because then someone else would have to be trained to take the place. Sort of like changing the department name from “Personnel” to “Human Resources”. Trust of the “Lackeys” was minimal. One scene in the book had the Musketeers offering extra pay to complete a mission but only giving enough for expenses so that the “Lackeys” were sure to return. Late in the book Athos does admit that they different “Lackeys” had different areas of expertise and were appreciated for what they could do.
There does seem to be a lot of extra marital affairs that only amount to a kissing of the hand or brush of the body. I do think that the affairs did occur quite often and possibly the description of the affairs was limited to a kissing of the hand, because to write about lovers and descriptions of love-making probably would have been more scandalous than the act itself. But I did find that professing of love happened very quickly and often. Could have been hormones.
Historical novels always have information that will help to gain an insight to the era when the novel takes place. “The Three Musketeers” certainly does that, sometimes a great story will transcend time and carry over to the present. That must be what causes it to be considered a classic.
Next up, a different classic, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, copyright 1980. This could almost be considered a “historical novel” now. Lets see if it holds up to the test of time.
Until next time, we have had a real winter here in Michigan. Television weather has decided to name winter storms now. I find this asinine trying to create news.
So until the next “Polar Vortex”, try to stay warm.