Thursday, February 25, 2016

Daily Dose of Literature: The D'Artagnan Romances of Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas was a French writer of historical adventure fiction in the mid-1800s. While his day was largely before the pulps, he was part of an important literary tradition that led directly up to the pulp fiction of the early 20th century. Like many of the later pulp writers, Dumas saw most of his works published as serials in the fiction magazines of the day. His works have been translated into over 100 languages and adapted into over 200 films--and that doesn't even take into account the many television and adaptations of his work or the pastiches and continuations, both authorized and unauthorized, that have been undertaken.

One of the more interesting facts about Dumas that many people don't know is that he was actually of mixed-race descent. His father was a nobleman and his mother an Afro-Caribbean slave. Dumas was brought to France and freed by his father as a young child. As with many young Frenchman of the day, he did a stint in the army, but after a break with his father chose to adopt his mother's surname. Eventually, he became the first Afro-Antilles to reach the rank of General in the army. By the age of 20, Dumas was working in the offices of the Duke of Orleans. It was here that he began his writing career, drawing upon his various experiences to craft his stories.

Dumas died in 1870 at the age of 68. 

Of his various works he is probably best known for his novels The Count of Monte Cristo and, of course, The Three Musketeers.* These tales are outstanding high-action stories in the grand swashbuckling adventure fiction tradition, though being written in the mid-1800s and translated from French, they are not exactly easy reads. Still, after one gets used to the prose style, they are well worth the time. You'll find that in The Three Musketeers, no film adaptation has ever done the story nor the characters justice.

What's better, and what most people don't realize, is that Musketeers is only the first in a series of works chronicling the entire life of D'Artagnan. These D'Artagnan Romances are all great fun to read, full of adventure, suspense, intrigue, sex and even dark comedy and humor. They're the best of heroism, potboilers, war stories and even a bit of hardboiled Noir all rolled up into one grand overarching tale and solidly establish Dumas as one of the pioneers of the swashbuckling genre along side such luminaries as Robert Louis Stevenson. Later heroes such as Howard's Solomon Kane owe something of a debt to the Musketeers and their contemporaries.

For more about Dumas, check out his Wikipedia article.

Some background on the D'Artagnan Romances

Alexandre Dumas on Feedbooks (in PDF, epub and Kindle formats)

The D'Artagnan Romances on Feedbooks (in PDF, epub and Kindle)

The Count of Monte Cristo on Feedbooks (PDF, epub, Kindle)

And, as always, when you've got a taste for the genre, why not try running some swashbuckling action-adventure stories of your very own with Amazing Adventures and the Amazing Adventures Companion?

*It is worth mentioning that Dumas wrote many of his more successful works in conjunction with silent collaborators, the most well-known of whom is Auguste Maquet.