I finished reading The Three Musketeers yesterday. (These days, as a result of being broke and unable to afford books, all my reading is either review copies that newspapers send me, or out-of-copyright classics.)
The book approves of, among other things:
- extra-marital affairs
- monarchical government
- summary executions
- persecuting religious minorities
and throws in a bonus girlfriend-in-refrigerator.
It’s impossible for this book to be anything but a guilty pleasure. But pleasure it is.
Incidentally, one of the chapters begins this:
It was a stormy and dark night; vast clouds covered the heavens, concealing the stars; the moon would not rise till midnight.
Hmmm. The Three Musketeers was published in 1844 in French, and I think the translation I read dates to 1846.
The more widely known “It was a dark and stormy night” dates back to Lord Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 Paul Clifford, so now I wonder just what is going on here. Does the original French version also contain “It was a stormy and dark night,” and did the translator reproduce it faithfully, or was the translator trying to sneak in a pop culture reference on his own accord? (Actually, back in the 1840s, was “It was a dark and stormy night” a meme at all, or did it explode into consciousness thanks to Snoopy?) And if Dumas had written this in the original French, was he making fun of Bulwer-Lytton, or was he just doing it unselfconsciously, and being as melodramatic a writer? This is a mystery, on the order of, dare I say it, the identity of the man in the iron mask.