Thursday, January 23, 2014

The magic of the musketeers



I’ve been slow to start the blog this year, but let’s hope I’ll continue with regular posts now that I have. The first book of the year is The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas for no other reason except because there is a new series based on it. The book is also number 55 on Clement K. Shorter’s list of the hundred best books from 1898 so it will serve two purposes at the same time.


Choosing a TV series as a prompt for a book blog post is apt, because my relationship with the Three Musketeers is mostly based on TV and movies. There was a cartoon in the early 80s (Dogtanian and the Three Muskethounds in English, but with a different name in my country) that first introduced me to the characters and the story. I loved it, and watched every episode religiously. There was also a TV series from the 70s with Richard Chamberlain as Aramis, which I saw when I was a little older that made an impact.

The influence of these series was so strong that when I finally read the book I couldn’t recognise it. The names were different than in the cartoon, and the makers of both series had taken liberties with the story. So the reading experience was as much about unlearning things that I had learned incorrectly as it was about the story itself.

There was an article on the Guardian last week that pretty much stated the same. The Three Musketeers has long been free game when it comes to artistic interpretation. Some of the adaptions manage it better, some less so. I’ve generally enjoyed most of them – even the bizarre steam punk version that the article maligns. But I’ve allowed these interpretations to mess with my head, and I’m not sure, which stories belong to the original and which are modern inventions. However, as long as I enjoy the story, I dont really care.