Yesterday a friend informed me that the most recent Italian translation of Dumas’ The Three Musketeers was selling for 99 cents on Amazon in digital format. Now I have my old copy here somewhere in some box, but I did the math and realized it’s been something like thirty-six years since I last read the mother of all swashbuckler novels, and so I sacrificed one buck and got me the ebook.
Now Dumas’ novel is one of those books that, for some reason, some have decided are kid’s books. The consequence is these books are pushed on the unwary teenagers, usually with massive cuts and rewrites to excise the bits that are most obviously unfit for a younger audience.
Which is something that drives me crazy – cutting an adult novel to make it kid-friendly because you have decided it’s for kids in the first place.
The new Italian translation is very elegant and yet it goes like a freight train – I sat with it after dinner and read the first five chapters in about two hours.
Dumas manages to build a classical intrigue, while providing a tongue-in-cheek commentary on issues like power and politics. It is a historical novel, a spy story, a swashbuckling adventure, a distinctively cynical romantic melodrama and, given the fact that it was written 176 years ago and never went out of print, it’s Literature.
And French Literature, to boot.
Because of all of its different levels of reading, The Three Musketeers, like many classics, deserves to be read and re-read, as different ages and experiences bring the reader a different appreciation of some issues.
And I’m having a lot of fun, re-reading it.
Should you be interested, you can find a free ebook version, in English and in various formats, on the pages of Project Gutenberg.