When I was in high school, my sophomore and junior English teacher had 100-question multiple choice tests for a bunch of books from most all genres. If a book was less than 250 pages, we had a week to read it; if more than 250 pages, we got two weeks. Of course, we could read the longer books in a week of we wanted. I read both The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo in a week. I knew nothing about Alexandre Dumas other than he wrote a good yarn, From his wiki:
Alexandre Dumas, born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, 24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas, père, was a French writer. His works have been translated into nearly 100 languages, and he is one of the most widely read French authors. Many of his historical novels of high adventure, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later were originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas’ last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.
As I noted a few months ago, the translators serve an important role in the readability. Dumas’s novels have had good translators (to me anyway.)
As it so often seems, Dumas was far more accomplished as a writer than just his best known works might suggest. Again from his wiki:
Dumas wrote in a wide variety of genres and published a total of 100,000 pages in his lifetime. He made use of experience, writing travel books after taking journeys, including those motivated by reasons other than pleasure.
Goodreads.com shows thirty distinct titles for Dumas though I think there is a bit of overlap in some respects between French, English and other languages of his better known works
I was not aware for many years that Dumas was mixed race. Wiki has a laugh out loud quote from Dumas on this:
Despite Dumas’ aristocratic background and personal success, the writer had to deal with discrimination related to his mixed-race ancestry. In 1843 he wrote a short novel, Georges, that addressed some of the issues of race and the effects of colonialism. His response to a man who insulted him about his African ancestry has become famous. Dumas said:
My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.
A look at IMDB for Dumas shows him with 257 credits as the basis for television and movies. I made a rough count of 58 being related to The Three Musketeers between 1911 and 2014 and another 41 from The Count of Monte Cristo. The Man in the Iron Mask and The Corsican Brothers have also been the basis for multiple TV shows and movies.
I know the movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo that I most prefer is the 2002 version with Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, and Richard Harris. The 1934 version with Robert Donat was referenced in the movie V for Vendetta as “V’s” favorite film. There was also a 1975 TV movie with Richard Chamberlain, Louis Jordan, and Tony Curtis that I vaguely recall watching at least parts of when it was first broadcast.
I’m not sure which of the various versions of The Three Musketeers i have most enjoyed as most all of the major versions have both good and bad components. Is it 1948 with Gene Kelly as D’Artagnan, Vincent Price as Richelieu, Lana Turner as M’Lady DeWinter, and June Allyson as Constance? Or is it the 1973 version (and 1974 follow-on The Four Musketeers continuing the actual story from the book) with Michael York as D’Artagnan, Charlton Heston as Richelieu, Faye Dunaway as M’Lady, and Raquel Welch as Constance? While some of the other versions have bits and pieces to recommend, such as the 1993 version with Tim Curry as Richelieu, these two are the best in my eyes.
Thanks to The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas has stayed published all these years. That plus he wrote good tales. I have The Man in the Iron Mask and The Corsican Brothers on my kindle for future reading and it appears there are other stories he wrote that are available for all.
Picture from Robert licensed under Creative Commons