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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas



Book Review
La Reine Margot
by Alexandre Dumas
originally published in 1845

  It helps to imagine Alexandre Dumas as a mid 19th century analogue to a George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, in that they receive credit for works that represent the efforts of more then one person.  Lucas and Spielberg receive most of their credit for movies they direct, and of course, a finished film involves everyone from the Actors to the post-production Editors to obtain a final result, and then almost all of the Artistic Authorship "credit" goes to the director of the film.

  Alexandre Dumas worked in a similar fashion, using a "work-shop" of talented elves to help him produce the works that were credited to his name.  La Reine Margot- published in the first blush of Alexandre Dumas' productive career as a novelist, is a notable example of that method of Authorship, because an entire first draft was written by a historian, and then Dumas went over the draft and added dialogue and stylistic flourishes.

    To give you some idea of Alexandre Dumas' productivity during the 1840s, La Reine Margot was published in 1845, The Three Musketeers in 1844 and  The Count of Monte Cristo between 1845 and 1846.  In this progression, La Reine Margot was the book that really solidified his Artistic reputation as a master of the "Historical Romance" style invented by Sir Walter Scott.

   Unlike The Three Musketeers, La Reine Margot is involved in the actual facts of the Religious Wars of France in the 16th Century.  The events of La Reine Margot center around the real-life St. Bartholmew's massacre,  which involved Parisian Catholics massacring visiting and local Huguenot Protestants on the occasion of the marriage of the Huguenot Henry to the Catholic Margot.

  Other historical characters include the villain, Catharine D'Medici and the King of France, Charles IX of the  Valois monarchy.   Dumas was not the only French novelist to find this period interesting. In the 17th century Madame de Layfayette published an anonymous romance called The Princess of Montpensier (which was recently made into a French language film) that has a substantial overlap in time and characters. 

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