This note regards Alexandre Dumas, père, the father of Alexandre Dumas, fils (son). For the son, see Alexandre Dumas fils.
Alexandre Dumas, père (French for "father", akin to Senior in English), born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, was a French writer, best known for his numerous historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world. Many of his novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne were serialized. Dumas also wrote plays and magazine articles, and was a prolific correspondent.
Dumas was of Haitian descent and mixed-race. His father, General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) to Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman, and Marie-Cessette Dumas, a black slave. At age 14 Thomas-Alexandre was taken by his father to France, where he was educated in a military academy and entered the military for what became an illustrious career.
Dumas's father's aristocratic rank helped young Alexandre Dumas acquire work with Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, then as a writer, finding early success. He became one of the leading authors of the French Romantic Movement, in Paris.
Empecé con muchas expectativas a leer "La Reina Margot" y creo que las colmó ampliamente. La historia narra uno de los temas más recordados en Francia, las Guerras de Religión entre protestantes y católicos. Reina en Francia Carlos IX quien a su vez es manipulado por su corte, principalmente por su temible madre Catalina de Médicis, quien es la que realmente gobierna; están con él sus ambiciosos hermanos Enrique, Duque de Anjou y Francisco, duque de Alencon. Por otro lado tenemos a los hugonotes o protestantes, cuyo líder natural es Enrique de Navarra, secundado por un almirante, un caballero De Mouy y el valiente conde Bonifacio de la Mole. Margarita, quien da título a la obra, es la esposa de Enrique de Navarra, casada con él por orden de su madre Catalina de Médicis con la intención de reconciliar a dos facciones de Francia. Ambos no se aman y cada uno tiene su propio amante como se verá en la novela, pero como en la historia real, se apoyan para acceder algún día al trono de Francia. Es una novela que aunque pocas veces se hace tediosa por la gran cantidad de páginas tiene un argumento extraordinario, opacado en mi parecer en parte por la semejanza y poca profundidad de sus personajes (como es común en Dumas) y por la gran cantidad de licencias históricas que se permite aquí como nunca. Esto de aquí para mí, que me gusta tanto la historia, fue un pequeño conflicto. Si yo no hubiese sabido nada de los personajes reales no hubiese dudado en ponerle las 5 estrellas, como fue en el caso de los Tres Mosqueteros, cuyos personajes son irreales, pero sabiendo que casi todos existieron y ver muchas veces la realidad deformada es como un desengaño, pero vamos, si la historia que cuenta fuera de personajes todos imaginados pues realmente me ha encantado. Aunque muchas cosas en forma y fondo creo comparte con "Los tres mosqueteros" se puede destacar algunos asuntos que me gustaron como la profundidad de las relaciones amorosas (aunque nuevamente la descripción romántica es muy pero muy débil), los increíbles juegos de la corte francesa (que aunque en "Los tres Mosqueteros" también es un conjunto de engaños bien urdidos pero aquí considero es aún más diabólicos los planes) y la enorme cantidad de personajes que maneja esta historia. Se puede decir que en esta novela hay de todo, amores, odios, traiciones, presagios, desengaños y un largo etcétera. Me sorprendió sí la cantidad de oráculos y presagios a lo largo de la obra (me gusta mucho eso a pesar que yo soy el más escéptico de los escépticos en cuanto a esas cuestiones, porque encuentro más patéticos los desenlaces o más "heroicos" como en el mismo "Rojo y Negro") y también la crueldad en algunos episodios que hacen tanto contraste con la amistad sincera y hasta inocente de La Mole y su amigo Aníbal de Coconnas (o Coconasso). Insisto con lo mismo, que si me quitasen la idea que la historia verdadera fue diferente o que los personajes hayan existido pondría probablemente más arriba esta obra, pero de todas maneras creo (no estoy muy seguro) que es mejor que "Los tres Mosqueteros", de lo que no dudo ni un poco es que recomiendo altamente esta novela, puede aburrir por momentos pero la trama es soberbia.
This classic novel about Marguerite de Valois, last scion of the Valois dynasty of French kings before the Bourbons, has a lot of issues.
It is historically inaccurate.
It villainises the Queen Mother Catherine de' Medici to the point she's a caricature.
It lionises Henri de Navarre, future Henry IV, to the point he does no wrong. Well, no wrong besides his inability to keep his codpiece in . . . well, his cod place.
It whitewashes a murderer by the name of La Mole, who participated in the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre by making him a hero.
It glorifies the massacre of Huguenots by making it look as if it was just the leaders and their men-at-arms that died on St Bartholomew's Day when the reality was that thousands of unarmed innocents, women, and children were also massacred.
All the characters are one-note and behave melodramatically.
For all that the title bears her name, Margot isn't even the main protagonist. Musketeer-wannabes La Mole and Coconnas and Saint Henri le Cuckold de Navarre get far, far more onpage time than her. Even her brothers Charles and François get more onpage time than they should to the detriment of her character.
And on top of that, it only covers 2 years of Margot's life, ending long before her best and most interesting years.
So, yeah, not a novel I'd recommend to those that demand historicity in their fiction. The saving grace, for me, was that in spite of being a cartoon villain, Queen Catherine was delightful and hilarious. I laughed at her resourcefulness and her refusal to quit in spite of her continuous failures. She's like Snow White's stepmother if she went unpunished.
Or maybe that's not correct, for she did get a sort of cosmic retribution. Like House Lannister after Tywin's orchestration of the Red Wedding, her House of Valois is steadily going the way of extinction after Saint Bartholomew's. But, like Tywin, she won't live to see her family lose the throne.
I would definitely have enjoyed this more if it had more Margot and more Catherine de' Medici, and less Henri of Navarre, and zero La Mole & Coconnas.
SO much better than I expected it to be. The book is long, but the story moves at such a fast pace and so much happens that you don't even notice. All the characters are fascinating, and my personal favorite was Catherine d'Medici, who wins the award for Worst Mother-in-Law Ever. I swear, she spends all her time trying to poison just about everybody in the book. She kills one person with poisoned gloves, then fills somebody's lamp with poisoned oil so the vapors smother them, and then she poisons the pages of a book. It's evil and amazing. The only reason this book doesn't get five stars is simple: NO SEX! (yes, I am trashy. Get over it.) Dumas has no problem describing the St. Bartholomew's Massacre, the gross symptoms of Catherine's poisons, and lengthy torture sessions, but he refuses to tell us anything about what goes on in the secret house where Margot and her friend meet their boyfriends. These people were going at it like coked-up rabbits for the entire book, but based on Dumas's descriptions, the farthest anyone ever got was a kiss on the forehead.
Luckily, there happens to be a French movie based on the book, and although it takes serious liberties with Dumas's plot, it's rated R, and for a very good reason. Read Queen Margot, then see the movie version if, like me, you have a dirty mind and a weakness for smut.
"Vedremo se della regina Margot sarà tanto facile fare una monaca."
"We shall see if they can make Queen Margot into a nun so easily."
Betrayals. Broken hearts. Conspiracies. A marriage sealed by ambition instead of love. Queens with too big a heart and queens with no heart at all. True sentiments that require to be muffled and false ones who aim to look deeper than they are. Poison, swords and blood. Hunting parties where those who chase the game are game themselves. Ambushes in the dark. (Not so) secret lovers. Sacrifice, freedom, improbable alliances. A friendship that laughs in the face of Death.
Dumas is a master storyteller. But since this is all I'm able to write, I'm clearly not a master reviewer. I apologize--but I have reason to hope that you will forgive me once you pick up La reine Margot (Queen Margot in the English translation) and read it: you'll be too engrossed in the story to take heed of the inadequacy of my words.
Ok, I wake up like the sleeping hare and find that about five partially or completely unwritten reviews have waddled on past me and are steadily continuing along the way threatening to gently move out of memory unless I bestir myself.
So, a little while back I committed myself to reading this book in French - I had five years of French in school and I remain many years later reasonably confident of my ability to buy an ice cream, if not much else, so my linguistic resources were limited. However due to the heat of summer simmering if not boiling my brain I committed myself to this book on the sound basis that I read the first sentence and understood it while when I looked at le petit Prince the first sentence was already way too challenging for me. I read on through the first page of this Dumas novel and it seemed manageable, I felt that I could read a chapter a day without getting a headache and as the book has sixty-six chapter I assumed I might finished in September. Very soon I was reading several chapters a day, some days a lot more an so I finished much sooner than I expected.
In addition to my years of schooling I had several other advantages, firstly English and French share a lot of vocabulary, as former US George Bush II observed; the French have no word for entrepreneur, equally none either for parent or accident. The first time I heard that observation I thought it was funny, but it strikes me now that Bush (or his speech-writers) would have had a sufficiently expensive education to know better, but they chose in any case to speak down to their audience of fellow citizens. But enough of such political digressions.
Another big advantage is Dumas and his style, and this I can happily tell you is when the substantive part of the review begins, so you can skip the earlier paragraphs if you like.
Firstly, this novel does not have a plot in any conventional sense. Rather the characters have various adventurous adventures adventuring within a fixed time period which is meant to run from the summer of 1572 for two years. In practise it was pretty hard to tell that time was passing within the story, if not for certain historical events, I might have guessed that the entire book took place over several weeks or perhaps a month. The novel is constructed out of a series of episodes with common characters, anyone episode seems to have curiously minimal impacts on any other (of which more below).
Secondly within a chapter a common method of progression is for two characters to meet and have a conversation. Sometimes a third person will join them, in which case the new person will address one of the original two, but it is very rare for more than two people to talk together.
Thirdly everyone, except for one German gatekeeper, speaks standard French, there seems to be no attempt to capture regional or class distinctions or even in the case of Catherine de Medici (the Queen Mother) who as a woman and a foreigner is the chief villain of the piece, that they are not a native French speaker.
Fourthly it's fun, it is a simple story of adventure filled with daring and dastardly deeds. It's the ancestor of Flash Gordon conquers the Universe, or Star Wars - its full of manly men, womenly women, canine dogs and horsey horses.
Fifthly although it is a historical novel, the history is really a bit of scenery that allows the writer to present the reader with an adventure. Rather like a Hollywood film you can write long lists of what is wrong, inaccurate, and misleading historically in this novel or alternatively a short one of what is correct, reasonable or fair to say. Reading the wikipeadia page on the French wars of religion or on the St.Bartholomew's day massacre will provide you with too much background information.
Among the disadvantages there threatens to be too many characters called Henri: there's the king of Navarre, the Duke of Guise, one of Catherine's sons, and the Duke of Conde, but after a while it becomes clear the last mentioned will never say anything in the story, the Duke of Guise crops up only once or twice, and Catherine's son Henri will eventually go off to become king of Poland.
It's also written in French throughout and my vocabulary really wasn't rich enough to appreciate it, but occasionally even I could recognise that it was droll to use another useful English word.
I assume that some nineteenth century writers like Dumas, Dickens, Dostoevsky and various others even some whose names do not begin with the letter D; believed that their novels would mostly be read aloud in instalments by the paterfamilias to the family, and this inclines them to a more direct form of story-telling.
Along the way I read that Dumas was not the sole author of his novels, but rather like Rubens he maintained a studio of contributors and co-authors; one even took Dumas to court either to get increased recognition or remuneration. This makes sense, this is a six hundred page novel that was published the year after The Three Musketeers which is about the same length - presumably ink was delivered by the barrel to the Dumas house. Multiple authorship would go some way to explaining some of the above stylistic features that make the book easy to read.
Although the title character is Catherine de Medici's daughter Margaret (Margot to her brothers) who is married to the King of Navarre and so is herself the Queen of Navarre, she isn't the central character, rather she is the hub figure to whom all the spokes are connected: her ex-lover (leading Catholic the Duke of Guise), her current lover the Huguenot gentleman and swordsman de Mole, her husband Henri the King of Navarre, her mother the villainous Catherine de Medici, her brothers (King Charles IX, Francis, and Henri). This a bit of a disappointment.
The worse feature is that this is a flat novel, it turns it's back on the emotional complexities of the characters' lives in favour of incident and excitement. Within the first hundred pages the St.Barthlomew's day massacre takes place and a couple of chapters later de Mole and the Catholic gentleman Annibal de Coconnas have become firm friends. It's almost as though Catholics in Paris hadn't been busy trying to kill all the Huguenots in Paris that they could find just a few pages earlier. As a basis for lasting friendship between two heroes this is a trope in genre writing, and this novel is a masterpiece of superficial genre writing.
This is a novel that turns its back on the title figure's predicament, or rather sees in it only the fun element of trying to hide and heal a wounded Huguenot who has managed to take refuge in her bedroom, rather than the fractured loyalties that she has to negotiate.
Dumas (and studio) trap themselves by making Catherine the villain as this forces her son the King Charles IX into the role of being a cipher. But then, he's the king, so for Dumas he has to represent the grandeur of France and its decorative history he can't be a shrewd political operator or as he was a young man possibly already dying from tuberculous, trying to rule a country that was suffering from outbreaks of civil war, while trying to learn how to be king on the job.
I wondered both about why Dumas was writing historical fiction and about its impact. Perhaps the past simply offered a safe location for adventure, the past exists to provide vivid characters the opportunity to make droll reflections, engage in witty repartee (or should that be repartie?) and to demonstrate their skill with the epee. In terms of impact, Dumas depicts a universe in which events happen in history due to the personal intrigues of highly placed individuals. Interpersonal dramas are here the wind that blow the sails of history.
I listened recently to a couple of talks by Stephen Krashen on language acquisition, he stresses the importance of uninterrupted sustained silent reading, and attributes his knowledge of German to reading the novels of Karl May (and conversations with his landlady as a student) - but the former are more readily available for most people. Certainly I can testify that I was more comfortable reading Dumas in French by the end of the novel than I was at the beginning.
France in the 16th century was a time of violent upheaval. Religious wars between the Catholics and the Protestants (known as the Huguenots) made it a precarious time depending on your faith. It was also a time of the three Henri’s (Henri II, III and IV).
Henri II died in 1559 allowing Charles IX to take the throne. Charles was only ten and Henri’s wife, Catherine de Medici acted as a regent for the lad until he came of age. By the 1570s the religious wars made life a challenge. To soothe the violence, Catholic king Charles and his mother offered his sister, Marguerite de Valois, whom he called Margot, to marry the Huguenot Henri, king of Basque Navarre. Henri was the son of Antoine de Bourbon and Jeanne d’Albret.
On the 18th of August 1572 Margot and Henri married in Paris. Many nobles were invited on behalf of both religious camps. It was to be a joyous occasion. The queen mother Catherine had alternative ideas.
On the evening of the 24th of August, spurred on by the murder of the Huguenot admiral de Coligny by the Catholic Duke of Guise, violence reigned the city for five days. The day was forever known as the massacre of Saint-Barthélemy. Thousands perished. The Catholics dominated. Henri was forced to become a Catholic to settle tensions. Can you trust this Basque man? Can you trust the French mother and son? And what about Margot, caught in the middle?
Apparently the newly weds did not consummate their marriage. Henri of Navarre has a lover, Madame Charlotte de Sauve. As he points out to his new bride, the marriage is just a political connection. It’s not about love. Let’s just say that the book is made up of some strange bedfellows.
Queen Marguerite takes a lover, le comte Lerac de La Mole. He is famous for his red jacket. Ooh La La. Her lady friend Madame Henriette de Nevers is enchanted by le comte Marc-Annibal de Coconnas, comte de Montpantier, Chenaux and other places (really?). Coconnas works for Le duc François d’Alençon. He is younger the brother of Charles and Marguerite, who just happened to be an ally to the Huguenots. François also has his eye on the crown.
La Mole and Coconnas are friends. Good looking swarthy types perfect to cause a little romantic trouble. Let’s call them Orestes and Pylades. Why? Referring to Greek myths is always a good thing in a French romance. But don’t Greek myths usually end badly? Hmmm.
The Queen Mother Catherine de Medici “loves” her Florentine parfumeur Renè, who makes all those beautiful scents. He has a special knowledge of other things, like poison. Catherine doesn’t like Henri of Navarre. She really didn’t like his lover Madame de Sauve.
Catherine firmly believes in horoscopes. Fortunately Renè can deliver and offer advice. What happens when the future looks dark? Plan accordingly. Call in Maurevel, a shady character who did dirty deeds during the famous massacre. A hired gun. Keep them close, very close.
Despite all her conspiracies against Henri of Navarre, Charles becomes very fond of the man. In fact, in a family full of conspiracies, the only one Charles could trust is Henri. Charles enlightens Henri by introducing him to his child and lover. Charles also reveals who his wife, Queen Margot, is having an affair with, swarthy La Mole. Things are get dicey.
Meanwhile trouble brews in Poland. Le duc d’Anjou, Alexandre-Édouard-Henri de France, Henri for short, is given the job of king of Poland. Henri is also next in line for the crown if Charles departs suddenly. Can we safely assume that one should not trust anyone in this family? It’s fair to say that mother’s know best. Or is that never get on the wrong side of the family?
Have I lost you dear reader? All these people, their regal names and the multiple Henri’s make for one confusing read. So far that makes three Henri’s. Spoiler alert: Dumas did his homework although he doesn’t quite cover all the history of these three Henri’s. Remember, he is a novelist not a historian. Dumas paints a rather nasty image of the queen mother. The original white haired witch one might say.
Although there is a lot of history, Dumas is a master of building suspense and intrigue throughout. It’s a page turner. Although he does like sword fights, magic and poison, he loves to make us love or hate his characters. It works. A classic despite its flaws.
By turns highly unlikely and highly hilarious, Dumas' La Reine Margot is a wildly uneven, careening tale that knows perfectly well what it is and wants your gasps, sighs, and unbidden, unstoppable, "Oh no he didn't!"s. Or perhaps I should say "Oh no she didn't!" as the most shocking, ridiculously amazingly evil and awful moments are reserved for the truly unbelievable Satan of the piece, Catherine de Medici. She spends most of the book figuring out new ways to poison, arrest and assassinate anyone she doesn't like, or who pisses her off just by living- or even just anyone she can use for a momentary whim. She kills people with poison on gloves, in smoke from a lamp, with lip balm on their mistress' lips, with arsenic soaked treatises on sports, and oh yes, with poisoned apples. She sends people to murder others in their beds, has people tortured so she can cut off their heads and use it for auguring, and opens trap doors to send people plunging to their deaths in the dungeons. There's really no mildly irritating Catherine de Medici. She will kill you for wearing clashing socks. Oh sure, there's some sort of prophecy regarding Henry of Navarre about there, but I'm pretty sure that's not the point. Not sure if Dumas is indulging in some xenophobia there, but I wouldn't be surprised. She's referred to as "the Florentine," as much as she's referred to by name. No Frenchman could ever be so evil....! And yet. The majority of the Frenchmen in the book suck, too. (It should also be noted that Dumas took a whole lot of liberties with history, particularly with the characters and relationship of Henry and Marguerite. Catherine is as evil as legend would paint her, though she never quite lived up to that in reality. Lots of little other details, but all in the name of story.) The back of the book tells me one of the massacring, Catholics is supposed to be the hero- I don't get that. Except maybe if making out with his dead best friend's severed head is supposed to redeem him. (Oh yeah, that happened.) I think I liked about two people all through the book. Well, and the loving to hate Catherine too. There was that.
In the end it became a bit of an unexpected slog to get through because I kept losing interest in the paper thin characters and the repeated terrible ideas that passed for plots, and the often motivation-less changes of loyalty. But then there would be a great scene or one of Catherine's amazing assassination attempts, and I'd be drawn back in. I just wish the interludes between these had been remotely as interesting. I'd have ripped through this in hours.
This is probably my favourite Dumas novel but there's something about this translation that doesn't feel quite right. I suspect it's Dumas rather than the translator: there's an elusive tone and register to his prose which just doesn't translate into English in any seamless fashion.
That apart, this is a brilliant story: set in 1572, it concerns itself with the French wars of religion, especially the St Bartholomew's Eve massacre when Catholics slaughted Huguenots (Protestants) on the streets of Paris. The poisonous (literally) Catherine de Medici is set against the luminous Marguerite (called Margot by her brothers), and Dumas creates a story that pulses with drama. This is especially good on the claustrophobia of the Louvre where conversations are always elliptical and opaque, where secret lovers breath messages to each other in Latin, and where truth and integrity are always at a premium.
Like other Dumas novels (e.g. The Three Musketeer series) you do need to understand the historical background, and while the notes in this Oxford edition do an admirable job of filling that in you should be wary of the editor slipping in frequent 'spoilers', for example contrasting the historical career of a character with his/her role in Dumas' novel.
If you can, I would strongly recommend reading this in the original French which has a certain something that the English doesn't capture.
Coming back to Dumas as an adult is a very interesting experience. Just so that you know where I am coming from: as a preteen/teenager I was reading any Dumas novel I could get my hands on and I’ve lost count of how many times I’d reread The Three Musketeers.
This book has everything that Dumas excelled at: court intrigues, secret meetings, secret lovers, assassinations, mistaken identities, duels, adventures, etc, etc, etc. Today’s authors attempting to write fantasy with court intrigues would do well to go to Dumas and learn how it’s done (unless they have already ;) ).
Queen Margot of the title is awesome - clever, strong, and resourceful. (She spends quite a lot of time hiding various gentlemen in her chambers, for various reasons, ranging from tragic to hilarious.) I wish to have seen more of her and less of other characters, as well as of the very soppy love affair Dumas gifted her with. Women of the book know that they are not free, they talk about it, resent it, and do the best they can. I liked that – and it’s really not bad for a male author from the 19th century.
Do I have any complaints? Sure. The way Dumas writes about Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre is very shallow and simplistic (but the foreshadowing of the horror to come was quite well done, I thought). Coconas loses his humanity so easily during the night of the massacre, participating so eagerly – it’s horrifying to watch. And then… there is no aftermath, it’s “oh, we are all friends again”, and he gets to be a wonderful friend to La Mole and be quite a hero at the end. This is unbelievably clumsy and just plain wrong! It fees like Dumas wrote two different characters and then made them into one (or his ghost writers couldn’t agree). The last few chapters are just melodrama, melodrama, melodrama that I skimmed through – I no longer have patience with these things.
I had a very good time with refreshing my knowledge of French history while reading. Dumas does not pretend to write historical novels. I think that he wrote historical fantasies/alternative histories before anyone invented the concepts. Of course, Margaret of Valois, Catherine de Medici (who, in this book, should really go under the name of Catherine “I poison people” de Medici), Henry of Navarre and others were quite different and much more complex people than shown here.
But I accept the rules of the game, and in return, I am entertained in a very satisfying way, despite the flaws. I am beginning to think that Dumas rereads might be a good thing. After all, there are sequels, The Countess of Monsoreau and The Forty-Five Guardsmen What will I think when I revisit those?
Mikoron a Louvre-ban éjfélt üt az óra, sötét árnyék lopakszik be az alenconi herceg, Ferenc szobájába. - Ah, anyám! Hát Ön az? - kiált fel Ferenc, meglátván Medici Katalint, ezt a nőstény kobrát – Minek köszönhetem látogatását e késői órán? - Ó, csak a szokásos, kedves fiam. Jöttem titkos cselszövésekről sutyorogni, meg mérgezett kesztyűkről, amelyekkel ellenségeinket tesszük el láb alól, álnok szívünk szavára hallgatva. Ahogy mindig. - Tartom szerencsémnek. Akkor hát vágjunk bele. - Rendben. Szóval... sutyor, sutyor, cselszövevény, sutyor, sutyor, mérgezett kesztyű. Ám ebben a pillanatban Katalin elhallgat. - Ferenc. Mi ez a nesz? Csak nem hallgatnak ki minket? Tudja, a Louvre-ban a falnak is füle van! A budoárhoz lép, és feltépi az ajtót. - Nocsak, nocsak! Margit, egyetlen lányom! Hát maga mit keres itt? - Nyilván eltévedtem. Alvajáró vagyok. Na pá. A gyönyörű és okos hercegnő ezzel kilibben a szobából, csábító parfümillatot hagyva maga után. - Na, hol is hagytam abba? - morfondírozik Katalin. - A sutyornál, anyám. - Ja, igen, sutyor, sutyor. De hoppá! Megint zajt hallok! Odaugrik a függönyhöz, félrehúzza. - Navarrai Henrik! Minő meglepetés! Tán csak nem alvajáró Ön is? - Ja, nem. Én itt lakom. Az ablakpárkányon. De mindegy, épp indultam is - és kiballag a lakosztályból. - Nem lehet így rendesen cselt szőni... - méltatlankodik az anyakirályné – Mi jöhet még? A Mezőkövesd futballcsapatának teljes kerete a falikárpit mögött? - Jól van na, mit kell ezen kiakadni? - mondta a Mezőkövesd futballcsapatának teljes kerete, és kimászott a falikárpit mögül. - Ebből nekem elegem van – siránkozott Katalin – Az ember nyugodtan még össze se esküdhet ebben a mai világban! Te jó ég, hát még horkolást is hallok! Ferenc, Önnek valaki alszik az ágyában! - Emiatt tényleg ne fájjon a feje, anyám. Ő csak Dumas úr. - Nem kéne neki jegyzetelnie? Hisz végtére is könyvet fog írni ebből az egészből! - Ó, Dumas úr nem az a jegyzetelős fajta, anyám. Amúgy se nagyon érdeklik a történelmi tények. Majd kitalálja őket saját magának, ha felébred.
As usual in such writings, there is a strong mixture between historical reality and fiction, melted toghether with a lot of skills. And also as usual in Dumas's novels, he succeeds in inducing empathy towards his characters, Margot in this case, so you're feeling for them and become absorbed by the story.
It’s 1572 and in an effort to ease tensions between the Catholics and the Huguenots Henry III King of Navarre is married to Marguerite de Valois (Margot). Shortly after the marriage the Huguenots are slaughtered at the order of Charles IX and his mother Catherine de Medicis on Saint Bartholomew’s Day. Catherine is also bent on destroying Henry as her astrologer has foretold that her three sons will die and Henry of Navarre will rule France through the Bourbon line. Margot's dashing lover La Mole and his compatriot Coconnas are our two heroes and their fates weave in and out of the lives of the French Court.
Outside of that, this is really too difficult of a storyline to describe unless I wanted to write a book report and give it all away, and you know I don’t do that. In typical Dumas fashion and flair La Reine Margot overflows with treachery, intrigue, hidden staircases and doors, poison, murder plots, gallant heroes and best of all – Catherine de Medici is the most deliciously over the top villainess I have come across in a long time. What fun! Despite a very difficult start trying to grasp the political complexities and characters, by the halfway mark I was rocking along and had a hard time keeping my nose out of it.
While I loved it to bits, just be warned if you are new to Dumas this is probably not the book for you - the first few chapters will frustrate you so much you'll never want to try him again. I'd try The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers first. The Oxford Classics addition has a very helpful forward and character notes in the back - but be careful reading too much or you'll pick up a nasty spoiler or two.
I watched the 1994 film version of 'La Reine Margot' years before I discovered it was based on a book by Dumas. The film is incredibly gothic, melodramatic, and gory, so I loved it. Naturally I had to read the novel too. As it turns out, the book is even more overwrought and violent, with the addition of wit. I found it a wonderful romp, absolutely full of non-stop intrigue. The pace is fantastic, as befits a novel originally published as a popular serial that had to keep readers hooked from installment to installment. Characters are constantly hiding in cupboards from the Queen Mother, escaping into secret passages, getting into sword fights, narrowly escaping being poisoned, swearing deadly revenge, swearing eternal love, falsely pledging allegiance, plotting against the King, plotting against the Crown Prince, hunting dangerous boar, shooting at enemies, disguising themselves, climbing out of windows, hiding secret messages, being stabbed, and being imprisoned. Meanwhile, the St Bartholomew's Day massacre and subsequent unrest! Now and again someone sits down to eat an omelette, although most meals are interrupted by at least one dramatic event. Once I worked out which of the three Henrys was which and stopped constantly reading the endnotes, I was joyfully carried along by the momentum of events. There is such a vivid excitement and propulsive tension to the story, despite the eventual outcome not being in doubt.
Dumas adeptly juggles the machinations of Catherine de Medicis, Henry of Navarre, his magnificent wife Margot, her best friend, the Duke d'Anjou, the Duke de Guise, and the Duke d'Alençon. Many of their plots involve de la Mole and Coconnas, a pair of handsome young men who always choose the most melodramatic and excessive course of action in any situation. They meet coincidentally, become friends, realise they are on opposite sides of France's bitter religious divide, attempt to kill each other, both nearly die, recover, try to kill each other again, both nearly die again, recover together, and swear eternal friendship. The comparisons with Orestes and Pylades are many, not only in the narration but also in Coconnas's letter resigning from the service of a Crown Prince because his friendship with de la Mole is more important. It is difficult not be delighted by these two, indeed by every character, despite nearly all of them having a strong penchant for murder. While this Renaissance Pylades and Orestes are little more than thugs, they have such style and panache that I cared about them anyway.
The endnotes helpfully explain where Dumas played fast and loose with historical events. He constantly compresses timescales, re-attributes actions to keep the cast of main characters manageable, and gleefully invents and embroiders upon people's motives. Margot is of course at the heart of the book, a fascinatingly subtle and clever woman. In many ways the central conflict is between her and the Queen Mother, both working through men. Margot has a clear agreement with her husband to act as allies while finding love elsewhere. Catherine de Medicis plans carefully and ruthlessly for her sons, although her cruel methods eventually backfire in horrifying fashion. The king of France is childish and capricious, so power revolves around him while he has limited awareness of and control over events. This is particularly obvious when his mother strong-arms him into signing an arrest warrant. The king's brothers aren't a great deal better at plotting; clearly none of the sons inherited their mother's strategic mind. By contrast, Henry of Navarre and Margot de Valois are both blessed with a cool head and quick thinking. Both traits are essential in order to survive the Louvre in the 1570s, evidently. When de la Mole and Coconnas are compared with their respective ladyloves, it is clearly the women who do the thinking while the men look decorative and get into lots of fights.
I had a great time reading 'La Reine Margot' and found the endnotes helpful for historical context, albeit to be read in batches rather than every time one appears. The introduction provides some very interesting background to the novel's composition. Dumas apparently wrote it in three months, while working on four or five other projects. That really puts my three month PhD thesis draft in the shade. I also learned from the introduction that the 1997 Oxford World Classics edition I read is based on an 1846 translation, which edited the text! The Victorian translator removed some historical digressions that they felt would not interest a British audience. As I adored the chapters in Les Misérables on argot, Waterloo, and the history of the Parisian sewer system, I respectfully disagree with this choice. I wonder if there's a more comprehensive English translation to be found? If I had the patience and a French dictionary, I could try reading the original. 'La Reine Margot' was such an appealingly escapist reading experience that I'll keep the possibility in mind, despite my usual disinclination to reread. Now I want to rewatch the film, for comparison and because I love the visuals and music. Truly, there is nothing to match the capital-R Romantic melodrama of mid-19th century French fiction.
Est-ce que c'est une mode, lorsqu'on est un personnage féminin de la littérature du XIXème, de se promener dans des calèches avec des têtes décapitées sur les genoux ? Je me le demande.
Je ne vais pas noter ça, parce que ce serait injuste. Je suis visiblement passée à côté de ce livre, ou alors ce n'est pas du tout ma tasse de thé. Mais c'était ma pire lecture de l'année. Un mois et demi à le finir, j'ai persévéré, mais je ne sais pas pourquoi.
Si j'étais enthousiaste, aux premières pages, à l'idée de me manger un bon, gros, gras roman historique classique et franchouillard, avec au programme des duels de cape et d'épée, de l'amour, des gens qui se cachent derrière des tapisseries, des poupées de cire, des parfums empoisonnés, des livres empoisonnés, et pourquoi pas des gâteaux au yaourt empoisonnés, j'en avais ma claque au bout de cent pages, tellement on m'avait déjà gavée de duels de cape et d'épée, d'amour, de gens qui se cachent derrière des tapisseries, de poupées de cire, de parfums empoisonnés, de livres empoisonnés, et quasiment de gâteaux au yaourt empoisonnés. Encore, je n'ai pas parlé d'étalons fougueux.
Je n'ai jamais vu l'adaptation cinématographique, j'ai toujours voulu attendre de lire le livre d'abord. Je m'attendais à de belles fresques, épiques, des descriptions en justesse des principaux acteurs de la Saint Barthélémy. Il y avait une poignée de personnages historiques peints à gros traits, tout blancs ou tout noirs, qui s'avancent tous maladroitement vers leur destin. Finalement, seule la description de l'amitié entre la Mole et (mais comment il s'appelle ce type, j'ai déjà oublié) m'a touchée.
The first few pages filled me with literary foreboding. Lots of confusing names declaimed at length. The book promised dull worthiness from turgid word to florid phrase. On page 22 of my edition the King of Navarre and his new wife the sister of the king France agree that while they will always have different lovers they will always be allies. From then on I was treated to riotous carnival of oh no she did not just do that with a lot of he did the dastardly scoundrel, I never. It is beyond stupid and enjoyable. It also served as the basis of a brilliant film. Gosh I enjoyed this one.
This audio version of the classic unabridged novel by Alexandre Dumas and read by Simon Vance was much easier to comprehend than the written translation I attempted years ago. As this is not one of the French master's more well known stories, and given that Dumas took liberties with history a bit in telling the tale, I needed all the help I could get. I'm glad I did, though. Now I can fake my way around a classical literature discussion by bringing up a novel no one else has read.
First: I love Dumas. It's not just one book, even though it's clear to me that The Count of Montecristo is my favourite, but the author. And it rarely happens with classics to me, because I usually read one author's most famous work and then stop. Even if I loved it. I don't know why to be honest, it just happens: Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby, Oscar Wilde and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I loved those books, but I haven't picked up anything else by these authors and truthfully, I don't plan to, not in the near future.
With Dumas it's different. I read The Count of Montecristo first and then picked up The three musketeers, Twenty years later, The Black Tulip and even Robin Hood. I had planned to read Queen Margot too, and bought it almost two years ago (either for Christmas or my 18th birthday, can't remember now), but then lost the will to. It might be because of my disappointment with The Viscount of Bragelonne, who knows.
That said, now that I've read it...I've got mixed feelings. I loved the first half, for all its scheming, but the second half fell a bit flat, especially towards the end. To be honest I had thought that the book would have ended with Henry IV on the throne, but it doesn't, and because of that it felt unfinished to me. Like the storyline, its arc, wasn't complete.
The first half of the book was wonderful. I liked that Margot and Caterina were the two main characters of this show. The were like puppeteers, pulling at the others' strings in order to accomplish their goals. And I'm a sucker for politics and conspiracies (especially when poison is involved), so there was no way I wouldn't have enjoyed the first part. Plus I loved that the male characters were pawns in their schemes.
The second half of the book lost its charm a bit in my opinion. It wasn't bad, not at all, but it was a bit dispersive and chaotic, in terms of plot and characters. The story worked more when it was focused on a few characters, but here we saw less and less of Margot and Caterina themselves. It wasn't as compelling as the first 300 pages were. The ending didn't satisfy me either, probably because I expected the book to end with Henry IV on the throne, but it didn't. In my head that was the ending.
In spite of this Queen Margot is a solid book. It's nowhere near the best Dumas (read The Count of Montecristo first, always) but it's still a good book. I'd recommend it to people who have already read something by Dumas, but I'd say that it's not the right book to start reading Dumas.
My favorite Dumas. This book has everything. History, Adventure, Intrigue, Romance, Religion, Battles, Poison, Incest, Pathos, Humor... EVERYTHING! Catherine D'Medici is the scariest, creepiest, most terrifying villainess. But she is absolutely fabulous to read.
Reread 2017- Still an amazing story. I can't believe that in the age of George RR Martin, this novel hasn't awakened more interest. There's just so much blood and intrigue!
Va čia tai tikrai meistriškai valdomi žodžiai autoriaus. Man šią knygą rekomendavo Mama, bet aš vis skeptiškai į ją žiūrėjau, nes nelabai aš mėgėja tų senų knygų… bet dar kartą įsitikinau, kad be reikalo! Istorija taip įtraukė! Nors ir buvo painu susekti veiksmą ir veikėjus, o ypač pradžioje, bet paskui kai viskas įsisuko tik skaičiau ir skaičiau. O gale mane nustebino knyga savo žiaurumu🙈 aš tikėjausi, kad viskas pasisuks kitaip ir baigsis laimingai. Cha, Diuma iš manęs pasijuokė ir parašė savaip🙈 nors tą vieną ⭐️ nuėmiau visiškai už pačią pačią pabaigą. Knyga vadinasi “Karalienė Margo” tai man pabaigoje jos ir norėjosi…🙈 o dabar tikriausiai laikas būtų perskaityti ir “Tris muškietininkus” pagaliau?🤔😅
Being a huge fan of Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, made this one all the more disappointing as it suffers horribly in comparison. It’s hard to imagine that he wrote them only one year apart as the writing style is drastically different. I found this one to be a slog with forgettable characters that never fully grasped the reader’s attention. My trusted reviewer friends make this one sound so promising but at 300 pages in, I’m crying “Uncle”.
------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: Women are never so strong as after their defeat.
First Sentence: On Monday the 18th of August 1572, there was a grand fate at the Louvre.
Apparently, Queen Margot was originally published serially in several newspapers and magazines of the day, and I imagine that it was basically the 19th century French equivalent of a soap opera. It certainly reads like one. But guess how many fucks I give? None! Not a single fuck.
Don't get me wrong--I'm really not the kind of girl who enjoys that sort of thing. Space operas, yes. Soap operas and generally similar things? Not so much. But come on, how can I not love this book? Courtly intrigues! Dastardly plots! Clandestine love affairs! Poisonings and assassinations and duels, oh my! Queen Margot is a fast-paced, high-spirited, romping adventure revolving around the 16th century French court.
Let's not kid ourselves, though. Obviously dear Alexandre took liberties with history and blurred the line between fact and fiction. But again, the number of fucks I give is holding steady at zero. After all, I didn't snatch this book off the shelf at the library because I thought it would be a comprehensive and historically accurate account of the life and times of Marguerite de Valois. If that was what I wanted, I'm sure there's no shortage of texts available to me. But no, I chose this book because it combines so many of my favorite things: history, batshit royals, intrigue, daring heroics, and swashbuckling adventure. (Oh, and a pretty epic bromance, but I didn't know that until later. Bonus!*) I figured it would keep me entertained during the long hours at the hideously boring and uneventful job I was working at the time, and I was not disappointed.
So, here's the thing: if you like historical fiction, you'll probably like this book. And if you like The Three Musketeers and other similar type stories, then you'll probably especially like this book. Just don't go into it expecting it to be anything other than what it is. Queen Margot is a fun, ridiculous, over-the-top adventure story that doesn't take itself too seriously, and if you can appreciate it as such, then you will, I hope, enjoy reading it as much as I did.
*Your mileage may vary. As another reviewer points out, there is a pretty squicktastic moment toward the end.
I read this one hoping to find another series as engaging as the d'Artagnon romances but even if I enjoyed this story, its characters did not engage my imagination as much d'Artagnon, Porthos, Athos, and Aramis (or Dantès from Monte Cristo). This story is the beginning of a cycle based on the life of Henry IV. Margot who starts out as a haughty bitch eventually mellows out and gets a bit more real - that is essentially the plot. It is interesting and in that Dumas cliff-hanger way exciting but most of it was ghost-written and I found it overall a weaker novel than the other ones I mentioned. I guess it is more for the hardcore Dumas fan than for the neophyte.
Dumas asnjehere nuk zhgenjen. Nje histori e cila me zhvendosi ne periudhen ku sundonin mbreterit ne France dhe aristokracia ishte ne kulmin e saj. Ngjarjet jane te ngjeshura me histori dhe inteigat jane nga me te shumellojshmet. Romanca nuk mund te mungonte ne nje liber si ky. Me shijoj pa fund ky liber dhe j'ua sygjeroj te gjitheve 😉
Thinking as an adolescent, this book deserves 5 stars. Thinking like I do right now, this book gets from me only 2 stars. Nice romantic story but endless dialogues and somewhere between pages 190 and 195 I decided I cannot continue reading it. At first I was captivated by the story, but as I said, the tiresome dialogues were too much.
I LOVE the first 3/4 of this book. It's full of action, humor, wit, and a little romance. Also, Queen Margot herself: gorgeous, smart, and clear-headed yet passionate. I love Dumas' use of suspense through implication in this book - as when he describes the events leading up to a poisoning at great length but without ever explicitly saying what is happening until after it's over. Lots of very funny French irony (my favorite bits were dialogue in which the various royal folks were pretending they didn't know their spouses were cheating on them - which they didn't actually care about because it was an arranged marriage - yet pretending that of course they WOULD care if they knew about it.)
There is a fair amount of gore in the book, especially in the last 1/4, but luckily I was reading it in French so the words just didn't quite affect me in the same way (I didn't exactly study the specialized vocabulary of 16th century massacre, so at several points I was like "What on earth is a... never mind, I'm just as glad not to know."). As for the ending, I can't really blame the author, since - let's be real - no story about the royalty of France has a happy ending.
Moral of the story: Don't be the King of France. Or Queen of France. Or King or Queen of anything near France. Or lover of the King/Queen. Also, and this is key: **Don't have Catherine de Medicis for a mother, a mother-in-law, a boss, and/or an enemy.**
An easy to read, plot driven, historical fiction story with killings, poisonings and a number of sword fights, set in France in 1572, during the reign of Charles IX. Whilst the novel is titled La Reine Margot, the story is mainly about the ruthlessness of Catherine de Medici, Margot’s mother. It is the time of the religious wars, the French protestants (the Huguenots), versus the French catholics. Catherine de Medici is a strong devout catholic who goes all out to ensure the French have a catholic king.
The action is plentiful but I felt the characters were a little wooden. Overall an entertaining read with surprise plot twists towards the end of the novel.