janne_d: (searocks)
[personal profile] janne_d
Mostly I like reading books I loved as a child again as an adult - it's that happy glow of nostalgia, and a lot of the classics are really good reads even now. But this time when I was back home I dug out my (abridged) copy of The Three Musketeers because I've been seeing the adverts for the new film and wanted to remind myself what the actual plot was.

And on rereading I've come to the unsettling conclusion that the the Musketeers and particularly d'Artagnan are total dicks. Which makes me sad, because that is not how I remembered them at all!

I mean, seriously. They get into fights on the most ridiculous pretexts, fights in which people die - actually, in at least one, fights in which the aim is to kill the opponent simply because he insisted on knowing Athos' name, which I can't help thinking it would have been slightly more honourable if Athos had pointed out knowing it meant he would try and kill the guy before he told him it, and asked if he still wanted to know, but I'm not chivalrous or anything, so maybe I'm confused.

And dammit, Athos used to be my favourite character. But okay, he has this whole broody tragic past thing and rereading that bit actually made my teeth grind. He married a girl, who he loved, and who by his own account was a good wife and lady of the manor. She gets knocked out and he finds a fleur de lis brand. Okay, shocking. But does he give the woman he loves the benefit of the doubt, assume miscarriage of justice, false accusation or even extenuating circumstance? No. He hangs her. While she is still unconscious. He doesn't even wait until she wakes up to ask what happened, ffs. I know Milady does some pretty rotten things later, but at that point all she had apparently done was steal something and then give herself a new identity after being caught, none of which seems to me to call for summary execution, and Athos didn't know any of it until after he'd hanged her anyway.

d'Artagnan made me grind my teeth even more than Athos on this read through actually. First, he tries to seduce Milady because he know she's an agent for Richelieu, which didn't annoy me too much. Except to do it, he sabotages her relationship with a man she appears genuinely to love by intercepting her letters and replying as de Ward, pretends to be de Ward in order to have sex with her, dumps her as de Ward immediately afterwards and then has sex with her again as himself while she's on the rebound. And then he's stupid enough to confess it to her! No bloody wonder Milady spends the rest of the book trying to kill him, even without him spotting the brand he would have deserved it. And this is all while simultaneously having an affair with her maid in which he is blatantly using the poor girl's love for him just to get to Milady - he leaves her in the next room listening to him and Milady making love at one point. Gah. I spent most of that chapter going 'bastard!' at the pages.

Ahem. There were probably more annoying things but I gave up reading after the La Rochelle siege in disgust at the way Athos and d'Artagnan would go all white and shaky with horror manpain whenever Milady got mentioned. I now want a feminist retelling in the vein of Wide Sargasso Sea where Milady is the hero and actually allowed to get her revenge on all these sanctimonious men. *sulks*

I expect I'll still go and see the film though - I think the versions I've seen before are usually less annoying than the book was and I do like a bit of swashbuckling. (Especially with Matthew McFadyen.)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-23 08:37 pm (UTC)
thornsilver: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thornsilver
They really are all assholes. I have always liked Milady the best, even though she is supposed to be a villain.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-23 09:09 pm (UTC)
ext_6615: (cautionsign)
From: [identity profile] janne-d.livejournal.com
They really, really are. And I remembered them as being all dashing and heroic, which is why I am currently feeling very disillusioned and bitter!

I'm sure they aren't quite so awful in the films - I'm thinking the 70s ones and the one with Kiefer Sutherland. Or maybe they were and I was too distracted by the swordfights to notice? Gah.

I don't know that I like Milady - killing Constance to get back at d'Artagnan was pretty awful - but I certainly had a lot more sympathy for her POV in the rest of the book than I did for the 'heroes'. And she is certainly kickass, going from a branded criminal to titled lady and powerful spy in not very long at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-23 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] buzzylittleb.livejournal.com
Clearly the kid-friendly option at my primary school was a hell of a lot more staid/free in its adaptation/content. *raises eyebrows* I think I would have remembered that if I'd read it. That or I have bigger holes in my brain than my consultants expect. [brane got scanned today to look for epileptic damage]

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-23 09:18 pm (UTC)
ext_6615: (antelope)
From: [identity profile] janne-d.livejournal.com
Eek, I hope your scan has good results!

I expect your primary school version concentrated more on the swashbuckling action and less on d'Artagnan being a manipulative shit. I'm sure all the film versions do. I didn't remember a lot of the details until I reread it - I vaguely remembered the backstory for Athos and the whole Buckingham plot but the general impression was 'Milady eeeeeeevil, Musketeeers gooood' without me retaining details. And now the details do not exactly put me on the side of the Musketeers! I'm not saying Milady is good by any means, but you'd think she was the spawm of the devil and d'Artagnan and Athos downy innocents if you go by the reactions in the book and the facts of it are not that cut and dried.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-24 03:54 pm (UTC)
trobadora: (Default)
From: [personal profile] trobadora
I now want a feminist retelling in the vein of Wide Sargasso Sea where Milady is the hero and actually allowed to get her revenge on all these sanctimonious men.

This sounds like an excellent idea!

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