The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas
Analysis: Writing Style
Fast-Paced, But Sometimes Meandering and Forgetful
Dumas frequently manages to condense a lot of information into a small space. Masters are calling for their lackeys, notes are being sent all over town, and plots are being hatched while the conspirators are under enemy gunfire. We'll get entire plot points summarized in single paragraphs:
Richelieu, as everyone knows, had loved the queen. Was this love a simple political affair, or was it naturally one of those profound passions, which Anne of Austria inspired in those who approached her? That we are not able to say; but at all events, we have seen, by the anterior developments of this story, that Buckingham had the advantage over him, and in two or three circumstances, particularly that of the diamond studs, had, thanks to the devotedness of the three musketeers and the courage and conduct of D’Artagnan, cruelly mystified him.
It was, then, Richelieu’s object, not only to get rid of an enemy of France, but to avenge himself on a rival; but this vengeance must be grand and striking and worthy in every way of a man who held in his hand, as his weapon for combat, the forces of a kingdom. (41.10 – 41.11)
But, although Dumas never loses the overall thread of the story, he’ll sometimes drop a minor thread or two and forget to account for characters’ movements. For instance, D’Artagnan goes home one day and calls for Planchet, who we last saw exhausted in London.
Dumas doesn’t bother explaining how Planchet got home, but continues barreling along into the next adventure. We can’t say we really complain—it’s the guy’s style, after all, and it makes for some awesomesauce storytelling.