Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Reality: I'm a Musketeer Groupie

Guess there are worse things to be? And, darn it, if I didn't miss the first episode of the new BBC TV series called The Musketeer, which aired for the first time on Sunday night. Now, I have to admit, I'm a little prejudiced about who the producers cast as Athos, my fav Dumas character of the bunch. I must reserve my judgment about whether Tom Burke is the right choice until I've seen him act. But I wanted him to be a hair more good-looking (not that his hair had anything to do with my opinion).

I'm a groupie. I'm coming to terms with this. On Google, if Musketeers is the search word, guess what? People find me. Yikes! And hurrah!

Recently, a woman in Canada contacted me because she's writing a stage play based on the book, and she couldn't find answers to questions about the novel (and history) that had been bugging her. Could I help her, she asked? Why, of course I could!

Her note:

I am currently adapting The Three Musketeers into a play for young actors. I've read the novel, another play adaptation, and the graphic novel (how great is that?!), but there are a few motivations that I don't understand. I'm hoping if you have the time you could share any insights that you might have with me.

1) Why does Richelieu want to expose the affair between the Queen and the Duke? Does he hope it will start a war?

2) Why does Richelieu want to start a war with England?

3) Why is Buckingham not safe in France when he sneaks over to visit the Queen? 

Thank you so much!

My response:

Glad you stumbled upon me. While I don't profess to be an expert, I can give you my take on your questions. Would love to know when and where your play will be performed. I also have a FB page, in which I post many tidbits about Musketeer-related news. There's a play that's making the rounds regularly in the U.S., but I haven't seen it yet. I picked up the Marvel comics graphic novel, but I couldn't persuade my kids to read it.

1. Why expose the affair? Political reasons, at least in terms of Dumas' rendition of history. Dumas doesn't get much more specific than that. Richelieu was a power-player and had eyes on influencing France's fortunes for personal gain. If he could gain the upper hand, he won. Plus, Queen Anne wasn't French. Probably in real history, this friction between them didn't exist. (Later, I read in the notes to the most-recent Richard Pevear translation of The Three Musketeers that Richelieu became bitter enemies with Marie de Medicis after a suspected tryst, and in 1630, on the so-called "day of the Dupes," Marie and Queen Anne, among others, tried unsuccessfully to get rid of him.)

2. War with England? The English were Protestants, and at the time, the French Catholics were struggling with their relationship to the Huguenots, the French Protestants, whom France tried to suppress (Siege at La Rochelle). In truth, Richelieu created peace with the Huguenots.

3. Buckingham unsafe? Because Buckingham is English and Dumas portrays the French as being disdainful of the English. And as everyone rightly suspects, because Buckingham's having, or trying to have, an affair with Anne. Ah, the struggle for love.

Hope this helps. Come back any time. This was fun.

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