Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cavalier

Another new book by one of my favourite dead authors!

I'd been awaiting Alexandre Dumas's The Last Cavalier Being the Adventures of Count Sainte-Hermine in the Age of Napoleon for months, but its publication date came and went with Amazon showing it unavailable. I'd stopped checking, but I'm heartened to find it's finally made an appearance, as swashbuckling a one as ever there was.

Michael Dirda:

...Claude Schopp — France's pre-eminent Dumas scholar — discovered that, during the very last year of his life, the novelist, though ill, suffering and out of critical favor, had somehow turned out a daily newspaper serial about "the adventures of Count Sainte-Hermine in the age of Napoleon." Because of Dumas's death, the novel was never finished and consequently never published in book form. So Schopp assembled all the newspaper installments and edited them. Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine appeared in France in 2005 and is now brought out in an excellent English translation by Lauren Yoder as The Last Cavalier. It's absolutely wonderful.

Yes, it's full of melodrama and coincidence, shamelessly studded with every possible romantic cliche and period flourish, and old-fashioned enough in its storytelling to wander into lengthy historical and biographical digressions. What's more, we only possess the first third or so of the original mammoth saga envisioned by its author. (A letter exists outlining the entire plot.) No matter.


Bourbon loyalists! Shopping bills! A witch's prophecy! Malay pirates! Tigers and pythons! The battle of Trafalgar!

Dumas with the help of research assistants produced 300 volumes. I have so much more to look forward to...

3 comments:

Sarah Moffett said...

It takes serious literary talent to publish from beyond the grave. My hat is tipped to Dumas, while my own writing plagued fist is shaking in the wind. I wonder who gets the proceeds from this 137 year overdue novel.

Tai said...

Funny, I was just talking about publishing after death. Except it was in regards to Robert Jordan. The world is, indeed, a very strange place!

danielle said...

I had no idea this was being published--something to look forward to. No doubt he is looking down (or wherever he happens to be) and smiling right now.