Posts Tagged ‘swashbuckling’

Reading: The Marquis of Carabas

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment

So I’ve unexpectedly hit an air pocket in the constant flow of reading material being provided to me by the local library. I’ve always got a few dozen books on hold, see, and in any given week the library has come up with five or ten of them for me to take out and read, so it makes it hard for me to reread old favourites the way I used to do before I fell into this habit with the library. Which is good, of course; much as I like rereading good books, it’s obviously not as much of a priority as reading new good books.

But this week there were only a few on the hold shelf for me, and I polished the last one off this morning. Which meant I had a rare opportunity to take something off my own shelves. I looked around, and found a couple of Rafael Sabatinis that I picked up in a used-book sale a while ago but haven’t gotten to yet. That seemed to me like an obvious good choice, so I took down In the Shadow of the Guillotine.

Turns out that In the Shadow of the Guillotine is actually a collection of three Sabatini novels, two of which (Scaramouche and The Lost King) I had already read (more than once for Scaramouche), and one I haven’t: The Marquis of Carabas. Now, I’ve heard of The Marquis of Carabas before, and based on the title it sounded to me like just the kind of book for me (since “the marquis of Carabas” is the name of the fake title Puss-in-Boots comes up with for his “master”; irresistible to see what Sabatini could do with that) but I never knew that I had it!

I’ve only just cracked it open, so I don’t know yet if it lives up to my expectations; I’ll report back if there’s anything worthy of reporting.

Strikes me that not everyone knows who Rafael Sabatini is. Basically he’s the greatest adventure writer in the history of the English language. He wrote historical swashbucklers during the first half of the 20th century, and he did it very very well. Three of his books, Captain Blood: His Odyssey*, Scaramouche, and The Sea-Hawk, have become all-time classics. But you’re not going to go wrong with any of his books, if you can find them. Check the used-book sales, used-book stores, antiquarian book stores and sales… some of ’em have been reprinted, too, and you might prefer the reprints or find ’em cheaper. Highly recommended.

* Ever notice the title of this website?

Rereading: The Three Musketeers

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

A while ago I had occasion to check out the Wikipedia entry for The Three Musketeers, and one of the things I saw in there was that the definitive translation is one that was only done a few years ago, by a guy named Richard Pevear. And all this time I had been reading inferior translations! So I got it out from the library and am reading it. Haven’t noticed any striking differences, but once I’m done I’ll compare it against my copy and see what I can see.

It’s weird to think of myself as a sophisticated enough reader that I care about what translation something is. But I once rejected a copy of Cyrano de Bergerac because the poems weren’t like I remembered from when I took it in school. And the first copy of The Three Musketeers I ever had, I got rid of because it referred to “Milady” as “my lady”, which doesn’t work for me at all.

If you’ve never read it, it comes with my highest recommendation. Let me put it this way. I lent my copy to a friend once, and he was only halfway through it when he said that it had already been entertaining enough to be worth it. It’s just one of the best books ever.

If you’ve already read it, and liked it, here are some of the other things you could read after that:

Twenty Years After and The Viscount of Bragelonne and Louise de la Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask, by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust
The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

…other stuff too, but those are the obvious ones. Anybody have any other suggestions? I’m always on the lookout for more swashbuckling stories.