The Three Musketeers | Study Guide

Alexandre Dumas

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The Three Musketeers | Author's Preface | Summary

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Summary

In spite of their names ending in "-os" and "-is," Dumas says the characters of this story are not from mythology. Dumas had found a book in the library, The Memoirs of M. D'Artagnan, which begins with meeting Athos, Porthos, and Aramis—surely pseudonyms—in the residence of Treville, captain of the Musketeers. Dumas researched those names and, by some small miracle, found them mentioned again in Memoirs of the Comte de la Fere, Touching Some Events Which Passed in France Toward the End of the Reign of King Louis XIII and the Commencement of the Reign of King Louis XIV, an unknown manuscript. He gives a nod to the government for supporting his efforts and for allowing him to print it. This book is the first part of the story, and if it is successful, Dumas promises to bring out the second immediately.

If this story inspires pleasure or boredom, readers should credit or blame Dumas, not the Comte de la Fere.

Analysis

Dumas and his collaborator really did find a book based on the experiences of a real-life gentleman named d'Artagnan. They reimagined episodes from it and built on three of the characters, renaming them Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. That book is also a novel, but d'Artagnan was a real Musketeer. Dumas made him a bit older so he would be the correct age to fight at the siege of La Rochelle.

What Dumas alludes to in the last line of the preface—when he says to blame Dumas—is the Comte de la Fere memoirs are not real. The Comte de la Fere, known to readers for most of the book as Athos, is the invention of Dumas, as is the nonexistent folio found in the library. That did not stop readers from trying to find the memoirs in the stacks, and Dumas, with his appreciation of the absurd, even went to find it himself after receiving an irate letter accusing him of stealing the content word for word.

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