The Three Musketeers, published in 1844-1845, is typical of Dumas’s works: quick-witted heroes who fight and love unceasingly, fast-paced narrative, and entertaining dialogue. In its romantic subject matter, the book is typical of its time; what is not typical is the fact that it has survived and remains entertaining and accessible for modern readers.
The novel has been adapted for over sixty films and spin-offs and has sold millions of copies in hundreds of languages all over the world. Despite the fact that it is very long and is filled with improbable events, larger-than-life characters, and exaggerated dialogue—or because of these traits—it is a fast, exciting read and still feels fresh and entertaining despite the long time that has elapsed since it was first written.
The story was drawn from a number of original historical sources, including Les Memoires de M. d’Artagnan by Sandraz de Courtils andIntrigues Politiques et Galantes de la Coeur de France, memoirs of events from the period in which the novel takes place. Dumas’s collaborator, Auguste Maquet, brought him a rough scenario for a book set during the reign of King Louis XIII and starring the King, Queen Anne, Cardinal Richelieu, and the Duke of Buckingham. This scenario, drawn from events in the original sources, would be fleshed out by Dumas to become The Three Musketeers. According to records kept by the Marseille library, Dumas checked out Les Memoires de M. d’Artagnanand never returned it. Because Dumas’ s works have been so wildly popular, for a long time he was not considered a “serious” writer. However, in recent years, more attention has been given to him because his work laid the foundations for bourgeois drama as he brought history alive for a broad segment of the population who otherwise would have had no interest in it and as he created a new kind of Romantic novel.