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The Death of d'Artagnan: Dumas' Realistic Musketeers

The Death of d'Artagnan: Dumas' Realistic Musketeers March 2004 41 THE DEATH OF D’ARTAGNAN: DUMAS’ REALISTIC MUSKETEERS In the later books of the Musketeer series, Twenty Years After, and the three parts of Le vicomte de Bragelonne,1 Dumas gives a darkening, chaotic view of a materialistic environment which infects, disunites, and finally destroys the four heroes who in The Three Musketeers had seemed inseparable and invincible. While I shall not take a purely historicist approach, I shall refer to some historicist tenets which I think Dumas illustrates. Historicism assumes a connection between materialistic or economic concerns and all human activity. Historicist or politi­ cal critics often imply that a writer has a hidden (perhaps un­ conscious) agenda which may counteract his seemingly high- minded thesis and which inadvertently appears through signs and semiotics. According to Fredric Jameson, “there is nothing that is not social or historical,” and the duty of the critic is “the unmasking of cultural artifacts as socially symbolic acts.”2 In the same vein, Terry Eagleton faults George Eliot, who “strives for organic closure” by smoothing over unresolved social or cul­ tural conflicts. Dickens is better, Eagleton feels, because of “the clarity with which . . . conflicts inscribe themselves in the fis­ sures http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png English Language Notes Duke University Press

The Death of d'Artagnan: Dumas' Realistic Musketeers

English Language Notes , Volume 41 (3) – Mar 1, 2004

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Copyright
Copyright © 2004 Regents of the University of Colorado
ISSN
0013-8282
eISSN
2573-3575
DOI
10.1215/00138282-41.3.41
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

March 2004 41 THE DEATH OF D’ARTAGNAN: DUMAS’ REALISTIC MUSKETEERS In the later books of the Musketeer series, Twenty Years After, and the three parts of Le vicomte de Bragelonne,1 Dumas gives a darkening, chaotic view of a materialistic environment which infects, disunites, and finally destroys the four heroes who in The Three Musketeers had seemed inseparable and invincible. While I shall not take a purely historicist approach, I shall refer to some historicist tenets which I think Dumas illustrates. Historicism assumes a connection between materialistic or economic concerns and all human activity. Historicist or politi­ cal critics often imply that a writer has a hidden (perhaps un­ conscious) agenda which may counteract his seemingly high- minded thesis and which inadvertently appears through signs and semiotics. According to Fredric Jameson, “there is nothing that is not social or historical,” and the duty of the critic is “the unmasking of cultural artifacts as socially symbolic acts.”2 In the same vein, Terry Eagleton faults George Eliot, who “strives for organic closure” by smoothing over unresolved social or cul­ tural conflicts. Dickens is better, Eagleton feels, because of “the clarity with which . . . conflicts inscribe themselves in the fis­ sures

Journal

English Language NotesDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2004

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