Okay, this is going to boil down to a question for the editors and historians or the editors who area also historians can answer best. I thought, however, I'd share my thoughts on my favorite author and my current read, Queen Margot aka Queen Marguerite. It took me about 100 pages to realize why I felt such an affinity to Margot -- the latin form of my name is Queen Marguerite. But that's not why I picked this book to read.
Like many readers I've associated Mr. Dumas with The Count of Monte Cristo, the Man in the Iron Mask and the Three Muskateers. He actually has quite an extensive back list -- or as extensive as you can when you've been deceased 140 years. Yet so many of his books continue to be enjoyed by readers. Le Reine Margot (Queen Margot) was published in 1843 and I've been enjoying reading it. I'm reading the English version so some of my questions might not be pertinent when viewed in its original French. Still, I am curious about a few things and most particularly, would Alexandre Dumas make it in today's publishing world.
I've given myself two reading gifts this year. The first is to go back and read all my old Rosemary Rogers' romances and the other to read all of Dumas' work that is available in English. Not even the extensive shelves of the San Francisco library have a copy of his Captain Paul so I started with Queen Margot. It is a wonderful story of political intrigue, adultry, unrequited love as well as requited love, a handsome hero or two, tests of faith and a host of royalty each with their own agenda. While I'm reading it for the sheer entertainment of the book, I am ever mindful of things that do and do not work.
Our reading and writing world has become devoted to pure points of view. You have either one character or another's thoughts controlling a scene. Ms. Rogers' early books have multiple points of view, often in the same paragraph--I had no trouble following, especially in the love scenes because I figure there are two people in that bed (or other trysting locale) and as a reader I'm curious what they're both thinking and feeling. In her latest book, Scoundrel's Honor she adheres to the modern rule of one point of view per scene.
In Queen Margot readers see one point of view per scene and Mr. Dumas' writing is brilliant. It is clean reading, but not sterile. He evokes emotion on several letters and while he does not spare the readers' sensibilities with some of the more brutal scenes, they are essential to the story. They are not sensationalized but very much a part of the story. When he describes a character's outfit it is easy to visualize and the descriptions of the men on horseback, charging into a scene, evoke a sense of excitment. I applauded when Margot outwitted Catherine de Medici -- not an easy thing to do, even in a book.
As I said, this is an English version of the story. I'm not sure if it is a direct translation from the French or "cleaned" up to adhere to our modern rules of writing.
So my questions for the editors and/or historians or historians who are also editors are these:
Were his original books, written in French, done in a pure point of view?
What was it like to be an editor in the early 1800's? Or did they exist as you do today?
If given the opportunity, would you edit for Mr. Dumas? If so, why? What would draw you to wanting to edit his book(s)?
Do you think he would make it in today's world of publishing?
My answer to the last question, as an avid reader and a writer who aspires to write with the same mastery I see in his books is yes. Very much so.