Don’t Mess With My Head

In the post modern era of literature (1950’s and on), American writers wrote of classic struggles between tyranny and liberty, some from fears of Stalin’s Soviet Russia, others from the demoralization caused by America’s involvement in Vietnam. It was important, these writers thought, to show people just how horrifying government despotism could become. The British writer, George Orwell, had already spoken of the evils of totalitarianism, inspiring later writers to dwell on the horrors of politcal absolutism. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, John D. MacDonald’s Nightmare in Pink, and Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan each deal with the fear that governments can use neuroscience as a means to control people’s minds. Once the mind was manipulated in a certian way, writers dreaded that the common people would be subjected to the ideals of ruling parties and think nothing of it, all due to brain manipulation. Only stored information in books could be the best weapon against such devices.

Ken Kesey published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1963. The story centers on a mental health patient, Randle McMurphy, causing as much trouble as he can in a mental hospital. A large lady named Big Nurse rules the ward with an iron fist, but McMurphy believes her authority can be rebelled against. He doesn’t think her rules to be useful or authentic. Her powers only serve to make the other patients miserable. Though he manages to defy Big Nurse’s regulations and smuggles women into the ward, he is caught by the Nurse, who has no choice but to perform brain surgery on McMurphy. When McMurphy returns, he isn’t himself anymore; he no longer wishes to be a fun loving, exciting rebel. This instance illustates Kesey’s fear that those in power(symbolized by the Big Nurse) can perform brain surgeries so as to modify rebel personalities who threaten their control over people. Instead of executing rebels, rulers can simply use science as a means to conform people’s minds to their ideologies.

John D. MacDonald’s Nightmare in Pink, published in 1964, gives certian details as to how this brain manipulation occurs, what techniques neuroscientists were thought to be testing out. Travis McGee, a lady’s man who excels in recovering stolen property and solving crimes, is captured by a group of doctors in charge of a secret mental ward. Dr. Mulligan explains to McGee about the basics of brain surgery: “They go in at the temples, I believe, with a long thin scalpel and stir up the frontal lobes. It breaks the old behavior patterns in the brain” (MacDonald 193). By modifying the traditonal thinking patterns in the mind, doctors can change the way people actually behave. The patients will not have the same beliefs since their thinking has changed. The goal of the scientist will be to literally convert people to an idea or worldview. That way, they will simply not  rebel and stand for their own beliefs. They will go from being “dangerous” to friendly conformists.

Shock Therapy is seen by MacDonald to be an even more diabolical means of control. Dr. Varn explains to McGee about a female patient in the ward: “…an electrode was inserted into the area of the patient’s brain…the pleasure area…a transistorized field-current setup was then adjusted to the volume of the signal to give maximum stimulus…the completion of the task would give a ten second stimulus” (MacDonald 197-198). The doctors set up the woman’s brain to where completing a chore will produce a chemical pleasure, similar to highs humans get from eating and sex. No matter what the task is, the patient will perform it so as to experience the same thrill over and over again, as if they are addicted to drugs. In this way, those in power can get others to do whatever they wish for the same chemical high each time. If reward is involved, people are much less apt to rebel against those in authority. Subjects are now slaves to rulers in that their pleasures are used against them. Why rebel against something when it makes you feel comfortable and safe?

If a reward based manipulation doesn’t suffice, then neuroscientists may turn to simply modifying memory. Kurt Vonnegut, in his novel The Sirens of Titan, deals with this instance of scientific tyranny. Unk, a soldier on Mars, is preparing to assist an army in attacking Earth. His commanders have sent him from a mental hospital with a modified memory to where he no longer remembers his past. If he did, he may be less inclined to join a pointless, suicidal war. Afterall, the people on Mars stand no chance against Earth’s soldiers. Unknowingly, Unk has submitted to a kind of military authoritarianism.

But Unk is told by a man whom he executes to look in one of his barracks. When he does, he discovers a letter. The letter reveals that his friend, Stony (the one whom he killed), had discovered that they were being used to go to pointless war on Earth. The military wanted Stony executed for finding this out. Unk was his friend in this respect in that he confided the military’s secrets to him. Unk now knows he has just killed his only friend. The letter is a means of reminding Unk of who he is: “Keep this letter well hidden. And every time you change its hiding place, be sure to tell Stony where you put it. That way, even if you go to the hospital to have your memory cleaned out, Stony can tell you where to have your memory filled up again” (Vonnegut 131). It is a clever way for both men to fight the powers that be, a way to remind themselves of the truths the military is trying to keep from them.

The letter represents Vonnegut’s only hope against government tyranny: the written word. Unk discovers that it was he who had originally authored the letter: “Unk was the hero who had written the letter. Unk had written the letter to himself before having his memory cleaned out. It was literature in its finest sense, since it made Unk courageous, watchful, and secretly free. It made him his own hero in very trying times (Vonnegut 132). Vonnegut argues that literature can remind humans of the virtues and liberties that despotic governments try to find many ways to suppress. As long as the truth is out there, government cannot ultimately stamp out resistance to tyranny. People will discover the truths of humanity through literature and be reminded that there are things worth fighting for. Literature points people to history, which in turns teaches us about things we should support and things we should avoid. But if the government encourages ignorance, then the fight will be much more difficult. People will be unaware of the values that make them human and not mind-controlled slaves. They will be unaware of the freedoms that keep them from becoming caged animals.

The fight against tyranny still goes on today. And those who stand for liberty are well aware that literature is one of the important means in which people are reminded of important things. The truth that these writers express is that no one has the authority to make you think in one way; you, as an individual, have that right. No one else has the right to coerce anything into your mind.

Works Cited:

MacDonald, John D. Nightmare in Pink. New York: The Random House Publishing Group. 1964. Print.

Vonnegut, Kurt. The Sirens of Titan. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1959. Print.

An Oriental Frame Tale

In 1704, Great Britain was introduced to a series of stories written years before: The Arabian Nights (the 1001 Nights). No one knows who authored the tales. But Richard F. Burton was the man who was primarily responsible for introducing them to the English public. I came across these stories in my first creative writing class in tenth grade, though I never finished them. But in the summer of 2010, I did. I could definitely use a reread, especially when it comes to the tales of Sinbad and Judar. Yet I enjoyed most of the stories, especially “The Fisherman and the Jinnee,” which inspired one of my short stories “The Wrath of Kabal.” The stories constitute a frame tale, which by definition is when there are many short stories that interlope together in one book, one leading to another (“stories within stories”). I personally believe the book is an instance of metafiction as well, which is a narrative that comments on storytelling itself. I have a general theory of this book and the novel: the book shows us how, formulaically speaking, a group of short stories can be the framework of a novel. If beginning writers start off with short stories, then they will have decent practice before tackling a novel. You could treat each chapter, in a sense, like a short story, and then get an idea as to how a novel is structured. If you read Agatha Christie’s short story collections and compare them with the Poirot novel The Big Four or read Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, you might see what I mean.

King Shahryar, enraged at his wife’s adultery, goes on a killing spree: he executes every woman in his path, believing them all to be conniving and wicked. One night, he tells his new victim, Scheherazade, that he will soon kill her too. But the beautiful lady begs a chance to tell him stories to appease his wrath, which she most certianly does. The king is so pleased by her storytelling, he recants from his fury and marries her. His faith in the goodness of woman is restored. Feminists may enjoy using this collection of stories as an argument for early pro-female storytelling. Afterall, in ancient cultures, women were not always seen as second rate citizens.

When Scheherazade tells one story, a character in that story tells another, thus creating a long chain of tales. There are many different subjects the stories treat: greed, betrayal, love, sexuality, honor, wisdom, etc. Some are about jinnees, spirits who either fulfil their master’s wishes or violently slaughter people with long swords. Others are about  masculine adventures that involve women of high honor and integrity. Many of the stories have a religious base in Islam, constituting morality from the Koran. They can be seen, in one way, as a case of Islamic folklore. As far as setting goes, the tales occur in parts of the Middle East, China and Africa. They are “oriental” stories in that they tell of a deeply interesting subject to westerners in the 1700’s: the East, its culture and customs. There are instances of animal fables, where creatures such as donkies speak. Sinbad can be compared to the British Robinson Crusoe, for he, too, struggles with keeping his adventerous spirit in check and ends up sailing to dangerous places, unintentionally. There is also the popular tale of Aladdin and his lamp, similar and not so similar, to the Disney rendition. All these examples are just a part of what you’ll come across.

The Whiteness of the Whale

In 1851, Herman Melville published a novel which, at that time, wasn’t considered a literary novelty: Moby Dick. Most readers who are critical of the work even today blame it for its narrative redundance. Like Victor Hugo, Melville excels in giving the reader as much backdrop into his topics as possible. Though this technique is informative, it can be a burden on a reader who is looking for an exciting plot to follow. But in the twentieth century, scholars began to look into the story of the white whale and proclaimed it to be a masterpiece of nineteenth century literature.

Ishmael, a man whose soul has grown melancholy over time, decides to find relief in sailing the seas. He wishes to join the crew of the whaling ship, the Pequod. Before his desire is granted, he meets Queequeg, a native from the exotic pacific isles, as well as hearing a traditional Puritan sermon on the story of Jonah and the whale. One by one, he meets the crew of the Pequod, such as Starbuck, a hard-working Christian sailor. But his interest is in Captain Ahab, a stern middle aged man with a peg leg.

As the ship leaves to sail through the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, Ishmael describes everything one can know about whales and the whaling industry, which was an important economic trade in America at the time. But the story’s main plot is Captain Ahab’s obsession with finding and killing a white sperm whale named Moby Dick. Moby Dick was responsible for biting Ahab’s leg off, necessitating a replacement. In deep fury, Ahab wants revenge on the whale, even if it means sailing through dangerous waters to do so. No one can convince him to depart from his mission. The ship finds the white whale at long last, after numerous days of whaling, ship meetings, and a deadly typhoon. However, the whale turns out to be their greatest problem, by far.

One of the reasons for the novel’s popularity is that it is seen as a deeply symbolic work. Ahab is chasing a white whale, not just any whale. And because colors are often used as symbolic, suggestive signs in literature, many scholars ponder what it is that Moby Dick represents. They could argue that one of Melville’s goals had to have been symbolism; afterall, the novel is dedicated to one of Melville’s closest friends, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was a renowned symbolic novelist during Melville’s time. But Ahab, as well, is subject to interpretation, for he is the one who wishes to contend with the whale’s domineering might. So the question bceomes, what do Captain Ahab and Moby Dick stand for, respectively?

One interpretation has suggested that Moby Dick, due to his colossal size and whiteness, represents God. Afterall, the color white has been seen as a color representing holiness and purity. And God is often believed to be quite larger than life, to say it lightly. Moby Dick is distinguished from the other whales, for there is none like him, just as the God of the Bible claims to be the one true God, greater than any “god.”  And why would Melville put a sermon in the novel if not to remind the reader of traditional Christian orthodoxy? By doing so, the reader wonders whether there is a traditional religious message going on.

But what of Ahab, who wants to kill the whale? Is Melville suggesting a blasphemous idea of God being put to death? It certainly seemed that people were abandoning God, at least, in Melville’s day;  Charles Darwin’s scientific discoveries further facillitated a growing distrust in Christian authoritarianism that had been brewing in the century. Some Romantics before Melville had begun fostering a distaste for organized religion, advocating new ways to see the world. In this way, Ahab can be seen as one who is viciously rebelling against Christianity, a symbol of society’s growing skepticism of religion.

Yet what if Moby Dick is more of a satanic than godly symbol? Afterall, the whale’s jaw is “crooked.” That particular word suggests corruption and hypocrisy, traits associated with Satan. There is also the fact that Moby Dick, like other whales, is referred to as “Leviathan.” The term traditionally refers to a great serpent, suggestive of the Devil. By wanting to kill the whale, Ahab is rebelling against what he sees as evil and demonic in the world. But in a socio-historical context, what could this mean? What was seen as corrupt in Melville’s time?

The word “Leviathan” could refer to big, centralized government. Thomas Hobbes published a pro central government book entitled Leviathan in the late 1600’s, a popular book in Melville’s era. But many, such as the transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, accused the American federal government of great evils such as slavery and forcing soldiers into the Mexican War. Many felt his sentiments and protested likewise, especially when it came to slavery. The whale being “white” could even be suggestive of race; Ahab rebels against the whale who symbolizes the pre-dominantly white authoritarianism of the day, one that is often seen as the source of the slave’s plight in nineteenth century America. The rapper Tupac Shakur,a supporter of the Black Panther Party in the 1990’s (a group dedicated to justice for African Americans against white supremacy), had some of his lyrics inspired by Moby Dick. To him, the novel was as socially relevant as it was in Melville’s day.

There are many different angles to see Moby Dick and therein lies its true beauty; it is a deeply artistic novel that can be discussed hours on end. That is, if the reader can patiently endure Melville’s complex and embellished language. Like many works dedicated to symbolism, the novel gives the reader the liberty to define what it means to them instead of just being told what to believe. Whether it is liked or not, the tale of the white whale continues to be discussed today.

Three Jewish Tales of Terror

Almost everyone knows about the Holocausts, about how Adolf Hitler had thousands of Jews murdered for his own political ends. The debate as to why Hitler did so continues; some say it was because of Hitler’s own religious beliefs or maybe his views on society and economics. Regardless of why the German dictator did what he did, most will agree that it was one of history’s darkest periods. In my advanced world literature class and my sixth grade class, I came across some books detailing events that occurred concerning the Jews and the Germans in the 1940’s. The first two are 2/5, for I don’t think either were challenging reads. But the last was a level 3 book, for not only was it more detailed and dedicated to facts but also captured the tragic tone of what it was like to be a Jew at the hands of Hitler.

The sixth grade read was Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It tells of a girl named Annemarie who lives with her family in mid 1940’s Denmark, where German soldiers are gathering up Jews to take to the concentration camps. She gets into a situation where she must hide her friend Ellen, who is a Jew, from the prying fingers of the soldiers. The novel grows in suspense, as the two girls desperately try to hide from the Germans, leaving house to house.

The second read (in my advanced world literature class) was Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic. It tells of a girl named Hannah Stern who attends a Passover meal with her Jewish family in New York. One night over at her family’s house , she wakes to find herself transported back in time to when Jews were brought into the German concentration camps. Hannah assumes another identity, and learns first hand what life was like for Jewish women in the camps. What worries her is not only the brutal German administration, but whether or not she will return to her own time.

For me though, the third read, Elie Wiesel’s Night, is the most well written account of the camps. Wiesel and the story’s main character, Eliezar, share many things in common, for Wiesel based this story on his own horrific experiences. Eliezar lives in Hungary with his father, mother and sisters. He’s studying the Torah, the religious text of Judaism. Rumors have been floating around that the Germans are shipping Jews away, and it is not long before Eliezar and his family are first hand recipients of this care. They are sent to Auschwitz, the most notorious of all the concentration camps.

When he arrives at Auschwitz, Eliezar is separated from his mother and sisters and is left with his father. They are treated cruelly by the Germans, and the pain becomes so demoralizing that Eliezar abandons his faith in God. His father is the only one who gives him hope in the dire circumstances. When the Germans receive word that the Russians are coming to take over the camp, the Germans force the remaining Jews to leave. And so a desperate rush impels Eliezar and his sick father to run through deep snow for their lives.

These stories do well to present historical events, like Musketeers and Hunchback. Yet I must confess, the Holocaust, though it should be taught and reflected upon, is taught too often in the public education system; every public school grade seems to emphasize this tragic history over and over. That’s a serious educational problem to me, for it doesn’t give equal time to other events in history that are just as important, such as Stalin’s control over Soviet Russia. It seems like there are certain facets of history that the educational system wants to focus on, but that is a serious issue, because it doesn’t give students a broad education. It’s narrow, because you’ve only been exposed to certain events over and over. Such thoughts may be condemned as anti-Semitic, but I think they are based more on reason and logic. We do the victims of the Holocaust an equal disservice when we fail to look for injustice everywhere instead of in just one group of people and their history. If the holocausts teaches us anything, it is that injustice should be fought against, lest something more terrible than the Jewish massacres happen. God forbid. Yet there are acts of violence everyday that, though they may be less in scope, are equally as detrimental to society.  If your interested in learning about the Holocausts, pick up Elie Wiesel’s Night; it, in my opinion, does a better job than Stars or Arithmetic in bringing the realism of the time period to the reader.

The Ghost of the Paris Opera

A third french classic I stumbled upon in my advanced world literature class was Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. This novel contains one of the strongest beginning lines I’ve encountered in a book: “The ghost of the Paris Opera existed.” That line just has a way of pulling you in as a reader; it gets your attention. I rate this book as a four out of five novel like the previous two. It’s got a suspenseful plot as well as a nice romance to tie its main characters together.

Christine is a beautiful young singer who performs in the famous Paris opera house. Her fame grows with every performance. Raoul, a dashing young man, falls in love with her, desiring her to be his partner. But the romantic tone of the novel is counterbalanced by a darker mystery; some one has been performing tricks on people in the opera house. Rumors are flying around that it is all due to the mysterious “opera ghost.” With almost every performance on stage, another strange incidence occurs. Yet no one knows where the ghost lurks or even if he exists.

But Christine soon finds out exactly who this ghost really is. She meets a stranger who lives under the opera house in a deep dungeon-like cavern. The stranger wears a white mask that covers half of his face and a long black cape. His musical skills are exceptional; he plays the organ in his cave with ease. Before Christine met him, he had whispered words to her regarding her music. That was how she came to know him in the first place. After seeing what lies behind the mask though, Christine wants to banish him from her memory. The phantom, who reveals himself as Eric, refuses to let her go so easily, for he, like Raoul, is in love with her. As a result of Eric’s longing for the singer, he kidnaps her, prompting Raoul and a Persian friend of his to discover the phantom’s whereabouts and save Christine. But they will soon make an explosive decision regarding the future of the Opera house, for Eric, long shunned away from society due to his deformity (Quasimodo anyone?), wants vengeance on those who rejected him throughout his life.

This novel, in some ways, is a nice little mystery. No one, not even the reader, knows where the opera ghost lies hidden, for Leroux wants to reveal that later. For a while, I mistakenly thought this book to be a nineteenth century piece. It was first published around 1911. One can see connections to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In each case, there is a main character who is distanced from society because of how he looks. This theme plays out in a lot of classic literature in the 1800’s and on, especially from the Romantic authors. Novelists were often concerned about how individuals who seemed to get the short end of the stick in life, as it were (such as prisoners, the poor etc.), related to their society’s ideals and standards. Because it is a dark romance, you may even compare it to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights as well. Both books contain love triangles involving interesting characters. Overall, this book is an easier read then Dumas or Hugo and definitely not as long as their works, so check this one out too.

Isolated in a Cathedral

Like Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo also excels in giving us deep literature. The second book I read for my advanced world literature class was The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This read was more challenging, in some ways, than The Three Musketeers. Like Dumas, Hugo excels in presenting historical events with great clarity. Perhaps even more so. However, Hugo can be quite descriptive in his language and tends to elaborate for many pages on a single event or theme. Because of this, it takes a little more patience to read his work than Dumas. Nevertheless, Hugo’s themes are timeless and intriguing. His characters are thought provoking in and of themselves. His settings are colossal in scope. And his plots come together in both heart warming and tragic ways.

Hugo writes of medieval Paris, a place mixed with royal authority and vagabonds. In the Cathedral de Notre Dame lives a priest named Claude Frollo, a respectable religious man. One day, he finds an infant on the doorsteps of the cathedral, a deformed child too hideous to stare at. Afraid that others will abuse the child for his deformity, Frollo takes him with him to live in the cathedral. As the child grows, he turns out to be a hunchback whom Claude names Quasimodo. Quasimodo spends his daily hours looking down on Paris, ringing the church bells, aware of his hideousness and therefore frightened of society. He finds comfort in his priestly father, the only one willing to take him in.

While Quasimodo lives peacefully in his sanctuary, La Esmerelda, a gypsy dancer, entertains the citizens of Paris. She doesn’t have everyone on her side; a recluse accuses her and her people of kidnapping her daughter. Therefore, only evil can come from gypsies. On the other hand, a captain of the king’s guard takes a look at La Esmerelda and likes what he sees. And likewise, Esmerelda likes the Captain.

However, Claude Frollo also sees the beauty of La Esmerelda and develops a deep longing for her, one that turns him into a demonic fiend. For instead of talking civilly with the gypsy, he devises ways of having her come to him against her will. She stubbornly resists the priest’s attempts, but is almost captured by some men. At that moment, Quasimodo rescues her and takes her safely into the cathedral, not to the knowledge of Frollo. Though grateful to Quasimodo, Esmerelda can hardly bare to look at the hunchback. She has never in her life seen someone so deformed. Yet she gets along with him as best she can. As Hugo’s story progresses, the action becomes more intense and the characters interact with one another in tragic ways, creating a lasting impression on the reader.

I give this novel a four out of five. Hugo’s characters are memorable in what they represent: timeless personalities. Though his descriptive chapters are quite a challenge to the reader, I respect such depth in an author. It makes one think through what they are reading. I’ll never forget the chapter in which Hugo spends around thirty pages describing Paris. He does the same thing in his 1862 tour de force: Les Miserables (sorry, can’t give a correct accent). That is another book review for another day. Check out Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s one of the French’s finest works. Both Les Mis and Hunchback are really the only works from Hugo I’m into. if I read anything else form Hugo, it might be his poetry, or maybe another novel of his called Toilers of the Sea. Who knows?

My First Classic Read

Once upon a time, Devin Stevens was assigned a summer read for his tenth grade advanced world literature class. The selection in question was Alexandre Duma’s The Three Musketeers. Devin finished the book in a week under a scorching hot sun. Little did he know he had just taken his first step into the world of the classics.

D’Artagnan is a young man in 1675 France who wishes to join the musketeers led by M. de Treville. Adventurous in heart, he meets three soldiers under Treville’s service: the religious Aramis, the flirtatious Porthos, and the mysterious Athos. At first, the three do not think D’Artagnan suitable for the chivalrous position, until he assists them in fighting off a regiment of guards. From then on, he becomes friends with them and begins to learn the ways of true swordsmanship.

D’Artagnan, while enjoying himself with his new comrades, soon unearths a secret kept from the king of France, namely, that the queen is having an affair with the Duke of Buckingham. He falls in love with one of the queen’s servants, who begs him to help the queen avoid Louis XIV’s prying eyes.The reader also sees into the lives of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, even as he or she is following D’Artagnan’s adventures. Cardinal Richelieu, desiring the Queen’s secret to be discovered, plots against D’Artagnan and the musketeers, threatened by their ingenuity. He enlists the help of his female rogue, Milady, who develops a dangerous, personal feud with D’Artagnan. Richelieu also has the young man’s mistress kidnapped, prompting D’Artagnan to search hopelessly for her. As the novel rears towards its climax, the suspense builds to a pitch, including expected, and unexpected, conclusions.

If I could rate this book, I would give it a 4/5. The novel contains many different elements all interwoven together: romance, suspense, history, deception, adventure, you name it. Dumas definitely put a lot of work into making the book as multi-layered as possible. Looking back on it, there are several reasons as to why I need to reread it. First, as it was my first selection of classic literature, I didn’t see into the book as well as I could have, not being used to the deep vocabulary and historical events that classify most classics. Overall, though, it wasn’t as difficult a read as, say, Moby Dick, or The Sound and the Fury. Yet a reread wouldn’t hurt to better understand some of the plot elements, such as the relationship between the man in the red cloak and Milady. There was also the fact that D’Artagnan showed Cardinal Richelieu a fragment of a letter that got him out of trouble? I’m not so sure. My mind sort of zoned out during the time Milady tried to have the musketeers killed. But for the most part, I recall a lot of things I liked about the novel: the way Milady slowly escaped from a prison, D’Artagnan keeping France’s king from discovering his wife’s infidelity, the fact that D’Artagnan always lost hold of the mysterious “Stranger,” and the suspenseful conclusion where Milady is chased by the musketeers.The second reason I would need to reread this novel is because, apparently, it is the first of a series of books Dumas wrote about the musketeers. There are three (or maybe four or more books) in all. The last in the series is The Man in the Iron Mask. This one was turned into a wonderful film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. As for the books that occur in between Musketeers and Mask, I believe one is called either Twenty Years After or Twenty Years Later. There may also be some stories in french titles which we as Americans have difficult access to. If I reread Musketeers, then I would definitely like to read all the books to get the full story of D’Artagnan and his friends.

I definitely see myself returning to Dumas in the future. For one, he wrote one book with another author about the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker is my favorite Christmas story, so reading Duma’s take on the tale would be interesting. But of course, there is also The Count of Monte Cristo. This whopper of a book is around 1300-1500 pages, depending on what version you buy. From what I’ve heard of the story, it’s got all kinds of plots to it, creating one long story of suspense. I got my sights set on it for the future.

Check The Three Musketeers out. You will not be disappointed. It’s the pure definition of storytelling in its most balanced form.