The different moral lessons of our story can be drawn perfectly simply, so we do not feel it is necessary to spell them out to our readers, relying rather on the pure and simple narrative of events; this way we do not deprive them of an opportunity to meditate on the punishment that egotism and greed always bring down on others.
- Dumas' Footnote to page 130, wherein he is very subtle (Andrew Brown translation)
is nothing like what you expect when you think of an Alexandre Dumas novel. Rather than a long and complex thriller, this book is more like how I'd imagine spending a late night with a tipsy Dumas telling you a weird story. One that begins with real events, and then veers into crazy town again and again, but always with a semblance of, "No, seriously, that shit happened!"
does feel like the work of its author is in the engaging tone, which makes even silly little scenes in which nothing is happening grab your attention, (the first page is about a man trying to buy a turtle, and it was so charming that it drew me in immediately) and also in its extremely strong
undercurrent of satire.
Dumas, I think, often doesn't get credit for his sense of satire and use of moral gray areas, because great swaths of readers come to his work only expecting a subtext-less adventure. They, of course, often leave having found just that, all the while wondering why some of those "heroes" didn't act like Heroes
(D'artagnan does some very bad things, guys, but that's not a failing of the narrative). It seems that Captain Pamphile
has suffered a similar fate when it comes to many readers, as I've seen people complain that the main character is a jerk and the book is full of animal cruelty, not quite realizing that that's the point. It probably doesn't help that, because Pamphile
is a novel largely about animals, it's often been classified as a kid's book. I don't recommend treating it as such.
Then what is
this book? Well...[Now go read the rest of my review! Do it!]