Celebrated Crimes 12: Martin Guerre
Publisher: Freshwater Seas
Date: February 2015
Duration: 1 hours 58 minutes
To paraphrase the note from the translator, The Celebrated Crimes of Alexandre Dumas père was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language—has minced no words—to describe violent scenes of violent times.
In this, the twelfth of the series, Dumas, the novelist-historian, is back in full force. His subject is a well-documented historical fact: that a man named Arnaud du Thil was able to pass, for two years, as Martin Guerre, deceiving the fellow-villages, neighbors, friends, family and even the wife of Martin Guerre with equal success, even to the point of becoming the father of two children by Martin Guerre's wife. The uncanny resemblance between the two men and the amazing sang-froid of the imposter created as situation that has fascinated historians, playwrights, novelists and moviemakers for well over four hundred years.
Of course, Dumas, the dramatist and novelist, cannot help embellishing the work of Dumas, the historian. He gives us words and actions that cannot possibly be part of the historical record from scenes that are as effectively histrionic as they are undocumented. However, all his melodrama is well based on his history, and he certainly makes a wonderful tale out of his materials.
Dumas collaborated on this, as he frequently did in his works, with Fournier, who worked with him on several of his dramas as well. Nevertheless, it is clearly Dumas who has the final say on this work, as with all the other works in this series.
A Freshwater Seas production.