Monday, May 22, 2017

Celebrated Crimes

Alexandre Dumas - Celebrated Crimes (1840) direct link (volume 1) direct link (volume 2) direct link (volume 3) direct link (volume 4) direct link (volume 5) direct link (volume 6) direct link (volume 7) direct link (volume 8)

Open Library main page

Crime seems to be one of the few types of stories with a close to universal appeal.  To hit that market, struggling journalist Alexandre Dumas, just a few years away from The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, produced this compilation of crime stories.  It's not exactly what we would consider true crime today since it covers the Borgias, Mary Stuart and the Man in the Iron Mask.  Other topics are not familiar to English-speakers (or at least not to this English-speaker) - Marquise de Ganges, La Constantin, the Camisard revolt.  (Though the latter will be the subject of a future post.)

I've linked to an uncredited 1910 translation that claimed to be unexpurgated.  A previous translation in 1843 made the comment:

"In preparing for publication, in an English dress, the following work of one of the most popular French writers of the present day, the Translator has carefully removed from it several of the blemishes of the modern school of literature to which it belongs; levity of expression on serious subjects, indelicacy of language, and a desire to gratify the vulgar appetite for horrible and revolting detail."  (The semi-colon that should be a colon is in the original.)

In any case there doesn't appear to be any translation more recent than the 1910 one so enjoy all the indelicate language and revolting detail.