The Duke's Man
The Duke's Man
Focusing on one aspect of Dumas’ novel—the doomed love story of Bussy d’Amboise and Diana de Monsoreau—Slavitt excerpts key passages, which are extended and undercut by the narrator’s comments. The result is a radically abridged book with its own life and verve. The first of the quoted scenes, in which the names of Bussy’s assailants are replaced with those of French cheeses, sets the irreverent tone for all that follows. The book pokes fun at Dumas’ exclamatory style and flamboyant archaisms (“morbleu!” “pardieu!”), the implausibility of the swordfights, the unnecessary contortions of the political plot, the conventional passivity of the heroine, and the coyness of his love scenes. Residing somewhere between Nabokov’s Pale Fire and Quirk Books’ mash-ups (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, etc.), The Duke’s Man’s blend of quotation, commentary, and fiction raises searching questions about realism and truth.
"David R. Slavitt writes the best sentence in America today. His remarkable fluency is an unfailing delight as he deconstructs and at the same time brilliantly reconstructs Alexandre Dumas' novel La Dame de Monsoreau. Here, in all fullness, are Louis de Bussy d'Amboise, 'the brave Bussy'; sixteenth-century France; an interrogation of the historical novel as a genre; and a witty but profoundly felt, unobscured look at the pure wickedness of our 'human' species. What more could anyone ask for?" —Kelly Cherry, author of The Woman Who
"David Slavitt's book is, at one and the same time, an examination of the ways and means of the writing of historical romances, a quiet and often wise meditation on the life and work of Alexandre Dumas, and an intellectual, irreverent, even Francophobic romp through Dumas' La Dame de Monsoreau. It is as much a delightful page-turner as any novel by that prolific Gallic tale-spinner himself." —R.H.W. Dillard, author of What is Owed the Dead