So we’re at day six of the 30DBC! (For more info on what this challenge is about, click here.)
Listening to now while writing this: Amarante – The Manic
I think the number of books that have made me cry is countable in one hand. It includes Ella Enchanted (when I read it when I was thirteen), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (when Sirius Black died) and the following book I want to share with you …
La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils
The story is of a “kept” woman named Marguerite Gautier. She is known as the lady of the camellias because she wears a white camellia when she is available to her lover(s) and a red one when her delicate condition means she is unable to entertain any guests – her condition being her tuberculosis. The story follows Armand, a man who falls in love with her and tries to win her heart, despite both her lifestyle and her sickness.
If this all sounds familiar – it probably is, this is the story from which Moulin Rouge originates.
The original story is just absolutely and tenderly tragic. And I really did not expect myself to become so attached to it. I was so relieved that I read it in my dorm room alone, when my roommate was away for the week. Otherwise she would have seen me bawl like a baby towards the end half. I don’t think I’ve ever had another novel that made me cry so much.
A lot of the story follows much like a very intimate love affair. There are letters to read and there were many scenes that took place behind close doors. Because of this, as a reader, you had the opportunity to view Marguerite from two points of view – her in public as a hostess and her in private as a scared and innocent child.
It is because she lived such a life of duplicity that you feel all the more sorry for her death and Armand’s loss at the end of the story.
“Her delight in the smallest things was like that of a child. There were days when she ran in the garden, like a child of ten, after a butterfly or a dragon-fly. This courtesan who had cost more money in bouquets than would have kept a whole family in comfort, would sometimes sit on the grass for an hour, examining the simple flower whose name she bore.”
― Alexandre Dumas-fils, La Dame aux Camélias
Thanks to the fact that I did this book as part of a course on Literature and the Arts, I also watched Verdi’s opera, La Traviata, which was adapted from the novel. I encourage that if you do have the opportunity to read this novel that you take a look at the opera after you are done. The scene at the end of Violetta’s (Marguerite in the opera) death really is heart wrenching and some adaptations just have gorgeous lighting for it and singers with amazing voices. It is also the opera where the well-known Drinking Song, “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici“, appears (click here to hear it), the song which a lot of commercials nowadays use for cars or alcohol.
So, do check out Rhey of Sunshine for more sad novels. And I will be back tomorrow to discuss what, in my opinion, is the most underrated novel.