Miskatonic University Press

A remarkable sentence by Dumas

literature quotes

I’m rereading the complete Musketeers series by Alexandre Dumas, and just came across this astounding sentence in chapter Chapter 22, “The Nymphs of the Park of Fontainebleau,” in the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Louise de la Vallière (edited by David Coward, from an 1851 translation by Thomas Pederson):

When, however, the Queens had expressed their satisfaction and the spectators their enthusiasm, when the King had retired to his dressing-room to change his costume, and whilst Monsieur, dressed as a woman, as he delighted to be, was, in his turn, dancing about, de Guiche, who had now recovered himself, approached Madame, who, seated at the back of the theatre, was waiting for the second part, and had quitted the others for the purpose of creating a sort of solitude for herself in the midst of the crowd, to meditate, as it were, beforehand, upon choreographic effects; and it will be perfectly understood that, absorbed in deep meditation, she did not see, or rather she pretended not to see, anything that was passing around her.

Incredible. The original French has it in two sentences:

Mais, quand les reines eurent témoigné leur satisfaction, les spectateurs leur enthousiasme, quand le roi se fut rendu à sa loge pour changer de costume, tandis que Monsieur, habillé en femme, selon son habitude, dansait à son tour, de Guiche, rendu à lui-même, s’approcha de Madame, qui, assise au fond du théâtre, attendait la deuxième entrée, et s’était fait une solitude au milieu de la foule, comme pour méditer à l’avance ses effets chorégraphiques. On comprend que, absorbée par cette grave méditation, elle ne vît point ou fît semblant de ne pas voir ce qui se passait autour d’elle.