Man in the Iron Mask (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Man in the Iron Mask, by Alexander Dumas, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble ...
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Overview

The Man in the Iron Mask, by Alexander Dumas, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

France in the 1660s is a boiling cauldron of plots and counter-plots as King Louis XIV struggles to extend his power and transform himself into the “Sun King.” Locked within the dreaded Bastille prison may be his enemies’ ultimate weapon: an anonymous prisoner forced to wear an iron mask so that none may see his face—and learn his astonishing secret. But soon the famed d’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers are swept into the action—but not on the same side! Will they actually be forced to fight each other?

As much a tale of mystery and political intrigue as a swashbuckling adventure, The Man in the Iron Mask is the final novel in Alexandre Dumas’s series of d’Artagnan romances. The story follows the heroic young man from the country who, along with his three comrades, becomes a powerful influence on the course of French history. Yet what seems to be the most fantastic aspect of the story is based on fact. During Louis XIV’s reign, a mysterious masked prisoner did dwell in the Bastille and his identity remains a question to this day.

Barbara T. Cooper is Professor of French at the University of New Hampshire. A member of the editorial boards of Nineteenth-Century French Studies and Les Cahiers Alexandre Dumas, she specializes in nineteenth-century French drama and in works by Dumas.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082338
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 768
  • Sales rank: 101,724
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara T. Cooper is Professor of French at the University of New Hampshire. A member of the editorial boards of Nineteenth-Century French Studies and Les Cahiers Alexandre Dumas, she specializes in nineteenth-century French drama and in works by Dumas.
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Read an Excerpt

From Barbara Cooper’s Introduction to The Man in the Iron Mask

It is not at all surprising that Dumas, like Vigny, Hugo, and other writers of their day, would be drawn to the story of a masked prisoner held in isolation and accorded special consideration and respect by his jailors. As Victor H. Brombert demonstrated in his study The Romantic Prison: The French Tradition, the prison occupied a significant place in the Romantic imagination. On the one hand, it offered Romantic writers the opportunity to exploit some of the dark atmospherics and melodramatic villainy traditionally associated with the Gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe and others. On the other hand, it also provided them with a space in which to explore the inner being and the superior nature of an exceptional individual. Dumas’s early novels, from Le Chevalier d’Harmental to Georges, already included prison episodes. So did The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. But Dumas’s most famous fictional prisoner prior to The Man in the Iron Mask was, of course, Edmond Dantès, better known as the count of Monte Cristo—a name Dantès adopted after his escape from the Château d’If. There are some superficial similarities between Dantès and the Mask. Both men are held in solitary confinement. Both are eventually visited in prison by priests and are finally able to leave their cells as a result of that encounter, although the circumstances of their flight are totally different. Far more important than these rather facile parallels is the fact that both men are innocent victims of arbitrary decisions designed to protect another individual’s political and personal future. Those decisions lead not only to the prisoners’ unjust incarceration, but also to the erasure of their identity (Dantès’s name is replaced by a number so as to prevent others from locating him, and the Mask—whom we eventually learn is Louis XIV’s twin brother, Philippe—is given the name Marchiali and is later [in chapter 52] forced to wear an iron mask).3 Beyond that, however, the stories Dumas tells about Dantès and the Mask are more different than they are alike. Dantès uses the wealth he acquires after his escape from prison to undertake an elaborate scheme of revenge against those who wronged him. Philippe is returned to prison after a very brief period of contact with those who are responsible for his fate and is subject to even greater isolation.

The story of the fictitious masked prisoner might have been little more than another of the many interpolated episodes found in Dumas’s Musketeers trilogy (for example, Milady’s sequestration in and escape from her brother-in-law’s castle in England) were it not so clearly an illustration of the political and historical struggles that are central to Bragelonne.4 Indeed, in this final volume of the trilogy generally, and in The Man in the Iron Mask in particular, the focus is not only on the eponymous Viscount Bragelonne, son of the Comte de la Fère (known in his Musketeer days as Athos), but also on the rise to power of King Louis XIV.5 Long subject to the tutelage of his mother, Anne of Austria (widow of Louis XIII of France), and of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin (successor to Cardinal Richelieu), young Louis has also had to overcome the efforts of a faction of rebellious French aristocrats known as La Fronde who wished to place his uncle Gaston d’Orléans on the throne. In his minority, then, the young king not only lacked control over his political destiny but also was subject to personal humiliation. He likewise had little influence over royal finances that were managed principally by Nicolas Fouquet, the surintendant (superintendent) of finances, who was named to that post with the support of Mazarin.

Like many others in that era who either purchased their positions at court or were appointed as a result of patronage, the Surintendant ostensibly served at the pleasure of the King.6 But in fact, because he is responsible for filling the state’s coffers and for funding the personal and political expenses of the Crown, the Surintendant wielded a great deal of power over the King’s affairs. Indeed, as keeper of the King’s purse, the Surintendant will play a key role in determiningg whether or not Louis can go to war with his enemies, support his allies, assert his personal authority, and bring the nobility to heel. Fouquet’s power and wealth, and the shadow they cast over the King’s authority, are most concretely represented here by the magnificent castle and elaborate gardens the Surintendant has had constructed at Vaux-le-Vicomte (located to the south and east of Paris).7 That estate far outshines any of the King’s royal properties. (Louis would later order Versailles, not yet the elaborate palace familiar to thousands of visitors today, to be developed and decorated by some of the very same men Fouquet employed at Vaux.) Louis counts this ostentatious display of affluence and artistic patronage by a subject as yet another insult to his majesty, as Dumas clearly shows via repeated expressions of the King’s ire before, during, and after his brief stay at Vaux. It is, moreover, at Vaux that the entirely fictional attempt to replace Louis with his long-hidden, unknown twin takes place. Though unaware of that plot—indeed, he ultimately helps to foil it—Fouquet is nonetheless implicated in the undertaking because it transpires under his roof.8 The King—seconded by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a man who is determined to undermine and then replace Fouquet— will spend much of the rest of the novel seeking to punish the Surintendant for this and other acts of lèse-majesté (offense against the dignity of the sovereign of a state), including the fortification of the island of Belle-Isle-en-Mer off the Atlantic coast of France.9

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 665 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 668 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    Who was the man in the iron mask?

    In life, he was sentenced to a cruel fate--in death, he would become a legend. Alexandre Dumas tells the tale of the mysterious man who was imprisoned in the Bastille starting in the 168o's until his death some thirty years later. During that time his face had been hidden by an iron mask. While his identity remains a mystery, there are some tantalizing clues which might remove the mask from the man. Most prisoners of the French prison were usually important people who had fallen out of favor with King Louis XIV. Given strict orders by the king, the Musketeers were to kill him if he removed his mask. He ate in the mask, slept in the mask, and eventually died in the mask. In 1717, Voltaire was imprisoned at the Bastille. According to him, the man in the iron mask was around 60 when he died, and bore a striking resemblance to a very famous aristocrat. Of course, the most famous aristocrat in France at that time was King Louis XIV, who was also in his 60's. Another prisoner at the Bastille, Joseph de Lagrange, asserted that Benigne d'Auvergne de Saint, the governor of Sainte Marguerite, treated the mystery man deferentially and referred to him as 'prince'. Stories about the mysterious prisoner are conflicting. Some state that he wore a mask of velvet, not iron. Evidence has surfaced saying that the prisoner was buried under the name M. de Marchiel. And later, a death certificate giving the prisoner's name as Marchioly and his age of 45 was found. Another states, that in 1789 Frederic Grimm, a famous writer, claimed that a valet had revealed to him that Louis XIV had an identical twin. And that Louis XIII, feared the brothers would grow up to fight over the throne, so he sent the second-born baby away to be raised in secret. The boy was taken into a nobleman's household and treated with great respect, but he was never told who he really was. As he grew up, he saw a portrait of King Louis XIV and guessed the truth. He was immediately arrested, and spent the rest of his life as the Man in the Iron Mask. Many people believed this to be false, and believe it was elaborated and embroidered by Alexandre Dumas as the years passed. It has been said that when the Bastille was stormed by a revolutionary mob, the prince's skeleton was discovered, still wearing his iron mask. Of course, there is no record that this actually happened.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Book, Deceiving Title

    This book is the very final entry in the Three Musketeers Series by Alexandre Dumas. The Book brings about the end of all but one of the four musketeers who are: Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'artagnan. The 'man in the iron mask' is the titular character of the book but he is only an incidental character in the story and he takes up approximately one quarter of the plot or less. The story involving the man in the iron mask and the very premise of the plot surrounding this character is very thrilling and intellectually pleasing. the back of the book describes the man in the iron mask as a prisoner whose face has been hidden from all for the eight years that he has been imprisoned in the Bastille and that he knows neither his name or why he is there. I will not give away why he is there and who he is but it is definitely a great surprise worth the read. The identity of this titular character is revealed very close to the beginning of the story and it will instantly have you hooked. It is worth reading much of the slow beginning to get to the parts of the story involving the man in the iron mask. Reading these parts about the clever devices that Aramis uses to execute his plan surrounding the man are enough to make one giddy. The book takes a different turn about 2/3 of the way through the book and the man in the iron mask is not heard from anymore. The rest of the story comprises of the final ventures of the three musketeers and how their lives come to an end. This part of the book is still very readable even to people who are not fluent in the first books surrounding the Three Musketeers and any person can find this book enjoyable.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 6, 2009

    Dumas is a great writer.

    Great story and excellent reading

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    Who was the man in the iron mask?

    In life, he was sentenced to a cruel fate--in death, he would become a legend. Alexandre Dumas tells the tale of the mysterious man who was imprisoned in the Bastille starting in the 168o's until his death some thirty years later. During that time his face had been hidden by an iron mask. While his identity remains a mystery, there are some tantalizing clues which might remove the mask from the man. Most prisoners of the French prison were usually important people who had fallen out of favor with King Louis XIV. Given strict orders by the king, the Musketeers were to kill him if he removed his mask. He ate in the mask, slept in the mask, and eventually died in the mask. In 1717, Voltaire was imprisoned at the Bastille. According to him, the man in the iron mask was around 60 when he died, and bore a striking resemblance to a very famous aristocrat. Of course, the most famous aristocrat in France at that time was King Louis XIV, who was also in his 60's. Another prisoner at the Bastille, Joseph de Lagrange, asserted that Benigne d'Auvergne de Saint, the governor of Sainte Marguerite, treated the mystery man deferentially and referred to him as 'prince'. Stories about the mysterious prisoner are conflicting. Some state that he wore a mask of velvet, not iron. Evidence has surfaced saying that the prisoner was buried under the name M. de Marchiel. And later, a death certificate giving the prisoner's name as Marchioly and his age of 45 was found. Another states, that in 1789 Frederic Grimm, a famous writer, claimed that a valet had revealed to him that Louis XIV had an identical twin. And that Louis XIII, feared the brothers would grow up to fight over the throne, so he sent the second-born baby away to be raised in secret. The boy was taken into a nobleman's household and treated with great respect, but he was never told who he really was. As he grew up, he saw a portrait of King Louis XIV and guessed the truth. He was immediately arrested, and spent the rest of his life as the Man in the Iron Mask. Many people believed this to be false, and believe it was elaborated and embroidered by Alexandre Dumas as the years passed. It has been said that when the Bastille was stormed by a revolutionary mob, the prince's skeleton was discovered, still wearing his iron mask. Of course, there is no record that this actually happened.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2003

    Very intriguing

    This was so cool. I had not read the Three Musketeers, but after this book, I'm hooked. Alexandre Dumas is a great writer with a flare for suspenseful scenes.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Beautifully written by a true master. This is not Randall Walla

    Beautifully written by a true master. This is not Randall Wallace's 1998 film version, which bears very little in common with Dumas' masterpiece. It will make you curse, it will make you weep, and it will make you appreciate the demise of monarchy and the creation to democracy, no matter how flawed our system may be. Enjoy, if for no other reason than the beauty of the words.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 2, 2011

    Very heavy reading!

    If you are looking for this book to be anything like either of the last two movie versions, you will be sadly disappointed! I found the book to be long, the storyline to be convoluted and difficult to follow, and the ending to be not what was expected.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2014

    New camp is here

    Srry iceh.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2014

    Icestar

    Yay. I hav my own den that i not locked out of!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2014

    Eartheh

    Your welcome!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    TO ALL

    Please read the first part of my new series at "hyagin" res one. Reviews or comments go at res two. If I get some good feedback Ill continue. THANKS!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Mysterion

    (I'm tired. Be back tommor. )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Kenny

    -He Frost Travels out.-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Ace

    He nodded, disappearing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2014

    Nathan

    Ugh. Starts jogging toward camp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2014

    David

    Shadow-travels to camp.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2014

    Steam

    *Runs out.*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2014

    David

    "Hi Tyler."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2014

    Tyler

    Chases josh.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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