Scaramouche (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Scaramouche (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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Scaramouche, by Rafael Sabatini, 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. Raised by a supposed "godfather," Andre'-Louis Moreau knows nothing about his background or his real parents—not even his real name. All he knows is that he wants vengeance against the vicious, arrogant aristocrat who brutally murdered his best friend. As France plummets into revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, Moreau's journey toward revenge takes him through several careers, from lawyer to fugitive to actor and playwright—and eventually to member of the French National Assembly. Hiding with a troupe of itinerant actors, he gleefully plays the traditional Commedia Dell-Arte role of Scaramouche, the trouble-making trickster who, like Shakespeare's fools and jesters, speaks painful truths disguised as harmless comedy.

Rafael Sabatini was a twentieth-century Alexandre Dumas: a masterful creator of swashbuckling historical romances. Mixing real people with fictional characters and actual events with invented ones, Sabatini drew vivid, accurately detailed pictures of revolution-addled France. In Scaramouche, he turns a sweeping adventure epic into a subtle psychological study, as Moreau's odyssey gradually becomes less about revenge than about self-discovery.

Includes 8 pieces of original art.
John D. Cloy, Ph.D., is Bibliographer for the Humanities at the University of Mississippi Libraries. He is the author of Pensive Jester: The Literary Career of W.W. Jacobs (University Press of America, 1996) and Muscular Mirth: Barry Pain and the New Humor (University of Victoria Press, 2003), as well as various articles on turn-of-the-century English literature and humor, comparative literature, and British short fiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082420
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 08/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 55,267
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.08(d)

Read an Excerpt

From John Cloy’s Introduction to Scaramouche

When Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche: A Romance of the French Revolution was published in 1921, he was already an established author, with a dozen books to his credit. This swashbuckling novel, set during the French Revolution, won him an even larger audience and made him a tidy sum of money. Hailed as the “new Dumas” by his admirers, the author was welcomed by lovers of action literature, historical fiction, and period stories. The novel was initially turned down by several publishers before being accepted by London publisher Hutchinson, who happily watched it sell hundreds of thousands of copies (the American publisher was Houghton Mifflin). Scaramouche was instrumental in resurrecting a flagging literary genre, the historical novel. Although historical fiction had enjoyed a brief rebirth during the years of World War I (probably because of a widespread demand for escapist literature), its vogue had quickly faded as soon as the conflict ended.

Perhaps the popularity of that relatively new medium, the movie, contributed to Sabatini’s success with this somewhat unfashionable literary form. Scaramouche was made into several films, one starring box office idols Stewart Granger and Janet Leigh. The writer’s well-crafted prose, his meticulous historical research, fluency in at least six languages, cosmopolitan background, and singular ability to tell a story in an interesting manner probably, however, played a bigger role in his success. Markedly different from the productions of Modernist writers like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce (who essentially abandoned straightforward narrative for a more internalized, mental approach to fictional presentation that basically ignored chronological constraints), Sabatini’s historical novels continued to sell during the period between the wars when the fortunes of other purveyors of historical fiction were generally at a low ebb.

Sabatini’s upbringing was certainly a contributing factor to his ability to write historical fiction. He was born in 1875 in Jesi, in central Italy, the son of opera singers. His father, Vincenzo Sabatini, was an Italian, while his mother, Anna Trafford, was of English stock. Rafael learned the rudiments of English as a child from his mother but did not master the language until he went to England as a teenager. He was exposed at a young age to Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, all of which he spoke and wrote with facility. His schooling consisted of a year at the Lycée of Oporto, Portugal, where his parents had settled as music teachers, and several more years in Switzerland at the École Cantonale in Zoug. The young Sabatini’s years on the European mainland, with its crumbling castles, historical battlefields, and multicultural, often colorful populace, instilled in him a deep interest in history and reading that he never outgrew. A habit of omnivorous reading that he developed early in life built the framework for the painstaking research practices that he so fruitfully brought to bear on his historical novels.

Although Sir Walter Scott was not the first to compose historical fiction, any discussion of the subject brings his name to the forefront. Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) is generally considered the first historical novel, this position justified by the author’s enthusiasm for period-era scenery like musty old castles and chivalric romance. A broadly accepted contemporary definition of “romance,” as set forth in Clara Reeve’s The Progress of Romance (1785), is a narrative set in the past, as opposed to the novel that is set in the present. Scott and those who followed him generally adhered to this tenet (Drabble, The Oxford Companion to English Literature, p. 482; see “For Further Reading”). Scott’s fictional principles are laid out in the prefaces to his various novels. He viewed history as a subject that was repulsively dry and sought to present to his readers the spirit of historical events enlivened by fictional embellishments. He usually chose to present ordinary people as his protagonists and used actual historical figures as marginalia, almost as props for greater realism. Thus the writer attempted to remain true to both disciplines, history and literature. Scott took wide latitude with his historical facts and often strayed from the factual records—as when he portrayed the Saxons as ascendant in Ivanhoe (by that period the Normans actually had the upper hand). In his Scottish novels, he frequently altered details of English history to suit his purpose, which was to portray the spirit of Scotland and its struggles with realism and truth and without maudlin sentiment or overindulgence in rote recital of primary material, but not without creativity. Scott held that an imagination in the service of truth was superior to the antiquarian mode of history (Orel, The Historical Novel from Scott to Sabatini, pp. 6–14). He was often attacked by contemporary critics, although his books have survived and are still read. This longevity can be considered the ultimate test of literary merit.

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Scaramouche 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
phantom24 More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a classic can be somewhat difficult to read, with dated, overflowing language. Sabatini's prose is not only a pleasure to read, I could envision him with a twinkle in his eye and a faint smile on his lips. Never boring, even in the slower parts, and sometimes suprising in his character development, Sabatini not only keeps you hooked with his action, but entertained with his wit. Caution: Don't read the Introduction by John Cloy until AFTER you've read the book. While Cloy's intro is very informative, it includes a spoiler. Cloy, and Barnes & Noble, should know better than to uncover such a detail in the belongs at the back of the book.
Ludwig1770 More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading this booking and only one word can describe it: Amazing!! What a beautiful book filled with adventure, drama, and a bit of romance. the first 100 pages start off with a bang and the middle cools off a bit with drama and shows you more of the character of Andre-Louis(not your typical hero). And the last section (book III) is the end of the amazing ride. Couldn't put the book down during the last 100 Pages!! I totally recommend this book for people looking for Action, adventure and Drama. i just simply loved it !! and so will you ! I will be planning on reading Captain Blood and Sea-hawk Rafael Sabatini is awesome!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have scarcely finished reading it--just a few moments ago, in fact, but longer still that you are reading this. I have read a few of Sabatini's other works, most notably Captain Blood which ranks in the top five best books I have ever read, and the Sea Hawk, which, good tale though it was, still tends to fall short of his other tales. But for those of you just tuning in, Scaramouche is a wonderful, multi-faceted read. All the Sabatini clicks are there: The sword fighting, the clever dialogue and complicated enmities between people who might otherwise be alright had they never met. All this set against the turbulent background of the French Revolution. There are a few Star Wars-esque moments, but when considering how much older this tale is than the afforementioned one, it might be fair to say that there are elements of Scaramouche in Star Wars. And in A Bug's Life, for that matter. Despite all the historical detail, of which Sabatini was a master, his trademark male/female misunderstanding coupled with the obstacles of their respective prides creates an entanglement we do not see unraveled until the novel's closing sentences. Rafael Sabatini had a gift for the novel, and could I write one like this, I should well call myself a novelist. As it is his gift is presented here, at bargain price no less. Do yourself a favor and accept it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, if anyone really wants to read the novel-length review below, be my guest, but I'm going to try to make this one much shorter. This was a really good book, although it took me a while to get through it, and I think Sabatini does a great job showing how change can occur without the subject even knowing it. I'm not sure the 'psychological study' is as good as advertised, but the action is great, when it chooses to show up. If you were really intrigued when you read The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo, your time spent reading this book will be well-spent. Otherwise . . . well, it's slightly shorter than the ones I've mentioned but it still feels as though it drags on and on and on and on for chapters at a time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rife with nineteenth century melodrama and a plot riddled by coincidence, Rafael Sabatini's SCARAMOUCHE is a tale of passion and adventure on the eve of the French Revolution. Andre-Louis Moreau, a low born young man who has studied the law and enjoys the patronage of a local nobleman, M. de Kercadiou, falls afoul of yet another highborn gentleman when this other takes it upon himself to entice Andre-Louis' best friend into a duel he cannot win. Moreau's friend, Philippe de Vilmorin, is a hotheaded idealist preaching the overthrow of the established order and his highborn antagonist, the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr, is a man who cannot abide that. Goading the hapless Philippe into a one-sided duel which must result in his death, the Marquis ultimately refuses to respond to the angry demand of Andre-Louis that he kill him, too, leaving the young man clutching the dead body of his friend and swearing to become the voice of revolution that Philippe would have been had he lived. Aiming to make good his oath, Andre-Louis soon turns his talent for oratory into rabblerousing against the Marquis, and those of the King's officers who protect him, and is forced to become a fugitive as the established order turns against him. Fleeing the gendarmes with the aid of Aline, beautiful niece of M. de Kercadiou, Andre-Louis joins an acting troupe and begins the first significant transformation of his life. But it will not be his last as he finds his calling in playing the scandalous rogue 'Scaramouche' in the series of plays he soon devises to win fame and fortune for his little troupe. Yet trouble haunts the troupe as Andre-Louis discovers a passion for Mademoiselle Binet, the beautiful daughter of the troupe's leader, only to find his hopes thwarted when he again crosses paths with the deadly Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr. Angered at the decision of M. de Kercadiou's niece, Aline, to refuse to foreswear the attentions of the ubiquitous Marquis, who seeks to win her with his worldly wealth and gentlemanly charm, Scaramouche soon resurfaces as a political dissident once more, bringing to an end his love affair with the theater and the actress, La Binet, who first drew him to it. But Andre-Louis still has another transformation before him and, fleeing to Paris, he secures a position with a fencing master and is soon well on his way to mastery of that still vital martial art. As the Revolution gains steam, Andre-Louis, who continues to see himself as the rogue, Scaramouche, finds himself sucked back into the maelstrom of disorder and violence that the conflict in France is fast becoming. When, at last, he learns of an opportunity to square accounts with the man who slaughtered his friend, besieges Kercadiou's niece, and derailed his own planned marriage with the lovely Binet girl, he is quick to act and is soon brought face to face with d'Azyr in the Assembly of the newly formed French constitutional monarchy. But the constitutional monarchy cannot endure and little else is as it seems in the escapades of Scaramouche. If one surprise is amply telescoped there is yet another, waiting in the wings, which comes so suddenly that I was astonished I had not anticipated it. Of course, the tale is entirely derived of the magnificent coincidences, nineteenth century style, that keep the story boiling as M. Moreau, the Scaramouche, learns the secrets of his own history, one revelation at a time. If you like good old fashioned historical action tales with a French flavor and have a tolerance for the archaic conventions that enriched Sabatini's writing in the period (he wrote in the early twentieth century though his style resounds with the accouterments of the nineteenth), then I'm betting you'll like this one. I did. -- SWM
Guest More than 1 year ago
For lovers of history, romance, adventure, humor, or mystery, this book is a great read. A Dumas-esque adventure story set during the early days of the French Revolution, Scaramouche manages to be stimulatingly literate without being style-heavy. The central character, Andre-Louis Moreau, is every bit as dashing and witty as his spiritual ancestor, D'artagnan. An educated cynic, Andre-Louis grows up as the illegitimate son of an obscure farmer-seigneur in an obscure village, and seems destined to be a rather obscure lawyer, his talents for rhetoric confined to the provincial courtroom. Then, with the death of his best friend, his world changes. Andre-Louis finds himself swept up into the terrifying maelstrom of the French Revolution, fighting for his life -- endangered by ideals he doesn't believe in. How his beliefs about society and about himself are challenged and changed forms the central issue of this gripping novel, which builds in dramatic tension all the way to the incredible climax.
debs4jc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't think I would like this at first, I've never been much interested in the French revolution and I thought the language would be challenging. But it wasn't too much of a problem and I got caught up in the drama of the story. The man character's best friend is killed--murdered, really--in an unfair duel and Scaramouche vows to avenge his death and continue to speak out for his cause. The rest of the book deals with his struggles to survive and carry out his pledge, which isn't easy since the guy who killed his friend is a rich and powerful man. Along the way he has many adventures, romances, and encounters interesting characters. Fans of historical fiction and rollicking adventure should highly enjoy it.
dknippling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A reread. Ah...what can I say about this book? If you're trying to make up your mind whether or not to read this, you should probably read a different review. I reread this because I couldn't stop thinking about it after the Occupy Wall Street movement started up, and I felt that I have been moving through similar attitudes as Andre-Louis throughout the book. At first I was flat-out cynical about it--Pfft, like that's going to do any good--and I fear the potential for damage there.
mainrun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The novel is broken into three parts; three "books." The setting is the 1790's, but the book was written in the 1920's. The first book was an easy read, much like action/adventure stories of today. The second book was a bit of a bummer for me. It reminded me of the old, silent movie clips I have seen: overacting, not-realistic moving around. The last book surprised me as it read like a biography, describing the lead character actions/thoughts in an odd way for me, as I don't read biographies. Overall an interesting "historical fiction" type book.
ben_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this because Michael Chabon listed it among his ten favorite novels. That seems strong -- it's a diverting swashbuckler, but not terribly memorable.
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Rafael Sabatini is a marvellous story teller. This book is enchanting, swashbuckling, chivalrous, entertaining, humorous, and satisfying; the hero is unusual, but compelling, and will not be one that you forget in a hurry. The book itself is long and the language fairly complicated, but it is well worth it. Scaramouche is a tale of justice and injustice, adventure and romance; a truly great classic.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
ggrossman More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The verbiage can make it a bit challenging, but it really takes you into another world.
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PatPfu More than 1 year ago
You can get this for less, but the B&N price is still low, and the well-executed design and extra touches make this version a reading pleasure. As to the story itself, it had all the fun of the 1952 movie with key differences, and the more involved plot and depth that comes with a book. Scaramouche makes a nice companion with a hammock and fine beverage on a summer day (or two).
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