Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Black Tulip

Since I enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo very much, and thought that it was one of the best books I had ever read, The Black Tulip was on my next list to read. I was not disappointed. Although not as thick as The Count of Monte Cristo, The Black Tulip was also very enjoyable and hard to put down. I only put it down because it had been late and I had to work the next day. These 2 Alexandre Dumas works are really worth my money. I am considering to read more works of him. Robin Buss translated both Dumas's work I have and I hoped to find more, but I found out that Mr Buss passed away in December 2006.

Like The Count of Monte Cristo, The Black Tulip also tells about an innocent man who is thrown into jail after being falsely accused by an anonymous letter. Set in Holland in 1672, Cornelius van Baerle is an artist who adores tulip. The city of Haarlem offers a prize of 100,000 florins to those who discovers the black tulip, which is considered as impossible that time. Van Baerle's neighbour, also a tulip grower, is jealous of Van Baerle's success and writes to the authority that Van Baerle is involved in a treason against the state because Van Baerle is the godson of Cornelius de Witt, the traitor.

The beginning of the book is rather hard to devour because of the historical details on the murder of de Witt brothers, but after that the story flows nicely. Van Baerle in his despair will find that there is something more beautiful awaits him than just the black tulip. Dumas's writing is funny at times. This is one of my favourites: "The dog was coming out of a niche in the wall, rattling a great chain, and sniffed at Cornelius so as to be sure to recognize him, in case it might be necessary to devour him some day."

The story in the movie La Tulipe noire with Alain Delon is very different with this one: the location, the time, the names of the characters. Yet in the opening credits Alexandre Dumas's name is mentioned, along with the novel.

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