To paraphrase the note from the translator, The Celebrated Crimes of Alexandre Dumas père was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language - has minced no words - to describe violent scenes of violent times. In this, the fifth of the series, Dumas tells the story of Karl-Ludwig Sand, a man little known to the English-speaking world, but famous among German speakers; he was the man who assassinated August von Kotzebue, a vigorous advocate of Russia's interests and the interests of the Austrian Empire. In the years immediately following the fall of Napoleon, many people in Germany, particularly young people, were eagerly anticipating the coming of liberal government. Much to their dismay, the autocratic governments existing before the war were not only re-established, but put great energy to ensuring that a liberal revolution would never happen. Karl-Ludwig Sand, a young German student, became convinced that Kotzebue was the key figure in this wave of repression. He made up his mind to kill the man, and kill him he did.
Dumas gives us an intimate and revealing portrait of Sand's intellectual and emotional development, tracing with the hand of a master novelist the development of the character not of a fiction, but of an actual man. It is particularly interesting because Dumas, quite the advocate of liberal government himself, is clearly sympathetic toward Sand, though he clearly portrays the brutality of the murder of Kotzebue and the unstable trend of sand's mind leading up to it. In particular, through extensive transcriptions of Sand's journals and letters, he shows how this deeply Christian man became a deeply Christian assassin.
(P)2014 Robert Bethune
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