Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Dumas tells the story of the adventurous D'Artagnan, leaving his home to join the King's musketeers in the 17th century France. Athos, Porthos and Aramis are the persons referred to by the title, and D'Artagnan soon challenges each of them to a duel, which leads to an initial friendship that grows through the novel. The story contains everything. It's exciting, hilarious, adventurous and thrilling. The only thing that might, in som way, be lacking is the profoundity that ”The Count of Monte Cristo” possess.

Unfortunately, the women were either helpless or deceiving, except from the modest but brave mercer's wife, Madame Bonacieux. The villain of the story, the ruthless, devious Milady de Winter, showed no fainting qualities, but played with what she had - her intellect and her beauty – to overcome obstacles. Never the less, even though there can be no comparison regarding the source of evil, the men weren't exactly honourable and innocent, either. Though they remained loyal to the King, they had other, less favourable qualities. The musketeers might be regarded as exploiting their position on certain occasions. Sometimes, they treated people around them badly, especially their lackeys. D'Artagnan, at times, seemed to have a difficult time deciding who would receive his love. According to the author, one of the customs of the 17th century France was for the musketeers to receive gifts from married, wealthy ladies that served as their mistresses. That's interesting. Only a century later, virtue and honour would rend it impossible. 

The contempt of death and constant duels show that some people wanted to preserve the earlier culture, and refuse to accept the prohibition of duels. Undoubtadly, there were different opinions of that. A hilarious thing the musketeers dedicated themselves to was breakfasting in the bastion in the middle of a war with England, refusing to stop before the repast was over. Then, Athos obstinately left the bastion, with the bullets flying around him, at a walking pace. The character of Athos is intriguing. It was clear from the beginning that he suffered from some great misfortune or disappointment of some kind, which turned out to be romantic. The way it was described, however, was in a unusual, funny kind of way. He seemed tired and didn't give much for words and he communicated with his lackey through signs which sometimes turned into a pantomime or a sign-language, and the latter eventually developed an impressive alertness.

The way in which the story is written is a clever mixture of admirable character development, pensive declarations, high-paced suspense and comedy. It's not, as mentioned, as thoroughly impressive as "The Count of Monte Cristo" but a comparison is unnecessary because of their differences. This one is comical, adventurous and full of intrigues, while the other one is sad, profound and much darker.


Psykodrama by Magnus Dahlström

A psychotherapist is treating a patient that has problems to cope after a fire killed her entire family. Initially, the roles of the characters are defined, but eventually the psychotherapist begins to assimilate the patient's characteristics and memories, and projects his own feelings onto her. Does the psychotherapist use his patient for his own means, or is he manipulated? There are elements of guilt, relations of power and the exploiting of it. The story is layered, offering many interpretations throughout the book.

The patient is somehow familiar to the psychotherapist. Whether there is a relation or not, and what it might be, is not clear. Is the patient as innocent as she seems? What about the psychotherapist? When he begins to analyze the session's influence on him and seek guidance from his handler, the story gets ambiguous and the boundaries are fading and melting together. It's difficult to discern the difference between the roles and there is great room for speculation.

Most of the book is dialogue, and the reader never gets to enter the patient's mind. In what way are the two depending on each other? How far is a person willing to go to cope? Is the patient there for a reason unknown? Is she even real? Leaving gaps for the reader to fill in is an interesting stylistic technique, but occasionally the repetitive details about airplaines and other objects, colors and sounds get tedious. The constant moving elevator, the impression of the colour white and the fact that people come there, to be able to cope and move on, gives a possible theological wibe, though. The book is, according to the author himself, somewhat brushy, and the reader is left with many strings to attach with only a few clues. While other books are unfolding, this one gets more fragmented.

The author shows great knowledge in psychology and therapy. The book takes place during therapy sessions. Small variations demand the reader's attention, and the story is evolving and progressing throughout the book, but on the contrary to other books, this gets more and more complicated, with no way of confirming the theories developed by the reader. It's impossible to view the story in a objective light due to it's many psychological dimensions. This is a story with subtle elements, about reality and illusion, recesses of memory and instinct of self-preservation.


The Stand by Stephen King

When a plague strikes, the few people left begin having dreams about two different people that are each other's nemesis. They can choose to be a part of an old woman's fellowship, or to join the dark side, a totalitarianism. In the beginning the chapters alternate between different characters such as the pregnant Frannie, the musician Larry, the deaf-mute Nick, the slightly introverted Harold, the imprisoned Stu, the intellectually challenged Tom, the intellectual Glen, the mysterious Nadine, the criminal Lloyd, and last but not least, the dog Kojak. They are flawed and absolutely no saints before the plague – a brilliant concept. Thus, they are no given leaders. But, all of a sudden, they get a second chance to take responsibility, and save themselves from destruction. Some of them does, despite moments of hesitation. Others don't. There's no foreseeing who will be sympathetic and not, who will take the opportunity to face their past and who will exploit the change to power. They all get a second chance. Stephen King is cleverly describing the core of a person's true identity. When the filter of materialism and comfort are gone, as well as the lack of structure, rules and laws, it's easier to unfold people's inner nature. Suddenly, their true identity emerges. The existence of, or lack there of, sympathy and empathy become very clear.

The story about a group of people's current construction of a new society gives birth to some interesting questions. The question of democracy. Is it the opinion of the majority of the people or the decision that is best for them? The question about whether people are born with morals or something that they possibly incorporate later on. The question about good and evil, and whether people are really aware of the difference - is there a difference? Can we choose who we are, or are we incorrigible? What's fascinating about the evil Flagg is that he is powerless without people's fear and lynch behavior. He feeds on it. Evil can take many shapes, but is only as powerful as people's minds permit.

It's interesting to consider the normal society we're used to from a stranger's perspective. After living a free life for a while, how would we perceive the traditional structure and rules of society? The characters speculate about what kind of society they want to build and if they are going to change something from the old one. What if there are other ways to run a society? Without materialism there wouldn't be the same kind of differences between people. The struggle between the traditional laws and individual freedom becomes distinct during the new organisation of society structure, and the potential danger of organisation and power is reflected upon. This makes the reader speculate about how close we really are to become our own destruction.

The unabridged version of 1200-pages offer a profound description of the main characters, something that feels tedious at times, but might be healthy for the reader to be able comprehend the amplitude of the story. The book contains different themes such as speculative realism, science fiction, fantasy and religious symbolism. Perhaps the story would have benefited from simply one of them - speculative realism. The reader might choose which perspective to view it from, but it's not really necessary to throw in fantasy and supernatural elements. The reader might even have difficulties to interpret certain parts. What really caused the catastrophy that threw the world into a dystopian setting? Mankind or God?

The book, more than anything else, leaves the reader with one question. Are we able to learn from our mistakes? Stephen King seems to have faith in us, but we are easily tempted. This is one of his most famous works, perhaps because it's subtle and layered and contains many different sub themes, where people's inner nature and the contrast between the right choice and the easy choice are very distinguished.