Angélique as a fantasy!?

There never been exactly easy to identify the genre of Angélique books and if we are trying to avoid this problem with immediate classification as "historic", "romantic" or "adventure" story, this does not lead to guaranteed success. Maybe there is need to ask which of the types of plots are shown...


A story, or also a narrative, is defined as the series of events, which are experienced by the main character who overcomes one or more of the difficulties (or fights with opponents) inside a specific environment (Fiore, Metcalf and McDaniel, 2007, p. 41). In narrative theory, the concept of narrative sometimes refers to current events of the narrative, but here we tend to understanding the concepts of story and narrative as semantic equivalents in this text (cf. Fiore, Metcalf, McDaniel, 2007). However, in some theorists’ opinion, the story is full of entities and one story can contain several narratives, i.e. sub-plots.

According to the results of studies of narrative forms (Booker, 2005), there is very small amount of basic plots and dramatic situations which makes the base of every story: the vanquishing monsters; from the poverty to the abundance; the search; the journey and the return; comedy; tragedy; the rebirth.

Booker (2005), Fiore, Metcalf, McDaniel (2007) and another, they found by analysis of popular narratives that just this very small amount of basic plots stands behind successful stories like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, where are combined all seven basic types of Booker; Rowling's Harry Potter; Paolini‘s Inheritance Cycle (Tetralogy of Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance) and others. The most of these types of plots, then we can find in another new bestsellers such as Meyer's Twilight, etc.

This small amount of basic types of plots allows to shape the stories of incredible diversity and mediate infinite amounts of experiences. Bruner (1991) adds, there the story must describe more than just one's worldly activities within one day to be compelling, and its readers could find that story enough interesting – this must be something special.

It is no coincidence that these stories, which use more basic types of plots inside themselves, they fall into the genre of fantasy. In other words, we expect from the fantasy genre these plots; spells, magic, strange creatures and signs, diabolical adversary, etc., this is all associated with fantasy. But there suffice the archetypal elements to include in a different environment and we can fill a different genre with them. In this case, historical.

According to Booker (2005, pp. 316-321), the trilogy 'Lord of the Rings' is the only story that fills all seven types of plots, but looking at the work of Anne Golon, there is not any problem to find all plots and usually several times yet.


A brief overview of the basic types of plots, which fulfill the work by Anne Golon (but due to the extensive work it can not be detailed and exhaustive):


The vanquishing monsters
There is a vanquishing of more major monsters in Angélique books.
1) The largest vanquishing monster takes place in the form of combat against Ambroisine, whose the evil forces are manifesting from the moment when Angélique feels a someone’s look in the lake (d’Orgeval). The fight with Ambroisine, almost immortal and of many identities, and her adherents and lovers, it pervades through the 7 books: from the volume 'The Countess Angélique' to the volume 'The Victory of Angélique'. The mystique of this monster is emphasized by the nicknames of devilish creatures: Amboisine as the “Belial”; the "One-Eye"; "brother" of Ambroisine – Zalile, acting like a demon; the "Invisible", who spreads the rumors in the ports etc. Ambroisine symbolically arrives on the Unicorns.
2) The mysterious fight with monster in the form of Sebastian d'Orgeval, who remains unknown threat until the last moment. Angélique meets with him at the end of the last book, she fights only with his name and intermediaries till this time. Finally, he is defeated by the Redskins’ friends as a "gift" for the dying Angélique.
3) The futile combat against the monk Becher, stupid but possessed minion who helped to destroy the Count de Peyrac; but Angéliques’ friends from the Underworld have caught up him eventually and they have killed "the monster".
4) Captain Montadour who guarded Angélique on her castle and raped her; he is symbolically defeated when Angélique allowed to cut off his head during the fighting in Poitou.
5) Lord of the Underworld Great Corsair, a monster that Angélique kills by own hands to save her children.

From the poverty to the abundance
1) From the poor, bare, rural noblewoman, Angélique becomes the rich and admired a Countess by marriage to an unknown Count de Peyrac.
2) From the nameless beggar of the Paris Underworld, Angélique becomes publican, traders, and finally - thanks to the convenient marriage to the Marquis du Plessis – the rich awning, one of the richest women of the Court.
3) As a former slave of the Mediterranean, as a former female prisoner and as a maid in the Protestant house, she is getting to abundance, when she meets with the first husband - again rich Count de Peyrac - and again she appears as a rich pampered noblewoman.
4) A poor young nobleman Joffrey went into the world and themselves built up his power and wealth through the science, business, traveling, etc.
5) After when all his property was confiscated and he became nameless outlaw on the run, he came for the wealth by the work for the Sultan of Morocco, by searching for sunken treasure in the Caribbean etc., again he started the mining and got to great influence in North America.
6) The theme of achieve abundance, we can also find it in a figure of Nicholas, a son of simple farmer who with his abilities became an important figure of the Paris Underworld.
7) From the poverty to the abundance, there gets also the Madame de Montespan who comes to Paris as a poor rural aristocrat, but as a mistress of the King becomes one of the richest women in France; the widow Scarron, for years begging for minor support along the path of the King, is becoming one of the richest women when the King married to her.

The search
This plot is most clearly evident in the Angélique's search for lost husband that becomes a central feature between the six books from the volume 'The Marquise of the Angels' to the volume 'Angélique in Love'.


The journey and the return
Life's journey of Angélique is determined by the many years search for a husband, and is fundamentally influenced by the King's love and subsequent the escape front of it - therefore here is the Angélique's traveling through the Mediterranean and North Africa. The journey for attempted new life leads into North America. The return is symbolized in the Angélique's inevitable way back into the kingdom of France, so back to the beginning, where she will have to confront herself with the King and with all changes that have occurred during her journeys.

Comedy
We meet with Joffrey's cynicism and irony, with comic misunderstandings and absurd situations, such as when Angélique rescues the neighbor's dog and drunk does not recognize her own husband. The humorous characters are represented by the old, obsessed with science pharmacist Savary; the bisexual Marquis de Ville d'Avray; the scalped Eloi Macollet, who is sleeping in a coffin in Angélique's house; the court’s joker Marquis de Lauzun, frequently referred to Bastilla and another “for reward“ deported Gascons as the Governor de Frontenac. In some parts of the work there is typical a conversational humor comparable with popular sitcoms such as exciting interviews of the courtiers in France, the gallant conversations and situations during the long winter in Quebec, etc.

Tragedy
Angélique leads the futile fight against the King and she is vainly trying to learn to happily live a new life at the Court and forget the old one. Many characters were not able to beat adversity:
1) Angélique’s little son Charles-Henri is killed by the king's soldiers at her castle
2) Angélique’s friend, Gutter Poet is executed “for her love”
3) Angélique’s husband Joffrey de Peyrac is convicted of an envy and "executed"
4) Angélique’s husband Philippe is killed in the war "for love"
5) Angélique's daughter Honorine is destroyed, mutilated and blinded by Ambroisine
6) Angélique’s brother Gontran is killed by hanging in front of Versailles
7) Angélique's sister Madelon died of the plague although the little Angélique was trying to save her
8) Angélique's first love Henri de Roguier is stoned to death in Algiers
9) Angélique’s lover the Prince Abd-el-Charam is immediately executed as a part of the Osman Faraji’s plan

The rebirth
The recurring theme. Only in the case of Angélique, this is repeated seven times...
1) A country girl with a sense of nature, who was married to the mysterious Count de Peyrac, was reborn when she discovered his world, full of worldly pleasures, philosophy, beauty, art and science.
2) The proud Countess, enjoying the aristocratic way of life, is reborn after she has to overcome the crisis, when she is condemned to the margins of society as a widow repudiated by all the people. Angélique is finding a new sense of life in the rescue of children, in the joys of everyday concerns of ordinary people and gradually also in the desire for a return to society.
3) Angélique is experiencing a rebirth in her new life as the wife of the Marshal du Plessis, who teaches to love her as she does his. The new Angélique becomes the adornment of the Court and she is intoxicated by beeing in love that she arouses even in heart of Louis XIV.
4) The Rebel from Poitou is born, when she fails in her search for a husband and when she take up the weapon against the King.
5) After the defeat of the Rebel of Poitou, the new Angélique is coming back to the roots of nature and the simple love to the child. The new Angélique was born, when she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter and learned to love her, to rely on selves and on nature.
6) The new Angélique of complex personality, integrating the types of noblewomen, who also was, even unexceptional women longing for mere survival who are able to enjoy the everyday little things, she was born when she met with her missing, beloved husband.
7) After the birth of the twins and return from disease of a former residence in tropical areas, Angélique reborn as a female spiritual essence, returning to the fundamental forces of nature and more counting on her "witch-powers".
8) Joffrey is experiencing a rebirth, when he is thrown out the window as a little child, mutilated and long sick, but survived and this experience forms the specifics of his future personality.
9) Joffrey is experiencing a rebirth, when he suddenly escapes his own execution, survives hardship and learns to live as a new person - Rescator, who is already without limp, who lost his voice, and who finds a new place in the world.


In addition, Angélique and other characters experience many surprises (especially the surprise that the pirate, with who she fell in love, is her first husband), romance (ten of major partners that Angélique loved a certain way during nearly thirty years) and adventure (often a struggle for survival, especially when traveling).

Although the Angélique novel is not typical of the genre of fantasy, there can not be denied the similarity in the unusual fulfillment of all basic types of the plots, the symbolism, the magic and the reference to eternity through the implementation of archetypes. How many wizards, magicians, fortune-tellers and witches do we just meet for the whole time? Some are obviously crooks, others are characterized by a greater degree of special skills and Angélique gets on well with them. Last but not least, also even Angélique discovers these special skills inside herself - as a child prepares healing potions and as a fairy visits the sick. Later, thanks to her vision and hearing, she saved the pilgrims from Quebec in a Christmas time...

This "fantasy story" is not directed to any of the typical fantasy popular areas such as the vampire mythology, but to the most precise historical context. Then Angélique is not only high-quality historical prose based on primary data, but it is also the work equally filled in the plane of fiction.


Literature:
FIORE, S. M., METCALF, D. MCDANIEL, R. Theoretical Foundations of Experiential Learning. In SILBERMAN, Mel. (ed.) The Handbook of Experiential Learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7879-8258-4.
BOOKER, C. The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005.
BRUNER, J. The narrative construction of reality. In Critical Inquiry. 1991, č. 18, s. 1 – 21.