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Vaninka

Alexandre Dumas

Book Overview: 

The story of Vaninka, generally regarded as the most fictionalized of Dumas’ Celebrated Crimes series, occurs during the short and eccentric rule of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Vaninka is a general’s daughter whose love for one of her father’s officers leads to tragic death, savage crimes and perversions of justice.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The instrument with which the executioner was busying himself, and which is perhaps unknown to our readers, was a species of whip, with a handle about two feet long. A plaited leather thong, about four feet long and two inches broad, was attached to this handle, this thong terminating in an iron or copper ring, and to this another band of leather was fastened, two feet long, and at the beginning about one and a half inches thick: this gradually became thinner, till it ended in a point. The thong was steeped in milk and then dried in the sun, and on account of this method of preparation its edge became as keen and cutting as a knife; further, the thong was generally changed at every sixth stroke, because contact with blood softened it.

However unwillingly and clumsily Ivan set about untying the knot, it had to come undone at last. Besides, the bystanders were beginning to grumble, and their muttering disturbed the reverie into which the young aide-de-camp had falle. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Alexandre Dumas’s approach to his Celebrated Crimes series is to give each episode a fictional edge. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was historical fiction, what with the dramatised dialogue exchanges, the absence of any notes, and with no intrusion of the author's opinions.

It’s t...more