By Harvey J Adkins
Those of you who have been with the Angélique group for a while have probably heard me say that reading the untranslated books was one of the things I still need to do before I die.
Until now, that statement was mostly facetious. I never really thought I might actually die before I finally get the chance to read them. However, since I have recently been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease, suddenly I’m not laughing anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend to die anytime very soon, but what’s happened has made me realize that, in fact, I could – if not from lymphoma, then from something else.
Of course, now that I could be faced with the problem of the end of my existence, there are a number of things that have assumed high priority in my life, even over and above reading the final few Angélique books.
Certainly, seeing that my affairs are in order is paramount. I don’t want my wife and those I love most to suffer more than they otherwise would at my demise. Just the fact that during the present months of my treatment, the woman most precious to me and I are now separated by the Atlantic Ocean is very difficult and occupies much of my thoughts.
Still, if there is a second tier of priorities for me to accomplish, finishing the Angélique series is right at the top of it. For me to die without knowing the outcome would be to have lived at least a partially unfulfilled life. That’s how important these books have been in my life.
They have not only provided me with untold numbers of hours of unparalleled entertainment, but have given me a marvellous source from which I have drawn many ideas for what has eventually become my life philosophy. Anne Golon’s masterpiece is much more to me than a diverting piece of fiction. It so beautifully portrays so many of what I feel are universal values – love between a man and woman, human freedom, family values, tolerance for the viewpoints of others, use of one’s talents to achieve difficult goals, optimism and positive action in spite of adversity – to name only a very few.
Is there really any question why these books have been so overwhelmingly popular in so many places and among the people of so many diverse cultures? One thing we all share in common is our basic humanity, and it is to that level that Anne Golon has spoken so eloquently through her invincible character.
When I think of it, it really is amazing to me that a deceptively simple book series holds such a high place in my esteem. Let’s face it. There is a huge amount of literature considered to be of far greater importance, be it fiction or non-fiction. In fact, in the contemporary English-speaking world today, these books are very little known, having been unpublished for so many years.
With few exceptions, only those of us who were fortunate enough to have grown up in the era when they were popular even know of their existence. In a sense, this makes us the disciples who must carry the word to the others, and that’s at least part of what our group has been doing for the past several years.
Personally, I would consider it a crime beyond measure if these books were allowed to pass completely into obscurity. The idea that my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc, had little or no chance to derive from Anne’s heroine the ideals that I myself have formulated in my life is completely abhorrent to me.
My greatest wish is to complete the series before my own demise. However, if I could make a wish on that deathbed, whenever it might occur, it would be to come back to this earth some 500 years in the future to see the Angélique books featured, in whatever form bookstores may take then, right alongside such classics as David Copperfield.
Only then might I feel that the little I had done promoting this great series during my life had some positive, lasting impact on the future.
Sadly, Harvey J Adkins died on June 23, 2007. A microbiologist with the US Navy, he was elected the first president of Friends of Angélique in 1999. Please read our tribute to him.