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Alexandre Dumas, père

Alexandre Dumas, père.
Born 24 July 1802(1802-07-24)
Villers-Cotterêts, Aisne, France
Died 5 December 1870 (aged 68)
Puys (near Dieppe, Seine-Maritime), France
Occupation playwright and novelist
Nationality French
Period 1829–1870
Literary movement Romanticism and Historical fiction
Notable work(s) The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers
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Alexandre Dumas, père, born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870)[1] was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world. Many of his novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne were originally serialized. He also wrote plays and magazine articles and was a prolific correspondent.

Contents

Life

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Early Life

Alexandre Dumas was born in Villers-Cotterêts in the department of Aisne, in Picardy, France.

Dumas' paternal grandparents were Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman and Général commissaire in the Artillery in the colony of Saint-Domingue — now Haiti — and Marie-Cesette Dumas, an Afro-Caribbean Creole of mixed French and African ancestry.[2][3] Their son, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, married Marie-Louise Élisabeth Labouret, the daughter of an innkeeper. Thomas-Alexandre, then a general in Napoleon's army, fell out of favor and the family was impoverished when Dumas was born.

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas died in 1806, when his son was still an infant. His widow was unable to provide her son with much of education, but Dumas read everything he could get his hands on. His mother's stories of his father's brave deeds during the years of Napoleon I of France inspired Dumas' vivid imagination for adventure. Although poor, the family had their father's distinguished reputation and aristocratic connections. In 1822, after the restoration of the monarchy, twenty-year-old Alexandre Dumas moved to Paris, where he worked at the Palais Royal in the office of duc d'Orléans (Louis Philippe).

Writer

While in Paris, Dumas began writing for magazines and plays for the theater. His first play, Henry III and His Court, was produced in 1829, meeting with acclaim. The next year his second play, Christine, was equally popular, and he was financially able to work full time on writing. In 1830 he participated in the Revolution which ousted Charles X, and which replaced him on the throne with Dumas' former employer, the Duc d'Orléans, who would rule as Louis-Philippe, the Citizen King. Until the mid-1830s life in France remained unsettled, with sporadic riots by disgruntled Republicans and impoverished urban workers seeking change. As life slowly returned to normal, the nation began to industrialize, and with an improving economy -- combined with the end of press censorship -- the times turned out to be very rewarding for the skills of Alexandre Dumas.

After writing more successful plays, he turned his efforts to novels. Although attracted to an extravagant lifestyle, and always spending more than he earned, Dumas proved to be a very astute marketer. As there was high demand from newspapers for serial novels, in 1838, Dumas simply rewrote one of his plays to create his first serial novel, titled Le Capitaine Paul, which led to his forming a production studio that turned out hundreds of stories, all subject to his personal input and direction.

From 1839 to 1841 Dumas, with the assistance of several friends, compiled Celebrated Crimes, an eight-volume collection of essays on famous criminals and crimes from European history, including essays on Beatrice Cenci; Martin Guerre; Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia; and more recent incidents, including the cases of executed alleged murderers Karl Ludwig Sand and Antoine François Desrues.

Dumas also collaborated with his fencing master Augustin Grisier in his 1840 novel, The Fencing Master. The story is written to be Grisier's narrated account of how he came to witness the events of the Decembrist revolt in Russia. This novel was eventually banned in Russia by Czar Nicholas I, causing Dumas to be forbidden to visit Russia until after the czar's death. Grisier is also mentioned with great respect in both The Count of Monte Cristo and The Corsican Brothers, as well as in Dumas' memoirs.

On 1 February 1840 he married an actress, Ida Ferrier, born Marguerite-Joséphine Ferrand (1811—1859) but continued with his numerous liaisons with other women, fathering at least four illegitimate children. One of those children, a son named after him, whose mother was Marie-Laure-Catherine Labay (1794—1868), a dressmaker, would follow in his footsteps, also becoming a successful novelist and playwright. Because of their same name and occupation, to distinguish them, one is referred to as Alexandre Dumas, père, the other as Alexandre Dumas, fils. His three other children were: 1) Marie-Alexandrine Dumas (5 March 1831—1878) who later married Pierre Petel and was daughter of Belle Krelsamer (1803—1875), 2) Micaëlla-Clélie-Josepha-Élisabeth Cordier, born in 1860 and daughter of Emélie Cordier, and 3) Henry Bauer, born of an unknown mother.

Dumas made extensive use of the aid of numerous assistants and collaborators, of whom Auguste Maquet was the best known. It was Maquet who outlined the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo, and made substantial contributions to The Three Musketeers and its sequels, as well as to several of Dumas' other novels. When they were working together, Maquet proposed plots and wrote drafts, while Dumas added the details, dialogues, and the final chapters. See Andrew Lang essay, Alexandre Dumas - in his Essays In Little (1891) - for an accurate description of these collaborations.

Alexandre Dumas, photo by Nadar.

Dumas' writing earned him a great deal of money, but Dumas was frequently broke or in debt, as a result of spending lavishly on women and high living. The large and costly Château de Monte-Cristo that he built was often filled with strangers and acquaintances who took advantage of his generosity.

When King Louis-Philippe was ousted in a revolt, Dumas was not looked upon favorably by the newly elected President, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. In 1851 Dumas fled to Brussels, Belgium, to escape his creditors, and from there he traveled to Russia, where French was the second language, and where his writings were enormously popular. Dumas spent two years in Russia, before moving on to seek adventure and fodder for more stories. In March 1861 the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel II as its king. For the next three years Alexandre Dumas would be involved in the fight for a united Italy, founding and leading a newspaper, named Indipendente, and returning to Paris in 1864.

Despite Alexandre Dumas' success and aristocratic connections, his being of mixed race would affect him all his life. In 1843 he wrote a short novel, Georges, that addressed some of the issues of race and the effects of colonialism. He once remarked to a man who insulted him about his mixed-race background:

"My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends."[4][5]

In June 2005 Dumas' recently-discovered last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, went on sale in France. Within the story Dumas describes the Battle of Trafalgar, in which the death of Lord Nelson is explained. The novel was being published serially and was almost complete at the time of his death. A final two-and-a-half chapters were written by modern-day Dumas scholar Claude Schopp, who based his efforts on Dumas' pre-writing notes.[6]

Panthéon

Buried where he had been born, Alexandre Dumas remained in the cemetery at Villers-Cotterêts until 30 November 2002. Under orders of the French President, Jacques Chirac, his body was exhumed, and in a televised ceremony his new coffin, draped in a blue-velvet cloth, and flanked by four Republican Guards (costumed as the Musketeers - Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan) was transported in a solemn procession to the Panthéon of Paris, the great mausoleum where French luminaries are interred. In his speech President Chirac said:

"With you, we were D'Artagnan, Monte Cristo, or Balsamo, riding along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting palaces and castles — with you, we dream."[7]

In that speech President Chirac acknowledged the racism that had existed, saying that a wrong had now been righted, with Alexandre Dumas enshrined alongside fellow authors Victor Hugo and Emile Zola.[7] The honor recognized that although France has produced many great writers, none has been as widely read as Alexandre Dumas. His stories have been translated into almost a hundred languages, and have inspired more than 200 motion pictures.[8]

Alexandre Dumas' home outside of Paris, the Château de Monte-Cristo, has been restored and is open to the public.

The Alexandre Dumas (Paris Métro) station was renamed in his honour in 1970.

Works

Fiction

Alexandre Dumas, père, wrote stories and historical chronicles of high adventure that captured the imagination of the French public, who eagerly waited to purchase the continuing sagas. A few of these works:

  • Charles VII at the Homes of His Great Vassals (Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux, 1831) - drama, adapted for the opera The Saracen by Russian composer César Cui
  • Othon l’archer
  • The Fencing Master (Le Maître d'armes, 1840)
  • Georges (1843): The protagonist of this novel is a man of mixed race, a rare allusion to Dumas' own African ancestry.
  • The Nutcracker (Histoire d'un casse-noisette, 1844): a revision of Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, later adapted by Tchaikovsky as a ballet
  • the D'Artagnan Romances:
    • The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires, 1844)
    • Twenty Years After (Vingt ans après, 1845)
    • The Vicomte de Bragelonne, sometimes called "Ten Years Later", (Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, ou Dix ans plus tard, 1847): When published in English, it was usually split into three parts: The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask, of which the last part is the best known. (A third sequel, The Son of Porthos, 1883 (a.k.a. The Death of Aramis) was published under the name of Alexandre Dumas; however, the real author was Paul Mahalin.)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, 1845–1846)
  • The Regent's Daughter (Une Fille du régent, 1845)
  • The Two Dianas (Les Deux Diane, 1846)
  • the Valois romances
  • the Marie Antoinette romances:
    • Joseph Balsamo (Mémoires d'un médecin: Joseph Balsamo, 1846–1848) (a.k.a. Memoirs of a Physician, Cagliostro, Madame Dubarry, The Countess Dubarry, or The Elixir of Life)(Joseph Balsamo has a length of about 1000 pages, and is usually separated into 2 volumes in English translations: Vol 1. Joseph Balsamo and Vol 2. Memoirs of a Physician.)
    • The Queen's Necklace (Le Collier de la Reine, 1849–1850)
    • Ange Pitou (1853) (a.k.a. Storming the Bastille or Six Years Later)
    • The Countess de Charny (La Comtesse de Charny, 1853–1855) (a.k.a. Andrée de Taverney, or The Mesmerist's Victim)
    • Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge (1845) (a.k.a. The Knight of the Red House, or The Knight of Maison-Rouge)
  • The Black Tulip (La Tulipe noire, 1850)
  • The Wolf-Leader (Le Meneur de loups, 1857)
  • The Gold Thieves (after 1857): a play that was lost but rediscovered by the Canadian Reginald Hamel, researcher in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in 2004
  • The Companions of Jehu (Les Compagnons de Jehu, 1857)
  • Robin Hood (Robin Hood le proscrit, 1863)
  • The Whites and the Blues (Les Blancs et les Bleus, 1867)
  • The Last Cavalier (Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine, 1869): This nearly completed novel was his last major work and was lost until its rediscovery by Claude Schopp in 1988 and subsequent release in 2005.

The Women's War: follows Baron des Canolles, a naive Gascon soldier who falls in love with two women.

Drama

Although best known now as a novelist, Dumas earned his first fame as a dramatist. His Henri III et Sa Cour (1829) was the first of the great Romantic historical dramas produced on the Paris stage, preceding Victor Hugo's more famous Hernani (1830). Produced at the Comédie-Française, and starring the famous Mademoiselle Mars, Dumas' play was an enormous success, launching him on his career. It had fifty performances over the next year, extraordinary at the time.

Other hits followed. For example, Antony (1831) -a drama with a contemporary Byronic hero — is considered the first non-historical Romantic drama. It starred Mars' great rival Marie Dorval. There were also La Tour de Nesle - 1832, another historical melodrama, and Kean - 1836, based on the life of the great, and recently deceased, English actor Edmund Kean, played in turn by the great French actor Frédérick Lemaître. Dumas wrote many more plays and dramatized several of his own novels.

It is worthwhile to note here that Dumas founded Théâtre Historique at the Boulevard du Temple in Paris, which later became Opéra National (established by Adolphe Adam in 1847). That in turn became Théâtre Lyrique in 1851.

Non-fiction

Dumas was also a prolific writer of non-fiction. He wrote journal articles on politics and culture, and books on French history.

His massive Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine (Great Dictionary of Cuisine) was published posthumously in 1873. It is a combination of encyclopedia and cookbook. Dumas was both a gourmet and an expert cook. An abridged version (the Petit Dictionnaire de cuisine, or Small Dictionary of Cuisine) was published in 1882.

He was also a well-known travel writer, writing such books as:

  • Impressions de voyage: En Suisse (Travel Impressions: In Switzerland, 1834)
  • Une Année à Florence (A Year in Florence, 1841)
  • De Paris à Cadix (From Paris to Cadiz, 1847)
  • Le Caucase (The Caucasus, 1859)
  • Impressions de voyage: En Russie (Travel Impressions: In Russia, 1860).

Notes

  1. ^ Alexandre Dumas on Encarta. Archived 2009-10-31.
  2. ^ "Alexandre Dumas > Sa vie > Biographie". Dumaspere.com. http://www.dumaspere.com/pages/vie/biographie.html. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  3. ^ «Le métissage rentre au Panthéon»
  4. ^ (in French) Alexandre Dumas ou les aventures d'un romancier. Découvertes Gallimard. 1986-11-21. p. 75. ISBN 2070530213. "Mon père était un mulâtre, mon grand-père était un nègre et mon arrière grand-père un singe. Vous voyez, Monsieur: ma famille commence où la vôtre finit." 
  5. ^ "Dumas et la négritude" (in French). http://pages.infinit.net/minos1er/negritude.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  6. ^ Crace, John (2006-05-28). "Claude Schopp: The man who gave Dumas 40 mistresses". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/may/06/highereducationprofile.academicexperts. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  7. ^ a b Chirac, Jacques (2002-11-30). "Discours prononcé lors du transfert des cendres d’Alexandre Dumas au Panthéon" (in French). http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Discours_prononc%C3%A9_lors_du_transfert_des_cendres_d%E2%80%99Alexandre_Dumas_au_Panth%C3%A9on. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  8. ^ Alexandre Dumas père at the Internet Movie Database

References

  • Gorman, Herbert (1929). The Incredible Marquis, Alexandre Dumas. New York: Farrar & Rinehart. OCLC 1370481. 
  • Hemmings, F.W.J. (1979). Alexandre Dumas, the King of Romance. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0684163918. 
  • Lucas-Dubreton, Jean (1928). The Fourth Musketeer. trans. by Maida Castelhun Darnton. New York: Coward-McCann. OCLC 230139. http://cadytech.com/dumas/related/fourth_musketeer.php. 
  • Maurois, André (1957). The Titans, a Three-Generation Biography of the Dumas. trans. by Gerard Hopkins. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers. OCLC 260126. 
  • Reed, F.W. (Frank Wild) (1933). A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas, père. Pinner Hill, Middlesex: J.A. Neuhuys. OCLC 1420223. 
  • Ross, Michael (1981). Alexandre Dumas. Newton Abbot, London, North Pomfret (Vt): David & Charles. ISBN 0715377582. 
  • Schopp, Claude (1988). Alexandre Dumas, Genius of Life. trans. by A. J. Koch. New York, Toronto: Franklin Watts. ISBN 0531150933. 
  • Spurr, Harry A. (October 1902). The Life and Writings of Alexandre Dumas. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, Company. OCLC 2999945. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Alexandre Dumas article)

From Wikiquote

Alexandre Dumas, père, French author

Alexandre Dumas, père (24 July 18025 December 1870) was a French writer, best known for his numerous historical novels of high adventure which have made him the most widely read French author in the world.
See also Alexandre Dumas, fils.

Contents

Sourced

  • Rien ne réussit comme le succès.
  • Sleeping on a plank has one advantage - it encourages early rising.
    • Adventures in Czarist Russia

Le comte de Monte Cristo (The Count of Monte Cristo) (1845-1846)

Full text at Project Gutenberg
  • "We are never quits with those who oblige us," was Dantes' reply; "for when we do not owe them money, we owe them gratitude."
  • Drunk, if you like; so much the worse for those who fear wine, for it is because they have bad thoughts which they are afraid the liquor will extract from their hearts.
  • Private misfortunes must never induce us to neglect public affairs.
  • "How strange," continued the king, with some asperity; "the police think that they have disposed of the whole matter when they say, 'A murder has been committed,' and especially so when they can add, 'And we are on the track of the guilty persons.'"
  • There is ... a clever maxim which bears upon what I was saying to you some little while ago, and that is, that unless wicked ideas take root in a naturally depraved mind, human nature, in a right and wholesome state, revolts at crime. Still, from an artificial civilisation have originated wants, vices, and false tastes, which occasionally become so powerful as to stifle within us all good feelings, and ultimately to lead us into guilt and wickedness...
  • "You must teach me a small part of what you know," said Dantes, "if only to prevent your growing weary of me. I can well believe that so learned a person as yourself would prefer absolute solitude to being tormented with the company of one as ignorant and uninformed as myself. If you will only agree to my request, I promise you never to mention another word about escaping." The abbe smiled. "Alas, my boy," said he, "human knowledge is confined within very narrow limits; and when I have taught you mathematics, physics, history, and the three or four modern languages with which I am acquainted, you will know as much as I do myself. Now, it will scarcely require two years for me to communicate to you the stock of learning I possess."
    "Two years!" exclaimed Dantes; "do you really believe I can acquire all these things in so short a time?"
    "Not their application, certainly, but their principles you may; to learn is not to know; there are the learners and the learned. Memory makes the one, philosophy the other."
  • And now, farewell to kindness, humanity and gratitude… I have substituted myself for Providence in rewarding the good; may the God of vengeance now yield me His place to punish the wicked.
  • Tell the angel who will watch over your future destiny, Morrel, to pray sometimes for a man who, like Satan, thought himself, for an instant, equal to God; but who now acknowledges, with Christian humility, that God alone possesses supreme power and infinite wisdom... There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
  • There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more
  • All human wisdom is contained in these words: Wait and hope!
    • Also: Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words,-"Wait and hope".
    • Chapter 117

Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers) (1844)

Full text at Project Gutenberg
  • Tous pour un, un pour tous, c'est notre devise
  • "Eh, gentlemen, let us reckon upon accidents! Life is a chaplet of little miseries which the philosopher counts with a smile. Be philosophers, as I am, gentlemen; sit down at the table and let us drink. Nothing makes the future look so bright as surveying it through a glass of chambertin."
    • Athos, Ch. 48: A Family Affair
  • "Weep," said Athos, "weep, heart full of love, youth, and life! Alas, would I could weep like you!"
    • Ch. 63: The Drop of Water

Vingt ans après (Twenty Years After) (1845)

  • [L]earn ever to separate the king and the principle of royalty. The king is but man; royalty is the spirit of God. When you are in doubt as to which you should serve, forsake the material appearance for the invisible principle, for this is everything.

Le Vicomte de Bragelonne ou Dix ans plus (The Vicomte de Bragelonne) (1847)

  • Eh! sire, that is the fate of truth; she is a stern companion; she bristles all over with steel; she wounds those whom she attacks, and sometimes him who speaks her.
  • My friend, the pleasures to which we are not accustomed oppress us more than the griefs with which we are familiar.

Les Mohicans de Paris (The Mohicans of Paris) (1854 novel)

  • Cherchez la femme, pardieu! cherchez la femme!»[1]

Les Mohicans de Paris (The Mohicans of Paris) (1864 play)

  • Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis: «Cherchez la femme!»[2]
    • Translation: There is a woman in every case; as soon as they bring me a report, I say, 'Look for the woman'.
    • II.iii, translation from The Penguin Dictionary of Quotations.
    • See wikipedia cherchez la femme on how this phrase has come to be used.
    • Compare Juvenal satire VI.243 (circa 100 AD), "never yet was there a lawsuit which did not have a woman at the bottom of it" (translation by G. G. Ramsay), but in that case describing the litigiousness of Roman women.

Unsourced

  • Les chaînes du mariage sont si lourdes qu'il faut être deux pour les porter; quelquefois trois.
    • Translation: The chains of wedlock are so heavy that it takes two to carry them; sometimes three.

External Links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

References

  1. Dumas, Alexandre (1871) (in French). Les Mohicans de Paris. I. Paris: Michel Lévy frères, éditeurs. p. 232. Retrieved on 2009-08-07. "Cherchez la femme, pardieu! cherchez la femme!"  
  2. Dumas, Alexandre (1889) (in French). Théâtre complet. XXIV. Paris: Michel Lévy frères, éditeurs. p. 103. Retrieved on 2009-08-07. "Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis: «Cherchez la femme!»"  

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