Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask, is the most famous French writer of the nineteenth century.
Alexandre Dumas (1824-1895), was a French playwright and novelist, who wrote plays about the problems of the middle class. He was the son of the writer Alexandre Dumas père. His first work was a volume of poetry, Péchés de jeunesse (Sins of Youth). The following year his first novel, Camille, appeared, and the subsequent dramatization of this work established him as a success.
Devotees of Dumas, one of the stars of 19th-century French literature, whose remains were transferred amid great pomp to the hallowed tomb of the Panthéon in 2002, insist Maquet was merely a dogsbody whose capacity for hard work was his greatest talent. They claim his only role as one of the great man's many assistants was to provide the basics on which Dumas could then build his masterpieces.
a leading academic has cast doubt on how much of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo he actually penned. A new film will also suggest they were largely written by an unsung assistant... He claims that Auguste Jules Maquet was the real "fourth musketeer", the man who actually came up with the plot for the trilogy featuring Porthos, Athos, Aramis. and d'Artagnan.
All this even though the novels are clearly books of their time. Consider the best known of them, The Three Musketeers. Long, theatrical, at times preposterous, its pages are filled with improbable coincidence and dialogue worthy of a modern-day bodice-ripper: "Buckingham seized her hand and kissed it passionately. Then he got to his feet and said: If I escape alive I shall see you again before six months have passed, even if I have to set the world ablaze to reach you."
But the book, awash with derring-do and sly comedy, is also great fun to read. The Musketeers twirl their mustaches, clank their swords, and dispatch with aplomb the minions of the villainous Cardinal Richelieu.
Dumas has been reproached by some critics for careless writing, absurd situations and lack of taste, but all have valued his abounding imagination and portrayal of action. Lamartine declared, "You are superhuman." Anatole France wrote to the son, "Your father amused me!": this, after all, was the declared intention of that father. Michelet wrote to him, "Monsieur, I love you and admire you, because you are one of the forces of nature."
For a long time Dumas was treated with condescension by academia as a mere plebeian entertainer. More recently his reputation has been hampered by the 20th-century credo that endorses spare, analytical writing and minute psychological revelation. Dumas's skills run in quite the opposite direction: instinctive heroes, voluptuous atmosphere, a galloping narrative and breakneck dialogue. But in the past few years academic scholars have shown a renewed interest in the writer. They point out that before he was 35, Dumas contributed to French literature by laying the foundations of bourgeois drama, and helping to popularize history and create a new kind of Romantic novel.
For Dumas it has to be said that whenever he touches history - in novels, plays, or studies - he has the true historical instinct; without either faculty or inclination for the drudgery of analysis he somehow arrives at a synthesis quite as convincing as any that can be reached by the most minute methods.
…much he imagined and invented - […] - some things he altered - […] - other things he suppressed if they wee either discreditable to his heroes, gross in themselves, or likely to offend modern readers. Dumas' intent is ever to glorify France and to bring out all that is most attractive in the French character.
All of his life Dumas was taunted with his negro descent; the caricaturists and lampooners, with execrable taste, mead the crisp hair and lean calves of the quadroon the subject of innumerable gibes.