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    Alexandre Dumas pere

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    Alexandre Dumas pere

    French dramatist & novelist
    8 Favorites on Read Print

    Biography

    Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was born in Paris. His mother, Marie-Catherine Labay, was a dressmaker. In 1831 he was legally recognized by his father and taken from his mother, who first tried to escape with her son. She inspired later Dumas' mother characters, and he often depicted the fate of unmarried women in a tragic light. In boarding schools, where he was sent, he was made miserable by his schoolmates who taunted him about his illegitimate birth. He never forgave them. Dumas studied at the Institution Goubaux and the College Bourbon, but left the school to devote himself to writing. More ...

    Books by Alexandre Dumas pere

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    Quotes by Alexandre Dumas pere

    • A husband is always a sensible man; he never thinks of marrying.
    • All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.
    • Business? It's quite simple. It's other people's money.
    • Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest.
    • 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'.
      The Count of Monte Cristo
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    Biography of Alexandre Dumas pere

    Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was born in Paris. His mother, Marie-Catherine Labay, was a dressmaker. In 1831 he was legally recognized by his father and taken from his mother, who first tried to escape with her son. She inspired later Dumas' mother characters, and he often depicted the fate of unmarried women in a tragic light. In boarding schools, where he was sent, he was made miserable by his schoolmates who taunted him about his illegitimate birth. He never forgave them. Dumas studied at the Institution Goubaux and the College Bourbon, but left the school to devote himself to writing. By the time he was twenty one, he was hugely in debt. In 1844 Dumas père separated from his wife and Dumas fils moved to Saint-Germain-en-Laye to live with his father. He met there Marie Duplessis, a young courtesan, who died of tuberculosis in 1847 and inspired Dumas' romantic novel, La Dame aux Camelias. It was adapted into a play, known in English as Camille. At first the play was rejected by one theater after another. Finally it was produced by Theatre du Vaudeville. Giuseppe Verdi based his opera La traviata on the play, first performed in 1853. The novel gained huge success which enabled Dumas fils to pay off some of his debts and help his mother. Before 1852 he wrote twelve other novels and started to work on didactic plays that showed a distaste for loose loving. DIANE DE LYS (1853) was based on his relationship with the wife of the Russian ambassador to France. A Prodigal Father (1859) was an interpretation of his father's character. He formed a liaison with the Russian Nadeja Naryschkine, who was married. They had a daughter in 1860 and four years later they married. In 1867 Dumas published his semi-autobiographical novel, L'AFFAIRE CLÉMENCEAU, which is considered one of his best works.

    Dumas was admitted to the Academie Francaise in 1874. He wrote several plays, among which DENISE (1885) and FRANCILLON (1887) gained considerable success. In 1894 he was admitted to the Legion d'Honneur. After his wife died Dumas married Henriette Regnier, who had been his mistress for eight years. His last play, The Return from Thebes, was left unfinished. Dumas died at Marly-le-Roi on November 27, 1895.

    In his works Dumas underlined the importance of marriage and the moral purpose of literature. Playwrights have shown human beings as they are, but they should show how they ought to be. Dumas was against the emancipation of women, adultery and prostitution, and wrote sharp prefaces to his plays to make their high intentions more obvious. Dumas' Dame aux Camelias and The Half-World (1855) reflected the changing idea of love and family of the mid-1850s. A woman with a doubtful reputation is a danger for the bourgeois family: she must be removed from the social body as a center of infection. If one has already seduced such a girl, then one should also marry her. If one has brought an illegitimate child into the world, then one should legitimize it, as Dumas pleads in his plays The Natural Son (1858) and MONSIEUR ALPHONSE (1873). In certain circumstances a man can be forgiven his adultery, a woman never.

    In his literary criticism Dumas was of the opinion that there is no art at all in inventing a dramatic situation and thinking out a conflict. The art consists rather in the due preparation of the scene in which the plot culminates and in the smooth unraveling of the knot. The development of the plot must be like a mathematical operation. If the result is wrong, the whole operation is wrong. Therefore one must begin working on the end, the solution, the last word of the play.

    La dame aux camelias (1852) - Camille; The Lady of the Camelias - "In my opinion, it is impossible to create characters until one has spent a long time in studying men, as it is impossible to speak a language until it has been seriously acquired. Not being old enough to invent, I content myself with narrating, and I beg the reader to assure himself of the truth of a story in which all the characters, with the exception of the heroine, are still alive." The story is narrated by the writer Armand Duval, his friend. Marguerite Gautier is a beautiful young courtesan suffering from tuberculosis. She is loved by Armand Duval, but their happiness ends abruptly, when M. Duval, Armand's father refuses to accept their relationship. He asserts that their romance will destroy his son's career and social position, also it prevents the marriage of his younger sister. Marguerite leaves her lover, pretending to be returning to a rich admirer. Armand follows her to Paris and wounds his rival in a duel and is forced to leave France. Marguerite's fortunes deteriorate rapidly, she is deserted by lovers and friends and moves to a shabby flat. Armand's father writes to his son of Marguerite's sacrifice and misfortunes. Armand returns to Marguerite's side and she dies in his arms. "I do not draw from this story the conclusion that all women like Marguerite are capable of doing all that she did--far from it; but I have discovered that one of them experienced a serious love in the course of her life, that she suffered for it, and that she died of it. I have told the reader all that I learned. It was my duty."
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