Dumas, Alexandre (Dumas père), 1802–70, French novelist and dramatist

Dumas, Alexandre pĕr [key], 1802–70, French novelist and dramatist. His father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, was a general in the Revolution. Dumas delighted many generations of readers with his highly romantic novels immortalizing the adventures of the Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo. Largely self-educated, Dumas was a flamboyant youth with a gift for storytelling and a penchant for love affairs. At the age of 20 he obtained a minor post with the duc d'Orléans in Paris, and later he was active in the Revolution of 1830. His first successes were the historical dramas Henri III et sa cour (1829), Christine (1830), Antony (1831), and La Tour de Nesle (1832), notable for its evocation of the Middle Ages. After a number of novels, written independently or in collaboration, he produced his great triumphs, The Three Musketeers (1844, tr. 1846) and its sequels—Twenty Years After (1845, tr. 1846) and The Vicomte de Bragelonne (1848–50, tr. 1850?)—and The Count of Monte Cristo (1845, tr. 1846), which in its dramatic version was made famous by James O'Neill. Although these historical novels and their successors, written with the aid of numerous collaborators, especially Auguste Maquet, are scorned by critics, who find them lacking in style and characterization, they have had enormous popularity and have been translated into nearly every language. Among his other works are Queen Margot (1845, tr. 1845), The Lady of Monsoreau (1846, tr. 1847), The Forty-Five (1848), The Black Tulip (1850), and The Journal of Madame Giovanni (tr. 1944). Dumas père's incredible output of novels, travel works, memoirs, and historical studies made him wealthy, but he spent more than he earned on a horde of pensioners at his home, “Monte-Cristo,” near Saint-Germain. His memoirs (1852–54) end with the year 1832. He was interested in Italian unification, and among his activities was a part in Garibaldi's expedition in 1860.

See studies by F. W. Hemmings (1980) and C. Schopp (1988).

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