Alexandre Dumas the Younger

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Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas the Younger, also Dumas fils , (born July 27, 1824 in Paris , † November 27, 1895 in Marly-le-Roi ) was a French novelist and dramatic poet . He was the illegitimate son of Alexandre Dumas the Elder and Marie-Catherine Labay, a seamstress.


At the age of 17, after leaving the Collège Bourbon , Dumas started his career as a writer with the volume of poetry Péchés de jeunesse (" Sins of Youth"). He accompanied his father on his journey through Spain and North Africa and on his return published the six-volume novel Histoire de quatre femmes et d'un perroquet (1847), which aroused the curiosity of the public.

In the novel The Lady of the Camellias ( La dame aux camélias , 1848), Dumas realistically tells the story of a Parisian courtesan who dies early of consumption . In the two later plays Diane de Lys (1853) and Le demi-monde (1855) the poet treats almost the same subject, but with a much more satirical intention and more in order to hold up a mirror in the style of the comedy poet of his time.

Dumas is considered one of the founders of social drama and he dealt with social and societal problems in almost all of his plays. The position of women played a special role. He dealt with the rights and duties of women and the errors of the relevant legislation and social outlook in the novel L'affaire Clémenceau (1864) and in several pamphlets such as Lettres sur les choses du jour , L'homme-femme , Tue-la ! Les femmes qui tuent et les femmes qui votent (1872-1880) and in the larger pamphlet Le divorce (1880).

In 1875 Dumas was admitted to the Académie française , in 1894 he became a member of the Legion of Honor .

Dumas, who is considered undemanding and helpful to his friends, enjoyed general popularity personally. In 1864 he married Nadezhda Naryschkina von Knorring (1826–1895), with whom he had two daughters. After Naryschkina's death in 1895, he married Henriette Régnier de La Brière and died that same year on November 27th in Marly-le-Roi .


The lady of the camellias

Dumas' best-known work is the novel The Lady of the Camellias ( La dame aux camélias ) from 1848, which describes the fate of a Parisian courtesan and her admirer. Despite difficulties with censorship , the novel was an exceptional success. After the work was reworked into a stage play, its popularity grew : the work, first performed in 1852 at the Théâtre du Vaudeville , saw more than 100 performances without interruption. In 1853 Giuseppe Verdi took over the theme for his opera La traviata .

The French actress Sarah Bernhardt played the lady of the camellias in the play from 1880 and celebrated great successes in Europe and the USA . The play was characterized by an extremely keen observation of social conditions, a confident handling of the dramatic form and a lively, tingling dialogue; but according to the view of the time, the glorification and rehabilitation of vice was morally questionable.

In 1911, Dumas' Lady of the Camellias was first filmed with Sarah Bernhardt in the lead role. In another film version by director George Cukor , Greta Garbo played the leading role in 1937.

List of works

  • Aventures de quatre femmes et d'un perroquet. 1847.
  • Le roman d'une femme. 1848.
  • Cesarine. 1848.
  • La dame aux camélias . (The Lady of the Camellias) 1848.
  • Le docteur Servans. 1849.
  • Antonine. 1849.
  • Trois hommes forts. 1850.
  • Tristan le Roux. 1850.
  • Diane de Lys. 1851.
  • Les Revenants. 1852.
  • Le régent Mustel. 1852.
  • Contes et nouvelles. 1853.
  • Sophie Printemps. 1853.
  • La boîte d'argent. 1855.
  • Vie à vingt ans. 1856.
  • Le fils naturel. 1858.
  • Père prodigue. 1859.
  • L'ami des femmes. 1864.
  • L'affaire Clémenceau. (The Polish Countess) 1864.
  • Le supplice d'une femme. 1865.
  • Héloise Paranquet. 1866.
  • Les idées de Madame Aubray. 1867.
  • Une visite de noces. 1871.
  • La princesse Georges. 1871.
  • La femme de Claude. 1873.
  • Monsieur Alphonse. 1873.
  • L'étrangère. 1877.


  • Charles Potvin: De la corruption littéraire en France. Brussels 1873.
  • Léopold Lacour: Trois théâtres: Émile Augier, Alexandre Dumas fils, Victorien Sardou. Paris 1880.
  • Meyers Konversations-Lexikon. 4th edition. Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892.
  • Hans-Jörg Neuschäfer : Popular novels in the 19th century. From Dumas to Zola. Fink, Munich 1976, ISBN 3-7705-1336-3 .

Web links

Wikisource: Alexandre Dumas fils  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Alexandre Dumas  - album with pictures, videos and audio files