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concerning Le Château d'Eppstein; Albine

        Chateau d'Eppstein is Alexandre Dumas' attempt at a gothic novel in the haunted castle genre, though Dumas' own novelistic concerns tend overwhelm the conventions of the genre. Set in Germany, in the wild Taunus Mountains (north of Frankfurt) at the close of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. At the time, the territory was attached to the Austrian crown.
        We are introduced to the ancient aristocratic family of Eppstein, resident in their crumbling castle in the mountains, in the fall of 1789. The head of the family, the aging Count Rudolph, is forced to disown his younger son, Conrad, because he has fallen in love with the daughter of the gamekeeper. Conrad refuses to abandon his lover, and departs with her for France. The older son, Maximilian is reproached by the Count because he has "dishonored the daughter of the bailiff Alpoening." Maximilian casually admits the liaison, but remarks that as the woman had just fallen in the river and drowned, there was no prospect of dishonor for the family name.
        Maximilian departs for Vienna, where, as arranged by his father, he joins the Austrian court and marries the beautiful, innocent, pure, and doomed Albina von Shwalbach. He bring Albina back to the castle, where she resides, mostly alone while Maximilian pursues a diplomatic career.
        In 1792, the French army invades and Albina finds a desperately wounded French officer, a Captain Jacques, and nurses him back to health. Jacques departs and Maximilian returns, and Albina announces that she is pregnant. Maximilian believes that the child is Captain Jacques', and, on Christmas eve, he strikes Albina and kills her. The child, Everard, grows up mostly alone, wandering in the woods and in mystical communion with the spirit of his dead mom, and experience long periods of neglect, interspersed with occasional abuse, from Maximilian. Each time Maximilian threatens to kill the boy, the ghost of Albina appears before him, and tells him to back off if he values his rascally hide.
        When Everard reaches adulthood, Maximilian returns from a long absence with a plan to marry off Everard to the mistress of the Austrian emperor, a match that would assure the family fortunes. Everard, who has meanwhile fallen in love with yet another daughter of the gamekeeper, refuses, infuriating Maximilian. Captain Jacques returns from the wars, and turns out to be Maximilian's long-lost brother, Conrad. In the climax, Everard is saved and Maximilian finally achieves a richly deserved demise at the skeletal hands of Albina's ghost.

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