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from Reviews (ADR)
concerning La Femme au collier de velours

        Horror novella with supernatural shock ending. Dumas' hero in this short novel is a historical figure, the 17-year old future composer, musician, and romantic writer Ernst Theodor Hoffmann, best known for today for writing the short story on which Tchaikovsky based "The Nutcracker Suite" (see Histoire d'un casse-noisette) and for Offenbach's "Tales of Hoffman." In a lengthy introduction, Dumas' avers that this story was originally told to him by his friend Charles Nodier, whose adventures during the terror Dumas chronicled in Les Blancs et les Bleus.
     Young Hoffmann sets out from Mannheim to visit Paris in 1793, at the height of the terror, having first promised his fiancée that he will not gamble and that he will be true to her.
     Hoffmann arrives in Paris just in time to witness the guillotining of Madame du Barry, quandam mistress of Louis XV, and plunged into shock, attends the theatre where he is captivated by the the beautiful Arsène, danseuse and mistress of Danton, one of the architects of the terror.
     Hoffmann is poor, and must gamble to win enough money to win Arsène. But meanwhile, the terror threatens to swallow Danton and his mistress.
     An unusual product for Dumas, in which the reader is never sure whether what is real, what is supernatural, and what is product of Hoffmann's growing madness. Also, a vivid portrait of Paris enmeshed in the terror.

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