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Les Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr

The Damsels of Saint-Cyr

drame/play, pub:1843, action:1700s

Prose comedy in five acts.


From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     A prose comedy in five acts.
     One of what are usually classified as the three great comedies of Dumas, though why three rather than five or six seems difficult to determine.
     De Leuven and Brunswick (Lhérie) have always been considered as having had a share in the composition of this piece, though the evidence is weak. In any case Dumas is by far the most dominant personality, and his wit and lightness gleam from every page.
     The action takes place in France and Spain, with Madame de Maintenon and Madame des Ursins ever hovering behind the scenes. Time about 1700.
     First performed at the Théâtre Français on the 25th of July, 1843. This house performed it 226 times up to 1892.
     Revived on the 15th of September, 1855, though it had been performed fairly regularly in previous years. It was first played at the Palace of Saint-Cloud on the 20th of August, before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, by special request. At this time the five acts were compressed into four, not by Dumas, but by the actor Regnier. It is this version which has ever since been published in the collected plays without any indication that it is not as Dumas wrote it. Whatever may be the advantage of the shortened version for the stage, the piece as Dumas constructed it is for every reason preferable for reading. Regnier compressed the fifteen scenes of Act V. into six and tacked these on to Act IV. The change consists mostly of omissions, and the clarity suffers accordingly.
     Original edition : Paris, Marchant, 1843, large 8vo. of two columns, forming part of the "Magasin Théâtral," pp. 48. It was dedicated "À Mon Excellente Amie Madame la Comtesse Dash." As postscript it bore the letter in which Dumas replied to Janin's criticism. The result of this correspondence in the press was an estrangement which almost resulted in a duel. However the two soon became friends again, and it will be remembered that Janin's small book on the dramatist, published just after his death, is altogether charming,
     This play is now included in Vol. V. of the 1.5 Vol. Calmann-Lévy "Théâtre Complet." and in Vol. VIII. of the 25 Vol. series. Neither contains the letter by Janin, but instead a brief note of appreciation addressed to the actors, dated July 28th, 1843.

         References :—
     Dumas: "Mes Mémoires," Chapter CCXV.
     Glinel: "Alex. Dumas et Son Œuvre." page 382.
     Goizet: "Collaboration au Theatre," pp. 94-95.
     D'Heylli: "Journal Intime de la Comédie Française : 1852-1871 ;" pp. 107-108 and 111.
     Weiss: "Drame Historique et Drame Passionnel," pp. 1-10.
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées," Vol. I., Columns 1075-77.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'Alex. Dumas," pp. 28-29.
     Parigot: "A. Dumas père," pp. 100-01, 111-13.
     "Revue des Deux-Mondes," 1843, Vol. III., pp. 533-540.
     "Le Critique Jules Janin et le Dramaturge Alexandre Dumas à propos 'Des Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr,' Comédie en Cinq Actes," Paris, 1843. (There are two editions, both of the same year, both of 44 pp., but the second contains an additional letter by Janin, and a Postface, apparently by the editor.)

         English Translation :—
     "The Ladies of Saint-Cyr or, The Runaway Husbands;" London, Lacy's Plays, 1870. A comedy in 3 acts, adapted from Dumas.

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