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Amaury

roman/novel, pub:1843, action:1838-1839




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    He was kneeling on the ground
    Philip's pistol went off
    She opened her hand and dropped the epistolary shower


From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     A romantic novel (with moments of both tragedy and comedy) on the general theme of jealousy, set in the countryside outside Paris in 1838-39. In Amaury, Dumas attempts an artistic dissection of jealousy, but all his characters keep turning into Alexandre Dumas, (who finds jealousy an unworthy emotion) and rise above it. Amaury is also of interest as Dumas' sole attempt at an epistolary novel, a form that (as this book shows) Dumas found uncongenial, since he kept abandoning the epistolary format for straight narration, and all of the letters read as if written by the same person, which, of course, they were.
     As the novel opens, a group of French aristocrats are conversing, and one of them asks the question, "Meurt-on d'amour?" Does one die of love? In response, one them pulls forth a manuscript that purports to be the diary and letters of the family of the deceased M. d'Avrigny, widower and court physician to the King. The novel is nominally composed of the diary and letters being read aloud.
     Amaury de Leoville, young, and wealthy, and orphaned, is beginning his career in the French diplomatic service. Amaury was raised by M. d'Avrigny, a friend of his late father, along side d'Avrigny's frail blonde daughter, Madeleine, and yet another orphan, the vigorous dark-haired Antoinette.
     Amaury has fallen in love with Madeleine, while both Madeleine and Antoinette have fallen in love with Amaury. Amaury asks M. d'Avrigny for Madeleine's hand, is summarily refused and thrown out of his childhood home, because, as M. d'Avrigny confides to his diary, he is jealous of Madeleine's love for Amaury. After a perfunctory chapter of anguish, M. d'Avrigny decides he is being unreasonable and permits the wedding. Unfortunately, Madeleine is dying of consumption (tuberculosis), so the wedding never occurs. Madeleine infers that Antoinette also loves Amaury, and, jealous of her rude good health, subjects Antoinette to assorted undeserved slights. After a perfunctory chapter of anguish, Madeleine decides she is being unfair, and begs Antoinette's forgiveness, which Antoinette of course grants.
     Dumas vividly describes Madeleine's decline and death, and the extravagant grief which inflicts her father, lover, and cousin. Amaury plans suicide, but is dissuaded. M. d'Avrigny deteriorates in grief and solitude. Amaury travels on his diplomatic mission, and corresponds with Antoinette, who swears she will never marry. However, M. d'Avrigny decides that it forms part of his parental duty to find a good match for Antoinette, and asks Amaury, on his return, to act as Antoinette's guardian in the event of his (expected) death. Two presentable suitors are rustled up, a young Marquis and Amaury's friend Philip.
     From tragedy, Dumas manages a swift transition to comedy. Amaury has, without being aware of it, fallen in love with Antoinette (who has always loved Amaury), and the finds the two suitors highly objectionable. When Philip appears to be finding favor with Antoinette, Amaury challenges Philip to a duel. Philip accepts the challenge, despite never having touched either sword or pistol. The duel ends in farce when Philip inadvertently shoots off the hat of Amaury's second. The second, enraged, shoots off Philip's hat, and everyone decides that they have behaved unreasonably.
     M. d'Avrigny gives his blessing and then dies, Amaury and Antoinette marry and live happily ever after. Dumas concludes (I think) that it is better to live for love than to die for it.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     The pathetic and rather depressing story of a dying consumptive. Period 1838.
     Paul Meurice is usually credited with having collaborated in this romance, though Dumas was very conversant with the symptoms from the case of a cousin who suffered from it.
     The Dr. d'Avrigny, physician to the Villefort family in "Le Comte de Monte-Cristo," is one of the principal characters, the others being members of his household. In no other way is there any connection between the two romances.
     It is related that, with his usual good nature, Dumas interrupted its serial production, and even wrote a special conclusion in MS., wherein the heroine is restored to health, for the benefit of the daughter of M. de Noailles, who was then dying of the same complaint as the fictitious character, and was reading the story with detriment to her state.
     It first appeared serially in "La Presse," December 29, 1843 to Feb 4, 1844.
     Original edition : Paris, H. Souverain, 4 vols., 8vo., grey cover, 1844. Vol. I., pp. 313, with table of contents; Vol. II., pp. 322, with table; Vol. III., pp. 323, without table; Vol. IV., pp. 301, without table. It formed Vols. 51 to 54 of the "Bibliothèque des Romans Nouveaux."
     M. Parran states that it appeared in the "Revue des Feuilletons" a few days before the publication of the original edition, but none of the volumes for 1844, 1845 or 1846 contain it.
     It now forms one volume in the standard Calmann-Lévy edition, and one in their "Musée Littéraire."
     In Le Vasseur's "Alexandre Dumas Illustré" it forms part of Vol. XX.

         References :—
     Dumas: "Mes Mémoires," Chapters XCIV. and CVIII.
     Nettement: "Études sur le Feuilleton-Roman," Vol. II., pp. 340-355.
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées," Vol. I., Column 1306.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'Alex. Dumas," page 51.
     Glinel: "Alexandre Dumas et Son Œuvre," page 387.

         English Translations :—
     "Amaury," New York, Harper, 1845, pp. 106. Tr. By E.P.
     "Amaury," London, Methuen, 1904, sewed, pp. 132. Another edition, with coloured plates by Gordon Browne. 1904. Reprinted, same firm, 18mo., 1921, pp. 317. In the reprint the introduction is wrongly ascribed to "R.S.G."
     "Amaury," London, Collins Bros., pp. 319, 1930

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