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La Femme au collier de velours

The Woman with the Velvet Collar

roman/novel, pub:1851, action:1793

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    Madame la Comtesse du Barry

From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
        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.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     The last of the stories belonging to the "Mille et un Fantômes." Like the others, it has an occult setting, and Dumas takes for his hero the German writer of fantastic tales, Hoffmann. The plot is the same as that of Washington Irving's "The Lady with the Velvet Collar; or, the Adventure of the German Student," but it is very doubtful if Dumas drew from Irving, rather in all probability both drew from a common source. The contrast between the two narratives is well worth noting. Further, Dumas once again equips his story with one of those always charming introductory passages, in this instance Nodier's house at the Arsenal Library. It is Nodier, Dumas claims, and probably quite correctly in this instance, who first told him the story.
     The scene is Paris, in the days of the guillotine, period 1793, and the death of Mme. Dubarry is graphically described.
     It first ran as a serial in "Le Constitutionnel."
     Original edition : Paris, Cadot, 2 vols., 8vo., 1851.
     Vol. I., pp. 326 and table of contents.
     Vol. II., pp. 353 and table of contents.
     It now forms one volume in the standard Calmann-Lévy edition, part of one in their illustrated series, and one in their "Musée Littéraire."
     In Le Vasseur's "Alexandre Dumas Illustré" it forms, with the rest of the "Mille et un Fantômes," part of Vol. XVII.

         References :—
     As for "Mille et un Fantômes," see page 239.
     Irving (Washington): "The Lady with the Velvet Collar."

         English Translations :—
     "The Woman with the Velvet Necklace" (with "M. de Chauvelin's Will"); London, Dent, illustrated, cr. 8vo., 1897. Reprinted, same firm (then with the addition of "Blanche de Beaulieu"), 1906 and 1927.
     "The Woman with the Velvet Necklet," in "Tales of Terror," the third and final part of the Methuen translation of the "Mille et un Fantômes;" London, sewed, 1909.

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