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La Jeunesse de Pierrot; Le roi de Bohême

When Pierrot Was Young

conte/short story, pub:1854

Children's story published in Le Mousquetaire.

Oeuvres/Related Works
    Dumas père, Alexandre: When Pierrot Was Young - Available from amazon.com

Images (voyez tous/view all)
    "Arrived at the top of the tower"
    "He hugged the old folk, who wept over him"
    "Set to work with such sharp little teeth and an air of delight"
    "Sprang clean over the ass"
    "The two fighters took their places facing each other"

From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     A charming, humorous, and well-written book-length fairy tale, enjoyable both for parents and children, in which Dumas adduces a childhood in a mythical kingdom of Bohemia for Pierrot the Clown, a stock character in French pantomimes.
     Pierrot ("sparrow" in French) is derived from Pedrolino, a stock character in the 17th century Italian Commedia dell'Arte, a form of Italian popular theatre in which the actors improvise on characters, situations, and plots with which the audience is thoroughly familiar. The Commedia dell'Arte spread into France in the 18th Century, and in Britain was anglicized into the "Punch and Judy" shows.
     In the first half of the 19th century, the French mime Jean Baptiste Gaspard Debureau (or Deburau) popularized Pierrot as a white-faced clown, the continually optimistic but always unsuccessful would-be lover of Columbine. Debureau was, for a time, the lover of Marie Duplessis, the model for the heroine of the Alexandre Dumas fils novel, La dame aux camélias.
     In Dumas' fairy-tale, Pierrot is discovered as half-frozen baby (accounting for the white face) by a poor-but-honest woodcutter and his wife. Miraculously grown up in the course of month, Pierrot finds his way to the Court of the King of Bohemia. (The real kingdom of Bohemia was incorporated into the Austrian Empire some centuries ago, and now forms the core of the Czech Republic.) Pierrot encounters the hatred of the King's Chief Minister, Renardino, and pines for the heart of the King's daughter, Columbine. Renardino attempts to extirpate Pierrot, but fails repeatedly due to Pierrot's cleverness. Ultimately, Pierrot saves the Kingdom from foreign invaders, and saves Columbine from marriage to a Barbarian prince so that she can marry her true love, who turns out not to be Pierrot. Pierrot is consoled however, when he meets the fairy-queen, who assures him that his true role in life is entertaining children. The book ends with happiness restored in Bohemia, and Pierrot embarking upon his theatrical career.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     One of Dumas' pretty little children's tales, in this case prefixed by a brief, amusing notice ascribing it to Aramis, and as having been told by him to entertain the children of the Duchesse de Longueville. (The interested will at once find their minds reverting to "Vingt Ans Après.")
     On its first appearance, in "Le Mousquetaire," it bore the title : "Le Roi de Bohème, Conte de Fée, Renfermant la Première Partie de la Vie et des Aventures de Pierrot." This seems to point to an intended sequel or sequels, but none such ever eventuated. It ran through "Le Mousquetaire" from December 10th to 19th, 1853.
     Original edition: Paris, Coulon-Pineau, 24mo., 1854, being one of the very few titles in the "Bibliothèque du Mousquetaire," pp. vii., 150 and table ; bright blue wrappers reproducing the title-page, with a vignette depicting Aramis lifting up Pierrot to view. The title reads: "Publications du Mousquetaire/La Jeunesse/de Pierrot/par Aramis/Paris/À la Librairie Nouvelle/15 Boulevard des Italiens./1854." (It may be remarked that the name of Coulon-Pineau nowhere appears on the work, but "La Jeunesse de Pierrot" appears among the publications he offers at the back of Dumas' other work, "Saphir, Pierre Précieuse," where the price of the former is given as 75 centimes.)
     It now forms one of the stories in Vol. II. of "Le Père Gigogne" (see page 383), in the Calmann-Lévy series.
     In Le Vasseur's "Alexandre Dumas Illustré" it is to be read among the collection of Children's Stories gathered together in Vol. XVII, under the general title of "Contes Pour les Petits."

         References :—
     Neither Glinel nor Parran appear to mention this work as a separate publication, save for a note by the former in his index.

         English Translation :—
     "When Pierrot was Young" appears as one of the stories in H. A. Spurr's "The Dumas' Fairy Tale Book;" London, Warne, 1924, with illustrations by H. Rountree.

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