Le site web Alexandre Dumas père The Alexandre Dumas père Web Site
The Alexandre Dumas père Web Site
Dumas|Oeuvres|Gens|Galerie|Liens Dumas|Works|People|Gallery|Links

Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle

The Great Lover; Gabrielle de Belle Isle

drame/play, pub:1839, action:1726

Light comedic drama. Five acts in prose.

Oeuvres/Related Works
    Dumas père, Alexandre: The Great Lover and Other Plays - Available from amazon.com

From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     One of Dumas' most successful plays, part of the repertoire of the Comédie Française into the twentieth century, and revived in France as recently as 1976. The play is set in 1726, and takes place in the Chateau Chantilly, near Paris. 'The Great Lover' of the English title is Louis-Francois-Armand du Plessis, duc de Richelieu, (1696-1788) later Marshal of France, whose long life spanned that of three French Kings. The Duke was also apparently a favorite character of Dumas, since he appears in many of Dumas' historical novels, including the Chevalier d'Harmental, Memoirs of a Physician, and The Queen's Necklace.
     In this play, the Duke opens the play by ending a liason with the Marquise de Prie, mistress of the Duke de Bourbon, the Prime Minister. The Duke confesses that he has fallen in love with a young girl from Brittany, Gabrielle de Belle Isle, who has come to Paris to to seek the release of her unjustly imprisoned father. The Marquise confesses that she has also fallen in love with someone else, a young soldier named Sevran, for whom she obtained a Lieutenant's commission.
     In front of several onlookers, the Duke boasts of his prowess, and bets that he can seduce Gabrielle within 24 hours. The bet is taken up by Lieutenant Sevran, who reveals that he is betrothed to Gabrielle.
     Subsequently, the Duke claims to have won his bet, while Gabrielle protests her innocence. Sevran challenges the Duke, but, forbidden to duel, he invites a desperate alternative: the Duke and Sevran will roll dice, and the loser will commit suicide within eight hours. Sevran loses. A master of plotting, Dumas gathers up all the loose ends and delivers a surprise happy ending in a slamdunk final act.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     A prose drama in five acts. (So Dumas says on his title-page, and quite accurately, but it is usually spoken of as the first, and best, of his comedies.)
     Quérard says with an anonymous writer. De Mirecourt, always untrustworthy, says with Comte Walewski. Lecomte, usually most reliable, says nothing of any collaborator.
     The finest of all Dumas' greater comedies, though almost to the last words it promises to be a tragedy, a grim and heartless tragedy.
     The story goes that Brunswick (Lhérie) one day brought to Dumas the germ idea of a play which he either could not handle himself, or which, if he had attempted it, failed to attract a manager. Dumas offered him an order for 300 francs against the first performance of his (Dumas') piece when it should be staged. Brunswick accepted, and grumbled to a friend some years later that there seemed little chance of picking up the sum. The friend had more faith ; he offered to buy it at its face value. This was readily agreed to ; the friend carried the order to Dumas, who merely remarked: "there is a mistake here; I have omitted a cypher," and thereupon corrected what he pleasantly called an error, changing the 300 francs into 3,000. He had just found that for which he had waited during five years, the incident of the sequin with which to introduce his piece.
     Dumas narrated this play to the committee of the Comédie Française, and it was accepted before a single word had been committed to paper.
     It was first performed, with enormous success, at the Théâtre Français on the 2nd of April, 1839.
     Original edition: Paris, Dumont, 1839, I vol., 8vo., pp. 208. It bears as dedication: "À Mlle. Mars.—Hommage d'admiration profonde et de sincère reconnaissance. Alex. Dumas." ("To Mlle. Mars. The homage of profound admiration and of sincere gratitude. Alex. Dumas.") It was followed by a postscript expressing appreciation of the work of the performers.
     In 1851 Michel Lévy frères brought out an edition, evidently for a resumption of the piece, since the list of performers is different, and, moreover, the dedication is omitted.
     It is one of the plays included in the first volume of Passard's continuation of Charpentier's collection (1846), but without either the dedication or the postscript.
     It is now included in Vol. V. of the 15 Vol. edition of Calmann-Lévy, and in Vol. VII. of the 25 Vol. series by the same firm.
     It had 426 performances at the Théâtre Français alone, previous to 1890.
     Dumas presented the original manuscript of this play to Queen Christina of Spain, who, in recognition, made him a Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic

         References :—
     Dumas: "Mes Mémoires," Chapters CXVIII. and CXXV.
     Dumas: "Causerie" in "Le Monte Cristo" for January 21st, 1858.
     Dumas: "Mon Odyssée à la Comédie Française," Chapters XIV. and XV.
     Parigot: "Alexandre Dumas," pp. 103-110.
     Courmeaux: "Alexandre Dumas," pp. 28-29.
     Sarcey: "Quarante Ans de Théâtre," Série II., pp. 240-41; Série IV., pp. 105-114.
     Lemaitre (Frédérick): "Souvenirs," pp. 232-34.
     Gautier: "Art Dramatique," Série l., page 117; Série VI., pp. 145-48.
     Legouvé: "Sixty Years of Recollections " (in English translation), Vol. II., page 98.
     Glinel: "Alexandre Dumas et Son Œuvre," pp. 362-64.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'A. Dumas," pp. 27-28.
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées," Vol. I., Columns 1071-1072.

         English Translations :—
     "Gabrielle de Belle Isle," in story form, "Blackwood's Magazine," May, 1842.
     "The Lady of Belle Isle; or, a Night in the Bastille," a drama in three acts, adapted from Dumas by J. M. Gully, M.D. Lacy's Acting Plays, 1872, pp. 38.
     "Mlle. de Belle Isle," an English translation by F. A. Kemble was also published in 1863.
     "Stories from the Plays of Dumas" ; Cottingham (near Hull), Tutin, 1904, also includes "Mlle. de Belle Isle," told in story form.
     As "The Silver Key," an adaptation by Sydney Grundy was performed at London (Her Majesty's) in 1897.

Contactez-nous/Contact Us
[Traduire en français] [Translate into English]