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Mes Mémoires

My Memoirs

non-fiction, pub:1852-1855

Alexandre Dumas' autobiography covering his life until 1833. It is a huge work, originally published in 30 volumes. It covers not only Dumas's life, but many of the literary, artistic, and political events which occurred during that time.


Liens/Links
    "A Parisian Litterateur" a review of Mes mémoires, 1857
    "Autobiography of Alexandre Dumas," The Living Age, 1852 (detailed review of Mes Mémoires)


Oeuvres/Related Works
    Dumas père, Alexandre: My Memoirs - Available from amazon.com
    Goodman, Jules Eckert: The Road to Monte Cristo: A Condensation from the Memoirs of Alexandre Dumas - (1956, LOC# 56-10202), an English translation and abridgement of Mes Mémoires


From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     Alexandre Dumas began writing his memoirs in 1847, when he was at the height of his fame and wealth. He continued to work on the memoirs off-and-on for the rest of his life, eventually accumulating an immense manuscript. Like Dumas' books on travel, he incorporated chunks of history, biography, book and play reviews, political commentary, correspondence with friends and enemies, and the occasional short story (Le Curé de Boulogne) into his narrative. The result, while interesting, would make a publisher quail. Notwithstanding the length of the narrative, it covers only the first 32 years of Dumas' life, up through his abrupt departure for Switzerland in 1834.
     Dumas recounts his birth and parentage, his earliest memories of his father, General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (who died in 1807, when Dumas was 5), his upbringing and education in Villers-Cotterêts, his first love, Adele, his departure for Paris, his employment (on the recommendation of General Foy) in the offices of Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans and later King. He also describes his authorship of his earliest plays, and the publication of his first prose work Nouvelles Contemporaines. He writes at length about the creation of the plays that made his reputation: Henri III et sa Cour, Christine, and Antony, and some early flops, Napoléon Bonaparte, Caligula, Charles VII Chez ses Grands Vassaux, and Le Fils de l’Émigré, and some middling works, such as Richard Darlington and Catherine Howard.
     Dumas participated in two duels, in which the total casualties were a scratch inflicted by Dumas' rapier, against an opponent who had never before picked up a sword. The victim had laughed at Dumas' clothes. In the second duel, which was conducted after a rancorous debate in the press over the authorship of La Tour de Nesle, the duelists proved unwilling or unable to shoot each other at a distance of thirty paces.
     On the political front, Dumas provides a vivid description of the July Revolution, and particularly his feat of seizing the powder magazine at Soissons on behalf of the revolutionary Government, as well his half-hearted participation in the aborted republican uprising in 1834 that led an aide-de-camp of his former employer, King Louis-Philippe, to call on Dumas and advise Dumas that, as his arrest was being considered, a trip abroad would be beneficial to his health.
     There are also some notable omissions. Dumas generally omits his complicated love life and any mention of his children. He makes an exception for his adulterous affair with a lady that inspired Antony, and a smallish exception for the actress Marie Dorval, who had died before Dumas began writing.
     There are two heavily abridged recent translations of Dumas' memoirs available in English. The Road to Monte Cristo, published in 1957, translated by the American playwright Jules Eckert Goodman, and a translation by A. Craig Bell published by Chilton in about 1960.


From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
    Interesting details of his personal life, of his father's career. of politics, the characters and lives of contemporary persons in the world of literature, art and the theatre, and much information regarding his earlier dramatic productions.
    The original edition of the first portion was issued as "Mes Mémoires;" Paris, Cadot, 22 vols., 8vo., yellow wrappers. 1852-54.
Vol. I. ... pp. 324Vol. XII. ... pp. 328
Vol. II. ... pp. 314Vol. XIII. ... pp. 325
Vol. III. ... pp. 319Vol. XIV. ... pp. 334
Vol. IV. ... pp. 308Vol. XV. ... pp. 312
Vol. V. ... pp. 330Vol. XVI. ... pp. 332
Vol. VI. ... pp. 308Vol. XVII. ... pp. 312
Vol. VII. ... pp. 344Vol. XVIII. ... pp. 293
Vol. VIII. ... pp. 318Vol. XIX. ... pp. 298, xviii.
Vol. IX. ... pp. 328Vol. XX. ... pp. 311
Vol. X. ... pp. 304Vol. XXI. ... pp. 301
Vol. XI. ... pp. 328Vol. XXII. ... pp. 311
Vols. I. to XIV. are dated 1852; Vols. XV. to XXII. 1854.
    The final page of the outer wrapper of Vol. 1. advertises "Sous presse" as by Alexandre Dumas : "Sous l'Ébénier," but this seems to have been a printer's error.
    On Vol. V., in the same position, "La Comtesse de Charny" is advertised as not having appeared as a serial. On Vol. VIII. the same work is stated to he (previously) unpublished, and now complete and for sale in 15 volumes. (It took in all 19 vols. to complete it, the last appearing in 1855.)
    When Dumas began the publication of his journal "Le Mousquetaire" he resumed his "Mémoires" with the first (specimen) number, and continued to issue them in it, more or less erratically, for a considerable time, in fact until the No. for May 13th, 1855. The original 22 vols. of "Mes Mémoires" breaks off at the conclusion of what is now Chapter CCXIII. The first chapter to appear in "Le Mousquetaire" was CCXIV., and from that commenced what was afterwards separately published as "Souvenirs de 1830 à 1842." The title is a misnomer, since they do not extend nearly to this latter date. Included in the serial issue was a long sequence of chapters devoted to the career of the actor Mélingue ; these were later removed and issued as a separate work entitled: "Une Vie d'Artiste" (see page 310), never appearing as part of the "Mémoires" in volume form. The "Souvenirs de 1830 à 1842" were published by Cadot, in similar format to "Mes Mémoires," 8vo., yellow wrappers, 8 vols., 1854-55.
Vol. I. ... pp. 303, vii. Vol. V. ... pp. 304
Vol. II. ... pp. 299 Vol. VI. ... pp. 320
Vol. III. ... pp. 320 Vol. VII. ... pp. 315
Vol. IV. ... pp. 303 Vol. VIII. ... pp. 308
The first four volumes bear the date 1854, the others that of 1855.
    "Le Mousquetaire" contained four feuilletons of the "Mémoires"' after the completion of the "Souvenirs de 1830 à 1842." These deal mainly with Shakespeare's "Richard III.," and include lengthy extracts from that play. The Brussels edition ends with what is now Chapter CCLXIV., as does also the Le Vasseur reprint. These memoirs are the main authority for Dumas' earlier years.
    In Cadot's original issue no chapters are numbered. The first portion (22 vols.) of "Mes Mémoires" appeared serially in "La Presse;" the latter (8 vols.) in "Le Mousquetaire."
    The standard Calmann-Lévy edition makes no distinction, but publishes as one work, without any indication of break. In the "Œuvres Complètes" they occupy 10 vols. (pp. 3191), and two sections in the same firm's "Musée Littéraire."
    In Le Vasseur's "Alexandre Dumas Illustré" they fill the whole of the final volume, XXV..
    "Souvenirs Dramatiques et Littéraires," par A. Dumas; Paris, Tallandier, 1928, is a selection from the "Mémoires," valuable for its illustrations.
    Another selection has appeared : Paris, "Éditions de France," as "Mémoires d'Alexandre Dumas Père."

        References :—
     Glinel: "Alexandre Dumas et Son Œuvre," pp. 429 and 435.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'A. Dumas," pages 61, 63.

        English Translations :—
     "Dumas' Memoirs" (Extracts from), translated and selected by A. F. Davidson; London, Allen, 2 vols., 1890.
     "My Memoirs," a complete translation by E. M. Waller; London, Methuen, 6 vols., 8vo., 1907-09.

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