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La Tour de Nesle

Marguerite de Bourgogne; The Tower of Nesle; The Queen's Intrigue

drame/play, pub:1832, action:1314

Five-act melodrama with nine scenes by Frédéric Gaillardet of Tonnerre, given to Dumas to rewrite.
     Gaillardet submitted his play to the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, but the manager, Harel, decided that it needed work, so he first asked Jules Janin the critic, then Dumas, to rewrite it. Dumas was recovering from cholera, but rewrote it in two weeks, offering to do it without credit of authorship for a simple fee. Harel agreed, but credited a mysterious author, and then spread the credit by word-of-mouth, assuring a large audience. The advertisements said:
La Tour de Nesle, Drame en cinq Actes et en neuf Tableaux, Par MM. Gaillardet et ***, représenté, pour la première fois, à Paris, sur le Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, le 29 Mai 1832.
The play was very successful and Dumas later decided to take credit for writing it. Gaillardet was upset and the two fought a duel with pistols but neither man hit the other.
     The play takes place in 1314 in Paris. Louis X's wife. Marguerite de Bourgogne (1290-1315), is queen. Her former lover comes back to blackmail her, and her two sons die bloody deaths. There is murder, sexual depravity, and treachery.

    Alexandre Dumas / Frédéric Gaillardet (allemand/German)
    Der Turm der Lüste (allemand/German)
    La muraille de Philippe Auguste - La Tour de Nesles
    Marguerite de Bourgogne
    Philip-Augustus' wall
    Tour de Nesle movies

Oeuvres/Related Works
    Dumas père, Alexandre: The Tower - Available from amazon.com
    Williams, Henry Llewellyn, Jr.: The Tower of Nesle or, The Queen's Intrigue - New York, London, Street & Smith, 1904 (LOC# 04007333) (novelization of La tour de Nesle)

Images (voyez tous/view all)
    Bocage - As Buridan in "La Tour de Nesle"
    La Tour de Nesles et l'Hôtel de Nevers

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     A prose drama in five acts and nine tableaux, by Alexandre Dumas and Frédéric Gaillardet, and in which Jules Janin also had a very small hand.
     This is usually considered to be the acme of all the Romantic melodramas. Certainly it is a powerful play when read, and must have been much more so to view.
     An enormous amount of matter has been written about both the play and the quarrels regarding its composition. Concerning the latter, to put the matter as succinctly as possible, the Romantic writer, Roger de Beauvoir, wrote a romance called "L'Écolier de Cluny," utilising the legend of that Buridan referred to by Villon as having been hurled from the Tower of Nesle in a sack. Almost simultaneously a young man came up to Paris from Tonnerre with a drama on the same subject in his pocket. However, it proved to be impossible for the stage as then composed. Harel, the manager of the Porte Saint Martin, was much taken by it, and suggested to the author that he should accept a collaborator familiar with the requirements of the theatre. This was agreed to, and Jules Janin approached. The latter took the MS., kept it for some weeks, and then returned it as hopeless. Harel, still keen, went to Dumas, who was at the time recovering from a mild attack of the prevailing cholera, and still in a high fever. Against his will he was finally persuaded to see what could he done with it. Certain it is that he completely re-shaped and re-wrote the piece—Gaillardet willingly admitted in later years that all the worth belonged to his collaborator. When placed in rehearsal, the young man from Tonnerre did not recognise it, and asked when his own piece was to come on. Dumas had made generous terms for his unknown assistant, and among other things had stipulated that his (Dumas') name should not appear. Thus, according to agreement, the first bills showed "par MM. F. Gaillardet et x x x." But a man with Dumas' reputation in the theatrical world was too good an advertisement for a shrewd manager to neglect, and, unable to persuade Dumas to change his stipulation, Harel changed the bills to make them read: "par MM. x x x et F. Gaillardet." Anger, scandal, letters to the press, lawsuits, a duel, each followed in turn, to the delight, it would seem of Harel, who was obtaining the best of publicity.
     For years this play was being repeatedly brought upon the stage, and as frequently being interdicted by the censorship. For years a battle royal raged around it, and this went on well into the late period of the Second Empire, yet by that time it had seen more than eight hundred performances.
     In 1887 the heirs of Gaillardet endeavoured to prevent the name of this play from appearing upon the statue erected to Dumas in Paris, but without success,
     First performed at the Porte Saint Martin Théâtre on the 29th of May, 1832.
     Original edition: Paris, Barba, 1832, 8vo., pp. 108. It was included in Vol. IV. of Charpentier's collection of the "Théâtre Complet" in 1834.
     Later it was reprinted in the "France Dramatique" ; Paris, Barba, Delloye et Bezou, 1839, large 8vo. of two columns, bearing there the names of MM. F. Gaillardet et Alexandre Dumas.
     It now forms part of Vol. III. of the 15 Vol. series, and of Vol. IV. of that in 25 Vols. issued by Calmann-Lévy.

         References :—
     Dumas: "Mes Mémoires," Chapters CCXXXIV.-CCXXXVII.
     Lemaitre (Frédérick): "Souvenirs," pp. 122-26, 177-182, 207, 212, 279-280.
     Parigot: "Le Drame d'Alexandre Dumas," pp. 90, 96-97. 252-282.
     Cléry: "Souvenirs du Palais," pp. 21-67.
     Sarcey: "Quarante Ans de Théâtre," Séries IV., pp. 96-104.
     "La Censure Sous Napoléon III.," pp. 78-82.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'A. Dumas," p. 24.
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées," Vol. I., Columns 1062-1065.
     "Histoire de la Tour de Nesle," par B. Lunel; Paris, Just Tessier, 1848, 8vo., pp. 16.
     Jourdain: "La Mort de Marguerite de Bourgogne, Tableau dramatique pour faire suite immédiate à 'La Tour de Nesle' " ; Evreux, 1845,12mo.

         English Translations :—
     In story form, tr. by H. L. Williams; London, Sibthorpe.
     "La Tour de Nesle," tr. by A. L. Gowans; London, Gowans and Gray, 1906.
     "La Tour de Nesle," London, Dicks' Standard Plays, by G. Almar

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