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Le Capitaine Paul

roman/novel, pub:1838

Novel serialized in Le Siècle. Dumas' sequel to James Fenimore Cooper's The Pilot. Written in collaboration with Adrien Dauzats and taken from his drama Paul Jones.


From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     In 1838, Dumas found himself in need of a promised manuscript, and he decided to adapt his play, Paul Jones, into a novel. The principal character of both book and novel is the American naval hero, John Paul Jones (1747-1792). However, Dumas' John Paul Jones bears little resemblance to the historical Paul Jones, as Dumas' Jones is of French origin, most of the action takes place in France, and reflects Dumas' novelistic concerns. The novel betrays its theatrical origin, with a small cast, with the action advanced largely through dialogue and tightly compressed into a series of set piece scenes taking place in rapid succession, leading to a dramatic climax.
     The novel opens in Port Louis, Brittany, where the young French aristocrat, Count Emmanuel d'Auray, encounters the mysterious captain of an an unknown warship, anchored in the harbor. Count Emmanuel asks Captain Paul, by order of the King, to transport a prisoner (M. Lusignan) into exile in the West Indies. Captain Paul agrees, and promptly falls in with a British warship. During the ensuing battle, the Lusignan acquits himself so bravely that Captain Paul frees him.
     Lusignan, we learn, is commoner who has fallen in love with Count Emmanuel's sister, Marguerite, and Count Emmanuel has used his influence with the King to unjustly exile Lusignan. Jones and Lusignan return to France, and Jones, having first been received by King Louis XVI, pays a call on Count Emmanuel. Jones demands compensation on behalf of the unfortunate Lusignan, but when he learns that Marguerite still loves Lusignan, he demands her hand for Lusignan. Emmanuel refuses, both because Lusignan is not an aristocrat, and also because he has arranged an advantageous marriage-of-convenience for Marguerite, to the decadent Baron de Lectoure. Emmanuel challenges Paul to a duel, and Paul refuses.
     Marguerite tells the Baron that she can never marry him because she loves another. The Baron, astonished, points out that people of their class never marry for love, and that she is quite welcome to marry and to keep her lover, too, so long as she is discreet. Marguerite, astonished in turn, flees.
     However, after innumerable plot twists, Count Emmanuel learns to his horror that the commoner Paul Jones is actually the issue of his mother's adulterous affair. Paul is briefly reunited with his mother. Captain Paul has also prevailed upon the King to ennoble Lusignan and appoint him Governor of Guadeloupe, so that the couple may wed and decamp, and has procured the captaincy of a regiment for Count Emmanuel. Having righted various wrongs, Paul sails off to resume warfare against the British.
     Captain Paul can be seen as an early sketch for the Count of Monte Cristo: a mysterious, wealthy, powerful yet déclassé figure acting as the instrument of providence. While aristocratic pretensions are skewered, Dumas (as in his life) never quite goes so far as to renounce them.
     The standard biography of the historical John Paul Jones is Samuel Eliot Morison's John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography, (Little, Brown, & Co., 1959). The historical Jones (born in Scotland, the son of a gardener) had enough adventures to fill several romances. His body is interred in a tomb at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. There is also a John Paul Jones website: http://www.seacoastnh.com/jpj/


From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     One of Dumas' favourite authors, and one whose influence he felt early in his career, was Fenimore Cooper, and he particularly admired his "Pilot." In 1830, when on a visit to Madame Mélanie Waldor, then staying in La Vendée, Dumas visited several of the western seaports, notably Lorient, where be knew that Paul Jones had harboured his ships. In a most interesting preface to the work of which we are now speaking, he tells how its subject-matter germinated in his mind until 1835. At that time, while journeying about Sicily, he composed his drama "Paul Jones." This, however, was not accepted on his return to Paris, and was then for the time "mortgaged" to Porcher. (For its fate refer to pages 106-07.) Some time later he was asked to supply a feuilleton story to the "Siècle" within two months. He agreed, and drew "Le Capitaine Paul" from his drama of "Paul Jones," the reversal of his usual method of procedure. It purports to be a "sequel" to Cooper's "Pilot."
     The whole story of its vicissitudes, according to Dumas, may be read in his preface to the romance as issued by Charlieu in a new edition in 1856, or in his "Mousquetaire," the numbers for February 28th and 29th and March 1st and 2nd, 1856.
     It ran in "Le Siècle" from May 30 to June 23, 1838.
     Original edition: Paris, Dumont, 1838, 2 vols., 8vo. Vol. I., pp. 316; Vol. II., pp. 322, but the romance itself ends on page 220 of the second volume, the remainder being taken up with "La Main Droite du Sire de Giac" (refer to page 93). Baron Taylor's copy bore the inscription: "Je vous offre cet exemplaire de deux volumes que j'ai faits. Dauzats invenit. A. Dumas sc." (1)
     (1) " I offer you this copy of two volumes which I have made. Dauzats invenit. A. Dumas sc."
     Second edition : Paris, Dumont, 1840, 2 vols., 8vo.
     Third edition : Paris, Michel Lévy frères, 1 vol., 18mo., 1846.
     New edition in the "Œuvres Complètes," with a long preface by A. Dumas, 1 vol., 18mo., Paris, Charlieu, 1856.
     It now fills one volume in the Calmann-Lévy standard edition. one in their 4to. illustrated edition, and one also in their "Musée Littéraire." In Le Vasseur's "Alexandre Dumas Illustré" it is in Vol. XIV.

         References :—
     "Le Mousquetaire," Nos. for February 28th and 29th and March 1st and 2nd, 1856.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'Alexandre Dumas," p. 42.
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées," Vol. I., Columns 1095-1096.
     Karr (Alphonse): "Les Guèpes," No. for December, 1840.

         English Translations :—
     "Captain Paul the Pirate, a Tale of the Sea" ; London, George Pierce, 1848, frontispiece portrait of Dumas, and some woodcuts interspersed amid the text.
     "Captain Paul" (with "The Sicilian Bandit") in "The Parlour Library," No. 188, pp. 328; London, Simms and Macintyre, then Hodgson, 1850.
     "Captain Paul," No. 8 of the "Dumas Historical Library" ; London, C. H. Clarke, 8vo., 1858, and perhaps earlier. Frequently reprinted. With "The Sicilian Bandit" pp. 328, Parlour Library text.
     "Captain Paul" ; London, Routledge, a reprint of the preceding. This, too, was often reprinted, at least until as late as 1908, pp. 190.
     "Paul Jones, a Nautical Romance," translated by H. L. Williams, post 8vo. ; London, Warne, 1889.
     This last edition reprinted in "The Wide World Library," 1913.

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