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Le Comte de Moret; Le Sphinx Rouge

The Count of Moret; or, Richelieu and his rivals

roman/novel, pub:1865-1866, action:1628-1630

This story concerns the fictional fate of Antoine de Bourbon, Come de Moret, the son of Henry IV. See also La Colombe.

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    Article and note concerning "Le Sphinx Rouge"

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     During this year M. Jules Noriac, the publisher of the journal "Les Nouvelles," asked Dumas for a serial romance. "What kind of romance?" asked the author.—"Why, an historical one, such as you so well know how to construct."—"Very willingly," was the reply, and there resulted "Le Comte de Moret."
     Very little is known about this work, though much has been said. Neither in France nor in Belgium was it issued in book form. Our only source of information is therefore a very poor American translation, and that has eluded all efforts to secure a copy. Yet, to judge by a few extracts given in the volume entitled "Short Stories by Alexandre Dumas" (Walter J. Black Co., New York, 1927), this romance was worthy of a better fate, even though, as is also claimed, it was never finished.
     It is a story of the imaginary career of that Comte Antoine de Moret, son of Henri IV., who is supposed to have been killed at the battle of Castelnaudary, but whom persistent rumour declared had escaped, to live to a ripe old age, and finally die a hermit in Anjou. Though questioned personally by Louis XIV., this old man would never either admit or deny the claims made by others as to his identity. Period 1607 and later.
     It ran serially through "Les Nouvelles."

         References :—
     Ferry: "Dernières Années d'A. Dumas," pp. 40 ff.
     "Favourites of Henry of Navarre" (by "Le Petit Homme Rouge"), note on the Count of Moret, page 298.

         English Translations :—
     "The Count of Moret," translated by H. L. Williams, Jnr., Philadelphia, Peterson Bros., pp. 160, 1868. (This translation states that the plot was prepared in 1842, which looks as though Dumas had supplied it with a preface.)
     Several considerable extracts appeared in the "Short Stories (sic) of Alexandre Dumas;" New York, Walter J. Black Co., 1927.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     For long this excellent romance was only known in serial issue and in a truly wretched American translation. Being unknown, it suffered from the decrying of ignorance, when by chance any biographer did mention it, which was seldom. Once or twice there was made some announcement of coming publication, but always for the project to fade away. After much effort to secure a run of "Les Nouvelles," I had photostats taken from the full tale of its feuilletons. Only then was it discovered that there were missing from the Bibliothèque Nationale eight numbers, each containing a portion of the story - and no other file was known. Meantime I had translated all the material available. There was but one thing to be done: get the lost passages copied from the miserable American translation and rewrite them in a manner more worthy of Dumas. Two copies alone of the American's effort seem to be known; on is in the British Museum, the other in the New York Public Library. A friend had commenced work on the former of these when the bombing of London closed the museum. He had copied for me four of the missing eight sections. Another friend was then enlisted, who obtained photostats of three more from New York, but the last, the eighth, could not be provided, for it fell within a sequence of ten chapters which the translator had not troubled to include in his work. Still, the unexpected occurred once more; there had been a Spanish rendering, recently recovered and issued at Buenos Aires from an old Spanish magazine of the 1860's. Thus, in one way and another at last the complete story was available. One may add, as a curiosity, that the American, dissatisfied with Dumas' ending and unaware that there was a sequel in existence, added two chapters of his own.
     My translation was completed in 1939. Then, in 1946, was discovered in a Paris garret a holograph of this story in Dumas' hand. Seemingly the first sheet, that containing the title, had been lost, for it was published as "Le Sphinx Rouge." But this issue is incomplete. Dumas wrote four volumes, but only the first three are here presented. Moreover to the full text it is necessary, in order to satisfy readers, that there should be added "La Colombe," the sequel to "Le Comte de Moret."
     In this romance the historical portraits are particularly good, being far more full than in the almost contemporary "Les Trois Mousquetaires."

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