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Thursday, 9 January 2014

The not-quite-so-swashbuckling duel of Alexandre Dumas

A belated Happy New Year to all my followers. If you did not know, this post is reproduced on my website and blog at, where all my posts  are now appearing. I posted here, just in case you missed my previous posts.
I had a wonderful Christmas in which I got a whole pile of books, one of which was 'Love Sex Death and Words - surprising tales from a year in literature', by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender. This is a marvellous book about writers past and present, and has a diary entry for each day. Highly recommemded for anyone who loves literature!

The entry for the 5th January is about Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers. Now Dumas has been on my mind recently because of the new blockbuster TV series coming our way this Spring, The Musketeers. The new series stars Luke Pasqualino as d'Artagnan and Maimie McCoy as Milady de Winter. The cast also includes Peter Capaldi and Tom Burke.

I can't wait for this, as it ties in nicely with the 17th century swordsmanship I wrote about in A Divided Inheritance. Of course the series is mostly set in France, whereas my book featured a sword school in Spain. But I have always loved swashbuckling films, so this one is definitely on my list.

More information and pictures on the BBC website

Back to the story about Dumas - 
In his memoirs he recalls fighting a duel with someone who had criticized his somewhat dandy-ish dress. Initially the duel was to be fought with pistols, in a snow-swept quarry. Later the weapons were changed to swords, but the duel soon fell into farce with his adversary's braces giving way, and Dumas discovering his sword was much shorter than his opponent's. In the event, the dispute was settled when Dumas drew blood. No fight to the death for him.

A colourful character in real life, Dumas was said to have had over forty affairs. He was known to have at least four illegitimate or "natural" children, including a son who shared his name. This son also became a successful novelist and playwright, and was known in France as Alexandre Dumas, fils (son), while the elder Dumas became known as Alexandre Dumas, père (father). 

 "the most generous, large-hearted being in the world. He also was the most delightfully amusing and egotistical creature on the face of the earth. His tongue was like a windmill – once set in motion, you never knew when he would stop, especially if the theme was himself." Watts Phillips

Once The Musketeers starts, please feel free to chat with me about it on twitter @swiftstory
Alexandre Dumas