(1802-1870) French dramatist and writer, best remembered for romantic historical fictions about France whose most famous examples appear in the Musqueteers sequence (for this, and for detailed discussion of Dumas' extensive fantasy and supernatural oeuvre, see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy). Tales like "Un voyage à la Lune" (8 October 1857 Le Monte Cristo; trans Harry A Spurr as "Trip to the Moon" in The Dumas Fairy Tale Book coll 1924) are basically fantasy. Dumas is of some sf interest for his creation of a proto-Superhero in Edmont Dantès, the protagonist of Le Comte de Monte-Christo (28 August 1844-15 January 1846 Journal des Débats; 1844-1845 18vols; vt Le Comte de Monte-Cristo 1845-1846 18vols; trans anon as The Count of Monte-Cristo 1846 2vols), who undergoes a metamorphosis in Prison, emerging almost supernaturally agile, strong, learned, sensitive, untiring, immune to liquor, and with a secret identity; his pursuit of evil-doers, often in costume – though ostensibly to revenge crimes committed against him personally – becomes almost a force of nature (see also Superman). This book was a powerful influence on Jules Verne, whose career Dumas promoted, in particular for tales like Mathias Sandorf (1885); on M P Shiel's The Lord of the Sea (1901; savagely cut 1924); and, especially and acknowledgedly, Alfred Bester's Tiger! Tiger! (October 1956-January 1957 Galaxy as "The Stars My Destination"; 1956; rev vt The Stars My Destination 1957; rev 1996). More recently, both plot and characters were openly homaged in John Jakes's spoofish Monte Cristo #99 (1970), and in great detail by Gwyneth Jones in Spirit (2008).
Most of the Count's characteristics are replicated, with cartoon-like intensity, in the portrait of the eponymous hero of Dumas' last and unfinished novel, Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine (1869 Le Moniteur universel; 2005; trans Lauren Yoder as The Last Cavalier: Being the Adventures of Count Sainte-Hermine in the Age of Napoleon 2008), who can also sing like an angel and suddenly speaks perfect English (though he has never been to England). It took only a small feat of imagination to turn such characters into Men of Steel. [JC/DRL]
Alexander Dumas père
born Villers-Cotterêts, Aisne, France: 24 July 1802
died Dieppe, France: 5 December 1870
works (highly selected)
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