[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]
Four Black History Months ago I blogged about Alexandre Dumas’s neglected status as a black writer. France’s most commercially successful writer, the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was also the grandson of a freed Haitian slave; in response to a racial insult he once responded: “It is true. My father was a mulatto, my grandmother was a negress, and my great-grandparents were monkeys. In short, sir, my pedigree begins where yours ends.”
I’m happy to see that Georges, the Dumas novel that most directly addresses issues of race, is now back in print in a new English translation. For a plot summary see here.
It would be fun to see a conference on issues of race and slavery in French romantic literature, organised around Dumas’s Georges, Hugo’s Bug-Jargal (which I see is also out in a new translation), and Verne’s A Captain at Fifteen (which desperately needs a new translation).
The Count of Monte Cristo was one of my favorite stories when I was in elementary school.
I’d like someone to explain why his blackness makes him any better than he already is?
It doesn’t make him better, but it does indicate that he had tougher obstacles to face than one might otherwise have thought. The century-long conspiracy of silence about his race also points up the hypocrisy of the literary establishment.
Nobody ever mentions Pushkin around Black History Month either.
Mentioned this post on the Independent Individualist Forums. Love this classic sarcastic reparté.