Dear All, I was so surprised when I learned that Alexandre Dumas, yes… the writer of the “Three Musketeers” was just recently (2002) inducted into the Pantheon of Paris, you know… the place where the remains of the most famous/distinguished French citizens are buried. I wondered why?… because the Three Musketeers is the most acclaimed French book adapted to screen, movies, and theater. I wondered why?… because The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo are among the most read books by a French author in the world… why only in 2002, 132 years after his death? when Victor Hugo had been indicted in 1885? why since Rousseau, Voltaire, Emile Zola, had all been indicted, while the most read French author, Alexandre Dumas’ remains were not? Well… you’ve guessed it right: Alexandre Dumas was Black! Yes… the great French writer was just like the Russian Father of modern literature Alexander Pushkin: Black! Yes… you can paint it all you want… he was of African descent: he was Black! Just look at his hair! He was actually Haitian, the grandson of a French nobleman and a Haitian slave. See… they hide this to you in the classroom.
Alexandre Dumas was born in 1802 in Picardy, France. His paternal grandparents were Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman and Général commissaire in the Artillery in the colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti), and Marie-Cesette Dumas, an Afro-Carribean creole of mixed African and French ancestry. His father Thomas-Alexandre Dumas served in Napoleon’s army as general, and later fell out of favor. By the time Alexandre was born, his family was very poor. His being of mixed race affected him all his life. He once said to someone who had insulted his mixed-race background: “My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.”
In 2002, then French president Jacques Chirac had him exhumed from his original burial place and transported to the Pantheon of Paris. Chirac said: “With you, we were D’Artagnan, Monte Cristo, or Balsamo, riding along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting palaces and castles—with you, we dream.” Chirac acknowledged the racism and injustice that had been done to one of the greatest French writers of all time. Imagine that, Dumas’ works have been translated into over 100 languages, and have inspired over 200 motion pictures.
Please check out some of these websites which give a detailed biography of Alexandre Dumas: the Alexandre Dumas pere website, and The Literature Network. In 2005, a lost novel by Dumas was found: it is titled The Chevalier de Sainte Hermine (The Knight of Sainte Hermine), was first serialized by Dumas in a French newspaper in 1869 but was never finished by the time of his passing a year later. Imagine if I had known in high school that Alexandre Dumas, the author of the Three Musketeers was black… Imagine how I would have delved further into his writings! Goodness Gracious… Goodness Gracious! As Dumas would say himself, “One for all, all for one!“