The New International Encyclopædia/Dumas, Alexandre (fils)

DUMAS, Alexandre, called Dumas Fils (1824-95). One of the most distinguished of modern French dramatists. He was born in Paris, July 27, 1824, the son of the great romantic novelist of like name, but of a genius strangely contrasted. In him the father's rich but riotous fancy yielded to close observation and realistic earnestness that made of him an unbending and almost a Puritan moralist. Like his grandfather, an illegitimate child, he has drawn, in L'affaire Clémenceau (novel, 1867; dramatized, 1887), a moving picture of the torments caused by his origin during his school life. Later he became the companion and associate of his bohemian father, and after a brief carnival found himself, in 1848, with 50,000 francs of debt and a pen for his assets. It proved more than sufficient. He left old associations forever behind, sold his experience to the world in a novel, La dame aux camélias (1848; dramatized, 1852), and became a serious, hard-working author and soon an independent and wealthy one. His other early novels and a first dramatic essay (1845) are romantic commonplace, and have no significance. But the dramatization of La dame aux camélias marks a date (February 2. 1852) in the history of the French stage, and inaugurates the realistic study of social problems that has changed the face of the modern drama. Dumas joined Balzac's insight into character to Scribe's technical aptitude, and to an instinct that truth, to be dramatically effective, must be logical and conventional in its exhibition. In so far Dumas is not a 'naturalist,' though he is eminently a dramatic realist. His other plays, in their order, are: Diane de Lys (1853); Le demi-monde (1855); La question d'argent (1857); Le fils naturel (1858); Un père prodigue (1859); L’ami des femmes (1864); Les idées de madame Aubray (1867); Une visite de noces (1871); La princesse Georges (1871); La femme de Claude