Les Contes Du Monte-Cristo: Alexandre Dumas and His "Tales for Old and Young Children"

By François, Cyrille | Marvels & Tales, July 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Les Contes Du Monte-Cristo: Alexandre Dumas and His "Tales for Old and Young Children"


François, Cyrille, Marvels & Tales


Alexandre Dumas may be one of France's most popular novelists, but part of his work remains unknown to most. The success of such texts as The Count of Monte-Cristo (Le comte de Monte-Cristo, 1844-1845) or The Three Musketeers (Les trois mousquetaires, 1844), which mix historical events with adventures, eclipses the fact that Dumas also wrote numerous plays, travel books, cookbooks, journal articles, and even fairy tales. Indeed, although the last genre is usually not associated with Dumas's name, he in fact wrote a number of tales over a period of twenty years.1 These tales form an integral part of his literary legacy and inform both the study of Dumas's work and that of the fairy-tale genre in nineteenth-century France.

Dumas's first two tales were published in Pierre-Jules Hetzel's Le Nouveau Magasin des Enfants (New Children's Magazine) in 1844 and reprinted the next year in volumes: The Story of a Nutcracker (Histoire d'un casse-noisette), adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's tale; and The Honey Stew of the Countess Bertha (La Bouillie de la comtesse Berthe), inspired by a German legend. Hetzel's journal was of great importance for the development of children's literature in France. It published stories by such famous writers as Charles Nodier and George Sand and was illustrated by great artists, such as Bertall (Charles A. d'Amoux's pen name) and later Gustave Doré.

Dumas's main fairy-tale production, however, was published between 1857 and 1860 in a journal called Le Monte-Cristo-after his novel-before being reedited in book form. Most of these texts were inspired by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and have a peculiar position somewhere between translation and rewriting. I look more closely at the origin of these tales and their inscription in the journal and discuss Dumas's conception of the fairy-tale genre. Through a comparison with Hans Christian Andersen's work, I also highlight the special characteristics of Dumas's tales.

A "Causerie" for Children

Le Monte-Cristo was ajournai in which Dumas issued his earlier works in serial form, translations of foreign novels, and a "causerie," that is, a column where he informally discussed day-to-day events.2 The journal was created to finance Dumas's travels-he had left France in 1851 as a result of financial problems- and came to represent both a logbook and a letter to his known and unknown friends (Schopp, Alexandre Dumas, 492). The link between travels and literature is an important one, because Dumas endeavored to present the foreign cultures that he encountered to his French readers. In this light, his fairy-tale production should be associated with Germanic culture. However, the inclusion of fairy tales in Le Monte-Cristo was not initially planned, as indicated by the journal's subtitle: "Weekly Journal of Novels, History, Travels and Poetry. Published and Written by Alexandre Dumas Alone."3

The first tale of the series was inserted in the correspondence of the eleventh issue (July 1857), in which Dumas responded to a letter from a boy complaining that the journal contained only adult causeries. The boy explained that he had received two books as New Year's gifts but now knew them by heart and wanted to read new stories. The letter was a good advertisement for Dumas, because the boy's books were the two tales published by Hetzel mentioned earlier. This circumstance may indicate that the correspondence was staged-a procedure that Dumas was partial to, as I show later. What is more significant at this point, however, is Dumas's answer to the boy: "I will give you a tale, a fairy tale for children, as you ask for. Only, while it will entertain the young readers, I will at the same time strive not to bore the older ones too much."4

This exchange introduced the section called "Causerie in the Form of a Tale or Tale in the Form of a Causerie" ("Causerie en manière de conte ou conte en manière de causerie"), which opened with "The Tin Soldier and the Paper Dancer" ("Le soldat de plomb et la danseuse de papier"), a tale we recognize as adapted from Andersen's work. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Les Contes Du Monte-Cristo: Alexandre Dumas and His "Tales for Old and Young Children"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.