Why did the BBC cast a mixed-race Porthos in The Musketeers?

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-02-05 16:21Z by Steven

Why did the BBC cast a mixed-race Porthos in The Musketeers?

The Guardian

Stuart Jeffries, Feature Writer and Columnist

Certain viewers are non-plussed by the casting of a musketeer of colour, but surely blind casting is preferable to an historical whitewash

Studs in leather? Check. Swordplay? Check. Buckled swash? Check. Medieval cleavages? Check. Over-complicated facial hair? Check. Dead-eyed Peter Capaldi as Louis XIII’s enforcer Cardinal Richelieu, that 17th-century prototype of Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It? Check.

There’s so much diverting stuff in BBC1’s current adaptation of The Musketeers that you might have missed perhaps its most intriguing aspect. One Telegraph reader didn’t during their below-the-line rant against what they called a “dumbed down romp”. “And,” they sighed, mid-tirade, “there is the one obligatory part-black character to prove that multiculti [sic] political correctness outweighs historical accuracy.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Alexandre Dumas: An Original Writer of Colour

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-02-02 21:51Z by Steven

Alexandre Dumas: An Original Writer of Colour

Media Diversified: Tackling the Lack of Diversity in UK Media and the Ubiquity of Whiteness

Glen Chisholm, Councilor (Labor Party)
Ipswich, England

A new generation of viewers are being introduced to the swashbuckling adventures of D’Artagnan and his friends and brothers in arms Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Many will know their motto,

“All for one, One for all”

as their adventures are played out in the BBC’s new Sunday night family drama series. The Three Musketeers has been produced on screen in film and TV numerous times. even in the form of a cartoon, “Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds” in the early 80′s.

For me it’s great that once again these works are getting exposure as I’ve felt a love for stories of adventure ever since I was a child. I remember my father had a collection of classic books, bound in faux leather with gold leaf print. This of course caught my attention and when I started reading them they captured my imagination. As I got older I wanted to learn more about who had created such wonderful tales and when I looked I was inspired by what I saw. Alexandre Dumas a man who like me was mixed race, a man who was black and went on to be one of the most widely read French authors in history…

Read the entire article here.

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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2013-04-17 02:14Z by Steven

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Random House
432 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-307-38246-7

Tom Reiss

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo—a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.

Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son. 

Table of Contents

  • prologue, part 1 • February 26, 1806
  • prologue, part 2 • January 25, 2007
  • book one
    • chapter 1 • The Sugar Factory
    • chapter 2 • The Black Code
    • chapter 3 • Norman Conquest
    • chapter 4 • “No One Is a Slave in France”
    • chapter 5 • Americans in Paris
    • chapter 6 • Black Count in the City of Light
    • chapter 7 • A Queen’s Dragoon
  • book two
    • chapter 8 • Summers of Revolution
    • chapter 9 • “Regeneration by Blood”
    • chapter 10 • “The Black Heart Also Beats for Liberty”
    • chapter 11 • “Mr. Humanity”
    • chapter 12 • The Battle for the Top of the World
    • chapter 13 • The Bottom of the Revolution
    • chapter 14 • The Siege
    • chapter 15 • The Black Devil
  • book three
    • chapter 16 • Leader of the Expedition
    • chapter 17 • “The Delirium of His Republicanism”
    • chapter 18 • Dreams on Fire
    • chapter 19 • Prisoner of the Holy Faith Army
    • chapter 20 • “Citizeness Dumas… Is Worried About the Fate of Her Husband”
    • chapter 21 • The Dungeon
    • chapter 22 • Wait and Hope
  • epilogue • The Forgotten Statue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Author’s Note on Names
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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‘The Black Count,’ A Hero On The Field, And The Page

Posted in Articles, Audio, Europe, History, Media Archive, United States on 2012-09-18 02:23Z by Steven

‘The Black Count,’ A Hero On The Field, And The Page

Weekend Edition Saturday
National Public Radio

Scott Simon, Host

Tom Reiss, Author

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal,and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. By Tom Reiss, 432 pp. Crown Publishers. Hardback ISBN: 978-0-307-38246-7.

Gen. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was one of the heroes of the French Revolution — but you won’t find a statue of him in Paris today.

He led armies of thousands in triumph through treacherous territory, from the snows of the Alps to the sands of Egypt, and his true life stories inspired his son, Alexandre Dumas, to write The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

How did the son of a Haitian slave and a French nobleman become Napoleon’s leading swordsman of the Revolution, then a prisoner, and finally almost forgotten — except in the stories of a son who was not even 4 years old when his father died?

“I like to think of him as history’s ultimate underdog,” says author Tom Reiss. His new book, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, uncovers the real life that inspired so many fictional heroes.

“He’s a black man, born into slavery, and then he rises higher than any black man rose in a white society before our own time,” Reiss tells NPR’s Scott Simon. “He became a four-star general and challenges Napoleon, and he did it all 200 years ago, at the height of slavery.”…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview (00:06:56) here.

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The Third Musketeer

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, New Media on 2012-09-14 21:14Z by Steven

The Third Musketeer

The New York Times
Leo Damrosch, Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature, Emeritus
Harvard University

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal,and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. By Tom Reiss, 432 pp. Crown Publishers. Hardback ISBN: 978-0-307-38246-7.

In the 1790s, the son of an aristocratic white father and a black slave woman became a charismatic French general who for a time rivaled Napoleon himself, and afterward languished in an Italian dungeon. His story inspired the novel “The Count of Monte Cristo,” written by his son, Alexandre Dumas, who also drew upon his father’s adventures in “The Three Musketeers.” Posterity remembers this son as Dumas père, to distinguish him from Alexandre Dumas fils, also a writer, whose novel “La Dame aux Camélias” was the source for Verdi’sLa Traviata.” But the general was the first of the three Alexandres (he preferred to be known as Alex), and in “The Black Count,” Tom ­Reiss, the author of “The Orientalist,” has recovered this fascinating story with a richly imaginative biography.

Despite Reiss’s extensive research, the count remains a somewhat remote figure, since his contemporaries usually described him in conventional superlatives. The chief source of information is a highly romanticized memoir by his son, who was not yet 4 when he died, and who idealized him, in Reiss’s words, as “the purest, noblest man who ever lived.” Still, such language seems deserved. General Dumas was majestically tall (“his proportions were those of a Greek hero”), a crack swordsman and horseman (“looking like a centaur”), utterly fearless, generous to subordinates and a loving husband and father. He was also exceptionally good-looking, though the portraits that survive are less spectacular than the majestic Adonis depicted in the book’s cover illustration.

Dumas was born in 1762 at the western end of Saint-Domingue, the colony that is now Haiti. Remarkably, the French Empire guaranteed protection and opportunities to people of mixed race, and when the boy’s father brought him to France at the age of 14 he was able to receive a first-rate education and later to join the army. He never cared much for his feckless father, however, and took the name Dumas from his slave mother, about whom very little is known…

Read the entire review here.

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The Black Musketeer: Reevaluating Alexandre Dumas within the Francophone World

Posted in Anthologies, Biography, Books, Europe, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2011-11-23 02:32Z by Steven

The Black Musketeer: Reevaluating Alexandre Dumas within the Francophone World

Cambridge Scholars Press
August 2011
260 pages
8.1 x 6 x 1.1 inches
ISBN 13: 978-1-4438-2997-7
ISBN: 1-4438-2997-8

Edited by:

Eric Martone, Assistant Professor of History and Social Studies Education
Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York

Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask, is the most famous French writer of the nineteenth century. In 2002, his remains were transferred to the Panthéon, a mausoleum reserved for the greatest French citizens, amidst much national hype during his bicentennial. Contemporary France, struggling with the legacies of colonialism and growing diversity, has transformed Dumas, grandson of a slave from St. Domingue (now Haiti), into a symbol of the colonies and the larger francophone world in an attempt to integrate its immigrants and migrants from its former Caribbean, African, and Asian colonies to improve race relations and to promote French globality. Such a reconception of Dumas has made him a major figure in debates on French identity and colonial history.

Ten tears after Dumas’s interment in the Panthéon, the time is ripe to re-evaluate Dumas within this context of being a representative of la Francophonie. The French re-evaluation of Dumas, therefore, invites a reassessment of his life, works, legacy, and previous scholarship. This interdisciplinary collection is the first major work to take up this task. It is unique for being the first scholarly work to bring Dumas into the center of debates about French identity and France’s relations with its former colonies. For the purposes of this collection, to analyze Dumas in a “francophone” context means to explore Dumas as a symbol of a “French” culture shaped by, and inclusive of, its (former) colonies and current overseas departments. The seven entries in this collection, which focus on providing new ways of interpreting The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Georges, are categorized into two broad groups. The first group focuses on Dumas’s relationship with the francophone colonial world during his lifetime, which was characterized by the slave trade, and provides a postcolonial re-examination of his work, which was impacted profoundly by his status as an individual of black colonial descent in metropolitan France. The second part of this collection, which is centered broadly around Dumas’s francophone legacy, examines the way he has been remembered in the larger French-speaking (postcolonial) world, which includes metropolitan France, in the past century to explore questions about French identity in an emerging global age.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Alexandre Dumas as a Francophone WriterEric Martone
  • Part One: Life and Works
  • Part Two: Legacy
    • From the Literary Myth to the Lieu de Mémoire: Alexandre Dumas–and French National Identity(ies)—Roxane Petit-Rasselle
    • Dent pour dent”: Injustice, Revenge, and Storytelling in The Count of Monte Cristo and Balzac and the Little Chinese SeamstressBarbara T. Cooper
    • “A French Precursor of Obama”: The Commemoration of General Alexandre Dumas and French Reconciliation with the Past—Eric Martone
  • Contributors
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(In) between identities: Representations of the island and the mulatto in nineteenth-century French fiction

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2011-06-20 02:17Z by Steven

(In) between identities: Representations of the island and the mulatto in nineteenth-century French fiction

University of Wisconsin, Madison
205 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3186126
ISBN: 9780542274718

Molly Krueger Enz, Assistant Professor of French
South Dakota State University

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (French)

This dissertation explores how five nineteenth-century authors depict the tension surrounding racial (in)equality in France’s island colonies through the creation of mulatto characters who are portrayed as “in-between” characters in exile. The thesis is divided into two sections, each based on a common a theme. The first part treats two novels containing mixed-race characters who criticize racial prejudice and the hypocrisy of metropolitan and colonial societies. In my first chapter, I examine how the protagonist of Dumas’s Georges devotes his life to ending racial discrimination against mulattoes on the Île de France and show that the figures of the island and mulatto are structured around similar tensions of isolation and self-sufficiency. My second chapter explores how mixed-race characters in Hugo’s Bug-Jargal refuse to be classified racially. I argue that race is changeable and reflects the unstable history of the island of Saint-Domingue. The second section of this study considers the themes of female heroism and oppression through the figures of the revolutionary, the “tragic mulatta,” and the épave. In the third chapter, I contend that the central mulatta character in Lamartine’s Toussaint Louverture, the product of her black mother’s rape by a white colonist, is depicted as a revolutionary heroine who symbolizes the political power struggle between France and Saint-Domingue. My fourth chapter claims that the “tragic mulatto” stereotype, previously studied in relation to American literature, can be applied to Sand’s eponymous white heroine in Indiana. In my fifth chapter on Madame Charles Reybaud’s “Les Éépaves” and Madame de Rieux, I argue that white female characters usurp traditional white male roles when they enter relationships with men of color. Furthermore, I analyze the figure of the “épave,” neither free nor slave, which I feel best represents the “in-between” nature of the mulatto. This dissertation analyzes geographic, racial, and gendered “in-between” spaces in French Romantic literature on colonialism to further develop an understanding of how marginalized identities were formed in the first half of the nineteenth century and how these identities in turn shaped Romanticism.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction: Margins and Mixings
  • I. Prejudice and Hypocrisy: Criticisms of Metropolitan and Colonial Societies
    • CHAPTER ONE: The Mulatto as Island and the Island as Mulatto in Alexandre Dumas’s Georges
    • CHAPTER TWO: Mirroring, Monstrosity, and Métissage: Victor Hugo’s Bug-Jargal
  • II. Heroism and Oppression: The Revolutionary, the Tragic Mulatta, and the Épave
    • CHAPTER THREE: Female Revolutionary Heroism in Alphonse de Lamartine’s Toussaint Louverture
    • CHAPTER FOUR: Slavery and the Tragic Mulatto Stereotype in George Sand’s Indiana
    • CHAPTER FIVE: Who “Belongs” to Whom?: Sexual Politics in Two Works by Madame Charles Reybaud
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Works Cited
  • Works Consulted

Purchase the dissertation here.

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An Anthology of Interracial Literature: Black-White Contacts in the Old World and the New

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2010-08-10 04:14Z by Steven

An Anthology of Interracial Literature: Black-White Contacts in the Old World and the New

New York University Press
675 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780814781432
Paperback ISBN: 9780814781449

Edited by

Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

A white knight meets his half-black half-brother in battle. A black hero marries a white woman. A slave mother kills her child by a rapist-master. A white-looking person of partly African ancestry passes for white. A master and a slave change places for a single night. An interracial marriage turns sour. The birth of a child brings a crisis. Such are some of the story lines to be found within the pages of An Anthology of Interracial Literature.

This is the first anthology to explore the literary theme of black-white encounters, of love and family stories that cross—or are crossed by—what came to be considered racial boundaries. The anthology extends from Cleobolus’ ancient Greek riddle to tormented encounters in the modern United States, visiting along the way a German medieval chivalric romance, excerpts from Arabian Nights and Italian Renaissance novellas, scenes and plays from Spain, Denmark, England, and the United States, as well as essays, autobiographical sketches, and numerous poems. The authors of the selections include some of the great names of world literature interspersed with lesser-known writers. Themes of interracial love and family relations, passing, and the figure of the Mulatto are threaded through the volume.

An Anthology of Interracial Literature allows scholars, students, and general readers to grapple with the extraordinary diversity in world literature. As multi-racial identification becomes more widespread the ethnic and cultural roots of world literature takes on new meaning.

Contributors include: Hans Christian Andersen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charles W. Chesnutt, Lydia Maria Child, Kate Chopin, Countee Cullen, Caroline Bond Day, Rita Dove, Alexandre Dumas, Olaudah Equiano, Langston Hughes, Victor Hugo, Charles Johnson, Adrienne Kennedy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Guy de Maupassant, Claude McKay, Eugene O’Neill, Alexander Pushkin, and Jean Toomer.

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Passing as Mixed Race

Posted in Articles, Arts, New Media, Passing on 2010-03-08 03:34Z by Steven

Passing as Mixed Race

Open Salon

Marcia Dawkins, Assistant Professor of Human Communication
California State University, Fullerton

Alexandre Dumas has always been one of my favorite writers. Works like The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and Georges took me on countless adventures in worlds and times much different from my own. But there’s a kinship I’ve always felt with the author despite our differences in gender, nationality and history—being of mixed race. Dumas was the grandson of a freed Haitian slave and a French nobleman. When describing his racial profile to a man who insulted him for being different he’s reported to have said, “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.” Though my own background is different from Dumas’s, and feels even more complex, that multiracial kinship is one of the reasons why I look forward to the U.S. release of the new biopic that opened in Paris on February 10th, L’Autre Dumas, or The Other Dumas

Read the entire article here.

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