Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24, 1802 – Unnamed French Child Still-Born

Like many thousands of other children all through France in the troubling times before modern medicine, a child that was thought to have been called Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie did not survive his delivery. The parents of the mulatto child believed they would have called him Alexandre Dumas, Pere (Junior), after his father, the great French African soldier. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was born a nobleman's son by a slave woman but found his freedom in France where slavery was abolished within the cities. He commanded 53,000 men in the Army of the Alps during the Revolutionary Wars and served under Napoleon Bonaparte, with whom he argued vehemently. The loss of his son bore heavily on Thomas-Alexandre, who himself died of stomach cancer while lobbying Napoleon's government for his pension.

Of course, as life goes on with so many deaths, life continued without little Alexandre. France would go on in the 19th century with its course of political advantage, science, and, of course, its noble history of literature. The French Novel, with such authors as Victor Hugo and Gustave Flaubert, stands as literature of the highest caliber, discussing republicanism, social commentary, and ultimately philosophical rejection of romanticism. Never would their pages be sullied by mindless adventure drivel, such as in the American and British prose, or expansive and fanciful looks toward a future that would never be.

In reality, Dumas did survive and grew up to be one of the greatest novelists in French history. He would legitimize the adventure romance with such stories as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas would also work as a patron of the arts, educating, funding, and encouraging writers such as his illegitimate son Alexandre Dumas, fils, and the failed playwright and lawyer drop-out, Jules Verne.

While Dumas could not have known, Verne would revolutionize science romance and stand as the Father of Science Fiction. Poe's earlier science romance stories were sporadic, and both H.G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback would both take great influence from the Frenchman's scientifically based stories. If not for Dumas' patronage, Verne very well could have returned to be a mediocre lawyer, and the world would miss out on the genre of science fiction, perhaps stunting the development of technology in our modern age.

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