Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Julian Barnes

Dumas would ride his horse into a stable, seize an overhead beam, grasp the horse tightly with his legs, and lift it off the ground.  He also claimed to have 365 illegitimate children scattered round the world: one for every day of the year.  The energy made you wince.  

From his first novel, Metroland, which was published in 1980.

The "Dumas" referred to here is the famous French novelist, Alexandre Dumas, père, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.   Alexandre Dumas, fils -- who was a very successful dramatist -- was one of his illegitimate children.  

But most historians attribute the lift-the-horse feat not to Dumas, père, but to his father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas -- a general in Napoleon's army who was himself the illegitimate son of a French officer and a Haitian woman.

I don't know what to say about all this, except that it makes a good "French-day the 13th" subject.

General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas

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