L'autre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas père, was an astonishingly prolific and successful writer. In just three years, between 1843 and 1846, he published what were to
become his most successful novels: “Les trios mousquetaires” (“The Three Musketeers”), “La reine Margot” (“Queen Margot”) and “Le comte de Monte-Cristo” (“The Count of Monte Cristo”). Dumas’ novels are not merely exciting to read, they are also meticulously researched and well-written. This extraordinary output can only be managed with the aid of a reliable assistant; such a person not only needs to be able to find the right source material in libraries and archives, he also needs to have a talent for writing and the ability to invent characters and ideas for a plot. August Maquet is one such partner. He is the complete antithesis of the extrovert bon vivant that Dumas presents to Parisian society. An incisive analyst and well-read author who knows his way around libraries and archives, Maquet is not desirous of a life in the limelight. However, when Maquet tries to impress a fervent Dumas admirer named Charlotte Desrives by claiming to be the true author of these phenomenally successful books, the mood turns sour between the two men. A bitter fight ensues which, in 1858, leads to a court battle over the copyright ownership of these works, at the end of which Maquet is assigned a twenty percent share – albeit without the right to be mentioned as a contributing author. Alexandre Dumas’ remains were later interred in the Panthéon of Paris; however, when he died, Maquet was buried in an anonymous grave in the cemetery at Père-Lachaise.
by Safy Nebbou
with Gérard Depardieu, Benoît Poelvoorde, Dominique Blanc, Mélanie Thierry, Catherine Mouchet
France / Belgium 2009 105’

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