THE LIZ LIBRARY PRESENTS:
This is the story of two fatherless boys.
The first was the son of an aristocratic Frenchman and a slave woman living in the Caribbean on the island now called Haiti. As a young adult, he traveled to France to meet his father, but the man told him that he did not want it known that he had an illegitimate son. He helped him to get a job in the French army on the condition that the boy keep his paternity a secret, and never tell anyone who his father was. The boy became a soldier for Napolean, and over some years became rather famous, perhaps as much for his strikingly different good looks as for his bravery and military exploits.
Later he was captured and imprisoned, and suffered permanently disabling wounds from his treatment in prison -- paralysis, partial deafness, lifelong pain. When he finally was freed, he married a French girl and settled with her in a quiet French village. The year was 1802. They had a son. All three of them now carried the last name of a Caribbean slave woman. But then he died when the boy was only four years old.
The son was raised by his widowed mother on stories about his secret French grandfather and his heroic soldier father. He was alternately inspired, angered, and haunted by them. He would wander in the woods, fantasizing about being a soldier himself, fighting and getting revenge for his father's death. He took up the sport of fencing. He also played billiards. He also liked to read and write, and developed a very nice handwriting, which he put to good use in his first job as a clerk, copying business and legal documents by hand, as they did in those days.
One day when the boy was 16 or 17, he won a lot of money playing billiards, and so left his village home to seek his fortune in Paris. He found another job as a clerk, which enabled him to read the many books he was copying. Reading inspired him to get himself educated, so he began taking classes on a part-time basis whenever he could.
After a while, he started writing himself -- books, stories, and articles. He became an extraordinarily clever writer, witty and articulate.
In between writing, he fathered a couple of illegitimate third-generation fatherless children, had many romances, wrote a play that was widely decried as obscene, became a theatrical producer, traveled through Europe and Africa, tried marriage (but it didn't agree with him), published a magazine, made friends and enemies in high and low places, made and lost lots of money, lived fast, entertained lavishly, got into various legal disputes, worked for a time for the government, developed a hobby of gourmet cooking, and all in all had... a most extraordinary life.
One day he made friends with a history professor who sought his advice about an idea for writing historical fiction. He entered into a collaboration with the man, combining accurate history with the romantic fantasies of his own life and ancestry, and the more serious themes of government, religion, corruption, revenge, purpose, liberty, honor, justice, and brotherhood.
The legendary solder whose life inspired the books they wrote together was
Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, a boy from a "fatherless home."
His son, author of the famous revenge novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, and co-author of the epic Three Musketeers trilogy, the greatest adventure stories ever written, was
Alexandre Dumas, a boy from
a "fatherless home."
* The term "fatherless" is used in this series as it is in current research and policy rhetoric by the U.S. federal government, DHHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative, most U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood interest policy and lobbying groups.
"...Just add Dad, the magic ingredient. It's hard to know where wishful thinking becomes deliberate deception. But this argument, advanced by the fathers' rights movement, is like saying that, since Mercedes Benz owners make more money than people who drive Hyundais, you will become wealthy if you buy a Mercedes..." Mike Peterson
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