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Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas was a well-known French writer and author. Originally born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, he later became known as Alexandre Dumas, père and is most famous for his high adventure works.

Dumas' background

Alexandre Dumas was born on the 24th of July 1802, and he is a good example of a writer who decided to adopt a new name: he was born as Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie. Dumas was a Frenchman, and he died at the age of 68. His numerous works, however, have clearly managed to survive him. 

Aside from his writings, Dumas is also remembered for his extravagant mode of living, especially when it came to women. It has been suggested that he had dozens of mistresses and at least a few illegitimate children. One of them was named after Dumas himself; and because the son also became a successful writer, Dumas eventually came to be known as Dumas pére (or "father"). 

The works of Alexandre Dumas

Dumas was a highly prolific writer; it is estimated that if you were to put together all his published works, you would have about a hundred-thousand pages on your hands. His works spanned the genres of novels, plays, articles, and non-fiction works. Dumas is perhaps most famous, however, for his novels of high adventure. 

Some of these novels by Dumas are surely familiar to almost any modern reader. These include: The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Knight of Sainte-Hermine. Several such novels were first published in serial versions in literary magazines, which was a relatively common practice in Europe of that time. (Dickens, for example, was also primarily published in this way.) 

Literary writing style

The writing style of Dumas is characterized by a heavy emphasis on plot: his primary skill as a writer consisted of his capacity to imagine and execute tales of breathtaking adventures that cause the reader to experience feelings of excitement. Dumas tends to condense a lot of plot information into relatively short passages, which contributes to the sense of excitement and enhances the intensity of the plot. 

This writing style proved to be extremely popular with the French readers of the time, as is testified to by the strong success that Dumas enjoyed throughout his career as a writer. The heavy focus on plot can make Dumas seem "un-literary" at times, but it clearly is a significant writing skill in its own right. 

Historical context of Dumas

Dumas was about as good at spending money as he was at making it. Although he made quite a lot of money through his various writings, he nevertheless spent much of his life in debt as a result for his penchant for living a rather extravagant lifestyle. This can be seen, among other things, in the number of mistresses he had and the pleasure he took in spending money on them. Likewise, it has been noted that although he was able to build a country house for himself, he spent two years living lavishly in that arrangement and was forced to sell it at the end of this period due to financial difficulties.   

In addition, it is worth noting that Dumas apparently relied heavily on collaborators when producing his works. For example, it seems that a man named Auguste Maquet played an instrumental role in creating and developing the basic plotlines of The Three Musketeers and especially The Count of Monte Cristo. In fact, by modern standards of authorship, it could even become questionable whether Dumas can be identified as the sole author of these works, insofar as Dumas's assistants were often responsible both for the conceptual phases of the works and for actually writing preliminary drafts of the works.  

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