ALEXANDER DUMAS, the Younger, ranks as one of the three leading French dramatists of the last quarter of the 19th century. Although the theme of illicit love has always played an important part on the French stage, Dumas obsession with the subject amounted almost to a mania. Eleven plays written before 1880 all have illicit love as the motif. Yet Dumas liked to regard himself as a moralist and teacher, a position that seems somewhat contradictory.
Perhaps a psychiatrist would find in the fact that he, like his father, was an illegitimate child, an explanation of his harping so constantly on the single theme. The torment of his school days when he was constantly taunted with his illegitimacy succeeded to a Bohemian comradeship with the father, who had publicly acknowledged his son as soon as his own literary reputation was sufficiently established to bring in a dependable income. This life eventually landed Dumas, fils, in debt to the tune of 50,000 francs. Finally, when only his pen stood between himself and disgrace, he brought forth in 1948 the famous Lady of the Camellias (or Camille), first as a novel, then in a dramatic version. This drama,
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