Stalking Dumas

I was in college when I first learned that the famed author Alexander Dumas was Black. I was way into my forties when I learned that his father was a Bad-Ass General. Thank you, Tom Reiss; I’m forever grateful for your research and dedication. To say I became obsessed with General Dumas after reading Mr. Reiss’s, The Black Count, is an understatement. I’m way past that stage. It’s full on restraining-order, stalker, hiding-behind-the-bushes, “I will cut you if you say anything disparaging about that family”. I know, I know – a bit much. But did I mention, I would cut you?

I first visited Dumas back in 2012. These days you can find him here at the Pantheon.

IMG_6311

On that particular visit, the place was pretty empty. Fall mornings are a good time to check out many of the tourist spots. After being mesmerized by the huge pendulum keeping accurate time on the ground floor…

IMG_6350

Then having my attention arrested by the statue of La Convention Nationale…

IMG_6349

Only to have to convince that sane part of me to go down a set of steps that nothing good could come from…

IMG_5994

 

But to be luckily rewarded with these two dudes…

IMG_6007

Voltaire

IMG_6010

Rousseau

Only to have to be confronted with another creepy isolated situation…

IMG_0384

And more isolation…

IMG_0970

And more…

IMG_0385

 

But, finally, I found what I came for…

 

IMG_6012

His name is located just below Victor Hugo’s. It is barely visible. I would like to think it’s from so many hands needing to connect with such a dynamic spirit, and not because they want to rub him out of existence. History makes a strong case for the latter.

Dumas and Hugo share a tomb with Emile Zola. Having had a piss-poor education, I had to do a little research on the dude. Okay, I’m impressed, but he was not my reason for being there. I had already visited Hugo’s House back in the Marais section of Paris, so I completely ignored him as well. I was there for this dude…

IMG_1834

 

While most of the tombs throughout the Pantheon had been open, this one was cordoned off.

IMG_6329

So I stayed there on the other side of the gate, paying my respects to a man who smashed through so many barriers. After leaving Mr. Dumas, I decided to check out other dead people and was pleasantly surprised to come across this…

IMG_6309

The second time I visited Mr. Dumas in the Pantheon, I had decided to inquire as to why his tomb was cordoned off. To my surprise, the security guard asked me if I would like to enter the tomb in order to pay my respects. I was floored. Where were those mean and grumpy French people who said “no” to everything? I fought back tears as I entered the tomb and placed a hand on the cold, hard stone which supposedly held Mr. Dumas, more than just my Muse.

IMG_1829

IMG_1851

I try to make it a point to look in on Dumas whenever I am in Paris. But in the fall of 2015, I was able to go one step further. Okay, 100 or so steps. Thanks to the generosity of my Airbnb host, I was able to visit Chateau Monte Cristo, which Dumas had built in 1846.

IMG_4451 IMG_4453 IMG_4455 IMG_4456 IMG_4457 IMG_4459 IMG_4461 IMG_4464 IMG_4466 IMG_4468 IMG_4472 IMG_4474 IMG_4475

And, then, the following week, I visited Dumas’s hometown where he was born. That statue up there at the top of the page is located in the center of town. THE CENTER OF TOWN!

Villers-Cotteréts is located in the north of France. It is where, in 1539, King Francis I signed an ordinance making French the official language of France. Currently, it happens to be one of the most far-right leaning villages, with strong support for the Front National Party led by Marine Le Pen. Did I mention this town has a statue of Alexander Dumas right dead in the center?

IMG_4538

They also have this…

IMG_4533And this…

IMG_4546Oh, irony, you little devil.

I had to pull myself away from his childhood home, partly in fear that the homeowners (who, by the way, have no blood ties to the author or his family) might have me arrested.

IMG_4500

I finally made my way to the cemetery where the Dumas family rests.

IMG_4504

IMG_4507

IMG_4509

Having left the cemetery, I thought I would check out this quaint, little town.

 

IMG_4548IMG_4536IMG_4535IMG_4528IMG_4526IMG_4522IMG_4520IMG_4516IMG_4503

Maybe it’s my obsession with lineage that keeps me stalking a man’s whose own has been unjustly overlooked by history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *