This Day In Literary History
On January 5th, 1825, the legendary French writer Alexandre Dumas fought his first duel. Two days earlier, the 23-year-old Dumas had gotten into a dispute with a soldier over a game of billiards and challenged the man to fight him in a duel.
Dumas had assured his seconds that he was a good shot with a pistol, then he found out that his opponent had chosen swords as the weapons.
Less confident in his chances of winning, Dumas nevertheless showed up for the duel at the prearranged time and place. His opponent did not, choosing to sleep in and postpone the duel for another day.
When the day came, both Dumas and his opponent arrived on time for their duel. Although the weather was cold, Dumas agreed to fight bare-chested and took off his cloak and upper clothing. When he did, his trousers fell down, causing bystanders to erupt with laughter.
Angry and confused, after the duel began, Dumas made his first move, lunging at his opponent with his sword. The man jumped back, tripped over a root, and somersaulted into a snowbank.
Feeling cheated, Dumas complained that he hadn't even touched his opponent, who tried to explain his clumsiness by saying that the touch of Dumas' cold blade made him jump back.
It would not be the last duel fought by Alexandre Dumas. The master of the swashbuckler fought in others, which also proved to be comic misadventures.
His second opponent postponed their duel because he caught a cold ice skating the day before. A third opponent canceled their duel because he had lost two fingers in a previous duel.
Dumas lost a duel to a fourth opponent, with the stipulation being that the loser had to shoot himself. So, Dumas went into another room, and closed the door behind him.
After a long pause, a shot rang out. The crowd of onlookers rushed in and found Dumas unhurt, holding a smoking gun. "Gentlemen," he said, "a most regrettable thing has happened. I missed."
Though he proved to be an inept duelist, Alexandre Dumas would become famous as one of the greatest French novelists of all time.
His swashbuckling novels, including The D'Artagnan Romances, (The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years Later, and Ten Years After) Robin Hood, and The Count Of Monte Cristo, are rightfully considered to be all-time classic works of world literature.
Dumas died in 1870 at the age of 68.
Quote Of The Day
"True love always makes a man better, no matter what woman inspires it." - Alexandre Dumas
Today's video features a complete reading of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. Enjoy!