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A Gil Blas In California

by Alexandre Dumas, Trans. By Marguerite Eyer Wilbur

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It seems extraordinary that a story of American life, and especially so competently written a tale of so romantic a period in American expansion as the California gold-rush of '49 should have been "lost" to American readers so long. But it has been, for since it was published in Brussels in 1852, no English translation of the petit original volume has been discovered. Californie appeared shortly after Dumas had reached the zenith of his career. Le Comte de Monte Cristo was far behind; Le Vicomte de Bragelonne was fresh from his fecund mind; so, too, were La Tulipe noire and Olympe de Cl?ves. Ahead were Les Blancs et les Bleus, Les Louves de Machecoul, and -- his ruinous newspaper ventures in Paris. One may speculate to no end and with little profit on the circumstances surrounding the writing of Californie. One can't help but wonder, at the same time, if it might not have been the subject of numerous reminiscential conversations between Dumas and his last great love -- Ada Isaacs Menken -- Mazeppa, boasting that she had never "lived with Houston; it was General Jackson, and Methuselah, and other big men" -- who, from captivating the hearts of California gallants, dashed to the arms of the King of Romance.



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