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Un Mariage sous Louis XV

A Marriage Under Louis XV

drame/play, pub:1841

Comedy in five acts. A young couple, married for convenience, discover each other's charms.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     A prose comedy in five acts.
     In 1861 the text was considerably modified by M. Regnier, of the Comédie Française, and apparently all subsequent editions employ only this modified text, at least that is so with the Collection Michel Lévy frères, in which the play was included in 1864. It there consists of four acts only, and further no indication is given of any modification. To read the play as Dumas composed it, one must turn to one of the early editions.
     Dumas' name alone appeared on the printed copies, though Quérard, following the scurrilous de Mirecourt blindly as usual, names de Leuven and Brunswick (Lhérie). If, which is doubtful, they had much to do with the piece, it was almost certainly no more than a suggestion of plot, since Dumas wrote it in Italy, and brought it back with him to the Théâtre Français.
     As regards the two versions, those of 1841 and of 1861, it must be admitted that the latter gains in one point, namely, the arrest of Valclos under his own name, since it is scarcely credible that Candale would stand by and allow his rival to act thus for his (Candale's) benefit without betraying himself. Some may also prefer the added excitement of the description of the duel, at once reminiscent of the description of Stella's death in "Caligula." On the other hand, the original plot is clearer, the valet and the waiting-woman indicate their interestedness in the separation of the newly-wed couple more plainly ; in the later edition this is rather inferred than depicted. Then the omission of the witty mirror scene (Act IV., Scene i.) is a distinct loss. The Commander, too, seems more natural and a decidedly finer character as Dumas first depicted him : the angry and perturbed gentleman of the old school, furious at the folly of both his young relatives, and particularly with the comtesse for the escapade which may end his line. As the rather arch schemer of the revision, endeavouring by mere cleverness and worldly wisdom to bring the pair to a better understanding, he is less satisfying.
     In reference to these alterations, M. Georges d'Heylli is mistaken in stating that M. Regnier "re-cast the fifth act into the fourth, and by modifying the dénouement . . . has made it to pass for a new thing." It is from the third and fourth acts of the original that he has made his own third ; Dumas' final act is likewise his own, but with some modifications in detail, not in the arrangement. Also the dénouement is no more plain in the modification than in the original, since both are the same, and by no means lacking in a satisfying curtain.
     This is decidedly Dumas' finest and most witty full-length comedy. It lacks the poignancy of "Mlle. de Belle-Isle" (which, however, it must be remembered, Dumas classed as a drama), and the danger which Candale runs is felt to be merely spectacular, but the Watteau-like characters and setting are thoroughly pleasing.
     This play is a good example of Dumas' independence of accessories, the whole taking place with no change of scenery.
     It was first performed at the Théâtre Français on the 1st of June, 1841.
     Original edition : Paris, Marchant, Ch. Tresse, 1841, 8vo., pp. 140, blue cover. Both the first and subsequent editions bear the dedication: "À la Ville de Florence. Souvenir de sa bonne hospitalité. Alex. Dumas." ("To the town of Florence. A recollection of its fine hospitality.")
     It has also been published in the "Magasin Théâtral " by Marchant, Paris, large 8vo, of two columns, pp. 48, in 1841.
     It now forms part of Vol. V. of the 15 Vol. edition, and of Vol. VII. in that of 25 Vols. issued by Calmann-Lévy.

         References :—
     Dumas: "Mon Odyssée à la Comédie Française," Chapters XVI. to XVIII.
     Gautier: "Art Dramatique," Série l., pp. 116-122.
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées," Vol. I., Column 1073.
     Heylli: "Journal Intime de la Comédie Française : 1852-1871," pp. 323-24.
     Pailleron: "François Buloz et Ses Amis," Vol. II., pp. 229-241, 255.
     Glinel: "Alexandre Dumas et Son Œuvre," pp. 372-74.

         English Translation :—
     "A Marriage of Convenience: Period Louis XV.," four acts, adapted from Dumas by S. Grundy; Lacy's Plays, 1899.

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