The Knight of Sainte-Hermine

The Knight of Sainte-Hermine (originally published in France in 2005 under the title Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine) is an unfinished historical novel by Alexandre Dumas. It is believed to be Dumas' last major work, and the story was lost until 2005, when it was announced that an almost-complete copy had been found in the form of a newspaper serial. While a number of his previously forgotten works have been unearthed, this is the largest at 900 pages. The story is a swashbuckling tale set during the rise of the Napoleonic Empire. A key scene features the Battle of Trafalgar, and the death of the British admiral Horatio Nelson.

Contents

History

"You can imagine my surprise when, among reels and reels of microfilmed archives, I stumbled upon an almost complete serialised novel, entitled The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, and signed by Alexandre Dumas". —Claude Schopp (Bell, 2005)

The novel concludes the story started in the 1857 novel The Companions of Jehu (Les Compagnons de Jehu), and continued in the 1867 novel The Whites and the Blues (Les Blancs et Les Bleus). It was published in installments from January 1, 1869 to November of the same year in the French newspaper Le Moniteur Universel. While there were a number of errors caused by the rush to publish in a serialized form, the newspaper carried almost the entire novel. Only a short section was missing at the end, presumably due to illness. Dumas died in 1870.

The story was then lost until 1988, when Dumas expert Claude Schopp discovered the newspaper serial in the archives of the National Library of France. Schopp kept the find a secret until 2005, confiding only Jean-Pierre Sicre, his editor, and Christophe Mercier, a literary critic. During the last 10 years before the announcement, Schopp converted it to novel form, worked on correcting the many errors including confused names and places, and wrote a final section.

The novel was released on June 3, 2005 by Sicre's publishing house Editions Phebus. The final two-and-a-half chapters, written by Schopp, were printed in italic to distinguish it from Dumas' work. It immediately became a bestseller in France. Pegasus Books in New York published an English translation (The Last Cavalier) in 2007. Schopp intends to write a sequel based upon a newly discovered outline.

The five-act Dumas play The Gold Thieves discovered by Reginald Hamel in 2004, was also found in the National Library of France.

Plot

"It's vintage Dumas, in the same vein as the vengeful hero of The Count of Monte-Cristo." —Claude Schopp (Bell, 2005)

The swashbuckling historical novel takes place after the events of French Revolution and during the subsequent rise of the Napoleonic Empire. The protagonist is a French aristocrat who is torn between the old and new ways, and seeks vengeance for two brothers killed during the course of the preceding novels. The main character also kills the British admiral Horatio Nelson after his victory during the Battle of Trafalgar against the French and Spanish navies. In reality, Nelson was killed by an unknown sniper.

External links

References


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