Alexandre Dumas pere is synonymous with swashbuckling historical adventures like The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Man in the Iron Mask.
His name became SO associated with swordplay and intrigue that even a Dumas novel like The Corsican Brothers, which in reality lacks any true action elements, has long been adapted as if it’s a swashbuckler. That’s a shame since there are other novels by Alexandre Dumas which are loaded with action and historical intrigue yet have been largely overlooked when it comes to movies and television.
GEORGES (1843) – Published just one year before The Three Musketeers, this novel is not only a rollicking adventure full of action, romance and double-crosses but it deals with racial issues in such a way that you would have thought it would have been adapted for film four or five decades ago. The title character uses his sword to fight slavery!
Set on Ile de France (Mauritius) the tale centers around Georges Munier, the mixed-race son of mulatto plantation owner Pierre Munier. In 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, the British invade Mauritius and the white land-owners – led by the snobbish Malmedies – refuse to let Pierre fight at their side to expel the British due to his skin color.
Pierre leads an army of his own slaves against the Brits, driving them off and saving the white French army from destruction. Despite this he is still snubbed and accorded no recognition because of the racism of the French plantation owners. Neither Munier’s money nor his military accomplishments matter to them.
Later in 1810 the island falls to the English but even this does not penetrate the snobbish haze in which the white landowners wrap themselves. Pierre’s much lighter-skinned sons Georges and Jacques, who are still children, are looked down upon by the Malmedies and the other landed families.
Munier sends his sons off to France to be educated in a more conducive environment. Their light skin lets them pass for all-white so the two brothers thrive in Paris. Jacques takes to a life at sea while Georges becomes skilled at swordsmanship, hunting and bedding ladies.
When he returns to Mauritius in the 1820s Georges is simply assumed to be white and becomes a bon vivant and ladies’ man, even defeating racist plantation owner Henri Malmedie for the affections of the beautiful Sara. He has since had a falling-out with his older brother Jacques, who has become a pirate and a slave-trader, which infuriates Georges since he has grown to hate that vile institution.
Georges organizes an armed slave revolt against the white population on Mauritius. The revolt is well on the road to success (think Haiti with Georges as a mixed-race Toussaint L’Ouverture) but is halted when a rival rebel/ slave leader, jealous of Georges’ success and battle-savvy, betrays him to the whites.
The revolt is put down and Georges is sentenced to death. On the day he is scheduled for public execution his brother Jacques and his men attack, rescuing Georges, their father Pierre and Georges’ true love Sara. Georges, Jacques and the pirate crew defeat and sink a pursuing British warship and get away for good.
FOR TWO MORE NEGLECTED DUMAS SWASHBUCKLERS CLICK HERE
FOR MY TOP FIVE HARRY FLASHMAN NOVELS CLICK HERE
FOR MY LOOK AT THE TOP SEVEN ROBERT LUDLUM NOVELS CLICK HERE
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