of nineteenth-century's French literature, Victor Hugo (1802-1885) kept
a constant and complex relationship up with Alexandre Dumas his life long.
Close friends, when the two young iconoclats were fighting side by side
to establish the Romantic drama, or when, years later, Dumas supported Hugo
exiled by Napoléon III, they became fierce rivals when, in 1833,
the author of Les Misérables backed
up the accusations of plagiarism made against the author of Les
Trois mousquetaires. At the end of the twenties, Hugo and Dumas were
in the forefront of the Romantic movement. Dumas's first play, Henri
III et sa cour, roused passion a year before the famous battle launched
by Victor Hugo's Hernani. Actually, during
a certain period of time, Dumas's successes tended to be greater than Hugo's.
Hence the temporary quarrels, followed by reconciliations. The two writers'
friendship became more stable after Napoléon III's political takeover.
Hugo, a political exile, saw Dumas quite often, who was in Brussels because
of his debts. Dumas also visited Napoélon III's most famous opponent
in Guernesey and publicly stood up for him in France. When Dumas died, Hugo
wrote a beautiful and
touching letter to Dumas junior. All the same, the relationship between
the two men are not to be considered as regular. Convinced of his own literary
and moral superiority, Hugo's feelings for Dumas were undoubtedly a mixture
of affection and annoyance. The admiration and friendship Dumas claimed
for his illustrious colleague surely were more sincere...