The Tower of Nesle
DRAMA 5 ACTS & 9 TABLES,
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The Tower of Nesle
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Alexandre Dumas is known by his novels, The Three Musketeers (including the story of D’Artagnan) and Count of Monte Cristo, Queen Margot, Lady of Montsoreau, Black Tulip, etc., but few people know that he had made his debut as playwright. In fact, in 19th century of France, dramatic authors were sanctified as a “poet”. Because since the 17th century when the three giants, Racine, Corneille and Molière have made their own dramatic space in the world of French theater, dramaturgy has dominated the environment of long-standing French literature. The young generation who experienced the Napoleonic war, and freed from the fate of the illusion of the Roman Empire which had ruled all over Europe, after the discovery that their true ancestors were “barbarians” of the Middle Ages, the Franks and Germains, it gave rise to an intense style of romanticism in France. It was Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas who took the lead in the procession. The genius of a poet hindered Hugo from making the drama in verse, but Dumas boldly continued to write dramas in prose and brought the revolution to French theater.
According to Fernande Bassan, Professor of Wayne State University in Detroit in the United States, there are 117 pieces of Alexandre Dumas.
This edition of the Theater of Dumas père will contain one hundred and seventeen works or sketches. His complete works of theatre, published so far, had only sixty-six pieces. The fifty-one new titles that I introduce here do not all represent unpublished plays. They are distributed as follows; Two pieces signed by Dumas omitted in the collective edition – The Prisoner of the Bastille and the Tower of Babel (written in participation), twenty-two unpublished (eleven complete, eleven incomplete), twenty seven published by Dumas under the name of a collaborator in order to escape its creditors or other reasons. I have attributed these new titles to Dumas only on irrefutable proofs, which I shall furnish in their place. I excluded the documents whose paternity is not proved, contenting myself with pointing out my presumptions. 1
This time, I deliver the Japanese translation of “The Tower of Nestle” one of the masterpieces among the drama works of Dumas. The battle of power and intelligence between Queen of France and Buridan, ascendant murder, infanticide, incest; I hope you feel the courage of the author who put on the stage the violations of the formidable humanity and that of the audience who was able to accept the representation, perhaps because they’ve really lived the revolution and the war.
The story surrounding La Tour de Nesle was like this:
The Middle Ages, and in particular the legendary history of the Tower of Nesle, is then in fashion. According to the story, Queen Margaret of Burgundy (1290-1315) and her sister-in-law Blanche took as their lovers two brothers, respectively Philippe and Gautier d ‘Aulnay, and found them at the Abbey of Maubuisson. Denounced, all four were arrested in 1314 on the orders of King Louis X the Hutin. The two young men confessed under the question (but as the trial was secret, we are reduced to conjectures) and perished in terrible tortures, in April 1314. The Queen died on April 30, 1315 at the Château-Gaillard, strangled says the legend on the order of her husband. Blanche, freed in 1322, entered religion in 1325 at the Abbey of Maubuisson, where she died the following year. The companions who had favored these adulterous loves were put to death or managed to escape. A second sister-in-law, Jeanne, for a moment accused, managed to prove her innocence. This is all we learn from the continuation of the Chronicle of G. de Nangis, a contemporary, who dedicates only two pages to this affair.
Very soon a legend was born, unfounded, that the tower of Nesle was the place of debauchery of the brothers of Philip the Fair, who would have thrown their lovers of one night into the Seine in the morning. Among these worshipers is a Buridan. In fact, no Buridan, and still less the philosopher Jean Buridan (1290 – ca 1358) who was rector of the University of Paris, was Marguerite’s lover. Legends have attributed to him relations with Queen Jeanne of Burgundy or with Margaret of Burgundy, one or the other would have it thrown into a sack in the Seine (as Villon writes), he would have died or not according to the variants. Brantome, in his Dames galantes, mentions the tradition of royal and bloody orgies at the Tower, without naming the Queen guilty. 2
This was the theme of a young man named Frédéric Gaillardet who wrote the screenplay. The idea was good, but he did not finish the draft and it was Alexandre Dumas who completed it to raise on the theater and made it one of the masterpieces of French romantic drama. But this drama which was then accepted with enthusiasm became was also a work of obsession for which a relentless lawsuit by Gaillarde over copyright continued until the death of the two authors. The explanation attached to “The Tower of Nesle” in Japanese explains this problem in detail. Please enjoy.
picture above that have been staged in 1903 Porto Saint-Martin theater
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The original book of la Tour de Nesle
Original book can be downloaded for free at Google Books.
The paid version is not only on Google Books, is also sold to iBooks.
To study the French would want to read while comparing the original text and the translation.
About the movie
In the site called Cinema & History / History & Cinema the historical reality of the Tower of Nesle is explained with the film at the same time as the images.
- Fernand Bassan, Alexandre Dumas, père, Théâtre Complet, texts présentés et annotés, inêdits trouvés et établis par Fernand Bassan,Bibliothèque Introuvable 9, Minard. Paris, 1974 -, Fascicule 1, p.13. ↩
- Fernand Bassan, Histoire de la Tour de Nesle de Dumas père et Gaillardet, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, III, Nos.1-2 (Fall Winter 1974-75), pp.42-43,Note 3. ↩