more about alexandre dumas’ nineteenth century blogging
Sarah Mombert and Stephen Shimanek are giving a presentation about their project to digitalise Alexandre Dumas’s newspapers. I wrote a little about the project back in May. Alexandre Dumas directed and/or wrote for eleven newspapers – he was truly into the new technology of the modern press, which was introduced in France in the 1830s. His first newspaper was written soley by Dumas, and was called Le Mois: The tagline must be the tagline of some blog out there: jour par jour, heure par heure (“hour by hour, day by day”) Dumas’ intention was to write a daily chronicle of events. Dumas saw himself as “the universal stenographer” and a “literary worker”.
Journalists back then apparently largely lived by selling their complimentary theatre tickets and the free books editors sent them to review, and by blackmailing actresses and other famous people (as portrayed in Balzac’s Lost illusions.) Dumas wanted free journalism, and wouldn’t accept complimentary tickets or books. However, he never sold enough to pay the journalists or for printing, and since they couldn’t actually pay for tickets journalists in practice accepted free tickets anyway. The whole staff quit due to not getting paid at one point, and later Dumas quit publishing it, too, realising he’d actually make money by selling his work instead of publishing it at a loss. The journal was both popular and influential at the time, and there are numerous references to its being widely read. Sarah Mombert also recently discovered a parody of the journal.