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.

4 thoughts on “more about alexandre dumas’ nineteenth century blogging

  1. scribblingwoman

    Ye Olde Linke Dumpe

    First edition of the first Italian writing manual, Sigismondo Fanti’s Theorica et practica de modo scribendi fabricandique omnes litterarum…

  2. Diane

    I am going to search the blog and hopefully find this collection of
    his newspaper writings. I love Dumas and collect his novels and read him daily.
    What an inspiration.

  3. Diane

    I have read widely about Dumas and the above account is inaccurate, in my opinion.
    Well into his writing career, and he was rich, he ended up writing his own
    paper. It failed due to the lack of interest in reading at the time, well after
    the revolution that led to free speech which had ultimately launched his and
    many others’ careers: Balzac, Hugo, etc. I have his Memoirs and collect his
    works. http://www.cadytech.com. check it out if you haven’t already.

  4. Jill

    Well, I was quoting Sarah Mombert and Stephan Shimanek, who have been researching these journals for a good while now. I may have misunderstood them or misrepresented them, but assuming I didn’t, they’re full-time professional researchers so presumably know what they’re talking about. There are often various interpretations of history of course.

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