Let’s not forget to acknowledge Alexandre Dumas this Black History Month
The writer of two of the most well known stories worldwide, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was a black man.
Let’s not forget that he was played on screen by a white man. And the fact that he was black is barely ever mentioned or the book he wrote inspired by his experiences.
Other things not to forget about Alexandre Dumas:
- chose to take on his slave grandmother’s last name, Dumas, like his father did before him.
- grew up too poor for formal education, so was largely self-taught, including becoming a prolific reader, multilingual, well-travelled, and a foodie, resulting in his writing both a combination encyclopedia/cookbook (which just— is fucking outrageous to me) AND the adaptation of The Nutcracker on which Tchaikovsky based his ballet
- he also wrote a LOOOOT of nonfiction and fiction about history, politics, and revolution, bc he was pro-monarchy, but a radical cuss, and that got him in a lot of hot water at home and abroad.
- even beyond that, he generally put up with a lot of racist bullshit in France, so he went and wrote a novel about colonialism and a BLATANTLY self-insert anti-slavery vigilante hero (which he then cribbed from to write the Count of Monte Cristo, the main character of which, Edmond Dantés, Dumas also based on himself).
- (…a novel which also features a LOAD of PoC beyond the Count, and at LEAST one queer character, btw, bc EVERY MOVIE ADAPTATION OF ANYTHING BY DUMAS IS A LIE; seriously, at LEAST one of the four Musketeers is Black, y’all.)
- famously, when some fuckshit or other wanted to come at Dumas with some anti-Black foolishness, Dumas replied, “My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.”
- for the bicentennial of his birthday, Pres. Jacques Cirac was like, “…sorry about the hella racism,” and had Dumas’s ashes reinterred at the Panthéon of Paris, bc if you’re gonna keep the corpses of the cream of the crop all together, Dumas’s more widely read and translated than literally everybody else.
- and they are still finding stuff old dude wrote, seriously; like discovering “lost” works as recently as 2002, publishing stuff for the first time as recently as 2005.
This is IMPORTANT!
superbly black excellence
You know, what I find interesting, is there is at least two works in the past fifteen years or so about kids killing each other, mostly isolated from any adult supervision.
What’s the classic example of that? Lord of the Flies.
When I studied that in grade eight, it was held up as this example of society, a look at what we would be like without authority. (Written by an old white British dude raise your hand if you’re surprised.)
So, lets look at Battle Royale and Hunger Games as the modern-day version of that.
What’s the key distance that time has made with these microcosms of children murdering children?
These days, it’s not being shown that we default to savage murder without authority. These works show authority forcing us into it.
I think that’s fucking fascinating.
And much more accurate.
I disagree with the OP’s reading of Lord of the Flies and how it represents authority. The book is saying that all people, beneath the patina of civility (as created by prosperity), are selfish, dangerous animals. It’s not really representing a world without order and authority since Jack’s gang are actually frighteningly organized as they hunt. I still like the point of the original post, but I think Lord of the Flies is not upholding authority. The boys are symbols of the society they come from and just because British order hasn’t broken down doesn’t mean it isn’t contaminated with all the failings Jack and the others illustrate. There’s a certain amount of grim sarcasm to me when the boys are “rescued” by the adults at the end:
1. The obvious Deus Ex Machina we all learned about in school. The boys are rescued, but who will rescue humanity?
2. A military ship, the prime symbol of British imperialism and dominance in war, is what “saves the day.” All the nasty, gritty acts of blind hate, violence, and fear that played out on the island live in disguised grandeur through a symbol like a warship.
3. Just that bizarre dispassionate British aplomb: “Pip pip, cheerio, are you scamps burning down your home and hunting each other for sport? Well, stiff upper lip and whatnot!” I haven’t read the book in a few years. This last one might be something my imagination has embellished.
Lord of the Flies = People are Terrible.
Battle Royale = people are complacent and willing to let the powers that be control and destroy them in exchange for promised comforts. They will sacrifice everything, even their children (ie. future), for stability.
I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but based off the movies I think the same interpretation for Battle Royale applies to the inner districts but the outer ones are too explicitly run through oppression and fear for the established government to represent a false utopia. More of an outright dystopia.
I definitely don’t want to dismiss the “old white British dude” part of the OP’s post because that is totally important. I just think that Golding’s perspective in Lord of the Flies is a lot more cynical about authority than the OP might think. I actually thought this was going to be a post about how the school system continues to use Lord of the Flies in classrooms while ignoring current works with parallel situations and themes written by people of more diverse backgrounds that are also geared more towards a teen audience. Which I think would also be an interesting discussion! (Of course Battle Royale is pretty violent, but a unit where students read Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games would be super cool.)