Son of one of Napoleon's generals, quietly reared after his father's death by an adoring and impoverished mother in a remote village, the young Frenchman, destined for enduring world renown as prolific playwright and romantic novelist, brought to Paris at 20 the determination to become a man of letters. Skilled only in hunting, fishing, riding and other bucolic arts, and wonderfully lacking in book learning, the young Dumas earned a livelihood by one practical asset, a fine penmanship. At the same time he set out to read voraciously in history and literature while practicing writing and plying his genius for making friends among the great and near great of his time. First success came at 25 with production of a play that he co-authored--co-authorship and ghost writing being a rule of the day. The memoirs, begun when Dumas was 45, encompass the entire panorama of the artistic and political history of France during the early nineteenth century. Dumas was never to finish his memoirs, and they record only the first 32 years of his life, when, although entrenched and lauded as a great playwright, his first historical novel had yet to be written. This translation extracts the biographical details and stresses the evolution of an untutored country boy into a brilliant, successful writer of plays. There emerges a sharp, entertaining account of the French theatre of the early 1800s, rich in tradition and intrigue. Through it weaves the inimitable Dumas with his unquenchable zest, ardor, pride and self-confidence. Reticence is noticeable only in courtly discretion where his amours are concerned, while friends and contemporaries--including Victor Hugo, Balzac, Nodier, de Beranger, Liszt, Rousseau, de Vigny, among many others--the current political figures, actors, actresses and other theatrical personalities of the time, are all freely discussed and criticized with perceptive wit and venom. A taste for political and revolutionary involvement, so entertainingly to be resolved in his novels, was sharpened by Dumas through active participation in the 1830 July Revolution. The account of his joyous participation therein gives a thrilling yet enormously amusing conclusion to this delightful volume of reminiscences.--Adapted from dust jacket.