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Thackeray's open letter to Dumas on Ivanhoe

Some of you will know that in addition to Dickens, my PhD has at least one chapter that deals in part with Thackeray (most famous, perhaps, as the author of Vanity Fair). I was perusing an old bibliography when I came across a reference to an article which I lost no time in looking up in Fraser's Magazine. The title is ``Proposals for a continuation of Ivanhoe. In a letter to Monsieur Alexandre Dumas, by Monsieur Michael Angelo Titmarsh'' (the latter is a pseudonym of Thackeray's).

Part of my enthusiasm may be explained by finding an open letter to Dumas at all (and one which in true fanboy style praises Vingt Ans Aprés, before the publication of Vicomte de Bragelonne); part of it is no doubt due to my fascination with unfinished narrative. But I hope I am not the only one to fall head over heels for this discussion of the end of Ivanhoe:

Of all the Scottish novels, however, that of which the conclusion gives me the greatest dissatisfaction is the dear old Ivanhoe -- Evannoay, as you call it in France. From the characters of Rowena, of Rebecca, of Ivanhoe, I feel sure that the story can't end where it does. I have too great a love for the disinherited knight, whose blood has been fired by the suns of Palestine, and whose heart has been warmed in the company of the tender and beautiful Rebecca, to suppose that he could sit down contented for life by the side of such a frigid piece of propriety as that icy, faultless, prim, niminy-piminy Rowena. That woman is intolerable, and I call upon you, sir, with your great powers of eloquence, to complete this fragment of a novel, and to do the real heroine justice (238).

I started giggling at niminy-piminy. You are not supposed to do that in the reading rooms of the NLS, I think.

Isn't it cool?


Roh,  24.03.10 11:35

I had this copy of letters Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller wrote each other. Durrell sent the first letter. He must have been in his early twenties, and it was just the sweetest piece of fanmail I've seen. It was intelligent, and pompous, but so sincere. You had to like him, reading it. And Miller sent back this sweet, slightly mentory reply. And they were friends forever after.

Did Dumas write back?

Camilla,  25.03.10 22:43

I don't think Dumas replied, no. It wasn't really that type of letter. I read it more as an excuse to publish an outline for how he would have liked it all to end. And at the same time give a nod to an author he really liked.

I would like to read Nietzsche and Georg Brandes' letters to each other. By all accounts they are an entertaining read.
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