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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Chirac wins Dumas ashes wrangle
The Musketeer
The Musketeer is yet another version of the Dumas classic
The hometown of novelist Alexandre Dumas has given up the fight to keep his ashes, which will be moved to the Panthéon in Paris.

The village of Villers-Cotterets, northeast of Paris, has been resisting President Chirac's order in March that the ashes be transferred to Paris.


By this gesture, the Republic will give all its respect to one of its most creative geniuses

Jacques Chirac, French President
The Panthéon houses the remains of many of France's greatest figures, including the philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau and scientist Marie Curie.

But the village has been supporting the author's wish, in his 1847 book, My Memoirs, to be buried in Villers-Cotterets.

Dumas is famed for writing The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Mayor Renaud Belliere said the village council filed an appeal to block the transfer with the Council of State, France's highest administrative body.

The appeal has now been dropped.

"From a judicial point of view, a village cannot defend an individual. We were sure to lose," said the mayor.

Jacques Chirac to honour Dumas
Chirac: "I have decided to transfer his ashes to the Pantheon"
Mr Belliere said the news was not well-received in the village, and said: "In Villers-Cotterets it's a bit of a funeral."

President Chirac has personally supported the honour of a Panthéon burial for a man he called "the most popular of the Romantics".

"By this gesture, the Republic will give all its respect to one of its most turbulent children, one of its most talented and one of its most creative geniuses," he said.

"He remains one of the most-read French writers in the world. It is right that our country gives him his due.

"That is why I have decided to transfer his ashes to the Panthéon."

The grandson of a Haitian slave, Dumas was born in 1802 and moved to Paris when he was 20.

Adventurous

He became interested in theatre and he started writing for smaller magazines, before he moved on to scripts for plays.

Dumas then started working on his many novels, leading a life almost as adventurous as one of the heroes in his books.

He became a captain in the National Guard in the 1830s, married his mistress and supported Italy's struggle for independence between 1860 and 1864.

He died of a stroke in 1870 in Normandy, and in 1872, in deference to the writer's wishes, Dumas's son transported his father's remains back to Villers-Cotterets.

The remains are to be moved to the Panthéon 3 October.

In compensation, the village has received government funds to replace a statue of the author destroyed during World War II.

The government will also pay for restoration work on a nearby 16th Century chateau, where Dumas learned how to swordfight and shoot as a boy.

See also:

20 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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