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December 27 , 2010

The Black Tulip


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The Black Tulip
"The Black Tulip," published in 1850, was the last of Alexandre Dumas' more famous stories, and ranks deservedly high among the short novels of its prolific author. Dumas visited Holland in May, 1849, in order to be present at the coronation of William III. at Amsterdam, and according to Flotow, the composer, it was the king himself who told Dumas the story of "The Black Tulip," and mentioned that none of the author's romances were concerned with the Dutch. Dumas, however, never gave any credit to this anecdote, and others have alleged that Paul Lacroix, the bibliophile, who was assisting Dumas with his novels at that time, is responsible for the plot. The question can never be answered, for who can disentangle the work of Dumas from that of his army of helpers? A feature of "The Black Tulip" is that in it is the bulb, and not a human being, that is the real centre of interest. The fate of the bulb is made of first importance, and the fortunes of Cornelius van Baerle, the tulip fancier, of Boxtel, and of Rosa, the gaoler's daughter, exciting though they are, take second place.

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