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Ponson du Terrail Pierre Alexis
(18291879)

Ponson du Terrail Pierre Alexis (18291879)

Pierre Alexis, Viscount of Ponson du Terrail was a French writer. He was a prolific novelist, producing in the space of twenty years some seventy-three volumes, and is best remembered today for his creation of the fictional character of Rocambole.

He was born in Montmaur (Hautes Alpes). Ponson du Terrails early works squarely belonged to the Gothic novel genre: his La Baronne Trépassée (1852) was a murky Ann Radcliffe-like tale of revenge in the macabre surroundings of 18th century Germany Black Forest.

When Ponson du Terrail embarked in 1857 on writing the first novel of the Rocambole series, LHéritage Mystérieux (also known as Les Drames de Paris) for the daily newspaper La Patrie, he merely meant to copy the success of Eugène Sues best-selling Les Mystères de Paris. Rocamboles importance to Mystery fiction and Adventure novels cannot be underestimated, as it represents the transition from the old-fashioned Gothic novel to modern heroic fiction. The word rocambolesque has become common in French to label any kind of fantastic adventures, especially those with multiple new turns in the story.

Rocambole became a huge success, providing a constant and considerable source of revenue to Ponson du Terrail, who continued churning out his adventures. In total, he produced nine Rocambole novels. His other notable novels include Les Coulisses du monde (1853) and Le Forgeron de la Cour-Dieu (1869).

In August 1870, as Ponson du Terrail had embarked on a new Rocambole saga when Emperor Napoléon III surrendered to Germany. Ponson fled from Paris to his country estate near Orléans, where he gathered a group of like-minded companions and began a guerilla->Bordeaux after the Germans burned down his castle. He died in Bordeaux in 1871, leaving the saga of Rocambole uncompleted and was buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris.


France, 1996, Rocambole

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