In 2004, at long last, the remains of Alexandre Dumas were interred in the Pantheon in Paris. The Pantheon, once a church in the Latin Quarter of the French capital, serves now as a secular temple honoring France’s heroes and her famous dead. Burial in this national shrine has reunited Dumas with his lifelong friend Victor Hugo, whose remains have rested there for almost 130 years. The two novelists were born in the same year, 1802, each the son of a general in Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies. Both became famous in their twenties. Both first won fame as dramatists and then went on to become novelists. Authors of some of the best-known, best-loved, and most widely circulated books of all time, they transcended all sorts of boundaries. Their works have been translated into almost every language imaginable, and their novels have become classics of world literature that continue to be read everywhere. When Dumas died, in 1870, Hugo wrote, “The name...


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