Alexandre Dumas novels penned by 'fourth musketeer' ghost writer

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Alexandre Dumas has a special place in France's literary hall of fame as the father of great swashbuckling historical epics.

But a leading academic has cast doubt on how much of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo he actually penned. A new film will also suggest they were largely written by an unsung assistant.

The importance of the author's "nègre" – the French term for ghost writer – is explained by Claude Schopp, France's leading Dumas expert, in his Dictionary of Alexandre Dumas out next month.

He claims that Auguste Jules Maquet was the real "fourth musketeer", the man who actually came up with the plot for the trilogy featuring Porthos, Athos, Aramis. and d'Artagnan.

The relationship between Dumas, an ogre-like philanderer, and Maquet, a plain, family man is also the subject of L'Autre Dumas (The Other Dumas), a film starring Gérard Depardieu out on Wednesday in France.

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