This is the tragic story of the life of a courtesan, Marguerite Gautier (dubbed Camille or Lady of the Camellias for her always carrying a bouquet of the flowers), who, by willing sacrifice that could never have rewarded her in kind, proved her purity of love. It is also a lamentable apologetic story told by Armand Duval, the man who sworn love for her but judged her too harshly, too unwisely, and painfully abandoned her.
In the opening of the story, the narrator chances upon the auctioning of Camille's possessions, a process which literally began over her freshly dead body. There were no mourners at her death, and now among the remainders of a kept-woman, there are only spectators and bargain hunters. Camille truly died alone. The narrator remarks that "Marguerite was a pretty woman; but though the life of such women makes sensation enough, their death makes very little. Their death, when they die young, is heard of by all their lovers at the same moment, for in Paris almost all the lovers of a well-known woman are friends."
He meets Armand Duval who, stricken by the death of Camille, recounts his possessive love affair with the famous courtesan and the circumstances that led to her early demise.
Dumas paints a vivid portrait of Paris life in 1847, of male patrons young and old whose keeping of mistresses was the norm, of the double standards and snobbery of "decent" society.
Camille or Lady of the Camillias is a love story that may be compared to Shakespeare's tragic story of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
It is an autobiographical glimpse of Dumas' affair with Marie Duplessis, written four months after her death in 1847.
Throughout the story, one may easily assess the heavy guilt weighing the conscience of the famous author.
This might not be his usual adventure packed work but still it is a splendid taste of the romantic side of Alexandre Dumas, fils. It may be found free, printed in its entirety at: