Well, we say "came up" ...
The Work He "Borrowed" From:
Every major character from The Three Musketeers was lifted from the first volume of a little book called The Memoirs of Monsieur d'Artagnan. The author, Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras, outlines the primary character d'Artagnan, his Musketeer allies, the femme fatale Milady de Winter, the villainous Cardinal, and certain key plot points that would all later be duplicated exactly in The Three Musketeers. Dumas liked the characters and plot twists Sandras had created enough to claim them as his own, and started expanding upon them. From this starting point, he crafted The Three Musketeers with his primary collaborator Auguste Maquet who, incidentally, later had to sue for royalties. Dumas apparently just stole from everyone he came into contact with, like some sort of literary Hamburglar.
This wasn't an isolated incident, either. Although a talented writer, Dumas was also a habitual and shameless glory hog. His early work was greatly aided by collaborators, assistants and "sources of inspiration," while his later writing was characterized by a liberal use of ghostwriters. Dumas wanted to be a brand, a powerhouse of literature that could turn every project into a slam dunk. As such, he was constantly on the prowl for new story ideas, and wasn't too concerned about looking for them in questionable places. He was basically the Thomas Edison of literature.
New York Public Library
Today, he'd work for the Daily Mail.
It's unclear why Dumas chose to dedicate his life to such high-level dickery, though with an estimated 40 mistresses and a shitload of personal wealth, we can probably guess that it's because he was, at heart, a major a*****e. By his own admission, Dumas was actually proud of appropriating others' stories, because he was improving them. Pressed for a comment on the whole plagiarism thing, Dumas offered his own uniquely douchey justification for plagiarism:
"The man of genius does not steal, he conquers. He incorporates into his empire the province he annexes: he imposes on it his laws, peoples it with his subjects, extends over it his golden scepter ..."
Basically, his argument was that plagiarism was like colonialization, which was his divine right as a superior mind. Since the dude's paternal grandmother was a slave impregnated by her owner, we're guessing this made for some pretty interesting family dinners.
For more thieving assholes, check out 5 Famous Inventors (Who Stole Their Big Idea) and 7 Famous Musicians Who Stole Some of Their Biggest Hits.
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