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The Black Tulip


La Tulipe Noire


A deceptively simple story and the shortest of Dumas's most famous novels, The Black Tulip weaves historical events surrounding a brutal murder into a tale of romantic love. Set in Holland in 1672, this timeless political allegory draws on the violence and crimes of history, making a case against tyranny and creating a symbol of justice and tolerance: the fateful tulipa negra. The 20th of August 1672 is an important date in Dutch history: the brothers De Witt are brutally lynched by the crowd, allegedly for high treason where they were only trying to negotiate a peace treaty with France to protect their little country. However, their deaths meant that William of Orange (later also King of Great-Britain) could become king. With this backdrop, Dumas creates a story, not about the brothers, but about one of their godchildren: Cornelius Van Baerle, who is saddled with a jealous neighbour Isaac Boxtel. Why is he jealous? He is envious because Cornelius is having some success in discovering The Black Tulip which is awarded a prize of 100,000 florins, and thought impossible. Just at the point where the black tulip is well on its way to coming into existence, Van Baerle is compromised and thrown into prison where he is sentenced to death. Somehow, though, God has mercy and he is granted a perpetual prison sentence instead. As the story continues, a love affair emerges between the jailer’s daughter and Van Baerle who gave her his three bulbs in his testament. The black tulip is not only a symbol for justice and tolerance, but also a symbol for the most perfect and divine love of two people. It can be prosecuted, attempted to be destroyed, killed, trodden on, but it will never give up, and eventually it blooms despite all those obstacles. A wonderful, gentle, tender and placid love story without huge declarations, but none-the-less powerful. A great novella.--Submitted by kiki1982 ~

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How cute!

I picked the book up in Brussels on the way back home to Germany on the quick in a second hand shop across the station. I was surprised to see a book of this size by Dumas, thinking that the guy could only write enormous ones ;). At any rate... It was a little difficult to get into, because there was a lot of explanation, but in the end, once it kicked off, it just went gently on. Gently... It is one of the most gentle love-stories I have read. Certainly reading Dumas one expects more passionate stuff, great declarations, not tender, gentle, na´ve love. It is so adorable to have those two people who do not know love better than they do the black tulip, get to know it. And that is where I think the black tulip actually comes in. The black tulip was not yet invented when Dumas was alive, but only in the 1880s it came about in a slightly purple form. Later a real black one was developed. But, for Dumas in 1850 this was still the unattainable, impossible, divine almost, tulip. He brings the impossible black tulip into the story as a developing love child between Cornelius Van Baerle and Rosa Gryphus, he even compares it to that in the Conclusion. As the tulip develops, Rosa and Cornelius's love also develops, her father tries to kill it, but it develops nonetheless, not least because of Rosa's attention. And indeed, love is got with two and does not allow to be developed from one side. As Boxtel steels the fully developed tulip, does he think he will be allowed to marry Rosa or does she also have a say in it? But love is something that develops under the right conditions, in the right grounds and with the right attention. When it develops, it is unstoppable, and it has no place in an environment of envy; it does not give up when it is killed when just emerging; it is worth fighting for and it is wrapped up in innocence. Beautiful story with the most tender and innocent aproach to developing love. A cute read!

grade: A-

This was a great read! There was politics, a love story, good vs. evil, and more. I was happy to "discover" this author. Had never read any of his work before. Lots of twists and turns, surprises are intermingled in this action-packed novel. Toward the end things become very predictable, but still there is plenty of drama to finish out the story. Enjoy!

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