Le Chien de Montargis, ou la Forêt de Bondy

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Le Chien de Montargis, ou la Forêt de Bondy is a French melodrama by René Charles Guilbert de Pixérécourt (1774-1844)[1].

Also found as Le Chien de Montargis or Le Chien de Montargis, ou Assassiner dans le Bois

The original text

The plot is based on a legend from the 14th century, as first recorded in a letter from Julius Caesar Scaliger, who tells of a French courtier who was murdered in the forest of Bondy, north of Paris. The only witness to the murder was his dog, which pursued Robert Macaire, the perpetrator, until he was captured. The king ordered that Macaire, armed with a stick, and the dog should fight a duel, which took place on the Isle de Notre Dame, and the dog won, forcing Macaire to confess. Macaire was hanged. (See Tamsin Pickeral, 2012: p.134).

The story has been the source of numerous plays over the years and De Pixérécourt's French text appears to be the first dramatic text based on the tale, and was itself to inspire a large number of translations, imitations and adaptations.

The play premiered on 18 June 1814 as Le Chien de Montargis, ou la Forêt de Bondy, described as a "mélodrame historique en trois actes et à grand spectacle", at the Parisian Théâtre de la Gaîté on Boulevard du Temple, produced and directed by De Pixérécourt. It ran uninterrupted run in the Théâtre de la Gaîté's repertoire until 1834.

The French text was published in Paris as Le Chien de Montargis, ou la Forêt de Bondy by Barba in 1814.

Translations and adaptations

The basic tale and Pixérécourt's original dramatization have both been used as source material, translated and adapted into various languages over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. English versions by various authors are broadly found under two main titles: Those using The Dog of Montargis (or The Dog of Montarges), and/or The Forest of Bondy, on the one hand; and - particularly after the 1830s- those using the title Robert Macaire on the other.

For plays using the Macaire's name as (or in) the title, see the entry on Robert Macaire

For plays using the phrases The Dog of Montargis (or The Dog of Montarges) and/or The Forest of Bondy in their titles, see below:

The Dog of Montargis, or The Forest of Bondy, a two-act adaptation by William Barrymore (1759-1830)[2]. Barrymore's version tells it as the story of a falsely accused mute and his subsequent acquittal when Macaire confesses, and was originally titled Murder Will Out (or Murder Will Out, or The Dog of Montargis), but the alternate title of The Dog of Montargis, or The Forest of Bondy would become the more commonly used. First performed in London on 30 September 1814 at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.

The Dog of Montargis, or The Forest of Bondy, a melodrama in two acts by Thomas Dibdin ()[] was first performed in London in 1814 and published by T.H. Lacy in the same year. (It was later published in Lacy's acting edition of Plays. vol. 43, possibly in 1860). Performed in the USA in 1826.

The Forest of Bondy, or The Dog of Montargis, "a Melo drama in 3 Acts, founded on an interesting fact" attributed to Sir Henry Rowley Bishop (1786-1855)[3] and published in Baltimore, Md. by J. Robinson in 1816.

In 1825 the London publisher Hodgson brought out a three act version under the title The Forest of Bondy; Or, Dog of Montargis in his series Hodgson's Juvenile Drama. This is presumed to be Barrymore's text, though it could also have been a version of Dibdin's.

There is one poster for a 1874 production in London, bearing the title The Dog of Montarges, or Murder in the Wood, on the Wikipedia entry on "The Dog of Montarges" [4], but no author is mentioned. This title also mentioned elsewhere on occasion, but often simply appears as a translation for De Pixérécourt's alternative French title (Le Chien de Montargis, ou Assassiner dans le Bois).

Performance history in South Africa

1860: Performed as The Dog of Montargis, or The Forest of Bondy (no author given) by the Sefton Parry and his company in the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, on 7 and 8 May, "in unprecedented style" and including a "live, intelligent, Newfoundland dog". The evening included a dance by Miss Powell.








Robin O. Warren. 2016. Women on Southern Stages, 1800-1865: Performance, Gender and Identity in a Golden Age of American Theater. McFarland: p. 184, Google E-book[5]

Tamsin Pickeral. 2012. The Spirit of the Dog an Illustrated History. Barron’s: p.134, cited in Wikipedia ("The Dog of Montarges")[6].

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.79 and 90

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