A Little About Alexandre Dumas By Vahan Karian

By Vahan Karian

One of my favorite authors, 19th-century French writer Alexandre Dumas, produced several literary classics during his career, among them The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Twenty Years After. Before his death in 1870, Dumas gained international fame for his novels and dramas.

Born in 1802 in Villers-Cotterêts, France, Dumas came from a noble lineage that included his grandfather, Marquis Alexandre-Antonie Davy de la Pailleterie, a key military figure in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, now Haiti. Alexandre Dumas’ father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, served as a general in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. Though his father died shortly after he turned three years old, Alexandre Dumas grew up hearing the stories of Thomas-Alexandre’s military accomplishments and heroics during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. In 1822, Dumas moved to Paris, where he began working in the office of the Duc d’Orléans, who would later become King Louis-Philippe I of France.

During this period, Dumas began publishing his writings in magazines and producing plays, some of which were met with widespread acclaim. In the late 1830s, after participating in the revolution that brought Louis-Philippe I into power, Dumas turned his attention to writing novels, and one of his first fictional works was Le Capitaine Paul. After quickly rising to popularity, he opened a production studio where he and his employees created hundreds of stories for public consumption. During the 1840s, Dumas wrote The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, and other important works, often with the help of collaborators and literary assistants.

At the height of his prosperity, Dumas lived in Château de Monte-Cristo, an extravagant country home where he hosted many guests over the years. In the early 1850s, Dumas fled France to escape creditors and the newly empowered French President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, who disliked him. Before his death in 1870, Dumas traveled extensively throughout Europe and Russia and eventually founded a newspaper, the Indipendente, in Paris.

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Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway

An avid reader, Vahan Karian greatly enjoys the works of Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain. Epitomizing classic literature, the two authors produced timeless stories that continue to excite and enthrall readers across the globe.

Mark Twain, also known as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, found success through writing as well as public speaking. Considered an author and humorist, Mark Twain is best known for the American classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the Great American Novel. Mark Twain is considered by some to be the father of American literature, a title that accompanied his reputation as a witty and friendly man of talent. Born in 1835 in Florida, Missouri, Mark Twain was the sixth child in a family of seven. Once he came of working age, Mark Twain initially acted as a printer’s apprentice, and later, as a typesetter and contributor to the Hannibal Journal. Mark Twain often utilized public libraries, spending evenings educating himself on a vast array of topics. Eventually his love of travel and intense interest in science and technology would spur further writing, contributing to the great success he found through literature.

Also a revered figure of classic American literature, Ernest Hemingway gained notoriety from 1920 through 1950, and went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Characterized by his understated writing style, Ernest Hemingway continues to be known for authentic and compelling character creation. Early in his life, Ernest Hemingway served the Red Cross, which took him to Italy and Paris, among other places. This experience, along with his return home and his travels to Paris, shaped much of his writing, as he continued to seek out interesting people to inspire his writing. Carrying on a life of intrigue and adventure, Ernest Hemingway later passed in 1961, forever marked as one of the great authors of all time.

Conversation with Vahan Karian about the Accounting Aid Society, Part 1

Established in 1972, the Accounting Aid Society is the largest provider of volunteer income tax preparation assistance in Michigan. Successful businessman and consultant Vahan Karian, a resident of Northville, offers his expertise to the noted organization.

Q: Recently we caught up with Mr. Karian and asked him to tell us a bit about the Accounting Aid Society and his involvement with it.

A: Community-minded accountants founded the organization to promote economic health and self-sufficiency among low- and middle-income families. I grew up in a very hard-working but supportive environment, and I know the importance of a solid family to an individual’s development. The Society offers tax counseling as well as preparation services, and its efforts in assisting individuals to regain financial assets have been nationally recognized. I really enjoy helping people get and stay on their feet financially. In these tough times, it becomes even more imperative to lend a hand to struggling people.

Q. The Accounting Aid Society has numerous programs. Can you tell us about some of them?

A: All of the programs are tailored to meet the needs of various members of the community. For example, the Society includes services for homebound seniors or people with disabilities who have difficulty visiting a tax site; free services during the summer for low-income people who missed tax deadlines; year-round education and outreach tax clinics for low-income communities and residents whose native language is not English. That really speaks to me: my family came to this country from Armenia, and I know how difficult it is for immigrants to make the transition to a new country and gain access to resources when learning a new language. Several year-round clinics provide comprehensive financial education and job training, as well as tax assistance. These clinics partner with other financial experts in the community and offer all the services onsite. Having these kinds of centers in many neighborhood locations really increases the accessibility and usefulness of the Society’s resources.

Conversation with Vahan Karian about the Accounting Aid Society, Part 2

Q: Are there other interesting or important programs the Society offers?

A: The Society offers the only comprehensive Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) training and certification program with classes covering federal, state, and local taxes. Individuals are provided with personalized instruction in the preparation of taxes and receive hands-on computer training in the use of tax preparation software. This really empowers people, leads them to become independent regarding their own tax preparation, and may even prompt them to pursue accounting or business as a career.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about the Society and your experiences with it?

A: I had a wonderful mentor in my own father, and I recognize the importance of having that good role model in my own success. I think that we all need a guide to get us started toward self-reliance. Other than a serious health problem, there is nothing more demoralizing than financial worry, and I think the Accounting Aid Society goes a long way toward relieving that stress for many people. Many of the resources at the Accounting Aid Society empower people to help themselves, and I appreciate that. Finally, I was fortunate to receive a wonderful education and develop many useful skills over the course of my career. I enjoy sharing my expertise and giving back to my community in the very tangible way that the Accounting Aid Society allows me to do.

Read more about Vahan Karian