Dec

16

 Let me call this a literary digression so as not to run afoul of the prohibition on political proselytization:

Perhaps what I am about to say will appear strange to you gentlemen, socialists, progressives, humanitarians as you are, but I never worry about my neighbor, I never try to protect society which does not protect me – indeed, I might add, which generally takes no heed of me except to do me harm – and, since I hold them low in my esteem and remain neutral towards them, I believe that society and my neighbor are in my debt.

Spoken by the title character of The Count of Monte Cristo. Chapter XV The Breakfast.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Dumas the elder and Auguste Maquet were probably the most successful literary collaboration ever. Maquet was a prodigy of historical study; he was a professor at the Lycee Charlemagne at age 18! He did the historical research, plot outlines and character sketches– what Hollywood would call treatments– and Dumas wrote the scripts. They were also a wonderfully sensible division of labor. Dumas who was already a celebrity was the name author; Maquet and he split the royalties. Maquet was a much better investor. He died rich.  Dumas– in the great tradition of spendthrift geniuses– was always on the edge of bankruptcy.

The back story for the Count, who is really Dumas himself, is that Dumas and his son (Traviata is based on the son's play) both suffered scorn, sarcasm and insult for being what would now be called "black". The Count's view of "society" is very much that of the outsider looking in. "Life itself is an exile. The way home is not the way back." (Colin Wilson)


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