his career. Le Comte de Monte Cristo was far behind; Le Vicomte de Bragelonne was fresh from his fecund mind; so, too, were La Tulipe noire and Olympe de Cleves. Ahead were Les Blancs et les Bleus, Les Louves de Machecoul, and—his
ruinous newspaper ventures in Paris. It ivas the period in Dumas' life
when he was said to have operated a great literary factory; to have
bought and filched ideas, and hired a corps of writers to put these
ideas into printable shape over his name.
Uundoubtedly Dumas had many collaborators and Californie, i
strangely, gives credence to the deprecatory, though admittedly
exagger- \ ated, strictures of Querard and others who have sought to
minimize I Dumas' accomplishments.
Californie purports to be the story of a young Frenchman who enlist- \ ed with his countrymen in a company destined for the gold-fields of ] California.
His search for coveted riches was unsuccessful and he returned to
France. At Montmorency, a favoured holiday retreat of Parisians near
Paris where Dumas was visiting, the author and the fortune-seeker met
youth it developed, had kept a journal of his experiences in
California, and this journal, ostensibly, was made the basis of Californie. In
the preface to the journal Dumas insists: "It has been only slightly
revised, slightly corrected, and not at all added to by me." And
therein lies mystery.
the authorship and yet neglecting to furnish the name of the author,
Dumas egregiously proceeds to subscribe himself as the author! Who did
write this book, then, the youthful traveller or the\ elderly author?
It is impossible to say with any degree of certainty, though from the
internal evidence, and omitting from consideration Dumas' disavowal of
authorship, I am inclined to concur in the judgment of the translator,
who notes: "I do feel very definitely the hand of Dumas throughout this
there are numerous tricks of the writing trade, known only to
professional writers, that have been employed throughout the work,
notably a long and extraneous chapter obviously introduced to pad the
tale to book-length. The traveller may have been entirely a figment of
t Dumas' imagination, but it seems more probable that Dumas met him,
heard his story, may even have had access to his notes, saw the
dramatic possibilities of the tale and composed it immediately.
entertaining as a tale; it is both entertaining and edifying as a
contribution to our understanding of life during the gold-rush. The