The Informatics of Revenge:
Telegraphy, Speed and Storage in The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo 1. All page
references are to this edition. The date cannot be correct.
According to the text, it is either February 27 or 28.
In keeping with Geoffrey Wilson's The Old Telegraphs, the most
comprehensive study of the subject in English, "telegraphy" refers
throughout the text to early visual mechanical signaling systems.
Some claim that the name (and maybe even some of the fate) of
the original ingenieur-té1égraphe Claude Chappe literally brackets
one of Hugo's most memorable characters: Claude Frollo,
archdeacon of Tirechappes. After all, he pulls ("tire") the strings of
Quasimodo, whose workplace is at the top of a church tower,
where many telegraphs were installed.
See Hobsbawm 68 for a brief account of more realistic traveling
times in the 1840s.
Many people with and some without money, among them
Danglars (469, 637, 642, 937) are involved in railway speculations,
including "Lord Wilmore" (i.e., Monte Cristo), of whom the Abbe
Busoni (i.e., also Monte Cristo) says that he is pursuing a venture
involving railroads and an "electric telegraph" (692). The
combination of the two was a given, especially after the terrible
accident at Meudon. That accident, however, occurred in 1842,
four years after the Parisian section of the novel takes place.
Likewise, the great flurry of railway speculations followed the
formation of the first large railway companies in the early 1840s.
Dumas is retrojecting, but it serves to make the novel even more
up to date. One of the reasons for the railway's initial difficulties
was that France had a very extensive canal network. Caderousse's
roadside inn hits hard times because goods and people travel by
barge instead (214).