The Green Jam of ‘Doctor X’: Science and Literature at the Club des Hashischins

  • Mike Jay


In a pivotal scene in Alexandre Dumas’s Le Comte de Monte-Christo, the young adventurer Franz d’Epinay visits the rocky and apparently deserted island of Monte Cristo on a hunting expedition. There he stumbles upon a band of smugglers who lead him, blindfolded, to a secret cave where their leader lives in Oriental splendour under the nom de guerre of ‘Sinbad the Sailor’. Sinbad — whom we may already suspect is the Count of Monte Cristo in disguise — serves him a sumptuous feast, followed by a small bowl of pungent greenish paste. ‘Qu’est-ce que ce mets si précieux?’, asks Franz (Dumas, 1981, p. 352).1 In reply, Sinbad tells him the story of Hassan-i-Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain, the leader of the Assassin sect during the Crusades, who recruited his followers by feeding them a drug that ‘les transportait dans le paradis’, after which they would obey his orders ‘comme à ceux de Dieu’.2 His guest recognises the story. ‘Alors’, he exclaims, ‘c’est du hachisch!


Secret Society Abnormal Mental State Small Bowl Leader Life Arabian Night 
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© Mike Jay 2015

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  • Mike Jay

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