The doctor’s revenge in Jules Verne’s Mathias Sandorf

Mathias Sandorf
Mathias Sandorf
Illustrated by Léon Benett

Dr. Antekirtt is immensely clever and immensely rich. He owns an island off the coast of Libya and has surrounded it with tall ramparts to make it impregnable. He employs a large retinue of attendants and has agents and spies in many countries. His fast electric ships crisscross the Mediterranean at great speed. His practice is truly international, his patients are scattered all over the Mediterranean and can be visited at a moment’s notice. With his powerful eyes the doctor can hypnotize people at will and make them obey his commands implicitly. He has even restored to sanity a woman who had long lost her mind. But his skills are not limited to the healing arts. He has made many inventions, even constructing way ahead of his time ship engines of prodigious power, ingeniously propelled by electricity or recirculating steam.

In his youth Dr. Antekirtt had studied medicine in Hungary. Later he refined his medical skills at Smyrna in Turkey, where he lived seven years and acquired a great reputation as physician. Always in great demand, he traveled widely, from India to Gibraltar, recognized as a man of high education, shrewd judgment, and marvelous perspicacity. At one time he made a remarkable discovery that saved an entire population from a terribly contagious epidemic. He attended the most powerful pashas and governors of the Ottoman empire, but treated the poor at no charge. He became immensely rich by curing the wealthiest man in the empire of a mysterious disease that no other doctor could even diagnose, eventually becoming this extraordinary rich man’s heir.

Dr. Anterkirtt now sails with his fleet into a Dalmatian harbor near the city Ragusa, now Dubrovnik. Not far from there, in Trieste, three Magyar nobleman of high birth had risked their lives some 15 years earlier conspiring to free Hungary from Austrian domination. On the verge of success, with their allies in Hungary and Transylvania ready to rise at a given signal, they are betrayed as a carrier pigeon is intercepted and the coded message is deciphered. Denounced to the police, they are arrested, condemned to die, and held in an impregnable fortress in Istria. There they serendipitously discover the names of those who denounced them. They resolve to be revenged, and attempt to scale the walls of their formidable prison. One conspirator is promptly retaken; another is later betrayed; both are executed. But Count Mathias Sandorf eludes all efforts to recapture him. Under a hail of bullets he plunges into the Mediterranean; is given up for dead; his body is never found.

Fifteen years later, Mathias Sandorf, now rich and powerful, reappears as Dr. Anterkirtt to wreak his vengeance on those who denounced him. He follows them from Ragusa to Montenegro; to a dangerous subterranean quarter in Malta’s Valetta; to bandit-ridden caves and grottos in Sicily; to the fortified town of Ceuta, the gambling casino at Monte Carlo, the deserts of Tunisia and Libya. Adventure follows upon adventure as this tale of thrills and excitement unfolds itself along the shores of the Mediterranean; and Mathias Sandorf, like the Count of Monte Cristo to whose author Jules Verne dedicated his novel, exerts his terrible revenge.

 

Reference

Jules Verne, Mathias Sandorf, (Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington Edition, 1889).

 


 

GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief (Winter 2011)

 

Highlighted in Frontispiece Winter 2013 – Volume 5, Issue 1

Hektorama  | Literary Vignettes