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The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics) (original 1844; edition 2003)

by Alexandre Dumas père, Robin Buss (Introduction)

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13,812243152 (4.35)4 / 885
Member:Helen.Okell
Title:The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Alexandre Dumas père
Other authors:Robin Buss (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 1276 pages
Collections:Read
Rating:*****
Tags:Completed 2013-02-20

Work details

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père (1844)

  1. 170
    The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (caflores)
  2. 90
    The Black Tulip by Alexandre père Dumas (2below)
    2below: These stories share some key themes and plot elements. It's not nearly as epic as The Count of Monte Cristo but makes for an interesting comparison.
  3. 80
    The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (rareflorida)
    rareflorida: An old SciFi classic based upon The Count of Monte Cristo. Be patient because the begining of the story may be frustrating but you will eventually see the intelligence.
  4. 70
    The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (SandSing7)
  5. 103
    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (VictoriaPL)
  6. 61
    Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (VictoriaPL)
  7. 40
    The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas (keeneam)
  8. 51
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (one-horse.library)
    one-horse.library: The story of a man consumed by his obsession, but instead of revenge, Gatsby is chasing the American dream.
  9. 40
    Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (MarcusBrutus)
  10. 40
    The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (citygirl)
    citygirl: Another detailed, intricately plotted revenge tale.
  11. 30
    Ivanhoe by Walter Scott (SandSing7)
  12. 20
    Selected Short Stories (Penguin Classics) by Guy de Maupassant (bokai)
    bokai: While Maupassant's power is in his slice of life short stories told in an objective narrative voice and Dumas is the master of the thousand page epic told (see more) in highly sympathetic narration, both authors evoke images of the same France and are unequaled in their skill at bringing character and conflict to life. A short by Maupassant is a great way to break up the lengthy prose of Dumas, and Dumas, in turn, expands and elaborates the world that Maupassant provides only glimpses of.… (more)
  13. 31
    D'artagnan Romances, The (5 Volume Set: The Three Guardsman; Vicomte De Bragelonne; Ten Years Later; Louise de la Vallie by Alexandre Dumas (MarcusBrutus)
  14. 20
    Moonfleet by J. Meade Falkner (elizabeth.a.coates)
    elizabeth.a.coates: Both are adventure stories that take place over a number of years and deal with riches, revenge, and romance
  15. 21
    The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (joririchardson)
  16. 10
    Gil Blas by Alain René Le Sage (roby72)
  17. 21
    The Queen of the South by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (lilisin)
    lilisin: "Queen of the South" is a modern retake on "The Count". Not my favorite read but you can definitely see the parallels.
  18. 21
    The Stars' Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry (Pixelinchen, lizzybeans11)
    Pixelinchen: The Count of Monte Cristo in the British dotcom world of the 20th Century
  19. 00
    Shogun: A Novel of Japan by James Clavell (ShaneTierney)
  20. 29
    The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (keremix)

(see all 20 recommendations)

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English (223)  Spanish (5)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (239)
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Before Reading:
I started reading my copy when I woke up this morning and just thought I'd note a few things before I start reading the novel itself.

This is a book about Dumas's father: [b:The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo|13330922|The Black Count Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo|Tom Reiss|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1337693786s/13330922.jpg|18538602]. He was the illegitimate son of a marquis and a black slave of the island of Santo Dominga. My copy arrived at lunchtime even though this version isn't due out for another two weeks!

[b:The Count of Monte Cristo|7126|The Count of Monte Cristo|Alexandre Dumas|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1309203605s/7126.jpg|391568] was written in 1844-5 (6 months after [b:The Three Musketeers|7190|The Three Musketeers|Alexandre Dumas|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320436982s/7190.jpg|1263212]). My edition contains a chronology of the author's life.


The Author

[a:Alexandre Dumas|4785|Alexandre Dumas|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1279049943p2/4785.jpg] was born in 1802, the same year as [a:Victor Hugo|13661|Victor Hugo|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1288998664p2/13661.jpg] (they worked together, also with [a:Alfred de Vigny|70366|Alfred de Vigny|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1267496718p2/70366.jpg]). His father died when he was 4 so he had an impoverished childhood with little education. 'He joined the household of the future king, Louis-Philippe, and began reading voraciously.' Before he wrote TCoMC he had travelled to Switzerland and fallen in love with Italy, living in Florence for a year in 1841. In 1842 he visited the island of Montecristo.


(Click image for Google map)

Two years after TCoMC was published, Dumas built the Château de Monte-Cristo in 1846 and used it as his country home. He had to sell it when he went backrupt in 1850. Now it's a museum dedicated to him and his works.



It was known Dumas wrote for money 'at so much a line, and that he used at least one collaborator, [a:Auguste Maquet|3141704|Auguste Maquet|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66-251a730d696018971ef4a443cdeaae05.jpg], who would make chapter outlines for him and do research. He was once referred to as 'Alexandre Dumas and Co., novel factory'.

However, he sometimes had to be locked away in a room away from his mistress just so he could finish writing. Must've been a randy fellow.

Dumas died in 1870. Afterwards Victor Hugo wrote to Dumas's son 'praising Dumas as a writer of universal appeal and added "He creates a thirst for reading."'


On the book itself, from the Introduction:

Based on the real life story of Francois Picaud detailed in [b:Mémoires tirés des archives de la police de Paris|9014622|Mémoires tirés des archives de la police de Paris|J. (Jacques) Peuchet|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|13892097] (Parisian police archives):

'Briefly the story is this: Picaud, a young man from the south of France was imprisoned in 1807, having been denounced as an English spy, shortly after he had become engaged to a young woman called Marguerite. The denunciation was inspired by a cafe owner, Mathieu Loupian, who was jealous of Picaud's relationship with Marguerite.

Picaud eventually moved to a form of house-arrest in Piedmont and shut up in the castle Fenestrelle, where he acted as a servant to a rich Italian cleric. When the man died, abandoned by his family, he left his money to Picaud, whom he had come to treat as a son, also informing him of the whereabouts of a hidden treasure. With the fall of Napoleon in 1814, Picaud, now called Joseph Lucher, was released; in the following year, after collecting the hidden treasure, he returned to Paris.

Here he discovered that Marguerite had married Loupian. Disguising himself, and offering a valuable diamond to Allut, the one man in the group who had been unwilling to collaborate in the denunciation, he learned the identity of his enemies. He then set about eliminating them, stabbing the first with a dagger on which were printed the words: 'Number One', and burning down Loupian's cafe. He managed to find employment in Loupian's house, disguised as a servant called Prosper. However, while this was going on, Allut had fallen out with the merchant to whom he had resold the diamond, had murdered him and had been imprisoned. On coming out of jail, he started to blackmail Picaud. Picaud poisoned another of the conspirators, lured Loupian's son into crime and his daughter into prostitution, then finally stabbed Loupian himself. But he quarrelled with Allut over the blackmail payments and Allut killed him, confessing the whole story on his deathbed in 1828.'

Holy cow! Moral of the story: Being merciful is a death sentence.

One of the characters, Madame de Villefort, is also based on someone from these archives.

Some consider TCoMC to be children's fiction for the for fairy tale and Disney-like quality of the adventure / romance / revenge story. However:

'...not many children's books, even in our own time, that involve a female serial poisoner, two cases of infanticide, a stabbing and three suicides; an extended scene of torture and execution; drug-induced sexual fantasies, illegitimacy, transvestism and lesbianism; a display of the author's classical learning, and his knowledge of modern European history, the customs and diet of Italians, the effects of hashish, and so on; the length, in any case, would immediately disqualify it from inclusion in any modern series of books for children.'

*rubs hands together*

Sounds filthy; can't wait. :D
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
It is a huge book yeah, but it's worth it. Do not read the abridged version. Read the full thing. It's about a man who is unjustly imprisoned. In jail he makes an unlikely friend. It's the 19th century equivalent of a tv show like Breaking Bad. Worth it. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 14, 2014 |
Wow! What a romper stomper this was. Pretty much from the very first page you’re thrown into a torrent of narrative that affords you barely enough time to attempt to swim for the bank before you reach the end of this mammoth novel. But despite the fact that the unabridged version (i.e. the ONLY version worth reading) is well over 1000 pages, it’s a pretty fast read the story is so well told.

Prior to starting, I’d recommend heading to Wikipedia to check up on Napoleon Bonaparte and the political history surrounding his return from exile and, eventually, the restoration of the monarchy. Once you’ve got an outline of that in your head, you’ll be able to understand the issues surrounding the arrest and imprisonment of Edmund Dante. Apart from this, there’s really nothing else you could do to prepare yourself, except perhaps settle into a lovely warm bath or an armchair by the fire.

The imprisonment takes up probably the first third of the novel. How

he gets out of this predicament is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. But once out, Edmund spends the rest of the novel exacting slow, sweet revenge. And although this is drawn out over hundreds and hundreds of pages, the pace doesn’t really lag at all. To fully enjoy this part of the novel, it’s best to get a good grip on the characters who combine to set him up and imprison him in the first place. If you do that, the revenge is almost as satisfying for you as it is for Dante. And it ends in quite an unexpected way.

I listened to this as an audio book I bought off iTunes which, unabridged, was over 50 hours long. Andrew Timothy has a superb voice and paced the reading perfectly in my opinion. I’ll recall his voice as lending ambiance to the whole novel whenever I see a copy of this anywhere. At only £7.95, that purchase was an amazing bargain.

As you can see from my rating chart below, this was a very well-rounded novel. In fact, it was one of the best well-rounded novels I’ve read for a long time and, for my money, Dumas’ best on the 1001 list. ( )
1 vote arukiyomi | Aug 23, 2014 |
I’m glad I finally read this book: I loved working my way through it, and I wish I’d read it much sooner.

This was a long read, though. Dumas definitely takes a sprawling approach to this tale of wrongful imprisonment and subsequent revenge: some parts took their time to become relevant to the main plot, but even those were entertaining to read (e.g. Franz and Albert gallivanting around during the Carnival in Rome, Benedetto’s backstory, or the tale of Luigi Vampa the bandit). Eventually, though, he plugs all diversions into the main storyline. As the book goes on, the plot speeds up and converges tightly onto its central premise, and you find out that all the digressions were more than worth it. The book even answers the question of what happens after the revenge is complete, which not many revenge tales do.

One of the reasons I liked this so much is that it made effective use of some of my favourite adventure tropes. For one, there’s the basic “unfairly accused innocent exacts a carefully planned revenge” plot. Dumas also includes an uninhabited island; a faked death, complete with a corpse-that-is-really-asleep (and bonus points for accomplishing this by means of a potion); the digging of a secret passageway; a sweet polly oliver; a challenge to a duel; a hidden treasure; a courtroom trial with dramatic revelations; a character’s covered-up indiscretions that come back to bite them; the bullied kid who later in life shows off their massive superiority over their one-time bullies; and so on.

And it isn’t just these tropes (cool and evergreen though they may be) that made this book such an entertaining read for me; it’s their measured use among long dialogues and pieces of character development.

One of my favourite scenes is the one where the Count has assembled some of his enemies at his house in Auteuil for dinner, and serves them rare fish from two small lakes countries apart. First he has two of his international guests explain to the rest why those fish are so rare; then he amazes them by telling them how he transported live fish to Paris from their remote locations, acknowledging that he got the idea from the ancient Romans who did this on a lesser scale and then decided to one-up the Ancients. This establishes his exoticness, his extravagance, his delicate taste, and his practical cleverness, all of which surpass that of his guests; at the same time it’s an unsubtle demonstration that he’s better-travelled than they will ever be, wealthy beyond their dreams, multilingual, and well-read in the Ancients; his interests and his lifestyle are leaps beyond their daily life. Yet the count himself eats nothing of the meal, driving home the point that all the meticulous planning -- either rare fish is known to one of the guests -- and the extravagant expenses incurred were for showing off to these specific guests only: the count is vastly superior to them all, more accomplished than they had imagined was possible up till then. He wants them to be mightily impressed, and he wants them to realize this. It’s at this point that he casually reminds some of his enemies of the dirty secrets they covered up in the past, sowing seeds of anxiety as a subtle punishment for their misdeeds.

The whole scene is shameless wish-fulfillment, but I loved every word of it.

Another thing I liked very much about this book is that several characters (well, the ones that count) are not pitted against each other as black-vs-white morality pawns; there’s much more of a gray-on-gray morality present here, which makes the characters stand out more against their background and against more straightforward characters. This goes for the count himself (but more on that later), but also for Caderousse, Mercédès, Albert de Morcerf, and Mme de Villefort, to name but a few.

To be fair, though, some parts I disliked. Some of the subplots relevant to the main plot later on do take a long time to become so, and while they pay off later, it may initially feel like a bit of a slog. Then there’s the cultural superiority that pervades the text: exoticized Oriental cultures are consistently portrayed as superior to Parisian bourgeois lifestyles; Italians are reduced to curious carnivals and exotic bands of charming bandits living in their ancestor’s ruins; and Christianity is a given, to the point of including a drawn-out deathbed conversion.

Also, Dumas has his characters display some attitudes that are rather problematic. Sometimes these (intentionally?) add to character depth, but that excuse cannot be given across the board. For one thing, the count is unapologetic about owning slaves, who, of course, love being in his service (to the point of refusing to be set free), and about getting a kick out of the life-or-death power he has over them. One of them, a black muslim named Ali, he saved halfway through a cruel punishment -- after his tongue had been cut out but before he was decapitated -- but the count intentionally did not step in sooner because he claims to always have wanted a mute slave. Our hero, everyone! His other slave, a girl named Haydée who he raises from age 11, falls in love with her father figure, the only adult male she’s exposed to. Also troubling is the attitude of and about several female characters that it’s noble for them to die if they are no longer attached to a male guardian -- Mercédes is a case in point: her marriage to someone else after she believes her fiancé to be gone forever is presented as unfaithfulness and betrayal by all involved, including herself, and at one point she comments that it would have been better had she died instead of turning her back on one she believed lost. In addition, while the men are off doing things and talking shop, the women faint regularly, wring their hands in indecision, tragically resign themselves to their fate, and assume beautiful and/or dramatic poses when an observer enters the room. Admirable exceptions to all this are, of course, Mlle Eugenie Danglars, who I like to think of as a lesbian, and who makes her own decisions, and Mme. Héloise de Villefort.

But I can accept digressions and attitudes towards other cultures and towards women as a sign of the times -- the book is some 170 years old, after all. Overall, then, I can honestly say that loved this wonderfully complex and sprawling novel for the sheer grand-scale revenge fantasy it is. ( )
  Petroglyph | Aug 20, 2014 |
The Count of Monte Cristo has been one of my favorite novels since my early teens. While it is a romance novel, the qualities that appealed to me upon first reading, and to this day, are its historical detail set as it is in the midst of the Napoleonic era and the portrayal of justice and injustice. Above all it is a tale of revenge and retribution that leads from historical detail to a world of magic, fabulous treasure buried on a deserted island, of bandits and dark intrigue, and of wizardry and splendors borrowed from the Arabian nights. I have been enamored of superheroes and the fearless Monte Cristo was one of the first I encountered as he overcomes all the odds. A master of disguise, he has the secret of all knowledge, immense physical strength, endless resourcefulness, and complete power to punish the wicked. There are few heroes outside of comic books that rival The Count of Monte Cristo. Writers as disparate as Swinburne and Thackeray were both enthralled reading the exploits of Dumas' famous count. Above all Dumas was a great story teller and this is perhaps the main reason that he was popular throughout Europe in his day and his stories continue to appeal to readers and moviegoers (the recent, 2002, film version with Jim Caviezel as Edmond Dantes is splendid and captures the essence of the revenge story).

In addition to the above-listed qualities The Count of Monte Cristo is not just an exciting tale of adventure and revenge, not only an historical fiction. Edmond Dantes has been wrongfully accused, convicted, and imprisoned in the Chateau D'if, an infamous island prison. His story is a psychological portrayal of obsession of the highest order and at the same time a paean to the value of education. The last item is the one I remember the most from my many readings of this magnificent tale of precipitous decline, betrayal and ultimate rise with vengeance at hand. It is the "plan of education" that Edmond Dantes completes under the tutelage of the elderly Abbe while imprisoned in the Chateau d'If that impresses me more than any other aspect of this tale. The Abbe tells him that "to learn is not to know; there are the learners and the learned. Memory makes the one, philosophy the other." Dantes enters upon a regimen of learning and swiftly begins to learn principles of mathematics and to understand several different languages. That he does use this knowledge in a way that belies the notion that he was gaining true wisdom seems to be the case, but the reader must traverse many hundreds of pages of exciting adventure before he can judge one way or the other. Whatever Dantes' eventual fate, the story that provides the exhilarating ride for the reader makes this a great book to read, and if your mind is like mine, to reread. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 223 (next | show all)
Edmond Dantes je plemenit, lep, mladi mornar zaljubljen u predivnu Mercedes. Danglers koji želi da se dočepa njegovog zlata, Kaderus, lupež koji želi ličnu osvetu i zli general Mondego koji želi Mercedes za ženu, optužuju Edmunda za pljačku upravo na dan njegov venčanja i on biva zatvoren u zloglasni zatvor Sato D'if. Bežeci iz zatvora, na zabačenom ostrvu pronalazi ogromno blago. U Pariz se vraća kao bogati i misteriozni grof Monte Kristo. Kako bih isterao pravdu i sprao ljagu sa svog imena - uz pomoć tri nova i urnebesna prijatelja!
added by Sensei-CRS | editknjigainfo.com
 

» Add other authors (88 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dumas père, Alexandreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dumas, Alexandre, peremain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bair, LowellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buss, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clapham, MarcusAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coward, DavidRevised translationsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coward, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Homewood, BillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maurois, AndréIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaeffer, MeadIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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On February 24, 1815, the watchtower at Marseilles signaled the arrival of the three-master Pharaon, coming from Smyrna, Trieste and Naples.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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These should be the unabridged editions of The Count of Monte Cristo
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blurb: This enduringly popular tale of live and vengeance in the post Napoleonic era follows Edmond Dantes as he prepares to captain his own ship and marry his beloved Mercedes. But on his wedding day, he is betrayed by spiteful enemies and arrested on trumped up charges. Condemned to lifelong imprisonment, he befriends Abbe Faria, a priest and fellow inmate with an escape plan. When Abbe Faria dies, Edmond escapes alone. Free at last, and incredibly wealthy, Edmond enters society posing as the brooding and mysterious count of Monte Cristo to reclaim his lost love and exact a terrible vengeance from his accusers.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140449264, Paperback)

Translated with an Introduction by Robin Buss.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:53 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular succes when it was first serialized in the 1840s.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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