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964 of 977 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ROBIN BUSS's TRANSLATION from PENGUIN CLASSICS, August 28, 2007
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This review is from: The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This review is for those who've already decided they want to read The Count of Monte Cristo (you won't regret it!), and don't know which version to get.

Short answer: see review title, duh!

The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book, and I've read several translations, both abridged and unabridged.

The Buss translation is the most modern, and reads most fluidly. A quick example comparing this translation with the one found on Project Gutenberg:

PG - His wife visited for him, and this was the received thing in the world, where the weighty and multifarious occupations of the magistrate were accepted as an excuse for what was really only calculated pride...

BUSS - His wife visited on his behalf; this was accepted in society, where it was attributed to the amount and gravity of the lawyer's business -- when it was, in reality, deliberate arrogance...

Buss's work reads like the book was written in English. The two or so times that the work is nearly untranslatable, Buss makes a footnote about it (eg, an insinuated insult using the formal "vous" instead of the familiar "tu"). Other translations just skip the subtlety. The most common translation out there (uncredited in my version) reads like a swamp. Trust me, get Buss.

Abridged versions of this book rarely say "abridged." You can tell by the size: abridged is 500-700 pages, unabridged is 1200-1400 pages. Go for the unabridged.

The abridged version is VERY confusing! Pruning 1200 pages down to 600 leaves a lot of plot on the cutting room floor. Suddenly, arriving at dinner are 4 new characters; it's very tiring to try to keep up with the hole-ridden story of the abridged versions. And you know where the holes are? Publishers "clean up" the book by omitting the affairs, illegitimate children, homosexuality, hashish trips, etc.

As an added bonus in the Penguin Classics edition, there's a wonderful appendix bursting with footnotes to explain all the 19th century references, and a quick guide to the rise and fall of Napoleon (crucial to the politics in the story).

Hope this helps. Get the book and start reading!
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Tracked by 15 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 3, 2009 2:49:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2009 2:51:27 PM PDT
saturnine says:
I'm not certain the comparison to Project Gutenburg is appropriate, as the book on their website doesn't designate who the translator is, meaning it could be anyone - credentialed or not, & is likely an amalgamation of different translations from different volunteers. Though I don't understand exactly how PG works, so I could be mistaken. Nonetheless, no information is given on the translator of PG's version.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2009 11:44:17 PM PST
J. Cooper says:
PG uses the very common uncredited translation originally published in 1846 by Chapman and Hall - the same as the uncredited version I have.

From Wikipedia: "Most unabridged English editions of the novel, including the Modern Library and Oxford World's Classics editions, use this translation, although Penguin Classics published a new translation by Robin Buss in 1996. Buss' translation updated the language, is more accessible to modern readers, and restored content that was modified in the 1846 translation due to Victorian English social restrictions (for example, references to Eugénie's lesbian traits and behavior) to Dumas' actual publication. Other English translations of the unabridged work exist, but are rarely seen in print and most borrow from the 1846 anonymous translation."

Posted on May 26, 2011 1:29:25 PM PDT
Sweden says:
In case anyone is interested, the Robin Buss translation for Kindle is now available. The Count of Monte Cristo

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2011 6:36:04 PM PDT
The Kindle version looks to be pretty good; all of the formatting and accent marks are also in place (which are also lacking in the PG translation). The chapters aren't properly separated though, so you can't skip through them (and the chapter headings are smaller than the normal text), though the Table of Contents works. In any case, a good buy if you want a digital version of this excellent translation.

Posted on Sep 28, 2011 4:54:13 AM PDT
Erika says:
Hi, I was just wondering if you knew whether the PG version is unabridged?? I have just finished reading it and loved it, but wanted to make sure I read the full version...

Posted on Oct 2, 2011 2:57:19 PM PDT
A. Rehm says:
Nice review, J. Just started the Buss translation on Kindle today. Awfully excited about it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2011 12:36:49 PM PST
Erika, yes, the PG version is unabridged. It has all 117 chapters, at least. Unlike the abridged paperback that I read, and loved, as a teenager, which only has 73 chapters. Incidentally, the free Kindle version that Amazon offers appears to be the same translation as the PG. The Buss is so marvelous, however, I believe I'll have to spring for the Kindle version of it, even though I already have it in paperback.

Posted on Jan 7, 2012 10:41:24 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2012 4:53:34 PM PST
Cirroc says:
If it is of any help to anyone, I bought the Audio book MP3 format - the one read by John Lee by Blackstone Audio. It is unabridged - 117 chapters. It is on four discs with tracks every 10 minutes and by chapter. It says it's "an anonymous translation first published by Chapman and Hall in 1846." So if you want the Buss translation, the Blackstone Audio MP3 isn't it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2012 1:59:06 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 5, 2012 7:43:56 PM PST]

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 8:36:11 PM PST
Jenn says:
I loved your review but was underwhelmed with the book and preferred Charles river edition. The robin buss translation has a great history of the author and the book, but I found it too dumbed down.
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