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The Count of Monte Cristo Paperback – March 5, 2013
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Le Comte de Monte-Cristo ( The Count of Monte Cristo ) began serialization in the Journal des Débats in 1844 and was published in book form in 1846, shortly after The Three Musketeers , and arguably did even better than its predecessor. The effect of the serials, which held vast audiences enthralled, each member separately but simultaneously, is unlike any experience of reading we are likely to have known ourselves, maybe something like that of a particularly gripping television series. Day after day, at breakfast or at work or on the street, people talked of little else; one then-famous man, reading in bed, woke up his wife to announce that Edmond Dantès had escaped from the Château d'If. The Count of Monte Cristo was translated into virtually all modern languages and has never been out of print in most of them. There have been at least twenty-nine motion pictures based on it (many in the silent era, but one as recently as 2002), as well as several television series, and many movies that worked the name "Monte Cristo" into their titles, capitalizing on the aura of the novel without sharing any but the most cursory aspects of the story. The name has been given to a famous gold mine, a line of luxury Cuban cigars, a sandwich, and any number of bars and casinosit even lurks in the name of the street-corner hustle three-card monte. The name exudes adventure, mystery, and vast wealth, and it triggers a Pavlovian response in great numbers of people who have never read the book. For better or worse, The Count of Monte Cristo has become a fixture of Western civilization's literature, as inescapable and immediately identifiable as Mickey Mouse, Noah's flood, and the story of Little Red Riding Hood.
Dumas can be given credit, or blame, for initiating many of the conventions of modern popular narrative; without him the history of motion picturesquite apart from merely those based upon his worksmight have been very different. Edmond Dantès, the titular Count, could well have fathered the entire race of superheroes, or at least those who do not owe their inspiration to heroes of the classical era, such as Hercules. In particular, he prefigures Batman, like him a mere mortal, albeit equipped with vast wealth and an unquenchable thirst for justiceor revenge, whichever is closer to hand. Like a superhero, Dantès, once launched on his quest, simply cannot put a foot wrong. He is distant, implacable, godlike, almost diabolical, were it not that the wrongs done to him have given him license to rectify matters to a biblical extent; not having been involved in the original misdeed does not exempt the offspring and relatives of evildoers from the force of his wrath.
Dumas, known for his bonhomie, his inability to hold a grudge, his eagerness to resolve conflicts in the most amicable way, was obviously exorcising decades of buried resentments in his creation of Dantès. His father's experiences may have supplied some of the original impetus, but otherwise his father's character and a transposition of his story is given to the paralyzed but still powerful Noirtier, who holds an entire household in his sway even as he is unable to do more than communicate by moving his eyes. The character of Dantès, though, may be the most naked vehicle for wish fulfillment ever devised by a novelist. The primary allure of the book lies precisely in its being pure, guileless, unbuttoned fantasy, the creation of a Walter Mitty with no inhibitions and a boundless sense of entitlement. It is a very good thing that Maquet convinced Dumas to lay the first part of the story on rather thick; the latitude given the hero in the rest of the book requires a formidable counterweight to be palatable.
What Abbé Faria gives Dantès is no mere workaday fortune, but one comparable to the holdings of Baron Rothschild, the Croesus of the day. In addition, he has taught him three or four languages, history, art history, chemistry, medicine, and an advanced course in poisons, all by whispered conversation in a dark cell and without benefit of pencil and paper, let alone texts. When Dantès emerges from prison, he is so far from broken by fourteen years of darkness, insufficient food, and lack of exercise that he is not merely strong, but ageless. His contemporaries are middle-aged and in decline, but he might as well be a contemporary of their grown children. His beloved, Mercédès, says as much: "See how misfortune has silvered my hair. I have shed so many tears that dark rings encircle my eyes; my forehead is covered with wrinkles. You, on the contrary, are still young, Edmond; you are still handsome and dignified. That is because you have preserved your faith and your strength: you trusted in God, and He has sustained you." She is thereby complicit in the novel's most breathtaking departure from convention: Instead of finding love at long last with his intended, Dantès casually throws her over for his Oriental slave girl, and Mercédès concedes the justice of thisshe agrees with Dantès and Dumas in considering herself guilty, less for having married the villain Fernand than for having failed to wait the whole, endless fourteen years.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 V UNABRIDGED
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.Read more ›
The Count of Monte Cristo is a delicious book, full of intrigue, great fight scenes, love, passion, and witty social satire. Dumas has a wonderful grasp of human nature and a talent for rendering all the follies of man in delightful, snappy prose. I immediately recognized people that I know (yes, even myself) in his vivid characters, which made the book all the more engaging to me.
Some people might be put off by the size of the book -- it's a pretty hefty volume -- an tempted to buy the abridged version. Don't! I've heard from people who've read both versions that the abridged version is a pathetic, washed out shadow of the full novel. At any rate, as thick and impossibly long as The Count of Monte Cristo may seem when you open it for the first time, you'll feel as though it's far too short by the time you get to the last page.
Alexandre Dumas's _The Count of Monte Cristo_ is one of the greatest novels of all time and in fact stands at the fountainhead of the entire stream of popular adventure-fiction. Dumas himself was one of the founders of the genre; every other such writer -- H. Rider Haggard, C.S. Forrester, Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour, Mickey Spillane, Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, John Grisham -- is deeply in his debt.
The cold, brooding, vampiric Count (born Edmond Dantes; known also, among other aliases, as "Sinbad the Sailor," Lord Wilmore, and a representative of the firm of Thomson and French) is the literary forebear of every dark hero from Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlet Pimpernel to Zorro, Batman, the Green Hornet, and Darkman. And the intricate plot provides everything any reader could want: adventure, intrigue, romance, and (of course) the elegant machinations of the Count himself as he exacts his terrible revenge on those who have wronged him -- thereby serving, or so he believes, as an agent of divine justice and retribution. Brrrrrrrr.
The book is also a good deal _longer_ than many readers may be aware. Ever since the middle of the nineteenth century, the English translations have omitted everything in the novel that might offend the sensibilities of Victorian readers -- including, for example, all the sex and drugs.
That's why I strongly recommend that anyone interested in this novel read Robin Buss's full-text translation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was assigned to me for summer reading material and I was surprised to find that after having put it off for so long I was sad that the book was over! Read morePublished 1 day ago by Kindle Customer
I have seen many movie versions of the book but never read the complete book. I never realized what I was missing. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
I have seen many movie versions of the book but never read the complete book. I never realized what I was missing. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Kristi Richardson
The writing is superb, the characters so well drawn that you are pulled into their world right from the beginning. The set up is a little slow but the plot really pulls you in. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Michael
I have read it before and was glad to read it again. It is a fast paced and engrossing story that is filled with real people, action, romance, suspense and intrigue. So great!Published 3 days ago by HP