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The Count of Monte Cristo (Modern Library) Hardcover – July 9, 1996
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Why Robin Buss' translation for Penguin Classics? That's a reasonable question since Alexandre Dumas has been dead long enough for his works to enter the public domain. Several translations of his major novels are not only available in cheaper editions (such as Barnes & Noble Classics), but for free on Project Gutenberg.
These are inferior and, in the case of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, censored translations. Most of them date back to the Victorian period, and render Dumas' evergreen French into English prose that feels old-fashioned and stilted today. Furthermore, because these are translations from the Victorian period, the translators filtered Dumas through their own moral sensibilities to give us Bowdlerized versions of a novel that ran on sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll a century before rock 'n roll was something you could do without a machine gun.
Robin Buss' unabridged translation comes directly from the original French and renders Dumas into fresh, readable modern English. Material previously omitted by Victorian-era translators such as Franz' hashish-fueled sexual fantasies and the strongly implied lesbian relationship between Eugenie and Louise remain intact and uncensored. As another reviewer pointed out, Buss will provide footnotes to explain subtleties that aren't easily translated from French to English, such as insults delivered by using the formal you (vous) rather than the informal/friendly/intimate you (tu).
A detailed appendix provides valuable historical and cultural context that aids the reader in understanding Dumas' masterpiece, and includes a primer on the rise, fall, return, and final downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte that is crucial to making sense of the politics driving the novel's plot.
If you cannot read Dumas in his native French, and you want a definitive English version, Robin Buss's unabridged and uncensored modern English translation is essential reading. No other translation will suffice.
When I read The Black Count, though, and found out why Alexandre Dumas wrote CoMC–I knew I had to move it up the list. This book was so much more than I expected it to be. At first, I was mostly just looking for comparisons to General Dumas’ life, but the longer the story went on (and this story is LONG), the more I got wrapped up in it.
I read The Three Musketeers a few years ago, and hated every moment of it. I found the characterization ridiculous and irregularly detailed, and I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just get to the point and action. However, now that I know that Dumas was paid BY THE LINE…all that makes so much sense! Heck, I would write the thing to death too! Also, I learned in The Black Count that one of the most important things in the world to Dumas was never to forget a person, the way he felt his father was forgotten. That is why every person he writes has a backstory, and every backstory has a place in the plot.
This is the very crux of Edmond Dantes vengeance. Everyone has forgotten him–to the point that he can parade around in society as a massively rich count–and no one recognizes the man they sent to prison. Because of that, he is able to destroy their lives from the inside out. But in the end, is that vengeance as sweet as he hoped it would be?
I’m glad I gave Alexandre Dumas another chance. There’s so much depth to his writing that I didn’t see before. You can’t rush Dumas, that’s for certain, and I think that’s what I had tried to do with The Three Musketeers–I had too many expectations of what it was supposed to be. The Count of Monte Cristo is a wholly brilliant story, and I look forward to reading it over and over.
Amazon, please give us the ability to rate in smaller scales so that I can give this book a more precise review.
THIS IS AN OPINION FROM ONE READER THAT REALLY ENJOYED THE BOOK.
This book took me about 3 months to finish (due to school and other required texts I had to read). The book does a great job of portraying the setting and the characters, to a point that it felt more like reading a description of a landscape painting.
The characters were all very well established in their detail and motives, although it had a bad habit of putting too much details into the characters conversation that became difficult to follow at times.
This book took me through a long and arduous journey of a man who vowed to take revenge from the people who took everything from him. At times the journey was dull or too detail oriented, but these short comings are overshadowed by the other moments that are epic, dramatic, and satisfying.