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The Count of Monte Cristo (Tor Classics) Mass Market Paperback – October 15, 1998
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
On the 24th of February, 1815, the watch-tower of Notre-Dame de la Garde signalled the arrival of the three-master Pharaon, from Smyrna, Trieste, and Naples.
The usual crowd of curious spectators immediately filled the quay of Fort Saint-Jean, for at Marseilles the arrival of a ship is always a great event, especially when that ship, as was the case with the Pharaon, has been built, rigged, and laden in the dockyard of old Phocaea and belongs to a shipowner of their own town.
Meanwhile the vessel drew on, and was approaching the harbour under topsails, jib, and foresail, but so slowly and with such an air of melancholy that the spectators, always ready to sense misfortune, began to ask one another what ill-luck had overtaken those on board. However, those experienced in navigation soon saw that if there had been any ill-luck, the ship had not been the sufferer, for she advanced in perfect condition and under skilful handling; the anchor was ready to be dropped, the bowsprit shrouds loose. Beside the pilot, who was steering the Pharaonthrough the narrow entrance to the port, there stood a young man, quick of gesture and keen of eye, who watched every movement of the ship while repeating each of the pilot’s orders.
The vague anxiety that prevailed among the crowd affected one of the spectators so much that he could not wait until the ship reached the port; jumping into a small boat, he ordered the boatman to row him alongside the Pharaon, which he reached opposite the creek of La Réserve.
On seeing this man approach, the young sailor left his post beside the pilot, and, hat in hand, leant over the ship’s bulwarks. He was a tall, lithe young man of about twenty years of age, with fine dark eyes and hair as black as ebony; his whole manner bespoke that air of calm resolution peculiar to those who, from their childhood, have been accustomed to face danger.
“Ah, is that you, Dantès!” cried the man in the boat. “You are looking pretty gloomy on board. What has happened?”
“A great misfortune, Monsieur Morrel,“ replied the young man, “a great misfortune, especially for me! We lost our brave Captain Leclère of Civita Vecchia.”
“What happened to him?” asked the shipowner. “What has happened to our worthy captain?”
“He died of brain-fever in dreadful agony. Alas, monsieur, the whole thing was most unexpected. After a long conversation with the harbourmaster, Captain Leclère left Naples in a great state of agitation. In twenty-four hours he was in high fever, and died three days afterwards. We performed the usual burial service. He is now at rest off the Isle of El Giglio, sewn up in his hammock, with a thirty-six pounder shot at his head and another at his heels. We have brought home his sword and his cross of honour to his widow. But was it worth his while,“ added the young man, with a sad smile, “to wage war against the English for ten long years only to die in his bed like everybody else?”
“Well, well, Monsieur Edmond,“ replied the owner, who appeared more comforted with every moment, “we are all mortal, and the old must make way for the young, otherwise there would be no promotion. And the cargo…?”
“Is all safe and sound, Monsieur Morrel, take my word for it. It has been a voyage that will bring you in a good twenty-five thousand francs!”
As they were just past the Round Tower the young man shouted out: “Ready there! Lower topsails, foresail, and jib!”
The order was executed as promptly as on board a man-of-war.
“Lower away! and brail all!”
At this last order, all the sails were lowered and the ship moved on almost imperceptibly.
“And now, Monsieur Morrel,“ said Dantès, “here is your purser, Monsieur Danglars, coming out of his cabin. If you will step on board he will furnish you with every particular. I must look after the anchoring and dress the ship in mourning.”
The owner did not wait to be invited twice. He seized a rope which Dantès flung to him, and, with an agility that would have done credit to a sailor, climbed up the ladder attached to the side of the ship, while the young man, returning to his duty, left the conversation to the individual whom he had announced under the name of Danglars, and who now came toward the owner. He was a man of twenty-five or twenty-six, of unprepossessing countenance, obsequious to his superiors, insolent to his subordinates; and besides the fact that he was the purser--and pursers are always unpopular on board--he was personally as much disliked by the crew as Edmond Dantès was beloved by them.
“Well, Monsieur Morrel,“ said Danglars, “you have heard of the misfortune that has befallen us?”
“Yes, yes, poor Captain Leclère! He was a brave and honest man!”
“And a first-rate seaman, grown old between sky and ocean, as a man should be who is entrusted with the interests of so important a firm as that of Morrel and Son,“ replied Danglars.
“But,“ replied the owner, watching Dantès at his work, “it seems to me that a sailor need not be so old to understand his business; our friend Edmond seems to understand it thoroughly, and to require no instructions from anyone.”
“Yes,“ said Danglars, casting a look of hatred on Dantès, “yes, he is young, and youth is never lacking in self-confidence. The captain was hardly dead when, without consulting anyone, he assumed command of the ship, and was the cause of our losing a day and a half off the Isle of Elba instead of making direct for Marseilles.”
“As captain’s mate, it was his duty to take command, but he acted wrongly in losing a day and half off Elba unless the ship was in need of repair.”
“The ship was as right as I am and as I hope you are, Monsieur Morrel; it was nothing more than a whim on his part, and a fancy for going ashore, that caused the delay off Elba.”
“Dantès,“ called the owner, turning toward the young man, “just step this way, will you?”
“One moment, monsieur,“ he replied, “and I shall be with you.” Then turning to the crew, he called out: “Let go!”
The anchor was instantly dropped and the chain ran out with a great rattle. In spite of the pilot’s presence Dantès remained at his post until this last task was accomplished, and then he added: “Lower the flag and pennant to half-mast and slope the yards!”
“You see,“ said Danglars, “he already imagines himself captain.”
“And so he is,“ said his companion. “Why should we not give him the post? I know he is young, but he seems to be an able and thoroughly experienced seaman.”
A cloud passed over Danglar’s brow.
“Your pardon, Monsieur Morrel,“ said Dantès, approaching. “Now that the boat is anchored, I am at your service. I believe you called me.”
Danglars retreated a step or two.
“I wished to know the reason of the delay off Elba.”
“I am unaware of the reason, monsieur; I only followed the last instructions of Captain Leclère, who, when dying, gave me a packet for the Maréchal Bertrand.”
“And did you see Maréchal?”
Morrel glanced around him and then drew Dantès on one side.
“How is the Emperor?” he asked eagerly.
“Very well, so far as I could see. He came into the Maréchal’s room while I was there.”
“Did you speak to him?”
“It was he who spoke to me, monsieur,“ said Dantès, smiling. “He asked me some questions about the ship, about the time of her departure for Marseilles, the route she had followed and the cargo she carried. I believe that had she been empty and I the master, he would have bought her; but I told him I was only the mate and that the ship belonged to the firm of Morrel and Son. ‘Ah, ah,‘ said he. ‘I know the firm. The Morrels have all been shipowners for generations, and there was a Morrel who served in the same regiment with me when I was garrisoned at Valance.’”
“Quite true! Quite true!” Monsieur Morrel exclaimed, delighted. “It was Policar Morrel, my uncle, who afterwards became a captain. Dantès, you must tell my uncle that the Emperor still remembers him and you will see tears of joy in the old soldier’s eyes. Well, well!” he added, giving Dantès a friendly tap on the shoulder, “you were quite right in carrying out Captain Leclère’s instructions and putting in at the Isle of Elba, though if it were known that you delivered a packet to the Maréchal and talked with the Emperor you might get into trouble.”
“How so?” said Dantès. “I don’t even know what the packet contained, and the Emperor merely made such inquiries as he would of any newcomer. But excuse me, monsieur, for one moment, here are the medical and customs officers coming on board.”
As the young man departed Danglars approached.
“Well,“ said he, “it would seem that he has given you good reasons for dropping anchor off Porto Ferrajo?”
“Most satisfactory ones, dear Monsieur Danglars.”
“So much the better,“ replied the purser, “for it is never pleasant to see a comrade neglect his duty.”
“Dantès certainly did his, and there is nothing more to be said on the matter. It was Captain Leclère who ordered him to call at Elba.”
“Talking of Captain Leclére, hasn’t Dantès given you a letter from him?”
“No, was there one for me?”
“I think that, in ...
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
I saw the movie and decided to read the book. I am so glad I did! So different from the movie and I would love it if they did a mini series on the book. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Umm Salim
I enjoyed this book. It was one that I kept thinking I had read but finally had to admit that I'd only seen several movie versions. Read morePublished 1 day ago by jojo
A timeless adventure, still a fun read after 172 years. To me, the best part was the education of Edmund Dantes by an imprisoned priest, who's
death finally enabled him to... Read more
What can I say? It's a classic that will forever be in my heart.Published 3 days ago by Birdy EatToast
The book was great, with correctly annotated chapters. One problem though was the missing illustrations that it seems was replaced by something like: "Original 1347m" where... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Nikolai Magnussen
ALL THE FREAKING FEELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I never in a million years would have thought I would love this book! Read more