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The Count of Monte cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père. Highly recommended.

Apart from 'The Three Musketeers', this is probably Alexandre Dumas' most famous work and one of the greatest novels in Western literature: a novel every literate and educated person should read at least once in their lives.

In this story, Edmond Dantes is an innocent man who was caught in the intrigues of Napoleon's escape from Elba and his 100 days of power until

Waterloo. With the help of Abbot Faria, a dying prisoner who knows the secret of a great hidden treasure on the small islet of Monte Cristo, Dantes escapes and prepares to unleash his revenge on those who did him wrong. For years he spends his time meticulously preparing his vengeful scheme against the treacherous friends and characters who left him to rot in prison for years and years. He refines his arts of disguise, alchemy, and manipulation to content himself with the ruin of his enemies.

Unlike the adventure themes in his works such as 'The Three Musketeers', this story is a deep character study on being the victim of utmost injustice and how cruel revenge is sweet after all: how a wronged man is entitled to become the agent of divine retribution when God and mortal laws have abandoned his cause. The various themes, complex plot, profound character development, and rich prose makes this long work undoubtedly one of the greatest works of literature ever written: Dumas was without question a literary genius.

As translator Robin Buss points out in his introduction, many of those who haven't read The Count of Monte Cristo assume it is a children's adventure story, complete with daring prison escape culminating in a simple tale of revenge. Although the plot is roughly linear beginning with Edmond

Dantès' return to Marseille, prenuptial celebration, and false imprisonment and ending with his somewhat qualified triumphant departure from Marseille and France, Dumas uses the technique of interspersing lengthy anecdotes

throughout. The story of Cardinal Spada's treasure, the origins of the Roman bandit Luigi Vampa, Bertuccio's tale of his vendetta, and the account of the betrayal and death of Ali Pasha are few of the more significant

This novel is not a simple tale of simple revenge. The count does not kill his enemies; he brilliantly uses their vices and weaknesses against them.

Caderousse's basic greed is turned against him, while Dangl ars loses the only thing that has any meaning for him. Fernand is deprived of the one thing that he had that he had never earned-his honour. In the process, he loses the source of his initial transgression, making his fate that much more poignant.

The plot against Villefort is so complicated that even Monte loses control of it,

resulting in doubt foreign to his nature and remorse that he will not outlive.

The translation appears to be good, with a few slips into contemporary

English idioms that sound out of place. In his introduction, Buss states that the

later Danglars and Fernand have become unrecognizable and that Fernand in

particular has been transformed "from the brave and honest Spaniard with a

sharp sense of honour . . . to the Parisian aristocrat whose life seems to have

been dedicated to a series of betrayals." There is never anything honest or

honourable about Fernand;

Countess G- is quick to point out that there is no old family name of Monte

Cristo and that the count, like many other contemporaries, has purchased his

title. It serves mainly to obscure his identity, nationality, and background and to

add to the aura of mystery his persona and Eastern knowledge create. What is

most telling is that his entrée into Parisian society is based primarily on his

great wealth, not his name. Dumas reinforces this point with Andrea Cavalcanti,

another mystery man of unknown name and reputed fortune.

When I started to read it. I couldn't put it down, with its nearly seamless

plot, dark protagonist, human villains, turbulent historical setting, and

larger-than-life sense of mystery. At 1,078 pages, it's imposing, but don't cheat

yourself by settling for an abridged version. You'll want to pick up every

nuance.

The Count of Monte cristo

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