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The Count of Monte Cristo

[mon-tee kris-toh]
The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It is often considered, along with The Three Musketeers, as Dumas' most popular work. It is also among the highest selling books of all time. The writing of the work was completed in 1844. Like many of his novels, it is expanded from the plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.

The story takes place in France, Italy, islands in the Mediterranean and the Levant during the historical events of 1815–1838 (from just before the Hundred Days through the reign of Louis-Philippe of France). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book. It is primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, forgiveness and death, and is told in the style of an adventure story.

Background to writing

Though no proof has been issued over the years, some believe that Dumas got the idea for The Count of Monte Cristo from a very authentically similar, though very factually different story which he found in a book compiled by Jacques Peuchet, French police archivist. Though none of the works of Jacques Peuchet were published until after his death, a mysteriously similar story based on the records gathered from his days in the police service was later published under his name. Peuchet related the tale of a shoemaker named Pierre Picaud, who was living in Nimes in 1807. Picaud had been engaged to marry a rich woman, but three jealous friends falsely accused him of being a spy for England. He was imprisoned for seven years. During his imprisonment a dying fellow prisoner bequeathed him a treasure hidden in Milan. When Picaud was released in 1814, he took possession of the treasure, returned under another name to Paris and spent ten years plotting his successful revenge against his former friends.'''

Plot summary

The Wrongful Trial

Edmond Dantès, a dashing 19-year-old sailor aboard the ship Pharaon, returns home to Marseille. He is excited to be reunited with his family and friends, and eager to marry his lovely fiancée, the Catalan beauty Mercédès. He is also proud of his recent promotion to captain. At the same time, he is saddened by the recent death of his friend Captain Leclère, his predecessor.

Captain Leclère, a supporter of the now exiled Napoléon, had charged Dantès on his deathbed to deliver a package to former Grand Marshal Maréchal Bertrand, who had been exiled to the isle of Elba. During the Pharaon's stop at Elba, Dantès spoke to Napoléon himself, who asked the sailor to deliver a confidential letter to a man in Paris.

Edmond's good fortune inspires jealousy in those close to him. His promotion to captain offends the ship's purser, Danglars; his windfall stuns his neighbour, the impoverished tailor Caderousse; his relationship with Mercédès inspires the jealousy of her cousin Fernand Mondego, who wants Mercédès for his own. Danglars writes an anonymous letter to the crown prosecutor accusing Dantès of being a Bonapartist traitor. Inflaming his jealousy, he instigates Fernand to send the letter, while Caderousse looks on in a drunken stupor, his slurred words goading on the others and revealing his true feelings of jealousy.

Villefort, the deputy crown prosecutor in Marseille, assumes the duty of investigating the matter on Dantès' wedding day and on the day of his own betrothal to Renée de Saint-Meran; he indeed finds an incriminating letter. Dantès knows nothing of its contents, only that he was asked to deliver it. Although at first sympathetic to Dantès' case, when Villefort questions Dantès as to where and to whom the letter was to be delivered, he discovers to his horror that it is addressed to his own father, Noirtier de Villefort, a well known Bonapartist.

Due to the political climate created by the restoration of King Louis XVIII, Villefort wants to distance himself from his Bonapartist father. The deputy crown prosecutor burns the letter, which has the potential to fatally hinder his success. Although Villefort would rather not imprison an innocent man, he ultimately chooses to save his political career rather than properly exercise justice and condemns Dantès to life imprisonment in the island prison of the Château d'If, using his knowledge of the letter's contents to advance himself and his career at the court of Louis XVIII.

Escape to riches

While in prison, Edmond slowly sinks into despair and finally looks to God for salvation. After years of solitary confinement in a small, fetid dungeon, Dantès loses all hope and contemplates suicide by means of starving himself. His will to live is restored, however, by faint sounds of digging. Dantès soon begins his own tunnel to reach that of his fellow prisoner, the Abbé Faria, an Italian priest whose escape tunnel has strayed in the wrong direction. The two prisoners eventually connect and quickly become friends.

The old man, a gifted scholar as well as a priest, provides Edmond with a comprehensive education in subjects including languages, history, economics, philosophy, and mathematics. Edmond also learns the manners of polite society, growing in confidence and sophistication. Aside from the lessons, the two discuss Edmond's betrayal and piece together the events that placed the young man in his brutal predicament.

Both men continue to work assiduously on their tunnel, but the elderly and infirm Faria does not survive to see its completion. Knowing that he would soon die, Faria confides in Dantès the location of a great cache of treasure on the Italian islet of Monte Cristo.

After his mentor dies, Dantès uses the opportunity to escape. He moves Faria's body into his own cell and then slips into Faria's body bag. To Dantès surprise, instead of carrying him to the burial ground, as he had expected, the prison guards attach a cannonball to Edmond's feet and throw him into the sea. Edmond plummets from the cliff side, crashing into the cold Mediterranean Sea.

Remarkably, and with the help of a sailor's training, Dantès frees himself and swims toward a nearby island. A great storm rages, and Edmond is nearly drowned. The next day, Edmond discovers a shipwreck from the previous evening's storm. Cleverly, Dantès flags down a passing ship and pretends to be its sole survivor. He boards the new vessel and quickly realizes that his comrades are actually a group of smugglers. After months of gaining their trust and respect, Edmond suggests the isle of Monte Cristo as an ideal location to trade smuggled goods. Once on the islet, Edmond feigns an injury, asking to be left behind until the crew can return to pick him up. Although reluctant to leave Edmond, the crew departs. Dantès, alone on the island, is free to search for his hidden treasure.

Edmond's sufferings have had a profound effect on him and even changed his physical appearance—to the extent that even his closest friends and former associates would not recognize him. Intellectually, his studies with the Abbé give him a much greater depth and breadth of knowledge, and his wealth grants him access to the highest levels of society. Perhaps the greatest change to Dantès is psychological. His betrayal by men whom he had trusted removes the naiveté of his idealistic youth and replaces it with the cynicism of bitter experience.

Revenge

Nine years after his return to Marseille, Dantès puts into action his plan for revenge. He reinvents himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, a mysterious, fabulously rich aristocrat. He surfaces first in Rome, where he becomes acquainted with Franz d'Epinay, a young aristocrat, and Albert de Morcerf, Mercédès's and Mondego's son. He subsequently moves to Paris, where he becomes the sensation of the city. Due to his knowledge and rhetorical power, even his enemies find him charming, and because of his status, they all desire his friendship.

Traveling in disguise under the alias of the Abbé Busoni, Monte Cristo first meets Caderousse, now living in poverty, supposedly being punished by God for his jealousy and cowardice in not acting to save Dantès. Playing on Caderousse's greed, Monte Cristo learns about what has happened since his arrest, and how his other enemies have all become wealthy and prosperous. Since Caderousse has already been punished to some extent, Monte Cristo gives him a diamond that can be either a chance to redeem himself, or a trap that will lead his greed to ruin him. Caderousse's greed leads him into murder, until Monte Cristo frees him and gives him another chance at redemption. He does not take it, and becomes a career criminal. Caderousse's greed is the death of him when he is murdered by a confederate—actually the illegitimate son of Villefort (see below) —while trying to rob Monte Cristo's house. Caderousse begs for Monte Cristo to give him another chance, but the Count refuses, grimly noting that the last two times he did so, Caderousse did not change his behavior.

Monte Cristo then meets Danglars, who has become a banker. Monte Cristo dazzles him with his seemingly endless wealth, eventually persuades him to extend him 6,000,000 francs credit, and withdraws nine hundred thousand. Under the terms of the arrangement, Monte Cristo can demand access to the remainder at any time. The Count manipulates the bond market and quickly destroys a large portion of Danglars' fortune, and the rest of it begins to rapidly disappear.

Monte Cristo owns an Albanian slave, Haydée. Her noble father, Ali Pasha, the ruler of Janina, had implicitly trusted Fernand, only to be betrayed by him in a war. After his death, she and her mother Vasiliki were sold into slavery. The Count manipulates Danglars into researching the event, which is published in a newspaper. As a result, Fernand is brought to trial for his crimes. Haydée testifies against him, and Fernand is disgraced.

Mercédès had married Fernand and borne him a son, Albert. She alone recognizes Monte Cristo. When Albert blames Monte Cristo for his father's downfall and publicly challenges him to a duel, Mercédés goes secretly to Monte Cristo and begs him to spare her son. During this interview, she learns the entire truth about why Edmond Dantès had been arrested and imprisoned, and later to save both Monte Cristo and Albert, reveals the truth to Albert, which causes Albert to make a public apology to Monte Cristo. Albert and Mercédès disown Fernand, who subsequently commits suicide. The mother and son depart to build a new life free of disgrace, he to Africa as a soldier to rebuild his life and honor under a new family name Herrera given to him by his mother, and she to a solitary life back in Marseille.

Last to feel Monte Cristo's vengeance is Villefort. Villefort's family is divided. Valentine, his daughter by his first wife, stands to inherit the entire fortune of her grandfather and of her mother's parents (the Saint-Mérans), while his second wife, Héloïse, seeks the fortune for her small son Édouard. Monte Cristo is aware of Héloïse's intentions, and "innocently" introduces her to the technique of poison. Héloïse fatally poisons the Saint-Mérans, so that Valentine gets their inheritance. However, Valentine is disinherited by Villefort's father, her grandfather Noirtier, in an attempt by Noirtier to prevent Valentine's impending marriage with Franz d'Epinay. The marriage plans fail when d'Epinay learns that Noirtier was the killer of his father, General Quesnel. At this time Noirtier reinstates Valentine in the will, and Héloïse attempts to poison the elderly man. However, her attempt fails when Noirtier's servant Barrois drinks the poison and dies. Héloïse then targets Valentine, so that Édouard will finally get her fortune.

Meanwhile, Monte Cristo haunts Villefort with his past affair with Danglars' wife and the son they had. Years before, Mme Danglars bore a child by Villefort, at a house in Auteuil. Villefort had buried the child, claiming it was stillborn. However, the boy was rescued from his grave and raised by Bertuccio, an enemy of Villefort who attempted to kill the judge on the night of his child's birth. Monte Cristo, whom Bertuccio now serves as a paid servant and who now owns the house in Auteuil, is able to use them against Villefort. As a grown man, the son enters Paris in disguise as Prince Andrea Cavalcanti (sponsored by the Count) and cons Danglars into betrothing his daughter. Caderousse blackmails Andrea, threatening to reveal his past, and Andrea murders Caderousse. Andrea is arrested and about to be prosecuted by Villefort. After Monte Cristo learns that his old friend Morrel's son is in love with Valentine, he saves her by making it appear as though Héloïse's plan to poison Valentine has succeeded and that Valentine is dead (although actually in a drugged sleep caused by a mixture of hashish and opium prepared by Monte Cristo). Villefort learns from Noirtier that Héloïse is a murderer. Villefort confronts Héloïse, giving her the choice of a public execution or committing suicide by poison. Then he goes off to Andrea's trial. There, Andrea reveals that he is Villefort's son, and rescued after Villefort buried him alive. Villefort admits his guilt and flees the court. He feels he is as guilty as his wife, and rushes home to stop her suicide. He finds she has poisoned herself and "taken her son with her." Dantès confronts Villefort. Villefort shows Dantès his dead wife and son, and becomes insane. Dantès tries to resuscitate Édouard, fails, and is remorseful that his revenge has gone too far.

Redemption

Matters, however, are more complicated than Dantès had anticipated. His efforts to destroy his enemies and reward the few who had stood by him become horribly intertwined. Not having foreseen the child's death, Dantès begins to question his role as an agent of a vengeful God. This temporarily deters him from his course of action. During this period of doubt, he questions himself. Dantès comes to terms with his own humanity and is finally able to forgive both his enemies and himself. It is only when he is sure that his cause is just and his conscience is clear, that he can fulfill his plan.

It is thus that Dantès shows some mercy to Danglars, his final victim and the instigator of the plot that had him imprisoned to begin with. Several months after the Count's manipulation of the bond market, all Danglars is left with is a good reputation and some five million francs. The Count asks for the five million to fulfill their credit agreement. Danglars is forced to pay the money, but he then proceeds to embezzle five million francs from the hospitals, and flees to Rome to live in anonymous prosperity. On the way, he is kidnapped by the Count's agent, the celebrated bandit Luigi Vampa. There, in an ironic twist, Danglars is imprisoned the same way that Monte Cristo once was, and experiences for himself the horrors of imprisonment. Told that he will not be fed unless he pays, the miserly Danglars is starved into giving up all but 50,000 francs, which Monte Cristo has returned to the hospitals. Nearly driven mad by his ordeal, Danglars finally repents his crimes to Monte Cristo. His vengeance now tempered by mercy, Monte Cristo forgives Danglars, and allows him to leave with his freedom and the 50,000 francs he has left. Danglars discovers that the captivity has turned his hair white.

Maximilien Morrel is distraught because he believes his true love, Valentine, to be dead. He contemplates suicide after witnessing her funeral. Monte Cristo reveals himself to be the person who rescued Mr. Morrel from suicide years earlier. Maximilien is grateful and is persuaded by Monte Cristo to delay his suicide for a month. A month later, on the island of Monte Cristo, the count presents Valentine to Maximilien and reveals that he saved her from the poison attempt of her mother, and that Valentine's "death" was a ruse thought up by the Count himself. Monte Cristo then leaves the island and sends his friend Jacopo to deliver a letter to them which reveals that he has bequeathed the Monte Cristo island and his Paris mansions to Maximilien. Haydée offers Edmond (Monte Cristo) a new love and life.

Characters

There are a large number of characters in this book, and the importance of many of the characters is not immediately obvious. Furthermore, the characters' fates are often so inter-woven that their stories overlap significantly.
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Note: Eugénie Danglars runs away from her home with Louise d'Armilly not Julie

Edmond Dantès and his aliases

  • Edmond Dantès (born 1796) — Dantès is initially a generally well-liked sailor who is inexperienced - but not in his profession - and seems to have everything going for him, including a beautiful fiancée (Mercédès) and an impending promotion to ship's captain. After transforming into the Count of Monte Cristo, his original name is revealed to his main enemies only as each revenge is completed, often driving his already weakened victims into despair.
  • Number 34 — Early in Dantès' stay in prison, the governor of the Château d'If is replaced. This governor does not feel it is worth his time to learn the names of all the prisoners, and instead chooses to refer to them by the numbers of their cells. Thus, Dantès is called Number 34 during his imprisonment.
  • Chief Clerk of Thomson and French — Shortly after Edmond escapes and learns of Morrel's sorry state of affairs, he disguises himself as an English senior agent of the banking firm of Thomson and French, with whom Morrel deals, and in this form sees Morrel for the first time in fifteen years. Precise and formal, this persona is a phlegmatic, serious banking officer.
  • Count of Monte Cristo — The persona that Edmond assumes when he escapes from his incarceration and while he carries out his dreadful vengeance. This persona is marked by a pale countenance and a smile which can be diabolical or angelic. Educated and mysterious, this alias is trusted in Paris and fascinates the people.
  • Lord Wilmore — The English persona in which Dantès performs seemingly random acts of generosity. The Englishman is eccentric and refuses to speak French. This eccentric man, in his kindness, is almost the opposite of the Count of Monte Cristo and accordingly the two are supposed to be enemies.
  • Sinbad the Sailor — The persona that Edmond assumes when he saves the Morrel family. Edmond signs a letter to Mlle Julie using this persona, which was accompanied by a large diamond and a red satin purse. (Sinbad the sailor is the common English translation of the original French Simbad le marin.)
  • Abbé Busoni — The persona that Edmond puts forth when he needs deep trust from others because the name itself demands respect via religious authority.

Dantès's allies

  • Abbé Faria — Italian priest and sage; befriends Edmond while both are prisoners in the Château d'If, acts as a father for Edmond Dantès as he said once "I can have my revenge thanks to you my second father", and reveals the secret of the island of Monte Cristo to Edmond. Becomes the surrogate father of Edmond, while imprisoned, digging a tunnel to freedom he educates Edmond in languages, economics, and all the current sciences (including chemistry which comes to his aid greatly during his revenge plan) and is the figurative father of the Count of Monte Cristo. He dies from the third attack of a mysterious hereditary disease.
  • Bertuccio — The Count of Monte Cristo's steward and very loyal servant; in the Count's own words, Bertuccio "knows no impossibility" and is sure of never being dismissed from the Count's service because, as the count states, the count will "never find anyone better." He had declared vendetta against Monsieur de Villefort, for refusal to prosecute Bertuccio's brother's murder. Before ever meeting Edmond, he stabs Villefort, believing him to be dead, but becomes involved in Villefort's personal life by rescuing his illegitimate newborn, later named Benedetto by Bertuccio.
  • Luigi Vampa — Book-reading Italian bandit and fugitive; owes much to the Count of Monte Cristo, and is instrumental in many of the Count's plans.
  • Haydée — The daughter of Ali Pasha is eventually bought by the Count of Monte Cristo from a Sultan. Even though she was purchased as a slave, Monte Cristo treats her with the utmost respect. She lives in seclusion by her own choice, but is usually very aware of everything that is happening outside. She usually goes to local operas accompanied by the Count. At the trial of Fernand Mondego, she provides the key evidence required to convict Fernand of treason. She is deeply in love with the Count of Monte Cristo, and although he feels he is too old for her, he eventually reciprocates.
  • Ali — Monte Cristo's Nubian slave, a mute (his tongue had been cut out as part of his punishment for intruding into the harem of the Bey of Tunis; his hand and head had also been scheduled to be cut off, but the Count bargained with the Bey for Ali's life). He is completely loyal and utterly devoted to the Count and is trusted by him completely. Ali is also a master of horses.
  • Baptistin — Monte Cristo's valet-de-chambre. Although only in Monte Cristo's service for little more than a year, he has become the number three man in the Count's household and seems to have proven himself completely trustworthy and loyal.

Morcerf family

  • Mercédès Mondego — (née: Herrera) Edmond's fiancée at the beginning until their planned marriage is interrupted by Edmond's imprisonment. Eighteen months later, she marries cousin Fernand Mondego (while still pledging eternal love to Dantes) because she believes Edmond dead and feels alone in the world. Thus, she lives as Mme the Countess de Morcerf in Paris and bears a son. At Dantes' release and reappearance as the Count, their love is still evident and passionate but circumstances (including her own marriage and Edmond's involvement with Haydée) dictate that they cannot marry. In the end, she returns to Marseille with Edmond's respect and admiration.
  • Fernand Mondego — Later known as the Count de Morcerf. Edmond's rival and suitor for Mercédès; will do anything to get her, including bearing false witness against Edmond. He is overall a representation of evil, as he lies and betrays throughout his military career for his own personal gain. But, when confronted by his nefarious acts, disgraced in public and abandoned by his wife and son, he commits suicide.
  • Albert de Morcerf — Son of Mercédès and the Count de Morcerf. Befriends Monte Cristo in Rome; viewed by Monte Cristo as the son that should have been his with Mercédès, but does not have as strong a filial bond with him as does Maximilien Morrel. At the end, he realizes his father's faults and, along with his mother, Mercédès, abandons him and his name.

Danglars family

  • Baron Danglars — Initially the purser on the same ship on which Dantès served as first mate, he longs to be wealthy and powerful and becomes jealous of Dantès for his favor with Pierre Morrel. He also developed a grudge against Dantès with whom he has had some arguments regarding the accuracy of his accounting. The source of his wealth is not clear but is possibly due to unscrupulous financial dealings while in the French army and has reportedly been multiplied by speculation and marriage. His intelligence is only evident where money is concerned; otherwise he is a member of the nouveau riche with only superficial good taste (he cannot even tell the difference between original paintings and copies) and no true family feelings.
  • Madame Danglars — Full name is Hermine de Nargonne or Hermine Danglars. Was independently wealthy before marrying Danglars. With help from her close friend (and presumed lover) Lucien Debray, Madame Danglars invests the money of Danglars and is able to amass over a million francs for her own disposal. Once had an affair with Gérard de Villefort, whom she had an illegitimate son with (See Benedetto).
  • Eugénie Danglars — The daughter of Danglars engaged at first to Albert de Morcerf and later to "Andrea Cavalcanti" but who would rather stay unwed, living "an independent and unfettered life" as an artist. She is presented as a lesbian and runs away with another girl, Louise d'Armilly; these connotations were considered scandalous. She and Louise, traveling as brother and sister, requested a room with two beds, yet Benedetto found them in bed together.

Villefort family

  • Gérard de Villefort — A royal prosecutor who has even denounced his own father (Noirtier) in order to protect his own career. He is responsible for imprisoning Edmond Dantès to protect his political aspirations.
  • Valentine de Villefort — The daughter of Gérard de Villefort, the crown prosecutor and enemy of Edmond. She falls in love with Maximilien Morrel, is engaged to Baron Franz d'Epinay, is almost poisoned by her stepmother, saved once by her grandfather, Noirtier, and is finally saved by Dantès. Valentine is the quintessential (French, nineteenth century) female: beautiful, docile, and loving. The only person she feels that she can confide in is her invalid grandfather.
  • Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort — The father of Gérard de Villefort and grandfather of Valentine. After suffering an apoplectic stroke, Noirtier becomes mute and a quadriplegic, but can communicate with Valentine, Gérard and his servant Barrois through use of his eyelids and eyes. Although utterly dependent on others, he saves Valentine from the poison of her stepmother and her undesired marriage to Baron Franz d'Epinay. Throughout his life he was a Bonapartist – an ardent French Revolutionary. Gérard de Villefort had realized that Edmond intended to fulfill his dying captain's last wish by conveying a letter from the imprisoned Napoleon to Noirtier, and therefore imprisoned Edmond in order to hide that fact, which might have hindered Gérard's advancement.
  • Héloïse de Villefort — The murderous second wife of Villefort who is motivated to protect and nurture her only son and his inheritance.
  • Édouard de Villefort — the only (legitimate) son of Villefort who is unfortunately swept up in his mother's greed. (His name is sometimes translated as Edward de Villefort.)
  • Benedetto — Illegitimate son of de Villefort and Hermine de Nargonne (now Baroness Hermine Danglars); raised by Bertuccio (Monte Cristo's servant) and his sister-in-law, Assunta. Murderer and thief. Returns to Paris as Andrea Cavalcanti.

Morrel family

  • Pierre Morrel — Edmond Dante's patron and owner of the major Marseille shipping firm of Morrel & Son. While a very honest and shrewd businessman, he is very fond of Edmond and eager to advance his interests. After Edmond is arrested, he tries his hardest to help Edmond and is hopeful of Edmond's release when Napoleon is restored to power, but because of his sympathies for the Bonapartist cause is forced to back down and abandon all hope after the Hundred Days and second Restoration of the monarchy. Between 1825 and 1830, his firm undergoes critical financial reverses due to the loss of all of his ships at sea, and he is at the point of bankruptcy and suicide when Monte Cristo (in the guise of an English clerk from the financial firm of Thompson and French) sets events in motion which not only save Pierre Morrel's reputation and honor but also his life.
  • Maximilien Morrel — He is the son of Edmond's employer, Pierre Morrel, a captain in the Spahi regiment of the Army stationed in Algiers and an Officer of the Legion of Honor. After Edmond's escape and the Count of Monte Cristo's debut in Paris, Maximilien becomes a very good friend to the Count of Monte Cristo, yet still manages to force the Count to change many of his plans, partly by falling in love with Valentine de Villefort.
  • Julie Herbault — Daughter of Edmond's patron, Pierre Morrel, she marries Emmanuel Herbault.
  • Emmanuel Herbault — Julie Herbault's husband; he had previously worked in Pierre Morrel's shipping firm and is the brother-in-law of Maximilien Morrel and son-in-law of Pierre Morrel.

Other important characters

  • Gaspard Caderousse — A tailor and originally a neighbour and friend of Dantès, he witnesses while drunk the writing by Danglars of the denunciation of Dantès. After Dantès is arrested, he is too cowardly to come forward with the truth. Caderousse is somewhat different from the other members of the conspiracy in that it is what he does not do, rather than what he actually plans, that leads to Dantès' arrest. He moves out of town, becomes an innkeeper, falls on hard times, and supplements his income by fencing stolen goods from Bertuccio. After his escape from prison, Dantès (and the reader) first hear the fates of many of the characters from Caderousse. Unlike the other members of the conspiracy, Monte Cristo offers Caderousse a chance to redeem himself, but the latter's greed proves his undoing.
  • Louis Dantès — Edmond's father. After his son's imprisonment, he eventually died from starvation.
  • Baron Franz d'Epinay — A friend of Albert de Morcerf, he is the first fiancé of Valentine de Villefort. Franz's father was killed in a duel by Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort.
  • Lucien Debray — Secretary to the Minister of the Interior. A friend of Albert de Morcerf, and a close friend of Madame Danglars, to whom he funnels insider information regarding investments.
  • Beauchamp — A leading journalist and friend of Albert de Morcerf.
  • Raoul, Baron de Château-Renaud — Another friend of Albert de Morcerf. Renaud's life was saved in Africa by Maximilien Morrel.

Publication

The Count of Monte Cristo was originally published in the Journal des Débats in eighteen parts. Publication ran from August 28 1844 through January 15, 1846. It was first published in Paris by Pétion in 18 volumes (1844-5). Complete versions of the novel in the original French were published throughout the nineteenth century.

The most common English translation was originally published in 1846 by Chapman and Hall. 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.

Various abridged translations of the novel are also in print, mostly due to the large size of the book in its unabridged form.

Editions

  • ISBN 2-221-06457-7, French language edition
  • ISBN 0-19-283395-2, 1846 translation (Oxford World's Classics)
  • ISBN 0-396-08255-6, 1984 edition, copyrighted by Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. as a part of the Great Illustrated Classics seies, 1472 pages, complete and seemingly unabridged
  • (no ISBN), Copyright 1946 by the McGraw-Hill Book Company (complete and unabridged; forward by André Maurois)
  • ISBN 0-14-044926-4, Penguin Classics (complete and unabridged; translation, introduction and notes by Robin Buss)
  • ISBN 1-85326-733-3, Wordsworth Classics (complete and unabridged)
  • ISBN 0-375-76030-X, Modern Library Classics (complete and unabridged, introduction by Lorenzo Carcaterra)
  • ISBN 0-451-52195-1, Unknown English translation (Signet Classic)
  • ISBN 0-553-21350-4, Bantam Classic (Translated and Abridged by Lowell Bair)
  • ISBN 1-59308-335-5, Barnes & Noble Classics (Introduction By Luc Sante)
  • ISBN 9781403927934, Macmillan India (Translated and Abridged by Beatrice Conway)

Homages and adaptations

See The Count of Monte Cristo (film) for a list of film adaptations

  • Alexandre Dumas wrote a set of the three plays that collectively told the story of The Count of Monte Cristo: Monte Cristo (1848), Le Comte de Morcerf (1851), and Villefort (1851).
  • The Telugu film "Veta" starring Chiranjeevi is an unabashed copy of The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • The film The Return of Monte Christo (1946), directed by Henry Levin, is a sequel to the book.
  • In 1881 the French author Jules Lermina (1839-1915) wrote a unofficial sequel titled the Son of Monte Cristo.
  • The Son of Monte Cristo which was directed by Rowland V. Lee was made into a film in 1940. Starring Louis Hayward as a sequel to the 1934 Count of Monte Cristo (Also directed by Rowland V. Lee.)
  • The Countess of Monte Cristo. In 1869 French Author Jean Charles Du Boys (1836-1873) published an unofficial sequel The Countess of Monte Cristo.
  • The Countess of Monte Cristo (as an unrelated comedy that borrows the same name as the 1869 book) was made in to a film twice. A 1934 version and a 1948 version.
  • The Wife of Monte Cristo is a 1946 film and is a reimaging of the Count of Monte Cristo story and is one of few films to display Edmond Dantes and Princess Haydee as a married couple.
  • Jules Verne dedicated his 27th novel Mathias Sandorf to Alexandre Dumas, basing its plot on The Count of Monte Cristo. In the dedication he stated he wished to "make Sandorf the Monte Cristo of his Extraordinary Voyages."
  • Lew Wallace went on record that The Count of Monte Cristo was one of the chief inspirations for Ben-Hur.
  • Alfred Bester's classic science fiction novel The Stars My Destination (1956) is a retelling of much of the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Jinyong's wuxia novel Requiem of Ling Sing (1963) is widely regarded as having a similar plot to The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • The episode of The Simpsons entitled "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times" features a segment, "The Count of Monte Fatso", starring Homer in the title role.
  • Stephen Fry's novel The Stars' Tennis Balls, retitled Revenge in the American printing, is, by his own admission "a straight steal, virtually identical in all but period and style to Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo" - indeed, most character names are anagrams or cryptic references to characters from Dumas' work.
  • Arturo Pérez-Reverte wrote Queen of the South as a modern-day rendition of the tale, with a female drug dealer as the protagonist.
  • Padayottam, a Malayalam film inspired by this story, was the first indigenous 70mm movie in India.
  • A critically acclaimed Venezuelan telenovela, La Dueña, is inspired by the novel.
  • Many acclaimed Latin soap operas are inspired by the novel. To mention a few: Amor Gitano (Gypsy Love, from Mexico), Renzo el gitano (Renzo the gypsy, from Puerto Rico) and Dueña y Señora (The Owner and Lady, from Puerto Rico). Further telenovelas such as La verdad oculta (The Hidden Truth, from Mexico) and Acorralada (Trapped, from Miami), have many elements taken from the book.
  • Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, a pastiche of the original story, is an anime series produced in 2004 by GONZO and directed by Mahiro Maeda.
  • Park Chan-wook's 2003 film, Oldboy, and the manga it is based on, Oldboy written by Garon Tsuchiya, pays partial homage to The Count of Monte Cristo story. For instance, the protagonist is jailed in a private cell for a long time period (15 years in the film; 10 in the manga), and the TV is the prisoner's only company, where he is able to acquire knowledge from the outside world. Upon release, the protagonist is given money and new clothes, and seeks vengeance upon his captors. A strong theme of vengeance and revenge, as in the Monte Cristo story, pervades both the manga and the film. Also, in one scene of the film, Oh-Dae Su is referred to as "The Count of Monte Cristo" in jest by an antagonist.
  • The film The Shawshank Redemption features many of the same themes as The Count of Monte Cristo. It centers on Andy Dufresne, a man falsely imprisoned, who eventually makes a daring escape from prison. He then collects a large sum of money which he had amassed for his jailers, and achieves vengeance upon those who wronged him while in jail. The Count of Monte Cristo itself is mentioned in the movie.
  • The film V for Vendetta references the Count of Monte Cristo many times.
  • In the film Sleepers the Count of Monte Cristo is taught in the children's class in juvenile jail. It serves as foreshadowing to their long wait before eventual revenge on the jail's guards.
  • The German progressive metal band Vanden Plas released a concept album Christ 0 in March 2006, which interprets the story of Monte Cristo.
  • In 2007, the Colombian TV Channel Caracol, made an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, into a Soap Opera, called Montecristo.
  • Singer songwriter Warwick Lobban references the Count of Monte Cristo in his song Calming Monte Cristo.
  • Christopher Bond adapted the true crime story of a barber who killed his customers by slitting their throats by adding a fictional framework of exile and revenge, inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo. This story was later itself adapted as Stephen Sondheim's operetta Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
  • Life (US TV series), a 2007 series on NBC in the United States and also shown in Australia, features the character Charlie Crews who was wrongfully imprisoned for twelve years, only to be released after DNA evidence exonerated him. He received a very large monetary settlement against the city of Los Angeles for his wrongful imprisonment and upon his release resumed his career in the LAPD and sought to find those who set him up and exact revenge against them.
  • The Noisettes have a song entitled The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Exact Revenge by novelist Tim Green is a contemporary retelling of the story.
  • The novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain includes a section which relates to the story of the Count of Monte Cristo, with Tom suggesting they tunnel in to save Jim, telling Huck, "Haven't you ever heard of the Castle Deef!"
  • Jean-Dominique Bauby's book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and it's film adaptation reference Monsieur Noirtier de Villeforte. Jean Bauby also had locked-in syndrome.
  • Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, was influenced by "The Count of Monte Cristo". He used the same theme of Monte Cristo in his second novel El Filibusterismo. In the novel, Crisostomo Ibarra (the protagonist of Rizal's first novel, Noli Me Tangere), returns as Simoun, a rich jeweller, to avenge the betrayal he experienced and to recover his fiancee, Maria Clara.
  • Ian Hylands adapted the book in 2005 into an internationally produced play. Produced in the UK and the United States, the story was modified to make the Count's vengeance more psychologically accurate, whilst remaining a faithful interpretation of the novel's themes and story. Many of the characters and relationships were retained, although modified in some cases, to contribute to the pace of the play. Notably, the Count's assistants, footmen and helpers were condensed into Jacopo and Haydée. The relationship between Gérard Villefort and Madame Danglars was eliminated, tho referenced with a line by Jacopo who confesses to stealing the baby from Auteuil. In the play, he states that the child was wild and put to death in Corsica.
  • Erotic Novelist Colette Gale adapted The Count of Monte Cristo in her novel Master: An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo, published by Penguin/NAL May 2008.
  • Jeffrey Archer's book A Prisoner of Birth is a dedication to The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • The Writers Jon Smith and Leon Parris adapted The Count of Monte Cristo into a 2 hour stage musical entitled 'Monte Cristo - The musical'. A excerpt from the show was performed by a youth cast at the Birmingham Hippodrome, England in August 2006.

See also

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References

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