The Count of Monte Cristo
in collaboration with Auguste Maquet
|Original title||Le Comte de Monte-Cristo|
The Count of Monte Cristo (French: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas (père) completed in 1844. It is one of the author's most popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. Like many of his novels, it is expanded from plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.
The story takes place in France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean during the historical events of 1815–1839: the era of the Bourbon Restoration through the reign of Louis-Philippe of France. It begins just before the Hundred Days period (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book, an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness. It focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. However, his plans have devastating consequences for the innocent as well as the guilty. In addition, it is a story that involves romance, loyalty, betrayal, and selfishness, shown throughout the story as characters slowly reveal their true inner nature.
The book is considered a literary classic today. According to Luc Sante, "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."
- 1 Background to the plot
- 2 Plot summary
- 3 Characters
- 4 Publication
- 5 Reception and legacy
- 6 Historical background
- 7 Selected notable adaptations
- 8 References
- 9 Notes
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Background to the plot
Dumas wrote that the idea of revenge in The Count of Monte Cristo came from a story in a book compiled by Jacques Peuchet, a French police archivist, published in 1838 after the death of the author. Dumas included this essay in one of the editions from 1846. Peuchet told of a shoemaker, Pierre Picaud, living in Nîmes in 1807, who was engaged to marry a rich woman when three jealous friends falsely accused him of being a spy for England. Picaud was placed under a form of house arrest in the Fenestrelle Fort, where he served as a servant to a rich Italian cleric. When the man died, he left his fortune to Picaud, whom he had begun to treat as a son. Picaud then spent years plotting his revenge on the three men who were responsible for his misfortune. He stabbed the first with a dagger on which were printed the words "Number One", and then he poisoned the second. The third man's son he lured into crime and his daughter into prostitution, finally stabbing the man himself. This third man, named Loupian, had married Picaud's fiancée while Picaud was under arrest.
In another of the "True Stories", Peuchet describes a poisoning in a family. This story, also quoted in the Pleiade edition, has obviously served as model for the chapter of the murders inside the Villefort family. The introduction to the Pleiade edition mentions other sources from real life: Abbé Faria existed and died in 1819 after a life with much resemblance to that of the Faria in the novel. As for Dantès, his fate is quite different from his model in Peuchet's book, since the latter is murdered by the "Caderousse" of the plot. But Dantès has "alter egos" in two other Dumas works; in "Pauline" from 1838, and more significantly in "Georges" from 1843, where a young man with black ancestry is preparing a revenge against white people who had humiliated him.
In 1815 Edmond Dantès, a young and successful merchant sailor who has just recently been granted the succession of his erstwhile captain Leclère, returns to Marseille to marry his Catalan fiancée Mercédès. Leclère, a supporter of the exiled Napoléon I, found himself dying at sea and charged Dantès to deliver two objects: a package to General Bertrand (exiled with Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba), and a letter from Elba to an unknown man in Paris. On the eve of his wedding to Mercédès, Fernand (Mercédès' cousin and a rival for her affections) is given subtle advice by Dantès' colleague Danglars (who is jealous of his rapid rise to captain), to send an anonymous note accusing Dantès of being a Bonapartist traitor. Caderousse (Dantès' cowardly and selfish neighbor) is drunk while the two conspirators set the trap for Dantès, and while he objects to the idea of hurting Dantès, he stays quiet the next day as Dantès is arrested then sentenced even though his testimony could have stopped the entire scandal from happening. Villefort, the deputy crown prosecutor in Marseille, while initially sympathetic to Dantès, destroys the letter from Elba when he discovers that it is addressed to his own father, Noirtier (who is a Bonapartist). In order to silence Dantès, he condemns him without trial to life imprisonment.
After six years of imprisonment in the Château d'If, Dantès is on the verge of suicide when he befriends the Abbé Faria ("The Mad Priest"), a fellow prisoner whom he hears trying to tunnel his way to freedom. Faria's calculations on his tunnel were off, and it ends up connecting the two prisoners' cells rather than leading to freedom. Over the course of the next eight years, Faria comes to give Dantès an extensive education in language, culture, and science. He also explains to Dantès how Danglars, Fernand, and Villefort would each have had their own reasons for wanting Dantès in prison. Knowing himself to be close to death, Faria tells Dantès the location of a treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. When Faria dies, Dantès takes his place in the burial sack, moving the corpse to his own bed through their tunnel. When the guards throw the sack into the sea, Dantès escapes and swims to a nearby island - an extremely difficult feat because of the Château d'If's isolated location and dangerous offshore currents. No one was known to have escaped the prison and survived. Dantès is rescued by a smuggling ship the next morning. After several months of working with the smugglers, the ship makes a stop at Monte Cristo. Dantès fakes an injury and persuades the smugglers to leave him temporarily on the island while they finish their trip without him. He then makes his way to the hiding place of the treasure. After recovering the treasure, he leaves the smuggling business, buys a yacht, and returns to Marseille, where he begins to find out what became of everyone from his previous life. He later purchases both the island of Monte Cristo and the title of Count from the Tuscan government.
Returning to Marseille, Dantès learns that his father died of starvation during his imprisonment, but before embarking on his efforts for revenge, he first helps several people who were kind to him before his imprisonment. Traveling as the Abbé Busoni, he meets Caderousse, now living in poverty, whose intervention might have saved Dantès from prison. Dantès learns that his other enemies have all become wealthy. He gives Caderousse a diamond that can be either a chance to redeem himself, or a trap that will lead to his ruin. Learning that his old employer Morrel is on the verge of bankruptcy, Dantès, in the guise of a senior clerk from a banking firm, buys all of Morrel's outstanding debts and gives Morrel an extension of three months to fulfill his obligations. At the end of the three months and with no way to repay his debts, Morrel is about to commit suicide when he learns that all of his debts have been mysteriously paid and that one of his lost ships has returned with a full cargo, secretly rebuilt and laden by Dantès. Dantès rejoices at the Morrel family's joy, then pledges to banish all warm sentiments from his heart and dedicate himself to vengeance.
The Count of Monte Cristo
Returning as the rich Count of Monte Cristo, Dantès takes revenge on the three men responsible for his unjust imprisonment: Fernand, now Count de Morcerf and Mercédès' husband; Danglars, now a baron and a wealthy banker; and Villefort, now procureur du roi — all of whom now live in Paris. The Count appears first in Rome (in the early 1838), where he becomes acquainted with the Baron Franz d'Épinay, and Viscount Albert de Morcerf, the son of Mercédès and Fernand. Dantès arranges for the young Morcerf to be captured by the bandit Luigi Vampa before rescuing him from Vampa's gang. The Count then moves to Paris, and with Albert de Morcerf's introduction, becomes the sensation of the city. Through a series of clever contrivances, the count ingratiates himself to everyone, including his enemies, who do not recognize him. The Count dazzles the crass Danglars with his seemingly endless wealth, eventually persuading him to extend him a credit of six million francs, and withdraws 900,000. Under the terms of the arrangement, the Count can demand access to the remainder at any time. The Count manipulates the bond market, through a false telegraph signal, and quickly destroys a large portion of Danglars' fortune. The rest of it begins to rapidly disappear through mysterious bankruptcies, suspensions of payment, and more bad luck in the Stock Exchange.
Villefort had once conducted an affair with Madame Danglars. She became pregnant and delivered the child in the house that the Count has now purchased. In a desperate attempt to cover up the affair, Villefort told Madame Danglars that the infant had been stillborn. Villefort then smothered the child, and thinking him to be dead, he tried to bury him secretly behind the house. While Villefort was burying the child, he was stabbed by the smuggler Bertuccio (who had sworn vengeance on him after Villefort refused to do anything about the murder of Bertuccio's brother). Bertuccio assumed Villefort was burying treasure. He dug it up, found the near dead child and brought him back to life. Bertuccio's sister-in-law brought the child up, giving him the name "Benedetto." Benedetto takes up a life of crime as he grows into adolescence and spends his time with other young criminals. He decides to rob his adoptive mother (Bertuccio's sister-in-law) and ends up killing her in the process. After that, Benedetto runs away. The Count learns of this story from Bertuccio, who later becomes his servant. He purchases the house and hosts a dinner party there, to which he invites, among others, Villefort and Madame Danglars. During the dinner, the Count announces that, while doing landscaping, he had unearthed a box containing the remains of an infant and had referred the matter to the authorities to investigate. This puzzles Villefort, who knew that the infant's box had been removed and so the Count's story could not be true, and alarms him that perhaps he knows the secret of his past affair with Madame Danglars and may be taunting him.
Meanwhile, Benedetto has grown up to become a criminal and is sentenced to the galleys with Caderousse. After the two are freed by "Lord Wilmore", Benedetto is sponsored by the Count to take the identity of "Viscount Andrea Cavalcanti" and is introduced by him into Parisian society at the same dinner party, with neither Villefort nor Madame Danglars suspecting that Andrea is their presumed dead son. Andrea then ingratiates himself to Danglars who betrothes his daughter Eugénie to Andrea after cancelling her engagement to Albert, son of Fernand. Meanwhile, Caderousse blackmails Andrea, threatening to reveal his past. Cornered by "Abbé Busoni" while attempting to rob the Count's house, Caderousse begs to be given another chance, but Dantès grimly remarks that he had done so twice and Caderousse did not change. He forces Caderousse to write a letter to Danglars exposing Cavalcanti as an impostor and allows Caderousse to leave the house. The moment Caderousse leaves the estate, he is stabbed in the back by Andrea. Caderousse manages to dictate and sign a deathbed statement identifying his killer, and the Count reveals his true identity to Caderousse moments before Caderousse dies.
Years before, Ali Pasha, the ruler of Janina, had been betrayed to the Turks by Fernand. After Ali's death, Fernand sold Ali's wife Vasiliki and his daughter Haydée into slavery. While Vasiliki died shortly afterwards, Haydée was found and bought by Dantès and becomes the Count's ward. 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, still beautiful, is the only person to recognize the Count as Dantès. When Albert blames the Count for his father's downfall and publicly challenges him to a duel, Mercédès goes secretly to the Count and begs him to spare her son. During this interview, she learns the truth of his arrest and imprisonment. She later reveals the truth to Albert, which causes Albert to make a public apology to the Count. Albert and Mercédès disown Fernand, who is confronted with Dantès' true identity and commits suicide. The mother and son depart to build a new life free of disgrace. Albert enlists as a soldier and goes to Africa in order to rebuild his life and honour under a new name, and Mercédès begins a solitary life in Marseille.
Valentine, Villefort's daughter by his late first wife, stands to inherit the fortune of her grandfather (Noirtier) and of her mother's parents (the Saint-Mérans), while Villefort's second wife Héloïse seeks the fortune for her son Édouard. The Count is aware of Héloïse's intentions, and "innocently" introduces her to the technique of poison. Héloïse fatally poisons the Saint-Mérans, so that Valentine inherits their fortune. Valentine is disinherited by Noirtier in an attempt to prevent Valentine's impending marriage with Franz d'Épinay. The marriage is cancelled when d'Épinay learns that his father (believed assassinated by Bonapartists) was actually killed by Noirtier in a duel. Afterwards, Valentine is reinstated in Noirtier's will. After a failed attempt on Noirtier's life, which instead claims the life of Noirtier's servant Barrois, Héloïse then targets Valentine so that Édouard will finally get the fortune. However, Valentine is the prime suspect in her father's eyes in the deaths of the Saint-Mérans and Barrois. On learning that Morrel's son Maximilien is in love with Valentine, the Count saves her by making it appear as though Héloïse's plan to poison Valentine has succeeded and that Valentine is dead. Villefort learns from Noirtier that Héloïse is the real murderer and confronts her, giving her the choice of a public execution or committing suicide by her own poison.
Fleeing after Caderousse's letter exposes him, Andrea gets as far as Compiègne before he is arrested and returned to Paris, where Villefort prosecutes him. While in prison awaiting trial, Andrea is visited by Bertuccio who tells him the truth about his father. At his trial, Andrea reveals that he is Villefort's son and was rescued after Villefort buried him alive. A stunned Villefort admits his guilt and flees the court. He rushes home to stop his wife's suicide but is too late; she has poisoned her son as well. Dantès confronts Villefort, revealing his true identity, but this, combined with the shock of the trial's revelations and the death of his wife and son, drives Villefort insane. Dantès tries to resuscitate Édouard but fails, and despairs that his revenge has gone too far. It is only after he revisits his cell in the Château d'If that Dantès is reassured that his cause is just and his conscience is clear, that he can fulfil his plan while being able to forgive both his enemies and himself.
After the Count's manipulation of the bond market, Danglars is left with only a destroyed reputation and 5,000,000 francs he has been holding in deposit for hospitals. The Count demands this sum to fulfil their credit agreement, and Danglars embezzles the hospital fund. Abandoning his wife, Danglars flees to Italy with the Count's receipt and 50,000 francs in petty cash, hoping to live in Vienna in anonymous prosperity. While leaving Rome, he is kidnapped by the Count's agent Luigi Vampa and is imprisoned in the same way as Albert. Forced to pay exorbitant prices for food and nearly starved to death (as Dantès's father had been), Danglars eventually signs away all of his ill-gotten gains. Dantès anonymously returns the stolen money to the hospitals. Left emaciated, grey-haired and driven nearly mad by his ordeal, Danglars finally repents his crimes. Dantès forgives Danglars and allows him to leave with his freedom and his 50,000 francs.
Maximilien Morrel, believing Valentine to be dead, contemplates suicide after her funeral. Dantès reveals his true identity and explains that he rescued Morrel's father from bankruptcy, disgrace and suicide years earlier; he then tells Maximilien to reconsider his suicide. On the island of Monte Cristo one month later, Dantès presents Valentine to Maximilien and reveals the true sequence of events. Having found peace, Dantès leaves the newly reunited couple his fortune and departs for an unknown destination to find comfort and a new life with Haydée, who has declared her love for him. The reader is left with a final thought: "all human wisdom is contained in these two words, 'Wait and Hope".
Edmond Dantès and his aliases
- Edmond Dantès (born 1796): A sailor with good prospects, engaged to Mercédès. After his transformation into the Count of Monte Cristo, he reveals his true name to his enemies as each revenge is completed. During the course of the novel, he falls in love with Haydee.
- The Count of Monte Cristo: The identity Dantès assumes when he emerges from prison and inherits his vast fortune. As a result, the Count of Monte Cristo is usually associated with a coldness and bitterness that comes from an existence based solely on revenge.
- Zatarra* the name Jacopo gave Dantés as an alias
- English Chief Clerk of the banking firm Thomson and French
- Lord Wilmore: An Englishman, and the persona in which Dantès performs random acts of generosity.
- Sinbad the Sailor: The persona that Dantès assumes when he saves the Morrel family and assumes while mixing with smugglers and brigands.
- Abbé Busoni: The persona of an Italian priest with religious authority.
- Monsieur Zaccone: Dantès, in the guise of the Abbé Busoni, and again as Lord Wilmore, tells an investigator that this is the Count of Monte Cristo's true name.
- Number 34: The name given to him by the new governor of Château d'If. Finding it too tedious to learn Dantès real name, he was called by the number of his cell.
- The Maltese Sailor: The name he was known by after his rescue by smugglers from the island of Tiboulen.
- Abbé Faria: Italian priest and sage. Imprisoned in the Château d'If.
- Giovanni Bertuccio: The Count of Monte Cristo's steward and very loyal servant; foster father of Benedetto.
- Luigi Vampa: celebrated Italian bandit and fugitive.
- Peppino: Formerly a shepherd, he is later a bandit and full member of Vampa's gang.
- Ali: Monte Cristo's mute Nubian slave.
- Baptistin: Monte Cristo's valet-de-chambre.
- Jacopo: A poor smuggler who helps Dantès win his freedom. When Jacopo proves his selfless loyalty, Dantès rewards him with his own ship and crew.
- Mercédès Mondego (née Herrera): Edmond Dantès' lover and fiancée at the beginning of the story. She later marries Fernand and has a son with him, Albert. Despite being Fernand's wife, she remains in love with Edmond.
- Fernand Mondego: Count de Morcerf, Dantès's rival and cousin of Mercédès, whom he eventually marries. Fernand helped frame Edmond in order to get Mercédès and would later become a general in the army, which leads to his betrayal of Haydée's father and sells Haydée and her mother to gain the title "Count".
- Albert de Morcerf: Son of Mercédès and the Viscount de Morcerf, later becomes fond of Monte Cristo and sees him as a friend.
- Baron Danglars: Dantès' jealous junior officer at the beginning of the story, then later a wealthy banker.
- Madame Hermine Danglars (formerly Baroness Hermine de Nargonne née de Servieux): She had an affair with Gérard de Villefort. They had an illegitimate son, Benedetto.
- Eugénie Danglars: Daughter of Baron Danglars. She is free-spirited and aspires to become an independent artist.
- Gérard de Villefort: Royal prosecutor who imprisons Dantès, later becoming acquaintances as Dantès enacts his revenge.
- Renée de Villefort, née de Saint-Méran: Gérard de Villefort's first wife, mother of Valentine.
- The Marquis and Marquise de Saint-Méran: Renée's parents.
- Valentine de Villefort: The daughter of Gérard de Villefort and his first wife, Renée. In love with Maximilien Morrel. Engaged to Baron Franz d'Épinay. She is 19 years old with chestnut hair, dark blue eyes, and "long white hands".
- Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort: The father of Gérard de Villefort and grandfather of Valentine, Édouard (and, without knowing it, Benedetto). A committed anti-royalist. He is paralysed and only able to communicate with his eyes, but retains his mental faculties and acts as protector to Valentine.
- Héloïse de Villefort: The murderous second wife of Gérard de Villefort, mother of Edouard.
- Édouard de Villefort (Edward). The only legitimate son of Villefort.
- Benedetto: The illegitimate son of de Villefort and Baroness Hermine Danglars (Hermine de Nargonne), raised by Bertuccio and his sister-in-law, Assunta, in Rogliano. Becomes "Andrea Cavalcanti" in Paris.
- Pierre Morrel: Dantès's employer, owner of Morrel & Son.
- Maximilien Morrel: Son of Pierre Morrel, an army captain who becomes a friend of Dantès. In love with Valentine de Villefort.
- Julie Herbault: Daughter of Pierre Morrel, wife of Emmanuel Herbault.
- Emmanuel Herbault: an employee of Morrel & Son, who marries Julie Morrel and succeeds to the business.
- Gaspard Caderousse: Originally a tailor and later the owner of an inn, he was a neighbour and friend of Dantès who fails to protect him at the beginning of the story and then turns to crime.
- Louis Dantès: Edmond Dantès' father, who dies from starvation.
- Baron Franz d'Épinay: A friend of Albert de Morcerf, first fiancé of Valentine de Villefort.
- Lucien Debray: Secretary to the Minister of the Interior, a friend of Albert de Morcerf, and a lover of Madame Danglars, whom he provides with inside investment information, which she then passes on to her husband.
- Beauchamp: Journalist and friend of Albert de Morcerf.
- Raoul, Baron de Château-Renaud: Member of a noble family and friend of Albert de Morcerf.
- Louise d'Armilly: Eugénie Danglars' music instructor and her intimate friend (and it is strongly suggested, her lesbian lover).
- Monsieur de Boville: Originally an inspector of prisons, later a detective in the Paris force.
- Barrois: Old, trusted servant of Monsieur de Noirtier.
- Monsieur d'Avrigny: Family doctor treating the Villefort family.
- Major (also Marquis) Bartolomeo Cavalcanti: Old man who plays the role of Prince Andrea Cavalcanti's father.
- Ali Tebelen (Ali Tepelini in some versions): An Albanian nationalist leader, Pasha of Yanina, whom Fernand Mondego betrays, leading to Ali Pasha’s murder at the hands of the Turks and the seizure of his kingdom. His wife and daughter Haydée are sold into slavery by Fernand.
- Countess G-
The Count of Monte Cristo was originally published in the Journal des Débats in eighteen parts. Serialization ran from August 28, 1844 to January 15, 1846. The first edition in book form was published in Paris by Pétion in 18 volumes with the first two issued in 1844 and the remaining sixteen in 1845. Most of the Belgian pirated editions, the first Paris edition and many others up to the Lécrivain et Toubon illustrated edition of 1860 feature a misspelling of the title with “Christo” used instead of “Cristo”. The first edition to feature the correct spelling was the L'echo Des Feuilletons illustrated edition, Paris 1846. This edition featured plates by Gavarni and Tony Johannot and was said to be “revised” and “corrected”, although only the chapter structure appears to have been altered with an additional chapter entitled La Maison des Allées de Meilhan having been created by splitting Le Départ into two.
The first appearance of The Count of Monte Cristo in English was the first part of a serialization by W. Francis Ainsworth in volume VII of Ainsworth's Magazine published in 1845, although this was an abridged summary of the first part of the novel only and was entitled The Prisoner of If. Ainsworth translated the remaining chapters of the novel, again in abridged form, and issued these in volumes VIII and IX of the magazine in 1845 and 1846 respectively. Another abridged serialisation appeared in The London Journal between 1846 and 1847.
The first single volume translation in English was an abridged edition with woodcuts published by Geo Pierce in January 1846 entitled The Prisoner of If or The Revenge of Monte Christo.
In April 1846, volume three of the Parlour Novelist, Belfast, Ireland: Simms and M'Intyre, London: W S Orr and Company, featured the first part of an unabridged translation of the novel by Emma Hardy. The remaining two parts would be issued as the Count of Monte Christo volumes I and II in volumes 8 and 9 of the Parlour Novelist respectively.
The most common English translation is an anonymous one originally published in 1846 by Chapman and Hall. This was originally released in ten weekly installments from March 1846 with six pages of letterpress and two illustratations by M Valentin. The translation was released in book form with all twenty illustrations in two volumes in May 1846, a month after the release of the first part of the above-mentioned translation by Emma Hardy. The translation follows the revised French edition of 1846, with the correct spelling of "Cristo" and the extra chapter The House on the Allées de Meilhan.
Most English editions of the novel follow the anonymous translation. In 1889 two of the major American publishers Little Brown and T.Y Crowell updated the translation, correcting mistakes and revising the text to reflect the original serialised version. This resulted in the removal of the chapter The House on the Allées de Meilhan, with the text restored to the end of the chapter called The Departure.
In 1955 Collins published an updated version of the anonymous translation which cut several passages including a whole chapter entitled The Past and renamed others. This abridgement was republished by many Collins imprints and other publishers including the Modern Library, Vintage, the 1998 Oxford World's Classics edition (later editions restored the text) and the 2009 Everyman's Library edition.
In 1996 Penguin Classics published a new translation by Robin Buss. Buss's translation updated the language, making the text more accessible to modern readers, and restored content that was modified in the 1846 translation because of Victorian English social restrictions (for example, references to Eugénie's lesbian traits and behaviour) to reflect Dumas' original version.
In addition to the above there have also been many abridged translations such as an 1892 edition published by F.M Lupton, translated by Henry L. Williams (this translation was also released by M.J Ivers in 1892 with Williams using the pseudonym of Professor William Thiese). A more recent abridgement is the translation by Lowell Blair for Bantam Classics in 1956.
Reception and legacy
The original work was published in serial form in the Journal des Débats in 1844. Carlos Javier Villafane Mercado described the effect in Europe:
- The effect of the serials, which held vast audiences enthralled ... 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.
George Saintsbury stated: "Monte Cristo is said to have been at its first appearance, and for some time subsequently, the most popular book in Europe. Perhaps no novel within a given number of years had so many readers and penetrated into so many different countries." This popularity has extended into modern times as well. The book 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 ... as well as several television series, and many movies [have] worked the name 'Monte Cristo' into their titles." The title Monte Cristo lives on in a "famous gold mine, a line of luxury Cuban cigars, a sandwich, and any number of bars and casinos—it even lurks in the name of the street-corner hustle three-card monte."
The novel has been the inspiration for many other works, from Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur (1880), a science fiction retelling in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination, to Stephen Fry's contemporary The Stars' Tennis Balls.
The success of Monte Cristo coincides with France's Second Empire. In the book, Dumas tells of the 1815 return of Napoleon I, and alludes to contemporary events when the governor at the Château d'If is promoted to a position at the castle of Ham.[Notes 1] The attitude of Dumas towards "bonapartisme" was conflicted. His father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas,[Notes 2] a Haitian of mixed descent, became a successful general during the French Revolution. New racial-discrimination laws were applied in 1802, and the general was dismissed from the army and became profoundly bitter toward Napoleon. In 1840, the ashes of Napoleon I were brought to France and became an object of veneration in the church of Les Invalides, renewing popular patriotic support for the Bonaparte family.
In "Causeries" (1860), Dumas published a short paper, "État civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo", on the genesis of the Count of Monte-Cristo.[Notes 3] It appears that Dumas had close contacts with members of the Bonaparte family while living in Florence in 1841. In a small boat he sailed around the island of Monte-Cristo accompanied by a young prince, a cousin to Louis Bonaparte, who was to become emperor of France ten years later. During this trip he promised the prince that he would write a novel with the island's name in the title. At that time the future emperor was imprisoned at the citadel of Ham – a name that is mentioned in the novel. Dumas did visit him there, although he does not mention it in "Etat civil". In 1840 Louis Napoleon was sentenced to life in prison, but escaped in disguise in 1846, while Dumas's novel was a great success. Just in the manner of Dantès, Louis Napoleon reappeared in Paris as a powerful and enigmatic man of the world. In 1848, however, Dumas did not vote for Louis Napoleon. The novel may have contributed, against the will of the writer, to the victory of the future Napoleon III.
A chronology of The Count of Monte Cristo and Bonapartism
During the life of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas:
- 1793: Thomas-Alexandre Dumas is promoted to the rank of general in the army of the First French Republic.
- 1794: He disapproves of the revolutionary terror in Western France.
- 1795-97: He becomes famous and fights under Napoleon.
- 1802: Black officers are dismissed from the army. The Empire re-establishes slavery.
- 1802: Birth of his son, Alexandre Dumas père.
- 1806: Thomas-Alexandre Dumas dies, still bitter about the injustice of the Empire.
During the life of Alexandre Dumas:
- 1832: The only son of Napoleon I dies.
- 1836: Alexandre Dumas is famous as a writer by this time (age 34).
- 1836: First putsch by Louis Napoleon, aged 28, fails.
- 1840: A law is passed to bring the ashes of Napoleon I to France.
- 1840: Second putsch of Louis Napoleon. He is imprisoned for life and becomes known as the candidate for the imperial succession.
- 1841: Dumas lives in Florence and becomes acquainted with King Jérôme and his son, Napoléon.
- 1841-44: The story is conceived and written.
- 1844-46: The story is published in parts in a Parisian magazine.
- 1846: The novel is published in full and becomes a European bestseller.
- 1846: Louis Napoleon escapes from his prison.
- 1848: French Second Republic. Louis Napoleon is elected its first president but Dumas does not vote for him.
- 1857: Dumas publishes État civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo
Selected notable adaptations
Film and TV
- 1922: Monte Cristo, directed by Emmett J. Flynn
- 1934: The Count of Monte Cristo, directed by Rowland V. Lee
- 1940: The Son of Monte Cristo, directed by Rowland V. Lee
- 1942 El Conde de Montecristo, a Mexican version directed by Chano Urueta and starred by Arturo de Córdova
- 1946: The Return of Monte Christo, directed by Henry Levin
- 1950: The Prince of Revenge, Egyptian movie, directed by Henry Barkat
- 1954: El Conde de Montecristo, directed by León Klimovsky and starred by Jorge Mistral
- 1956: The Count of Monte Cristo, TV series based on further adventures of Edmond Dantès after the end of the novel
- 1958: Vanjikkottai Valiban (வஞ்சிக்கோட்டை வாலிபன்), Tamil film adaptation
- 1961: Le comte de Monte Cristo, starring Louis Jourdan, directed by Claude Autant-Lara
- 1964: The Count of Monte Cristo, BBC television serial starring Alan Badel and Natasha Parry
- 1964: The Prince of Astuteness (أمير الدهاء), Egyptian Movie directed by Henry Barkat, Starring Farid Shawky
- 1966: Il conte di Montecristo, RAI Italian television serial directed by Edmo Fenoglio. starring Andrea Giordana
- 1968: Sous le signe de Monte Cristo, French movie starring Paul Barge, Claude Jade and Anny Duperey, directed by André Hunebelle
- 1973: The Count of Monte Cristo, animated short produced by Hanna-Barbera.
- 1975: The Count of Monte Cristo, starring Richard Chamberlain, directed by David Greene
- 1977: The Great Vendetta (大報復), Hong Kong television serial starring Adam Cheng, in which the background of the story is changed to Southern China during the Republican Era.
- 1979: Nihon Gankutsuou (日本巌窟王), Japanese television serial set in Edo period, starring Kusakari Masao.
- 1979: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (1979 TV series), French TV series starring Jacques Weber.
- 1984: La Dueña a 1984 Venezuelan telenovela with a female version of Edmond Dantès.
- 1986: Veta, Telugu film adaptation.
- 1988: The Prisoner of Castle If, Soviet miniseries starring Viktor Avilov (Count of Monte Cristo) and Aleksei Petrenko (Abbé Faria), with music and songs of Alexander Gradsky
- Garfield and Friends episode "The Discount of Monte Cristo", a retelling of the story using the characters from U.S. Acres as the cast. Aloysius Pig, voiced by comedian Kevin Meaney, tries to cut the cost of the story, even though the characters are using their imaginations.
- 1998: The Count of Monte Cristo, television serial starring Gérard Depardieu
- 1999: Forever Mine, film starring Joseph Fiennes, Ray Liotta and Gretchen Mol, loosely but clearly based upon The Count of Monte Cristo, directed/written by Paul Schrader
- 2002: The Count of Monte Cristo, directed by Kevin Reynolds and starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce
- 2004: Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (巌窟王 Gankutsuoo, literally The King of the Cave), Japanese animation adaptation. Produced by Gonzo, directed by Mahiro Maeda
- 2006: Vingança, telenovela directed by Rodrigo Riccó and Paulo Rosa, SIC Portugal
- 2006: Montecristo, Argentine telenovela starring Pablo Echarri and Paola Krum
- 2010: Ezel, a Turkish television series billed as an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo.
- 2011: Revenge, a television series billed as an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo.
- 2012: Avenida Brasil, a Brazilian telenovela starring Débora Falabella and Adriana Esteves
- David S. Goyer will direct an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo.
- 1956: The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
- 2000: The Stars' Tennis Balls, Stephen Fry
- 2008: A Prisoner of Birth, Jeffrey Archer
- 2008: Master, an erotic version, Colette Gale
- 2008: Airman, Eoin Colfer
- 2010: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, A YA novel by Eileen Cook, which deals with popularity and bullying.
- 1853: A Mão do finado, Alfredo Hogan
- 1881: The Son of Monte Cristo, Jules Lermina
- 1869: The Countess of Monte Cristo, Jean Charles Du Boys, also 1934 and 1948
- 1946: The Wife of Monte Cristo
- 2012: The Sultan of Monte Cristo: First Sequel to the Count of Monte Cristo, The Holy Ghost Writer
Plays and musicals scripts
Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet wrote a set of four plays that collectively told the story of The Count of Monte Cristo: Monte Cristo Part I (1848); Monte Cristo Part II (1848); Le Comte de Morcerf (1851) and Villefort (1851). The first two plays were first performed at Dumas' own Théâtre Historique in February 1848, with the performance spread over two nights, each with a long duration (the first evening ran from 18:00 until 00:00). The play was also unsuccessfully performed at Drury Lane in London later that year where rioting erupted in protest at French companies performing in England.
The adaptation differs from the novel in many respects: several characters, such as Luigi Vampa, are excluded; Whereas the novel includes many different plot threads that are brought together at the conclusion, the third and fourth plays deal only with the fate of Mondego and Villefort respectively (Danglars fate is not featured at all); the play is the first to feature Dantes shouting “the world is mine!”, an iconic line that would be used in many future adaptations.
Two English adaptations of the novel were published in 1868. The first, by Hailes Lacy, differs only slightly from Dumas' version with the main change being that Fernand Mondego is killed in a duel with the Count rather than committing suicide. Much more radical was the version by Charles Fechter, a notable French-Anglo actor. The play faithfully follows the first part of the novel, omitts the Rome section and makes several sweeping changes to the third part, among the most significant being that Albert is actually the son of Dantes. The fates of the three main protagonists are also altered: Villefort, whose fate is dealt with quite early on in the play, kills himself after being foiled by The Count trying to kill Noirtier (Villefort's half brother in this version); Mondego kills himself after being confronted by Mercedes; Danglars is killed by The Count in a duel. The ending sees Dantes and Mercedes reunited and the character of Haydee is not featured at all. The play was first performed at at the Adelphi in London in October 1868. The original duration was five hours, resulting in Fechter abridging the play, which, despite negative reviews, endured a respectable sixteen week run. Fechter moved to the United States in 1869 and Monte Cristo was chosen for the inaugural play at the opening of the Globe Theatre, Boston in 1870. Fecther last performed the role in 1878. In 1883 John Stetson, manager of the Booth Theatre and The Globe Theatre, wanted to revive the play and asked James O'Neill to perform the lead role. O'Neill, who had never seen Fechter perform, made the role his own and the play became a commercial, if not an artistic success. O'Neill made several abridgements to the play and eventually bought it from Stetson. A motion picture based on Fechter's play, with O'Neill in the title role, was released in 1913 but was not a huge success. O'Neill died in 1920, two years before a more successful motion picture, produced by Fox and partially based on Fechter's version, was released.
The below list contain some more recent stage adaptations, most of which are musical theatre.
- 2000: Monte Cristo by Karel Svoboda (music) and Zdenek Borovec (lyrics), Prague
- 2003: The Count of Monte Cristo (Граф Монте-Кристо) by Alexandr Tumencev and Tatyana Ziryanova
- 2005: Monte Cristo (The Musical) by Jon Smith and Leon Parris
- 2008: Monte-Cristo by Roman Ignatyev (composer) and Yuli Kim (lyrics), Moscow
- 2009: The Count of Monte Cristo by Frank Wildhorn
- 2009: The Count of Monte Cristo, by Ido Ricklin
- 2010: The Count of Monte Cristo, Rock Opera by Pete Sneddon
- 2012: The Count of Monte Cristo by Richard Bean, Royal National Theatre
- 2013: The Count of Monte Cristo produced by Cosmos Troupe of Takarazuka Revue
- 1938 - Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre on the Air players (radio).
- 1939 - Orson Welles with Agnes Moorehead at The Campbell Playhouse (radio)
- 1939 - Robert Montgomery on the Lux Radio Theater (radio)
- 1947 - Carleton Young (radio series)
- 1960s - Paul Daneman for Tale Spinners For Children series (LP) UAC 11044
- 1961 - Louis Jourdan for Caedmon Records (LP)
- 1964 - Per Edström director (radio series in Sweden)
- 1987 - Andrew Sachs on BBC Radio 4 (later BBC Radio 7 and BBC Radio 4 Extra)
- 2005 - John Lee for Blackstone Audiobooks
- 2012 - Iain Glen on BBC Radio 4 written by Sebastian Baczkiewicz and directed by Jeremy Mortimer and Sasha Yevtushenko, with Richard Johnson as Faria, Jane Lapotaire as the aged Haydee, Toby Jones as Danglars, Zubin Varla as Fernand, Paul Rhys as Villefort and Josette Simon as Mercedes.
- 2014: Count of Monte-Cristo phone app (in English and Romanian). A puzzle game that comes with a level editor.
- Schopp, Claude, Genius of Life, p. 325
- Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo 2004, Barnes & Noble Books, New York. ISBN 978-1-59308-333-5. p. xxv (TCMC)
- Etat civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo in Causeries, chapter IX (1857). See also the introduction of the Pléiade edition of Le comte de Monte-Cristo (1981)
- Le Diamant et la Vengeance in Mémoires tirés des Archives de la Police de Paris, vol. 5, chapter LXXIV, p. 197
- True Stories of Immortal Crimes, H. Ashton-Wolfe, 1931, E. P. Dutton & Co., pp. 16-17
- David Coward (ed), Oxford's World Classics, Dumas, Alexandre, The Count of Monte Cristo, p. xxv
- Munro, Douglas (1978). Alexandre Dumas Père: a bibliography of works translated into English to 1910. Garland Pub. pp. 91–92.
- Munro, Douglas (1978). Alexandre Dumas Père: a bibliography of works translated into English to 1910. Garland Pub. pp. 91–92.
- Munro, Douglas (1978). Alexandre Dumas Père: a bibliography of works translated into English to 1910. Garland Pub. pp. 91–92.
- "The Morning Post Front Page". The Morning Post. February 26, 1846. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Dumas, Alexandre (1889). The Count of Monte Cristo. Little Brown and Company.
- Dumas, Alexandre (1889). The Count of Monte Cristo : or, The Adventures of Edmond Dantès. T.Y Crowell.
- Dumas, Alexandre (1955). The Count of Monte Cristo with an introduction by Richard Church. Collins.
- TCMC p. xxiv
- TCMC p. 601
- TCMC p. xxiv
- TCMC pp. xxiv–xxv
- (Russian)Shakespeare and Le Comte de Monte-Cristo | The electronic encyclopedia World of Shakespeare
- Lew Wallace (1906), Lew Wallace; an Autobiography P 936 ISBN 1-142-04820-9
- (French)The Stars My Destination, Pastiche Dumas site
- Fry says The Stars' Tennis Balls (2000) (entitled Revenge in the US, is "a straight steal, virtually identical in all but period and style to Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo"; most character names are anagrams or cryptic references from Dumas' work. See Fry, Stephen (2003) Revenge (Introduction) Random House Trade Paperbacks. ISBN 0-8129-6819-0
- Pierre Milza (2004) Napoléon III. Perrin.
- "David Goyer to Direct 'Count of Monte Cristo' Remake (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Classic Serial, The Count of Monte Cristo, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- On p. 140 of the Pléiade edition the governor at the Château d'If is promoted to a position at the castle of Ham, which is the castle where Louis Napoleon was imprisoned 1840-46.
- Thomas Alexandre Dumas was also known as Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie.
- "État civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo" is included in the Pléiade edition (Paris, 1981) as an "annexe".
- Maurois, André (1957). The Titans, a three-generation biography of the Dumas. trans. by Gerard Hopkins. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers. OCLC 260126.
- Schopp, Claude (1988). Alexandre Dumas, Genius of Life. trans. by A. J. Koch. New York, Toronto: Franklin Watts. ISBN 0-531-15093-3.
- Salien, Jean-Marie. La subversion de l’orientalisme dans Le comte de Monte-Cristo d’Alexandre Dumas, Études françaises, vol. 36, n° 1, 2000, pp. 179–190
- Toesca, Catherine (2002). Les sept Monte-Cristo d'Alexandre Dumas. Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose. ISBN 2-7068-1613-9.
- Lenotre, G. La conquête et le règne in Revue des Deux Mondes, Jan/Feb 1919
- Blaze de Bury, H. (1885). Alexandre Dumas : sa vie, son temps, son oeuvre
- Maccinelli, Clara; Animato, Carlo (1991). "Il Conte di Montecristo" : Favola alchemica e massonica vendetta, Edizioni Mediterranee. ISBN 88-272-0791-0
- Cécile Raynal, Promenade médico-pharmaceutique à travers l'œuvre d'Alexandre Dumas, in Revue d'histoire de la pharmacie, 2002, Volume 90, N. 333, pp. 111–146
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