447 of 453 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2006
Dumas' "Count of Monte Cristo" is the most exciting book I have ever read. It is the epitome of the perfect adventure novel and contains all of the traits that define the genre: jealousy, suspense, action, revenge, deceit, etc. At 1100+ pages, and the label as a "classic," many readers would be turned off at the task of reading such a book. Although the story is long and over 150 years old, it is truly "timeless." This does not read at all like the books you were forced to endure in 9th grade English, and is mostly as topical today as it was when it was penned.
That being said, reading the "wrong" version of this book can change the reader's experience for the worse. Amazon has combined all of the reviews for this book across the many different versions available, which can be very misleading. There are two things that affect the story, the translation, and the context.
I strongly encourage everyone to get the UNabridged version of this story. The abridged version cuts out more than half of Dumas' novel and while the story is still enjoyable, the reader misses out on many exciting chapters in the book. Do not let the length fool you. I found every bit of this book exciting, and never got bored.
Secondly, look for the Robin Buss Translation. Many of the versions of this book use a translation from 1846 (including the Modern Library and Oxford World's Classics editions) that, because of social restrictions at the time, altered some of the story, especially that dealing with sexuality. The Robin Buss translation is more faithful and restores this language, as well as making it an easier read for modern readers.
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2006
This edition has a recent translation. I found the clasic translation quite heavy going to read. I switched early to this edition and instantly found it much more enjoyable. This newer traslation also seems more subtle and mature. The notes are helpful and explain many of the refrences and avoid pointing out obvious details. In addition, the introduction is very good.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Dumas's dazzling, epic tale of a man seeking revenge following the ruination of his life is a thrilling read, despite being (in this edition) more than 1200 pages long. This edition is to be particularly recommended as it features a very fine recent translation, which reads very well and which also picks up on a few of the subtleties lost in the "classic" Victorian version of this novel.
Edmond Dantes is a man who, to use a cliche - has it all. He is young and just beginning to see success in his career, and has a beautiful fiance with whom he is madly in love. However, his world falls apart when he is thrown into prison on trumped-up treason charges and the world forgets about him - his father dies in poverty; his fiance, thinking he is lost to her forever, eventually marries another man. And Edmond himself spends years languishing in jail, coming close to insanity, before he meets another prisoner who gives him the skills and the courage to think about escaping and tracking down the men responsible for ruining his life...
"The Count of Monte Cristo" is an astounding novel in terms of its scope and its subject matter. We are led across Europe and through the lives of a wide cast of characters, seeing how their fates unfold over their lifetimes. The novel is also remarkable for dealing with some surprising subjects (if we consider the time it was written), including drug use and lesbianism, not to mention a murderer who is steadily working their way through an entire family.
The book does have a few problems - as other reviewers have mentioned, the Rome section drags. It also might be difficult for us to believe in the transformation Dantes has made from a young, hopeful, naive young man into an embittered, worldy gentleman hell-bent on revenge, as we are not really shown how this metamorphosis is achieved other than to see how badly Dantes suffers in his years in prison. There is also Mercedes's character - she is central to the plot, but we never really get to know her and this makes it more difficult for us to empathise with her difficulties and decisions.
Nevertheless, for all its flaws, this novel remains captivating, and it is one of my favourite books. It is just such a brilliantly good read, with so many things happening, so many great characters and also some really quite profound things to say about life, love and happiness. Not perfect, but a 5-star novel nonetheless because Dumas successfully tells a great story, makes the reader think and creates an entire world within "The Count of Monte Cristo", one I personally was sorry to leave on the final page.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2012
This book is by far and away my favourite novel. (Robin Buss version)
I first read it on a ski-ing trip and I remember being so utterly engrossed that I read most of it uncomfortably hunched in the back of a jeep as we drove through the night by the glow of a pen light, I just could not put it down!
It terms of story, it is a classic tale of adventure and revenge. Some negative reviews accuse it of being too formulaic, but I would argue that this is one of the great stories on which the formula itself is based. Whilst the basic premise of wrongful imprisonment and cold revenge is straightforward, the vast and subtle maneuveres of the plot are phenomenal. When I finished the book I sat back and was simply staggered at the enormity of the detail, the interweaving of storylines and characters, and the genius to have conceived such complexity without ever once becoming dull.
Like all good things, it is never rushed, the author never misses the chance to explore a character's past or a corner of the plot, thus piece by piece, the cast is gradually assembled in a way that you appreciate each of them fully. Some of their opinions and concepts are dated, noticable in areas such as duelling over petty insults and suicide over shame, but that is inevitable for a book set in the past, and personally, I revel in the completeness with with Dumas describes his society.
As for Edmond himself, by the time I finished the book, I felt like I knew him as no other character I have ever read... Through the 1000 pages you begin with him as a happy innocent, then dragged down lower than a worm to the point of death, inspired and educated, rewarding and affectionate to those who were good to him, and finally executing perfectly calculated, cold revenge upon his enemies, implacable and unflinching. The only thing more impressive than Edmond's chillingly composed manner is the almost overwhlming complexity of his plan. It slowly builds, brick upon brick, trapping his enemies within it's walls, until it comes to eventual fruition, and the titanic force of his hatred pours down on them, and there is no escape. Finally, his contrition and hope for a future leaves a positive spin on a rather mournful ending.
Incredible. Please read it. Never read an abridged version as there are so many plot holes it almost ruins it, it is only in the complete form that is truly great. Here is one of my favourite lines, after his escape and his rewarding of one of his only advocates during his imprisonment:
"And now... Farewell goodness, humanity, gratitude... Farewell all those feelings that nourish and illuminate the heart! I have taken the place of Providence to reward the good; now let the avenging God make way for me to punish the wrongdoer!"
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2003
This is an amazing book; having just finished university I wanted to read something other than facts and theories and this was an excellent choice as the characters are skillfully crafted and the places are sumptuously described. Despite its length this book is not a chore to read as the chapters are relatively short and the chapter index helps to jog the readers' memory of previous events (so don't skim through it before reading if you want to be surprised). It also manages to maintain the readers' interest due to the number of characters and incidents; it was like reading an action movie whilst all the while being aware that each event not only added drama and realism but was also part of Dantes plot for revenge.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
At 1243 pages I will not attempt a resume as this has been done elsewhere. Instead a few thoughts for those considering an investment of money, but more importantly an investment of time, in this epic tome.
Buy this version as it is the first 'modern' translation since Adam was a lad. It really helps get you through those long dark nights. The translator deserves immense praise and also gives some valuable insights into the history of the text.
It is often portrayed as a children's novel, probably due to its image of a Sunday tea-time TV schedule filler. However, inter alia, it contains murder, torture, poisoning, hashish smoking, lesbian affairs, extra marital affairs, opium taking, suicide, insanity and decapitation. Hardly kids stuff!
Inevitably there are sections which could generously be described as 'lulls'. My own view is that the section in Rome is below standard. The trouble is a 'section' or 'lull' in a book of this size can be fifty to a hundred pages long. Nevertheless, stick at it and Dumas will raise his game further on.
The book covers decades and the characters often seem like totally different people from their first introduction. Edmond Dantes is 'a simple uneducated man' before his resurrection as the superman Count. The main players in Dantes' demise change so much (including their names) that I confess to scribbling together a family tree. This is exacerbated as Dantes' revenge extends to the immediate families of his tormentors.
A potential reader may well ask 'Why is it so long?' Firstly,remember that this was serialised and Dumas was paid by the word. Secondly, the Count seeks his revenge 'pede chaudo'; retribution will come slowly but surely.
Buy it and take your time to read it - recommended. If all else fails you will look so cool carrying a novel the size of a house brick!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2003
No other word to describe this magic book. It made me take slower trains to work and back just so I could read more of it each day.
It has made me just order another book by the same author from Amazon.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Dumas' unabridged novel The Count of Monte Cristo, weighs in at a hefty 900+ pages, a fact that might turn a great number of potential readers (and thus buyers) away. It is a mistake though, to pass up this novel on account of its pretensions to masonry, when what lies within is prose of a highly readable nature, and a story of timeless intrigue and vengeance. Not for nothing does Keith Wren's introduction refer to Dumas as the "John Grisham or Stephen King of his day".
I find that Wordsworth Classics are excellent editions overall, particularly for their jargon-free introductions, and the little piece of advice always noted at the front, that "we strongly advise you to enjoy this book before turning to the Introduction". In rival editions of classic novels I'm always looking for this advice, and find it wanting. It's satisfying to read the introduction on concluding the novel, to find Wren's exposition of the nature of both the writing and its context, and to more deeply engage in the circumstances of its production as a serialisation, written at high speed. My only criticism of this edition of the novel is that the speech becomes a little confused: with more than one speaker "talking" on a single line, it's really not clear at times which character the dialogue belongs to.
Of the story itself then, there seems little that needs to be related, as it forms a part of our popular consciousness. Edmond Dantes, betrayed into imprisonment for 14 years of his life, escapes to unlimited wealth with only one thing on his mind: vengeance. The first third of the book fairly races along, as Edmond is first betrayed, and then imprisoned. The middle third of the book definitely slows down, and at times may be said to plod a little, but by the time the work of Monte Cristo begins to deliver up his enemies one by one, the reader is again hooked.
Whilst readers may find fault with certain inconsistencies of plot, or occasional flatness of certain characters, Dumas can't be faulted in creating a novel that succeeds exactly where it's supposed to, in telling a riveting story of one man's path from disempowerment to biblical avenger.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2004
what an enchanting book. the characters come alive and jump off the page. and you feel every emotion that each character goes through as if it were your own. With a totally complicated but awesome plot, the book is unsuprassed in my opinion. If you have seen the films and thought against reading the book, please dont take that as a sign, the book is a million times better than any of the films ever made. dont let the size of the book put you off either, you will not be able to put it down after the third chapter. an utterly compelling read.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2009
I found one problem with this book. It's an abridged version, and it shows. The first section, up until the appearance of the Count himself, seemed to be complete, but thereafter I kept feeling that there were whole chunks of the story missing. I feel like I've missed out whole chapters, and since I've been to read a plot synopsis, I find there are giant holes in what I've actually read. For instance, the details of Danglars downfall are almost completely missing.
I'll have to get another, complete, copy and read that now because it is a good book, and I'd like to read the full narrative.