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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
on 19 November 2009
This is one of those books that will stay with you for all time. Its a classic story of adventure, love, betrayal, pain and revenge. It is how one man transforms his entire life to claim justice for all the wrongs he has suffered. And he does it in such a way that you will marvel at his sheer brilliance. He is a man of many masks but as he sets his plans in motion you catch a glimpse of a man who can be fair and honourable just as he can be cruel and vengeful. There are plenty of characters in this book and each of their stories are woven beautifully with the Count's story so that we are left with a gripping finale. It is written in such a way that you feel as if you know each character and can either hate or sympathise with them. This book is full of emotions so be prepared...
I would highly recommend it - don't let the vast number of pages put you off. They are pages well worth reading!
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.
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!"
on 10 March 2006
Robin Buss was correct, when he said, in his introduction, that this was:
'no childrens novel' and, 'parts of the story are so well known that they have developed a story all on their own.'
The book is so different from the story I thought I knew. I am so pleased I chose this translation as the modern day english made it easier for me to understand.
We all know the part where Edmond was betrayed, by four people, all for different motives, his time in prison and his subsequent escape, however, I did not realise this was only a relatively small part of the book. The majority of the book is made up of Edmonds'revenge. What is clever about this book is that we do not learn about the plot in advance, we learn as we go along. Characters are introduced into the book and we have no reason why, or, who they are until later on. When we are first introduced to Caderousse I believed that Monte Cristo, in disguise, had let him off, how wrong I was, but we do not find out this until much later.
Edmond, even whilst carrying out his revenge, had a balance of being revengeful and being good, he supported those who were either destroyed by one of the above four,or had looked after him before he was imprisoned, he believed that this was his way of balancing the scales of what God wanted him to do.
You never learn how Edmond came to be where he was, how he developed his skills, after prison, or what happened after he found his treasure until the time he started his revenge, this would have been nice to know, in a way,it adds to the mystery. I was also left to guess how Edmond was truly feeling when speaking to his enemies, the only clue were little descriptions of his facial expressions or comments, or, subtle insults when making conversations.
I agree with a previous reviewer, concerning Mercedes, she did not appear in the book much and when she did, she appeared morose and unhappy with her lot. Granted she lost the love of her life, but she married and even when she knew who the Count of Monte Cristo was, her mood did not improve and she wallowed in her own self pity, she suffered, but not as much as Edmond did.
I would recommend that you read this book, it's not a book for reading on holiday, but take the time it is worth it and it has become one of my favourite books.