Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.
Robin Buss's lively English translation remains faithful to the style of Dumas's original. This edition includes an introduction, explanatory notes and suggestions for further reading.
About the Author
Alexandre Dumas (1824-95) was a pioneer of the Romantic theatre in France, for which he wrote a series of colourful historical dramas, although it is as a novelist that he is best known today. His works include The Three Musketeers (1844-5), La Reine Margot (1845).
We think we know the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, but in truth, until we have read Robin Buss’ new translation, published by Penguin Classics, we know nothing. All previous popular editions in English were reprints of a poorly translated and abridged nineteenth century edition which reduced the great work to the level of a common pot-boiler. These second-rate editions were then translated into film. In short, The Count of Monte Cristo we have always known is an impostor!
The new translation brings a greater depth and subtlety to the story from the outset, setting the scene thoroughly, introducing us to Edmond Dantes and his fiancé Mercédès, drawing both their characters deftly, revealing their youth, innocence, and promise, and in so doing, we feel the blow of the unjust act which follows more deeply. We, too, yearn for revenge.
The Count of Monte Cristo was always a story of extremes, of murder and vengeance, of great wealth and ambition, of love and intense hate, but now, with Dumas’ descriptive capacity restored, with his imagination untethered by dull witted opportunistic hack translators, with his canvas cleaned of impurities, the reader’s involvement is increased, the ride becomes real and the lessons, though harder to learn, once learnt, are unforgettable.