Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

August 27, 2013

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is one of the most popular novels of this prolific author. Much like the author’s other books (The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask) this novel was first serialized in a newspaper before being published.

  • 1312 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics Hardcover
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141392460

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

My rat­ing for The Count of Monte Cristo4

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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas can also be considered a door stop, it is heavy, long, excessive, repetitious (due to the serialized nature of the original) but it tells one hell of a story. Even though the book was published in 1846, it is not an exaggeration to state that it is still one of the most exciting stories of our times.

Dumas pulls off something which many have tried, and few succeeded – he combined three novels into one – that of an innocent man who has been wronged, a hidden treasure adventure, and a wonderful revenge drama. All the stories are told with satisfaction and delivered with reverence and violence to a satisfying end.

The protagonist, Edmond Dante, lives several lifetimes in this novel, each would be the envy of any action hero. He rubs shoulders with pirates and aristocrats, disguises as an Italian priest, hangs out with smugglers and feels comfortable in the slums for the Far East as he does in the finest parlors in Europe. Of course, The Count is also a master swordsman, skilled with a gun, expert sailor and a fashionisto to boot.

In these days of economic uncertainties and maleficence, the novel seems contemporary, as part of Dante’s revenge is to destroy the finances of those who wronged him. Much like today, fortunes are made and destroyed in moments, speculators rise and fall with every sunset and schemes which could only fool an idiot or a Congressman create panic driven by greed and corruption.

Dumas’ genius comes through in the beginning of the novel, when the reader feels the atmosphere during Napoleon’s Hundred Days (the time between Napoleon I return from exile on Elba and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII). During that time, you could be thrown in jail just by someone insinuating that you had uttered some political disparaging remark. The novel describes the political machination and paranoia felt by the populace during that time.

I wouldn’t call The Count of Monte Cristo a perfect novel, the characters are cliché, the coincidences are too many and the overwriting is sometimes overbearing. However, the novel is still readable 150 years after it was written, and tells a delightful story of extraordinary circumstances which stand the test of time.

Young Edmond Dante, a sailor, has almost been named captain of a ship and is in preparations of marrying his sweetheart. But Dante becomes the victim of a sinister plot which leads to false imprisonment in an island fortress. The naïve Dante doesn’t realize how serious his situation is and that the chances of him ever seeing the light of day decline daily.

After several years, and with the help of a friend, Dante manages to escape the prison and plots his revenge.

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More Books by Alexan­dre Dumas

 Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
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  • Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) August 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

    This would be a fun book to add to my reading this year that has so many books set in France.

  • Ryan September 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I first read this in high school and I fell in love with it. One of my favorites of all time. I really enjoyed reading The Black Count last year, a biography of the author’s father, who he stylized Edmond Dantes after.

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