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Favorite Book: The Count Of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas by © Sophie W. Smith
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This is my favorite book. As you can see I have read it many times. This paperback copy is just for reading. I have few other hardcover issues that I treasure as if they are gold bricks.

Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas (pronounced: [a.lɛk.sɑ̃dʁ dy.ma], born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, [dy.ma da.vi‿d.la pa.jə.tʁi], 24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870),1 also known as Alexandre Dumas, père, was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure. Translated into nearly 100 languages, these have made him one of the most widely read French authors in history. Many of his novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later were originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas’ last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.

Prolific in several genres, Dumas began his career by writing plays, which were successfully produced from the first. He also wrote numerous magazine articles and travel books; his published works totaled 100,000 pages.2 In the 1840s, Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris.

His father, general Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, was born in Saint-Domingue from a French nobleman and a black slave woman. His aristocratic rank helped young Alexandre acquire work with Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.

With the election of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in 1851, Dumas fell from favor, and left France for Belgium, where he stayed for several years. Upon leaving Belgium, Dumas moved to Russia for a few years, before going to Italy. In 1861 he founded and published the newspaper, L’ Indipendente, which supported the Italian unification effort. In 1864 he returned to Paris.

Married, Dumas also had numerous affairs, said to total 40. He was known to have at least four illegitimate or “natural” children, including a boy named Alexandre Dumas after him. This son became a successful novelist and playwright, and was known as Alexandre Dumas, fils (son), while the elder Dumas became conventionally known in French as Alexandre Dumas, père (father). Among his affairs, in 1866 Dumas had one with Adah Isaacs Menken, an American actress then at the height of her career and less than half his age. Twentieth-century scholars have found that Dumas fathered another three natural children.

The English playwright Watts Phillips, who knew Dumas in his later life, described him as, "the most generous, large-hearted being in the world. He also was the most delightfully amusing and egotistical creature on the face of the earth. His tongue was like a windmill — once set in motion, you never knew when he would stop, especially if the theme was himself. Read more

The Count Of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo (French: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas (père). Complete 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.1

The story takes place in France, Italy, islands in the Mediterranean, and in the Levant during the historical events of 1815–1838. It begins from just before the Hundred Days period (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile) and spans through to the reign of Louis-Philippe of France. 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.

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.”

Dumas wrote3 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.4 Dumas included this essay in one of the editions from 1846.5 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: the 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. Read more

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Comments

  • Celeste Mookherjee
    Celeste Mookhe...about 1 year ago

    I have an impossible time naming just one favorite book, but this is in my top few. Around this time last summer I was reading a version I had downloaded for my iPad. :)

  • Thank you for a very kind comment. Glad you read the book too! :)

    – © Sophie W. Smith

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