The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo (French: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel written by French author Alexandre Dumas (père) completed in 1844. It is one of the author's most popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. Like many of his novels, it was expanded from plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.[1]

The Count of Monte Cristo
AuthorAlexandre Dumas
in collaboration with Auguste Maquet
Original titleLe Comte de Monte-Cristo
LanguageFrench
GenreHistorical novel
Adventure
Publication date
1844–1846 (serialized)
Publication placeFrance
Original text
Le Comte de Monte-Cristo at French Wikisource
TranslationThe Count of Monte Cristo at Wikisource

The story takes place in France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean during the historical events of 1815–1839: the era of the Bourbon Restoration through the reign of Louis-Philippe of France. It begins on the day that Napoleon left his first island of exile, Elba, beginning the Hundred Days period of his return to power. The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book, an adventure story centrally concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness.

Before he can marry his fiancée Mercédès, Edmond Dantès, a French nineteen-year-old first mate of the merchant ship Pharaon, is falsely accused of treason, arrested, and imprisoned without trial in the Château d'If, a grim island fortress off Marseille. A fellow prisoner, Abbé Faria, correctly deduces that romantic rival Fernand Mondego, envious crewmate Danglars, and double-dealing magistrate De Villefort are responsible for his imprisonment. Over the course of their long imprisonment, Faria educates Dantès and, knowing himself close to death, inspires him to retrieve for himself a cache of treasure Faria had discovered. After Faria dies, Dantès escapes and finds the treasure. As the fabulously wealthy, powerful and mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, he enters the fashionable Parisian world of the 1830s to avenge himself.

The book is considered a literary classic today. According to Lucy Sante, "The Count of Monte Cristo has become a fixture of Western civilization's literature."

Plot

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Marseille and Château d'If

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The main character Edmond Dantès was a merchant sailor before his imprisonment. (Illustration by Pierre-Gustave Staal)

On the day in 1815 when Napoleon escapes from Elba, Edmond Dantès sails the Pharaon into Marseille after the death of the captain, Leclère. The ship's owner, Morrel, will make Dantès the next captain. On his deathbed, Leclère charged Dantès to deliver a package to General Bertrand (exiled with Napoleon), and a letter from Elba to a Bonapartist in Paris named Noirtier.

Crewmate Danglars is jealous of Dantès's rapid promotion. On the eve of Dantès's wedding to his Catalan fiancée Mercédès, Danglars meets Fernand Mondego, Mercédès's cousin and a rival for her affections, and the two hatch a plot to anonymously accuse him of being a Bonapartist. Dantès's neighbor, Caderousse, is present; he too is jealous of Dantès, but although he objects to the plot, he becomes too drunk to prevent it.

Dantès is arrested, and the cowardly Caderousse stays silent. Villefort, the deputy crown prosecutor in Marseille, is Noirtier's son. Knowing that it would destroy his political career for it to be known that his father is a Bonapartist, he destroys the letter and silences Dantès by sentencing him without trial to life imprisonment.

 
Château d'If (Marseille)

After six years of solitary imprisonment in the Château d'If, Dantès is on the verge of suicide when another prisoner, the Abbé Faria, an Italian scholarly priest, digs an escape tunnel that by mistake ends in Dantès's cell. The Abbé helps Dantès deduce the culprits of his imprisonment. Over the next eight years, Faria educates Dantès in languages, history, culture, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and science. Knowing himself to be close to death from catalepsy, Faria tells Dantès the location of a vast treasure hidden on the island of Monte Cristo.

On 28 February 1829, Faria dies. Dantès takes Faria's body to his cell and takes its place in the burial sack. When he is thrown into the sea, Dantès cuts through the sack and swims to a nearby island, where he is rescued by Genoese smugglers. Some months later, he locates and retrieves the treasure; he later purchases the island of Monte Cristo and the title of count from the Tuscan government.

Having sworn vengeance on Danglars, Fernand, and Villefort, Dantès returns to Marseille in search of information for his vengeance. Travelling as the Abbé Busoni, Dantès finds Caderousse, who regrets not intervening in Dantès's arrest. Caderousse informs him that Mercédès eventually resigned herself to marrying Fernand, that Dantès's father died of starvation, and that his old employer Morrel tried in vain to secure Dantès's release and tend after his father in his absence, but is now on the brink of bankruptcy. Both Danglars and Fernand have prospered greatly. Danglars became a speculator, amassed a fortune and married a wealthy widow. Fernand served in the French Army, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Dantès rewards Caderousse with a diamond. Later, Caderousse negotiates the sale of the diamond to a jeweler, but kills the jeweler to keep both the diamond and the money; he is eventually arrested and sentenced to the galleys.

To rescue Morrel from bankruptcy, Dantès poses as a banker, buys Morrel's debts, and gives him three months' reprieve. At the end of the three months, Morrel is about to commit suicide when he learns that they have been mysteriously paid and that one of his lost ships has returned with a full cargo, secretly rebuilt and laden by Dantès.

Revenge

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Dantès reappears nine years later, in 1838, as the mysterious, fabulously wealthy Count of Monte Cristo. Fernand is now the Count de Morcerf, Danglars a baron and banker, and Villefort a procureur du roi ('royal prosecutor').

In Rome, at Carnival time, Dantès befriends Viscount Albert de Morcerf, the son of Mercédès and Fernand. He arranges for Albert to be captured by the bandit Luigi Vampa, and "rescues" the boy, earning his trust. Albert introduces the Count to Parisian high society. Dantès, in his guise as the Count, meets Mercédès for the first time in 23 years, and eventually makes the acquaintance of Danglars, Fernand, and Villefort.

 
Actor James O'Neill as the Abbé Busoni

The Count purchases a home in Auteuil, a suburb of Paris. He has learned from his servant Bertuccio that it is the home in which Villefort once had an extramarital affair with Danglars's wife, who gave birth to a child that Villefort buried alive in order to cover up the affair. The infant was rescued by Bertuccio, named Benedetto, and raised by Bertuccio's sister Assunta, but Benedetto turned to a life of crime as a young man, murdered Assunta, and was sentenced to the galleys himself.

Having impressed Parisian society with his wealth and air of mystery, the Count begins setting up the pieces for his revenge. He persuades Danglars to extend him a credit of six million francs. He discusses the properties of various poisons with Villefort's second wife Heloïse, and allows her to borrow some of his supply. He allows his ward, Haydée—the exiled daughter of Ali Pasha of Janina, whom Dantès purchased from slavery—to see Fernand, recognizing him as the man who betrayed and murdered her father and stole his fortune. Having freed Benedetto and Caderousse from the galleys (under the alias "Lord Wilmore"), he anonymously hires Benedetto to impersonate an Italian nobleman, "Viscount Andrea Cavalcanti", and introduces him to Parisian society. He manipulates the financial markets by bribing a telegraph operator to transmit a false message, causing Danglars to lose hundreds of thousands of francs.

Meanwhile, Villefort's daughter Valentine is engaged to marry Albert's friend Franz, but is secretly in love with Morrel's son Maximilien; Noirtier, her grandfather, induces Franz to break the engagement by revealing that Noirtier himself killed Franz's father in a duel. Benedetto ingratiates himself to Danglars, who betroths his daughter Eugénie to him after canceling her engagement to Albert. Caderousse blackmails Benedetto, threatening to reveal his past if he does not share his newfound wealth. Heloïse begins poisoning members of Villefort's family, intending to ensure that all of the family's wealth will be inherited by her son Édouard, rather than her stepdaughter Valentine; Noirtier secretly begins dosing Valentine with a drug that will give her limited resistance to the poison.

Caderousse attempts to rob the Count's house but is caught by "Abbé Busoni" and forced to write a letter to Danglars, exposing "Cavalcanti" as an impostor. When Caderousse leaves the estate, he is stabbed by Benedetto. Caderousse dictates a deathbed statement naming his killer, and the Count reveals his true identity to Caderousse before he dies.

The Count anonymously leaks to the newspapers Fernand's betrayal of Ali Pasha, and at the Chamber of Peers' inquiry into the accusations Haydée testifies against him as an eyewitness. Albert blames the Count for his father's downfall and challenges him to a duel. The Count is later visited by Mercédès, who had recognised him as Dantès upon their first meeting but chose not to say anything. Mercédès begs Dantès to spare her son. He tells her of the injustices inflicted on him, but agrees not to kill Albert. Realizing that Dantès intends to let Albert kill him, she reveals the truth to Albert, who makes a public apology to the Count. Albert and Mercédès disown Fernand, renounce their titles and wealth and depart to begin new lives. Albert enlists as a soldier, while Mercedes lives alone in Dantès's old house in Marseilles. Fernand confronts the Count of Monte Cristo, who reveals his identity. Fernand shoots himself.

At the party to celebrate "Cavalcanti"'s engagement to Eugénie Danglars, the police arrive to arrest Benedetto for Caderousse's murder. Benedetto flees, but is arrested and returned to Paris. Eugénie (who is implied to be a lesbian[2][3]) also takes the opportunity to flee Paris with her girlfriend.

Valentine barely survives Héloïse's first attempt to poison her, and Maximilien begs the Count to protect her from the unknown poisoner. He does so by faking her death, making it appear that the poisoner succeeded. Villefort, deducing that Héloïse is the murderer, gives her a choice between the shame of a public trial and committing suicide in private, before leaving to prosecute Benedetto's trial. At the trial, Benedetto reveals that he is Villefort's son and was rescued after Villefort buried him alive, having learned the truth from Bertuccio. Villefort admits his guilt and rushes home to prevent his wife's suicide but is too late; she is dead and has poisoned her son Édouard as well. The Count confronts Villefort, revealing his true identity, which drives Villefort insane. Dantès tries but fails to resuscitate Édouard, causing him to question if his revenge has gone too far.

As a result of the Count's financial manipulations, Danglars is left with a ruined reputation and 5,000,000 francs he has been holding in deposit for hospitals. The Count demands this sum to fulfill their credit agreement, and Danglars embezzles the hospital fund. He flees to Italy with the Count's receipt for the cash and 50,000 francs of his own, and is reimbursed the 5,000,000 francs from the Count's own bank account. While leaving Rome, he is kidnapped by Luigi Vampa. The bandits extort Danglars's ill-gotten gains out of him by forcing him to pay exorbitant prices for food and water; Dantès anonymously returns the money to the hospitals. Danglars finally repents of his crimes, and a softened Dantès forgives him and allows him to depart with his 50,000 francs.

Resolution and return to the Orient

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Maximilien Morrel is driven to despair by Valentine's apparent death and considers suicide. Dantès reveals his true identity and persuades Maximilien to delay his suicide for one month. One month later, on the island of Monte Cristo, he reunites Valentine with Maximilien and reveals the true sequence of events. Having found peace, Dantès leaves the couple part of his fortune on the island and departs for the East to begin a new life with Haydée, who has declared her love for him. The reader is left with a final line: "l'humaine sagesse était tout entière dans ces deux mots: attendre et espérer!" ("all human wisdom is contained in these two words: 'Wait and Hope'").

 
Character relationships in The Count of Monte Cristo

Characters

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Edmond Dantès and his aliases

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  • Edmond Dantès (born 1796): A sailor with good prospects, engaged to Mercédès. After his transformation into the Count of Monte Cristo, he reveals his true name to his enemies as each revenge is completed. During the course of the novel, he falls in love with Haydée.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo: The identity Dantès assumes when he emerges from prison and acquires his vast fortune. As a result, the Count of Monte Cristo is usually associated with a coldness and bitterness that comes from an existence based solely on revenge. This character thinks of Lord Wilmore as a rival.
  • Chief Clerk of the banking firm Thomson & French, an Englishman.
  • Lord Wilmore: An Englishman, and the persona in which Dantès performs random acts of generosity.
  • Sinbad the Sailor: The persona that Dantès assumes when he saves the Morrel family and while conducting business with smugglers and brigands.
  • Abbé Busoni: The persona of an Italian priest with religious authority.
  • Monsieur Zaccone: Dantès, in the guise of the Abbé Busoni, and again as Lord Wilmore, tells an investigator that this is the Count of Monte Cristo's true name.
  • Number 34: The name given to him by the new governor of Château d'If. Finding it too tedious to learn Dantès's real name, he was called by the number of his cell.
  • The Maltese Sailor: The name he was known by after his rescue by smugglers from the island of Tiboulen.

Allies of Dantès

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  • Abbé Faria: Italian priest and sage. Imprisoned in the Château d'If. Edmond's dearest friend and his mentor and teacher while in prison. On his deathbed, reveals to Edmond the secret treasure hidden on Monte Cristo. Partially based on the historical Abbé Faria.
  • Giovanni Bertuccio: The Count of Monte Cristo's steward and very loyal servant. The Count first meets him in his role as Abbé Busoni, the confessor to Bertuccio, whose past is tied with M. de Villefort. Bertuccio's sister-in-law Assunta was the adoptive mother of Benedetto.
  • Luigi Vampa: Celebrated Italian bandit and fugitive.
  • Peppino: Formerly a shepherd, becomes a member of Vampa's gang. The Count arranges for his public execution in Rome to be commuted, causing him to be loyal to the Count.
  • Ali: Monte Cristo's mute Nubian slave.
  • Baptistin: Monte Cristo's valet-de-chambre.
  • Jacopo: A poor smuggler who helps Dantès survive after he escapes prison. When Jacopo proves his selfless loyalty, Dantès rewards him with his own ship and crew. (Jacopo Manfredi is a separate character, the "bankrupt of Trieste", whose financial failure contributes to the depletion of Danglars's fortune.)
  • Haydée (sometimes spelled as Haidee): Monte Cristo's young, beautiful slave. She is the daughter of Ali Tebelen. Buying her, enslaved because her father was killed, is part of Dantès' plan to get revenge on Fernand. At the end, she and Monte Cristo become lovers.

Morcerf family

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  • Mercédès Mondego (née Herrera): A Catalan girl, Edmond Dantès's fiancée at the beginning of the story. She later marries Fernand and they have a son named Albert. She is consumed with guilt over Edmond's disappearance and is able to recognize him when she meets him again. In the end, she returns to Marseilles, living in the house that belonged to father Dantès, given to her by Monte Cristo himself, praying for Albert, who left France for Africa as a soldier to start a new and more honorable life. She is portrayed as a compassionate, kind and caring woman who prefers to think of her beloved ones more than of herself.
  • Fernand Mondego: Count de Morcerf (former Catalan fisherman in the Spanish village near Marseilles), Dantès's rival and cousin of Mercédès, for whom he swore undying love and the person he eventually marries. Fernand helps frame Edmond (by sending the accusation letter) in an ultimate desperate attempt to not lose Mercédès forever. He later achieves the high rank of general in the French army and becomes a peer of France in the Chambre des Pairs, keeping secret his betrayal of the Pasha Alì Tebelen and the selling into slavery of both his daughter Haydée and her mother Vasiliki. With the money earned he buys the title of "Count de Morcerf" to bring wealth and a more pleasant life for himself and his family. Through the book he shows a deep affection and care for his wife and son. He meets his tragic end in the last chapters, by committing suicide, in the despair of having lost Mercédès and Albert, disowned by them when they discover his hidden crimes.
  • Albert de Morcerf: Son of Mercédès and Fernand. He is described as a very kind-hearted, joyful and carefree young man, and fond of Monte Cristo, whom he sees as a friend. After acknowledging the truth of his father's war crimes and the false accusation towards the sailor Edmond Dantès, he decides to leave his home with Mercédès and start a new life as a soldier under the name of "Herrera" (his mother's maiden name), leaving for Africa in search of fortune and to bring new honor to his family name.

Danglars family

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  • Baron Danglars: Dantès's jealous junior officer and mastermind behind his imprisonment, later a wealthy banker. He goes bankrupt and is left with only 50,000 francs after stealing 5,000,000 francs.
  • Madame Hermine Danglars (formerly Baroness Hermine de Nargonne née de Servieux): Once a widow, she had an affair with Gérard de Villefort, a married man. They had an illegitimate son, Benedetto.
  • Eugénie Danglars: Daughter of Baron Danglars and Hermine Danglars. She is free-spirited and aspires to become an independent artist.

Villefort family

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  • Gérard de Villefort: The royal prosecutor who imprisons Dantès, later becoming acquaintances as Dantès exacts his revenge. He goes insane after his crimes are exposed.
  • Renée de Villefort, Renée de Saint-Méran: Gérard de Villefort's first wife, mother of Valentine.
  • The Marquis and Marquise de Saint-Méran: Renée's parents.
  • Valentine de Villefort: The daughter of Gérard de Villefort and his first wife, Renée. In love with Maximilien Morrel. Engaged to Baron Franz d'Épinay. She is 19 years old with chestnut hair, dark blue eyes, and "long white hands".
  • Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort: The father of Gérard de Villefort and grandfather of Valentine, Édouard (and, without knowing it, Benedetto). A committed anti-royalist. He is paralyzed and only able to communicate with his eyes, but retains his mental faculties and acts as protector to Valentine.
  • Héloïse de Villefort: The murderous second wife of Gérard de Villefort, mother of Édouard.
  • Édouard de Villefort (Edward): The only legitimate son of Villefort.
  • Benedetto: The illegitimate son of de Villefort and Baroness Hermine Danglars (Hermine de Nargonne), raised by Bertuccio and his sister-in-law, Assunta, in Rogliano. Becomes "Andrea Cavalcanti" in Paris.

Morrel family

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  • Pierre Morrel: Dantès's employer, owner of Morrel & Son.
  • Maximilien Morrel: Son of Pierre Morrel, an army captain who becomes a friend of Dantès. In love with Valentine de Villefort.
  • Julie Herbault: Daughter of Pierre Morrel, wife of Emmanuel Herbault.
  • Emmanuel Herbault: An employee of Morrel & Son, who marries Julie Morrel and succeeds to the business.

Other characters

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  • Gaspard Caderousse: Originally a tailor and later the owner of an inn, he was a neighbor and friend of Dantès who fails to protect him at the beginning of the story. The Count first rewards Caderousse with a valuable diamond. Caderousse then turns to serious crimes of murder, spends time in prison, and ends up being murdered by Andrea Cavalcanti.
  • Madeleine Caderousse, née Radelle: Wife of Caderousse, who, according to the court, is responsible for the idea and murder of a Jewish jeweler. Caderousse killed her in the event in order to gain ownership of the money.
  • Louis Dantès: Edmond Dantès's father, who dies from starvation during his son's imprisonment.
  • Baron Franz d'Épinay: A friend of Albert de Morcerf, first fiancé of Valentine de Villefort. Originally, Dumas wrote part of the story, including the events in Rome and the return of Albert de Morcerf and Franz d'Épinay to Paris, in the first person from Franz d'Épinay's point of view.[4]
  • Lucien Debray: Secretary to the Minister of the Interior, a friend of Albert de Morcerf, and a lover of Madame Danglars, whom he provides with inside investment information, which she then passes on to her husband.
  • Beauchamp: Journalist and Chief Editor of l'Impartial, and friend of Albert de Morcerf.
  • Raoul, Baron de Château-Renaud: Member of a noble family and friend of Albert de Morcerf.
  • Louise d'Armilly: Eugénie Danglars's music instructor and her intimate friend.
  • Monsieur de Boville: Originally an inspector of prisons, later a detective in the Paris force, and still later the Receiver-General of the charities.
  • Barrois: Old, trusted servant of Monsieur de Noirtier.
  • Monsieur d'Avrigny: Family doctor treating the Villefort family.
  • Major (also Marquis) Bartolomeo Cavalcanti: Old man who plays the role of Prince Andrea Cavalcanti's father.
  • Ali Tebelen (Ali Tepelini in some versions): An Albanian nationalist leader, Pasha of Yanina, whom Fernand Mondego betrays, leading to Ali Pasha's murder at the hands of the Turks and the seizure of his kingdom. His wife Vasiliki and daughter Haydée are sold into slavery by Fernand.
  • Countess Teresa Guiccioli: Her name is not actually stated in the novel. She is referred to as "Countess G—".

Themes

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The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book, an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, redemption and forgiveness. It centers on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about exacting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment.

Background to elements of the plot

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A short novel titled Georges by Dumas was published in 1843, before The Count of Monte Cristo was written. This novel is of particular interest to scholars because Dumas reused many of the ideas and plot devices in The Count of Monte Cristo.[5]

Dumas wrote that the germ of the idea of revenge as one theme in his novel The Count of Monte Cristo came from an anecdote (Le Diamant et la Vengeance[6]) published in a memoir of incidents in France in 1838, written by an archivist of the Paris police.[7][8] The archivist was Jacques Peuchet, and the multi-volume book was called Memoirs from the Archives of the Paris Police in English.[9] Dumas included this essay in one of the editions of his novel published in 1846.[10]

Peuchet related the tale 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 on behalf of England in a period of wars between France and 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 cleric 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 the words "Number One" were printed, 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.[6]

In another of the true stories reported by Ashton-Wolfe, Peuchet describes a poisoning in a family.[10] This story is also mentioned in the Pléiade edition of this novel,[8] and it probably served as a model for the chapter of the murders inside the Villefort family. The introduction to the Pléiade edition mentions other sources from real life: a man named Abbé Faria existed, was imprisoned but did not die in prison; he died in 1819 and left no large legacy to anyone.[8] As for Dantès, his fate is quite different from his model in Peuchet's book, since that model is murdered by the "Caderousse" of the plot.

Publication

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The Count of Monte Cristo was originally published in the Journal des Débats in eighteen parts. Serialization ran from 28 August 1844 to 15 January 1846. The first edition in book form was published in Paris by Pétion in 18 volumes with the first two issued in 1844 and the remaining sixteen in 1845.[11] Most of the Belgian pirated editions, the first Paris edition and many others up to the Lécrivain et Toubon illustrated edition of 1860 feature a misspelling of the title with "Christo" used instead of "Cristo". The first edition to feature the correct spelling was the L'Écho des Feuilletons illustrated edition, Paris 1846. This edition featured plates by Paul Gavarni and Tony Johannot and was said to be "revised" and "corrected", although only the chapter structure appears to have been altered with an additional chapter entitled La Maison des Allées de Meilhan having been created by splitting Le Départ into two.[12]

 
Front page of translation into Judeo-Tunisian Arabic, 1889

English translations

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The first appearance of The Count of Monte Cristo in English was the first part of a serialization by W. Harrison Ainsworth in volume VII of Ainsworth's Magazine published in 1845, although this was an abridged summary of the first part of the novel only and was entitled The Prisoner of If. Ainsworth translated the remaining chapters of the novel, again in abridged form, and issued these in volumes VIII and IX of the magazine in 1845 and 1846 respectively.[12] Another abridged serialization appeared in The London Journal between 1846 and 1847.

The first single volume translation in English was an abridged edition with woodcuts published by Geo Pierce in January 1846 entitled The Prisoner of If or The Revenge of Monte Christo.[12]

In April 1846, volume three of the Parlour Novelist, Belfast, Ireland: Simms and M'Intyre, London: W S Orr and Company, featured the first part of an unabridged translation of the novel by Emma Hardy. The remaining two parts would be issued as the Count of Monte Christo volumes I and II in volumes 8 and 9 of the Parlour Novelist respectively.[12]

The most common English translation is an anonymous one originally published in 1846 by Chapman and Hall. This was originally released in ten weekly installments from March 1846 with six pages of letterpress and two illustrations by M Valentin.[13] The translation was released in book form with all twenty illustrations in two volumes in May 1846, a month after the release of the first part of the above-mentioned translation by Emma Hardy.[12] The translation follows the revised French edition of 1846, with the correct spelling of "Cristo" and the extra chapter The House on the Allées de Meilhan.

Most English editions of the novel follow the anonymous translation. In 1889, two of the major American publishers Little Brown and T.Y. Crowell updated the translation, correcting mistakes and revising the text to reflect the original serialized version. This resulted in the removal of the chapter The House on the Allées de Meilhan, with the text restored to the end of the chapter called The Departure.[14][15]

In 1955, Collins published an updated version of the anonymous translation which cut several passages, including a whole chapter entitled The Past, and renamed others.[16] This abridgment was republished by many Collins imprints and other publishers including the Modern Library, Vintage, and the 1998 Oxford World's Classics edition (later editions restored the text). In 2008 Oxford released a revised edition with translation by David Coward. The 2009 Everyman's Library edition reprints the original anonymous English translation that first appeared in 1846, with revisions by Peter Washington and an introduction by Umberto Eco.

In 1996, Penguin Classics published a new translation by Robin Buss. Buss' translation updated the language, making the text more accessible to modern readers, and restored content that was modified in the 1846 translation because of Victorian English social restrictions (for example, references to Eugénie's lesbian traits and behavior) to reflect Dumas' original version.

In addition to the above, there have also been many abridged translations such as an 1892 edition published by F.M. Lupton, translated by Henry L. Williams (this translation was also released by M.J. Ivers in 1892 with Williams using the pseudonym of Professor William Thiese).[12] A more recent abridgment is the translation by Lowell Bair for Bantam Classics in 1956.

Many abridged translations omit the Count's enthusiasm for hashish. When serving a hashish jam to the young Frenchman Franz d'Épinay, the Count (calling himself Sinbad the Sailor), calls it, "nothing less than the ambrosia which Hebe served at the table of Jupiter". When he arrives in Paris, the Count brandishes an emerald box in which he carries small green pills compounded of hashish and opium which he uses for sleeplessness. (Source: Chapters 31, 32, 38, 40, 53 & 77 in the 117-chapter unabridged Pocket Books edition.) Dumas was a member of the Club des Hashischins.

In June 2017, Manga Classics, an imprint of UDON Entertainment, published The Count of Monte Cristo as a faithfully adapted Manga edition of the classic novel.[17]

Japanese translations

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The first Japanese translation by Kuroiwa Shūroku was entitled "Shigai Shiden Gankutsu-ou" (史外史伝巌窟王, "a historical story from outside history, the King of the Cavern"), and serialized from 1901 to 1902 in the Yorozu Chouhou newspaper, and released in book form in four volumes by publisher Aoki Suusandou in 1905. Though later translations use the title "Monte Cristo-haku" (モンテ・クリスト伯, the Count of Monte Cristo), the "Gankutsu-ou" title remains highly associated with the novel and is often used as an alternative. As of March 2016, all movie adaptations of the novel brought to Japan used the title "Gankutsu-ou", with the exception of the 2002 film, which has it as a subtitle (with the title itself simply being "Monte Cristo").

The novel is popular in Japan, and has spawned numerous adaptations, the most notable of which are the novels Meiji Gankutsu-ou by Taijirou Murasame and Shin Gankutsu-ou by Kaitarō Hasegawa. Its influence can also be seen in how one of the first prominent cases of miscarriage of justice in Japan, in which an innocent man was charged with murder and imprisoned for half a century, is known in Japanese as the "Yoshida Gankutsu-ou incident" (吉田岩窟王事件).

A manga adaptation of the novel, titled Monte Cristo Hakushaku (モンテ・クリスト, 伯爵) and made by Ena Moriyama, was published in November 2015.

Chinese translations

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The first translation into Chinese was published in 1907. The novel had been a personal favorite of Jiang Qing, and the 1978 translation became one of the first mass-popularized foreign novels in mainland China after end of the Cultural Revolution. Since then, there have been another 22 Chinese translations.

Reception and legacy

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The original work was published in serial form in the Journal des Débats in 1844. Carlos Javier Villafane Mercado described the effect in Europe:

The effect of the serials, which held vast audiences enthralled ... is unlike any experience of reading we are likely to have known ourselves, maybe something like that of a particularly gripping television series. Day after day, at breakfast or at work or on the street, people talked of little else.[18]

George Saintsbury stated that "Monte Cristo is said to have been at its first appearance, and for some time subsequently, the most popular book in Europe. Perhaps no novel within a given number of years had so many readers and penetrated into so many different countries."[19] This popularity has extended into modern times as well. The book was "translated into virtually all modern languages and has never been out of print in most of them. There have been at least twenty-nine motion pictures based on it ... as well as several television series, and many movies [have] worked the name 'Monte Cristo' into their titles."[18] The title Monte Cristo lives on in a "famous gold mine, a line of luxury Cuban cigars, a sandwich, and any number of bars and casinos—it even lurks in the name of the street-corner hustle three-card monte."[20]

Modern Russian writer and philologist Vadim Nikolayev determined The Count of Monte-Cristo as a megapolyphonic novel.[21]

The novel has been the inspiration for many other books, from Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur (1880),[22] then to a science fiction retelling in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination,[23] and to Stephen Fry's The Stars' Tennis Balls (entitled Revenge in the U.S.).[24]

Fantasy novelist Steven Brust's Khaavren Romances series have all used Dumas novels (particularly the Three Musketeers series) as their chief inspiration, recasting the plots of those novels to fit within Brust's established world of Dragaera.[25] His 2020 novel The Baron of Magister Valley follows suit, using The Count of Monte Cristo as a starting point.[26][27] Jin Yong has admitted some influence from Dumas, his favorite non-Chinese novelist.[28] Some commentators feel that the plot of A Deadly Secret resembles The Count of Monte Cristo, except that they are based in different countries and historical periods.

Historical background

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The success of The Count of Monte Cristo coincides with France's Second Empire. In the novel, Dumas tells of the 1815 return of Napoleon I, and alludes to contemporary events when the governor at the Château d'If is promoted to a position at the castle of Ham.[8][Notes 1] The attitude of Dumas towards "bonapartisme" was conflicted. His father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas,[Notes 2] a Haitian of mixed descent, became a successful general during the French Revolution. In 1840, the body of Napoleon I was brought to France and became an object of veneration in the church of Les Invalides, renewing popular patriotic support for the Bonaparte family. As the story opens, the character Dantès is not aware of the politics, considers himself simply a good French citizen, and is caught between the conflicting loyalties of the royalist Villefort during the Restoration, and the father of Villefort, Noirtier, loyal to Napoleon, a firm bonapartist, and the bonapartist loyalty of his late captain, in a period of rapid changes of government in France.

 
Montecristo islet, view from the north

In "Causeries" (1860), Dumas published a short paper, "État civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo", on the genesis of the Count of Monte Cristo.[8][Notes 3] It appears that Dumas had close contacts with members of the Bonaparte family while living in Florence in 1841. In a small boat, he sailed around the island of Monte Cristo, accompanied by a young prince, a cousin to Louis Bonaparte, who was to become Emperor Napoleon III of the French ten years later, in 1851. During this trip, he promised that cousin of Louis Bonaparte that he would write a novel with the island's name in the title. In 1841 when Dumas made his promise, Louis Bonaparte himself was imprisoned at the citadel of Ham – the place mentioned in the novel. Dumas did visit him there,[29] although Dumas does not mention it in "Etat civil".

A chronology of The Count of Monte Cristo and Bonapartism

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During the life of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas:

  • 1793: Thomas-Alexandre Dumas is promoted to the rank of general in the army of the First French Republic.
  • 1794: He disapproves of the revolutionary terror in Western France.
  • 1795–1797: He becomes famous and fights under Napoleon.
  • 1802: Black officers are dismissed from the army. The Empire re-establishes slavery.
  • 1802: Birth of his son, Alexandre Dumas père.
  • 1806: Thomas-Alexandre Dumas dies, still bitter about the injustice of the Empire.

During the life of Alexandre Dumas:

  • 1832: The only son of Napoleon I dies.
  • 1836: Alexandre Dumas is famous as a writer by this time (age 34).
  • 1836: First putsch by Louis Napoleon, aged 28, fails.
  • 1840: A law is passed to bring the ashes of Napoleon I to France.
  • 1840: Second putsch of Louis Napoleon. He is imprisoned for life and becomes known as the candidate for the imperial succession.
  • 1841: Dumas lives in Florence and becomes acquainted with King Jérôme and his son, Napoléon.
  • 1841–1844: The story is conceived and written.
  • 1844–1846: The story is published in parts in a Parisian magazine.
  • 1846: The novel is published in full and becomes a European bestseller.
  • 1846: Louis Napoleon escapes from his prison.
  • 1848: French Second Republic. Louis Napoleon is elected its first president but Dumas does not vote for him.
  • 1857: Dumas publishes État civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo

Selected adaptations

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Classic Comics, The Count of Monte Cristo,
Issue #3, published 1942.

Film

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Hobart Bosworth (right) in The Count of Monte Cristo (1908)
 
Edmond Dantès (James O'Neill) loosens a stone before making his escape from the Château d'If in The Count of Monte Cristo (1913)

Television

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Other appearances in film or television

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Sequel books

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In 1853, a work professing to be the sequel of the book, entitled The Hand of the Deceased, appeared in Portuguese and French editions (respectively entitled A Mão do finado and La Main du défunt). The novel, falsely attributed to Dumas, but in fact, originally published anonymously or sometimes attributed to one F. Le Prince, has been traced to Portuguese writer Alfredo Possolo Hogan [es].[32][33]

Other sequels include:

  • 1856: The Lord of the World, by Adolf Mützelburg. "Der Herr der Welt (Mützelburg)". de.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  • 1881: The Son of Monte Cristo, Jules Lermina (1839–1915). This novel was divided in the English translation into two books: The Wife of Monte Cristo and The Son of Monte Cristo). Both were published in English in New York, 1884, translated by Jacob Ralph Abarbanell (1852–1922).
  • 1884: Edmond Dantès: The Sequel to Alexander Dumas' Celebrated Novel The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Flagg (1815–1890). Published in English by T.B. Peterson and Brothers in 1886 (no translator credited).
  • 1884: Monte-Cristo's Daughter: Sequel to Alexander Dumas' Great Novel, "The Count of Monte-Cristo," and Conclusion of "Edmond Dantès", Edmund Flagg. Published in English by T.B. Peterson and Brothers in 1886 (no translator credited).
  • 1885: The Treasure of Monte-Cristo, Jules Lermina (1839–1915).
  • 1869: The Countess of Monte Cristo, Jean Charles Du Boys (1836–1873). Published in English by T.B. Peterson and Brothers in 1871 (no translator credited).
  • 1887: Monte Cristo and his wife, presumably by Jacob Ralph Abarbanell.
  • 1902: Countess of Monte Cristo, by Jacob Ralph Abarbanell.

Plays and musicals

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Premiere of Dumas' Monte Cristo at Théâtre Historique (1848)

Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet wrote a set of four plays that collectively told the story of The Count of Monte Cristo: Monte Cristo Part I (1848); Monte Cristo Part II (1848); Le Comte de Morcerf (1851) and Villefort (1851). The first two plays were first performed at Dumas' own Théâtre Historique in February 1848, with the performance spread over two nights, each with a long duration (the first evening ran from 18:00 until 00:00). The play was also unsuccessfully performed at Drury Lane in London later that year where rioting erupted in protest against French companies performing in England.

The adaptation differs from the novel in many respects: several characters, such as Luigi Vampa, are excluded; whereas the novel includes many different plot threads that are brought together at the conclusion, the third and fourth plays deal only with the fate of Mondego and Villefort respectively (Danglars's fate is not featured at all); the play is the first to feature Dantès shouting "the world is mine!", an iconic line that would be used in many future adaptations.

 
Poster for a 1900 production of Charles Fechter's adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, starring James O'Neill

Two English adaptations of the novel were published in 1868. The first, by Hailes Lacy, differs only slightly from Dumas' version with the main change being that Fernand Mondego is killed in a duel with the Count rather than committing suicide. Much more radical was the version by Charles Fechter, a notable French-Anglo actor. The play faithfully follows the first part of the novel, omits the Rome section and makes several sweeping changes to the third part, among the most significant being that Albert is actually the son of Dantès. The fates of the three main antagonists are also altered: Villefort, whose fate is dealt with quite early on in the play, kills himself after being foiled by the Count trying to kill Noirtier (Villefort's half brother in this version); Mondego kills himself after being confronted by Mercedes; Danglars is killed by the Count in a duel. The ending sees Dantès and Mercedes reunited and the character of Haydee is not featured at all. The play was first performed at the Adelphi in London in October 1868. The original duration was five hours, resulting in Fechter abridging the play, which, despite negative reviews, had a respectable sixteen-week run. Fechter moved to the United States in 1869 and Monte Cristo was chosen for the inaugural play at the opening of the Globe Theatre, Boston in 1870. Fechter last performed the role in 1878.

In 1883, John Stetson, manager of the Booth Theatre and The Globe Theatre, wanted to revive the play and asked James O'Neill (the father of playwright Eugene O'Neill) to perform the lead role. O'Neill, who had never seen Fechter perform, made the role his own and the play became a commercial, if not an artistic success. O'Neill made several abridgments to the play and eventually bought it from Stetson. A motion picture based on Fechter's play, with O'Neill in the title role, was released in 1913 but was not a huge success. O'Neill died in 1920, two years before a more successful motion picture, produced by Fox and partially based on Fechter's version, was released. O'Neill came to despise the role of Monte Cristo, which he performed more than 6000 times, feeling that his typecasting had prevented him from pursuing more artistically rewarding roles. This discontent later became a plot point in Eugene O'Neill's semi-autobiographical play Long Day's Journey Into Night.

In 2008, the Russian theater of Moscow Operetta set a musical Monte-Cristo based on the book with music of Roman Ignatiev and lyrics of Yulii Kim. Six years later it won in Daegu International Musical Festival in South Korea. Original plot was slightly changed and some characters are not mentioned in the musical.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a musical based on the novel, with influences from the 2002 film adaptation of the book. The music is written by Frank Wildhorn and the lyrics and book are by Jack Murphy. It debuted in Switzerland in 2009.[34]

Audio adaptations

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Newspaper advertisement for The Campbell Playhouse presentation of "The Count of Monte Cristo" (1 October 1939)

Notes

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  1. ^ The governor at the Château d'If is promoted to a position at the castle of Ham, which is the castle where Louis Napoleon was imprisoned 1840–46, on page 140 of the novel.
  2. ^ Thomas Alexandre Dumas was also known as Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie.
  3. ^ "État civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo" is included as an "annexe" to the novel.

References

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  1. ^ Schopp, Claude (1988). Alexandre Dumas, Genius of Life. trans. by A. J. Koch. New York, Toronto: Franklin Watts. p. 325. ISBN 0-531-15093-3.
  2. ^ Bruzelius, Margaret (2007). Romancing the Novel: Adventure from Scott to Sebald. Bucknell University Press. p. 58.
  3. ^ Albert, Nicole G. (2019). "Le saphisme en filigrane : décryptage des amitiés particulières dans le roman du premier xixe siècle". Littératures. 81 (81): 35–47. doi:10.4000/litteratures.2408. S2CID 241596021.
  4. ^ David Coward (ed), Oxford's World Classics, Dumas, Alexandre, The Count of Monte Cristo, p. xvii
  5. ^ Lebeaupin, Noël. "Georges". The Alexandre Dumas père Web Site (in French). Retrieved 10 October 2020. Solidarité avec les opprimés donc (thèmes de la justice et de la vengeance, omniprésents chez Dumas) [Solidarity with the oppressed therefore (themes of justice and vengeance, omnipresent in Dumas)]
  6. ^ a b Peuchet, Jacques (1838). "Chapter LXXIV, Section: 'Le Diamant et la Vengeance' (Anecdote contemporaine)". Mémoires tirés des archives de la police de Paris :pour servir à l'histoire de la morale et de la police, depuis Louis XIV jusqu'à nos jours /. Vol. 5. Paris: A. Levavasseur et cie etc. pp. 197–228. hdl:2027/hvd.32044021084843.
  7. ^ Dumas, Alexander (1857). "Etat civil du Comte de Monte-Cristo, chapter IX" [Civil status of the Count of Monte Cristo]. Causeries (in French). Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e Sigaux, Gilbert (1981). Introduction. Le comte de Monte-Cristo. By Dumas, Alexander (in French). Library of the Pléiade. ISBN 978-2070109791.
  9. ^ Peuchet, Jacques (1838). "Le Diamant et la Vengeance: Anecdote contemporaine" [The Diamond and the Vengeance: A contemporary anecdote]. Mémoires tirés des Archives de la Police de Paris (in French). Vol. 5. Levasseur. pp. 197–228.
  10. ^ a b Ashton-Wolfe, Harry (1931). True Stories of Immortal Crimes. E. P. Dutton & Co. pp. 16–17.
  11. ^ David Coward (ed), Oxford's World Classics, Dumas, Alexandre, The Count of Monte Cristo, p. xxv
  12. ^ a b c d e f Munro, Douglas (1978). Alexandre Dumas Père: a bibliography of works translated into English to 1910. Garland Pub. pp. 91–92.
  13. ^ "The Morning Post Front Page". The Morning Post. 26 February 1846. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  14. ^ Dumas, Alexandre (1889). The Count of Monte Cristo. Little Brown and Company.
  15. ^ Dumas, Alexandre (1889). The Count of Monte Cristo : or, The Adventures of Edmond Dantès. T.Y Crowell.
  16. ^ Dumas, Alexandre (1955). The Count of Monte Cristo with an introduction by Richard Church. Collins.
  17. ^ Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo (2017) UDON Entertainment ISBN 978-1927925614
  18. ^ a b Sante, Luc (2004). Introduction. The Count of Mount Cristo. By Dumas, Alexander. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. pp. xxiv. ISBN 978-1593083335.
  19. ^ Sante, Luc (2004). Introduction. The Count of Mount Cristo. By Dumas, Alexander. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. p. 601. ISBN 978-1593083335.
  20. ^ Sante, Luc (2004). Introduction. The Count of Mount Cristo. By Dumas, Alexander. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. pp. xxiv–xxv. ISBN 978-1593083335.
  21. ^ "ШЕКСПИР и "ГРАФ МОНТЕ-КРИСТО"" [Shakespeare and "Graffe Monte Cristo"]. Электронная энциклопедия "Мир Шекспира" [Electronic encyclopedia "Shakespeare's World"] (in Russian).
  22. ^ Wallace, Lew (1906). Lew Wallace; an Autobiography. p. 936. ISBN 1142048209.
  23. ^ Bester, Alfred (1956). "The stars my destination". Pastiches Dumas (in French and English).
  24. ^ Fry, Stephen (2003). "Introduction". Revenge. Random House Trade Paperbacks. ISBN 0812968190. a straight steal, virtually identical in all but period and style to Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo
  25. ^ Tilendis, Robert M. (23 December 2014). "Steven Brust's The Khaavren Romances". Green Man Review. Retrieved 3 August 2020.[dead link]
  26. ^ Eddy, Cheryl (1 July 2020). "There Are So Many New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Coming Out in July". Gizmodo. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  27. ^ Brust, Steven (28 July 2020). The Baron of Magister Valley. Tom Doherty Associates. ISBN 978-1250311467.
  28. ^ 《金庸一百問》盧美杏 輯. ["A Hundred Questions about Jin Yong" Lu Meixing Collection]. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2020. 《倚天屠龍記》裏謝遜說的山中老人霍山的故事和《連城訣》的故事架構,是否都出自金庸最喜歡的外國作家大仲馬的《基度山恩仇記》?(eling)金庸:山中老人那段不是,過去真的有此傳說,《連城訣》的監獄那一段有一點,但不一定是參考他的,是參考很多書的。 Are the story of Huoshan the old man in the mountain and the story structure of "Liancheng Jue" described by Xie Xun in "The Legend of Heaven and Slaying the Dragon" come from "The Enemy of Jidushan" by Jin Yong's favorite foreign writer Dumas? (Eling) Jin Yong: It's not the old man in the mountains. There was a legend in the past. There was a little bit about the prison section of "Liancheng Jue", but it didn't necessarily refer to him. It refers to many books.]
  29. ^ Milza, Pierre (2004). Napoléon III (in French). Perrin. ISBN 978-2262026073.
  30. ^ "Once Upon a Time books Legend of the Seeker star – exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  31. ^ "The Count of Monte-Cristo: Great Revenge". Fuji Television Network, Inc. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  32. ^ Oliveira, Paulo Motta (2009). "A mão do finado: as extraordinárias aventuras de um sucesso mundial". II Seminário Brasileiro Livro e História Editorial.
  33. ^ "A mão do finado (La main du défunt)". www.pastichesdumas.com. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  34. ^ Gans, Andrew."Borchert to Star in World Premiere of Wildhorn's Count of Monte Cristo" Archived 25 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, 18 February 2009
  35. ^ a b Welles, Orson; Bogdanovich, Peter; Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1992). This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0060166169.
  36. ^ "Ingmar Bergmans skådespelare: Gertrud Fridh". Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  37. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Classic Serial, The Count of Monte Cristo, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  38. ^ "Home". The Count Of Monte Cristo. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  39. ^ SundaySuspense / The Count Of Monte Cristo Part 1 / Alexandre Dumas / Mirchi Bangla (MP3) (Audio story) (in Bengali). Kolkata: Radio Mirchi. 28 November 2021.
  40. ^ SundaySuspense / The Count Of Monte Cristo Part 2 / Alexandre Dumas / Mirchi Bangla (MP3) (Audio story) (in Bengali). Kolkata: Radio Mirchi. 6 December 2021.
  41. ^ "Home". Little Lucky Productions. Retrieved 6 May 2024.

Further reading

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