A Tea with a Book Addict talk
Few novelists have been such master storytellers as was Dumas. This great tale of love, imprisonment, revenge and political intrigue has captivated readers from the first moment it was published. French society, history, landscapes and characters are all brought alive so memorably.
“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.”
― George Saintsbury
There are few novelists who can tell a story in such a gripping and absorbing way as Alexandre Dumas. Fascinatingly, he had a collaborating ghost-writer for the book (you can learn his story in this talk), and yet it has all the hallmarks of a classic Dumas novel – adventure, swashbuckling action, revenge and romance.
Since it was first published in 1844, it has remained one of his most popular books, and it spawned an entire tourist industry, as people rushed to the Chateau d’If to see the cell where Edmond Dantes languished for so many years.
Dumas was himself a larger-than-life personality. Incredibly prolific as a novelist, playwright and even author of a cookbook, he indulged in numerous affairs, fathered illegitimate children, spent lavishly, and travelled widely. He coped bravely with the prejudices of the day regarding his mixed-race heritage (his grandmother was an Afro-Caribbean slave). Generous, hospitable, impulsive and humorous, Dumas remains one of the most translated of French authors. Learn more about this fascinating and lovable man.
The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the great thrillers and revenge stories of world literature. It’s a conspiracy story, with a moral at its core – Dantes finds that, when finally achieved, revenge is bitter-sweet. It’s a brilliant historical novel, set in the period of 1815 to 1838 when France was recovering from the Napoleonic era and capitalism was rampant. Discover how Dumas uses politics to comment on the worthiness of his characters. The novel is an examination of prisons (men create many different sorts of prisons for themselves), it’s about corruption in high places, and it concerns the search for identity.
Few novels have been as frequently filmed, adapted, sequelled (there has even been an erotic sequel), and turned into songs and video games. Discover the extraordinary after-life of this book. The Count of Monte Cristo, with good reason, is one of the best-selling novels of all time. Join me in discussing its author and its brilliance.