Alexandre Dumas - The Count of Monte Cristo

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.

A subscriber-only Zoom talk on Sunday 22 August 2021, 4.00 pm Australian Eastern Time (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra).

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“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

A gripping and absorbing story

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.

A larger-than-life personality

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.

A brilliant conspiracy story

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.

Discuss it with me

This great tale of love, imprisonment, revenge and political intrigue has captivated readers from the first moment it was published. What about you? Let’s discuss it here.

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I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Featured image credit- Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Henry Cavill, and Dagmara Dominczyk, The Count of Monte Cristo, 2002 Touchstone Pictures movie adaptation,

Comments (4)

  1. Megan Wallens

    Dear Susannah. Thank you, as always, for your wonderful Newsletter. I’m so thrilled to see The Count of Monte Christo appear here this month.
    My copy was my father’s, who brought it with him from Ireland to Australia in 1925. It is small, in two volumes, is dog-eared and much-loved. At the beginning, there is a sketched portrait of Alexander Dumas. Nearby, it says that he was born at Villers-Cotterets on July 24th 1802. He died at Dieppe on 5th December, 1870.
    From 1999, I spent 4 years living in rural China. I took The Count of Monte Christo with me, and both my husband and I re-read it there. One day, on a whim, I loaned it to my young translator, who was still developing his English skills. He read it right through, and was captivated. We spent much time discussing its fabulous twists and turns of love and treachery, and the development of the characters. We were delighted that ‘Xu’ made the effort to stick with it, despite it being in his second language.
    As I look at my old copy now, it’s most pleasing to know that it has traveled so broadly (Ireland to Australia to China, and back)and given so much pleasure. Thanks again.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks so much for sharing htat gorgeous story, Megan. I love to think of your treasured copy travelling to China and then introducing a young translator to his works. Fabulous!
      If you get my video talk about Dumas, I’ll be sharing a fascainting story about his anniversary and all the parades and events that took place. I’ve visited his birthplace, his graves (two of them), his glorious Chateau Monte Cristo, and also the Chateau d’If. If you get my video talk on ‘Literary france: Susannah’s Top Ten’, you’ll see how highly I rate that visit.
      Oh I do so hope that one day we will all be able to travel again.

  2. Megan Wallens

    Thanks Susannah, will chase up your videos.
    I’ve recently read ‘Three O’Clock in the Morning’ by Gianrico Carofiglio. It’s beautifully translated from Italian into English, well worth reading. There’s a night scene in Marseille, where father and son are wandering along the foreshore. The father points out what landmarks they’re looking at. One of them is Isle d’If, which leads the two to discuss their love of The Count of Monte Christo.
    Best wishes during the challenge of Covid restrictions.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Don’t you love discussions about great books by characters in another excellent book. Thanks for the recommendation – I’ll look for it.

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