London: Chapman and Hall, 1846. First English language edition. Octavo (pages measure 221 x 138mm): iv, 464; iv, 464; complete with all 20 illustrations by M. Valentin. Early 20th century three-quarter red morocco over marbled boards. Gilt titles and designs in the spine compartments, all page edges marbled, marbled end papers. Internal contents generally in excellent condition although a few of the plates with very faint marginal dampstains (no text leaves affected). Clean and unfoxed. Bindings slightly rubbed at the hinges, but remain firm, corners a bit bumped. This remained the standard English text until the Buss translation was released in 1996.
Along with The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo cemented Dumas’ reputation as France’s premier adventure writer and a forefather of popular fiction. "First to sheer narrative power -- Dumas was a master of narrative -- and secondly to the theme. It is a story for all time, a 19th-century version of 'The Arabian Nights,' a gorgeous piece of escapism from the drudgery of daily life. The glamorous figure of Dantes, who triumphs over injustice and with his limitless wealth and power can control Destiny, punish his enemies and reward his friends, is an ideal which stirs all men's repressed longings for and fantasies of personal greatness" (Sudley). Yet The Count of Monte Cristo offers more than a sprawling tale of revenge. Through its web of literary references, most notably to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Dante’s Divine Comedy, the novel participates in the tradition of the epic hero; and it traces Edmund Dantes’ progress from his fall and path through the hell of Chateau d’If, as he makes his way through revenge and temptation to enter a new life marked by forgiveness and generosity. As it concludes, Dumas leaves his reader with a final thought: "all human wisdom is contained in these two words, 'Wait and Hope.’" (Item #1891)
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