The Count of Monte-Cristo (in 2 vols.)
London: Chapman and Hall, 1846.
London: Chapman and Hall, 1846. First complete English language edition. Original green wave-grain cloth, spines lettered and blocked in compartments in gilt, sides blocked in blind with decorative outer border enclosing large central ornamental device, pale yellow endpapers. Frontispieces and 18 wood-engraved plates. Bookseller’s ticket of Jarrold & Sons to front pastedowns, inscription of “Eaton” to vol. I front free endpaper. Spines browned, head and tail repaired, small patch of restoration to head of vol. I, inner hinges cracked but firm, some foxing to plates, pencilled note to vol. I, p. 220, otherwise generally clean. A very good copy in bright cloth.
The publication history of this novel in English is a bit complex. A part of the novel was published in English by Belfast publisher Simms and McIntyre under the title The Chateau d'If in April of 1846. This translation was released the following month in May. It wasn't until September and October, 1846 that the final 2 volumes of the Simms and McIntyre edition were released. While each edition has points to recommend it, we prefer this translation, as well as the 20 engraved plates found in this edition. 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 #5564)