About this Recording
NA203912 - DUMAS, A. (pere): Count of Monte Cristo (The) (Abridged)

The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas


‘And now farewell kindness, humanity, and gratitude! Farewell to all those feelings, which nourish the heart! …Now may the God of Vengeance yield to me his power to punish the wicked!’

With these words the sailor Edmond Dantès finally throws off ordinary, honest humanity to adopt the dangerous persona of the Count. In order to prepare himself for revenge, Monte Cristo makes himself invulnerable to pity—even to the point, the novel suggests several times—of enjoying the pain of others. The ‘God of Vengeance’ has almost a pagan ring to it and, at one particularly heartless moment, he seems to others ‘like an avenging angel’.

Yet Monte Cristo describes himself as an ‘emissary of God’. Indeed, his revenges are leavened with great acts of kindness and generosity; his invulnerability to the pain of others and his belief in himself as a Godly agent of justice are both challenged near the end of the novel when the unexpected death of a child shows us the ‘human’ and almost Christian face of the man for the first time since the early chapters.

The Count of Monte Cristo has the same power to thrill as any classic adventure in which the hero is rescued in the nick of time, the villain gets his just rewards and good fortune comes to those who deserve it. The 20th century has produced its own mysterious masked saviors—The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Batman and Superman. Monte Cristo was perhaps the pre-cursor of all these: the first ‘Caped Crusader’.

Alexandre Dumas wrote or collaborated on nearly 100 plays and many novels, including the celebrated The Three Musketeers. He was born in 1802, the son of a general in Napoleon’s army and the grandson of a French marquis and a Saint Domingo Negress. As a child he lived through the upheavals of the Napoleonic Revolution and the subsequent restoration of the monarchy of France, which form the background to The Count of Monte Cristo. Like Monte Cristo, he received his private education from a priest. He was politically active and, though he is thought to have rather embellished the actions in his Mémoires, was involved heroically in skirmishes during the 1830 revolution. He was the father of author Alexandre Dumas (fils), most famous for his La Dame aux Camélias. Alexandre Dumas (père) ran his career as an industry. It is thought that he would sketch the outline of a story to an assistant who would write it up; then Dumas himself would take the story by the throat and wrestle it into a masterpiece. He was a generous, idiosyncratic and fun-loving man who cooked brilliantly, gave a lot of money to cadgers and hangers-on, and spent prodigiously on his private life, most notoriously on various highly publicized affairs and the construction of a monstrous folly of a house at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He died, just solvent, in 1870.

Notes by Bill Homewood


The music on this Cassette is taken from the NAXOS Catalogue

BALAKIREV Symphony No 1 / Tamara

Russian State Symphony Orchestra/Igor Golovschin

BALAKIREV Symphony No 2 / Russia

Russian State Symphony Orchestra/Igor Golovschin

Battle Music Volkman / Overture Richard III

Czecho-Slovak RSO/Ondrej Lenard

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