I would have posted this much sooner, but I was struggling to find a good name for my momentous fifth summer read-along, in which we will tackle Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.
Count Along? Count Me In? No. Sometimes you must wait for the muse to show up.
The title is relevant too, because there are abridged versions out there. Do not be fooled. We are going FULL MONTE, people.
I wasn’t certain about this book at first. Didn’t we just read-along a book in which Napoleon is a character? And haven’t we covered wrongful imprisonment before? Thwarted engagements? Monomania and revenge?
But people get excited about The Count. Many cite it as an all-time favourite. Also, there is a much-beloved movie adaptation from 2002 that I somehow completely missed. I do love a billowing cape:
The Count of Monte Cristo is made up of 117 chapters of roughly equal size (yep, it was originally serialized), which I’ve divided over six weeks. That works out to about 150-200 pages per week. The schedule below is more about when I’ll post, you should read at whatever speed makes sense to you.
- July 2: Start reading!
- July 9: Chapters 1-20
- July 16: Chapters 21-40
- July 23: Chapters 41-60
- July 30: Chapters 61-80
- August 6: Chapters 81-100
- August 13: Chapter 101-fin
Choosing an edition
People tend not to get very worked up about French to English translation, as opposed to, say, Russian to English. But it’s still important to consider which edition you are going to read.
- There seems to be a pretty good consensus on Robin Buss’s 1996 translation, which you can find in the Penguin Classics edition. It’s thought to be more modern and accessible, and contains good explanatory notes. It also comes in a clothbound edition.
- I rushed out and bought the Oxford World’s Classics edition before doing my research. It is based on the anonymous translation that has been widely published since 1840s. This 2008 edition has been somewhat modernized.
- Beware the Project Gutenburg editions, though, I hear some are 19th century editions that took it upon themselves to remove references to homosexuality. Rude!
So, I’ve now purchased the ebook version of the Penguin Classics, and will give both the Buss and the anonymous translation a go.
As noted above, do make sure you get an unabridged version. I hear that some abridged versions still weigh in at close to a thousand pages (what is the point??) but I think most unabridged versions will be over a thousand.
Optional BONUS round: The Black Tulip
I was inspired to choose The Count partly because the summer 2018 edition of The Happy Reader is dedicated to a Dumas book, a slim volume called The Black Tulip. It’s got a gorgeous cover and it’s about Tulip Mania, a subject I know little about. I’ve been subscribed to The Happy Reader for a couple years now, and it is my favourite literary magazine. It takes one classic book and asks writers and artists to interpret it in many different forms – no straight up reviews. The issue is out now so I’m going to attempt to read The Black Tulip before the start of the read-along proper. Think of it as a warm up. If you want to join me, I’m going to officially start on summer solstice.
Because why read 1,100 pages of Dumas this summer when you can read 1,350?
Obviously you’ll all want to join me because this is going to be fun. But in case you need more incentive, I’ll choose a random read-alonger to receive a Litographs tshirt, which contains 40,000 words of the text, OR, a subscription to The Happy Reader. You choose. To win, you have to comment on this post, you have to participate a little bit, (comment, tweet with #thefullmonte, etc) and you really should finish the book.
Comment below if you’re ready to wreak some revenge this summer!