A must-see

article | Reading time5 min

The count of Monte-Cristo

Illustration du roman, edmond dantès sur un rocher

“ We’ve come to see the Count of Monte Cristo’s castle! ”. Like so many other fans before you, this is the true reason for your visit. Well then, let’s get started and get straight into the story.

The author

Alexandre Dumas

We’re going to start with the author, obviously. Alexandre Dumas was born in Villers-Cotterêts in 1802 and died in 1870. 

He was a prolific, and very successful, author, particularly when it came to historical novels, which is where he really excelled. You’re sure to know him as the author of The Three Musketeers. He was also a political activist and was involved in the second French Revolution in July 1830 – and because he cared about what happened to the prisoners, he ended up visiting the Château d’If

A few years later, on one of his many voyages, he visited the little island of Monte-Cristo. And, thanks to his imagination and talent, the rest is history !

portrait d'Alexandre Dumas
Portrait d'Alexandre Dumas

© Gallica / BNF

The Novel

The story

The Count of Monte-Cristo was first published in 1844 as a weekly serial, in the French newspaper “Le journal des débats”. 

Edmond Dantès, a young, promising sailor from Marseille, is betrayed by friends jealous of his success. Locked up in the Château d’If in 1814 for being a supporter of Napoleon, our hero spends fourteen long years in the infamous fortress. There he meets Abbé Faria, a learned priest who teaches him all he knows and gives him a treasure map. 

Edmond escapes, finds the treasure and, now extremely rich, becomes the fascinating Count of Monte Cristo, wreaking pitiless revenge, on the men who had betrayed him, one by one.

© journal des débats

The castle in the novel

The first part of the novel, which describes Edmond’s imprisonment, leaves an indelible impression on the reader’s unconscious, And the prison in Marseille becomes a symbol of horrendous, unjust confinement. Dumas’ words are lodged in everyone’s memory: “ Dantes stood up and looked in the direction the boat seemed to be moving. A few hundred yards ahead rose the steep black rock on which stood the sombre Château, looking as though it had grown out of the flint. ”

“ The sudden appearance of this strange shape, this prison shrouded in such deep terror, this fortress which for three centuries had nourished Marseille with its gloomy legends, had the same effect on Dantès as the spectacle of the scaffold on a prisoner condemned to death. ”

Are you a bit of an adventurer, are you keen to walk in the steps of one of the greatest wreakers of vengeance in literature ? If you look hard, you might even meet a ghost or two ... because the Château d’If is still there, with its imposing silhouette and dreadful dungeons. The castle awaits…

Illustration du roman
Illustration du roman le Comte de Monte-Cristo


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