Written in 1844-45, The Count of Monte Cristo is without any doubt the most famous work of Alexandre Dumas after The Three Musketeers.
Originally published as a serial in Le Siècle newspaper in 1844, this classic intrigue features Edmond Dantès as a hero, a young sailor from Marseilles who, on the way to marry the beautiful Mercedès, is denounced as a Bonapartist conspirator by his friend and rival in love. Wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years in the Château d'If of the coast of Marseilles, he becomes acquainted with a fellow prisoner, the abbot Farria, who before dying confides in him about the existence of an immense treasure hidden on the island of Montecristo. After a spectacular escape, Dantès recovers the treasure, and returns to France under the guise of the super rich Count of Monte Cristo with the purpose of quenching his thirst for revenge.
Though the theme of revenge is rather common, here it turns to obsession. Dantès certainly deserves justice to be rendered, but his crusade, relentless and without pity, turns him into a bitter and rancorous man stripped of all emotion. The young and naive Dantès is dead indeed, leaving his place to a manipulative count.
However the man is not stripped of all commiseration since he will come to the assistance of those who had formerly helped him, reward his servants and contribute to the happiness of Maurel's son and Villefort's daughter by facilitating their idyll.
Dumas also profits by drawing up a not very flattering portrait of the upper class of this world. All of Dantès's enemies have become political or military figures of the kingdom who bathe in corruption and sordid schemes.
The desire of revenge increases with the reader and one enjoys the meticulous preparation and carrying out of the plan. Monte Cristo will punish each one of his rivals with their sins (see Se7en). His writing, perfectly romantic in the good sense of the term, swarms with details. Looking at the number of film and TV adaptations, one thing is sure: The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic that doesn't age.