COUNT OF MONT$ CRISTO, The. A typical novel of the romantic period ist France was 'The Count of Monte Cristo,' by Alexan dre Dumas, written from 1841 to 1845 with the assistance of two minor collaborators, Auguste Maquet and P. A. Fiorentino. It was begun before and completed after the equally famous 'Three Musketeers' from which it differs in being more melodramatic and intense; leis natural and humorous. The protagonist, ; Ed mond Dantes, bears the earmarks of the tic hero of the Byronic poems, although he is not so sentimental, being endowed with an active passion that sets him wrestling with superhuman difficulties instead of brooding over them in sick despair. Dantes is the victim of unscrupulous enemies, a gloomy giant outraged by society. Unjustly confined within the dun geons of the Château d'If, he learns from a fellow prisoner the arts and sciences, and the secret of a buried treasure. When his com panion dies, Dantes, assuming the role of the corpse, is flung into the sea and swims to free dom. He recovers the lost treasure, and, as the possessor of immense wealth, proceeds to work out his elaborate schemes for mysteriously rewarding those who have been his benefactors, and wreaking vengeance upon those who are responsible for his misfortunes. He is ruthless in his pursuit of these enemies, insinuating himself unsuspected into their good graces, and leading them on by diverse paths to destruction. Fernand, who had married Dantes' sweetheart, is brought to suicide; Danglars, who had per mitted the father of Dantes to die of starvation, is forced into bankruptcy and social disgrace; and de Villefort, who had treacherously secured the imprisonment of Dantes, is publicly humili ated, and when his criminal wife slays herself and her son, he goes raving mad. With his thirst for revenge thus slaked, Dantes turns for solace to the fair Haydee, daughter of Ali Pacha, ruler of the Greeks.
Duels, poisonings, sleeping potions that in duce the semblance of death, documents written with invisible ink, secret passages, luxuriously furnished grottoes, disguisings, and all the other paraphernalia of hectic romance are mustered here for duty. Villainy and virtue are extreme; demons and angels rub shoulders. Slaves, ban dits, bankers, soldiers, sailors, priests throng the pages, every one of which yields its thrill.
In power of improvisation, Dumas vies with Walter Scott; and in wildness of imagination far surpasses him. The intricate plot of the novel is woven with consummate skill, and, theatric as are its scenes and personages, they win at least that temporary suspension of dis belief which Coleridge would exact of all ro mance. Indeed, in many matters of detail, Dumas has taken care to arouse in his reader, not only the pleasure of surprise, but that also of recognition. Thus, in his account of the ingenuity of the Abbe Faria in fashioning vari ous articles for use in the dungeon, he has torn realistic leaves from 'Robinson Crusoe.' Feat ures of the intrigue he drew from Peuchet's devoilee) after his publishers had asked an exciting story in the style of Eugene Sue's (Mysteries of Paris.' The Roman scenes he completed before it occurred to him to develop fully the incidents connected with Marseilles and the Château d'If, now so auspiciously setting the story in motion. The location of the buried treasure and the title he hit upon during a visit, in 1842, to Elba, off the coast of which he noticed the rocky island of Monte Cristo. Translations and dramatizations of the romance have appeared in every modern language.