We think we know the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, but in truth, until we have read Robin Buss’ new translation, published by Penguin Classics, we know nothing. All previous popular editions in English were reprints of a poorly translated and abridged nineteenth century edition which reduced the great work to the level of a common pot-boiler. These second-rate editions were then translated into film. In short, The Count of Monte Cristo we have always known is an impostor!
The new translation brings a greater depth and subtlety to the story from the outset, setting the scene thoroughly, introducing us to Edmond Dantes and his fiancé Mercédès, drawing both their characters deftly, revealing their youth, innocence, and promise, and in so doing, we feel the blow of the unjust act which follows more deeply. We, too, yearn for revenge.
The Count of Monte Cristo was always a story of extremes, of murder and vengeance, of great wealth and ambition, of love and intense hate, but now, with Dumas’ descriptive capacity restored, with his imagination untethered by dull witted opportunistic hack translators, with his canvas cleaned of impurities, the reader’s involvement is increased, the ride becomes real and the lessons, though harder to learn, once learnt, are unforgettable.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.