Le Comte de Monte-Cristo

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Le Comte de Monte-Cristo is the world famous novel by Alexandre Dumas (père, 1802-1870)[1] and also the title given to a number of dramatizations of it.

The novel

The original text

Written in French by Dumas and his collaborator Auguste Maquet (1813-1888)[2], it was completed in 1844 and serialized (under the name of Dumas) in the Journal des Débats from 28 August 1844 to 15 January 1846.

The novel tells the thrilling story of Edmond Dantès who, falsely accused and imprisoned without trial in the notorious Château d'If on an island near Marseilles, escapes with the help of a fellow prisoner. Having become extremely wealthy, he later returns as the mysterious and wealthy "Count of Monte Cristo", to take revenge he takes on all those who had wronged him.

Translations and adaptations

The novel was translated into many languages, and is widely known in English as The Count of Monte Cristo (sometimes spelled The Count of Monte Christo). The first English version was The Prisoner of If, an abridged summary of the first part of the novel, serialized by W. Francis Ainsworth (Ainsworth's Magazine, 1845). The most commonly utilised English version was a translation by an anonymous author, originally published in 1846 by Chapman and Hall. This was originally released in ten weekly installments from March 1846 with six pages of letterpress and two illustrations by M Valentin.

Dramatizations of the novel

The plays

Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet wrote a set of four plays that collectively told the story of The Count of Monte Cristo: Monte Cristo Part I (1848); Monte Cristo Part II (1848); Le Comte de Morcerf (1851) and Villefort (1851).

Two English adaptations of the novel were published in 1868, the first by Thomas Hailes Lacy, largely based on Dumas' version,

The second, more radical, version was by Charles Fechter ()[], who played the lead himself when it was first performed at the Adelphi in London in October 1868, and would also do so when it was chosen as the inaugural play at the opening of the Globe Theatre, Boston in 1870. In 1883 James O'Neill (the father of playwright Eugene O'Neill) played the lead in a revival of Fechter's version at the Globe, and would going on to perform the role more than 6000 times. His dependence on the success of that play became a cause of great discontent to him, an agonising aspect that his son would later incorporate into his semi-autobiographical masterpiece Long Day's Journey into Night.

Performance history in South Africa

1878: Performed by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 27, 28 and 30 May, with Harry Muller playing the lead. Scenery by A & W Thorne. (It appears from Bosman, 1980: p. 396, that Roebuck may simply have billed it as Monte Christo.)

1902-8: Possibly performed by Leonard Rayne as part of his season at some point during these years.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Count_of_Monte_Cristo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandre_Dumas

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.203-205

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