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2010/11 Group Reads - Archives > The Count of Monte Cristo - Preliminary Discussion and Reading Schedule

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

The Count of Monte Cristo was chosen for the next group read. The reading schedule will start on January 16 to give people time to get a copy of the book. The unabridged version is long, about 1200 pages or so, but we're still going to push the reading schedule a bit and allow 6 weeks to read and discuss.

Tentative schedule:

Jan. 16-22 Chapters 1-20
Jan. 23-29 Chapters 21-40
Jan. 30- Feb. 5 Chapters 41-60
Feb. 6-12 Chapters 61-80
Feb. 13-19 Chapters 81-100
Feb. 20-26 Chapters 101-117 and wrap up


message 2: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Thanks a lot Kate - sorry I missed the call to have a run-off poll but I think this is the best thing to do because the Count is such a different book to any we have formerly discussed and by a 'foreign' author to boot:). I hope that whoever proposed it now has a few words to start us off and isn't still bogged down with holiday celebrations.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

It was I who nominated The Count of Monte Cristo and I did so from the rather shallow motive of sheer devilment. I have never read it before, like most people I had been put off by its length. I’ll be reading the 1997 Wordsworth Edition which claims to be complete and unabridged and runs to 880 pages. I notice I paid £1.12 for it, which I guess is around $2, not an awful lot for such an impressive book. Not sure if I’m able to moderate it as I am already committed to an Open University course starting in February, but I have at least read the introduction to this edition by Keith Wren of the University of Kent at Canterbury, and I have taken the liberty of quoting from this introduction by way of a starter for the few (I think) of us who will be reading it.

“The background to the Count of Monte Cristo is complicated, but it is instructive because it helps to illustrate exactly what Dumas was doing and how he was doing it. Novels had been published in instalments from the late 1820s, but in twice-monthly literary magazines such as La Revue des Deux Mondes and La Revue de Paris, and in very long sections… But in 1836 the face of journalism in France changed almost overnight. Two rival daily newspapers, La Presse and Le Siècle, were abe to cut their cover price by some 50% thanks to the simple – but revolutionary – wheeze of accepting commercial advertising. This was more important than it may sound, because the previous annual cost of a newspaper (80 francs) had been broadly equivalent to a month’s wages for a Parisian worker. Of course, the proprietors more than recouped the cost of this apparently selfless gesture, since, as well as vastly increasing their readership, they racked up their charges to their advertisers, a full-page advertisement costing as much as 500 francs. In those days, newspapers depended for their sales on a subscription system: the consequence of the dramatic price reduction was an equally dramatic increase in the number of subscribers. The proprietors then had to devise ways of hanging on to their new readers, and although they did not originally see serial fiction as the trump card it rapidly turned out to be, they did see the value of including regular features to keep the punters coming back for more. By 1838, Le Siècle had already developed the nineteenth century equivalent of the modern trailer, boasting of the coming fictional attractions in store for the public, and the serial-fiction juggernaut was in the process of developing an unstoppable momentum. Other newspapers followed the lead of La Presse and Le Siècle, and competition to retain the services of superstar authors who could pen blockbusters that kept readers loyal began to resemble today’s market for Premiership footballers… The most popular and highly regarded of these were not necessarily writers who have held on to their places in the literary Pantheon: who now reads (or has even heard of) Frédéric Soulié or Eugène Sue? On the other hand luminaries such as Balzac came a horrible cropper because they could not tailor their style to the public’s demands…

It was quite by chance that Dumas came to write The Count of Monte Cristo. He had signed a contract with… the publishers of the Journal des Débats, to furnish a series of articles on historical tourism in Paris. However, unnerved by the runaway success of Eugène Sue’s The Mysteries of Paris for a rival paper, they pleaded with Dumas (to whom they had already paid an advance) to turn this into a novel. Dumas agreed… he already had the basis for his story in an anecdote that he had noted earlier in the Mémoires historiques (1838) of the police archivist Jacques Peuchet, called The Diamond and the Vengeance. It told the story of Francois Picaud, whose friends, jealous of his impending marriage, denounced him as an English spy. Incarcerated for seven years, he emerged, enriched by the hoard of a fellow prisoner, to take murderous revenge on his betrayers…”


message 4: by MadgeUK (last edited Jan 04, 2011 07:14AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments How very interesting David - thanks a lot for all that info! Please stay with us as long as you can. (What OU course are you taking BTW?)

I have downloaded two (cheap) versions onto my Kindle, one unabridged and one abridged, the latter has better chapter headings:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Count-Cristo...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/CRISTO-Newes...

Could other Kindle users please tell me which edition(s) they chose?


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

MadgeUK wrote: "How very interesting David - thanks a lot for all that info! Please stay with us as long as you can. (What OU course are you taking BTW?)

I have downloaded two (cheap) versions onto my Kindle, on..."


Another on-line version:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1184 (available in epub and kindle formats as well as on-line)


message 6: by toria (vikz writes) (last edited Jan 04, 2011 10:38AM) (new)

toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) Kate Mc. wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "How very interesting David - thanks a lot for all that info! Please stay with us as long as you can. (What OU course are you taking BTW?)

I have downloaded two (cheap) versions on..."


MadgeUK wrote: "How very interesting David - thanks a lot for all that info! Please stay with us as long as you can. (What OU course are you taking BTW?)

I have downloaded two (cheap) versions onto my Kindle, on..."


Not sure whether to go for the cheaper versions or to pay a bit more for a better edition -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Count-Cristo-...


message 7: by MadgeUK (last edited Jan 04, 2011 11:29AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I wonder if David Coward's Intro is good? There are no intros on either of my copies. Here is a nice little review of his Biog on Dumas:-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/...

Dumas used to be a bit of a hero of mine when I was in my teens, I saw him as a sort of French Byron:).

Kate: Can you put up a Background Information/Resources thread sometime please.


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Kate Mc. wrote: "The reading schedule will start on January 16 to give people time to get a copy of the book. "

It probably doesn't matter that the BK discussion was scheduled officially to go through Jan 22, so the two books overlap. But it looks as though the BK discussion is pretty much done, so really, who except a pedant cares?


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments I read it when I was in high school, and really don't have any interest in reading it again. Even sheer devilment can't entice me!


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Everyman wrote: "I read it when I was in high school, and really don't have any interest in reading it again. Even sheer devilment can't entice me!"

I went on a Dumas binge in high school. I think it was after The Three Musketeers movie came out. The hilarious one with Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, Oliver Reed, etc. But I think I'm still satiated from that binge 30+ years ago. I don't want to reread it either.

And yes, you're being a pedant about TBK. ;) I tried to change the end date on that one, but it didn't stick so I'll just move it to the "read" shelf when the Count starts up unless Christopher does some housekeeping before I get there.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Kate Mc. wrote: "I went on a Dumas binge in high school. I think it was after The Three Musketeers movie came out. The hilarious one with Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, Oliver Reed, etc. But I think I'm still satiated from that binge 30+ years ago. I don't want to reread it either."

Well, there were seven people who voted for it, so they'll form a good core for the discussion group even without some of the rest of us. Just so long as they realize that their choice won and it's time for them to step up and start posting!


message 12: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Why can't the rest of us, or at least 6, do Ethan Frome? In one of my other groups, we run a fiction book and a nonfiction book at the same time every month. It works.


message 13: by Loretta (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) Rochelle: I would be happy to join for Ethan Frome, as i was planning on skipping The Count of Monte Cristo.


message 14: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments If we get a few people, I'll set up the threads.


message 15: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Rochelle wrote: "Why can't the rest of us, or at least 6, do Ethan Frome? In one of my other groups, we run a fiction book and a nonfiction book at the same time every month. It works."

It depends on how many readers there are. I think we need at least half a dozen people for a decent discussion. Even though this was not my choice (neither was TBK or Adam Bede) I am prepared to read it along with others because I think that is what being in a book club is all about. You win some and you lose some:). We can't possibly suit everyone.


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Rochelle wrote: "Why can't the rest of us, or at least 6, do Ethan Frome? In one of my other groups, we run a fiction book and a nonfiction book at the same time every month. It works."

I would prefer to delay Ethan Frome to a time when it can be the primary book. I'm not sure this group has enough members to do justice to two books at once, and while I am also probably going to skip the Count, I think it's a bit unfair to those who want to discuss it to put up a competing title for discussion.

JMHO, but I don't like to see groups splintered into competing discussions. I know some groups do, but I think they are mostly larger groups with plenty of participants, which we don't yet have here.


message 17: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 114 comments Everyman wrote: "Rochelle wrote: "Why can't the rest of us, or at least 6, do Ethan Frome? In one of my other groups, we run a fiction book and a nonfiction book at the same time every month. It works."

I would pr..."


I agree, Everyman. Fractured groups tend to disintegrate, especially when they are relatively small and new. I began reading The Count of Monte Cristo last night and am thoroughly enjoying it. (Actually, John Lee is reading it to me.)


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
I'm with E'man and Laurele. I read TCoMC just a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to contributing my thoughts, etc. I'd love to do a Wharton novel with all of you too, but I think we ought to wait until we've chosen it as our primary read. Is this gonna be okay, folks?


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Me 3 (or maybe 4). I agree with Laurel and Eman that the group is too small to focus on more than one book at a time.


message 20: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments OK.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

We could do Ethan Frome as a follow on to Count of Monte Cristo. The votes were really close and that way uber-busy Christopher wouldn't have to set up another nomination and selection process in the middle of February.


message 22: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments OK


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) Kate Mc. wrote: "We could do Ethan Frome as a follow on to Count of Monte Cristo. The votes were really close and that way uber-busy Christopher wouldn't have to set up another nomination and selection process in ..."

That sounds like a great idea.


message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Kate Mc. wrote: "We could do Ethan Frome as a follow on to Count of Monte Cristo. The votes were really close and that way uber-busy Christopher wouldn't have to set up another nomination and selection process in ..."

Works for me if it works for Christopher.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Kate Mc. wrote: "We could do Ethan Frome as a follow on to Count of Monte Cristo. The votes were really close and that way uber-busy Christopher wouldn't have to set up another nomination and sele..."

And it most certainly works for me! I am here (finally) to serve. Edith Wharton is one of my most favorite of American authors (although, truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of Ethan Frome).


message 26: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Christopher wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Kate Mc. wrote: "We could do Ethan Frome as a follow on to Count of Monte Cristo. The votes were really close and that way uber-busy Christopher wouldn't have to set up another no..."

The original idea was to choose a shorter, simpler book than BK, and EF was within our period. If you want to stretch the period a bit, we can do later books. She's my favorite classic American author too.
No other group is covering Wharton, not even my other groups covering the early 1900's. And the Edith Wharton Group died this summer.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Rochelle said--The original idea was to choose a shorter, simpler book than BK, and EF was within our period. If you want to stretch the period a bit, we can do later books. She's my favorite classic American author too.
No other group is covering Wharton, not even my other groups covering the early 1900's. And the Edith Wharton Group died this summer.


I look at Edith Wharton as an author that fits inside of our time-frame. Certainly many of her novels are outside of it, i.e., post-1910, but that should not stop us exploring the depth and breadth of her work. As I've said before, I truly do view our boundaries as quite soft.


message 28: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments :)


message 29: by MadgeUK (last edited Jan 05, 2011 10:38PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Christopher wrote: "I'm with E'man and Laurele. I read TCoMC just a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to contributing my thoughts, etc. I'd love to do a Wharton novel with all of you too..."

I agree and look forward to following The Count with Ethan Frome.

It is good to have you back Christopher! Happy New Year!


message 30: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Laurel--why did you add an e to your name? Too many Laurels at GR?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "Christopher wrote: "I'm with E'man and Laurele. I read TCoMC just a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to contributing my thoughts, etc. I'd love to do a Wharton novel..."

And a very, very Happy New Year to you, Madge, and all of you here with the Readers Review!


message 32: by Laurel (last edited Jan 06, 2011 03:35PM) (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 114 comments Rochelle wrote: "Laurel--why did you add an e to your name? Too many Laurels at GR?"

Yup. They said my real name was already taken. The e is for Elizabeth, my middle name.


message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments I was by the library today and got out the Count. It's 800+ pages, and that's the abridged version. Zowie. They didn't have an unabridged.


message 34: by Linda2 (last edited Jan 06, 2011 10:22PM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Laurele wrote: "Rochelle wrote: "Laurel--why did you add an e to your name? Too many Laurels at GR?"

Yup. They said my real name was already taken. The e is for Elizabeth, my middle name."


They said mine was taken, so I chose Rochelle2, and then they gave me Rochelle anyway. Duh...


message 35: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments I think my 250-page version probably removed all the subplots. But at the age of about 16 I didn't know there had been subplots.


message 36: by MadgeUK (last edited Jan 07, 2011 06:35PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, exciting storyline, which I think most of us will know from our childhood and from the many films made about the book.


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

MadgeUK wrote: "Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, exciting storyline which I think most ..."

My sentiments entirely, Madge.


message 38: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, exciting storyline which I think most ..."

I agree, Madge. When I read first Monte Cristo, I remember reading large amounts of pages in one sitting. It may be possible to look at Dumas as the 19th Century's Graham Greene--except Dumas actually had a writing style! :)


message 39: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Graham Greene doesn't have a writing style?


message 40: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, exciting storyline, which I think most..."

It's just a matter of one's eyes only having so many hours of reading a day in them, and having to ration it with care.


message 41: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments John wrote: "Graham Greene doesn't have a writing style?"

At least in my opinion, John. I will respond to your post, but after this we should move it over to Croissants, Coffee, and Tea. I have only read Greene's Our Man in Havana and did enjoy it--it was quite entertaining and hard to put down. But I didn't really see him having a writing style. I couldn't call him minimalist, or anything else for that matter. After doing some research on this I found that others think the same way too. Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_G...


message 42: by Laurel (last edited Jan 07, 2011 10:21PM) (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 114 comments Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, exciting storyline, wh..."

It's just a matter of one's eyes only having so many hours of reading a day in them, and having to ration it with care.


It's a great book to listen to, Everyman. I listened to chapter 15 and a bit of 16 on the bus today. John Lee does a great job with it. I have a wonderful recording of Anthony Quayle reading it, but that is only selections. If you choose to listen to it and have never read it before, it might be a good idea to refer to a list of the main characters, if you can find one that does not give things away.


message 43: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) One might argue that one book may not be enough to comment on someone's style, seeing as how he had a long career and wrote dozens of novels. But, if it says so in an uncited source on Wikipedia, who am I to argue?


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

Laurele wrote: "Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, excit..."

I checked the audio books available at my library for The Count. They were all about 45-48 hours long. Which is a little over an hour/day for the whole 6 week period. Wow! That's lots of listening.


message 45: by John (last edited Jan 07, 2011 11:04PM) (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) I don't know why people just don't read it. Couldn't most people read it in about half that amount of time? 1200/24 = 50 pages an hour, which is reasonable for what is essentially a nineteenth-century action thriller.


message 46: by MadgeUK (last edited Jan 08, 2011 03:58AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, exciting storyline, wh..."

I sympathise Everyman because even though my eyes are not as bad as yours, I too am having difficulty with my cataracts and finding reading more difficult. Perhaps, as Laurel suggests, we could listen to an audio version. I note that quite a few CMC Kindle editions are 'text to speech enabled'. Press Shift + Symbol keys to activate speech on/off when in text. They are very boring voices though. I quite like the idea of the one narrated by Orson Welles on Audible.com, where there are several inexpensive downloads.

Kate: An audio edition at least has the advantage of enabling us to do something else whilst listening, as with radio, which I listen to all day long when doing my chores:).


message 47: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments John, has anyone ever told you you're lacking in empathy? I'm telling you now. :)


message 48: by John (last edited Jan 08, 2011 06:29AM) (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Rochelle, has anyone ever told you that "it's on wikipedia" is less-than-convincing? :) But like I said, after all that "research," I won't argue the point.


message 49: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 287 comments John, I am responding in Croissants, Coffee, and Tea--as we should not divert too much from Monte Cristo.


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

MadgeUK wrote: "Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Although it is undoubtedly a long book, I do not think it is such a difficult, dense, read as, say, TBK or W&P and it will be helped along by the very strong, excit..."

There are also free recordings at Librivox.org, although the narrators are a bit hit or miss.


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