The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Illustrated by Roman Pisarev

Limited to 500 copies, each signed by the artist


The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo is the original blockbuster. Vast in scope and ambition, breathlessly action-packed and involving a huge cast of unforgettable characters, Alexandre Dumas père’s great tale of revenge marked his perfection of the adventure novel – full of period colour and detail, and exciting, daring and enormously commercially successful.

‘The greatest “revenger’s tragedy” in the whole history of the novel’
  1. F. W. J. Hemmings

Set during the period of France’s Bourbon Restoration and Napoleon’s exile on Elba, through to the reign of the bourgeois king Louis Philippe, The Count of Monte Cristo tells the archetypal story of one man’s vengeance on his evil tormentors. Edmond Dantès, a young merchant sailor with a bright career ahead of him, is falsely accused and imprisoned as a Bonapartist on the day of his wedding, thanks to the conspiring of three adversaries – Fernand Mondego, motivated by sexual jealousy; Monsieur Danglars, seething with professional envy; and Gérard de Villefort, the chief prosecutor who epitomises the corrupt, scheming society of Louis XVIII.

Production Details

1088 pages typeset in Monotype Ehrhardt with Goudy Text, Lombardic Capitals and Victoria Titling for display with a frontispiece and 23 integrated black and white line drawings printed on Abbey Pure paper.

Limitation spread blocked in gold foil on Freelife Merida Graphite paper. Etching printed in St Petersburg on Echt-Bütten Ingres mould-made paper under the supervision of the artist; signed and numbered by the artist and tipped in by hand.

Bound in full goatskin leather blocked in gold foil on front and spine. Front board blocked in black foil with a silhouette of the Count. Gilded top edge. Ribbon marker.

Book size 10" × 6¾". Presented in a slipcase.

‘excitement and suspense and wonder with magnificent generosity’

Left to rot in the island dungeons of the Château d’If, Dantès spends 14 years in darkness made bearable only by the companionship of an erudite fellowprisoner, the Abbé Faria. It is Faria’s revelation of the existence of a secret treasure on the island of Monte Cristo that emboldens Dantès to make a daring escape. His discovery of the treasure, and acquisition of the island and the title Count of Monte Cristo pave the way for an ingenious and spine-chilling campaign of revenge.

Dumas’s novel was published in serial form between 1844 and 1846, and caused a sensation. The historical fictions of Walter Scott and the ingenious but often esoteric narratives of Balzac were here transformed into a page-turner of dazzling brilliance. Its protagonist embodied the loneliness, ingenuity and ultimately triumphant moral outrage that has characterised superheroes ever since. The English critic George Saintsbury described The Count of Monte Cristo as ‘at its first appearance, and for some time subsequently, the most popular book in Europe. Perhaps no novel within a given number of years had so many readers and penetrated into so many different countries.’ It has since been translated into over a hundred languages (and rarely been out of print in any of them), inspired over 30 film adaptations, countless television serials, formed the basis of novels from Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur to Alfred Bester’s science fiction classic The Stars My Destination, and today can be found in everything from Manga comics to computer games and phone apps.

Dumas – a prodigious life

Alexandre Dumas père (1802–70) led a life befitting one of his novel protagonists. His father, General Thomas- Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, had served with great distinction in the army of revolutionary France, an unprecedented career for a man of mixed race (he had been born on present-day Haiti to a marquis and his enslaved African mistress), but fell from favour in 1800. Two years later Alexandre Dumas (born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie) became the third child of this impoverished nobleman and his wife, an innkeeper’s daughter. Though Dumas’s father died when he was only four, his aristocratic connections enabled the young man to gain a position at the Palais Royal, in the office of the Duke of Orléans, Louis Philippe.

‘The name of Alexandre Dumas is more than French, it is European; and it is more than European, it is universal.’
  1. Victor Hugo

Like his contemporary Victor Hugo, Dumas was a literary and political revolutionary. He played an active part in the coup that unseated the Bourbon Charles X and brought Louis Philippe to power. His writings included magazine articles, travel books, a posthumously published and greatly acclaimed encyclopaedia of gastronomy, 60 or so plays for the theatre (one, La Tour de Nesle, resulted in him fighting a duel over disputed authorship), and in the 1840s a great outpouring of historical novels including The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and La Reine Margot. His personal life was equally prodigious – he is said to have had around 40 mistresses, fathering three children within his marriage and four outside, the latter including Alexandre Dumas fils, whom he helped towards a highly successful literary career in his own right.

When Dumas’s ashes were reinterred in Paris’s Panthéon, to mark the bicentenary of his birth in 2002, President Jacques Chirac summed up the sense of wonder this larger-than-life author has inspired in generations of admirers: ‘With you, we were D’Artagnan, Monte Cristo or Balsamo, riding along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting palaces and castles — with you, we dream.’

Roman Pisarev, Distinguished Artist

Roman Pisarev studied at the St Petersburg State Art Academy, where his interests embraced painting, drawing, sculpture, calligraphy, and work in metal and jewellery. A well-known book illustrator for several publishing houses in his home country, Russia, Pisarev has enjoyed a long association with The Folio Society. His instantly recognisable fine-line illustrations can be seen in Folio editions of the collected stories of Leo Tolstoy, of novels by Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle of the Ninth, The Lantern Bearers and The Silver Branch), of Arthurian legend, and of three of Dumas’s other masterpieces, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Man in the Iron Mask.

The distinctive dynamism and meticulous attention to detail of Pisarev’s illustrations – qualities which have won him, among other accolades, the Waterstones General British Book Illustration of the Year Award – have made him Folio’s illustrator of choice for action-filled, historical narratives. For this Limited Edition of The Count of Monte Cristo he has produced, in addition to the 24 illustrations which appear in the main text, a special etching, created by a traditional technique using layers of acid on brass plate, and then editioned by a Master Printer in St Petersburg in black sepia ink. The etching, presented on high-grade art paper, is tipped in to each copy by hand, and is individually signed and numbered by the artist.

The edition also features an introduction by the late Sir John Mortimer, who grappled with questions of justice and retribution in his twin careers of barrister and author, and found in the Dumas of The Count of Monte Cristo not only an enthralling storyteller, but a man who understood with subtlety and humanity the morally vexed question of revenge.


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