- Angela Louie and Allan de la Plante
The Count of Monte Cristo's Chateau D'If
Here is something for all you Alexandre Dumas fans. For the rest of you who are not familiar with him, he is the prolific author of The Three Muskateer series, The Man in the Iron Mask and The Count of Monte Cristo, among others. Marseilles was famous long before Dumas came along but Dumas put Marseilles on the map when he penned The Count of Monte Cristo. The people of Marseilles embraced the Dumas novel so much that the line between fact and fiction became blurred. Even a tour boat is named after Edmund Dantes aka the Count of Monte Cristo. One such tour boat took us to Chateau d’If where Dantes was incarcerated as a political prisoner.
Chateau d’If was a real prison for political and religious offenders (or thought to be offenders). The cruel and inhumane treatment of these prisoners until their deaths, as they were never released, was very evident. In the novel, Dantes escapes and takes on a new persona as the Count of Monte Cristo. It is a wonderful novel and film.
Alexandre Dumas was a popular writer of his day. His father was half black from the Domincan Republic and he had access to books by working as a clerk. Dumas wanted to make the politics of his country accessible to the masses so all of his writings dealt with all levels of society. The Count of Monte Cristo did not start as a novel. It was written in installments as this was the way that most people read. Novels were reserved for the privileged. He made enough money through his writings to build a large mansion. Unfortunately he spent more than he made and had to sell it off later in life. But his work is still celebrated more than a century later.