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To Be On, or the Smell of the Battle
Sequels and Pastiches of Dumas in Russia, in Eastern Europe and in Italy

by Gennady Ulman*

 

 

Evening prayers at home in cozy nooks
Days without a book were constantly bore,
Never being in the battle, we fought in the books,
And we suffered from trifles taking them for the war

Hair stuck to the temples and sweaty forehead    
Turning pages seemed to be done by the Gods,
And the smell of the battle called the readers ahead
Draining energy out of our guts.

Vladimir Vyssotsky
Ballad about the Battle

 

I know the time when some people in Russia were completely sure that Alexandre Dumas was Russian, and, of course, d'Artagnan spoke only Russian. They were not too much educated people, but even those who could hardly read, read Three Musketeers . Even if Dumas were Russian indeed, he could not be loved and honored in the country more than he was. After his visit, this love turned into adoration.

Yes, he made a lot of mistakes in his books about his journey to Russia, but who remembers these mistakes now ? A magician in his own motherland, he was a magician everywhere.

Nobody wanted to part with his heroes, nobody wanted to say "Farewell". The portraits of this generous wizard were in public schools, universities, and bookstores. The Soviet power, nevertheless, allowed to publish only several novels of Dumas, like the mentioned-above Three Musketeers, its sequels, The Queen Margot, Count de Monte Cristo, and 3-4 other things. All Dumas' huge heritage was being left out of board. The Soviet government did not want to distract people from building the best society in the world. Only at the "black markets", one could see the volumes of Dumas by Petr Soykin , the pre-revolutionary publisher. They cost a fortune, and avid readers, like me, collected money for months and even years, to purchase, finally, an ancient volume, with an old alphabet, and with the chill of the heart to bring it home anticipating the birthday of the heart.

I grew up in the years after the Great War. Men's friendship was among the greatest values, which we sucked with our mothers' milk. Therefore Three Musketeers, perhaps, found more room in our souls than another masterpiece Count de Monte Cristo, in which an individual reaches his goals with almost no help from the others.

This is, apparently, more characteristic of the Western world where people are raised and trained to survive alone, without relying on the others. Besides, the theme of the treasures was not exactly approved by ideologists---a majority of the Soviet people were poor without even noticing it.

Many stories and novels were exploiting the lines of the plot of Three musketeers, the names of four friends were mentioned in different books and movies in the 30-s, 40-s, 50-s, and 60-s. Anyway, there were no attempts to create frank pastiches. I, personally, explain it with our upbringing and absence of understanding the difference between plagiarism and making a pastiche or a sequel.

It's hard to judge what was happening at the same time in the Eastern Europe as traveling even there was next to impossible, and the only real thing to rely on were books with every year becoming fewer and fewer.

Only during the last 10-15 years, in Russia appeared the novels which can be righteously named the pastiches and sequels of Dumas, and in the forthcoming short article I will try to show that d'Artagnan and his friends, and Edmond Dantes found their second life in Russia and Eastern Europe as well as in numerous other countries.

 

Life After Death, or Monte Cristo in Russia

 

Strange as it might seem, but several sources from which Dumas fed his immortal “Count of Monte-Cristo” can be found in the capital of Ukraine that is Kiev. Kiev newspapers inform the attentive readers about the French diplomate in Russia (Ukraine was a part of the Russian Empire then) in 1811, Count De Lagarde who communicated a lot with the local aristocracy, attended parties at the mansion of the Kiev, Governor Miloradovich, and regularly wrote diaries about everything he saw and heard. De Lagarde also visited the house of Prince Konstantinos Ypsilanti, an ethnic Greek, the former gospodar (ruler) of Moldova and Valachia, who had to seek the refuge in Kiev after the suppression of the anti-Turkish riot, led by his father, Alexander Ypsilanti. Konstantinos had been living for a long time at the court of the Sultan of Turkey and told Count De Lagarde much about the intrigues of the court, frequent poisoning of the guests by wines or sherbet.

Hasan-ibn-Sabba was also mentioned in Ypsilanti’s stories. Dumas attentively read the memoirs of De Lagarde making notes at the most attractive spots, making thus the details of Monte Crsito’s life in the Orient.

What is even more interesting, Ypsilanti mentioned the way he escaped from the Turkish prison which was used by Dumas when describing the flee of Edmond Dantes from le chateau d’If. The house of Ypsilanti is still there in Kiev. Its address is 6 Mazeppa street.

 

The Ultimate Revenge
Vyacheslav Lebedev
1992

Monte Cristo in Russia is presented not too extensively. First of all, let us stop at a novel The Ultimate Revenge with the name of Alexandre Dumas as an author, and published in 1992 in Sympheropol (Ukraine).On the back page, Soykin's publishing house is shown. On the title sheet, there is even the name of the translator--M. Ignatova. It is certainly a fake as the novel was written by a gifted Russian writer Vyacheslav Lebedev (1900-1979). Mikhail Buianov, the president of the Russian society of the friends of Dumas, a famous scientist, states that the novel has been numerously published after the death of the author.

The Ultimate Revenge is a frank sequel of Monte Cristo telling how Count de Monte Cristo together with his loving wife Haidee in spring 1838 come to Russian capital Moscow to enjoy the sights, and to have some experience of Russian "mysterious soul" which both of them had never had before.

Moscow charms Edmond Dantes, its huge bells, domes of the churches, covered with real gold, Russian hospitality, strange, but, nonetheless, delicious food, and, of course, Russians with their smiles and openness.

This spell continues until due to a misunderstanding, in a small inn, being asked his last name, Edmond Dantes, gets a slap on his cheek from a bear-like Russian. Several minutes before this accident, Dantes meets his old co-worker Jules Charpentier with whom he served on the board of "Pharaoh". Jules, still a simple sailor, does not know anything about his old friend, and informs Dantes that he intends to buy a small boat to become, finally, independent. Then the accident happens. The strength of the slap is horrible. Edmond, who never was a weakling, falls down from the chair, almost unconscious.

With the help of Charpentier and another witness, Edmond comes to understand that the fault is in his last name--Dantes. The matter was in the following : a year before, a great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was killed on a duel by a French officer Georges Dantes. Pushkin had a lot of anonymous letters claiming that his wife, a renowned beauty, Natalie Goncharova had an affair with Georges Dantes. More than that, to be closer to Natalie, Dantes married Natalie's sister, Catherine, although he never loved her.

Pushkin, being a genius of the verse, had a very hard character, and was never easy-going in life. Whether the rumors were true or not (it still remains a mystery up to this day), Pushkin challenged his new relative and demanded satisfaction. The duel took place in January, 1837, in Petersburg. The poet was killed by a shot into the stomach.

The duel caused the outrage from millions of people who loved Pushkin's poetry, and who thought the foreigner desecrated the gist of the Russian soul. On hearing the name "Dantes", some Russian decided to show his contempt to the Frenchman and slapped the latter.

Edmond Dantes does not speak Russian, and does not know the poetry of Pushkin, but after a detailed examination of this matter, talking to several representatives of the high society, and even having talked to the Prince, he decides to revenge the perished poet.

Why ? Because he thinks that Georges Dantes can be, by any chance, his side relative, because he thinks it hurts to be a cheated husband, because he thinks that Georges did not have any mercy on the pride of Russian people, and, finally, because he does not want to have in his family killers. He believes that Pushkin was right in defending the honor of his wife, and his own name. Haidee, who starts speaking Russian, with the help of her new Russian friends, reads some pieces of Pushkin's poetry, and says that it is fabulous. Edmond Dantes meets Natalie Goncharova, the widow of Pushkin, talks to her, and is willing to restore justice more than ever.

On his coming back to France, he meets Georges Dantes. Charles-Georges Dantes is a handsome young man, but count Monte Cristo is hard to deceive with the appearance. He feels his rotten nature, and suggests the following : as both of them belong to the same family name, Monte Cristo wants to purify this name; moreover, their common ancestors are said to start their kin from the Italian poet Dante, and he, Monte Cristo would give Georges-Charles an enormous amount of 50 million francs if Georges-Charles would always be in the shadow, removing himself from any political activity, any kinds of duels, anything that might make his name in the highlights. After Monte-Cristo's death this amount would double. Georges-Charles is torn apart. He does not want to become a puppet, and his ambitions of a real adventurer press him. He refuses, but the devil of greed is already doing his ruining job.

Meanwhile, Monte Cristo comes with Haidee to his lovely island. They have two kids. The boy is named Alexander (to remind Pushkin ? Dumas ?). On coming to Paris, Monte Cristo is acquainted with Victor Hugo. Hugo is charmed with the count and says he was sure that Monte Cristo was purely imagination of his good friend Dumas. The count does not want to take part in any kind of political struggles, but he decides to support Louis-Philippe financially.

It turns out that Georges-Charles is one of the most ardent partisans of Louis-Philippe. Therefore, Monte Cristo, who does not believe in any noble attempts to rule France, says to the Louis-Philippe that if Georges-Charles is removed from any political activity, the prince would receive money for his company. Louis-Philippe agrees. Georges-Charles is humiliated. He shoots at Monte Cristo, but this time he misses his target. He has to leave betrayed by his patron. Pushkin is revenged.

Monte Cristo also says good-bye to all his new friends who did not meet his expectations including famous Ferdinand Lesseps, the constrictor of Suez Canal. Lesseps is also under the influence of Louis-Philippe who is in Monte Cristo's opinion a petty and cheap personality.

He leaves to his island, and soon a new guest appears. It is a giant of a man, everybody on the island loves him, children, a boy and a girl adore him, and the count finds in him the only person to be able to talk as his equal. We understand, of course that this is Alexandre Dumas himself. The count tells him the whole story, and they both are silent. Then the boy asks why people can not live peacefully as his family does on their little island.

The mentioned Mikhail Buianov sharply criticizes the novel, naming it nationalistic and hostile. I can not agree with him. I, on the contrary, think it's one of the cleverest sequels, deftly written. The book, of course, lacks the psychological depth of Dumas, and apparently too freely treats the historical figures. But, anyway, it is fluent and interesting to read.

 

The Prison Colony
Valentin Pikul
1986

The historical genre in Russia was and still is adored and highly valued by the reading public. Only 15 years ago, it was utterly impossible to travel and to see with your own eyes the realities from history so thoroughly learned at high school. To see the pyramids of Egypt ? Impossible! To find the place where D'Artagnan lived ? Impossible! Except, of course, high functionaries, and, sometimes, ordinary workers, keeping together as together was easier to avoid the seductions of the capitalist world.

More than that, the history of Russia itself was deftly hidden under the seven locks and distorted to the mythology of the rulers. Not too many writers were admitted to the "sancta sanctorum"--the archives of the party and the government. Only the most trusted, the most credited. Valentin Pikul belonged to them. A former seaman, he changed his profession and became a professional writer. He wrote many novels concerning the historical past of Russia. His books are argumentative, not every reader likes his style of narrative, but he had a talent to touch upon the most interesting points of history.

One of his novels is the subject of our discussion, and it is The Prison Colony. In Russian Katorga. It is not a pastiche of Dumas' Monte Cristo. It's rather a tribute to Dumas' hero. The action of the novels takes place in early 1900-s including the fameless Russian-Japanese war, lost by the Russian army.

The main character, Polynov, quite a mysterious figure, with a dark past, known to no one, serves as a gunfighter for the gangs of Josef Pilsudsky, the future dictator of Poland. Poland wants to gain independence from Russia. However, mostly, Polynov is used as a skilful burglar of the bank safes, as it was believed that robbed money would serve to the case of independence.

Once, while robbing the bank, the gunfighters come across an ambush. While they were shooting back, Polynov opened the safe and without waiting for his companions vanished with everything which was in the safe. It was a huge plunder and the enraged companions, certain Gloger among them, sentenced Polynov to death putting off the verdict till meeting the traitor personally.

The next time,the reader meets Polynov in Monte Carlo playing the roulette and staking the most improbable number "36". He wins, but at this moment he is arrested by the police for the series of robberies in different countries, and, finally, after being battered he is transferred to Russia. The Interpol did not exist at this time, but the police collaborated, anyway.

After a lot of collisions, Polynov is sent to the worst place possible--the prison colony in Sakhalin. Horrible climate, crowds of gnats and mosquitoes, hunger, constant beating turn the life of prisoners into a nightmare. Polynov, nevertheless, finds the way of life there as well. Being acquainted, somehow, with the highest thieves from the prison hierarchy, he chooses with their help a small nothingness--a graduate of the seminary school who killed the priest with whose wife he had a liaison.

Polynov makes the man take his name and term, and acquires another name. Nobody checks the lists of the prisoners; nobody, actually, remembers their faces. Hence, our hero has to stay in the prison for only 4 years more.

He meets Gloger, who wants to fulfill the verdict, but Polynov is more skilful in shooting. He, however, does not kill Gloger, but explains that Pilsudsky is a traitor of his own country, and although he, Polynov, does not approve the actions of Russia towards Poland, Pilsudsky is harmful for both Russia and Poland. Polynov explained that he had taken all money, but he spent, at least, half of it for real independence of Poland. Gloger does not want to listen to any arguments. He misses his victim and is full of malice.

At that time, Polynov buys a young girl from her mother. The woman is desperate explaining that the girl otherwise would starve and die. Polynov takes the girl to his little shack and teaches her all that he knows himself about life, history, geography, literature, and he knows quite a lot, including his skills to speak 10 European languages without an accent.

Meanwhile, the Japanese attack Sakhalin and turn it into a Japanese settlement - Karafuto. The prisoners escape. Polynov makes a girl learn the number of his account in Monte Carlo in case he would perish. He calls the girl--Anita although it's not her real name. But this name reminds him of distant countries and unfulfilled dreams.

While escaping to the continent, Polynov again meets Gloger, and Gloger betrays him as a Russian spy to the Japanese officers. Polynov is so tired that he would meet death, but he remembers about the girl who waits for him and... loves him.

Being much smarter than Gloger, he makes the Japanese officers believe that the real spy is Gloger himself. Gloger is beheaded, and Polynov and Anita finally get to the continent. Coming to the same casino, Polynov requires his money, stakes again "36", and takes the whole bank.

He becomes the uncrowned king of several islands in the Pacific, makes a country comfortable to live in, and the worst punishment for his numerous subjects is being exiled from the island.

During the WWII, Anita comes to the Russian consul in France, and sobbing, says that her beloved husband died, and before his death he had asked his wife to gift Russia with several ships. This is the end of the story.

Actually, this is a story of Edmond Dantes who was experienced, older, and not innocent. Edmond Dantes, who performed the role of Abbe Faria, and obtained Haidee made with his own hands. The readers' sympathies change while reading from utter bewilderment (what? he robbed the bank? left his friends without anything? a good friend he is!), to astonishment and complete admiration when we come to realize that Polynov was not a negative, but a positive hero. Sophisticated, sinful however, positive.

The motive of revenge is somewhat blurred and vague, but after all, Polynov avenges his enemy Gloger who turns out to be a negative hero. Everything in this novel is reversed ; the heroes with the negative value finally turn out to be positive and noble, and, vice versa, positive -turn out to be negative.

The novel stands far from The Count of Monte Cristo, and is neither its sequel, nor a pastiche. Nonetheless, the affinity with the heroes of Monte Cristo is undoubtful. Polynov is both Monte Cristo and Abbe Faria, Anita stands for Haidee, Gloger for both Villefort and Fernand combining the betrayal and the right to judge. Among many characters of The Prison Colony, there are heroes who bear the features of Danglars and Caderousse although vaguely. Therefore, we have every reason to decide that The Prison Colony is a tribute to the renowned novel of Alexandre Dumas.

 

The Spy Woman Who Came From the North
Anton Leontyev
2004

The novel belongs to Anton Leontyev, is published in Moscow "Eksmo", 2004, 380 pages.

This a frank pastiche of Monte Cristo. A young Russian girl Tatiana Polesskaya together with her stepmother travels to visit Tatiana's father, who is an ambassador in the Great Princedom of Bertran, which is close to Monaco. Tatiana does not like her stepmother who married her Dad only for money and position. The stepmother is sure of her beauty, irresistibility, and superiority over a younger girl. Still she hates the girl.

On coming to Bertran, Tatiana, not Alla, gets into the limelight, and the Prince shows his attention to Tatiana, not Alla. Alla is mad with jealousy. She makes her husband, Tatiana's father believe that his daughter has to leave because she causes troubles in the embassy.

Tatiana does not want to go. She, who was always lonely, suddenly makes friends. One is a woman, slightly older than Tatiana, named Liudmila also working in the embassy. Another is more serious--her father's assistant, interpreter Igor. Tatiana falls in love with him. She does not know that Igor works for the KGB (committee of social security). Igor places in Tatiana's baggage a microfilm with the drafts of the latest model of American torpedo. Somebody in Moscow has to take care of this film.

Tatiana, sad and desperate, is ready to board the plane, but the film is found. She doesn't understand anything. However, she is arrested. Nobody cares too much for her. Nobody tries to help, even her father, who, on one hand is helpless, on another, more and more under the influence of his wife who hates the guts of her step-daughter.

Tatiana goes through the trial, and the secretary of prosecution, who understands very well that the girl is "framed", still demands the highest term--17 years. Tatiana is jailed on a small island. She gets some friends and a lot of enemies. Among the enemies there is a black woman. But Tatiana successfully goes through the difficulties.

One old woman, Louisa, is so much attracted with her good nature and kindness that she seriously looks at Tatiana as her daughter. After several years, Louisa dies leaving Tatiana as she says all her treasures and an old Bible. In the Bible, Tatiana finds an old sheet of paper with the numbers of the accounts once belonging to Louisa's passed husband. There are 27 million dollars. Tatiana decides to escape. She has already spent 13 years in the jail. A favorable moment once occurs. Using the carelessness of her guards, Tatiana gets down from the high cliff on which the jail is located, swims in the sea for a while, and is saved by the young and handsome yachtsman.

After a while she enters into possession of the fortune which turns to be much more than the amount of 27 million dollars. Under the fake name of the countess Louisa del Orsellini, Tatiana learns that her father died and all her energy is now directed to revenge.

She plans her revenge carefully getting into the contact with the highest people of Bertran and Russia. She learns that it was Igor who put the film into her baggage, that it was Liudmila who betrayed her to American government, that the secretary of prosecution could set her free as she (it was a woman) had all proofs of Tatiana's innocence, but did not do it because of the evil nature.

She has her revenge : she makes Igor kill Alla who at that time was his annoying wife, and gives him to the hands of the police. She makes Liudmila attempt for Tatiana's life, and also gives her to the hands of the police as the agent of American secret service.

She causes the circumstances in which the secretary of prosecution dies analogically to the death of Caderousse in The Count of Monte Cristo. Then she boards the yacht of the young man who once saved her and leaves for good to the South America.

As it is vividly seen, this novel is a frank pastiche of the Count of Monte Cristo in a female's variant. More than this, the title immediately reminds that of the English spy and thriller writer John Le Carré The Spy Who Returned From The Cold, and the episodes from Tatiana's life in the prison are almost exactly copied from Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes. Old Louisa plays only partially Abbe Faria leaving Tatiana her fortune. There is no teacher as Tatiana is highly educated.

Unfortunately the novel is written not skillfully, and the psychology of the characters lies on the surface. The novel is highly predictable even for those who did not read the famous prototype although I, personally, think that such people are few.

Actually, there are other novels in Russia more or less dealing with the themes and ideas of Monte Cristo. Among them it is possible to recall the trilogy of Georgii Mironov The Russian Brigades, about the life of the thieves and gangsters, and the main character who is their treasurer, but in reality, he is an undercover secret - service man. Being betrayed and locked in the jail, he uses exactly the same way of escaping as Monte Cristo, and then revenges his enemies.

 

The End of Monte Cristo
Rustem Vahitov
2006

Rustem Vahitov, the author whose sequel version of “The End of Monte Cristo” is published on the Internet in Russian. The contents of this story is very unusual.

The plot is the following: the French officer who turns to be Albert de Herrera ( the son of Mercedes and de Morcerf), comes to the small smoking-saloon in Aravia to smoke the hashish. The owner, a philosopher, while serving the client, comes to remember how he worked as a private healer for somebody who loved hashish—Count de Monte Cristo. Albert is very much interested, and asks what happened to the Count, finally.

The owner , sighing heavily, says that the Count died under tragic circumstances. He  (the healer) is very much surprised why people in Paris did not understand something that was vividly seen from the start: the Count was insane. Monte Cristo got mentally sick still in the prison.

He was sick with hatred, and when he finally got a revenge over his enemies, his hatred did not subside. He still had plans to revenge—to his guard in the jail If, to the soldiers who escorted him, to the commissioner who was not merciful to him, and others.

So when the basic revenge was over, the Count still could get quiet. When he finished with everybody, he suddenly understood who he had to give the final revenge. Who was so naive to believe de Villefort, who was so stupid to tell the whole story and to name the addressee? Who did not think about different things which had to be considered? Aren’t naivety and stupidity akin to a crime?

And Monte Cristo decided to revenge himself. With the devilish smartness, he works out the plan, and his own people hit the final and deadly blow. Now he is dead and thus revenged completely.

As we see, the understanding of the character of Monte Cristo is given completely differently from  the other writers, rather in the key of Karel Capec destroying the
stereotypes of our usual thinking. We may not agree with this version; however, it demonstrates that the interest to this character never dies.

 

Master and Margarita
Michael Bulgakov
1940

I also come to think that one of the most famous world-known novels “Master and Margarita” by Michael Bulgakov also bears the features of “Count Monte Cristo”, and is, at least, a tribute to Alexandre Dumas. I am also positive that the author did not even think about Monte Cristo. However, somebody said that the novel once being written, lives a new life completely independent on the writer.

Here is my proof.

Master who wrote a truthful novel about Jesus Christ, reconstructing His real life and death and paying Him a tribute of love and respect, had become a point of God’s Son attention. However, Master wrote his novel in  the country of atheists, and committed thus a crime. A new “friend” of naive and innocent writing genius, Aloisii Mogarych, also reports “anti-Sovietness” of Master with the purpose to take away his small and shabby apartment. This crime has to be punished, and Master is sent to NKVD ( Soviet secret police), and then to the mental hospital from which there is no return. Master is broken. He has no will of his own and no guts to fight.

His Margarita (Mercedes) does not know where he is, and can not do anything.
Master does not need any Faria as he is a highly-educated person himself; however, as was said before, he can not fight.

Then as Providence is always on the spur, a real avenger turns up. He is almighty and omnipresent. His name is Voland, and he is the Devil.  He first sets Master free, and then gives a chance to Margarita to revenge her lover. However, the broken windows in the apartment of the enemy of Master ( his literary critic and mocker ) are not serious for the Devil, and the Satan sets a revenge worthy of the devilish mind of Edmond Dantes.

The Devil actually acts on the request of Jesus as Jesus is unable to commit any mean actions, but The Devil enjoys this acting presenting Providence.

Master is revenged: he deserved his quietness and he joins his love—Margarita.
The novel is multi-plotted as the repent about the revenge experiences somebody else, not Master who, perhaps, does not even suspect what happened behind his own back.

I hope that I proved my point and that Bulgakov, unconsciously, still repeated the features of the plot of Monte Cristo.

Besides, separately from me, Russian literary criticist Eugenia Hilkevich in the monography “Master and Margarita. An experience of the literary analysis” states, in her opinion, a sure fact that Bulgakov based the intrigue of his novel on Dumas’ “Count of Monte Cristo and brings a lot of proofs of her statement**.

 

“The Healer” multi-serial
1. A Trip to “Kresty”
2. A Dash to Freedom
3. The Revenge of the Thief
B. K. Sedov

Sedov is definitely a pen-name of some modern writer or a group of writers specializing on the Russian underworld. The first three parts (there are many more ) are based on the plot of “MC”.

A Russian surgeon, Razin is framed up in a murder and accused of committing it. There is absolutely no way to avoid his forthcoming jailing and further joining the thieves who lead the prison. One of the thieves listens to his story ( Faria ) and explains to Razin that the real murderers are his own wife and his native brother. Razin experiences many ordeals in the prison; however, with the help of the thieves for whom he becomes an indisputable authority, he escapes.

Unrecognized, extremely wealthy, and powerful, he gets the proof of the betrayal and gets his revenge over the couple of those who broke his life. But as well as MC, he has to pay for his revenge. Since then, his life is strongly connected with the underworld and thieves.

 

The Cruel Romance
1. The Prisoner          440 pages
2. The Revenger        317 pages
3.  The Heir                313 pages
B.K. Sedov
2004

A woman’s variant of Monte-Cristo. A 14-year-old Tamara, a daughter of a tough Russian businessman finds her parents dead. She is adopted by her uncle and the uncle’s wife, a good-for-nothing couple who treat her cruelly and mercilessly meanwhile managing her father’s money.

Tamara’s uncle makes an unsuccessful attempt to rape the girl; then she is sold to somebody she falls in love with and who, nevertheless, sells her again. She, finally, gets into a jail and is already in the know that her foster parents were the real murderers and traitors of her family. In the jail Tamara becomes acquainted with the old lady who proves to be her Faria, becomes an heir to the huge amount of money, escapes, and gets her revenge.

 

Amplifying the Sorrow
Grigoriy Vainer 
400 pages

2003

The author is a world- famous, extensively translated into diffrent European languages, writer, the younger of the duet of two brothers, Arkady and Georgy Vainers. After the death of Arkady, Georgy wrote only two novels. “Amplifying the Sorrow” is a paraphrased quotation from Ecclesiastus “much wisdom is much sorrow”.

The novel is a double tribute to both “The Three Musketeers” and “MC”. In the remote sixties, there were three friends, “three musketeers”, always ready to stand for each other. They gave each other the nick – names ( the tribute to  that thoroughly described their characters). One, who was inclined to business, Aleksandr Serebrovsky, was tagged as “The Sly Dog”.

 He became a famous tycoon. Another, who had a keen eye  and a strong feeling of friendship, Sergey Ordyntsev, was named “The Loyal Horse”. He became a senior officer of the Interpol. The third was  Konstantin Boyko, the one who became the champion of the country in biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting ), skillful in martial arts, named by his friends “The Fighting Cat”.

All three went in for business, but only “The Sly Dog’ becomes successful. He is dishonest with his partners and is scared of “Fighting Cat” as the latter is old-fashioned, naive, and above all places his honesty. Being afraid of Konstantin, Aleksandr frames him into a jail, not in Russia, but far abroad, and seduces Konstantin’s wife as Serebrovsky loves her for a long time. Besides, he deprives Boyko of all his money.

Nevertheless, Boyko sets himself free and comes back to Moscow. Serebrovsky, who has his own secret service, is deadly scared. All his service is unable to find Boyko, and the tycoon calls Ordyntsev to come back from Paris where he serves in Interpol. “The Sly Dog “ hopes that “The Loyal Horse” would prevent “The Fighting Cat” from revenging. Thus, “The Three Musketeers” turn into “MC”. However, Boyko has his revenge. And as MC, he loses a lot and gains not too much.

 

Count Krestovsky
Kostiuchenko Eugene, Aleinikov Aleksandr,
Fataliev Ramiz 
384 pages

2005

A novelized version of the 12-series TV- movie made by Ramiz Fataliev and Aleksandr Aleinikov. The hero of both the movie and the novel is a simple boy, Elbrus Tamaev, who was raised by his father and got a worthy upbringing, honest and devoted to his only love and friends, finally,encounters a betrayal of his friends, loss of his love, and life prison in one of the Turkish jails. After long years of ordeal, he meets his own Faria, gets his education, sets himself free, obtains a fabulous treasure and a name of Count Krestovsky-.  “Krest” in Russian means “Cross”.

He comes back to Russia and revenges a killer, who was a real sadist; he also revenges a father and a son ( combined Fernand Mondego ), but he does not touch his former love who had married his only true friend and this friend is deadly sick nowadays.

The Count, mighty, wealthy, and still unrecognized, helps the couple to leave for an expensive hospital overseas. His former love starts to get some suspicions, but the Count does not give her a single chance. He vanishes still unrecognized.

 

An Apple of Monte Cristo
Daria Dontsova
2006

One of the most popular Russian woman-writers, Daria Dontsova, turns to the “Monte-Cristo” theme, when to a private detective agency, a woman, Zoya Vyazemskaya turns. She sees a ghost of her own dead son. After one such talk, Zoya dies, and the private eye, Ivan Podushkin, takes the case.

In the end, a bloody family vengeance reveals, hatred,envy, and jealousy that turns into a bitter revenge under a disguise. However, it has very little to do with th real MC plot. Why an apple ? Because that was an apple with what Eris, Goddess of strife, started the worst war in the whole Greek mythology-the Trojan war.

 

The Immortality of Insanity
Anatoly Karpenko-Rusyi 

I have not read the book and the review is based on the newspaper article. The author Anatoly Karpenko- Rusyi is a TV actor from Odessa ( Ukraine ), He wrote a novel about Monte Cristo from Odessa. Judging by the words of a journalist, the book is filled by blood, revenge, odor of treasures and faithfulness to the original plot of Dumas. Regretfully, I did not manage to learn anything else.

 

 

Monte Cristo in Eastern Europe

 

Poland. In 1890, Polish writer Boleslaw Prus (Aleksandr Glowacki) published a novel, which is still popular The Doll. It is one of the greatest novels in the world literature, realistic and bitter, telling about Stanislaw Wokulski, who belonged to the class of merchants, took part in the revolutionary struggle of Poles against Russia, came back to Poland, and became extremely rich. He fell in love with "a doll', a girl arrogant and not too clever who belonged to the aristocracy.

Wokulski appeared to be a genius, speaking lots of languages, having a wonderful education, much higher than anybody else, and also possessing strong will, reserve, and decisiveness. There are many features in this protagonist, which make the readers think Wokulski is a homage to Monte Cristo. His abilities, his resolution to revenge the tormentors (not his own, the tormentors of his Motherland), his extensive and various knowledge about various things, his talents in various fields, his outlooks make grow up from Monte Cristo. However, Wokulski, falls for a girl, who is not worth of him, showing mildness not characteristic of Monte Cristo. Finally, Wokulski understands her real price and disappears, leaving a girl and her admirers, perhaps, to reappear again in a new disguise. This is the end of the novel, the main hero of which, is, in my opinion, a tribute to Edmond Dantes.

Hungary. The writer Ungvary Zsolt, born in Budapest, 1968, wrote a novel Hungarian Monte Cristo (Magyar Monte Cristo). It was published in 2000, in Budapest, publishing house Simon Laszlone. The story has a subtitle The novel of adventures.

The hero, Menessi Csaba, a student, takes part in the revolution in Hungary, is betrayed by his three friends, jailed, escapes abroad, and comes back unrecognized, powerful and wealthy, ready to revenge not only the traitors, but everybody , who tortures his country.

Czechia. Czech writer, journalist, and critic Vladimir Makura in 1993 publishes a novel Citizen Monte Cristo (Obcan Monte Cristo) in Praha. It's a witty adventure detective about Monte Cristo in the family "background". The protagonist's name is Petr Lambda, he is knowledgeable in literature, works in the university, and tries to get a revenge over his unfaithful wife Hana.

It might be interesting to talk about the poetic works which mention the name of Monte Cristo. But, as once Hans Andersen said, "It's a completely different story."

 

Italian Monte Cristo

In Italy Monte Cristo was and still is no less popular than in other countries.

Il conte del’isola Monte Cristo; ossia, il marinajo e lo scienziato
Gustavo Bugamelli
1910

One of the first playwrights was a famous actor Gustavo Bugamelli who in 1910 wrote a play “Il conte del’isola Monte Cristo; ossia, il marinajo e lo scienziato”. The play was first staged in Milan and Bugamelli added quite a few new characters including Caterina, a maid who once loved Edmond Dantes in his youth, several friends of his youth, etc. The play got a slightly new inclination as Dantes is not only an avenger but also a great scientist making new discoveries.

Il caso Montecristo (The Monte Cristo case)
Enzo Russo
369 pages
Mondadori Publishing House
1976


This psychological novel tells about Gloria, an Italian young woman who is more or less a prosperous manufacturer. She was betrayed and found herself in prison in the mountain where she is reduced to the rank of animals. In the jail she found a woman, a Sardinian elderly who helps her to escape. She gets her freedom and wealth not forgiving her enemies, but also thinking a lot about vendetta and not realizing it either. The conclusion is “Neither vendetta not forgiveness”

Il fantasma di Montecristo (Ghost of Monte Cristo)
Alberto Cavanna
150 pages
Publishing House Mursia

Five young adolescents ( 2 girls and 3 boys) taken by the storm are brought to the Monte Cristo island where haunted by the ghost of Edmond Dantes, they trace his treasure and the mystery that still is on the island. They actually find the treasure of the Second World War. Edmond Dantes helps them.

 

Montecristo : Uomo da abbattere (Monte Cristo : A man who has to kill an abbott)
Stefano di Marino

Dario Massi is a sleuth. His investigation is cursed. The high prelate is murdered by some psychopathic killer. The investigation goes on until the sleuth sees a shadow with a nymb on which is written: Monte Cristo. Is it a warning ? A cry from the grave ? The first part of the trilogy about a modern Monte Cristo.

There are also novels the contents of which is unknown to me, but I found it necessary to mention them as I don’t want them to disappear from this world.

I misteri del a’assedio di Parigi - Sequel to Count Monte Cristo (The mystery of the seige of Paris)
Ulisse Barbieri
1871

L’ultimo dei Montecristo (The last of Monte Cristo)
Gorra Oreste
1896

The death of Monte Cristo, a play
Gualtieri Luigi

Lo spettro di Monte Cristo (The ghost of Monte Cristo)
Anonymous
1871

 

New York, 2004 - 2009

*Gennady Ulman was born in Odessa, Ukraine, former USSR, in 1948. After studying English at University, he practiced several professions such as translator, interpreter, English teacher and so on. He emigrated to the USA in 1990 and lives in New York, where he teaches psychology and English. He wrote many articles for Russian and French magazines. He now works on an encyclopedia of adventure writers of the world.

**Note from P. de J.: I, for one, disagree entirely with this notion. Master and Margarita is of course a revenge story, but the fact that the victim and the avenger are two different persons is enough, by itself, to turn the novel into something completly different from The count of Monte-Cristo.


 

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