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This adventure novel is one of Dumas' most popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. He completed the work in 1844. Like many of his novels, it is expanded from plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet, in this case based on the story of Pierre Picaud, a shoemaker from Nimes (supposedly mentioned in French police archives) who was wrongfully imprisoned, later became rich and took revenge on those responsible.
It place in France, Italy, islands in the Mediterranean, and in the Levant during the historical events of 1815–1838 (from just before the Hundred Days to the reign of Louis-Philippe of France). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book. An adventure story, it is primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy and forgiveness. Edmond Dantès, the protagonist, is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment; however, his plans have devastating consequences for the innocent as well as the guilty.
Today the book is considered a literary classic. Says Luc Sante, "The Count of Monte Cristo has become a fixture of Western civilization's literature, as inescapable and immediately identifiable as Mickey Mouse, Noah's flood, and the story of Little Red Riding Hood."

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