100-ish Days of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo
June 1 – August 31, 2022

August 1, 2022, Chapters 77-81 (to be read July 30-August 2)

Next post: August 4, 2022, Chapters 82-85 (to be read August 3-5)

And now we hear the story of Haydée – please recall my post from a few weeks ago – on the history of Greece under Turkish domination. Remarkably, tensions have been rising between Turkey and Greece since this past June over disputed islands in the Aegean – the history Dumas describes in this novel is still pulsating today…

And please recall my post on Lord Byron’s fight for the liberation of Greece – Dumas is so influenced by Byron’s literary and historical legacy that he gives the name Haydée to his character – as an homage to Byron’s Haidée from Canto II of his Don Juan. Byron’s Haidée rescues Don Juan after his ship wreck and nurses him to health in the caves of a Greek island. When her father, an Aegean pirate, finds out about their affair, he sells Don Juan to Istanbul slave traders… Do you see how profoundly Byron influenced Dumas and all the European Romantics from Goethe to Pushkin and Lermontov!!!

Haydée’s story is shocking and reveals details of slave trade that was continuing in the Eastern Mediterranean till the middle of the 19th century – in the course of which Eastern European Christians were sold on Ottoman Turkish slave markets. For Dumas this story is personal – his grandmother was an African slave in Haiti. Dumas does not idealize Haydée’s father who was based on the historical Ali Pasha of Ioannina (1740-1822) who was an Albanian ruler of the European possessions of the Ottoman Turkish sultan (modern day Greece, Albania, Northern Macedonia and Bulgaria). Haydée’s father is Muslim and her mother Vasiliki is Eastern Christian – and of royal lineage. Please recall my history post – the majority of Byzantine Empire was Eastern Christian – in 1453 Byzantium fell to the Ottoman Turks who expanded their empire all the way to Budapest which they ruled for two centuries. It’s not accidental that Ali Pasha figures as a prominent character in the novel of the great Hungarian writer Jókai Mór “Janicsárok végnapjai” (“The Last Days of the Janissaries”). And as sad historical coincidence would have it – this part of the world has been troubled again in the past few days because of tensions between Kosovo Albanians who are predominantly Muslim and Serbs who are predominantly Eastern Christian… I am continually astounded by Dumas’ astute understanding of history… 

Now the complicated relationship between Haydée and the count becomes clear – and why Monte Cristo did not want her to reveal the name of the French officer who betrayed her father – he is Albert’s father… Thus Haydée’s reaction at the opera when she sees him for the first time since their arrival to Paris. 

Monte Cristo sets up an elaborate trap for Fernand/Count de Morcerf – he asks Danglars to make inquiries in Yanina – and the information received allows Danglars to refuse Fernand’s marriage proposal to Eugénie – who is too happy with her music teacher, the enchanting Mademoiselle d’Armilly – their mutual affection for each other most definitely transcends the bounds of mere friendship!!! 

But if Danglars and Fernand are old enough and wise enough to walk away from each other without a fight – the nasty little newspaper note about a long forgotten incident in Yanina – published in Beauchamp’s paper (remember him?! Madame Danglars’ lover!!!) – gets to Albert – who is ready to kill anyone casting shadows of his father’s reputation… How will all this be resolved?!?!?! 

The death of the faithful Barrois is stunning – both for the readers and the characters – it’s incomprehensible that YET ANOTHER death should occur in the home of the Royal Prosecutor… The doctor refuses to stay with the Villefort family – and accuses VALENTINE of poisoning ALL THREE of her grandparents – since Noirtier was the obvious intended recipient of the poison – but please recall the doctor has been giving him small doses as treatment for paralysis… And please recall the ling and passionate conversations between Madame de Villefort and Monte Cristo about various chemical experiments and poisons… Oh dear… 

And now – a visit to the humble dwelling of a retired baker… Cavalcanti and Caderousse deserve each other… I have to confess that I started doing research for my Les Miserables posts which I will have to start churning out on September 1!!! The set up for the robbery of the Monte Cristo house is very similar to a robbery plan in the Hugo masterpiece… More this fall!!!

But WHY is Andrea egging Caderousse on?! Why would he want Monte Cristo to be robbed?!?!?!

Photos for August 1

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