I have to say, I am surprised to see a Count of Monte Cristo community (even if it's not terribly active)! There doesn't seem to be very much Monte Cristo culture on the internet, unless you count that related to the anime.
So, me: at the end of last school year, my school book club voted to order some copies of The Count of Monte Cristo. Well, the books that came were of this edition. Bad mistake. Before I read it, I searched the introduction and the front pages and the cover to make sure it wasn't abridged. Sure of myself, I read all 500-some pages, only to find myself confused and baffled by the plot which made absolutely no sense. So that's when I went on the internet and found out it was abridged--without any sort of note in the book to tell you it was abridged! Believe me, I searched (and then, with the librarians' permission, wrote in huge letters in the fron of all the purchased copies, "ABRIDGED!") And I see I'm not the only one tricked into reading abridged copies.
But despite being furious at having read a 500 page abridgment, I bought the Penguin classics edition, read it, understood the plot that had been so hopelessly butchered in the abridgment, and loved it to death. I have to admit, it's not what I expected; the hype around The Count makes it out as a bit more of an adventure novel, with more swashbuckling and sword fights and... you know the stuff. And there wasn't very much of that. But I have to say, it's definitely one of the most amazing books I've ever read. (And I'm now reading The Three Musketeers, which does have its share of swashbuckling adventure!)
I haven't seen any of the movies. Well, I watched about 5 minutes of the most recent one (I think) on T.V., but I was disgusted by what I saw... I know, I know, they can't remain completely faithful to the book, but... I just couldn't stand it. I've also downloaded & watched 5 episodes of Gankutsuou (the anime) which, while not all too faithful to the book, is very interesting and I love the little references to the book (like Albert, at the end of each episode, shouting, "Wait and hope!"... except in Japanese).
I do have a few small questions about the book. So, if you haven't read it,
One thing I could never figure out: did Villefort intentionally smother Benedetto & try to bury him alive when he was born? When I read it at first, it seemed to me that Villefort thought Benedetto was a stillborn and so buried him, but he seems so guilty about the whole thing (in which he is pretty much inoccent) that there has to be something more. Or is all his guilt simply about compromising Mme. Danglars?
Also: How stupid is Maximilien?! Yes, he's one of my favorite characters, but...? Albert tells him that the Count sometimes goes by the name Sinbad the Sailor. Maximilien KNOWS the name of his family's savior... (let's see... Sinbad the Sailor?) and yet... no connection there? Or am I to believe that everyone and his mother take the pseudonym Sinbad the Sailor, so Maximilien has no way of knowing which Sinbad the Sailor it is? Was it a mistake on Dumas' part, do you think? The footnotes pointed out a few small anachronisms and mistakes on Dumas' part, but nothing like this that actually made the plot less valid.