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I am currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo (Wordsworth Classics English translation, complete and unabridged) and have reached page 603/875 = 69%. Around p400 the author introduces us to an important plot element in the form of a love story, at a point when the romance between Maximilian Morrel and Valentine is already well under way. There are some oblique references made to their first meeting, such as

"Ever since we met, have I made any demands upon you" (says Morrel)

"If you had been happy then you would never have noticed a poor soldier like me" (Morrel)

He related everything to the old man, from their first meeting to their present firm decision to wed one another (all quotes paraphrase)

...but having searched quite a bit through the text, I still cannot identify where it is made explicit, within these 603 pages: when and where did Maximilian and Valentine actually first meet?

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I wasn't able to find the "Where" yet, but I found the "when". Unfortunately, there are THREE places in a book it's mentioned, and all three are slightly vague and contradict each other a bit :(

Before we start, let's place the events in a time bound.

Chronology of the novel

  • One timeline I found states "May 21, 1838 - The Count Arrives in Paris"; and "Oct 9, 1838 Villefort goes mad".
  • Additionally, another timeline states that Fenand Montego committed suicide in September 1838.
  • This means that the events of chapters 73/74 happen in 1838, closer to end of summer; whereas Chapter 105 is September-October 1838 - we will be quoting those chapters later.
  • In the interest of transparency, I have zero evidence that those two timelines are accurate as I have not researched the topic well.

Book evidence

Now, as to Maximilian and Valentine meeting, this is mentioned in three distinct places:

  1. First of all, Morrell tells Valentine that its has not been a whole year; in Chapter 73:

    “Mademoiselle,” replied Morrel with a bitter smile, “I am selfish—you have already said so—and as a selfish man I think not of what others would do in my situation, but of what I intend doing myself. I think only that I have known you not a whole year. (" Chapter 73. The Promise")

    This is said by Morrel, on the day when Madame de Saint-Méran arrived, to hasten the marriage to D'Epinay.

    This would place their first meeting sometime after the summer of 1837, less than a year before Chapter 73 (which took place in summer of 1838, prior to later events that took place in Sep/Oct '38).

  2. Second, on the day of Valentine's funeral, after he intended to kill himself, Morrell explained to The Count, that he loved Valentine for two years:

    “I mean, as I love. You see, I have been a soldier ever since I attained manhood. I reached the age of twenty-nine without loving, for none of the feelings I before then experienced merit the appellation of love. Well, at twenty-nine I saw Valentine; for two years I have loved her, for two years I have seen written in her heart ..." ("Chapter 105. The Cemetery of Père-Lachaise")

    Now, this is interesting. On one hand, he says he loved her for two years - given that this is October 1838, this contradicts the earlier quote from summer 1838, as it's only a couple of months later yet "not one year" became "two years" now. If we assume this assertion to be correct, Maximilian met her around October 1836.

    However, this same sentence ALSO contradicts itself AND supports the first assertion. Why? Because Maximilian says he met Valentine at age 29, and elsewhere in the book Dumas - twice - gives his age as 30, from two different sources, both himself AND Valentine:

    I have involuntarily entertained the idea that all the good fortune which has befallen me originated from him. However, I have managed to live thirty years without this protection, you will say ("Chapter 57. In the Lucern Patch", referring to time before he met Monte Christo shortly before)

    and

    He brings an irreproachable name, which Maximilian is likely to render glorious, since at thirty years of age he is a captain, an officer of the Legion of Honor.” (" Chapter 73. The Promise")

  3. Another thing that seemingly contradicts "less than a year", although less clearly, is the same conversations the two are having in Chapter 57:

    "My ten years of service have also confirmed my ideas on the subject of sudden inspirations, for I have several times owed my life to a mysterious impulse which directed me to move at once either to the right or to the left, in order to escape the ball which killed the comrade fighting by my side, while it left me unharmed.”
    “Dear Maximilian, why not attribute your escape to my constant prayers for your safety? When you are away, I no longer pray for myself, but for you.”

    Here, they are discussing his military service. But Valentine's reply implies she prayed for him while on campaign - and yet, if they only know each other less than a year, how oftwn would he have been off campaigning in that short amount of time? So this actually leads me to think that "two years" assertion from chapter 105 is more accurate, but this is just a hint, not a conclusive proof one way or another.

In summary, Maximilian and Valentine met sometime second half of 1837; but may have been as early as second half of 1836 based on contradicting evidence.


As far as "Where", Dumas does not really detail that, either in Maximillian's dialogue with Valentine (I have just scanned the whole text of the book to confirm), nor in conversation he had with her grandfather, where all he says is:

He related the manner in which he had become acquainted with Valentine, and how he had loved her, and that Valentine, in her solitude and her misfortune, had accepted the offer of his devotion.

Neither does Maximilian explain details to Monte Cristo, as we saw in an earlier quote from chapter 105

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