When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexander Dumas.

Ah, the classics! I've also read Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" which was also a good "read." (Sorry, couldn't resist.) And I'm familiar with works from such masters as Charles Dickens ("A Tale of Two Cities"), Jules Verne ("Around the World in 80 Days," "From the Earth to the Moon") and Arthur Conan Doyle (I'm a Baker Street irregular - There isn't a Sherlock Holmes story that I haven't read!)

Now I'm certain that many of you folks are familiar with these and other great classical pieces of literature that have been published through the centuries. We've all purchased some of these books for our pleasure or spent many happy hours in the local library, discovering the joys of allowing ourselves to become fully engrossed in outstanding classical literature.

Now, here's the $64,000 question. How would you like to have these and other great literary classics at absolutely no cost or obligation?

I'm certain many of you are asking right about now - "Okay, what's the catch." Well, the only "catch" is you must have a computer as well as Internet access.

Occasionally, I find a website that is so good, the service it provides so outstanding, that I just have to share it with everyone I know. Such is the case with "Project Gutenberg," an on-going website which - at this writing - has over 45,000 publications available for public use. Because the books and other literature at Project Gutenberg are in the public domain, there's no cost to anyone wishing to view or download the materials.

You want to read Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein?" It's there. How about "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," by Victor Hugo? Go for it. "Paradise Lost," by John Milton? You bet. There's even works from the early 20th century such as "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Project Gutenberg is the brainchild of Michael Hart, who it back in 1971 by digitizing a copy of - appropriately enough - "The Declaration of Independence." Over the years, Project Gutenberg has continued to grow, expanding its bibliophiles to the point where it more pieces of literature stored electronically, than many traditional libraries have in hardcover editions.

In addition to be available at no cost, another great service provided by Project Gutenberg is a person can download a book, poem, or short story-- making it available in a tablet or other electronic "book;" recording it permanently to a CD or DVD; or even printing a hardcopy, if one desires. There are no fees involved, you don't even have to sign up for membership or obtain a password to use the site. They do need funds to operate though, and there is a link you can click on if you wish to make a donation. However, a donation is not necessary to use the site.

The idea of distributing great works of literature that are in the public domain free of charge to anyone wishing to do so is a very noble legacy indeed. Although Michael Hart died in 2007, others continue to support his dream and the website grows with each passing day. Those wishing to access Project Gutenberg may do so at - http://www.gutenberg.org. Those with an appreciation of the classics will be able to enjoy a tremendous bounty of great literature, which will provide many hours of unlimited enjoyment and adventure.

C.J. Marshall is a writer/columnist for The Daily Review. He can be reached at cjmarshall@thedailyreview.com; or (570) 265-1630.