Monday, April 14, 2008

The Count of Monte Cristo

(There are only two days left to enter my odd-word usage contest for a chance to win a $10 iTunes gift card. Go read the word list and submit your entry sentence(s) now!)

I recently finished reading Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Really an excellent book. I'm almost ashamed to say that I had never read it until now (my high school required reading list was a bit odd, so that maybe explains it). The high points are, of course, the action and the way Dumas weaves a picture of 19th century French life. The low points would be in a moderner reader's difficulties in following some of the characters as the are alternately referenced by first name, by title, or by assumed names. I also find it interesting how Dumas (an atheist, I believe) writes on Edmond Dante's growing religious convictions and his reliance on / usurpation of Divine Providence to accomplish his justice / revenge on those who imprisoned him. Does he (and do we) truly leave to God's hands the actions of justice and punishment, or does he (do we) act in His name with self-interest? Deep question.

I also find Dumas, the man, a very interesting character. A famous anecdotes about Dumas relates the escalating confrontation between him and a politician. As a duel was eminent and both were considered excellent marksmen, they decided to draw straws - the loser was to shoot himself. Dumas lost the draw and retreated to a side room with pistol in hand. Moments later those gathered heard a shot ring out and rushed into the room. On opening the door they found Dumas alive and well. To relieve their curiosity, he told them "Gentlemen, a most regrettable thing has happened. I missed."

So, have you read The Count of Monte Cristo? What did you think of it, or of other of Dumas' works?

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2 comments:

Kevin said...

E., That's one of my favorite books and it's my wife's favorite book ever. Not a bad sandwich at Bennigan's either (Monte Cristo).

The line in the book and the 2002movie with Guy Pearce and Jim Caviezel (also great) where Mondego says to Dantes, "Because you're the son of a clerk, and I'm not supposed to want to be you!" is just chilling and so poignant.

Take care,
Kevin (shaunfan)

Cristy said...

hehe! I had to read this in high school in French class. In French. Needless to say I didn't get a whole lot from the book, I just wanted to get through it enough to answer the questions to prove I was reading it. I always thought I would read it in English one day, you know, for actual comprehension? ...haven't yet.

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