The Count of Monte Cristo – 1844 – Alexandre Dumas – 1243 pages
In a nutshell:
A wrongfully imprisoned man seeks revenge.
Lets tackle the obvious first. This book is long, which is largely why I’m doing a post on it here. To put it simply, I want credit for finishing it in all of its unabridged glory. Which brings me to my first point, abridged or unabridged? Personally if I’m going to read something I’d rather read the whole thing. It would make me feel like I might be missing something important if I read an abridged version, or that I’m not really reading it at all, if that makes any sense. Also, the abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo is half the length of the original, which makes me wonder just how much of the story you really get with the abridged version. But I can see why a fair amount of it was cut. There are quite a few stretches of 100 pages or so that aren’t really vital to the story’s progression. They provide extra information that I suppose the reader could live without.
The story was originally published in a magazine in installments which easily allowed it to get as long as it did. In fact, bite size increments might have been the best way to present it. I’ll be honest, it’s been years since I read it and at the time I wasn’t big on long books, but I took it as a personal challenge. In order to give myself the best chance of success I read it in 200-300 page increments over the course of a year or two, but I’m glad I stuck with the whole thing. When it comes down to it I would always suggest someone read the full version, but if it was a matter of reading the abridged version or reading nothing at all, then by all means read the shorter version.
Just like with Dracula, my first foray into classical fiction, I didn’t expect much from this book either, but a story about revenge seemed like it might hold my attention long enough. Curiosity can carry me a long way. I loved the pure-hearted Edmond Dantes, who loved his father and his friends so dearly. Being so innocent and trusting made his transition into the count that much more dramatic. The way he slowly sets up his enemies for their destruction, all the while socializing with them, shows the subtle darkness of his character. After all he had been through a little darkness was to be expected. The count is just a really cool guy. He’s mysterious and powerful and I really enjoyed reading about him.
As I mentioned before, there are occasional periods in the story that seem to focus more on back-story and side plots. I wasn’t as fond of those parts, but I don’t think they’re entirely wasted either. Perhaps there might have been a more concise way to present that information to the reader though.
I had expected a tragic ending but was pleasantly surprised. I would call it “appropriately ever after” since some things just can’t be undone, and characters just aren’t the same anymore. People most definitely get hurt, but I don’t recall anyone being unjustly sacrificed.
Whatever you do, do not watch the movie! (the most recent one)
Well, ok, watch it if you want, but it is a completely different story. I can live with a few edits here and there, but they went so far as to make a particular character biologically related to Edmond, which basically changes everything, not to mention ending the story all “happily ever after.” They should have just stylized it as a different retelling, making it a little more clear that it is not really The Count of Monte Cristo. Although, if I had no knowledge of the real story I probably would have liked it. Until next time…