PurplyCookie's Reviews > The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
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Sep 19, 09

bookshelves: classics, adventure-novel
Read in September, 2008, read count: 2

Dumas' 1844 novel about passion, betrayal and justifiable vengeance provides exhilarating reading even in the 21st century. Opening in February of 1815, when France was polarized into either Bonapartist or Royalist camps; society risked reprisals as the pendulum of power shifted capriciously; personal fortunes and careers rose and plunged until the Emperor's final imprisonment.

Nineteen-year-old Edmond Dantes, capable first mate for the Morrell Firm, is poised to enjoy life to the fullest: promoted to captaincy despite his youth and engaged to his beloved Mercedes. Betrayed by three "friends" with private grudges or weak natures Dantes falls an easy victim to the conspirators. Accused though innocent, Dantes is not even tried, but thrown into a miserable prison on a rocky isle in Marseilles harbor--the dreaded Chateau d'If. Victim of the relentless wheels of political fate the young man languishes there for some 14 years.

"He told himself it was the hatred of men and not the vengeance of God that had thrust him into this dark abyss. He doomed these unknown men to the most cruel torments his fiery imagination was capable of conjuring up, but, even so, the most awful of these torments seemed to him too mild and too short for them, for after the torment would come death, and in death they would find, if not repose, at all events that insensnsibility which so nearly resembles repose."

During his imprisonment Dantes undergoes a metamorphosis from desiring death to living for revenge against his unknown foes. With the help of Father Faria-a priest considered mad by prison authorities because he insists on possessing a vast fortune-he realizes the names of his unseen tormentors, how and why he was betrayed. Since time was in abundance Faria undertook to educate the embittered youth; eventually this passionate mentor considered Dantes his son and together they planned their escape. Ultimately Dantes reached the rocky islet of Monte Cristo, recovered the treasure and was able to live a luxurious life as the Count of Monte Cristo.

"At the end of ten minutes fifty thousand lights were glittering. It seemed like a dance of Jack-o'-lanterns. It is impossible to form any idea of it without having seen it. Imagine all the stars come down from the sky and mingling in a wild dance on the face of the earth, the whole accompanied by cries never heard in any other part of the world! Irrespective of class, the mad revellers blow, extinguish, relight."

The bulk of the novel chronicles Dantes' personal odyssey as the self-appointed hand of providence; he devised complicated schemes to enact ruin upon the men who destroyed his career and happiness and who allowed his elderly father to starve to death.

Dantes privately likens his power and justice with God's. As self-appointed avenger he carefully schemes and patiently waits to savor his moments of triumph.

This book contains some enrichment in term of additions of some historical background, information about the life and work of Dumas, chapter notes and interpretive notes. In my opinion, however, these enrichments in no way compensate for the trashing of Dumas' story.

• A concise introduction that gives readers important background information
• A chronology of the author's life and work
• A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context
• An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations
• Detailed explanatory notes
• Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work
• Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction
• A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience

Nowhere on or in the book does it say that it is abridged, so unwitting readers could be duped into thinking this was the full version. Significant subplots have been eliminated so as not to have to contend with what the Bowdlerizer considered unpleasant story elements such as: murder (two of them are eliminated in this version), an affair between two main characters leading to the illegitimate birth of a third character, the attempted infanticide of that third character and a lesbian relationship.

This is a great book and I highly recommend it, but don't buy this enriched classic version of the book. It was good, but I felt like something was missing, and not until I finished the book did I discover that this version leaves out significant portions of the actual story.


Book Details:

Title The Count of Monte Cristo (Enriched Classics)
Author Alexandre Dumas
Reviewed By Purplycookie
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