Favourite books – The Count of Monte Cristo

I first read the Count of Monte Cristo as a Classics Illustrated comic. I had a few of these. Prisoner of Zenda, Three Musketeers, The Time Machine. But this was the one that captured my interest the most.

To summarise the story, Edmond Dantes is about to marry the woman he loves. He is arrested for treason and sent to prison. Trapped there for about 15 years, he befriends an old priest (abbe), who educates him. When the abbe dies, Edmond sees his chance to escape. In one of the abbe’s stories, he told Edmond about Monte Cristo. And a treasure. So Edmond, after working on a ship, is able to find Monte Cristo. He returns to his homeland only to find that his former fiance has married his rival. Those who plotted his arrest have also done very well for themselves. Through manipulation, Edmond learns just how they made their fortunes. It’s pretty much a case of them bringing about their own downfalls.

Edmond isn’t entirely blameless. This is set around the time Napoleon plotted his return to France. There were many who were loyal to the exiled emperor. Edmond is in the beginning a pawn, not knowing that his innocent actions have led to the rest.

What I like about it is the way Edmond manipulates things to force the truth to come out is very cleverly done. Dumas was an absolute genius at this. Some of his character’s actions could be seen to be immoral, but considering that it’s payback, the issue could be overlooked. It’s also an interesting exploration into the sins of the father. Edmond eventually realises he could have gone too far, leading to him hurting another innocent soul. He is able to halt that before irreparable damage is done.

Yes, the book is very long. At 1200 pages in the version I have, it’s an epic. So, I would say you have to be an enthusiastic reader to tackle it. Any reader would also have to remember that this was published in the early 19th century, so there are vast differences between this type of book and any book written today. It’s also translated from the original French.

It’s still well worth a read, especially on cold nights when there’s nothing on tv.

I must note that there have been movies made, but not one of them has ever been able to really capture the nuances in the book. Watching the movie would be like reading the cliffs notes. If you do that, you miss something really incredible. The comic I had was great, but it just made me want to read the book more.

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