The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Genres: Adult Fiction, Classic
Format: eBook (1276 pages)
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.
I was not expecting this classic novel about revenge to also be ironic, sarcastic, funny, witty, and based on a true story. The Count of Monte Cristo is about more than just revenge, especially in the unabridged edition that I read. As long as this story is, I really can’t see how you would abridge it without losing something.
A few of my favorite funny moments were when this love sick guy talks about dying for love and the drunk guy responds, ‘There’s love, or I don’t know it (pg. 34).’ I also thought it was hilarious when Albert is trying to hook up in Italy and finds that Italian women are faithful in their infidelity and so not at all interested in him.
I’m pretty sure that this is the funniest line in the whole novel:
Do you think that, if I did, I would lead you to the answer inch by inch, like a dramatist or a novelist?
– Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (pg. 741).
There’s nothing quite as funny as an author making fun of themselves.
The irony that shows up every now and then could be summed up in this one perfect line:
No one likes a free box as much as a millionaire.
– Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (p. 597)
Revenge shows up and not just from the Count. When I saw this line I just couldn’t help hunting down a certain gif from the best movie ever.
“I am Giovanni Bertuccio! Your death is for my brother, your treasure for his widow: you can see that my revenge is more perfect than I could have hoped.”
– Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo p. 499
Every one talks about this plot being about revenge, but I found it interesting that the Count just kind of gives them a tiny, little nudge and they bring about their own destruction. I like the introduction’s description of the Count as an early detective. All the Count really did was uncover the truth for justice to come about. Well, except for maybe the last revenge which was my favorite because it was very fitting and kind of funny.
Speaking of descriptions of the Count, I found the frequent comparison of him to a popular literary vampire hilarious. Vampires were popular in the 1820s. Who knew. I also found it interesting that there were numerous chapters and story lines where the Count of Monte Cristo was actually a side character. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that done before.
I found some of the themes and topics in this novel surprisingly modern. Chapter 31 was all about getting high. There’s a lesbian character that says to heck with marrying who her father says and runs away instead. There’s commentary on sexism and how men can be elevated by scandal and women ruined by the same scandal.
As modern as the themes were, I did have a few issues with predictability and writing that drove me nuts. It was obvious to me why a character got kidnapped which made it slightly tedious, but it was funny to see that characters reaction to it. I think every character went pale every other page. For shock, for illness, for fear, for kicks, for giggles etc. And it was stretching it a little too much when a man who can’t move or speak could say “obey” with his eyes. This roll of my eyes means “give me a break.”
Despite a few moments of bad writing (that could very well have been from the fact that this was a translation), I did enjoy the writing overall and it’s many witty moments. The Count puts a pompous guy in his place with verbal sparring about noble titles that was perfect. And when the Count takes a tour of some apartments owned by another pompous idiot, he describes it as “characterized by tedious ostentation and expensive bad taste (pg 537).”
Overall, it was a great classic novel about much more than revenge with modern themes, humor, wit, and was enjoyable to read even unabridged.
Content Rating: Mild, for a drug reference (hashish) and a scene describing his thoughts/feelings when high.