"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo

by Alexandre Dumas, translation by Robin Buss

I've long been interested in reading some of the "classics" that somehow I never got to in my many years of school and personal reading.  So when I heard that my mom was recommended The Count of Monte Cristo by a friend of hers and that she enjoyed it very much, I was eager to pick it up.  I went to the library and ordered a copy but when it arrived, it was about half the size of the one my mom had recommended.  The librarian explained that most people don't care what version of a book they read.  Yet, there can be quite a difference between translations.  I had been told that the translation my mom had was particularly good, in that it followed the original narrative of the story that Dumas wrote in French without cutting a lot out, but still made it very readable.  I was desperate for a big book as reading material on the long flight to Hawaii (I know, tough life, eh?!) so I asked to borrow her copy, and luckily she had just finished.  Thank goodness.  It kept me busy for the flights there and back, as well as a few weeks afterward.

The very basic story of the book involves Edmond Dantes who is falsely accused and throw into prison for a crime he didn't commit.  In prison he meets another prisoner, an old man, who helps him escape to find a hidden treasure on the island of Monte Cristo.  From there the story explodes into a ton of different story lines which eventually all connect in the end, all centered around Dantes as he goes about exacting his revenge on those who hurt him.  Yet he also comes to learn that it is really only God who is the final judge. 

If you've seen the movie "The Princess Bride", there is a part where the grandfather explains what is in the book he wants to read to his grandson: "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..."  That's how this book is, its got everything you could want in a good adventure story.

I must warn that it is not a particularly easy book to read if you have a lot of distractions (such as children), because it is no simple matter keeping all the many players in the story straight in your head and remembering how they relate to one another.  But it is well worth the time.

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