Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

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I read the unabridged version of this book. That was a poor choice.

What can I say to adequately express how much I didn’t enjoy reading this book? It’s nearly twelve hundred pages. It was originally written in French. I am convinced that Alexandre Dumas was paid by the word. I wish I would have considered all of these things before I checked out the unabridged version. Umberto Eco probably says it best in the introduction.

The Count of Monte Cristo is of course one of the most gripping novels ever written, and on the other hand on of the most badly written novels of all time and of all literatures.

Dumas’ writing is all over the place. A mass of fillers, shameless in its repetition of the same adjective only one line below, incontinent in its piling on of these same adjectives, quite capable of entering into some sententious digression that can never be got out of because the syntax won’t hold, and huffing and puffing on like that for twenty lines, it is mechanical and clumsy in its descriptions of feelings. Its characters either shudder or turn pale, dry great drops of sweat that run down their  brows or, stammering in a voice no longer human, rise frenziedly from ther chairs or fall back into them, with the author always, obsessively, bent on telling us that the chair they had fallen back into was the same one on which they had been sitting a second before. – Umberto Eco

A little repetition or poor writing can be overlooked in a short read. But this? Twelve hundred pages worth of nattering on? No. I liked the plot, but the mechanics of the writing were just too poor for me to ignore. Dumas lays the foreshadowing on too thickly. I understood at the very beginning of the book that the plot resolution would revolve around revenge. It took five months and hours and hours of reading to drive to that.

I did learn one lesson. The lesson is that poor editing and mechanics can ruin the best plot. The other lesson was to consider the abridged version of some of these classics. The fact that they exist might not be solely due to lazy teen readers.

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