Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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100 Books by 40: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

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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100 Books by 40: EMMA

Going from Jane Austen to Thomas Hardy is disorienting. I finished Emma and started Far from the Maddening Crowd yesterday. Austen and Hardy’s works were only separated from each other by about 40 years, but that period introduced considerable changes to British culture. Plus, Austen’s witty dialog is a stark contrast to Hardy’s brooding characters and lush context descriptions. In Austen’s work the transformation engine is love, whereas Hardy’s is suffering. Dropping one book and immediately picking up the other was a challenge.

Concurrently, I have been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for four months. FOUR MONTHS. The things that I don’t appreciate about this book are legion. It was written in French, and like Crime and Punishment, I’m not appreciating all the translation choices. There is quite a bit of repetition. Like many novels from that time period, it was published serially in a periodical; Dumas might have reiterated significant plot points to remind readers. To top it off, the plot feels like a soap opera. Seriously, this book is Guiding Light set in the nineteenth century.

All that challenging reading explains why I was so pleased to pick up Goodnight, Mister Tom. Young Adult Fiction was exactly what my wearied brain needed. Anyone want to place bets that I will finish Goodnight, Mister Tom before I finish The Count of Monte Cristo? Don’t bother. Gambling implies that there is reasonable possibility of either happening. Lets be honest, there isn’t.

I haven’t said anything about Emma. It was pleasant. I found Emma and her father obnoxious. And given that I am on Jane Austen book number 3 in this list, I am chafing a bit at the bright, sunny endings that her books have. Those criticisms aside, her dialog and wit save the day. But I guess in keeping with most romance books, it didn’t tell me anything about life or relationships that I didn’t already know. It was a pleasant diversion and not much else.

I need to wrap this up and get back to The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m on renew number five with the library, and I just can’t bring myself to do another.

I just got a new camera. This means you will all suffer through my learning journey with it.

The wall under the stairs.

The wall under the stairs.

This sandstone glitters.

This sandstone glitters.

Where does the water go?

Where does the water go?

This is the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.

This is the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge.

Shadow of life.

Shadow of life.

This is where the Bengals play.

This is where the Bengals play.

This area in the foreground is where the banks second wave will be built. Someday this view of the city will be obscured.

This area in the foreground is where the banks second wave will be built. Someday this view of the city will be obscured.

Fixing the side walks.

Fixing the side walks.

This building has some mega ugly 70's façade put on it. This is what was underneath.

This building has some mega ugly 70’s façade put on it. This is what was underneath.

Front view of the building. I hope they restore the original façade. It's way more awesome than the 70's mess that was there before.

Front view of the building. I hope they restore the original façade. It’s way more awesome than the 70’s mess that was there before.

Inside Rhinegiest.

Inside Rhinegiest.

Beer.

Beer.