Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas....

I won't be so arrogant as to write a true book review of a classic like The Count of Monte Cristo. I will, however, write about my feelings regarding the book and its characters, which is about as close to a true book review as I get anyway. I'm not really into analysis; I'd rather just check the "liked it" or "didn't like it" box.

I don't know how I escaped both high school and college without having this book assigned. In all honesty, it's possible that it WAS assigned and I neglected (read: refused) to read it. I've always bristled at being forced to read literature. How in the world did I become an English teacher?

It sort of reminds me of the time in 9th grade when my history teacher assigned me to read A Tale of Two Cities. I wasn't as educated then about cross-curricular learning and all that jazz (and she was probably being forced to provide enrichment for the students who made good grades and STILL found time to annoy their classmates), so I was indignant at the very idea of a social studies teacher assigning me a NOVEL to read. So I put it off and put it off and put it off, and then I diligently tried to stay up all night the night before the test and cram it all in. I thought I was doing a pretty good job, too. Until I turned the last page and read the words, "End of Volume I." Well crap. Never mind that I didn't comprehend the fraction of the half of the book that I HAD attempted to read. I didn't even bother checking out both volumes. Needless to say, I don't think I did very well on that particular test.

Since I have become a teacher, I have taught A Tale of Two Cities a couple of times to VERY advanced high school freshmen. I positively love that book with its doubles and its suspense and its beautiful language. Sigh. I hope some of the students I was forced to force to read it return to the book later in their lives and appreciate it for the tremendous piece of literature it is.

Now. Back to the Count.

I only read this book because Hubby and I were at a trivia game one night (bad timing, not our choice) and there was a question about who was the Count's love (it was Mercedes). I decided to put it on my list of classics I have never read, and I came home and downloaded it. (Books that are that old are typically free to download, which made it even better.)

I have a bit of a crush on the Count of Monte Cristo now. Poor Hubby...he may be the world's last perfect man, but his exploits can't compare with the dashing hero. (Shhhh...don't tell him.)

I loved the formal language of the book, the unpredictable predictability of the sequence of events, the melodrama ("melodrama's so much fun" that song), the French language, the sultry settings, the sense of justice without the ending being neatly tied up with a bow...

In short, I feel much, much smarter for having read this book. That smugness is multiplied by the fact that I read the book BY CHOICE. 

The only negative aspect of having read this book is that I'm afraid to start a new one. I have a feeling whatever I pick up next will pale in comparison. I may be forced to read The Three Musketeers.

Or I may read The Count of Monte Cristo again.


Maggie said...

I haven't read this one myself but since it's free on the Nook I might as well at least download it with good intentions!

Phoenix said...

I graduated high school in 1994, and we were never assigned a novel to read. I'm beginning to feel very jipped in my education!

Kelly said...

Somehow this one slipped past me, too. I could use some "feeling smarter", so perhaps I should download it.

I did read A Tale of Two Cities and enjoyed it. (and I loved the old Ronald Coleman movie version)