The First 200 Pages of The Count of Monte Cristo

I’m doing it, friends! I’m finally reading this book!

And it’s terrific.

I’ll be posting informal reading updates every 200 pages or so. These are not going to be in-depth lit-crit examinations of the book but more like a reader’s journal. Reading about 100 pages a week works for me, allowing me to continue reading other books and making progress on my other reading goals. I’m pleasantly surprised by how entertaining and easy to read this is. I don’t know what I expected, but I suppose I thought it would be harder going than it has been so far. Where do we get these notions of “classic” novels, that they should somehow be like work?

9780141392462Anyway, the book. Do you guys know how the plot gets rolling? There’s this young sailor, Dantès, who’s virtuous and upstanding, well-liked by his men. He’s about to be married to his true love, the beautiful Mercédès.  He does an errand for his dying Captain, delivering a letter to Elba, where the deposed Napoleon is exiled. Upon his return, and about the become Captain of the ship, he is accused of treason for his errand. How did this devastating turn of events come to pass? Three men, jealous of Dantès for different reasons – Danglars, Caderousse, and Fernand – have conspired to frame him.

The villains are villainous, although I suspect one of them may have a change of heart at some point. One of them I absolutely hate. (Guess which one?) Mercédès is pretty much a non-entity at this point; I get nothing from her except she’s awfully blind to Fernand’s true nature. Dantès’s father is a heartbreaking case.  The injustice of the whole thing propels the plot along. I want to keep turning the pages because I want Dantès to get his revenge! And I know it’s coming, but as I have 1200 more pages to go, probably not for a while. 🙂

Then there’s the whole Villefort/Noirtier side plot, the thing that takes the accusations of the three conspirators to the next level and gets Dantès imprisoned. I’m not sure what to make of Villefort yet  – he’s selfish and conniving – but the meeting with his father was certainly a dramatic moment.

I LOVE that Dantès has found a pal in prison! And they’re doing all sorts of fun prison break stuff together! The Abbé is practically MacGyver (do people remember that show?) He’s made pens out of fish bones, paper out of hankerchiefs, and ink out of soot and blood.

“There is one thing puzzles me still,” observed Dantès, “and that is how you managed to do all this by daylight?”

“I worked at night also,” replied Faria.

“Night! – why, for Heaven’s sake, are your eyes like a cat’s , that you can see to work in the dark?”

“Indeed they are not; but a beneficent Creator has supplied man with ability and intelligent to supply the want of the power you allude to. I furnished myself with a light quite as good as that possessed by the cat.”

“You did? – Pray tell me how?”

“I separated the fat from the meat served to me, melted it, and made a most capital oil; here is my lamp.” So saying, the abbe exhibited a sort of vessel very similar to those employed upon the occasion of public illuminations.

“But how do you procure a light?”

“Oh, here are two flints, and a morsel of burnt linen.”

“And your matches?”

“Were easily prepared, – I feigned a disorder of the skin, and asked for a little sulphur, which was readily supplied.”

I love how nonchalant the Abbé is about the whole thing.

81lq9cbf+sl._sy445_Are there classic novels you’ve put off reading for one reason or another? What’s been stopping you from getting to them? Is the movie version of this book any good? Let me know in the comments.



34 thoughts on “The First 200 Pages of The Count of Monte Cristo

  1. I’m super excited to read these updates! I have been putting off reading Dumas’ works due to length more than anything else. I am intimidated by the sheer number of pages. My favorite Classic as a child (you know, abridged classics and the like) was The Three Musketeers, so you think I’d pick it up. But the SIZE… I wonder if I should try an ebook so I’m less intimidated.

    Are you *truly* reading 200 pages and writing this? I ask only because it feels like chapters won’t align well for you. XD At this rate, you’ll easily make it through The Count of Monte Cristo before the end of the year. I hope it stays just as fun! Definitely keep up abreast of your progress. I’m cheering for you!

    P.S. I’m so confused. The date for your post reads 1/15. Today is 1/14. I know I’m in the Central time zone and you’re in Eastern… but it’s only 9:30 where I am. What is happening?! TIME WARP!!


    1. I have never figured out the time stamp on these WordPress posts! I clicked publish sometime after 10:00 pm eastern on 1/14. 🙂

      Well, in my edition of the book I got to chapter 18 and it was page 206 so I figured that was a good place to stop! And yes, I’m reading 100-ish pages a week. Taking some notes along the way. I think the only way to read these ginormous books is to break them down into sections. But that’s just me! I’m easily distracted and have a lot of other things going on. Thanks for the support!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so weird! Silly WordPress. I wonder if your settings have you listed in a different time zone than where you are actually located?

        What sorts of notes do you take when you read? I’m curious if your notes are different when working with a long book, too. It seems like where is so much to remember!


      2. I put post-it notes in the back of the book that I’m reading. II used to carry around the little notebook with me to make notes but that got too cumbersome. my notes aren’t really different depending on the length of the book. Now that I’m breaking this one down into sections, I can get rid of the post-its I’ve already written about on my blog. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your intro is so fun! I think I saw the movie a long, long time ago, but I’d completely forgotten the plot. It’s good to hear that this is a readable classic. I definitely fall into that trap of thinking, “it’ll be too difficult; I’ll just go read a few modern books instead.” But I’m pushing myself to read at least one classic per month this year, so hopefully I’ll get over that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the idea of writing this up as a reader’s journal! I’ve never read this book but I like getting your thoughts on it this way. And I love the cover of the edition you picked!

    Embarrassingly, I always avoided big classics when I read fiction, but I had two that surprised me when I finally was forced to read them for college classes – Jane Eyre, and The Monk by Matthew Lewis. They both ended up being so good despite my dreading them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read and enjoyed Jane Eyre, but have never read The Monk. Perhaps I should look into that one.

      The cover I featured on my post, the Penguin Clothbound edition, is not the one I’m actually reading. It’s a paperback Modern Library edition, and I actually really like the cover. I think I’m going to put different editions on my posts as I go, just for variety!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure there are lots of good different covers since it’s been through many editions! I love comparing book covers.

        The Monk is a gothic romance, if I remember correctly one pretty early in the genre. It ended up being much wittier and more entertaining than I’d expected. It’s worth a look!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, this does sound good! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, and you’re right – we seem to forget that most books that become classics do so because people love reading them. I’m looking forward to reading this one even more now… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember enjoying the version of the movie that you shared in the picture above. I think this is a really good reading diary. You gave me just enough of the plot to understand what you’ve read so far, and you give a lot of emotions that you experienced while reading. It makes me want to follow along and see how this book progresses for you!

    The one long book that I need to read, and want to read, is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I think for me I’ve been putting off reading it because I don’t review books by men over at Grab the Lapels, and it would take a lot of time that would take away from the blog. On the other hand, I could do a reading diary on Goodreads with that book and just do a little bit at a time like you’re doing. I’m actually going to do that! Thanks for encouraging me by writing this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great update, really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I love this book, well “love”, because I last read it some years ago. I like Alexandre Dumas because one can read a “classic” and enjoy oneself at the same time. I prefer Victor Hugo over Dumas, but in future I would like to read The Black Tulip by Dumas, not least because there is an old film with Alain Delon in it, and I want to watch that too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooh, I love this reading project! I read the Classic Comics version of this book a zillion times as a kid, but never got more than a third of the way through the full book. I gotta do it one of these days! I have such fond memories of all the bonkers ways the Abbe found of repurposing his prison stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yay, you’re doing it, you’re really doing it! There’s hope for all of us who’ve allowed a bookish goal to languish here and there. 🙂

    I”m not sure I have a specific classic that’s intimating me right now, but oy, I had an awful time getting through Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim recently. Well, to begin with, it’s not supposed to be entertaining. So, there’s that. (Maybe someone should have offered to pay HIM by the word.) But it actually is really interesting and I’m looking forward to watching the film in the next while too. (It’ might be horribly offensive – it’s from that era.) So after rereading the first few chapters for weeks, it ended up being worth it. Even if there was not a single prison break scene.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s