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?
Anyway, 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.
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.