First Lines: The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo is an epic story, in many senses of the word. It’s a adventurous tale — but not a poem, natch — of a legendary figure, in the heroic manner. Also, reading it might seem like an exceptionally long and arduous task or activity, given its length: the edition of the anonymous 1846 translation I read came in at 1462 pages.

The tale is, first and foremost, one of revenge. Young Edmond Dantès spends 14 years in the dungeons on some bogus charges, and vows to take revenge on the people who put him there. Once he gets out, and helped by an enormous fortune, he does. Of course, there’s more to it, but getting back, that’s where the entire story is focused on.

I admit I dreaded tackling this book, mostly because of its size. But as it turned out to be very readable. Sure, it’s a ridiculous story, with a load of characters that mostly aren’t very interesting, rife with coincidences and oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-they-fell-for-that moments, but in a good, soap opera way. It’s a novel that seems to bask gloriously in its grandioseness. It’s large and meandering and yet oddly focused and to the point.

I’m sure I’m gonna read it again, someday.

Book read
Alexandre Dumas — The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, anonymous 1846 translation)
First line
On the 24th of February, 1815, the look-out at Notre–Dame de la Garde signalled the three-master, the Pharaon, from Smyrna, Trieste, and Naples.