Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book: Alexandre Dumas, père - The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)

Ever since 1844, Edmond Dantès has become a figure of almost mythlike proportions. He is the archetype avenger. Everyone who ever felt the need to take revenge, be it a child who felt an injustice or a victim of serious wrongdoing, everyone has become, momentarily, Edmond Dantès. The Count invariably gets hinted at in every modern avenger tale, such as the extraordinary Korean movie Oldboy, because Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo is the ultimate, the blueprint tale.

Perhaps only one iconic image measures itself with Dantès: Captain Ahab and his mad search for Moby Dick, but whereas Ahab dissolves into madness and perishes, Dantès plans with care, takes his revenge over course of years, and even saves himself. For madness is the danger of vengeance. But the best part of the book is not the ending, but meticulous planning of revenge that Dantès savors and we with him.

The Count of Monte Cristo is an “epic” tale of adventure, action and drama, and it has remained so popular over the years that it has become iconic. It is quite old, yes, from 1844, but Dumas knew how to write a story. Every part of the story, the downfall of happy Edmond, his mysterious resurrection and entry into society, and the slow vengeance with countless sidestories and characters, is perfect and exciting. It is a book to lose yourself in.

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