|The cover of my pilfered copy|
But that will have to wait for now... I'm not quite at the half way point of The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my all-time favorite books. This must be the third, or perhaps the fourth time I've read it, but its been over 10 years since the last time, so while I remember the story, the details are what really make this story a pleasure to read.
Alexandre Dumas wrote and published The Count of Monte Cristo as a newspaper serial, beginning in 1844, the year he published the Three Musketeers. One can imagine folks eagerly awaiting the next installment, taking turns reading them privately, or perhaps aloud to one another, as other forms of entertainment for work-a-day families and the wealthy alike, were limited. The long form novel, rich in detail, action, and intrigue is just the kind of thing that kept Dumas's readers enraptured during the long months it would take to receive and read the entire story.
My first experience with The Count of Monte Cristo was as a class assignment in the 9th grade. Mr. A___ assigned the book, and we all got a copy of the paperback. In order to introduce us to it, he described the book as full of sex, drugs and violence. Cheers erupted from the classroom. Nice work Mr. A.
I, however, did not read the book. I wasn't a reader. But occasionally, Mr. A would read from the book aloud during class. Looking back, I think he understood that this was very likely how many people enjoyed it originally, and it also helped us to bang out a chapter or so without actually having to read. The other thing it did, as least for me, was interest me in the story. Something that I have done with my own children. Again nice work Mr. A. What did me in, was the final exam on the story. It was either essay questions, or multiple choice, which I failed miserably. Not having read the book, I was not in a position to know the answers, but I found myself wanting to. This is the second time this happened to me; the first being the previous year, when my 8th grade English class read The Hobbit. So I did what worked for me so well the previous year, I failed to return the book at the end of the year, and read it over the summer. Those two stolen books made me a reader. I'm not sorry, its the best money my school department ever spent.
A closer look at the image of the cover of my 1978-9 copy indicates that the book I originally read, and then probably read again a few years later, was abridged. That's not the case with the tome I'm pounding through now.
Back to le Comte, who has just recently returned to Paris...