Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The Count of Monte Cristo gets stranger, at least for this modern reader. After some mentions that his "Nubian" servant and Greek lady friend are his slaves it finally occured to me that for an 1845 novel this might be the truth and not a plot twist or part of the Count's overall deception. Added to the Count's authoritarian personality this makes me a bit uneasy. Also annoying but at least more familiar is the wallowing in the Count's wealth with the freedom, goodies and travel that brings. This won't be alien to anybody today, constantly bombarded as we are with celeb-worship.

On a narrative level, it's still unclear exactly how he's planning his revenge. Obviously simple death isn't the goal and perhaps not even an attempt at ruining the lives of the venal men who sent him to prison. Maybe he's attempting a more complete ruin of the man and his family but done in an untraceable manner. One storytelling oddity is that one of the Count's servants tells him a lengthy story about his vendetta which he had previously told to Dantes in his guise of a priest. The priest sent the man with a note for possible employment to the Count (Dantes again of course) who is now hearing the story again though it's the first time for the reader. Clearly the first telling wouldn't fit into the plot as it's structured (the Dantes to Count transformation is almost completely omitted though the remaining 500 pages may have a flashback or two) but there's still something almost unintentionally humorous about this.