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May 7, 2005
"Monte Christo" (which I'm now
certain I haven't read before) My guess is you
is amazingly poorly put already know much
together. There are all sorts about Edmond Dantes:
of little details that are wrongly imprisioned
skipped over that become to escape years later
distracting elements to my eye, to achieve vengence.
and kill any sense of reality
about the story.
For example, when Dantes is imprisoned,
Dumas talks about him trying to starve
himself, getting too weak to even move,
and then he's distracted by the noise
of someone else's attempts at creating
an escape tunnel.
We can infer that Dantes gives up on the
hunger strike at that point, but it is
only an inference. Dumas says nothing Similarly, in a movie: If
about his return to engagement with life. someone leaps out of a cab
It makes it hard to pay attention to and runs away without the
what he's trying to tell you at that director having allowed a
point... it breaks engagement with the pause for paying the driver,
story. this becomes a jarring note.
They're trying to keep the
Note that it doesn't disturb me story moving by chopping out
particularly that Dumas doesn't a mundane detail, but
describe details like the toliet instead it brings it to a
arrangements of the prison -- halt.
though you could argue that has
some bearing on the escape It is easy to explain this
attempt problems as well. If dissonance to you, because
the guard is juggling chamber I can assume familiarity
pots, there's another physical with the details of the
object in the cell that might world with which the
have some utility... fiction clashes (human
hunger, payment of
The reason I'm complaining about the money)... it gets harder
food detail here is that Dumas himself to explain the difficulty
brings it up, gets you to pay attention if the material is more
to it, and then ignores it. specialized.
The standard response
This happens *again* in the space of from Hollywood on
of a few chapters... complaints of technical
inaccuracy: "Oh they
Dantes is desperately hungry won't know *that*!
after his escape, he is What difference does
picked up by some sailors it make?"
just in the knick of time --
then they go off into some But it *does*
long dialog, neglecting the make a difference.
food issue once again. Isn't
he dying of hunger? Why The faked is
doesn't he beg them for some a missed opportunity
food? to engage the
The middle section of the novel
seems interminable, an endless The tension
parade of names without character. between
Everyone has children at this realism is
point, all of whom seem to be what drives.
slated for unwanted arranged It's not easy
marriages. to keep track
of who's who.
Frequent reference to
the scorecard at the
We're not allowed inside Dantes front was necessary.
head after he becomes the Count,
so it's difficult to tell whether
his machinations for revenge are
on track... most of the book is
dominated by the feeling of "but
why is he doing this?"
We're supposed to be enthralled by The
Count's absurdly large fortune, but it
all leaves me pretty cold... it's like
reading biz porn in Wired Magazine in
But the book takes on weight,
at least here and there...
I began to suspect that there was
something going on with the parade
of riches: perhaps it was intended
as counterpoint to the lives of the
kids, whose lives are on the verge
of being ruined by wealth -- the
motive for all those arranged marriages.
Not much is
made of this.
There is a happy ending --
for the Count at any rate.
He gets to run off with the
young exotic babe.
His old ex is cast off to
repent her "faithlessness"
in lonely exile.
She only waited a year and
a half before giving up on
him... evidently she was
supposed to wait for him to
escape 14 years later.
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