The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (1845)

by Chingiz Ismailov

My, my. It’s been a while.

There’s something special about finishing a long novel. Upon the final page, all the time spent culminates in a feeling of a satisfaction that can only really be gleaned from reading books. And Dumas’ epic is certainly long. The unabridged edition I read hit over 850 pages of microscopic type. A few books I pick up of my shelf on an impulse, and read the beginnings, usually whilst I’m devouring some other literature. I don’t finish these books. But I could never bring myself to leave this one unfinished.

This book certainly is a classic of story-telling. I think everyone is at east somewhat familiar with the plot. A young sailor, Edmond Dantes, looking forward to tying the knot with the love of his life and providing for his ailing father, as well as promotion to captain, alights from his cargo ship in Marseilles toward the end of the Napoleonic wars. But it seems some who call themselves his friends are against him, and envy, jealousy and hatred drive them to frame Dantes for treason, and the ambitious young magistrate ignores the evidence against prosecution and makes an example of him. Dantes is locked away in a dungeon for 14 years.

Inside, he learns of the treachery, and of the incalculable fortune hidden away on the island of Monte Cristo. Armed with more money than anybody would know what to do with and his keen wits, he begins to exact his terrible and highly elaborate plot of vengeance, under the guise of the Count of Monte Cristo.

The abridged versions are the ones I presume most people, including children read. A beautiful story it is, though, without spoiling anything, I never expected such a dark ending from such a rich and colourful novel. Another thing: speaking to most people about this book or any long novel, they seem put off by the length, something that’s always frustrated me because it seems like utter laziness. No excuse here: you can’t put it down or stop turning pages.

Put down your new paperback edition to the Great Gatsby with the picture of Leo on the front cover – now – buy/borrow/steal a copy, and learn what beauty and storytelling really is.

“Here is your final lesson – do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, Vengeance is mine.”