The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, père

I liked this one enough to read it twice to get it right. I first checked out a copy from the UofL library, which didn’t list the translator (but did list an illustrator, oddly enough), and which opened by a note from the unnamed translator whining about how people don’t have time to read great books these days and how much needs to be be cut to satisfy them and so on. Which probably should’ve been a warning, because this edition is a horrific butchery, to the point that most of the plot threads are missing important parts.

Which brings us back to reading the full version (mine was the Buss translation). This is a monster of a book, and none of it is wasted. This is no Les Misérables, from which you could excise any given 50 pages about the convent system or the battle of Waterloo or the history of the Paris sewers or what-have-you and still have a readable work. It’s a taut and clever narrative, with plots on plots, zillions of characters, tangled relationships, and subtle subterfuges. It’s a thrilling and entertaining adventure yarn, and packed dense enough that if you blink or skim, you miss a lot. They just don’t make ’em like this any more, alas. It’s a fantastic romp, and there is no royal road to experiencing it. I guess this ended up more as a screed against abridgement than an actual review of the book, but avoiding abridged editions may be, in this particular case, the most important piece of advice.

See also: Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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