As I've previously mentioned, owning a Kindle is a perilous affair. I haven't even made a dent in its 3GB memory yet (filling it only with books is a good way to appreciate just how large a gigabyte really is) but I've already got more than I could hope to read in a year. Or, based on one of my latest reads, 20 years.
Having seen a decent film with Richard Harris some time ago (no, it wasn't Harry "Angsty Wizzard" Potter), I've long felt that The Count of Monte Cristo might be a worthwhile read. So, this being a Kindle, I downloaded the complete unabridged works of Alexandre Dumas for some amount of currency so small it's zero within errors. However, it's fortunate for Monsieur Dumas that he is dead, or I would be forced to write him an angry letter. I might do so anyway, but it probably wouldn't help much.
|"Dear Mr. Dumas,|
While your hair is truly something to behold, your writing isn't.
99% of the time it feels about as twee as Lark Rise To Candelford, a comparison not to be made lightly. Almost everyone is an unbelievably prim and proper superlative of something, which results in them being completely unlikeable. The descriptions of places are almost incidental, Dumas preferring to insert 20 pages of completely pointless dialogue that doesnt't go anywhere rather than tell us anything about the setting. And when he does, it's again nothing but superlatives.
|Well isn't this just jolly SPIFFING, what what !|
backstory) of a treasure hidden on the island of Monte Cristo.
On escaping from prison (a rare example of a good part of the book) Dantes embarks on a mission to very, very slowly track down his enemies, and very, very slowly exact his revenge upon them. Along the way there are yet more endless RFB backstories and improbable plot twists, or least meanders. It even features a 19th century version of Captain Pike - Monsieur Nortier - who can only communicate by blinking.
Why this mighty tome is deemed a classic by anyone is something which utterly escapes me. Maybe you're not supposed to actually read it. Maybe you're supposed to buy the hardback edition, for which I can think of a number of uses :
- Starting forest fires
- Blocking a toilet
- Beating your enemies into submission
- Making a lot of paper aeroplanes
- Starting more forest fires
- A handy substitute for cat litter
- Starting even more forest fires
- Making yourself look erudite on the bus
- A doorstop
- Something to drop when you really need to generate a satisfying "thoonk" noise
- Crushing small animals
- Continuing to start forest fires
By the time I admitted defeat, Dantes had done no more than cause some mild inconvenience to his supposed enemies. Sure, there are a few much darker passages - like burying a child alive - but they're embedded in such a thick, rose-tinted mush that they lose virtually all force. And sure, the complex lives of the RFB characters are intertwined very cleverly, but it takes a life-age of the Earth to start to reveal any of this and it's just not worth the effort.
This could have been a memorable swashbuckling adventure, chock full of pirates and a man on a quest for bloody revenge. What it actually is is tedium incarnate. In short, I can think of better things to do with my time. Like stare blankly and silently into space for six solid, uninterrupted hours, all the while reminding myself how much worse it would be if that dreaded book was in front of me instead of a nice blank white wall.