Monte-Cristo Reexamined

Jonathan Yardley offers a thoughtful reexamination of one of my favorite novels from childhood: The Count of Monte-Cristo.

That I managed to forget just about everything about “Monte Cristo” over the ensuing half-century is wholly within character, but it did have the advantage of leaving me a tabula rasa upon which Dumas was free to work his magic. The only problem is that the second time around “Monte Cristo” struck me as somewhat less than magical. (…) My imperfect recollection is that as a teenager I was untroubled by (…) leisurely digressions from the central story, but as an adult I found myself wanting Dumas to get on with it, to whack a few pages — a few hundred pages, if truth be told — out of this elephantine book and get down to business.

I have to say that when I reread old favorites I find that they tend to run a bit long, but maybe that’s just part of the process of getting older: We have so much less time than we did as children and therefore less patience with books that run as long as Monte-Cristo.

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