I read this book in a truly Westwood style: about 10 pages a day for the first 10 days, 50 pages a day for the next five days, then 250 pages on the last day, today. That is, the Barnes & Nobel Classics edition of the book, which I have, is abridged to 591 pages—most unabridged versions of the story are well over a thousand pages.
Alexander Dumas’ work is a real page turner. Nevermind my slow start—it took me a few days to get through Edmond Dantès’ betrayal and unjust imprisonment because I was rather occupied by other activities, which may be seen from my last few blog posts (though I assure you they are not at all comprehensive). It turns out that this imprisonment, which lasts 14 years, also constitutes the majority of the story’s time. But once Edmond escapes from the Château d’If and acquires massive treasure, the book becomes very interesting and exceedingly difficult to put down. (In this edition he finds the treasure on page 143.)
At that point it is the story of what an honorable but vengeful soul can do with infinite wealth. The count can manipulate the feelings and actions of others, and eventually controls even life and death. This causes him to carry with him a mystical, God-like aura. For instance, when Edmond is overly confident about winning a duel against Albert de Morcerf, Albert’s friend Beauchamp was “somewhat disconcerted, for he could not make up his mind whether he had to deal with an arrogant braggadocio or a supernatural being” (p. 466).
Does this alone make the book a page turner? Not at all! Edmond has three main enemies to upon which to invoke revenge, and the three have families and are connected, so the reader desperately wants to know how Edmond’s plans will affect all three families simultaneously. And with unlimited wealth with which to bribe, to impress, or to deceive, Edmond can guarantee that his cunning plans will succeed.
The most powerful quotation from this book, for me, is actually before he finds his treasure—or rather, it is the search for the treasure itself. On page 141, he still does not know whether the treasure is real or imaginary. He uncovers the entrance to the treasure’s cave and sees a staircase, whence Dumas inserts the following line:
Dantès descended, murmuring the supreme word of human philosophy: ‘Perhaps.’
After this moment, Dantès, with his unimaginable wealth, can obtain anything he desires. So ironically, the word ‘perhaps’ becomes obsolete.