Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

“All human wisdom is contained in these two words — Wait and Hope.”

~ Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo, written by Alexandre Dumas in the mid-1800s, is a timeless piece of literary fiction and one of his most famous works alongside The Three Musketeers. Largely unbeknownst to the general public, Dumas co-wrote this book, and many others, with the ghostwriter August Maquet. The 19th century produced so many world class writers and philosophers who so finely addressed the important questions of humanity and powerfully articulated the atmosphere of the times, and Dumas is no exception.

This book has one of the most compelling and unpredictable plots: it follows the journey of a young sailor who is wrongly imprisoned out of jealousy, and details his epic quest for retribution and vengeance. Like the great Tolstoy novels it is quite long, however it is a page-turner in the truest sense and is absolutely devoid of dull moments. Dumas’ utilization of the existing French societal climate to drive the plot was masterful, and like most good writers he is able to brilliantly capture the uniqueness of the human experience. I suspect, too, he is a Christian, given the Judeo-Christian undertones throughout the book.

“It is the privilege of youth to believe and hope, but old men see death more clearly.”

~ Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

It is hard to put into words what makes this book so great without divulging the storyline or its many great characters. Perhaps that is the best way to put it: the strength of this novel is in its plot, in the perfectly flawed characters, in the timeless moral lessons taught throughout. It is quite apparent early on how well read and cultured Dumas was, as he references many of the great books, plays and events of human history. An edition with foot notes (the Penguin classics edition has them) helps with identifying the countless references.

All things considered, a top-tier novel and one that has stood the test of time for good reason. Definite must-read for fiction lovers.


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