Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dog Ears #1: The Count of Monte Cristo

I know it's silly to buy "classic" books when there's a perfectly good library walking distance from the house (especially when said house's bookshelves are already double-stacked) but you just can't dog ear pages from library books.

The classic in question is Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, written in 1844-45. I'm presently on p. 978 (of 1462) and am still completely enthralled by the narrative, the characters and, especially, the exquisitely vivid prose. Many books from the canon can feel like work or eating your vegetables from start to finish, but this one's a joy. To list the subsequent books and films who've made use of/paid homage to/stolen from Count's plot points, literary devices and character motivations would require a separate blog.

Suffice it to say that the saying "Revenge is a dish best served cold" might as well be tattooed across protag Edmond Dantes's shoulderblades.

Anyway, because of the exceptional length of the book, I wanted to jot down some of the select interesting words, timeless observations, lightning-bolt quotes and sly turns of phrase that caught my eye before I reach the conclusion. So, without further ado...

p195 "to learn is not to know; there are the learners and the learned. Memory makes the one, philosophy the other."

p255 "Pain, thou art not an evil."

p380 "yataghan" |ˈyatəgən; -ˌgan| noun, chiefly historical, a sword without a guard and typically with a double-curved blade, used in Muslim countries.
that's a mighty long yataghan you have there.

p538 "cavil" |ˈkavəl| verb [ intrans. ] make petty or unnecessary objections : they caviled at the cost.

p538 "Punctuality is the politeness of kings."

p665 "non bis in idem" | Latin for "not twice for the same thing"

p680 "Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish," said Emmanuel, "know not what is the real happiness of life; just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone estimate the value of a clear and serene sky."

p713 "Eh indeed, does mankind ever lose anything? The arts are removed, and make a tour of the world! Things change their names, and the vulgar do not follow them- that is all; but there is always the same result."

p895 "parvenu" |ˈpärvəˌn(y)oō| often derogatory noun a person of obscure origin who has gained wealth, influence, or celebrity : the political inexperience of a parvenu. adjective having recently achieved, or associated with someone who has recently achieved wealth, influence, or celebrity despite obscure origins : he concealed the details of his parvenu lifestyle. ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from French, literally ‘arrived,’ past participle of parvenir, from Latin pervenire ‘come to, reach.’

p933 "myosotis" |ˌmīəˈsōtəs| noun a plant of a genus that includes the forget-me-nots. • Genus Myosotis, family Boraginaceae.ORIGIN modern Latin, from Greek muosōtis, from mus, mu- ‘mouse’ + ous, ōt- ‘ear.’

"let me show you somethin'"

that's all for now. pray I don't pull my paperbacks down one by one and un-dog ear the dog ears of the past...


John Geer said...

One of my all-time favorite books. Te revenge theme is also a personal fave.

Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, it has never been translated to the big screen to my satisfaction.

Dunja said...

Interesting to know.