Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dog Ears #2: The Count of Monte Cristo

Damn the last 484 pages of TCOMC were sweet.

I'd be lying if I said I were sad to finish the book, as I've spent chunks of the last five months reading it and I have a dent in my chest from propping it up in bed, but it ended with a magnificent and heartbreaking crescendo that I won't soon forget. Overall the most impressive book I've ever read, and Dumas' insights into human nature are still uncomfortably spot-on in 2007.

I enjoyed jotting down unusual or archaic words and particularly incandescent bits of prose from the first two thirds in Dog Ears #1, so I thought I'd complete the process now.

p1024. "Really, my dear count, you seem to throw a sort of magic influence over all in which you are concerned; when listening to you, existence no longer seems reality, but a waking dream."

p1036. "cartouche" |kärˈtoō sh | noun. a carved tablet or drawing representing a scroll with rolled-up ends, used ornamentally or bearing an inscription. • Archaeology an oval or oblong enclosing a group of Egyptian hieroglyphs, typically representing the name and title of a monarch.

"With whom are you going to fight?"
"With Beauchamp."
"Is he one of your friends?"
"Of course; it is always with friends that one fights"

(sad but true...)

p1093 "fruiteress" \Fruit"er*ess\, n. A woman who sells fruit. [1913 Webster]

(hard to believe this essential word has fallen out of favor)

p1095 "pilchard" |ˈpil ch ərd| noun a small, edible, commercially valuable marine fish of the herring family. • Sardinops and other genera, family Clupeidae: several species, including the European Sardina pilchardus. See also sardine.

mmm... crunchy

p1197 "I know the world is a drawing-room, from which we must retreat politely and honestly; that is, with a bow, and all debts of honor paid."

p1204 "nothing induces serious duels so much as a fruitless one."

" someone dead in his house?"
"The general has just blown his brains out," replied Monte Cristo, with great coolness."

(who knew that the phrase "blowing your brains out" has existed for over 160 years?)

p1270 "britska" a long carriage with a calash or movable top, and constructed to afford space for reclining on a journey. Source: W. H. De Puy The People's Cyclopedia (New York: Phillips & Hunt: 1881)

if you're not reclining on your journeys, you're not really journeying

1287 "lazaretto" |ˌlazəˈretō| noun ( pl. -tos) chiefly historical– an isolation hospital for people with infectious diseases, esp. leprosy or plague. • a building (or ship) used for quarantine. • a military or prison hospital.

p1359 "But the excitement had calmed down, and they felt themselves obliged to descend from dreams to reality; after having exhausted the ideal, they found they must talk of the actual."

(I think we've all been there... every rush must eventually be slowed, right?)

p1424 "... who immediately entered into conversation with two or three of those industrious idlers, who are always to be found in Rome at the doors of banking-houses, churches, museums, or theatres."

(I just love the idea of the "industrious idler"... could be to the 'aughts what the term "slacker" was to the '90s)

p1435 "As I was saying last night, they intend me to be ransomed. Holla! here is my watch! Let me see what time it is."

(and I thought "blowing your brains out" seemed anachronistic!)

And finally, my favorite sentiment in the book. Those who haven't already read TCOMC may want to click away now, as these lines represent (IMHO) the culmination of the entire experience and journey of the book...

a view from a cell in the actual Chateau d'If (where Edmond spent 14 long years)

p1461 "There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life."

Truer words have never been written.

1 comment:

Darth Weasel said...

the greatness of the book made the patheticness of the last movie so imcomprehensible. As much as I love the Simpsons, a person should never be able to say a Count of Monte Cristo themed Simpsons sketch was more insightful and emotional than a feature length movie...but I can say that in all honesty.