I finally finished Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo. While I, by no means, have any regrets spending so much time reading this, I doubt that I’ll be in the mood to read a book of more than about 400 pages any time in the near future. But that being said, this novel ranks up there as a favorite.
This isn’t the first novel that I’ve read that originally was written in serial format, but this is the first one in which I could easily see how it could be separated into small pieces that could get readers hooked on the story and get them coming back for more. Since I’ve finished it, I’ve wondered what kind of experience it would have been if I had read only a chapter a week. Whenever I decide to read The Three Musketeers, I might try that. I don’t think it would be that different from watching a serial television show such as Lost for six seasons. The more things change – the more they stay the same.
I could sum up the theme of Monte Cristo in one word: revenge. The plot revolves around Edmond Dantes’ efforts over several decades to give his betrayers what they deserve. Throughout the novel, questions arise as to how much vengeance is due to Dantes’ own attempts, how much is the result of the betrayers, themselves, and how much is simply due to Providence, Fate or Destiny (all three of those words are used at various points). It’s interesting that Destiny vs. Free-will was also a theme of Lost. As one might expect, no specific answer to any of these questions is given in the novel. Instead, each gets masterfully woven into the intricate storyline.
In spite of Dante’s vengeance overseeing the plot, redemption and forgiveness are not far behind. While not planned, I happened to finish this book on Easter Sunday. It’s final message of “wait and hope” seemed fitting.
My previous post about this novel when I was at the half-way mark is here.
But a narrative takes its own direction, and continues on, almost automatically. And whether he liked it or not, Tengo was a part of that world. To him, this was no longer a fictional world. This was the real world, where red blood spurts out when you slice open your skin with a knife. And in the sky in this world, there were two moons, side by side.
Fantasy? Science Fiction? Mystery? Romance? Something just plain weird? All of the above? Probably.
A ten-year old girl takes the hand of a boy in her grade school class without saying a word – then lets it go. Soon after, she disappears from the boy’s life. Twenty years later, both still have the moment seared into their psyche. Strange and unusual circumstances begin to bring Tengo and Aomame together, but something also seems to want to keep them apart.
Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84 reminded me of the television show Lost. Numerous little pieces of a large story get intertwined to keep you guessing and wondering how the story will finally wrap up. Murakami makes several “nods” to Charles Dickens in this novel. I had read somewhere a while ago that the Lost creators were huge fans of Dickens. I have a feeling that Murakami might also be a Dickens fan. Murakami skillfully includes minute details in his story that end up being important later on, similar to both Lost and Dickens. Murakami also makes several references to Anton Chekhov, a writer I’m not as familiar with but want to be.
Throughout the novel, the reader is never sure what is actually real and what is not. Are the characters in this world or another world? Murakami’s writing can take on a beautiful dream-like quality that enhances this question. Unlike the TV show Lost, I was fairly certain how the novel would end. And also, unlike Lost, I was right. I think it’s the sign of a great writer when a reader can tell which way a story is going to end and still be wow-ed by the ending. Surprise is sometimes overrated.
However, I just couldn’t shake one question about the novel. Somewhere in the middle, Tengo describes some sort of vision/daydream that involves Sonny and Cher on Noah’s Ark with two pythons. This was one of those minute details that just didn’t seem to have any significance other than to make me wonder – which perhaps is significant. Oh well..the beat goes on…