Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

License to do what you want...

Reading The Count of Monte Cristo is proving to be a very liberating experience. Dumas has some very brutal moments in this book, with a massively detailed view of humanity that is anything but sweetness and light. A foster child who was nearly smothered at birth becomes a selfish jerk who accidentally kills his foster mother because she won't give him more money, twenty-something guys sit around a table complaining about the politicians and the police and making fun of each other, an otherwise decent inn keeper winds up a murderer thanks to his avaricious wife. It's not a pretty picture.

But that's not what's liberating. I've read similar characters in stories like Candide and The Playboy of the Western World and Washington Square. What's eye-opening is how casually Dumas switches from one omniscient viewpoint to another without so much as a thought.

The story's the same -- Edmond Dantes is a young man who's morally innocent of a crime but who is technically guilty of one. He's arrested just before he gets married, vanishes into a prison, is forgotten about, and finally escapes to have his revenge on those who destroyed his life. The men who crushed him are named Villeforte, Danglars (who becomes a baron) and Ferdinand (who becomes the Count de Morcerf).

Once Dantes is in prison, the story becomes about Villeforte warning the King about Bonaparte, not to mention his ambitions and wedding plans and fears about his own father, who's a Bonapartist, causing him trouble. Then it shifts to Dantes' imprisonment and his meeting of the Abbe, his escape, and up to the point where he finds a way to achieve his goals. Then it shifts to him helping a man who tried to help him, m. Morrell, then focuses on Franz, a friend of Count de Morderf's son, Albert, and Dantes becomes like a secondary character in his own story, then it shifts to Albert, and Franz all but disappears...and now it's back on Dantes, as the Count.

Each tells bits of an epic tale that is slowly coming together as it builds up Dantes' expertise and awareness and cunning. The story begins in 1814; Dantes is in prison for 14 years; now we are somewhere between 1835 and 1840 and we're getting back to Dantes' plot against Villeforte. And it works...except for the flowery language; that still irritates a little.

I may try this with Carly Kills...sans lots and lots of wordage.

No comments: