The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite novels. It had been a very long time since I’d read it and unlike Don Quixote, I’d only read it once and had forgotten much. With this in mind, I purchased a hard cover some years ago and it had been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. It is a large book colored in blue and gold that stands out amongst my other books, reminding me over the years of its presence. Finally, I picked it up and started the journey of Edmund Dantés seeking revenge for being terribly wronged by four individuals in the town of Marseilles.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Here are my highlights, some with comments.

You, who are in power, have only the means that money produces; we, who are in expectation, have those which devotion prompts. – M. Nortier

“This is in strict accordance with the Spanish character; an assassination they will unhesitatingly commit, but an act of cowardice never.”

Spain had a major influence on my life. I’m always interested in learning more about the culture and history. One aspect of this is that Spanish have a reputation for honor and being especially hot-headed when honor is involved. One modern example I read about is a tourist disrespecting a bull during Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls by pulling its tail. That tourist got severely beaten. As a student I noticed that Spanish men seemed very exotic and attractive to my female classmates. They know how to dance, they can be more romantic than American males and aren’t afraid to show it. What those females didn’t know is there is another side to that coin in that there is a reputation of needing taken care of when it comes to long term relationships. That has lead to a few international divorces over the long term. That exotic enchantment fades over time and if one partner does not acquiesce to the others culture or there is not an equality of mix, then there is trouble ahead for the relationship.

“Not their application, certainly, but their principles you may; to learn is not to know; there are the learners and the learned. Memory makes the one, philosophy the other.”
“But can i not learn philosophy as well as the other things?”
“My son, philosophy, as I understand it, is reducible to no rules by which it can be learned; it is the amalgamation of all the sciences, the golden cloud which bears the soul to heaven.”

The abbé was a man of the world, and had, moreover, mixed in the first society of the day; his appearance was impressed with that air of melancholy dignity which Dantès, thanks to the imitative powers bestowed on him by nature, easily acquired, as well as that outward polish and politeness he had before been wanting in, and which is seldom possessed except by those who have been placed in constant intercourse with persons of high birth and breeding.

When we show a friend a city one has already visited, we feel the same pride as when we point out a woman whose lover we have been.

Having travel experience, being “worldly” has always been an attractive aspect. Consumer culture falsely believes that the owning of things is just as good as improving oneself through learning and travel. I’ve always tried to instill in my boys that it is not what you have, but who you are that will give confidence and makes for a great life. Learning, travel, exercise, meditation, being kind, these are the qualities that matter in the end. And so I find the above to be very true. One does feel pride in showing another a city they know something about. The place has become part of who they are, it is part of their life story. I think the same holds true for former relationships, but not really one-night stands. Former lovers tell something about the person.

He was rather too pale, certainly, but then, you know, paleness is always looked upon as a strong proof of aristocratic descent and distinguished breeding.

I never thought much about this until I noticed may Asians do not want to be darker unlike white people. This occurred to me when one of my female Korean classmates would hold a book to block the sun even while she walked to class. Over time, I figured out that the reasoning is they do not want to be perceived as country folk or farmers. The shift from countryside to the city over the past century has been dramatic. One example is small villages in Japan being abandoned for jobs and excitement in Tokyo. The land lies fallow and houses abandoned. If one is took dark then they may be taken for an unsophisticated country person rather than a cosmopolitan. The hue of your skin depending on how much time you spend in the sun says just as much about the person as their clothing in Asia.

“Well,” asked Franz, “what think you of the Count of Monte Cristo?”
“What do I think?” said Albert, evidently surprised at such a question from his companion; “I think that he is a delightful fellow, who does the honors of his table admirably; who has traveled much, read much, is like Brutus, of the Stoic school, and moreover,” added he, sending a volume of smoke up toward the ceiling, “that he has excellent cigars.”

I’ve always wanted to be a ‘renaissance man.’ I learned that traveling, reading, speaking foreign languages and keeping up on current affairs go a long way in being perceived as such by others.

“No, my dear Vampa,” replied the count; “besides you compensate for your mistakes in so gentlemanly a way, that one almost feels obliged to you for having committed them.”

“M. de Morcef,” replied the count, “your offer, far from surprising me, is precisely what I expected from you, and I accept it in the same spirit of hearty sincerity with which it is made.”

“tell me, truly whether you are in earnest, or if this project of visiting Paris is merely one of the chimerical and uncertain things of which we make so many in the course of our lives, but which, like a house built on the sand, is liable to be blown over by the first puff of wind?”

I enjoy the intelligent way aristocrats speak, it is always very clever. The best modern publication to see examples of this is the New Yorker. It is high-brow, witty, and this is something that takes practice. The only time I do not enjoy it as much is with the Ivy League kids I’d met in my studies overseas. It seems they try too hard, everything that comes out of their mouth has to be clever in order to showcase how smart they are.

What these stuffs did there, it was impossible to say; they awaited, while gratifying the eyes, a destination unknown to their owner himself; in the meantime they filled the room with their golden and silky reflections.

“Here is Debray who detests you without reading you, so he says.”
“He is quite right,” returned Beauchamp; “for I criticize him without knowing what he does. Good-day commander!”

Beauchamp is the editor of the local newspaper. His statement is fantastic as journalists have a reputation for “today I am an expert in…” Furthermore, publications almost always have inherent bias and political affiliation.

“Punctuality,” said Monte Cristo, “is the politeness of kings, according to one of your sovereigns, I think; but it is not the same with travelers.

I completely agree with the first part. I have a deep set aversion to being late and it irks me when others are late. I feel it is a sign of disrespect although some must be given a pass as their whole lives are lived in a chaotic way. I suppose I can go along with the second part because one cannot control delays, especially over long distances.

Perhaps what I am about to say may seems strange to you, who are socialists, and vaunt humanity and your duty to your neighbor, but I never seek to protect a society, who which does not protect me, and who I will even say, in general, occupies itself about me only to injure me, and thus giving them a low place in my esteem; and preserving a neutrality toward them, it is society and my neighbor who are indebted to me.”

I am a socialist. It is only natural that some will rise while others will fall based on God given talents and intellect. But what good is society when many members are allowed to fail? I think that technology can allow for the good of everyone, universal basic income should be a right, especially in the greatest nation ever created. But now, we’re seeing accumulation at the top while a great many struggle. This has never bode well historically and usually leads to bloodshed. As for the Count here, I can understand his feelings given what happened to him. If society isn’t treating someone well then it is well and good to cast it off completely.

and yet the first day you set foot in Paris you instinctively possess the greatest virtue, or rather the chief defect, of us eccentric Parisians – that is, you assume the vices you have not, and conceal the virtues you possess.

The salon was filled with the works of modern artists; there were landscapes by Dupré, with their long reeds and tall trees, their long oxen and marvelous skies; Delacrox’s Arabian cavaliers, with their long white burnous, their shining belts, their damasked arms, their horses, who tore each other with their teeth while their riders contended fiercely with their maces; aquarelles of Boulanger, representing Notre Dâme de Paris with that vigor that makes the artist the rival of the poet; there were paintings by Diaz who makes his flowers more beautiful than flowers, his suns more brilliant than the sun; designs by Decamp, as vividly colored as those of Salvator Rosa, but more poetic; pastels by Giraud and Müller, representing children like angels, and women with the features of a virgin; sketches torn from the album of Dauzats’s Travels in the East, that had been made in a few seconds on the saddle of a camel, or beneath the dome of a mosque; in a word, all that modern art can give in exchange and as recompense for the art lost and gone with ages long since past.

I highlighted this passage to look up the artists mentioned.

“I do not ask you of his origin, but what he is.”
“Ah, what he is; that is quite another thing. I have seen so many remarkable things of him, that if you would have me really say what I think, I shall reply that I really do look upon him as one of Byron’s heroes, whom mistery has marked with a fatal brand; some Manfred, some Lara, some Werner, one of those wrecks, as it were, of some ancient family, who, disinherited of their patrimony, have achieved one by the force of their adventurous genius, which has placed them above the laws of society.”

The house Ali had chosen, and which was to serve as a town residence to Monte Cristo, was situated on the right hand as you ascent the Champs Elysées.

Highlighted to see if there might be some sort of marker on the Champs Elysées as this is a famous novel. I’ve walked the boulevard twice and didn’t see any individual house that would fit the description but would imagine there might be some type of marker given Paris affinity for the arts.

“Why, what has happened to you? Are you going to make me ring a second time for the carriage?” asked Monte Cristo, in the same tone that Louis XIV pronounced the famous, “I have been almost obliged to wait.”

I like that statement and will have to use it the next time someone is late.

I am Giovanni Bertuccio; thy death for my brother’s; thy treasure for his widow; thou seest that my vengeance is more complete than I had hoped.

This may be the inspiration for the famous quote in the movie “The Princess Bride.” “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die.”

If you will permit me I shall be happy to show. you my picture gallery, composed entirely of works by the ancient masters – warranted as such. Not a modern picture among them. I cannot endure the modern school of painting.”
“You are perfectly right in objecting to them for this one great fault – that they have not yet had time to become old.”

“I am very happy to have been the means of preserving a son to his mother, for they say that the sentiment of maternity is the most holy of all; and the good fortune which occurred to me, monsieur, might have enabled you to dispense with a duty which, in its discharge, confers an undoubtedly great honor; for I am aware that Monsieur de Villefort is not lavish of the favor which he now bestows on me, but which, however, estimable, is unequal to the satisfaction which I internally experience.

The dominions of kings are limited either by mountains or rivers, or a change of manners, or an altercation of language. My kingdom is bounded only by the world, for I am neither an Italian, nor a Frenchman, nor a Hindu, nor an American, nor a Spaniard – I am a cosmopolite.

After spending much time overseas I began to question the idea of nationalism and came to a simple conclusion; humans are a tribal species. I had the good fortune to learn other languages, other ways of living and found I could live in those foreign lands just as easily as my native land. Most people have not had that type of experience and so are easily swayed by those in power to an ‘us versus them’ mentality. Not many people are able to comprehend the views of other nations and so when one of their own is able to do so, and sympathize, they are looked at as a ‘traitor,’ a traitor to their tribe. It is a silly and primitive way of thinking, one exploited by demagogues such as Trump.

To understand other cultures and ways of thinking should be a goal, it is a great achievement. To only agree with your own tribe, or everything in your political camp is lazy and unintelligent.

But all the Italians are the same; they are like old Jews when they are not glittering in oriental splendor.

I don’t understand the example of Jews here. I’d like to know why Alexandre Dumas uses this description of “glittering in oriental splendor.” There is nothing oriental about Jews as far as I know.

Moral wounds have this peculiarity – they conceal themselves but never close; always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and open in the heart.

“Sir,” said Albert, at first with a tumulus voice, but which gradually became firmer; “I reproached you with exposing the conduct of M. de Morcerf in Epirus, for, guilty as I knew he was, I thought you had no right to punish him; but I have since learned you have that right. It is not Fernand Mondego’s treachery toward Ali Pasha which induces me so readily to excuse you, but the treachery of the fisherman Fernand toward you, and the almost unheard-of miseries which were its consequences; and I say, and proclaim it publicly, that you were justified in avenging yourself on my father; and I, his son, thank you for not using greater severity.”

“Go,” said the count deliberately, “go, dear friend, but promise me, if you meet with any obstacle to remember that I have some power in this world; that I am happy to use that power in the behalf of those I love; and that I love you, Morrel.”
“I will remember it,” said the young man, “as selfish children recollect their parents when they want their aid. When I need your assistance, and the moment may come, I will come to you, count.”

In my estimation 1,000,000 francs’ worth in the railway is equal to an acre of uncultivated land upon the banks of the Ohio.

Enjoyed seeing my home state of Ohio mentioned in a story set in early 1800s France. That valuation seems absurd. Asking AI, that is equal to between $14 and 40 million dollars today. Perhaps the author mistakenly added three extra zeros?

Having accomplished these three social duties, Monte Cristo stopped, looked around him with that expression peculiar to a certain class, which seems to say, “I have done my duty, now let others to theirs.”

“Madame,” interrupted the count, taking her two hands in his, “all that you could say in words would never express that which I read in your eyes, the thoughts of your heart are fully understood my mine.

the Hill Villejuif, the platform from whence Paris, like some dark sea, is seen to agitate its millions of lights, resembling phosphoric waves – waves, indeed, more noisy, more passionate, more changeable, more furious, more greedy, than those of the tempestuous ocean – waves which never lie calm, like those of the vast sea – waves ever destructive, ever foaming and ever restless.

I had to look up “Villejuif” and found that it is a suburban town south of Paris. I like the sentiment here as I always feel a sense of awe when looking over a large city, especially at night. I wonder about the lives of the millions of inhabitants that call it home. Births, life experience, deaths and the general passage of time. This is especially true when I look over the seemingly infinite expanse of Tokyo with skyscrapers mingled in with apartment buildings. People come, people go and the city lives on.

“the doubt I felt was but the commencement of forgetfulness; but here the wound reopens and the heart again thirsts for vengeance.

“O God!” he read, “preserve my memory!'”
“Oh, yes!” he cried, “that was my only prayer at last; I no longer begged for liberty, but memory; I dreaded to become mad and forgetful. O God! Thou hast preserved my memory; I thank Thee! I thank Thee!”

Memory is very important to me, as this online journal is a testament. Thanks to this journal I’m able to remember not only events but the thoughts and feelings that went along with that time in my life. As I age, I find my contemporaries have forgotten much. Old friendships fray, they live in a world of only the present with past influences fading until they are completely gone.

His first idea was to breathe, that he might know whether he was wounded. He borrowed this from Don Quixote, the only book he had ever read, but which he still slightly remembered.

Enjoyed seeing my favorite novel mentioned.

As for you Morrel, this is the secret of my conduct toward you. There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.

Categorized as Books

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/

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