Tag Archives: literature

The Count of Monte Cristo

“I regret now,” said he, “having helped you in your late inquiries, or having given you the information I did.”
“Why so?” inquired Dantès.
“Because it has instilled a new passion in your heart—that of vengeance.”

Where to begin my praise for the Count of Monte Cristo? Written in 1844 by Alexandre Dumas, it is often considered one of the best novels ever written and rightly so. Dumas examines in painstaking detail the extent to which an innocent man, unjustly imprisoned, will go to punish those responsible for his doom.

It is an intricate plot told in a straightforward and accessible way, which is the beauty of The Count of Monte Cristo: it is digestible literature. Alexandre Dumas’ masterpiece combines adventure, mystery, romance and the result is savory. It is not a novel to dwell upon, it is a novel to be enjoyed; stop reading this review and go read the book.

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The Uncommon Reader

So, I am biased. Sue me. 

The Uncommon Reader  is the perfect novella.  Alan Bennett (beloved author of the most perfect and revered History Boys) asks an uncommon question: what if the Queen of England started reading? How would it impact her? And on a different scale, how would it impact her nation?

The emphasis is both psychological and cause-consequence. As is usual with Mr. Bennett (ha ha), the narrator’s voice is often the funniest. Observation and a hint of Irony are wittingly used to further the story. One cannot help but laugh when one is reading dialogues such as these:

‘I’m just kicking the tires on this one, ma’am, but it would help if we were able to put out a press release saying that, apart from English literature, Your Majesty was also reading ethnic classics.’

‘Which ethnic classics did you have in mind, Sir Kevin? The Kama Sutra?’

Sir Kevin sighed.

 

Albeit a short read, The Uncommon Reader is an uproarious tongue-in-cheek jab at monarchy, the English and non-readers. I recommend it to all but mostly to those who appreciate a good joke.

 

 

‘Oh, Norman,’ said the Queen, ‘the prime minister doesn’t seem to have read Hardy. Perhaps you should find him one of our old paperbacks on his way out.’

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The Red and the Black

This novel is beyond  sublime. Although I am a great lover of literature(duh) very rarely have I been so completely and utterly surprised, enthralled and bewitched by a classic. A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen were similar epiphanies. Perhaps it comes from expecting nothing at all and receiving everything in return. However, je divague.

The title says it all whilst saying almost  nothing. Le Rouge et le Noir: a young man’s choice between the scarlet red of the militia and the sober black of religion. A secret admirer of Napoleon, his life choices will always be made not with the intent of duplicating his hero’s path but rather with the intent of surpassing the old emperor’s glory. He will be torn in his love life as well, hesitating between two women who represent diverging aspects of his character. To a certain extent manipulative and hypocritical, Julien Sorel is almost an anti-hero. His crime however does not lie in his faults but rather in his great misunderstanding of the world and of himself.

I recommend this book to patient readers. At times, the novel may seem to be wearily advancing. Be that as it may, the magnificent finale is worth the journey.

Le Rouge et le Noir

“There is no place in contemporary French society for a superior man born without the advantages of money and social connections.¹”

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_and_the_Black

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