Best of 2001

Paul Andinach pandinac at
Thu Jan 17 00:21:39 EST 2002

On Wed, 16 Jan 2002, Elizabeth Parks wrote:

> I, coincidentally, am taking a course on the Gothic Novel this
> coming semester, and have just gotten the list of books. 

> One thing not on the list (I'm not entirely sure it fits the
> category) is Rider Haggard's work. 

Rider Haggard? Gothic novels? Ahahaha.  :)

> I've been curious to read that ever since I read Elizabeth Peters'
> _The Last Camel Died and Noon_.  She's also the one who inspired me
> to read _The Prisoner of Zenda_, even though I'd liked the movie
> when I was little as well as read the story multiple times as it is
> presented in Simon Hawke's time travel series "Time Wars."

Whereas I've never read anything by Elizabeth Peters (yet); it was the
Simon Hawke version that introduced me to _The Prisoner of Zenda_.
(Haven't seen any of the movie versions, either.)

I'm still not sure which version is the more enjoyably silly.  :)

> And since I'm vaguely on the topic, does anyone else love _The Count
> of Monte Cristo_?

Oh, yes.

> I'm afraid of the movie, but I do want to see it.

Same here.

And while we're on the topic, I'd like to stress, for anyone reading
this who hasn't yet read _The Count of Monte Cristo_, the vital
importance of getting a good, *unabridged* translation. (The same is
true of any other novel by Dumas, as well.) My current copy is the
Penguin Classics edition, translated by Robin Buss. It's has a
terrible cover, but the text is good.

And it has a nice introduction, which has a lot to say about the
terrible things that tend to befall translations and television
adaptations of the novel. One of the common thought processes
involved, which will be familiar to British fans of BtVS and
Australian fans of Farscape, goes something like this: 
   "_The Count of Monte Cristo_ is a story for children."
   "But it has serial killers in it, and lesbians, and adulterers,
    and suicides, and people taking hashish, and..." 
   "Good heavens, we can't be having that in a story for children.
    Better cut all that stuff out..." 

This leads to adaptations like the Moby Books Illustrated Classic
edition of _The Count of Monte Cristo_, which -

- for reference, the Penguin edition mentioned above is around 1000
pages long, of which roughly 20% is the story of Edmond's imprisonment
and escape, and roughly 80% is the story of the Count's vengeance -

- which is about 100 pages long, of which roughly 90% is the story of
Edmond's imprisonment and escape, and the whole story of the Count's
vengeance is crammed into two chapters at the end.  *sigh*

"Hold fast to the one noble thing."

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