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What's the Name of the Game Wednesday

I'm running way behind this week, so Wednesday reading will have to wait, but I did read The Count of Monte Cristo through Chapter 38. A few brief SPOILERS below the cut!

[Now for something completely different]

Suddenly, something new! We jump to a couple of rich young French tourists, Albert and Franz, who have decided to visit Rome for Carnival. On the way, Franz decides to swing by the allegedly uninhabited island of Monte Cristo to shoot goats, only to meet a mysterious man who lives in a cave full of expensive rugs and calls himself Sinbad the Sailor. It's our old friend Dantes, of course! who apparently sometimes invites unsuspecting goat-shooters into his secret treasure lair just because. "Sinbad" describes how he rescued a man condemned to have his tongue, hand, and head cut off, but only after his tongue was cut, because "I always had a desire to have a mute in my service." Dantes, that's cold! Has your cinnamon heart grown so stale? Then he peer-pressures Franz into taking hashish and sends him on his way.

Later, in Rome, Franz keeps running into Sinbad. When he and and Albert meet their neighbor, the mysterious "Count of Monte Cristo," Franz realizes that it's the same guy! But the Count pretends not to remember giving Franz hashish or meeting him at all; he's a different person on the mainland than he is on Monte Cristo. This section contains the extraordinary claim that "Italian cookery" is "the worst in the world." Franz and Albert hear the tale of a notorious local bandit who has some connection with the Count (or someone who looks exactly like him) - including a fairly grim story of rape and murder that may have played a little better in 1865 or whenever this book was written. They have a talk about vengeance -- the Count is in favor -- and are invited to watch a disturbing execution, with bonus disturbing speech about human nature by the Count. He does various services for the young tourists - I like that he takes care to choose Carnival costumes in colors that "do not show the flour" in case Franz and Albert want to eat a lot of sweets; that's considerate! Then Albert is kidnapped by bandits as a consequence of his quest to get laid, but luckily the Count has connections in the criminal underworld (just as Franz suspected) and all is well. . . or is it??? Franz still has his suspicions, and I for one don't blame him. Dantes, what are you up to?

I'm not sure I loved this section quite as much as some of the previous ones - though that isn't saying very much against it. I enjoyed Franz's quest for information about his mysterious neighbor, and I liked the French tourist perspective on Rome. It's not clear whether we're going to stick with Albert and Franz for a while longer, or jump to some other beneficiary (???????) of the Count's generous nature (???)


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2016 01:33 pm (UTC)
I've gotten a few chapters behind you! I am beginning to suspect that tourist digressions about Rome are the Dumas equivalent of descriptions of Waterloo/the Parisian sewer system in Hugo.
Oct. 20th, 2016 12:18 am (UTC)

Dumas did travel a lot (as I have learned from Wikipedia) so he knew something about trying to find a hotel room during Carnival and avoiding flour on your costume.
Oct. 24th, 2016 01:02 pm (UTC)
I've finally caught up to Chapter 38! (Clearly I need to do some more catch-up reading by Wednesday, though.) I also went a bit bug-eyed at Dumas' claim that Italian cookery is the worst in the world. Was that its reputation in the 1860s, or was Dumas a lone cranky voice crying out in the darkness against Italian cooking?

Also, yeah, Dantes' story about how he acquired his mute servant is totally grim. I thought maybe he was pulling Franz's leg a bit, because why not, but maybe he truly has lost his cinnamon-rollishness to such an extent that he really did sit back and let the poor guy have his tongue cut out? We'll see if Dumas revisits this.

I wonder if meeting Albert de Moncerf and seeing his coolness when kidnapped by bandits (sleeping in the corner of the cave like a BAMF!) has given Dantes any qualms about going after Fernand (and possibly Mercedes, I still want to know how he feels about her now). He has to know it will inevitably hurt Albert too. But then again, maybe seeing Albert's coolness under pressure has made him feel better about that: he might figure that Albert will get through the vengeancing all right.
Oct. 19th, 2016 04:10 pm (UTC)
But, still, the dull bits of Dumas include a carnival and random bandits. And, haha, all will become clear in time. Except maybe Franz.

And also clearly my translation of it exaggerated its own importance highly, as everybody else has the hashish too. (Is it shortened maybe? Did you get the sexual dreams about Greek statues with it? (Don't blame me, blame Franz. Or Dantes.) Or is my translator just a stuffed up lying liar who lies? A lot.)

I hope you continue to enjoy! The pleasures of the rest are slightly different to the innocence of the opening, but pleasures there most definitely are ahead. (And a relationship of the type you're not keen on and guiltily I often am, but I should think the rest will please you.)

*heads off again, because otherwise SPOILERS* (THis is hard.)

Edited at 2016-10-19 04:11 pm (UTC)
Oct. 20th, 2016 12:16 am (UTC)
TRUE. Subpar Dumas is still more exciting than practically anyone else's best.

There were definitely some allusions to classically-influenced sexual dreams, but maybe it went on longer in your version? I'll get the passage out when I have the chance and we can compare.

And a relationship of the type you're not keen on

Oh???????? Now I'm curious. What types of relationships am I not keen on?

(if it's Seduction By Strangulation, I've already resigned myself).
Oct. 21st, 2016 11:28 am (UTC)
Well, when you get there, you'll probably know, but to explain would be spoilery. Sorry!

(I think I can at least say that it's not seduction by strangulation, although of course, it takes all sorts to make a world, or a dodgy romance...)

I think I'm just going to call my translator a liar, really. Or big-headed, or something. Mind you, if you'd just re-translated the whole of the novel, you might be forgiven for exaggerating it a bit. It would be an epic endeavour, after all. You'd want people to read the new version and not just stick with their old ones.
Oct. 21st, 2016 07:46 pm (UTC)
I look forward to discovering it for myself, whatever it is!

Here is the marble courtesans passage in my translation, if you're interested:

"They were the same statues, rich in form, in attraction, and poesy, with eyes of fascination, smiles of love, and bright and flowing hair. They were Phryne, Cleopatra, Messalina, those three celebrated courtesans. Then among them glided like a pure ray, like a Christian angel in the midst of Olympus, one of those chaste figures, those calm shadows, those soft visions, which seemed to veil its virgin brow before these marble wantons. Then the three statues advanced toward him with looks of love, and approached the couch on which he was reposing, their feet hidden in their long white tunics, their throats bare, hair flowing like waves, and assuming attitudes which the gods could not resist, but which saints withstood, and looks inflexible and ardent like those with which the serpent charms the bird; and then he gave way before looks that held him in a torturing grasp and delighted his senses as with a voluptuous kiss.

"It seemed to Franz that he closed his eyes, and in a last look about him saw the vision of modesty completely veiled; and then followed a dream of passion like that promised by the Prophet to the elect. Lips of stone turned to flame, breasts of ice became like heated lava, so that to Franz, yielding to the first time to the sway of the drug, love was a sorrow and voluptuousness a torture, as burning mouths were pressed to his thirsty lips, and he was held in cool serpentlike embraces. The more he strove against this unhallowed passion the more his senses yielded to its thrall, and at length, weary of a struggle that taxed his very soul, he gave way and sank back breathless and exhausted beneath the kisses of these marble goddesses, and the enchantment of his marvelous dream."

Is this an allegory, or just something Dumas thought was cool? TIME WILL TELL (maybe).

Edited at 2016-10-21 07:50 pm (UTC)
Oct. 22nd, 2016 07:59 am (UTC)
It's a different translation, so the wording isn't quite the same, but it's pretty much that, yes. As I said, my translator is a lying liar who lies! But he does translate pretty well, so maybe it all evens out in the long run?

ETA: I may be doing Dumas a diservice, but I always feel that among writers, Dumas is king of the "THIS RANDOM THING WILL BE FUNNY/COOL/EXCITING!" school of thought. And it usually is, to be fair to him, that's why he's so much fun - even if the hashish dreams are strange. (I think it may be partly setting up the myth of the Count - is he out of the 1001 Nights? Is he a Byronic Vampire? What? And the hashish belongs to the former, or at least the 19th C European idea of the former.)

Edited at 2016-10-22 08:02 am (UTC)
Oct. 22nd, 2016 11:35 am (UTC)
You should read the first Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings. The translator basically re-wrote it, adding loads and loads of text, and there was an unfortunate typo in the crucial scene where Eowyn kills the Witch-King. She becomes he, so suddenly the text reads as if it’s Merry who kills him. I’m not sure Tolkien ever knew that, but being quite adept in Swedish he noticed the rest. The translator ended up quarrelling with Tolkien, and then with Christopher Tolkien and ended up writing a whole book in which he accused Tolkien of being a Nazi as well of doing black magic. It’s a truly insane book, but the translator was a very respected professor and I don’t think anyone could quite imagine the scope of the insanity.
Oct. 23rd, 2016 07:40 am (UTC)
LOL, that's amazing. Unfortunately, as I don't know Swedish at all, I shall have to take your word for it! But that is about as random as translators get, I should think - I hope!
Oct. 23rd, 2016 10:34 am (UTC)
I never eralised how weird it is until I read it in English. I think the translator secretly wanted to have written it, which is why he basically re-wrote it. Some things are perfectly fine and suits Swedish even if it isn't a word by word translation- which can be a bit wonky anyway, as languages behaves differently.

But he changed hobbit to hob, despite an earlier translation (by another translator) of Bilbo, where hobbit is hobbit. He wrote a long and rather odd letter to Tolkien where he explained “hobbit” sounded like “sockerbit” (sugar cubes) which would make Swedes imagine hobbits as white and square. Only “sockerbit” isn’t pronounced anything like “hobbit”, not even the “-bit” bit.
Oct. 23rd, 2016 04:49 pm (UTC)
LOL, I suppose it's one way to steal a novel... (More work than most of us could manage, though.)
Oct. 20th, 2016 01:23 am (UTC)
Ohh, I need to read this??

Oct. 20th, 2016 02:08 am (UTC)
YES. Yes, you do.
Oct. 22nd, 2016 10:14 am (UTC)
Franz still has his suspicions, and I for one don't blame him. Dantes, what are you up to?

I know! I know what he is up to! :D
Oct. 23rd, 2016 07:41 am (UTC)
Ssh! Come and join me in the desperately miming spoilers corner! ;-)
Oct. 23rd, 2016 10:25 am (UTC)
Excellent idea! I join in! :D
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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