Political in/correctness in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)


Over the long weekend, I’ve become reacquainted with the art of reading classic adventure tales.

I enjoy historical TV series but some productions rewrite history just a bit too much for my liking. I’m not talking about plot embellishments but rather blatant socio-historical fabrications inserted in the hope of creating a progressive, feelgood story.

Just because someone in the 21st century wants the past to be better does not mean it was.

Here are two great examples of attitudes that wouldn’t wash today, and which probably would be cut from any TV show, film or bestselling novel.

The first paragraph tells of an elderly lady deemed physically unattractive and of “withered nature” who, as the narrator informs us, is only good for one thing—motherly love. The second paragraph is just as controversial. It would probably be censored from Facebook and Twitter as examples of “Islamophobia.”

How times have changed.

Or have they?

So much of this novel holds up today, especially the convoluted, growing guilt feelings of a morally bankrupt “gentleman” liar who ruins an innocent youth to save his own skin.

Likewise, the youth’s cogitations about revenge while locked away in a dungeon for a crime he did not commit are so much deeper than what we find in TV shows like Poldark or GOT.*

Both of these scenes read like complicated psychological profiles that would put Sigmund Freud or, for that matter, CIA profilers to shame. But I’ll have to get to those quotes later on. It’s late and I’ve run out of steam… for tonight.

* The creators of Poldark are now planning to tackle this very novel. Should be interesting.

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