Category: Readalong

Who Wrote The Count of Monte Cristo?

Welcome, readers-along! As we start reading on this fine (Canadian) long weekend, let’s ponder what should be a very simple question: who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo?

Here’s the evolution of my answer:

Had you asked me a year ago, I would have said: Alexandre Dumas, dead white dude.

Had you asked me six months ago, I would have said: Alexandre Dumas, dead, but not white, dude. I found Alex on this list of classics by authors of colour, which lead me to choose it for my read along this year.*

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have said: Alexandre Dumas, père, and probably have tried to make a “Big Poppa” joke. I learned that Alexandre Dumas has a son of the same name, also a writer. He’s known as fils. The père designation stuck, though I think there should be some sort of statute of limitations on that, because who’s reading fils theses days?

big poppa

Given what I’ve learned about Dumas, you could probably find him in the back of the club sippin’ Moët too, tbh

Ask me now? I have no idea! Continue reading

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The Full Monte Read-Along

I would have posted this much sooner, but I was struggling to find a good name for my momentous fifth summer read-along, in which we will tackle Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.

Count Along? Count Me In? No. Sometimes you must wait for the muse to show up.

The title is relevant too, because there are abridged versions out there. Do not be fooled. We are going FULL MONTE, people.

Image result for the full monty gifs

Large and in charge

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along: All’s Well That Ends. (Well…)

happy ending

How Convenient

Alternate post title: All’s Well That Ends Well (If You Are A Rich, Titled Male)

“All’s Well That Ends Well” was the working title of what eventually became War and Peace. AWTEW was to be set just after the Crimean War, in which Tolstoy fought during the 1850s. But Tolstoy decided he couldn’t just start there. If he was going to talk about the Crimean War, he had to explain the Decemberist revolt of 1825, so he started again, with the working title The Decemberists. Then he backtracked even more, to the French invasion of Russia in 1812, but he couldn’t very well talk about Napoleon without talking about his 1805 antics. It’s all very Captain Underpants (… for those without children, flashbacks in Captain Underpants are always preceded by the line “But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story…”)

Did it all end well, though? Let’s not worry about the posts I skipped (lesson learned: eleven weeks is too long for a read-along) and see where our friends ended up in the epilogue, seven years after the events of 1812.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume III, Part III: Fan Video Appreciation Week

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

I was going to save this for the end of the read-along, but I didn’t find much to remark on in this section. Well, okay, two quick things:

  1. Helene tries to get out of her marriage to Pierre by… converting to Catholicism?? I thought Pierre was being a dick when he insulted Helene’s intelligence, but I’m sorry, that’s just dumb. Have you seen The Tudors? You need to get away from the Catholics, girl!

Henry VIII knows: say “nope” to the Pope

 

2. Pierre figures out a way for the letters in his name to add up to the same number in Napoleon’s name… so… he has to…. murder him… this whole plot has got me like:Moving on! Let’s talk about the world of fan videos.

I don’t even know if that’s the correct terminology, but I’m talking about videos one finds on YouTube, which are spliced together from TV shows or movies, either to celebrate the themes or relationships within that show, OR, to insert the creator’s own interpretation of what the themes and relationships SHOULD have been. Like… video fanfic? I became aware that this was a thing when I was searching for the theme song in Far From the Madding Crowd (wonderful movie, watch it!) and found stuff like this.

With a recent adaptation of War and Peace, there’s a whole world of this stuff to explore. Let’s get to it!

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume III, Part II: Napoleon Bonaparte Has a Cold

 

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Several of our main characters do important things in this chapter. Pierre joins the war as a spectator, which is apparently a thing you can do. The old prince dies, and Marya tries not to be happy about it. The peasants revolt, and Nikolai gets a chance to help a (rich, single) damsel in distress. Andrei broods, and is badly wounded.

The real star of this section, though, is Napoleon Bonaparte. And he has a cold. Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Part V and Volume III, Part I: Get it, girl

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

I’d vaguely heard of the musical “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, but I’d no idea that it was currently running AND that it is based on just one chapter of War and Peace, my favourite so far, good ol’ Vol. II Part V.

The musical summarizes this chapter better than I ever could:

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Parts I and II: Superfluous Men

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Wait, aren’t all men superfluous?

No, and I won’t tolerate that kind of misandry around here. ACTUALLY, the “Superfluous Man” is a literary trope common in Russian lit of the mid 19th century, and usually means a character who doesn’t quite fit into society, despite having the ways and means to do so.  The name comes from Ivan Turgenev’s The Diary of a Superfluous Man, which was published a good 10+ years before War and Peace and is definitely on my TBR, but the trope goes back as far as Pushkin, who seems to have influenced every major Russian author who came after him.

The Superfluous Man seems to be related to the Byronic Hero, with a little less romance and a lot less crazy… not so much mad, bad, and dangerous to know as slightly annoyed, fairly bad, and extremely eye-roll-inducing… in fact, I’d say the Superfluous Man has more in common with the Charmless Man than Lord Byron.

Couldn’t this song just describe every boring aristocrat in Anna Pavlova’s salon? Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part III: Hélène’s boobs destroy society

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Was I the only one surprised that this wasn’t a “Peace” section, given that Part I was all “Peace”, and part II was all “War”? The rest of the book seems to be mixed in this way. Maybe parts I and II were just Tolstoy easing us in.

Part III was a real mixed bag and I didn’t find a coherent pop culture parallel as I did in Parts I and II. However, I did notice two related themes that came up again and again:

  • the futile pursuit of things you can never really have, or at least, you can’t keep (youth, glory, status, beauty) and,
  • self-sabotage (marrying someone you know you don’t love, rushing into a battle you know you can’t win, everything Nikolai does).

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume I, Part I: Welcome to the SP, bitch

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Leading up to this read-along, I tweeted a joke about Andrei and Pierre being like Ryan and Seth of The OC – a brooding tough guy and an awkward man-child, brought together by circumstances and bromance. Like most offhand jokes I make on Twitter, I was not joking at all, I was deadly serious. Welcome to the S(aint) P(etersburg), bitch.

Before you “um, actually” me, I realize that to truly parallel Ryan and Seth, strong, silent Andrei would have to be the SP newbie, trying to understand the elite society into which he’s been elevated, when in fact bumbling Pierre is the fresh meat. So, the roles are a little mixed up. But hear me out. After I finished Part I, I rewatched the pilot episode of The OC and I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Continue reading

War & Peace & Women

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Today’s the day: start reading! I tried to break you in gently by starting my first post off in French… hopefully you all remember your French as a Second Language classes, or got a translation where the French is, you know, translated!

But before we get to the bored socialites, glittering ballrooms, and affected French accents, not to mention the gifs, let’s get serious for un moment.

Those of you new to Reading in Bed might not know that I did a whole year of reading women authors in 2016. And my 2016 summer read-along was forgotten but foundational 18th century novel Cecilia, by Frances Burney. I must admit, it feels almost like a betrayal to go back to a dead white dude this year.

In doing my research (Googling “Was Tolstoy a dick?”) (he was), I found out that War and Peace wouldn’t have made it to our e-readers in 2017 without the help of a few lovely ladies. Let’s give them a shout out as we get ready to dive in. Continue reading