Sunday, August 5, 2007

From Dantes to Monte Cristo

I have just watched The Count of Monte Cristo(2002) on DVD. I shall not comment on the movie itself. Instead, I am going to spend a word or two on what seems to me the magic core of the novel (and subsequent movies), namely the transformation of Edmond Dantes, an illiterate sailor, into the well-read, articulate, cosmopolitan and mysterious Count of Montecristo.

After being thrown in the hideous jail at the Château d'If and believed dead by his beloved Mercedes, Edmond experiences its descensus ad inferos. At the bottom of despair, he has unwittingly completed the first step of the alchemical work, the nigredo.

He is now ready for the Guru, the legendary Abbé Faria, who trains him in all sort of lores (languages, math, history, swordsmanship ...). Edmond becomes an outstanding polymath. Faria's unlimited wealth will complete the metamorphosis, allowing him the leisure of living fully his new personality, the Comte de Montecristo.

Shape Shifting is a common topos in fairy tales and myths, and it has received a lot of attention. But, what about the more modest goal of Personality Shifting? Children practice this noble art every day, and so do adults, when they dream. A good polymath could perhaps emulate Dantes and exert oneself in exploring alternate roles: a good way to add back spice to life.

I have got to hurry now, and order without delay the full unabridged french version (1256 pages) of the Comte de Monte Cristo: Dumas rules!


Anonymous said...

Dear Polymathicus,

L'unica volta che ho letto il conte di montecristo e' stato da bambino, in una versione per bambini, quindi ridotta. Ho poi visto lo sceneggiato televisivo con Andrea Giordana (sono sicuro che, vista la nostra eta', anche tu lo hai visto). Adesso il tuo commento mi obblighera' a leggere, per la prima volta, l'originale.


Polymathicus said...

Caro DCS,
avevo rimosso il celebre sceneggiato, ma appena l 'hai menzionato un fiotto di ricordi e' emerso dalle nebbie della memoria.

I chiaroscuri, i grevi silenzi, le matrone truccatissime, i muri umidi della prigione...

Temo che dovro' comprarmi anche la versione italica dei tempi andati.


PS L' Abate Faria tornera' su questo blog per uno show tutto

mansi said...


Your article reminded me of one of my most fascinating qualities (I think everyone can do it but not everyone seems to talk about it). For a brief amount of time, I can almost take on personalities that have touched me the most. For eg; I can look at a problem that requires organized systematic approach and then can almost imitate my advisor and how he thinks and solve the problem. Thanks for discussing this.

Polymathicus said...


thanks for sharing your experiences in personality shifting.

There will be more postings on this topic in the near future.


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