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The count of Monte Cristo Re-Imagined

Lee Smyth

248 pages
Autoédition - 2020 - États-Unis
Roman

Intérêt: 0

 

 

Note : le livre porte bizarrement la mention Copyright 2021, alors qu’il était en vente en 2020.

Lee Smyth s’est fait une spécialité de la réécriture des grands classiques à destination d’un public que l’on suppose constitué de préados semi illettrés. Ce qui consiste à raccourcir outrageusement le livre d’origine, à diminuer fortement le nombre des personnages, à simplifier énormément l’intrigue jusqu’à n’en conserver que quelques lambeaux, et à accompagner le tout d’ajouts de la plus haute fantaisie. Ce qu’il appelle « ré imaginer » le roman de départ.

Après avoir infligé un tel traitement au Vicomte de Bragelonne dans Boy in the Iron Mask, l’auteur s’en prend cette fois au Comte de Monte-Cristo. Au dos du livre, il rappelle que Dumas s’est inspiré d’une histoire vraie trouvée dans les archives de la police de Paris. Son récit, précise-t-il, « restitue tout le romanesque et la vengeance » contenus dans ces archives. On s’attend donc à une version romancée de l’histoire plus ou moins réelle qui a inspiré Dumas. Il n’en est rien : le recours de Smyth aux archives de la police se borne à utiliser le nom de Picaud à la place de celui d’Edmond Dantès. Picaud qu’il prénomme Paul, sans doute parce que le Picaud des archives criminelles est parfois appelé François et parfois Pierre…

Pour le reste, The count of Monte Cristo Re-Imagined s’inspire entièrement du roman de Dumas. En lui apportant, il faut bien le dire, quelques sérieuses améliorations :

  • Mercédès devient la fille de l’armateur Morrel. Elle navigue en tant que marin sur ses bateaux, où elle officie comme vigie.
  • Dantès – enfin, Picaud – s’évade du château d’If en se laissant glisser le long d’une espèce de chute d’eau qui tombe du haut du donjon (!)
  • le trésor de l’île est placé dans une grotte que l’on atteint en bateau quand son entrée se découvre à marée basse – l’auteur ignore que les marées sont imperceptibles en Méditerranée.
  • la vengeance est expédiée en quelques dizaines de pages. Elle consiste pour l’essentiel à incendier la banque possédée conjointement par les trois « méchants », Danglars, Villefort (rebaptisé Villard) et Morcerf (rebaptisé Fernand Francisco), détruisant ainsi la totalité de leurs avoirs ainsi que ceux de leurs clients (ce qui n’est pas grave, Monte-Cristo rembourse aussitôt ces derniers).
  • etc, etc.

Bien entendu, Mercédès a attendu le retour de son amoureux, elle était juste sur le point d’épouser Fernand par désespoir quand Picaud – enfin, Dantès – est réapparu.

Sans commentaire.

 

Extrait du chapitre 1 Fever

February 22, 1815
Off the Coast of Italy
NARRATOR: Mercedes Morrel

For most of the week, the Mediterranean Sea outside of Naples has been choppy and unforgiving. All of us have worn our heaviest jackets to fight off the cold and the wet wind.

This morning we have a rare warm sun. Our cook just dumped the potato peelings overboard and fifty seagulls have suddenly appeared. As I climb down from the crow's nest, they're entertaining me by riding the wind almost magically.

After I step onto the quarterdeck, a bouquet of flowers lands at my feet. I stare at the forecastle, see Paul Picaud, and ask, "Why would any sane man buy hot-house flowers in Naples during February? They cost four times the regular price!"

He blushes. "Because seventeenth birthdays should not be forgotten." Then he smiles that smile that melts my heart every time.

Paul and I have known each other since I was eight; there's no one in France, Italy, or the seven seas that I trust more. We've shared many adventures together and never tire of each other's company.

"How is it possible that you remembered and I forgot?" I ask.

"Because the Queen of the Crow's Nest spends all of her time in the heavens searching for pirates. And I have the ship's log in front of me every day."

As I admire the flowers, he effortlessly uses his sword to cut a rose from the bouquet. Next he dangles it on the tip of his blade without piercing it, then places it oh-so-gently in my hair.

"I'm impressed," I say.

He grins.

Paul cuts his own hair with the same knife that he uses to slice ropes. He keeps it severely short so that no long strands will ever get in his eyes when he's trimming the sails. Regardless of the month, his tan is always dark, almost as brown as Jamaican nutmeg.

Like the rest of the crew, he's wearing a long-sleeved shirt, sailor-white, with a large collar that can be pulled up to protect our necks from sunburn. Tied outside the collar is a long kerchief that does triple-duty as a sweat-rag, a bandana, and (when washed and properly folded) a necktie.

He's effortlessly handsome, kind even when he doesn't need to be.

"Come watch me fence," he says; "you'll bring me luck."

Eugene Danglars walks by us and smirks. "Luck or no luck, you're going to lose, Picaud." He tosses Paul a chain maille vest to cover his heart.

Danglars is three years older than Paul and more experienced on a three-mast ship, but the captain gives him far fewer responsibilities. It's not just that Danglars wears expensive black-market shoes that scream I'm too good to mop the deck. He's not reliable.

The man is always either angry or disgusted, and no one, himself included, is ever sure why. The only time I see Danglars laugh is when he's enjoying someone else's misery.

But he's damned good with a sword.

On the main deck, the ship's bosun says to the captain, "I've lost money three times by betting on Picaud. Never again!"

Captain Leclere combs his beard with his fingers, then points at the two competitors. "Paul is more precise, quicker on his feet, and yet Danglars often strikes the killing blow. Why do you think that is?"

He's asking the question like a man who already knows the answer.

The bosun shrugs. "If I knew, I would've stopped betting on the wrong man a long time ago." The captain lowers his voice. "Watch closely. Paul works very hard at making sure he never hurts his opponent, never scratches or even nicks him. Danglers is proud of every scar he leaves on a man."

The captain rises from a kneeling position, loses his balance for a fraction of a second, then grips the railing.

"Are you well, sir?" the bosun asks.

Leclere waves him away. "I just need a bit more rest. I'll be fine." He turns toward his cabin and leaves us.

Captain Leclere has been losing weight; clothes that were once too tight are now far too loose. He's pretending that nothing is wrong. Everyone aboard knows that something is amiss.

 


 

 

 

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