This was by no means the classic Dumas novel, I had expected it to be. On the contrary this was an interesting mix of genres and writing techniques, I have never before stumbled upon while reading Dumas.
Of course the general writing style was the same; otherwise I would have been heartbroken. Dumas was a master in his field of writing, creating extravagantly composed sentences, complex and richly decorated with useless adjectives. And I do mean that as a good thing.
What made this novel different, however, was the very artistic use of intertextuality. It was filled with 'real' references to famous writers and their writings, mythology and general history. An extensive knowledge of french culture is indeed an advantage in understanding the point of the novel. But I actually liked the challenge it presented.
I loved the opening scene and the beautiful characterization of the well-know bibliophile Charles Nodier. It was like peeping into a keywhole and getting an inside-view of the important man. And also I tend to fall in love with intense descriptions of book-obsessed men. But then again, who doesn't?
I also loved the ending scene. It was so haunting, almost gothic, and the message it presented sent shivers down my spine. It was extremely well composed (as is always the case with Dumas).
The story was a bit slow-paced and it seemed like Dumas was focusing more on the French Revolution in general than the story itself. Of course the historical criticism is an important aspect of the novel, but sometimes it felt like the historicism was slowing the plot rather than making a point.
All in all, I'm very happy that I chose to read this novel. It offered an entirely new angle on Dumas' writing, showing a less dramatic but more poetic side of him, suggesting a new depth in his work that I have overlooked until now. In many ways reading this was an eye-opener.