After that, I put The Count of Monte Cristo away but he’s always loomed large in my personal mythology. Yes, it’s true that Dumas isn’t much for psychological realism. But one of the most elegant, least commented upon aspects of The Count of Monte Cristo is how Dantès essentially lets his foes undo themselves – he merely lays temptation in their way, and their natures, deformed by greed, by lust, by ambition, lead them headlong into ruin. Years later, when I taught writing to a group of at-risk boys, I substituted one of the required readings with a section from The Count. To my surprise, when I returned the following week, I learned the boys had sought out the book from their library, and as we discussed it, it became clear this dimension was not lost on them.