I finally finished The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. My god, did that take forever.
I’ve never considered myself a fast reader, but I don’t consider myself a slow reader either. My current reading time happens in the few minutes before sleep. Typically I can knock out twenty to thirty pages before succumbing to sweet sleep. With this book, I was lucky to get two pages in before my eyes lidded over.
I had thought about doing one of my Halfway Through Book Reviews, but knew it would take too long to get to the final update. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone that actually reads it.
This book bothered me. Sure, the writing was good. I’m not arguing that. It’s possible I have a serious disconnect between previous centuries writing and current writing trends.
–WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW–
I feel no sympathy whatsoever for Dorian Gray’s dilemma or inner turmoil. No saving grace to speak of. He starts as a boy of privilege, granted perpetual youthfulness, commits wrong-doings (which are not ever explained), and ends with his painfully predictable suicide.
What bothers me most is the author’s correlation between beauty and purity of soul. A beautiful face is supposed to be a sign of a beautiful soul. The more ugly a person is, the more sin that person has committed in life. At least that is how Dorian Grey sees and explains it. Once he realizes his sins could be hidden from everyone, he indulges to the point of being so morally corrupt, his portrait becomes hideous to look at.
Dorian is so vain, it’s annoying. It was the artist that created the mystical painting, yet Dorian believes it is his own wish that created the magic. The man lacks a single redeeming quality. Not even his own death counts. I doubt he believed he was going to kill himself by destroying the painting.
The author also does a lousy job at creating the illusion of the passing of time. There’s just a large section of text that was so flowery, I could scarcely bring myself to read more than a page a night to wade through the crap. That section was so out of sorts from the rest of the book, at times I forgot was I was reading (almost, anyway).
This book was listed as one of fifty books to read before I die, according to a nifty engraved metal book mark I received as a gift. I now question the validity of the rest of the list. I would recommend The Turn of the Screw before I’d recommend this. And TTotS was the longest 100 pages I’ve ever read.
Am I missing something here? If you think you have some insight on this book, please fill me in. I don’t want to feel like I’ve wasted all this time getting through it.