Go Wilde

27 02 2007

In my quest to become better acquainted with the western canon, I have been making an effort to vary my reading between the classics, modern literature as well as enjoying popular novels – I would hate to get too serious about my reading.  I sometimes just like to enjoy a quick and fun read. 

I recently read my first Oscar Wilde novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray and it was a riveting read.  For those of you who have not read it or do not know the story (*spoiler alert!!!*),  the protagonist is a young man named Dorian Gray who has his portrait painted by the artist Basil Hallward.  Dorian is chosen for being pretty damned gorgeous and Basil develops a powerful infatuation with him.  Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton and becomes enthralled by Lord Henry’s cynical world view.  In advocating a hedonistic outlook and lifestyle, Lord Henry suggests that the only thing worth pursuing in life is beauty and enjoyment and all that sweet stuff.   In a fit of pique driven by a fear of losing his looks, Dorian makes a fateful wish that the portrait Basil has painted of him would age rather than himself.  Dorian’s wish is granted and the result… well it let’s say it doesn’t go well for him, plunging him into a sequence of debauched acts – which sounds much more fun than it actually is.  The portrait serves as a reminder of the effect each act of debauchery and treachery has upon his soul, with each sin being displayed as well as all the signs of aging. 

It was a scathing portrayal of a flawed individual and yet the insidious influence of Dorian’s self-appointed mentor, Lord Henry, is at once chilling and fascinating.  I must admit that I was intrigued to read this book, given that it was used as evidence against Wilde in a court trial and was considered at the time to hold a certain notoriety for being ‘mawkish and nauseous,’ ‘unclean,’ ‘effeminate,’ and ‘contaminating‘.  I must also admit that I was a bit disappointed by the lack of salacious content.  I suppose that society is just a completely different place now.  That would be a whole other post…

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2 responses

28 02 2007
FENICLE

All I can say is that I’m impressed with your reading material! My choice of reading would be People magazine 🙂

28 02 2007
kate1976

Well my reading is quite diverse!!! I also am partial to HEAT magazine. It all high-brow, I can assure you!

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