The Great American Read quest continues for me with Oscar Wilde's "scandalous" 1891 classic "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Oh, dear. I'm starting to wonder if it's just me or if many of the books on the list are mostly hype.
Most people are already familiar with the premise of this book. A young man, who suddenly becomes vain after a brief conversation about youth with an older blowhard of a man, wishes that his recently rendered portrait would age instead of him. His conceit leads him to commit a series of dastardly immoral and illegal acts, and in less than 200 pages he receives his comeuppance.
How can I possibly describe how much I disliked this book? It was painfully clear that nearly every character in this book was merely regurgitating Wilde’s self-important views on EVERYTHING.
I cared not one iota for anyone here. I didn’t care who aged, who was captivatingly handsome, who “secretly” (aka, not at all secretly) desired who. Sheesh, was this a rambling flowery flowerbed of ridiculous nonsense, which was quite possibly why my copy included a Text Summary at the end – so readers could make some sense out of the ramblings.
I’d almost venture to say that Lord Henry Wotton was like a 19th century Truman Capote, but that would be an insult to Capote, who actually liked and respected women. Wotton’s (aka Wilde’s) dislike of women was apparent: “My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex.” His fondness for the same sex was obvious. His frequent “flouncing" himself onto furniture was, well, overdone and unnecessary. Egad, so very scandalous.
This book was published in 1891, and like the picture of Dorian Gray, it hasn’t aged well over the years. The scandal factor is no more. Yes, it’s supposed to be ever so deeply cerebral and overflowing with poignancy. The main premise is compelling, but I just didn’t like being forced to wade through pages and pages of blah, blah, blah to get to the point. I should have skipped right to the Text Summary and saved myself the time and aggravation.
Once again this was another classic that made me say, HUH? Why all the rave reviews? I have to give it a big fat NO.
1 of 5 Stars, Susan Barton, DIY Mom Blog