So, I finished Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY this week. (On a side note, I was shocked to see how few books I’ve read this year. You’d think I was busy doing other things, or something. My guy offered to spend less time distracting me so I could read more, but – lovely as that offer was – I declined.)
I’m glad I read it. Even though there were sections I had to slog through, it was more often interesting than not, and is undeniably a classic. The sections which bored me were also often sections I found interesting – just not the way they were written. In one part, Wilde describes phases Dorian goes through, and talks about stories that he was interested in. Well, I don’t really care if Dorian was interested by King So-and-so’s corruption, or Queen Such-and-such’s lovers. It’s written as a list, with lots of very long sentences (as was common in the era it was written). I would prefer it to be a grouping of short descriptions of what happened to King So-and-so, or how Duke What’s-his-name died. On the other hand, many books from that era were shorter than the novels now tend to be, so the brevity of some sections makes sense.
As to the story itself… I’d be very surprised if anyone reading this blog doesn’t have at least a passing idea what the story is about. (Just in case, though: essentially a young man ends up looking young for all his days, which a portrait painted of him ages in his place.) It’s a story I can’t remember ever not knowing the premise of, though it took me 30-mumble years to actually get around to reading it. For all I thought I knew what the story was about and all, I’m glad I (finally) took the time to read it. There’s more subtlety than I expected, though I should have known better since I have read other works by Wilde. And the ending, though completely plausible within the context, was not quite what I expected. (Again, knowing the era and the author, I should have known better and predicted the ending.)
Reading classics is good. I enjoy doing it, and I like knowing the cultural background our modern novel comes from. However, I am also going to be interspersing my forays into classic lit with welcome returns to more modern fiction. I’m not in a classic lit class, so I feel no need to stick to that genre when it’s not my preferred one. (Side note: I still don’t get why classic lit is all grouped together when much of it would be genre fiction if written today – whether romance, horror, sci-fi/fantasy, etc.) I think I’ll go in for a re-read of one of my Misty (Mercedes Lackey, for the uninitiated) favorites before (hopefully… and postal-service-dependant) a much-anticipated beta read for Kelley.