I’ve finished reading Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I had bought it on sale a few years ago and when I started the reading challenge, I found it is on my list. I honestly enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I frequently dislike classics that are acclaimed as controversial or ground-breaking for their time. It seems these and other similar terms are code word at times for crude and painstaking to read. (Case in point: Lady Chatterley’s Lover – don’t waste your time.)
The story flows well. Wilde has a way of drawing out details and conversations without boring the reader. The reading did lag a little for me in a couple areas but not to where I was wanting to skip multiple pages at a time. I found Lord Henry to be an entertaining character. I think he is one that could have a very different effect depending on the individual reader’s perspective and opinion. There would have to be another post or two for me to go into my thoughts on some of his speeches.
I think it is truly interesting how varying people’s opinions are on the message behind the book. I am someone who frequently takes a story more on face value than others. I don’t spend hours pouring over symbolisms and illusions to a writer’s personal life or past. While I do enjoy depth and meaning in a book, I don’t look for it much outside of its own pages and its effect on me. I guess that makes me a bit simplistic as a reader, but I think people at times read to much into stories and art. But, I digress.
What struck me as being the message of the book is probably odd. I think it shows how easily someone can cast personal blame upon someone or something else. Gray does not take responsibility for anything he does. It is always someone else’s action or startment that causes him to do wrong. Even when he does eventually try to accept some blame, he falls into a “that’s just how I am” mentality shoving the blame off on his supposed nature. No one can easily change for the better. Gray has several moments where he could have and almost did decide to do right and change his path; he merely gives in to his established habits.
I don’t know that I’ll keep the book for reading again, but I don’t regret the time spent reading it.