I recently finished THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde. It ends abruptly, which I found annoying. I suppose it’s rather unauthorly of me to not appreciate this or the tragic nature of the story and its poetic elements, but I’ll confess that I found the book tiresome. Mr. Wilde drones on for pages at times promoting anything from his hedonistic lifestyle to political views.
The book debuted in 1891, so I don’t hold this against it as wordiness seems to have been a selling point for that time period. I thought throughout that the author must have been a withered old man to capture the moanings of old age as he did. Nope, it seems Mr. Wilde was in his early forties. He clearly must have, however, spent a great deal of time in thought and in reckless living, reminding me of the Ecclesiastes’ author. If I had to guess, Mr. Wilde felt like he had done everything and that everything under the sun is old and in vain. At least, this is how his characters come across in the book.
The concept of young, innocent Dorian Gray making a rash promise and inadvertently tying his soul to a portrait intrigued me. This and that lovely, tidy 19th century dialogue sustained me. Mr. Wilde’s characters, especially the devilish Lord Henry, has a quick tongue and sharp wit. I suspect he embodies a great deal of how Mr. Wilde viewed himself.
Reflecting on what I learned from this classic – First, I vow to always give my readers a pleasing ending. Artsy ending aside, Mr. Wilde could have made a great end of DORIAN GRAY. It doesn’t have to be happy, but my endings will strive to at least equal the rest of the text. Does anyone enjoy these critically acclaimed endings? I’ll admit, it’s a great ending, just not an enjoyable one or one deserving enough for the story’s depth.
Second, I mentioned the dialogue earlier. It’s my other takeaway. Reading a poet like Oscar Wilde helps me view the world through an author’s eyes. He masterfully brings the mundane to life. I love how he describes people and objects in terms of flowers and jewels.
Ever since seeing the character in the movie, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN some years ago, I wanted to read about this fascinating character, Dorian Gray. The book didn’t quite measure up to what I had hoped, so I’ll end by quoting a passage from chapter 7 of the book, “You used to stir my imagination. Now you don't even stir my curiosity. You simply produce no effect.” That sums up how I feel about Mr. Wilde’s only novel, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.