"The Picture Of Dorian Gray"

The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I have read some sad books in my quest to experience the work of some of the great writers, but this takes the prize for the unhappiest book ever. Not the kind of unhappy that you find in "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" where the characters struggle with disappointment and loss, but the kind that makes you want to beat your head against the wall till the the pain stops one way or another. The kind where it's all self-inflicted.

This story is a morality tale that basically says if you break all the commandments, all the laws, all the principles of integrity and nobility, every rule of manners and morality and you live only to please yourself without ever having a thought or a concern for anybody else on earth, well, then things will go badly for you. I can't think of a more sorry character than Dorian Gray. Unless it's Lord Henry Wotton, who teaches Dorian his sickly twisted philosophies about life and watches while he sinks into a pit of the most nauseating self-indulgence, self-centeredness and self-adoration, blaming anything that goes wrong on anyone but himself.

I get the point being made by Mr. Wilde, but I don't understand the extremities to which he felt he had to go to make it. Both Dorian and Lord Henry are disgusting, depraved, selfish, shallow, lying wretches. And in case I haven't been clear, I don't like them.

I don't see how this book could do anyone any good, but I'd love to hear if it has.

A few more adjectives should just about finish what I though of the story: It was awful. It was appalling. Depressing. Discouraging. Dark. Stifling. Rotten. Distressing. Loathsome. And Ghastly. I can't recommend it to anyone, but read it if you must to get it off your list.

To give some credit to the author I should say that I read "The Importance Of Being Earnest" when I was in High School and I loved it. I know he has written one or two other social comedies and I will try to read them, but it surely won't be anytime soon.


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