July 22, 2010

review - the picture of dorian gray

Synopsis - a young Victorian playboy - handsome, rich, young, and all the embodiement of the excitement of youth - is captured in a portrait by a painter who becomes a close friend.  Adonis-like in form, the Dorian is memorized by his own beauty and one day while looking at the painting realizes that the form in the portrait is the one aging, not him.  It continues to age accumulating all the hideous stains of sin and a misspent, hedonistic life while he remains emaculate in life.  He eventually loses it, murders his painter friend and destroys the painting thereby ending his own life.

Medical relation - this book should be read by cosmetic surgeons.  Way too much of a hang up on beauty as an end in itself and justification for all things.  Half the time I can't tell if the author (Oscar Wilde) is condoning the "beauty as an end" or criticizing it.  In trying to be coy about it, the beauty thing comes across as cheap and tawdry, much like some aging actress who has had wwaaayyyy too much bad cosmetic surgery.

Conclusion - this is the first classic that I haven't liked.  In my estimation, there are three major components to literature - Plot, Character(s), and Writing Style.  The last one is a bit tricky.  For instance, I've read books where the plot was so-so, the characters were decent, but the writing style was phenomenal (Salman Rushdie comes to mind).  I'll read over a sentence or paragraph and based on the word choice and flow it's a sensual experience in and of itself much like eating a deeply satisfying meal.  It's great if the meal is accompanied by good friends and family or if it makes sense (hamburgers and french fries go along, not hamburgers and stir fry which would be analogous to the plot).  But if the food is spectacular, that's enough to justify a meal even if you're surrounded by jerks.  Well, Oscar Wilde's writing style is just not for me.  Way too many homoerotic overtones for me.  And it's not just that, they were way too ridiculous and over the top.  At times, it seemed cheesier than those horrible books where Fabio graces the cover artwork or some teeny bopper Hannah Montana song.  I wouldn't want to read those absurd, completely unrealistic and untrue to life lines in any relationship - homo or hetero.  It had a very interesting concept and just took it nowhere.  To have that in what is supposedly literature just seems infantile to me, and incidently the mark of intellectualism.  I wish I could have read this book in a college or high school class so I could have ripped it apart in a paper.  I disliked it that much.

No comments: