Reviewing Books – The Picture of Dorian Gray

Thanks to ShareChair I ordered several classic books along with their audio books for free from Amazon.  You really do need to check out her blog.  It’s all technology, and incredibly organized, every article practical or thought-provoking.

taken from an excellent review of the book –

Back to books, I just finished my third book from this classic find, and I thought that the least I could do would be to offer a review, something new and fresh.  My review for David Copperfield evolved naturally, and I didn’t search the internet first.  However, before I started writing my next remarkable review I decided to search the internet to find out what others said about  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

I started with Wikipedia, which offered a complete background of the controversy that surrounded the book, the author,  and the characters.  The next site suggested by Google was Sparks Notes.   This was even more complete, but not as easy to stay awake while reading.  It included famous quotes, as well as someone’s explanations to those quotes, study questions and answers.  By this time I was getting so sleepy that I nodded off in the middle of reading, and the page disappeared.  I was ready to finish my search for other reviews – especially since I am not actually having to write a paper or participate in a class discussion.  But I am persistent, I plodded on and looked at the third review source, Goodreads.

I’ve seen the Goodreads sign in the side banner of some websites, but haven’t seen the benefit of them yet.  From the Goodreads reviewers of Dorian Gray I learned that many of them enjoyed Oscar Wilde’s humor in this book.  I am not the fastest reader, but I may be the most distracted one.  This book took me less than a week to finish, as I was reading 2-3 others, but as I read the reviews, I realized that I hadn’t caught some of the nuances that other readers had noticed.

The major nuance should have been as obvious as an uprooted tree lying across the road resulting from Hurricane Sandy’s wrath.  I somehow missed Wilde’s humor entirely in this story about a hedonistic, homoerotic, narcissistic young man, Dorian, and his older guide, Harry, who actually lived the cleaner life.  Actually I missed most of the nuances.  I didn’t notice the fact that he had opium at home, but had to go to the opium dens after he killed his friend, the artist, and had his chemist friend destroyed the body which indicated the depths to which his depravity hit.  I failed to see the symbolic colors used in the novel.

Not only did I overlook the language arts nuances, I failed to note many redeeming historical analysis skills that could be gained from reading this book.  Because psychology is one of the social sciences, a pitch could be made to read this book as a study in psychological disorders.

At the same time I was reading Dorian, I finished the In Search of Bill Clinton:  A Psychological Biography, by John Gartner, the story of another charmingly engaging fellow.  I couldn’t help but compare the two personalities, since both have narcissistic traits.  Clinton managed his, and poor Dorian did not have his skills or moral balance to do the same.  The fictitious character, Dorian Gray, had a true malignant disorder, whereas Clinton was diagnosed as having hypomanic traits which were not malignant.

In spite of all the literary connections which I didn’t recognize, I enjoyed reading the book, and I would recommend it to those who love classics, and a touch of what I would classify as very early science fiction.

I would not recommend it as a literary classic that meets Common Core Standards, AND the standards for History-Social Studies.  Since English teachers only get 50% literature, and need to focus the other 50% of their time on expository reading, I would not waste the student’s precious literature hours on this book.  They can read it when they are on their own as part of a life-long learning program.

I am trying to develop a schedule to my posting, so I write the day before, then polish in the morning before I post.  As I was looking for a good picture this morning, I came across this excellent review o a WordPress site where I got the picture I used.  Click here to read that review.  ShareChair must have inspired many people to read this book because I found several other reviews that have been done in the last month or so, which I included below.  Who knew Dorian would be making such a great come back?