Day 2: Least favourite book
First things first, I don’t hate this book. As a rule, I don’t hate any books and always try to find at least one redeeming feature about each book I read. But I was so disappointed by this book that it kind of is my least favourite. There is so much that could have been done, so many ways the plot could have been covered… And it just didn’t get there for me. This book is my least favourite because it didn’t fulfil the promise of its summary.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
I’ve actually read this book twice. Once, because I loved the idea of it, and the second time because I refused to believe that I hadn’t enjoyed it. Surely, I thought, it must be better! With a plot so brilliant, how could I not have enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray? So I re-read it. And I realised what it is I don’t like about Oscar Wilde’s novel.
There are actually some parts of this novel that I love. I love the premise of it, the whole idea of a painting growing older (and more ‘evil’) while its subject remains unchanged. And if it had been published as a novella, it would have been one of my favourite stories. Therein lies the problem. Short as it is (229 pages), I think Dorian Gray would have done much better even shorter. The storyline would have been so much more powerful if the more rambling and descriptive aspects of Wilde’s writing had been cut out.
To be honest, I skimmed a large portion of the novel when I re-read it earlier this year. Wilde had such a tendency to philosophise and debate that I was losing interest in what is an amazingly interesting story, caught up in the tedium of his descriptions of Dorian’s vanity and arrogance (see Chapter XI, the one I all-but skipped). Perhaps I’m being rather harsh, but I really did have such high hopes for this novel.
And I really did enjoy many aspects of it. I just wished that those aspects had been the whole thing.