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I seem to be reading a lot less this year; not really sure why this is, perhaps a combination of minor changes to my usual routine along with presbyopia simply making reading less comfortable than it used to be (for example, I can barely read the small print of most articles in Doctor Who Monthly). As I did last year, I set myself about twenty reading lists in 2012, and whereas last year I could expect to cycle through at least one book on each of them in a two-month period, I've only now, at the end of April, reached Dorian Gray, which was at the top of the last of my lists. Things have also been a little skewed by my reading the complete BSFA and Arthur C Clarke shortlists, and also by my decision to prioritise reading Christmas presents, but it's a definite slowdown.

Anyway, The Picture of Dorian Gray was a reread, the top book in my LibraryThing list that I hadn't already written up on-line. I was sorry that I had only the standard Wordsworth Classics edition, with GRRRRR endnotes, rather than the deluxe uncensored edition recently reviewed by Steve Mollmann. But it's a masterpiece anyway, with the hilarious witticisms of Lord Henry punctuating a frenetic narrative of devotion to aesthetic perfection which leads inevitably to moral and personal disaster. It's also very short (having just trudged through yet another Dostoevsky, I appreciated that) and easy to digest, as long as you remain alert to the constant innuendo.

A couple of minor points that struck me: the fictional dukes who pop up as minor characters (and perhaps the other nobles as well) have non-fictional titles; the real Duke of Berwick and Duke of Monmouth were the illegitimate sons of Stuart kings. (Compare Wodehouse's comically named aristocrats.) And the anti-Semitism directed at Isaacs the theatrical agent is very jarring to today's reader in a way that probably would not have been the case earlier.

Anyway, a classic work which I recommend (while envying Steve his access to the unexpurgated text).


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 29th, 2012 07:03 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed Dorian Gray many moons ago and it would definitely be on my re-read list if I did that sort of thing.

I must say that when I saw your heading, "April Books 12)", and realised this is the 29th I thought, "Hmm! Nicholas is slowing down. At this stage it would normally be 'April Books 34)" or higher.

Of course, I took comfort in the fact that your monthly book total is coming closer to my annual book total. :-)

Apr. 29th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
I read The Picture of Dorian Gray recently and enjoyed it a lot, it was completely not what I was expecting given what I already had heard about it. Bearing in mind that I read Animal Farm and thought it was an interesting story about a bunch of pigs and horses until someone clued me in, what sort of innuendo are you referring to in TPoDG?
Apr. 29th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
Well, for instance, from the first chapter:
"I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry," said Basil Hallward, strolling towards the door that led into the garden. "I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose."
"Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know,"cried Lord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush. The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves. In the grass, white daisies were tremulous.

After a pause, Lord Henry pulled out his watch.
So, what do you think the posing and ensconced Basil and Harry might have been doing on the long bamboo seat during that pause? Did anything other than the sunlight slip over anything else?? Was there anything other than the daisies that might have been tremulous????

(Yes, Lord Henry is married. So was Oscar!)
Apr. 29th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
fx: blink

I might have to re-read it, evidently! :-)
Apr. 29th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
And one last point - do you think that the first thing Lord Henry pulled out was his watch????
May. 1st, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Nothing to envy if you go and get it! (The footnotes surround the body text very conveniently in my edition.)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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