A to Z Challenge 2013

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wading Through Dorian Gray

As you can see from the image, I'm currently making my way through Oscar Wilde's book The Picture Of Dorian Gray.  Interestingly enough, I'm reading it on my tablet in electronic form despite my previous inclinations to avoid e-readers.  It's not quite the same as holding the physical book for me, but it's good enough.  And downloading the book for free (legally even) isn't too bad either.

As far as the story goes, I'm enjoying it.  It's an intriguing tale and I'm thus far compelled to continue reading.  The biggest issue I have is how difficult I find the language, or better yet how cumbersome it is.  At times, I almost feel like I'm wading through sweet smelling molasses, and though I enjoy the taste, I just wish I could stagger to shore for a bit of rest.

Don't get me wrong.  I see some really interesting techniques that Mr. Wilde has used to convey different scenes or characters.  I am truly enjoying the fact that I recognize these things and that I see how I might borrow it at one point or another.  But the other thing I see is that the pace is incredibly slow as the characters  elaborate (either out loud or in their own head) at any given point.  It's almost to the point I'm more inclined to skim through rather than enjoy every word, though I'm fighting that impulse as much as possible.

Part of my problem might be that I really haven't read very many of the "classics".   I don't have an educational background in literature (other than stuff they thrust at us in high school), so perhaps I am just lacking a true appreciation for it.  I don't know.  What I do know is that I am struggling to read this one in particular, and I hope somewhere along the way I can either decide to succumb or put it down for good.

Anyone else out there struggle with classic literature like this?  Any advice you can give?


Matthew MacNish said...

I love the classics, and getting them for free on my Kindle basically has made the device pay for itself.

Some of them aren't that hard, like Dickens or Dumas, but others, like The Sound and the Fury, by Faulkner, or Ulysses, by Joyce, were very difficult for me. I did muscle my way through, and I'm proud of having done so, but it can get tedious when the language and prose is so archaic.

Cherie Reich said...

The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite classic books, but I think it could be because I was studying philosophy at the time and could see portions of Epicurean thought all throughout the pages.

Some of the classics can be tedious to read, though. I haven't gotten beyond the first chapter in any of Dickens' works and I really disliked Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.

I do love the free classics on Kindle. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I find most of the classics tedious as well. Although I've downloaded some free books, including some Sherlock Holmes stories and A Christmas Carol and enjoyed them.

DEZMOND said...

I read most of the world classic in high school (since I went to a grammar school) and then I read most of the English classics too at University.
Wilde was always one of my favourite writers, I love his wittiness and charm.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

You've just summed up my feelings about most of classical literature. There are some beautiful, amazing, genius parts. But you have to wade through a lot to see them all.

As a writer, sometimes reading the classics makes me feel jealous, too, because we can't write like that today and get published. It can't just be mostly beautiful. It has to be pretty darn near flawless. That said, I love re-tellings of the old greats, like Dorian Gray!

Gee, I've made myself sound really shallow. Well, if it walks and quacks like a duck...

msmariah said...

I've always had a difficult time getting through classic literature, but it pays off in the end. It's definitely a completely different writing style than us modern writers are used to.

Windy Aphayrath said...

umm, i cheated and watched the movie with Ben Barnes. Because, well he's Ben Barnes!! But at least I was able to introduce the Husband to this story, because he's not exactly the classic literature reader type. He found it an interesting story so I'll count that as a different kind of win :) ... good luck with your reading

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