Recently, I decided my brain was rotting and, in the absence of being able to take classes, I should read higher literature than, say, Kathy Reichs and Redwall. Fortunately, Barnes & Noble was having a buy one get one sale on some of the classics.
The first one I read was Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was really quite a fascinating juxtaposition of ideas and theories. The author firmly asserts that literature is not moral–“Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” He says this in the preface of a book about a man who quite literally kills himself by trying to kill his conscience.
The rhetoric of one man leads an innocent Dorian to follow those witty ideas that sound wonderful but don’t work out so well. Very strange, since many of those ideas would certainly have been endorsed by Wilde himself.
I believe the book deserves another reading and further analysis, but my preliminary review is that this is one of those rare pieces of literature that can be read both for simple enjoyment and for critical thinking, so I can highly recommend it to just about everyone.