August 07, 2008

What I'm reading today


Today's Bible Reading Jeremiah 1-3

I'm also reading:
Family Driven Faith   Voddie Baucham, Jr.
A Hedonist in the Cellar   Jay McInerney

The Picture of Dorian Gray - book review

I had never read anything by Oscar Wilde. Of course, I was taught about Oscar Wilde in school and have heard about his many books and plays. I knew there was some scandal surrounding him, but never really knew what it was.

The Picture of Dorian Gray helps me to understand why scandal may have surrounded Oscar Wilde, even if it does not tell the true nature of the scandal. There are just a handful of characters in The Picture of Dorian Gray—each representing a very distinct set of morals. Dorian himself is not one of the moral stereotypes presented in the story, but rather seems to represent the outworking of those disparate moral philosophies.

Dorian responds and reacts in particular to Lord Henry Wotton—a loose-morals, in not loose living, modernist who puts into words the most extreme forms of modernistic hedonism. Dorian is drawn in by these statements and begins to live them out. The result is a classic morality play giving consideration to the potential end result of living as a humanistic hedonist.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a fascinating read. A great story told in a spell-binding way. Some curious statements are made in the book when you consider the fact that the book was written well before the Existential philosophy had taken root.

Yes, there was to be, as Lord Henry had prophesied, a new Hedonism that was to recreate life, and to save it from that harsh, uncomely Puritanism that is having, in our own day, its curious revival. It was to have its service of the intellect, certainly; yet it was never to accept any theory or system that would involve the sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience. Its aim, indeed, was to be experience itself, and not the fruits of experience, sweet or bitter as they might be. Of the asceticism that deadens the senses, as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them, it was to know nothing. But it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments of a life that is itself but a moment.

This quote seems to sum up the overall philosophy that Dorian Gray took from Lord Henry Wotton and put into practice in his life. I was struck with the fact that this is full Existentialism, although this was written 50 years before Existentialism caught root in academia.

Apart from the philosophical intricacies of the book, the story is engaging and enjoyable. I highly recommend this book. It's good to read the classics and this would be a good one to add to your list.

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