* CONTROVERSY ALERT *
This is probably going to shock a lot of people but ... dun dun duuuuun ... I don't like Oscar Wilde. I know, I know, blasphemy, fire, brimstone, philistine etc. Furthermore I think he is massively overrated. So shoot me.
For some reason my dislike of Wilde seems to scandalise a lot of people. I don't know why, I don't find him a very likeable writer. I'll grant you that An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest are fun enough, in an insubstantial kind of way, if you don't look at them too closely and if they are full of Rupert Everett but that is about it. He talks in sound-bites and hot air. I don't know where he gets his intellectual kudos; his aphorisms may sound clever but they generally mean nothing, they are merely empty syntactical inversions for the most part. Obviously he is a figurehead for gay culture and that is great and he could be very charming when he wished to be but he is not the Messiah (just a very naughty boy) and it grates on me when he is treated as one...
OK, so The Picture of Dorian Gray. I didn't like it - surprise! I found the premise silly and over-literal and too inclined to the supernatural/high-Gothic for my taste. The pacing is patchy and unconvincing; one moment Dorian is an innocent and frankly rather moronic child, he then experiences romantic fickleness and is cruel to an equally moronic girl child, she reacts ridiculously melodramatically and, BOOM, time skips and Dorian is pretty much Satan, committing acts too despicable for human understanding. Where is the characterisation?? For a lead character he is rather vacant. Lord Henry is a rather boring and narcissistic portrait of Wilde spouting predictably 'rebellious' Decadent philosophy in more convenient sound-bites. Maybe I am a massive prude but I don't see what is big or clever about advocating immorality for Art and pleasure's sake. Evil may sometimes be beautiful but that doesn't make it good and I still believe that 'good' has some importance. See also, my problem with the believers in the whole 'beauty is truth' shebang - it just isn't (necessarily)!
Also, probably my biggest issue, it is unbelievably misogynistic. Jaw-droppingly so. And I quote:
"I am afraid that women appreciate cruelty, downright cruelty, more than anything else. They have wonderfully primitive instincts. We have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all the same. They love being dominated..."
Seriously, it makes my blood boil. [Not in a warming way, unfortunately, I am still freezing my sweet ass off - good lord it is so cold!] I know that some people would argue that this is written tongue in cheek but I don't think I believe that or if it was I don't think that denies the underlying sentiment. It is hardly the only example either. I feel cross just thinking about it...
Obviously feel free to read it, I am sure it will always be much praised, but it does not come recommended from me. So there! (Hurrumph).