Category Archives: Drama

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Title: Of Mice and Men

Author: John Steinbeck

Publication Date: 1937

Review Score: 8/10

One of the most well known novels around the world, Of Mice and Men is a tale of friendship between 2 drifting workers during the 1930s American depression.

George and his large, simple minded friend Lennie are working the farms trying to get enough money together to one day have their own small patch of land and a slice of the American dream. However there is just one problem, Lennie can’t help getting himself in trouble and when the pair find work on a Californian ranch their dream and friendship is pushed to the limit.

Given that it is on the curriculum of practically every school in England, most people have read Of Mice and Men at a young age, when 100 pages took literally forever to read! Unfortunately, or luckily depending how you see it, I didn’t have to read Of Mice and Men at school and so I was able to approach it with fresh eyes and an open mind.

What I found was a truly remarkable book which packs one hell of a punch in just 120 pages. The characters and friendship created by Steinbeck are remarkable and you feel yourself wanting them to get that piece of land as much as they do.

The final act of their friendship, and the book, is enough to bring the reader to tears and it is the way in which Steinbeck is able to make it so emotional in such a short time that makes it such a great novel and well worthy of its place on the list of 1001 Books to Read Before you Die.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

Publication Date: 1891

Review Score: 4/10

Dorian Gray is a young, handsome man enjoying the fruits of the rich English life he has been borne into. Many people take a shine to Dorian but no more so than Basil Hallward, a painter who sees the young man as his new muse.

After Basil Hallward paints a portrait of young man, Dorian wishes that he could be preserved as the good looking man he is and the picture grow old instead. Well this vain and frivolous wish comes true and Dorian is able to stay as handsome as ever as his portrait takes on all of the burdens of life.

Dorian then begins to grow into a callous, selfish shell of his former self, culminating in his ability to kill a young girl without feeling any remorse or any impact upon his life. As he proclaims “The roses are not less lovely for all that. The birds sing just as happily in my garden.”

What this book is, is an excellent portrayal of how vain and selfish people can be, which is just as relevant today as it was when it was written over 120 years ago. However, although I can appreciate this element of the novel it is not to say I like it, in fact I distinctly dislike it for 2 main reasons:

1 – Although the idea is that the reader grows to despise Dorian and hope that he gets his ‘just desserts’, I found that I hated the character right from the get go, and not for the reasons I was supposed to, but rather just because I felt there was not a single element, either as hero or anti-hero, that I could side with him on.

He has not a shred of depth or character in my mind and for me even an anti-hero should have some draw on the reader. What’s more, even when we reach the final climax, when really he should have a new outlook on life or at least a hint of remorse, he is still completely oblivious and selfish making the whole journey through the book rather pointless.

2 – I know a lot of people will disagree with my point above, as many people love The Picture of Dorian Gray, so I believe I can shed some more light on it with this second point; which is I am a huge fan of literature that looks at the hardship of the lower classes, such as Dostoevsky and George Orwell, and so to read about some rich, whiny kid who has no cares in the world but acts as if he is some sort of martyr does my head in!

I tried to leave my bias out of it but I am a book lover and can’t help put compare books in my mind when I am reading them. The Picture of Dorian Gray is just not my cup of tea but if you like it good for you!

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