Editor's note: Hey, guys, I'm back to having almost no time on Thursday, so we're back to guest editorials today -- and this one is on a topic I've heard much about, which is to say that tortoises with jewels on their shells now haunt my dreams.
Editorial: Oscar Wilde's Favourite Book Sucks
(Guest Editorial by Reecey)
Either that or he’s trolling us.
I hope it’s that second one.
So, what is the book in question?
It’s a book called A Rebours, often translated into English as ‘Against Nature’.
Now, I personally take umbrage with that translation as the original title is a French term relating to the nap of fabric and the idea of going against the nap of the fabric. So why would you translate that to ‘against nature’ and not ‘against the grain’, a term related to wood but ultimately presenting the same sentiment?
Honestly, I reckon it’s just base pretension, which is a problem that haunts this novel from start to far beyond its end.
Like all pretension, this is because there is a total lack of substance to the veneer of depth.
Which Wilde actively contributed to.
The only reason I even read the damn thing in the first place is because it’s obliquely referenced in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Not by name, but it’s clear to anyone who has read both that it is the scandalous French novel mentioned in Dorian Gray (I’d abbreviate that to Dorian, but that’s the name of a novel by Will Self). Not because there is anything particularly scandalous about A Rebours (a statement I will have to defend in a few paragraphs), but because they share the same basic theme and moral, and the tendency of the narrative of Dorian Gray to list his possessions like an 1890s member of Young Money is basically lifted wholesale from A Rebours.
No, seriously, I’d estimate that two-thirds to three-quarters of the text of A Rebours is about the stuff in the main character’s house. I’m probably exaggerating, but it is still a lot of the book.
So, what is it about?
Well, like Dorian Gray, it’s the story of a man who strays from sensible living and pays the price. Unlike Dorian Gray, it’s so booooring.
Partly because of the aforementioned shopping list narration, partly because it lacks the gothic and supernatural plot devices of Dorian Gray, but mostly because nothing happens.
This guy moves to the country, decorates his house, throws a weird party I’ll describe later, kills a tortoise, nearly goes to London but changes his mind, has a fever dream, gets sick and has to go back to Paris.
Despite the tagline, that is a plot, it’s just incredibly dull and doesn’t justify the length of the work.
Some of his reminiscences are kind of interesting, and I really liked the fever dream section , but it’s mostly a boring morass of descriptions of his stuff, his hobbies, his decorating, his books…
So, that party, one of the few points of interest in the book.
From our perspective, this is probably the most scandalous thing in the novel.
Well, not the boring, funereal themed party itself, basically entirely his hiring black women in only silver stockings with oiled skin to serve said party. Also, the book refers to them as ‘negresses’.
Although, let’s be real here, with slightly more clothing, this could be the inspiration of a music video. No one let Lil’ Wayne read A Rebours, this is near the beginning, so he might actually get to it before he gets bored and does something more valuable with his time.
|Editor's note: Apparently this is world famous rapper 'The Little Wayne' and not,|
as I had originally assumed, a kindly old lady offering me some pie.
However, if he manages to put up with the sheer mediocrity of it all (which is a possibility, he works with Future sometimes) he may slip in a bejewelled tortoise for good measure. Only, unlike the protagonist of A Rebours, I am pretty sure that Mr. Carter would take pains to make sure the poor thing didn’t die as a result.
He has many flaws, but animal cruelty I can’t see being one of them.
I suppose you could call this a character piece, that’s more or less what it is (if it was written by a perfume addled Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen), although it fails to give you much more than ‘his parents didn’t like each other much, kind of a loner, possibly bisexual and incredibly pretentious’.
Yeah, the bisexual thing sounds interesting, but it’s not.
This isn’t Dorian Gray, where our man definitely did something of a sexual nature to a dude (whether it was consensual or not is a point of debate between one of my sisters and me), this is A Rebours, where a guy decides to attempt to satisfy his sexual curiosity for men by having sex with a woman and then gets narky when she’s not a domme.
This and the mostly naked black ladies may be the source of the scandal.
I hope so, because the interior decorating is as dull as ditchwater.
Well, while the passage of time may have descandalised the book for me (that party makes me angry more than scandalised), I’m still baffled by the fact this work was found so compelling by Oscar Wilde of all people.
It’s like finding out that Kendrick Lamar’s favourite song is Yahhh!