Grease in Dorian Gray

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greasy gateway to heterosexuality

Sometimes I accidentally buy books with underlining, highlighting, marginalia. If it is scholarly book I lowball the price and make a poor student happy. If it is commonplace it goes outside for quarter.

When any of them catches my eye the markings are usually dull. People underline surprisingly commonplace sentiments. More distressingly you’ll find “symbolism!” in the margin. At the other extreme was the guy who in a neat compressed hand sustained a long, learned and passionate argument with Stanley Fish all the way through one of Fish’s books.

We already have more than enough clean copies of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The moment I saw a scribble I knew it’d be going outside. Then I saw the phrase above. I had to start reading to discover what the annotator was about. A “greasy” flak inveigles Dorian into entering a music hall where he meets Sybil Vane, a woman with whom he falls in love.

Poor Wilde. Dorian Gray was famously written fast to get it out quick (he was in a race with Conan Doyle I think). Wilde did later revise it but that was to add a few wholesome chapters hoping to prevent the evil fate that eventually made him the most famous gay man of his time.

If you ever read writers talking about their work you’ll learn how much they’ve despised the American teachers who’ve turned their students into symbol chasers.

A photo from an open casket funeral was the best thing I’ve ever found in one of our books. This snippet of lit. crit. maybe the second best.

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