As a book lover, I buy several books a month (perhaps more than I should), and some of those books have recently been Wordsworth Classics. Wordsworth Classics are a range of books published because they believe classics should be inexpensive and accessible to all (read: public domain books are cheap to publish as they aren’t copyrighted; therefore, no royalties). While I admire the essential idea behind the range (cheap classical works is definitely something I can get behind), putting an overly long introduction into them is not something I admire. At a stroke, they have both drawn in and repelled their target audience (students and the casual readers) by making them unfathomable to all but the academically-minded.
I wouldn’t mind the introduction (it is true that you can always skip past it) but if you read the text above it, it says that due to spoilers and such, it’s better to come back to the introduction after you’ve read the book. Thereby negating the point of having an introduction in the first place! They’re always filled with jargon and pointless text. In the spirit of writing pointless and verbose introductions to things, I decided to do one of my own for each of the editions that I acquire.
A Long And Pointlessly Verbose Introduction To The Picture Of Dorian Gray In The Style Of An Oxbridge Professor Nobody Has Ever Heard Of.
Chapter One (oh fuck, when even the introduction has chapters, you know it’s going to be boring)
When Mr. Oscar ‘Genius’ Wilde sat down to pen his famous work, he probably didn’t know it was going to send him to the depths of the deepest dark pits of despair when it was used in his trial to prove that he was a homosexual, which was a crime at that time, don’t you know? Of course, unlike this introduction, his work, The Picture, Of Dorian Gray did not contain multiple crimes, (don’t you know) against the common comma. This could possibly be what sets it apart as a literary masterpiece (adjusts glasses condescendingly), or it could be the simple combination of a timeless theme with a then-current social setting. The Picture Of Dorian Gray is a tale about a man who is led astray and wishes that he could stay young and able to live a life of desire and of not caring what others think. (I’d follow that lifestyle myself, but I don’t think the fellows in the faculty would appreciate it too much.) To this end, the young man in question wishes that a commissioned painting of himself would age instead of him. And so, as if by magic, it does! Oh, the humanity! Readers of Rowling’s Index Of Uniquely Famous Individuals will note that Wilde was a homosexual! This kind of thing wouldn’t have been tolerated back in my day, don’t you know. I mean, an author, writing, a book? That sort of thing should be left to the professors.
And So On For Thirty Two Fucking Pages.
More Pretentious Twaddle, by Scott Adrian Johannes Sebastian Varnham
Rowling’s Index Of Uniquely Famous Individuals, by John Smith, P.C.G.
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, This Book, Right Here, Turn The Page.
Scott A. Varnham
Master At The Royal Society College Of Pretentious Bastards, P.H.D, M.D, L.O.L