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Archived Group Reads 2015 > LASC - The Model Millionaire

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message 1: by Pip (new)

Pip | 817 comments "Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. These are the great truths of modern life which Hughie Erskine never realised.

The Model Millionaire, subtitled "A Note of Admiration", is our fourth story and - once again - a portrait is involved.

I felt ambiguous about Hughie's eventual good fortune. The moral is clear in that he reaps the reward for his benevolent action towards a person he believed to be a beggar. But now that he can afford to be a charming fellow, will he continue to contribute to society?


message 2: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Winn | 61 comments This story initially felt a bit too pat for me, with its seemingly clear moral. Now I'm not so sure. I think the opening that you quoted is telling, Pip. Hughie defies all these "great truths", and is rewarded. His charm and good looks are of use to him; they introduce him to the artist, and through him, the Baron. I found the Baron's character most interesting. He is having his portrait painted as a beggar, on a whim. Which led me to question if he is really rewarding Hughie's generosity, or because he likes a good story and it entertains him? Would he do the same for a beggar? The relative wealth between the characters also stood out for me. Hughie is introduced as an example of the "poor", but the real poor are not represented at all in the story, except posed as a portrait.


message 3: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
The beginning of the story reminded me of the opening to Dorian Grey. No artist in a garrett, but "come by and have a chat while I paint this portrait." I know from watching li. Lillie Langtry that Wilde's artist friends had a similar setup. However, artists I know don't want those kinds of distractions.


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments "Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. "

Actually, there is more sense in being a charming fellow if you are poor, because the wealthy can buy friends, but the poor have to earn them. There are lots of wealthy people who are absolute jerks but they're still forgiven and admired because they're rich, whereas a poor person who is a jerk just gets shunned.


message 5: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Renee wrote: "The beginning of the story reminded me of the opening to Dorian Grey. No artist in a garrett, but "come by and have a chat while I paint this portrait." I know from watching li. Lillie Langtry that..."

Funny, the one artist I know has a gallery on the main street in Laguna Beach, California. In it stands her unfinished painting. She will stand there and pain while chatting with visitors to the gallery. She also paints at home, but seems to enjoy the social interaction.


message 6: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments I am rapidly becoming a Wilde fan. While Hughie is not truly poor, he's not as wealthy as Laura's father wants him to be. He does, however, have a good and kind nature. That nature is also reflected in the millionaire. He is so taken by Hughie's kindness, he strives to learn everything about him.

The quote above about being charming as associated with financial worth says to me the poor do not have the luxury of being charming. They are too busy just trying to survive. That's not to say they may not be nice or have kind hearts. But their focus is survival instead of charming those around them. A wealthy person has the time and luxury to do what he/she wants.

While I expected a twist, I enjoyed the good guys triumph. Simplistic, absolutely. For me it's such a breath of fresh air when what we have today is reality TV where poor behavior is rewarded and kindness is trampled.


message 7: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
It must be a temperament thing. But, yeah, my artist friends get cranky if there's too much socializing. And by too much I mean holding a conversation that goes on for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Which I get if your model keeps chatting and nodding or they talk with their hands. But, no. It's play a little music and focus on the work. Take a short break once in awhile so the model doesn't cramp, then back to the work.


message 8: by Peter (last edited May 10, 2015 08:25PM) (new)

Peter "The Model Millionaire" is short, obvious, and complete with no real twists or turns, inconclusive ending or apparent multiple meanings as we have come to expect from our earlier stories. Naturally, I then asked myself what I had missed or ignored. It would be interesting to know if this brief, almost allegorical story was a filler story for a magazine, merely a rapid write off story for a few pounds.


message 9: by Diane (new)

Diane | 152 comments Peter wrote: "It would be interesting to know if this brief, almost allegorical story was a filler story for a magazine, merely a rapid write off story for a few pounds."

I've started wondering the same thing myself about all of these short stories. Maybe we are trying to read something into them where no multiple meanings were intended. Maybe he wrote them late at night with a bottle of wine and simply scribbled down whatever came to mind.


message 10: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Diane wrote: "Peter wrote: "It would be interesting to know if this brief, almost allegorical story was a filler story for a magazine, merely a rapid write off story for a few pounds."

I've started wondering th..."


I like this idea


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments I think they were just an excuse for him to amuse himself with language without worrying about making a sensible story. The MM, for example, has some very nice throw-away lines, such as the delightful "Intellectually, we must admit, he was not of much importance. He never said a brilliant or even an ill-natured thing in his life."

As though to be important one can be either brilliant or ill-natured.

But it almost read as a Aesop's Fable if Aesop had tried hard to be witty.


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