The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Picture of Dorian Gray by
Publisher: Ward Lock & Co
Pages: 272
Rating: 4/5

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

Well, what is there to say? A classic, and the first Wilde-book I have read. Not only is it a classic, but I had been told it was one of the classics that stands the test of time very well. I found this to be partially true. A lot of the time, especially during the first half of the book, I found myself getting a bit bored. Sure, there were a lot of thoughtful quotes, and a lot of “deep” things are said. Keeping in mind that this was written and published in the eighteen hundreds, the book must have been extremely progressive at the time, and a lot of things are said which one can only imagine would have been very controversial. However, I’m reading this book in 2012, and that is how I am judging it. Fortunately, as the story progresses, the story itself takes more of the focus, and I found myself going back to taking an interest in it. Overall the book pretty much matched my expectations, and I’d say it is well worth a read. It’s entertaining enough to be worth it, and of course, when one finds onself in sophisticated, educated company one can be one of those people who say “Why, yes. Of course I’ve read The Picture of Dorian Gray. Who hasn’t?”

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