June 26, 2011

Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

About: Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is one of his most popular works. Written in Wilde's characteristically dazzling manner, full of stinging epigrams and shrewd observations, the tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused something of a scandal when it first appeared in 1890. Wilde was attacked for his decadence and corrupting influence, and a few years later the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde's homosexual liaisons, trials that resulted in his imprisonment. Of the book's value as 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." (from goodreads.com)

Review: First off I have to say every time Wilde would described Dorian, I literally fell in love. I do believe I have a mad crush on Dorian Gray, sinfulness and all. I got this book from a used bookstore after seeing the British version movie. It was a fluke I happen to find it, hard cover, vintage, I had to have it. So I started this book awhile ago, a book I should have finished in weeks took me months. I've been busy I swear. The book starts off with Basil and Lord Henry exchanging conversation about this new boy Dorian. You meet him, you like him, but it's Lord Henry and his ideas that make Dorian who he is. Lord Henry's voice is throughout the book more than Dorian's. All his ideals, thought, passions, ways of life are torn from this little book Lord Henry gives Dorian. After Dorian wishes for his youth and is granted it through the picture the book becomes vague. Not as in detail, but I guess I wanted to know more about the sins Dorian was getting into and Wilde doesn't spell things out, he leaves a lot unknown. For example, when Dorian needs the scientist to clean up a body, we never do find out how Dorian blackmails him into helping him. It will forever bother me. He vaguely talks all the other scandalous things he does. Sibyl Vane is the main things we read about, maybe because we find out Dorian really doesn't have a heart anymore. The only time we read about Dorian actually going on one of his nightclub adventures, he runs into James Vane at an opium den, and after that Dorian is nothing but nerves. In a strange way like to believe Dorian was out and about, smoking opium, drinking excessively, sleeping with Duchesses. I'm not sure why but I liked that aspect of the book, that Dorian could do anything and his perfect boyish, innocent face would not change. Of course in the end he wanted to be good, and did only what he could to do so. I enjoyed Lord Henry, more than anything. I enjoyed his attitude and way about him. He was who he was and didn't care who knew. Dorian tried to hide a lot of it. Also I liked how Dorian went for beauty, anything aesthetically pleasing to any of the senses. There is a lengthy chapter solely to describe the different art, rugs, statues Dorian has collected through the years. Over all It's a classic and a must read for everyone. If you're a quick reader, shouldn't take more than a week.

(Side Not Fact: There is this guy who has come into my work a couple times and his name is Dorrin, and he is exactly how I imagine Dorian, basically he's gorgeous, I want to marry him.)

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