3 Apr 2015

Reread 2015: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

First published: 1891
Country of Origin: Britain
Pages: 253
Format: Paperback | Purchased

Summary (from GoodReads): The Picture of Dorian Gray was a succès de scandale. Early readers were shocked by its hints at unspeakable sins and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895. Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, where he is able to indulge his desires while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only Dorian's picture bears the traces of his decadence. A knowing account of a secret life and an analysis of the darker side of late Victorian society. The Picture of Dorian Gray offers a disturbing portrait of an individual coming face to face with the reality of his soul.

 I first read The Picture of Dorian Gray when I was at uni. Wilde was one of those authors/playwrights that I've heard about, but never read his works. The Co-Op Bookshop had a sale on classics, so when I was purchasing my textbooks, I picked up a few classics I had on my TBR list as well! Although I've only read this one a handful of times, I'm always blown away by Wilde's prose and his gift for dialogue.
I read this as part of Brain Soup Goes Gilmore.
 The one event that sticks out in my mind is when James Vane meets Dorian Gray by chance and swears to kill Dorian because it was Dorian's rejection of Sibyl that caused her to take her life, and Dorian telling James to look at him in the light because he has not aged a day in twenty years. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a study of hedonism, selfishness, vanity and shallowness, and this is the event that kind of... epitomises that for me. Also, Dorian's death. It's just creepy.

 I'd forgotten how much of a psychological horror story this book is. There are moments of comedic relief thrown in - Wilde has a way of putting in witty, biting one liners at just the right moment - but mostly I walked away from this book feeling depressed and slightly horrified.  I think it's because this novel came across as a personal novel as well - I had familiarised myself Oscar Wilde before my reread, and subsequently read this as a novel about the naivete of youth.

 Yes, most definitely.

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