|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Start Date: July 6, 2011
Finished: July 10, 2011 (5 days)
Where Found: Book Depot
Why Read: On my TBR list; I also loved Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest
Read For: Back to the Classics Challenge (6/8)
Summary: In a high society London town, a young, narcissistic man obsessed with youth and influenced by his peers becomes enamoured with materialism, beauty, and desire as his painted portrait ages and he remains young in appearance and demeanor.
First of all, how smokin' is that cover?! Dorian Gray has a Johnny Depp look going on :D
Having read The Importance of Being Earnest for a 19th century lit course several years ago and absolutely loving it, I have been sadly ignoring Oscar Wilde since then. The reason probably is based on the fact that Wilde only wrote one novel (this one) and the rest of his writing career is made up of short stories and plays. *Sigh* Not to knock those genres (there is always a time & place for them) but it's sad that a naturalized writer like Wilde only wrote a single novel and so many other writers had the fortune of churning out several classics in a single career. Perhaps this is also part of the reason why The Picture of Dorian Gray is so well-regarded.
The story is a moralistic fairy tale for adults set in stuffy, social-butterfly laden England where Henry, a pleasant but often dryly cynical royal, and his compadre, Basil, a painter whose personality is not as charming as his art, encounter the latest man to sit for a portrait: Dorian Gray. Everyone is immediately drawn to his youthful naivety, his wandering nature, his little-boy-lost lack of purpose, and most strikingly, his handsomeness. Brewing inside Dorian is a deep resentment of a future in which his looks will fade and he will have very little left to show for himself. Hence, the moral dilemma of the story begins as Dorian loses control of his emotional faculties while retaining his youthful looks and a dangerous psychopathic mentality.
Wilde's writing, like in Earnest, has a rich vocabulary, witty style, and a dry, satirical slant on British society, but remains remarkably accessible amongst 19th century classics, keeping a modern sensibility that appeals equally to 21st century readers. While sometimes meandering, especially in a multi-page description of Dorian's acquired wealth of jewels and tapestries, The Picture of Dorian Gray is addictive, enjoyable, and by far one of the best classics I've read in recent years.
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend