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Somewhat distinct from his plays, "Dorian Gray" is nevertheless one of Oscar Wilde's most iconic texts, and for good reason. Despite the supernatural premise - the title character possesses a portrait that ages instead of himself - the book is very much focused on the real dramas of human interaction. A scathing commentary on love, the plot has a number of shocking moments, and is well-paced to keep you turning pages. Some of the references are now outdated (and may be difficult to understand), since Wilde was primarily concerned with satirising his own day and age, but there are plenty of those characteristic truisms about human nature to give you a sense of what the author was going for. Some of the subject matter might be troubling for young teens, but there's nothing explicit or graphic in there. It's perfect to read over the course of a week or so, and keeps you thinking even after you've put it down. A definite classic!
I actually (controversially) picked this book up having watched the recent film adaptation and really enjoying it. Normally one not to want to watch a film and read a book of the same story, this was a bit of a break from habit for me but I'm glad I made it.
The story revolves around a young man named Dorian (funnily enough) and his journey of self-discovery through late nineteenth century London. Early in the novel he meets Basil Hallward and Lord Henry, two key characters who go on to shape his transformation; Basil, the painter, creates a portrait of Dorian so beautiful and youthful-looking that Dorian describes his envy of the portrait, which will be beautiful forever, and wishing the portrait could age and not he.
The plot is fast paced, holding the readers interest with ease, but it is also dense with meaning and symbolism, particularly the much-disputed homoerotic and/or pederastic undertones of the relationships between the men. The exploration of aestheticism and hedonism are fascinating, particularly in the context of modern day society and differing schemes of morality now compared to when the book was initially written.
In all honesty, I tend to find some of the books I read in university rather boring, however Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray was one of those novels that is so enjoyable that it reminds me why I am doing the course. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a beautifully written novel with brilliantly dark themes woven into it. Wilde portrays themes of beauty, youth, art, narcissism, hedonism, the soul and the idea of influence and corruption in his novel, and they all work together to create an amazingly thought-provoking novel that evokes a strong emotional response within the reader.
The characters created by Wilde are also incredibly fascinating. It seems that Wilde aims to have them appear as shallow and vain, yet there are many points where the reader is charmed and impressed by the characters within this novel. Lord Henry Wotton is one character that is extremely fascinating. Although he could be said to be rather long-winded, his speeches are very intriguing, and he has some incredibly interesting philosophies. Dorian Gray is also fantastic to read about. The way he changes throughout the course of the novel is mesmerising to read about.
All in all, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel so well written that it is almost poetic, conveying several messages to us about the ideas mentioned above in a very eloquent way. It is a novel that leaves you thinking well after you've finished it. I would definitely recommend it to fans of Victorian literature, or those looking to expand their reading.
It's one of the original suspense novels, the hero is also the villian but ultimately which will he turn out to be? The picture, the need to stay young, is everyone's desire are we not so far removed, it's that within us that keeps us hooked until the end.
I decided to read this book whilst I was on holiday thinking it would be a lighthearted story by Oscar Wilde. I had not read any Oscar Wilde before but thought he wrote mainly lighthearted novels and plays.
I was surprised to read a book about human nature and how decisions can affect you in a very dark and mysterious way.
I had an image in my head that Dorian Gray would be a literary hero however I found him dark, mysterious and quite hideous. It was a great reflection on nature versus nurture and how we can hide our most treacherous secrets form the world but ultimately they will come back and hurt us completely.
All the characters are beautifully written and the character of Dorian Gray is described up to a point leaving your imagination to take hold of the dark paces he will go to.
It is an intriguing read and I enjoyed the language used and descriptive power of Oscar Wilde.