Thursday, 7 December 2017

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Under the influence of a captivating aristocrat, Dorian Gray sells his soul in exchange for prolonged youth and vitality. Part of the deal is that a full-length portrait of Dorian will age and record his sins, whereas he remains unblemished. 

"Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic."

Picking one quote from this book was like being asked to read just one book for the rest of your life - nigh-on impossible. I hadn't even thought about how difficult it would be until Tes (instagram @paperbackbones) pointed this out and then I got sucked into a vortex of reading different Wilde quotes online... that man was a goddamn genius.

This book has achieved a significant title in my reading life; the title of "Favourite Classic". It totally blew me away. To be honest, I only vaguely knew the storyline before picking this one up having encountered Dorian Gray in the TV show Penny Dreadful, but not the specific story that Wilde had created. I didn't think it would be so dark, so I was pleasantly surprised. The writing itself was just another level, quite possibly the most beautiful writing that I've had the pleasure of reading. As my buddy reader Abbie (instagram @ab_reads) and I discussed with each other, we quickly recognised so many quotes that are widely known and can easily be found on places like Pinterest.

The three main characters are really interesting, it seems to be that Dorian Gray represents a "normal person," Lord Henry is the bad influence, and Basil is the voice of reason. Dorian Gray himself is incredibly intriguing, at the beginning he is presented as the perfect specimen, and he is vain, but this vanity is only worsened following conversations with Lord Henry wherein he reminds Dorian that his favourable characteristics won't last forever. He wishes that he could forever resemble the picture of youth that Basil has captured in his painting, which is where things begin to go downhill...

Although Dorian is indeed captivating, I felt like a lot of my attention was actually placed on Lord Henry. He is the standout character from this story for me. His sass, his insights, his wit, his intelligence, it felt like Lord Henry was a representation of Oscar Wilde himself. And Dorian quickly falls under his spell. It's also interesting that although Lord Henry speaks of pursuing immoral behaviour, he himself never partakes in any. Perhaps towards the end of the book, he may lose some of his likability for other readers, but I still was a fan (I can't help but smile at his insights).

I honestly could talk about this book forever and the different themes that are found within, but this is not school and I'm not trying to achieve extra credit, so I'll keep those thoughts to myself! Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this classic and I'm particularly thankful that my boyfriend bought this book for me, as otherwise I'm not sure I ever would have picked it up. And now he'll be smug *rolls eyes*  But this gets all the stars!! I loved it!


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