Book Review: The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

the_picture_of_dorian_grayWhat’s it about?

Wilde’s only novel, first published in 1890, is a brilliantly designed puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence. From its provocative Preface, challenging the reader to believe in ‘art for art’s sake’, to its sensational conclusion, the story self-consciously experiments with the notion of sin as an element of design. Yet Wilde himself underestimated the consequences of his experiment, and its capacity to outrage the Victorian establishment. Its words returned to haunt him in his court appearances in 1895, and he later recalled the ‘note of doom’ which runs like ‘a purple thread’ through its carefully crafted prose.

My Overall Review

So the read-along is now over, it’s been analysed and debated so here are my final thoughts on The Picture of Dorian Gray. To be fair, this was quite a good book to start with in terms of the online read-along experience. It’s not overly long and the language isn’t that difficult to grasp (certainly easier than Thomas Hardy). However, I was glad that I had read it on my Kindle as I used the dictionary A LOT!

It starts off ok, sets the plot quite nicely but the block pages and pages of flowery waffle are really off-putting. I did find myself losing interest in the descriptions of the garden, or the flowers or jewellery or whatever it was. Particularly in chapter 11  where I found myself totally bored  of the obsession with the ‘yellow book’, I have to admit I just skipped passages of this (I didn’t feel like I was missing out!).

Also, nothing is explicit in this book, it’s all implied. There is a homosexual infatuation theme running throughout but it’s not actually spelt out. At the time of publication homosexual acts were against the law (some punishable by death I believe) so Wilde couldn’t have openly written what is implied. I think that the whole basis of the book is to highlight the consequences of worshiping and glorifying beauty and not what’s inside!

I enjoyed taking part in the read-along, it gave me the motivation to continue but I did feel a little under pressure as the others in the group read really quickly and I was lagging behind slightly due to other commitments. I think would like to take part in another online read-along but only if I more available time so I didn’t feel so rushed as I could have put more a bit more thought into my answers. It’s interesting to read the other answers in conjuction with your own and think oh yeah, I hadn’t thought of that etc

There are an abundance of clever witty quotes in the book, too many to mention in fact, but these are a couple of my favourites:

You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.

Spoken by Lord Henry to Dorian before the start of Dorian’s downfall – Dorian then goes on to commit such sins!

Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing

I like this quote because I still think its relevant now, lots of Wilde’s words and phrases could have been written yesterday – very clever!

Overall I’m just glad I’ve read it and crossed it off my list 🙂

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