Wednesday, March 23, 2016
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde's only novel is a deliciously creepy one, full of the dangers of extreme vanity and always seeking out the beauty in life. My first exposure to this book was approximately a thousand years ago when my little brother's Year 6 teacher(!!!) made it assigned reading for their class. Which, WHAT?!?! Obviously, he couldn't get through it himself, so Mum read it aloud to him and I picked up bits of the story from that.
But I digress.
This is the story of Dorian Gray, a beautiful young man. His friend, Basil Hallward, paints Dorian's portrait and rapidly becomes obsessed with his subject, seeking to spend time with him at every opportunity. But once Dorian meets Basil's popular and somewhat foppish friend, Lord Henry Wolton, who believes that life should be spent pursuing beauty and enjoyment, he becomes equally infatuated and has little time for Basil.
In a moment of weakness, Dorian gives up his soul so that his portrait will grow old and ugly while he remains young and beautiful. What follows is nothing short of scandalous, both for the time of publication and today.
At the beginning of the book, Dorian is basically a blank canvas, easily influenced by those around him. It's his infatuation with Lord Henry's attitudes that ultimately leads him to give away his soul. As time passes and the loss of his soul has more and more of an impact, he becomes a deliciously evil and cold character, almost sociopathic despite having the face of an angel.
It's a book that's full of Wilde's typically beautiful writing, a hefty dose of homoeroticism, and some truly incredible characters. It's not one that I'll read regularly, but it IS one that I'll come back to over the years because it's such an astonishing piece of fiction.
Have you read it? What did you think??