Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray
By Oscar Wilde 
Release Date: 1890
Source: Own Copy
Summary: Oscar Wilde brings his enormous gifts for astute social observation and sparkling prose to The Picture of Dorian Gray, his dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. This dandy, who remains forever unchanged; petulant, hedonistic, vain, and amoral; while a painting of him ages and grows increasingly hideous with the years, has been horrifying, enchanting, obsessing, even corrupting readers for more than a hundred years.
Taking the reader in and out of London drawing rooms, to the heights of aestheticism, and to the depths of decadence, The Picture of Dorian Gray is not only a melodrama about moral corruption. Laced with bon mots and vivid depictions of upper-class refinement, it is also a fascinating look at the milieu of Wilde’s fin-de-siècle world and a manifesto of the creed “Art for Art’s Sake.”
The ever-quotable Wilde, who once delighted London with his scintillating plays, scandalized readers with this, his only novel. Upon publication, Dorian was condemned as dangerous, poisonous, stupid, vulgar, and immoral, and Wilde as a “driveling pedant.” The novel, in fact, was used against Wilde at his much-publicized trials for “gross indecency,” which led to his imprisonment and exile on the European continent. Even so, The Picture of Dorian Gray firmly established Wilde as one of the great voices of the Aesthetic movement, and endures as a classic that is as timeless as its hero.
Review: Another classic down! Yay! And I have got to say, I really enjoyed this one. It was a fast, short read that was so intriguing! I don't know if I got more out of it because it's for a class, but The Picture of Dorian Gray was definitely a great book. 
Dorian Gray has it all as a young man, and he sells his soul in order to keep his life exactly the way it is. Dorian's moral decline leads him to a life of selfishness, vanity, indulgence, and moral corruption. But as long as he's pretty, nothing else matters, right? Remaining unchanged as his portrait continues to decay and age in a locked away room, Dorian leads this life of corruption, hoping to outrun the reality his portrait is trying to portray. 

I don't know what exactly I was expecting going into this story, but I'm so pleased with how it all turned out. While the beginning was a little slow, the rest of the time was spent telling a story that was impossible to put down. Dorian's life is crazy and the ideas about life he and Henry come up with are absolutely insane. But the insanity is what made this book so good! 

During this time of pleasurable sensations and indulgence, it was so interesting to see how Wilde portrayed the complete giving into that lifestyle. As far as classics go, this is probably one of my favorites. I definitely appreciate the story as a whole as soon as I was finished, especially because of how it all ended. It was just fantastic! If you haven't yet, I recommend you go out and read this book right now! It's a classic for a reason and you're definitely missing out on one of the good ones. 



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