Sunday, May 14, 2017

*Review* The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Genre: Classics
Published: June 20, 1890
Pages: 254


Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”


Thanks to Audiofile's free summer audiobook program, I listened to the audiobook version of this for free. The narrator's voice was pleasant, although it wasn't particularly great for the female voices, but they didn't play a major role in the story, so it wasn't that big of a deal for me. It was certainly not bad enough for me to recommend not listening to the audiobook. 

As a sometimes literary snob, this book has been on my radar for quite a while, but I just never got around to reading it until now. And I really wish that I'd read it sooner. While it has the somewhat boring societal grace details that one expects to find in a book about nobility at the end of the nineteenth century, it also has a very intriguing paranormal aspect to it through the portrait. 

The story provided a lot of room for speculation. I found myself wondering how different Dorian Gray's life would have been if certain aspects of the story had gone differently. I imagine he would have led a much more virtuous life if only Sybil Vain had not killed herself before he got the chance to make amends for instance, which would have been a very different book (and far less interesting honestly.) But that wasn't the only area that led to speculation (I just won't discuss the others because that would be too many spoilers, even for a book that's been out for over a century.) 

I found myself more drawn into the story than I thought I would be, and somehow I was even surprised by the ending, I probably shouldn't have been, but I was. 

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it to fans of Edgar Allen Poe's writing for sure, and of course other literary snobs that have yet to tackle it. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain, and died in poverty.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book. And I have just discovered Edgar Allen Poe myself.