The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

My first exposure to Dorian Gray must have been the Far Side comic captioned "Picture of Dorian Gray and his dog," a comic which doesn't make any sense unless you at least know a little of the story. Since this is a classic, I'll go ahead and give away the secrets, because chances are you already know, and if you read the book you'll be expecting it anyway.

Basically, Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man, and his friend Basil Hallward paints a portrait of him. In a moment of horror at the thought of growing old and ugly while the painting remains beautiful, Dorian wishes that he could stay young while the painting ages. It's never explained how, but his wish comes true. In the meantime, another friend, Lord Henry, takes great pleasure in playing with Dorian's mind. It's from Lord Henry that we get a few recognizable Oscar Wilde quotes: "I love acting. It is so much more real than life." or "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." or "Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing." He delights in saying the paradoxical, and takes a totally cavalier approach to morals and sin and the like.

Dorian, under his influence, seeks as many senses and experiences as he can, becoming quite corrupt and even criminal. But he always retains his appearance of youth and innocence, while his portrait reflects the state of his soul, becoming more and more hideous. I don't think I'd ever read anything else by Wilde, and I wasn't used to his flowery language. The scenes of nobility having elaborate parties and going to operas were a little tedious, but maybe less so because of Wilde's wit and apparent distaste for ceremony.

Very creepy, easy to see why it became a classic, but not one of my favorites. It goes in the "books you ought to read" category for me.

Fed to jonathan's brain | June 25, 2005 | Comments (0)


Post a comment

Remember Me?