Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

The Picture  of Dorian Gray has a really cool premise.  An attractive young man, lamenting that age will rob him of his beauty and youth, wishes that the newly painted portrait of himself were the one to age, and that he himself would retain his youth.  His wish comes true.  Not only does his picture take on the slow ravages of age; it also takes on all his sins and debauchery, growing uglier and uglier with evil.  But he retains his pure-faced youthful innocence.  The for yourself.  

I love the idea of it, and the writing is very good.  

My main problem is about two thirds of the way through, when Wilde starts in on the long, detailed descriptions of the jewels Dorian collected and the tapestries his studied and long lists of people and historical/mythological references I didn’t care enough about to research.  Oh, and a whole poem in French.  This goes on for pages and pages.  I know what Wilde was trying to do.  It just didn’t work for me.  There were a few other repetitive bits that could have been trimmed.

Otherwise, it was an interesting and enjoyable read.  

Dorian Gray's friend, Lord Henry, is perhaps the star of the book, and I heard that he might be modeled on the author himself.    His speech is amusing and often thought provoking, with some killer lines and witty repartee, but it’s so unrelentingly clever that it’s a little hard to believe.  Still, it's fun to read.

The beginning and end were engrossing (and usually I’m a person who likes middles most), and the quotable lines were many.

I recommend it.  And the e-book of The Picture of Dorian Gray is currently free on Amazon.  Enjoy!

My rating:  4 stars

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