The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
completed November 2011
The Picture of Dorian Gray centers around Dorian Gray. Shocking, right? Basil Howard, a talented artist paints a portrait of Dorian. Lord Henry happens to visit during one of these sittings and Dorian is fascinated by Lord Henry's hedonistic lifestyle. Upon completion of the painting Dorian expresses that he would trade his soul for the painting to take the signs of his aging so that he could forever remain in his current state of beauty. His wish is granted.
The hedonism espoused by Lord Henry inspires Dorian to a life of narcissism and debauchery. People find difficulty reconciling Dorian's outward appearance with the whispering they hear about his personal life. It's thought-provoking to consider the affect of that kind of lifestyle. It seemed to snowball for Dorian. His depravity started out simple until he got to the point where nothing was unthinkable. Once someone goes down that road, how easy is it to go back to respectability? Dorian tried, and it seemed like he could, but inside he hadn't changed. He couldn't seem to evoke any true concern for anyone outside of himself.
I can't pretend that I understand all or even a small amount of what Wilde meant by this book. I found it dark and intriguing. Despite this being a novella of less than two hundred pages, it's a dense read. It took much longer for me to read than expected, but I did really enjoyed it (with the exception of one chapter detailing tapestries and jewels). Wilde's writing is superb, and as such, there are no throw away lines. It was a slow read for me as it took time to digest almost nearly every sentence. I look forward to reading this one again to hopefully pick up more insight into its meaning.
Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray? What did you think? Any insights you'd like to share?