Thoughts on: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

December 10, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a fictional book now considered a classic. The story appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine on 20 June 1890 but Wilde modified the story before publishing it in 1891. See my Fun Facts Friday postabout this book to learn more.

  • 304 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; Annotated edition
  • ISBN-10: 0674057929

My rating for The Picture of Dorian Gray4

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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (official website) is a strange book. While its themes are certainly sophisticated and poignant, the book itself, I felt, was crude as if Wilde wrote it in anger.. The last chapter tied up everything together and made very astute observations.

The story, in some form I felt, is certainly relevant today and especially during the time of super-consumerism holiday season. A time which I find distasteful, stressful and quite confusing.

To Dorian Gray, his beauty and vanity become the tools which destroy his soul. He can no longer love, only lust. He can no longer be passionate, only a criminal.

While I found some of the aspects of the book disturbing (I did not like Dorian Gray one bit), the homosexuality hints didn’t bother me and I actually enjoyed the wit and sarcasm Wilde sprays around generously.

To my surprise, I discovered that this book does not have an overt moral lesson. Quite the opposite actually as Wilde goes…well… wild exposing the ugly side of humanity.

If you like characterization and settings, this book is for you. The characters in this book are absolutely astounding, well written and three dimensional. The settings are described to perfection in order to draw a complete picture, yet leave the reader with enough to imagine. If you are a beginning author who struggles with the subject of characters and/or settings, I highly recommend that you study this book.

Dorian Gray is a young man who is handsome and innocent. When an artist paints a portrait of Gray, Dorian makes a wish to always look like the portrait.

Dorian’s wish fulfils, he stays young in looks, but the portrait begins to transform into the image of his soul. Embracing the good life, Dorian’s insensitivity drives a friend to suicide and the evil desires in his heart cause him to murder. Over the next twenty years Dorian Gray, still handsome, becomes a monster underneath his skin.

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More books by Oscar Wilde

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  • Gently Mad December 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    I bought the complete works of Oscar Wilde some years ago and have read every story and essay he wrote. I recommend doing this as it gives one an insight into the development of a writer as well as a wholistic view of the author’s beliefs and what they were trying to achieve through their work.
    Having said that I think that ‘Dorian Gray’ is Wilde’s personal confession. He honestly and brutally examines himself and writes down what he sees.
    Personally, I don’t have that much courage.
    Thanks for reviewing this!

  • stacybooks December 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

    I listened to this one a few years ago and second your thoughts 😉 I was confused at times but never bored or uninterested in what Wilde was trying to say.

  • Aths December 11, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I’m still hoping to get to this book someday. I love the way Wilde has created his characters, especially the manipulative Lord Henry.

  • Ryan December 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I’m one of those who still have not read this one, but I really can’t tell you why. Maybe one day. Great review.

  • Agrippina Legit December 13, 2011 at 1:35 am

    I enjoyed this, but not as much as I’d expected to, given that I’m such an enormous fan of Wilde’s plays. I think the issue for me was that I think his greatest talent is with dialogue and plays allow for so much more of that than novels!

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