Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde


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Release Date: November 2008
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 253.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon. 

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An incredible Gothic novel that is one of my all time favourite books.

When Dorian has his portrait painted by the brilliant artist Basil Hallward, he realises he will never look as young and beautiful as he does in that oil canvas. He will age and die, and it will stay forever young. Enraged by this he cries out a plea, selling his soul for an eternally youthful face. So the story follows Dorian as he walks down a path of destruction that ultimately leads to his downfall.

I love this book. I’ve read it so many times and it never ceases to amaze and fascinate me. It’s such a masterpiece. For starters it’s written in such a beautiful way, the language is so beautiful and is full of Wilde’s well known flourish and wit. It’s a wonderful example of a woeful Gothic tale.

The story also continually draws you in, more and more you wish for Dorian’s redemption, that eventually he will find his way back onto the right path and move away from such destruction. I think that’s a mark of how wonderful the book is, that even when all hope is lost, you still have hope for the character.

The book was seen as incredibly shocking when it was published and I can see why. Though it doesn’t go into explicit details about the kinds of behaviour Dorian resorts to, it’s not hard to conjure up some ideas. I think the book also goes a long way to criticise the society at the time and the way we very things like beauty.

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

The characters are great, not only Dorian, but Basil and Lord Henry, forever the angel and devil on Dorian’s shoulders, attempting to steer him in the right path. Oscar Wilde truly is a master of writing. I don’t know what it is about The Picture of Dorian Gray but I return to it again and again and each time I find something new or intriguing about the text. It’s a very readable book, especially for one written such a long time ago. If you are someone who is often put off by the word classic, this is definitely one to start with. It’s not a long winded tomb of a book, but a very suspenseful and exciting story.

I love the touch of supernatural in the story and the descriptions of Dorian’s portrait as it becomes marred and disfigured have always filled me with a sense of dread. “I knew nothing but shadows and I thought them to be real.” The Picture of Dorian Gray is a book that is beloved by many, and I think that alone stands as testament to what a fascinating book it truly is.


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