|Nomadic SA Chick||
Publisher: Random House
Page Count: 254
Fiction Genre: Horror, Classics, Gothic
Dates Read: April 15-18, 2015
Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it ﬁrst appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting inﬂuence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”
After years of recommendations from my sister, who declares that this is her favorite book, I finally decided to pick this one up. Though I already knew the secret and the ending (nerd warning: I kind of got a spoiler from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), I wasn't feeling great about this. Maybe it was because I knew the big plot twists, or maybe it is because classical books no longer hold my attention the way they once did. Thankfully I found my fears to be unjustified. This was an excellent book. I found it to be a perfect reflection on how obsessed society is (and always has been) with vanity. How this obsession can destroy a person, and no matter how attractive a person may be on the outside, it can never make up for the ugliness they hide inside. Wilde was a very smart man who was well ahead of his time. Of the three main characters, Basil, Dorian, and Harry, Basil is the only one with any redeemable qualities. A perfect reflection of a person who can see and appreciate beauty in anything, but can also see the darkness that hides underneath it. Though I could not find any likability in Dorian, I felt loads of pity for him. He tried so hard to be good, but was totally unwilling to take any personal accountability for his actions, blaming it on Harry and Basil. I'm convinced that Harry may be Wilde's depiction of the devil, filled with all of his temptations and his persistent encouragement of Dorian's behaviors. Even with all of these flaws in these characters, I still loved this book, and I can't believe I had avoided it for so long.
I give this a 4 out of 5.