Friday, May 14, 2010

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

"The storyline is absolutely amazing and rings true in some aspects of today's world." -Someone who's favorite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray

You can find the synopsis on goodreads.

First of all, I am torn about how to start this review. I have several starts in mind and can't decide on any one of them. So I will use them all. Thus the choppy review, and thus my ridiculously redundant and incorrect use of the phrase, "First of all."

First of all, anyone who claims that The Picture of Dorian Gray is their favorite novel has one of three things going for them. 1. They are incredibly educated and/ or philosophical. 2. They think they are incredibly educated and/ or philosophical. 3. They want other people to think they are incredibly educated and/ or philosophical.
Don't get me wrong, Dorian Gray was an incredibly enlightening read. But the long flowery passages philosophizing over the merits of beauty and innocence were dry enough to keep a water bottle on hand during reading.

First of all, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a book I have been wanting to get to for a long time. The premise is absolutely brilliant -- a man whose physical tells of age and sin are reserved for his portrait, while his body retains the perfection of a blessed youth. The possibilities are endless! Will he strive to keep his portrait as untainted as his own physical appearance? Or will he glory in sin and excess knowing that he will own no recrimination for his actions? Of course anyone who has read the book knows that Dorian glories in his own wickedness. That is, anyone who reads the book and understands Wilde's lengthy and often meandering paragraphs into his own personal philosophies of life and beauty and sin. I would most definitely have enjoyed the book more if Wilde had given me the opportunity to form my own opinions, but as I was too busy choking on the ideals Wilde was forcing down my throat I got quite lost. I finished the book feeling like I didn't quite agree with what Wilde was trying to say, but wildly happy that when Dorian had tried to destroy the portrait he transformed into the withered old evil man and ultimately killed himself. What an ending!

First of all, The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of those books you would like to quote without ever having to actually read. If this is the case for you, dear reader, feel free to skip the book, and enjoy and quoting any of the following.
“You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.”
“Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty.”
“Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.”
I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.”
“She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm.”
“It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But . . . it is better to be good than to be ugly.”
“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. "
As you can see Dorian has left me feeling a bit muddled. I suppose all I can really say is poor Sybil Vane. Poor poor Basil. Poor Alan Campbell. Poor Dorian. And shame on your Lord Henry Wotton, for being such a sweet talker and a terrible hypocrite.
4 stars. It is a classic after all, I can't help it that I didn't fully understand it. Or want to!

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