Nyx Book Reviews

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Reading Classics: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I read this book as part of the Classics Club Challenge – I challenged myself to read fifty classics picked by me in the next three years. To find out more, you can see my list or visit the Classics Club website.

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
First Publication: 1890

Project Gutenberg The Picture of Dorian Gray (free download)
The Book Depository (€2.29 / $2.98)

To be honest I’m not even near eloquent enough to do The Picture of Dorian Gray justice. It is a wonderful book containing spot-on descriptions and commentary of life of the upper class during the nineteenth century.

Unspoiled and pure Dorian Gray becomes acquainted with Lord Henry through painter Basil Hallward. The Picture of Dorian Gray describes Dorian’s journey into the darkest side of his soul under the influence of Lord Henry.

I knew the story of The Picture of Dorian Gray vaguely, but the book turned out to be completely different from what I was expecting. Instead of the picture, that shows the ageing and degradation of Dorian, the thoughts and feelings of Dorian and conversations with Lord Henry are the focus of the story.

For me the most interesting character was Lord Henry. He is intentionally cross and incorrect, and has amazingly crooked logic that makes sense within itself. His dialogue shows that Mr Wilde put a lot of thought in this book, and has created a whole system of thought that’s corrupt and damaging as hell. It could be a bit much at times though, and there is very little action going on, just dialogue.

Basil, the painter, was my favourite character. He is the easiest to relate too and seems to be the most normal person in the book. It’s also interesting that he’s pretty much the only main character that is not part of London’s high society. I very much enjoyed the parts he was in, and to see Dorian through his eyes.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is an amazingly written book that consists mostly of dialogue, rhetoric and descriptions. Seekers of action won’t find it here – people that like to think of issues and morals will find some very interesting food for thought in this book.

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