photo credit (Oscar Wilde)
Dorian Gray is a young man with a perfect beauty. His friend (and painter), Basil Hallward is fascinated with him because his beauty became his inspiration for his art. He does a portrait of Dorian Gray which is the best work he has ever done. Dorian soon meets Lord Henry, a friend of Basil’s. Lord Henry tells him some theories about youth which make Dorian become jealous of his own picture because once finished, the painting will always stay the same, this perfect beauty, whereas Gray is going to lose his youthful beauty. Dorian wishes the painting would get old instead of him and this is what is going to happen…
When I arrived in Ireland I decided I will definitely read The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I always wanted to read this book and I’m glad I waited until now because when I’m in France I always buy the french version of the books. Thanks to Dorian Gray, he makes me realize it’s much better in English (and easy to read by the way). The style of Wilde is impressive, full of lyricism, aphorisms, and his cynicism… All is refined. When I was reading the book I felt that on each page there was a new a sentence so beautiful that it could make a quote of the best known ! This is what I call a masterpiece.
Oscar Wilde’s novel is divided, in my opinion, in three parts : the creation of the painting, the first vice of Gray, and finally his descent into hell. My favorite is the last one. The modification of Gray’s soul is fascinating. The “cute” and flat Dorian Gray we meet at the beginning disappears slowly and we soon discover a new side to him, which is so gloomy that his true personality stands out even more. Everything is sophisticated, even the contrast between the deceptive beauty of its appearance and the darkness of his soul.
Also, it’s crazy when we realize all the book is based on a painting, which is a visual support. Yet, it’s only with words that Wilde enabled us to create an idea of what the painting is in our minds.
The book makes you think about fascination, the art of moral, Good and Wrong, love, temptation, the attraction of people to Beauty, but also the traps of perfection. Those are important issues to deal with and the book almost reaches some philosophical points, my reading reminded me of my philosophy courses on Plato and his theory of Beauty.
In short, a really good and accessible classic that I recommend to all lovers of Literature.
For the anecdote… In 1890, when the book was published, it was considered like immoral, people from its time have reproached to Wilde his monstrous character. Also, the version read by many has also several censored passages which have only been published two years ago. I found that quite funny because the author himself says something in the book which is a very good response to all criticism received : “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” Well done, Wilde !