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.”
When I saw this book on my Kindle, I didn’t remember purchasing it, and I had no idea what the story was about. I only knew that it was a classic and decided to begin, and off I was sent, into a world with painters, house servants, scandals, and philosophical discussion.
The book instantly sucked me in and I loved (most) every minute of it. There were some parts that were long and mostly dialogue about society and what being a beautiful person means to the rest of the world. I didn’t always fully understand everything Lord Henry was gabbing on about, but I understood how Basil felt most of the way, so I really felt like I was experiencing his life.
I’m very glad I went into reading this without knowing anything, because I was surprised by all of the events, and mesmerized by the mechanics of the story and the writing. I haven’t read much of Oscar Wilde, but I would recommend this to anyone starting to read his work.
Wilde blends fantasy and reality seamlessly in this tale, and the world and characters felt very close to me when I was reading it. I felt frustrated throughout the book, wishing Basil would do the opposite of what he did, and I sympathized more and more with the people around him. The ending is definitely a great one – the perfect balance of mystery and closure.
Recently, I’ve been reading more classic literature because I feel like I am in a better place to understand it and get a lot out of it, and if you are in the same place as me, this is a great book to pick up. You won’t be able to put it down once the events start unfolding.