intraspace: the review lounge

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Picture of Dorian Gray

After reading almost exclusively non fiction this year I decided it was time to start reading some fiction. I had recently read about Oscar Wilde's the Picture of Dorian Gray in several places so thought this may be a good place to start.

The Picture of Dorian Gray tells the story of an extremely good looking young man who make a pact that enables him to keep his youthful looks throughout his life. Instead of him growing older the effects of his life and the effects of his sin are not seen in his body but in a portrait of himself.

Dorian under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton enters into a double life. While maintaining a respectable reputation within society he secretly begins a lifestyle in search of endless pleasures regardless of the cost. With each step further into a depraved life the only outward sign is the painting (that is carefully hidden in his house)becomes more and more aged and marred.

Wilde does have a way with words and their is some very clever and witty writing. At times I feel he gets a bit carried away with philosophical discussion between Lord Henry and Dorian. While some of these are quite amusing as Henry explains his hedonistic view on life, at times they are rather drawn out.

Overall this is a fascinating tale that looks at human nature, sin and the cost of living simply to pleasure oneself.

If anyone is looking to read this I highly recommend getting the Penguin Classic edition as it also includes some interesting articles written about how the book was received when it was released in the late 1800's

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