Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist impressed and infatuated by Dorian’s beauty; he believes that Dorian’s beauty is responsible for the new mood in his art as a painter. Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, and he soon is enthralled by the aristocrat’s hedonistic world view: that beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only things worth pursuing in life.
Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied amoral experiences while staying young and beautiful; all the while, his portrait ages and records every sin. (Source: Amazon)

I wanted to read this book because of the character Dorian Gray that I’d met on different books and television shows. Most memorable to me was Dorian Gray from ‘Penny Dreadful’. I always liked the self-absorbed, beautiful man that was portrayed, so I had every expectation that I would love this book.

Let me start with the positives. Oscar Wilde can engage an audience with his words even when his characters are less than desirable. At no point did I want to stop reading or put it down. I even listened to the audiobook to ensure that what I was reading was the same because so many characters have been spawned from this book.

It reads like a cautionary tale against personal growth. Dorian is so in love with himself that he nauseated me, which I think was his purpose. He does nothing in his life of any value or worth, but he looks good doing it. The secondary characters are similarly written with no depth beyond their purpose of defining hedonistic behavior. If this book was written today, I don’t know that it would have been as well received.

While I didn’t love this book, I must give credit where it’s due, it kept me engaged twice, and I learned that I could enjoy something while it checked all the boxes of things I don’t usually love about books. This is a well written book for someone who wants to explore the mindset of one-dimensional characters. For everyone else, almost every Dorian Gray I watched or read in other forms of fiction were more entertaining.

3/5

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