Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde!
Wilde is one of my favourite authors because his works are completely different to anything I’ve read. His passion is echoed in his stories which gives them the romantic edgy quirkiness Wilde is well known for.
Born on October 16th 1854, it felt it only right to do a post for him! Today I am going to do a review of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ in light of Wilde’s birthday.
What’s it about?
Dorian Gray is a young gentleman in London who is rising to the top of the socialite scene. Basil, an artist, paints a spectacular portrait of Dorian and tries to capture every essence of his youth and charm within the portrait. However, Dorian is jealous of the portrait as art would stay forever young whilst he would have to grow old. It is this idea that creates an impossible deal where Dorian doesn’t age, but his portrait does showing every sin and every wicked act also. With the influence of Lord Henry, Dorian soon spirals into a world of cruelty and wickedness… is his fate set in paint?
“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”
I have to say, to me this book is near perfection. I adored the plot and the characters were imaginative and iconic. I doubt there will be a story written like this one ever again! The story is easy to get to grips with right from the preface. Sometimes with classic books I feel as if they take a while to get going but this book was gripping from the start!
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
I have to say, Dorian is one of those weirdly obsessive characters in literature. I don’t know if it’s because he reminds me a bit of Lord Byron, but I found myself drawn to him immediately (I’m a huge fan!- of his work I mean). Although wicked and cruel, it is not entirely clear how you feel about him. In chapter 1 I felt a little sorry for him, yet in chapter 7 I wanted to punch him repeatedly in the face. As I say, difficult. But this difficulty I feel is intended. Some of the things he says are cruel, but some philosophical ideas kind of make sense. Why he doesn’t practice what he preaches is beyond me but, then again, we wouldn’t have a marvellous book would we?
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”
Basil is the character I like the most (personality wise) in the book. I feel very sympathetic towards him and the relationship he has with Dorian and his portrait. I feel as if perhaps the preface could have been written by Basil but also Dorian as there are hints of both their personas in there. Originally I think Basil and Dorian were alike themselves but obviously that changed within the novel. Whether or not Dorian’s demeanour changed because of fate or because of Lord Henry’s influence, I am still undecided. I keep switching back and forth but something tells me that it was Dorian’s destiny all along…
Also, looking at the preface itself, I think it’s simply stunning. It’s one of those pages that you come across every now and again and can’t help but devour and appreciate in its entirety. The language is an art form in itself that just seems to flow. I am not usually a fan of prologues, prefaces etc but this one is remarkable. (As you can see I have studied it in great detail and probably know if off by heart by now!)
“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”
And now onto the ending. I found it strange some of my favourite parts of the book were the beginning and the end… I think Wilde knew exactly what he was doing with this book. Now, I won’t spoil the book for you but I will say this. The very last three sentences in this book makes the ending one of the best I have ever read. Please if you’re one of those people who sometimes read the last page of a book first (I am sometimes guilty of this) DON’T because you will spoil the book! I have to say I was so tempted to read the ending when I first read this book years ago but I am so glad I didn’t.
Of course, this book sometimes had flaws; I hated reading chapter 11 (it’s a bit long-winded and confusing) and sometimes felt the last few chapters were rushed- but that was because I only wanted more of the plot. As a classic, the writing is fantastic but sometimes it can be a bit elongated which breaks up the tension slightly. I would have also liked a bit more supernatural suspense of the novel too. But that’s just my opinion. I believe no book is perfect (well, maybe a few 😉 ) but this one came close!
“Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.”
Wilde’s writing was really before his time. I feel that had the book been written and released today as it is, would be a huge hit and top bestseller. Although his only novel, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is a classic for a reason and one that I will definitely read again and again. He is another author I would recommend looking into- his story is one that would make a great book too!
I think maybe this should be who ‘wouldn’t’ I recommend this book to as the list would be shorter! It is the perfect time of year to read this book as it’s a brilliant autumn-y read and, with the added supernatural elements, just in time for Halloween! It’s rather a short read too so if you’re toying with the idea of introducing yourself to Wilde or classics in general, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ would be a great place to begin.
Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde! You’ve written some brilliant things but ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is my favourite of your works!
This book is in the public domain so it’s free to read on kindle from amazon!
Click below to order a physical copy
As always, comment what you think!
Happy reading! Lx
P.S. This is the book I have picked for the Books Beyond The Story Book Club October read. If you want to know more about the book club and how to be a member, CLICK HERE!