Read: November 2017
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”.
When Basil Hallward paints the portrait of young handsome Dorian Gray, he falls prey to his dazzling beauty. Afraid that his youth and looks will waste away, Dorian expresses a wish that his portrait, and not he, will age and fade over time. His wish is granted, and over the ensuing years, Dorian indulges in every kind of vice and pleasure, never aging nor disfiguring. Only his portrait, hidden to the world, bears the marks of his actions, and as his soul grows ever more wasted and corrupted, devastating consequences lie in wait.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is an exploration of the purpose of art, the superficial nature of youth and beauty, and the conflict between morality and intemperance. First published in its complete, uncensored form in 1891, it is Oscar Wilde’s only novel.
I was under the impression that I had already read this book in university but as I started reading it, I didn’t remember anything about it so this was a brand new classic read to me! I picked this up because Halloween was coming and I wanted a good Gothic read for the occasion. It was my first time delving into Oscar Wilde’s work and I really liked how accessible the writing was. It was perfectly haunting and I loved the idea of almost magic coming over a picture and the picture growing old while the real life portrait sitter did not.
Even though this book is pretty short at just over 200 pages, I felt like I slogged through it a bit while reading. It took me at least a good hour and a half to read 30 pages so it took me a while to get through, but even though it was a slower read, that’s something I’ve come to realize while reading classics, and it really didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. I’ve also learned that Gothic horror doesn’t really jump out as I’M TRYING TO SCARE YOU but instead it’s almost minimalist in the scares and I personally didn’t feel like there should have been more, though I would’ve loved more of the main character’s dissent into madness. At any rate, I loved his relationship with the portrait and the “magic” behind it.
My only real complaint about the story is about Lord Henry who was QUITE the character. I felt like he had so many opinions and had great long paragraphs of them to put upon Dorian that he was quite an irritating character. I loved Dorian and Basil but I almost felt like had this been real life, Lord Henry wouldn’t have gotten through a 10 minute speech whenever he had a reply to a conversation without someone interrupting him. But that’s probably just me.
I really enjoyed this story and I’m almost sad that this was Oscar Wilde’s only novel because I would’ve loved to read more of his stories. This will definitely be one I recommend when the Halloween season rolls around again. It’s the perfect book to read in front of a roaring fire in the evening!
What did you think of this book? Do you have any Gothic horror books to recommend?