Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Genre: Psychological/Classic Fiction
Length: 288 pgs

Well. I finally completed reading this book. This isn’t to say that reading Dorian Gray was tedious, it’s just that with school and life getting in the way, I only had time to read during the twenty minutes I had between leaving my apartment and waiting for my folklore class to begin. Anyway, there is a reason that The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a classic. Wilde’s turn of phrase about society and many of society’s hypocritical rules/behaviors often caught me laughing in surprise and recognition. He tends to be a little verbose in terms of description, but he is a contemporary of Victorian literature, so I forgive him that. And then, Wilde is the only playwright yet who made me laugh out loud when reading his play (excusing bonny Shakespeare, of course), so he deserves snaps and props.

Excerpts:
pg 73 – It often happens that the real tragedies in life occur in such an inartistic manner that they hurt us by their crude biolence, their absolute incoherence, their absurd want of meaning, their entire lack of style. They affect us as vulgarity affects us. They give us an impression of sheer brute force, and we revolt against that.

pg 104 – Society, civilized society at least, is never very ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating. It feels instinctively that manners are of more importance than morals, and, in its opinion, the highest respectability is of much less value than the possession of a good chef.

pg 118 – Youth smiles without any reason. It is one of its chiefest charms.

pg 131 – When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.

pg 135 – the moon hung low in the sky like a yellow skull.

pg 139 – Each man lived his own life, and paid his own price for living it. The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault. One had to pay over and over again, indeed. In her dealings with men Destiny never closed her accounts.

pg 154 – There are only two ways by which man can reach [civilization]. One is by being cultured, the other by being corrupt.

pg 156 – But then one regrets the loss even of one’s worst habits. Perhaps one regrets them the most. They are such an essential part of one’s personality.

Why should you read this book?
Well, if you ever want to sound knowledgeable and moderately well-read, you can quote the many little satirical comments characters such as Lord Henry and Dorian Gray say throughout the book. Haha no, in terms of writing, Dorian Gray is an excellent example of getting into a character’s head and keeping it interesting. Watching a character fall from good graces and living with the consequences. Dorian Gray is slightly similar to The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, in that respect. (The Count of Monte Cristo is also an excellent book and one you must read. If at all possible, find the unabridged copy…I’m still a little bitter that I didn’t realize I’d bought the abridged version.)

Good book to read on an overcast day when one wants to be pensive yet entertained, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a quick read as long as you have the time to devote to reading. I also suggest you check out the 1940’s movie version with a young Angela Lansbury (not only is she gorgeous, but she sings–now you have an inkling that she did much more than the voice for Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast.)