Review ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

  • Author: Oscar Wilde
  • Publishing Year: 1891
  • Publisher (my version): The Golden Heritage series (Blitz Edition 1993)
  • Number of Pages: 167
  • My rating: 2.5/5


Every year I use the Christmas period to read some classic stories. Last year I read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Lewis Carroll’s Adventures in Wonderland. This year I was invited to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, in a read along (with @what…)

I knew the story before I read it because of a lot of other media that has used this particular tale as a basis (or part of) for their story. The one popping up immediately in my head is ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ by Alan Moore (and its movie adaptation), a great graphic novel, well worth reading!

Another tip for those who have loved reading this book, The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes! This is a story about the people that lived during the time (end of 19th, early 20th century) when Oscar Wilde lived and this book shows the reader what being a dandy was all about! It also tells all about Oscar Wilde himself!

As for ‘Dorian Gray’, well I was surprised how much I actually didn’t like it, to be completely honest!

The reasons for that sentiment being:

  1. It took a long time in the story for something to actually happen. We get a lot of side information about the character Dorian Gray and his friend Henry Wotton (Harry for his friends) and because of that the pace of the story is really slow. Also apart from the painter of Dorian’s portrait, Basil Hallward, there is not one real character I could sympathise with!
  2. The second time this year I read a classic (The Turn of the Screw being the other one) where its language felt so outdated (no surprise, of course) which is the reason it took me way too long to finish the book, even pushing me into a reading slump (almost!)
  3. My expectations were wrong! Even though I knew about Dorian Gray, I expected him to be gay (even though I should know that was impossible because of the day and age it was written in, which made it impossible for Wilde to write about a lovestory between two men, but I expected a ways around that problem)… this being said… there are a lot of discussions and conversations, especially between Dorian, Basil and Henry, that give off a vibe where Basil feels jealousy for the friendship the other two have!

Apart from these, there is a moral to the story where beauty isn’t everything, where staying young and doing everything possible to keep looking like a youngster is just impossible, no matter what you do! In this story it goes to extremes, but comparing to what people in present day do to stay young or to keep looking like a twenty-something man or woman… is it all really worth it? Do we really need to look like when we were twenty or thirty years old? Is plastic surgery or Botox or any other means really necessary?

I give the book a 2.5 stars (out of 5)… I expected more (probably been too influenced by Alan Moore in a way) but I was let down by it in many ways!

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