The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Review

The Picture of Dorian Gray is by the author Oscar Wilde and was published in 1890. The novel is philosophical fiction and discusses issues such as the purpose of art. A short novel, its page chapters are in roman numerals and are very short. The Picture of Dorian Gray was Oscar Wilde’s only novel and was critical of Victorian society at the time. In the preface, Oscar Wilde remarks “all art is quite useless” because he didn’t believe that art needed to be educational or used for a moral purpose. There are also discussions of vanity and the importance of being youthful as the main character, Dorian Gray, makes a wish that he would not age.

Although Dorian Gray does not age, the portrait ages rapidly into an unattractive, horrifying reflection of Dorian Gray on the inside, although on the outside he is handsome and youthful. It is written in a third person narrative and the main character is Dorian Gray. The first character introduced is Basil Hallward and Lord Henry, who befriends Dorian and influences him negatively. Basil paints a picture of Dorian Gray and gives it to him, but Dorian Gray falls in love with the picture, similar to the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology and stops aging. His vanity has a negative affect on those around him and he loses many friends, he friends he makes are based on their attractiveness and he becomes very unhappy. The story culminates with him stabbing the portrait.

 “Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses” -Lord Henry

 Another theme of the novel is the importance of beauty and the regular references to Narcissus at the beginning. Durian Gray is described as being incredibly attractive and beautiful so he gets a lot of attention. He also mentions that he feels jealous of his own portrait Basil paints of him, because he will age whereas the portrait will not. 

After being written, The Picture of Dorian Gray had about 500 pages removed by an editor, who believed it was too immoral. Oscar Wilde seemingly responds to this censorship in his preface “there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”

“The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of the caliban seeing his own face in a glass.” – Oscar Wilde

Links

Plot overview of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

http://m.sparknotes.com/lit/doriangray/summary.html

Narcissus

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Narcissus-Greek-mythology

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August Book Haul

We’re now in August and I was recently walking along the high street when I approached a small book shop. I went inside and picked up a few more books that were on sale. This is going to be a small break from my 2017 reading list that I will link below. I will finish Dracula and then begin reading the new books I have bought because they are not as long.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This is described on the blurb as an “unconventional ghost story” it was written by an American author, who later acquired British citizenship. He Is a key figure of 19th century literary realism. The book was published in 1898 and is a horror and gothic fiction. It is open to different interpretations.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This has been on my reading list for a while as I have heard about it for several years and I have seen the film released in 2009 that is based on the book. This is the first book I will have ever read by Oscar Wilde and I am looking forward to reading one of his most popular works. Published in 1890, The picture of Dorian Gray caused outrage in the Victorian era for its portrayal of London life.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I have heard of Harper Lee’s classic novel numerous times and it explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South in the 1930’s. It concerns the prejudice, violence and hypocrisy of a town in Southern America.

The Hobbit by J.R.Tolkien

This is a modern classic and is also the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, the popular fantasy novels. In the blurb it is described as ‘One of the best-loved children’s books of modern times’ and I think it will be similar to Narnia which I really enjoyed. Published in 1937, it is still very popular. I also noticed that there are lots of adaptions for stage, screen, radio and video games.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is a modern fantasy novel written in 2011 that was long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. It is a fantasy novel set in Victorian London and is about a fictional circus that only appears at night, and disappears in the daytime. It is slow-moving, but once the story gets underway it could be an interesting read.

 

Links

Ban on reading To Kill a Mockingbird in schools in Virginia

‘To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn banned from Virginia schools for racism’

The reading list for 2017

2017 reading list

Dorian Gray film review

Dorian Gray (2009) film review