By Maasi Wajo
Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Genre: Philosophical Fiction
Horror has never been a genre that has appealed to me much, perhaps with the exception of Dracula—That masterpiece. But The Picture of Dorian Gray has been one book that has stayed with me ever since I first got around to reading it.
This novel is loved by many for being one of the greatest studies in human shallowness, vanity, casual cruelty and hedonistic selfishness— though hated by perhaps as many for the very same characteristics. Wilde’s innumerable notorious remarks about women in it might also not sit well with the women of today. Case in point, “Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.” !!
This is undoubtedly a very difficult piece of work to write a review about. And I really do not know how to satisfactorily summarise the experience of reading this extraordinary piece of Literature. So many things happen to you as you proceed through the pages, so many thoughts emerge, die down and then re-emerge.
It is touted as Wilde’s greatest work (though he only ever wrote one novel), and I now understand why. He has indubitably poured a lot of himself in it while writing it. In one interview Wilde famously went as far as regarding this book as his comparison of himself to the three main characters. He said, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am, Lord Henry is what the world thinks me, Dorian is what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”
The dialogue, or shall I say, the monologue of Lord Harry does appear exceedingly monotonous at times, and the ending of the book seems a little rushed as well… but all in all, the subject matter of this book, which seems to be ‘influence’ (among other things) has been remarkably dealt with, in all its entirety. There’s Lord Harry who does not have the guts to go ahead and live all his philosophies about life himself. And then there’s Dorian Gray who gets so influenced by Harry’s philosophies that he ends up selling his soul for the eternal acquisition of beauty and youth…. incidentally the only two things worth having, according to Harry.
This is arguably one of the most influential pieces of literature ever composed. Delightfully written, filled with some memorable characters and a story that WILL leave you thinking.
But it’s not for the faint hearted since this novel can and will shock you.
This 400 odd book review doesn’t really do justice to this beautiful piece of art but still read it if you can.
Highest possible recommendation!