Sunday, October 27, 2019

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (horror)

The Picture of Dorian Gray explores what can happen to a man's life when he is manipulated by the wrong influence.
' "Each of us has Heaven and Hell in him." ' -Dorian (p. 115)
photo by ldyck

Published by Dover Publications 
Published in 1993
first book edition published by Ward, Lock & Co. Ltd.
 London, in 1891

As The Picture of Dorian Gray has long been one of my favourite movies (shot in 1945--who knew there was another shot in 2009?) I thought it was high time to read the book. As a movie-goer, I was rattled by what happened to the portrait. As a reader, I'm far more interested in the interplay between Basil Hallward (portrait painter), Lord Henry Wotton, and Dorian Gray.

I see Basil as the angel figuratively sitting on Dorian's right shoulder.
' "I want you to lead such a life as will make the world respect you. I want you to have a clean name and a fair record." ' -Basil to Dorian (p. 111)
Lord Henry is the devil sitting on Dorian's left shoulder.

On page 12, Basil attempts  to warn Dorian:  Lord Henry ' "has a very bad influence over all his friends." '

On page 67, Dorian makes plans to 'resist temptation. He would not see Lord Henry any more.'

And yet... And yet Basil observes of Dorian on page 79:  ' "You talk as if you had no heart, no pity in you. It is all Harry's influence." '

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a short novel (165 pages) cleverly written. The book opens with a scene between Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton. This exchange introduces Dorian Gray. The book ends with a haunting mystery ensuring that the tale will live on in the mind of the reader. Oscar Wilde fills each page with wit, wisdom and social commentary. The only fault I can find is that there is a lot of dialogue but very little action--heads floating in the ether.

The Picture of Dorian Gray was Oscar (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) Wilde's first novel and sadly his last, due to extremely harsh criticism. The British press condemned it as "vulgar", "unclean", and "poisonous". After the novel's publication, Wilde employed his talent to craft plays--society comedies, such as Lady Windermere's Fan (first performed on February 20, 1892, at the St. James's Theatre in London) and The Importance of Being Earnest (first performed on February 14, 1895, at the St. James's Theatre in London).


Oscar Wilde quotes

On this blog in November...

photo by ldyck

November 3 
Writing about Writing

To my delight, you clicked the link to read the list of quotes I shared with you this month. And so next month I'll share a list compiled from the books I've reviewed. The theme of this collection is... You guessed it. Writing about Writing.

November 10
book review
Emma Donoghue

What's this book about?
Well, I'll sum it up like this...
"What did you do during the war, Mom?"
"What did you do to end poverty, Son?"

November 17
short story
The Island Storyteller on Stage

I wrote this (silly story of thanks) short story to be read during an evening of storytelling and music on November 30th in the Agricultural Society Hall on Mayne Island. It would be wonderful to see you in the audience, but if not... I hope you enjoy reading this story.

November 24
book review
The End of the Affair 
Graham Greene

Years ago, someone recommended that I read Graham Greene. Years later, I finally found him. And I can't wait to tell you about him. (Also, if you've recommended a book to me... Please don't lose patience. I am listening.)