I adore the work of Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Grey is my second favourite book (my favourite, I’ll save for another time) because his insightful wit and wisdom is timeless and always thought provoking and entertaining. So many times, I’ve read a passage where he discusses the nature of relationships or human behaviour and it has been extremely thought provoking for me personally, in the past.
It is not just the timeless quality of his work – it’s the black humour, the way he embraces sin and the darker facets of the human psyche and the eloquence with which he articulates his bold thoughts.
Dorian Grey is a young, charming and “beautiful” man who becomes the subject of a portrait by Basil, a painter. Basil becomes obsessed with Dorian, who he views as his muse, and feels that his portrait of Dorian is his ultimate masterpiece. Dorian wishes that he could forever remain as beautiful as he does in his portrait, rather than age. In a twisted way, he gets his wish.
Lord Henry (the channel for most of Wilde’s more bold opinions) is the king of vice and dangerous ideas. His influence over Dorian, combined with Dorian’s growing arrogance, causes a change in Dorian for the worse. As Dorian’s soul becomes more twisted and “ugly”, so does his portrait, which ages and becomes disfigured. Meanwhile, Dorian’s physical self remains as perfect as it was the day Basil painted his likeness. Dorian is horrified by the portrait and keeps its locked away, however it haunts him and the impact it has upon our hero leads to disastrous results.
It’s a book that can’t be skim read, but it is worth taking the time to enjoy. I think it will be one of those books that you can get something different from every time you read it, which I’ll find out when I reread it these holidays.