The picture of Dorian Gray
Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine (this edition is by Penguin Classics)
Pub Date: 20 June 1890
Basil is a painter who has found his muse, the young Dorian Gray. But when his friend Lord Henry comes over, he tries to shield Dorian from Lord Henry because he wants to keep the boy as pure as he is at this moment. But Basil fails and Dorian is instantly fascinated and enthralled by Lord Henry and everything he has to say. This first meeting between Dorian and Lord Henry takes place while Basil is painting a full size portrait of Dorian Gray. When Lord Henry states that beauty is one of the most important things in life, Dorian wishes he could sell his soul if it would mean he could hang on to his beauty. Could he have gotten his wish?
I liked this book a lot, I even loved it until about halfway. I had expected the writing to be very stuffy, but to my delight it really wasn’t and it was just so beautifully written. The story was very interesting but there was one flaw that made me stop loving this book: the really boring part in the middle.
As I said above, I really like the story, the young beautiful boy who becomes corrupted by the ideas of others and ruins his own life because of it. I had heard of the basic premise of the story and it already intrigued me then. It was very interesting to read about the effects people can have on your life. And I really liked how this was a story about the negative influences people can have on each other.
Dorian Gray, he is so egocentric and vain and I definitely wouldn’t like him in real life. Perhaps I might have liked him if I met him before Lord Henry got to him, but there’s barely anything good to be said about Dorian after Lord Henry gets through with him. Lord Henry just feels so hypocritical to me sometimes, always spewing forth these really extremely immoral ideas but rarely doing as he preaches. And poor Basil, if only he had tried a little harder to keep Lord Henry from Dorian. But all this just stands to say, these characters were very well written, in depth and multi-faceted.
The only let down for me was the really boring part in the middle of the book. I’m not sure if this is present in all of the versions of the book, but wow, it was a struggle to get through. It’s just after Dorian discovers the secret of the picture that it gets really boring. And that’s actually the moment in which I had hoped it would get a lot more interesting, that we’d get a lot of stories of how Dorian ruins his life. But instead we are treated to a long talk about which beautiful thing he decides to become interested in and in what aspects he studies them. Where are the juicy and soul-corrupting details I really wanted to read about?
I’ll end by saying that I really did enjoy reading this classic and if anything it just helped me strengthen my resolution to keep reading a classic every now and then.