“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Oh my. I loved The Picture of Dorian Gray so much, I’ve left it a few days after finishing to review it. I felt like I needed to let it sink in, let me turn it over in my mind and swirl it around.
This is a gorgeously written novel. Oscar shines through ever so much. He’s an absolutely fascinating writer, one which I would love to invite to a dinner party. I imagine he would have the room howling with laughter! It feels like every second page has an amazing quote- I fully intend to buy a nice hardback copy of this so I can mark my paperback. It’s just that good.
Dorian Gray is about a dazzlingly gorgeous young man, who has his portrait painted by Basil, who is rather obviously smitten. While sitting for his portrait, Dorian meets Lord Henry, an older gentleman with wit practically seeping out his pores. They become friends, much to Basil’s distress, which sends Dorian on a trajectory into hedonism and violence.
The homoerotic subtext in this novel is so easy to spot. There is description after flowery description of Dorian’s good looks. The only female is poor Sybil Vane, whose appeal is pretty much purely in Dorian’s imagination. Thus, male relationships are set up as the ones worth spending time on. Dorian’s ruination of young men is strongly alluded to, inferring that his tastes are rather bisexual in nature.
The horror aspect of this novel is delicious. Dorian wishes he could remain as youthful as his portrait. Voila, the portrait begins showing his true depravity, while he remains gorgeously good looking, even into his forties. As he sinks lower into depravity, his portrait becomes more and more sinister. It’s a great concept and fantastically executed.
I give this book 4.5 stars. Some sections were a little bit wordy, which I found hard to get through. I also think it started off a little bit slowly, but picked up as it went along. I loved being able to see aspects of Oscar himself shine through in this book. I think the writing is absolutely beautiful in every way.
And here is Oscar, relaxing on his rock in Dublin while I was there in March. I wish I had read this before I went!