Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


Lucky 14, the official Classic Club 'Spin' number, corresponded to a title from my "Quickie" category, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. With only 250 pages, I was able to finish several days ahead of the April 1 deadline.

Most readers are probably familiar with the basic premise of this 1890 novel. A beautiful young man remains forever youthful while his portrait ages and reflects the degradation of his soul. The Picture of Dorian Gray is an exploration of beauty, youth, vanity, and sin. In other words, not what I was expecting.

My daughter has enjoyed Wilde's plays and says they are quite funny, but that humor is not at all apparent in The Picture of Dorian Gray. The novel is very dark and full of philosophical nuggets that beg the reader to pause and ponder. Dealing with similar themes, it was an especially good follow-up to my recent reading of Vanity Fair.

So, did I like The Picture of Dorian Gray? Judging from all the post-it flags in my book, you would have thought I loved it. But let's just say I didn't dislike it... yet I can't whole-heartedly recommend it either. Wilde does have a beautifully visual, sensual quality to his writing that makes me want to read some of his other works.

I should also mention that around St. Patrick's Day, Audible treated its members to a free download of The Picture of Dorian Gray  narrated by Steven Crossley. You may recall that I loved Crossley's reading of In the Woods  by Tana French, so was thrilled with this offer and more than happy to make this another read/listen combination.


Finally, is it just me or do you think the cover of the Oxford World Classics edition pictured above bears a striking resemblance to Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey)?

Thank you, Classics Club, for hosting this event. I'm hoping for a fall edition of The Classics Club Spin!










22 comments:

  1. I love this book, but I had a similar reaction to you on my first read - I just didn't dislike it. It's one of those classics that grows on you with each read.

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    1. Sam - I was already thinking it deserved a reread...

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  2. I listened to this as an audio book last year and although I didn't *love* it I did thoroughly enjoyed it. I recently found a book of short stories and plays of his, which I like dipping into now and then.

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    1. Trish - I will definitely read more Oscar Wilde.

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  3. It is a long time since I read A Picture of Dorian Grey, but I can remember rather liking that dark element which is, as you say at the core of the novel.

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    1. Ali - My problem was that I just wasn't expecting the darkness.

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  4. I can only remember having read it - many years ago. I think it was just last year that I finally read some of Wilde's plays.

    When I saw the picture of Dan Stevens, I wondered if he was starring in a new version!

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    1. Lisa May - Wouldn't Dan Stevens be perfect for that role? LOL!

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  5. Ha! It does look like Dan Stevens!! I did get the free audible version. Not sure when or if I will listen to it but didn't want to pass up the free book!!

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    1. Staci - If you decide to listen, be forewarned that the narration was very slow... I listened to it on double speed!

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  6. I struggled with this one - it was a long 250 pages! Glad I'm not alone.

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    1. Lisa - No, you're definitely not alone. Wonder if I would have reacted differently if I'd known before starting that it was so dark...

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  7. I can't remember ever reading this, although I've seen multiple movie versions. Maybe it's one of those rare books that's better on screen!

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    1. Col - I've just moved the movie version with Colin Firth(!) to the top of my Netflix queue/

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  8. I agree on the Abbey reference!

    I remember liking this book quite a bit but the story is a little sketchy to me and I am wondering why as I have read it at least twice.

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    1. Ti - This is a book I will definitely reread at some point.

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  9. My overall feeling about Dorian Gray is that it should have been a short story and not a novella. I think Wilde at his best is when he is succinct, and I felt that he got repetitive and self-indulgent with his writing by trying to flesh it out more.

    I love the premise, and there are flashes of brilliance, but in the end I was disappointed.

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    1. Jane GS - So true! It could have been a really great short story.

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  10. Dorian Gray reads like a morality tale, doesn't it? Have you seen the latest movie adaptation? With Ben Barnes as Gray, Colin Firth as Henry Wotton. I think the book cover looks more like Barnes than Stevens. You should see it.

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    1. Arti - Just moved it to the top of the Netflix queue. Thanks!

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  11. Definitely try reading his comic plays. I remember enjoying Picture of Dorian Gray, but I absolutely adore Wilde as a playwright.

    Congratulations on finishing your classics spin. I, alas, didn't even crack mine open. Eek!

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    1. Diana - I will read Wilde's plays. My daughter's favorite is The Importance of Being Earnest.

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