The next book I read during my vacation was The Picture of Dorian Gray. Like Frankenstein, I had some preconceived ideas of what this classic was about and the reality was very different from that – in a good way.
The Picture of Dorian Gray opens to a scene taking place in Basil Hallward’s studio, and the meeting of two men – Lord Henry (called Harry) and Dorian Gray himself. It’s really this meeting and Basil’s portrait of Dorian that sets off the story. When Dorian sees the portrait of himself he utters in despair that he wishes the picture could age for him, that he could always retain his youth as it was in that moment. His wish comes true, and the story follows his life as he lives a life full of color to say the least.
Dorian acts like a petulant child at times, not a very attractive side to him. Especially perhaps this is true in the way he behaves towards Basil, and how he behaves with Lord Henry. Henry is very obviously a strong influence on him, and in the first half of the book or so Dorian almost seemed to me to be a character of less importance than the lord himself. However the growth and the change in his character during the latter part of the book made him a more fascinating protagonist.
The story itself is almost horror, probably more like a gothic story with hints of the supernatural and of romance. The story was beautifully concluded, an end suitable to the book’s entirety.
The real strength in this book to me is no doubt Oscar Wilde’s writing. It’s the first thing I read by him, and I can see why he is loved for his writing. The writing was beautiful and thought provoking (even when one doesn’t agree with the opinion stated), and atmospheric. I imagine his plays will be as fun to read, and I look forward to exploring them in the future.