The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde

So many words! While I appreciate that there are some brilliant Wilde-esque one liners:

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

there are also myriad less brilliant attempts which tried to be profound but (I felt) fell flat (I guess the guy was only human). This made the prose unnecessarily dense so you need to be paying full attention or some of the meaning will fly by you. That all being said, it is a very very good book. I find it one of the scariest stories I have read – Dorian’s horror at revealing the painting is seriously unsettling but at the same time terrifyingly real. The dialogues, particularly those featuring Lord Henry, are brilliantly witty and controversial

“What of Art?
-It is a malady.
–Love?-An Illusion.
–Religion?
-The fashionable substitute for Belief.
–You are a sceptic.
-Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.
–What are you?
-To define is to limit.”

The scene with Dorian’s old friend, Alan, is darkly hilarious and the book’s ending is just right. The only thing I didn’t like was the random encyclopaedic listing of historic artifacts that happens about halfway through, when Dorian is contemplating the inevitable decay of material things. It was long and boring and really didn’t need to be included! Not a comfortable read, but thoroughly worthwhile and highly engaging. Recommend.

4 (and a bit?) stars.

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