The Picture of Dorian Gray | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐1/2
"As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world."
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic novel by Oscar Wilde.
There is a reason why I haven't reviewed many classics on this blog, and also why my reviews for any gothic novels are negative. That is because they just don't work for me, and this was no different.
Let's just get right into the details.
This is a classic, and it sure does come off as one. The writing at times was rather intriguing and beautiful, but at other moments it felt rather stilted. I do get more into the writing in the other sections, but I found myself going in circles with the same conversations happening over and over again due to Lord Henry's hedonistic views.
In theory, I thought this would be an okay classic to read because of the concept and elements. I vaguely knew what the story was about so I was intrigued by the more fantastical aspect. What I surprisingly wasn't expecting was the sheer amount of philosophy. Now, I have taken a couple of philosophy courses so I am not against a good conversation.
The issue here though, aside from Lord Henry's views in general, is that there were too many conversations. The majority of the text in this book was Lord Henry going on a rant at every possible moment. I had to brace myself every time he was on page and someone made a comment which cued in his hedonistic rant. It just ended up becoming too much to have to digest and I wish the story was more than just that even though that was exactly what it ended up being about. I had to slow my reading pace down just to properly understand it because it was just dense paragraphs of personal views.
Dorian, oh Dorian, you poor easily manipulated child. When he was introduced as a younger more innocent man, he still somehow managed to be a bit annoying. That is because every time he said something, it was always Dorian cried this, or Dorian cried that. He sure had a flair for the dramatics. It was made more frustrating when Lord Henry's ways started to poison him and he gave into worldly pleasures and shallowness.
I know this is historical, but I could only read so much about Lord Henry's thoughts about women. 'Oh how I wish I had the experience of someone killing themself because they loved me'. And 'oh, women appreciate cruelty and love being dominated.' Like, no sir, no. Hallward was the only sensible character, for the most part, but I guess this book isn't about sensibility now, is it?
I clearly just don't get along well with classics or gothics. Does this make me uncultured or unable to appreciate good literature, yeah probably, but I can't find myself caring?
Most of the reviews, of course, are extremely positive and people are amazed by the story, and I get that in some sense as this does make an interesting character study. But, as much as I find philosophy fascinating, a story that explores art and beauty and sin isn't my cup of tea.