Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Wilde Book Review - The Picture of Dorian Gray

For a literary look at Victorian life, try reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.  This is the era of British history between 1837 and 1901, paralleling the reign of Queen Victoria. 

The author . . .Oscar Wilde


The Story. . .

The time was the turning of the nineteenth century into the twentieth, when new ideas about science and society were becoming popular. Knowledge was more accessible.  More people were reading.  Dorian Gray, a playboy by today's standards, was idolized by the young men in Victorian London as the epitome of sophistication and style.  (Photo Credit for photo of Oscar Wilde at end of post).

In the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, when Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray meet, the painting has just been completed. The artist, Basil Hallward, claims it as his best work. Dorian curses himself and the painting when he sees its beauty, his reactions evolving from self-love to self-pity. So begins his downward slide from society's parties into the world of illicit pleasures. Familiar Oscar Wilde quotes are found throughout the dialogue. I enjoyed this story of a man who found a high-cost way to stave off aging. It worked for a while.


BONUS short story review:

Included at the end of the novel above, was a short story by Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, about pre-ordained destinies and how knowledge of that information can affect the recipient's life.

One of the characters is a cheiromantist, similar to a psychic. What this man tells Lord Arthur changes his outlook on his happiness. This is London in the time of Sherlock Holmes.  The term, cheiromantist, may have gone out of use, but it generally means a 'seer who reads hands'. It's the first time I've come across the term.


Have you read the book or seen the movie of The Picture of Dorian Gray?  Have you ever had your fortune told?  Do we really want to know?  What do you think?  Please share in the comments?



Book Credits: Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, Irish poet, dramatist and author.

Signet Classics, March 2007, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891.


W=Wilde Thing, (Oscar), A to Z Blog Challenge 2012


*IMAGE CREDIT: Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony, (Wikipedia, PD-Art)

This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less. PD=public domain.