Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde
ISBN 0745139302

Also available online here

It would be difficult to provide spoilers for this novel because most people know practically from the title the conceit of the narrative: Dorian Gray has his picture painted, the painting degenerates and ages while he retains his youthful good looks.

This is not a moral book although it is about morality. Victorian times were full of improving novels which would tell the reader to do good things and never do bad things. Unusually Oscar Wilde invites the reader to *think* about good and evil.

The main characters were all reflections of Wilde's personality. He had the same reputation as Lord Henry Wotton as a man who makes brilliant epigrams which are at variance with the moral dictums of the time.

He wanted to remain young and beautiful like Dorian Gray and he sought to be an artist in the field of literature as Basil Hallward is in the field of painting.

There is an astonishing homoerotic theme to the relationships given the Victorian world in which homosexuality was illegal and certainly no novelist could openly allude to it.

The victorian society was very like Dorian Gray with the appearance of innocence and the reality of corruption. Prostitution and drug addiction were rife in a society with apparently strict moral rules.



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