Friday, July 24, 2009

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Another Librivox recording and seriously, what a great recording. This one was well worth downloading.

I think everyone knows the premise of Dorian Gray. Some have even accused Johnny Depp of having his own Dorian Gray type painting stashed away somewhere. The basic plot is that Dorian Gray is painted by an artist named Basil Hallward. When Gray meets Lord Henry, Basil's friend, he becomes convinced that his youth and beauty are the only things that matter in this world and feverently wishes that the painting take his age and sins while he remains young and beautiful.

As Dorian goes about his life, falling in love with an actress Sybil Vane and later cruelly and horribly dumping her, he discovers that the painting is taking on all of his sins and the sin of aging. He's not worried enough to live a good life but is worried enough to hide the painting away in his attic so no one else can see it.

In the end, albeit too late, Dorian realizes that the painting must go and he must become good. Although I suspected what would happen when the painting was "destroyed" it was still a good ending because Dorian himself was a truly despicable character. I found both Dorian and Lord Henry to be so utterly self-absorbed and shallow that it was almost impossible to finish the book.

The moral plotline, of course, is the warning against such vanity. Unfortunately, I've seen many people in this day and age who are just as vain and shallow as those two.

I checked out a few tidbits on this book after I read it and really enjoyed the following:

In a letter, Wilde said the main characters are reflections of himself: "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps"

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