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Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

March 20, 2007
Posted by mmarvs in : Books, General
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 Review by Alberto Pérez Meléndez

doriangray.jpg “There is not such thing as a moral or an immoral book, books are well written or badly written, that’s all”. This is one of the most famous quotes by Oscar Wilde.

Wilde, artist and Irishman was also a gentleman. He started his career working on a newspaper “Lady’s world”. Then on June 1890 The Picture of Dorian Gray was published as the lead story of a Philadelphian monthly newspaper. However, a year later, he enriched the novel with a new version so the first thirteen chapters became twenty, providing also more details on the characters, the main changes were done on male characters.

The book tells the story of Dorian, a young man who wishes that a picture of himself grew old while he stayed young. Basil is the artist who is involved in the process of painting the picture. One day, out of the blue and at a painting session Dorian meets Lord Henry and since the very beginning a big attraction starts between them. The influence that Lord Henry has over Dorian is quite similar to the influence the devil has over most of people, so he seems to tell you just what you want to hear. Things start to go wrong after a third -rate actress called sibyl vane commits suicide and that’s when Dorian starts to notice the first changes on his picture.

The great thing about the book is that you are not really aware how bad off Dorian is until the last part of the story, because the writer doesn’t give away many details about the main character.

The picture of Dorian Gray is a book that can be read in many different ways, it is an endurable parable of the construction of the soul but it can also be a comedy novel. The theme of a double life or at least of caring one’s reputation while transgressing society’s moral codes is the central plot of the book. It can be used as the vehicle for a great plot device, a mask for erotic desires or an alibi for a life full of secret vices.

On balance, and from my personal point of view, it’s easy to follow and is worth reading it because of the extreme creativity of its author. Almost each one of the twenty chapters from the revised version ends up with a cliff-hanger making the plot so gripping.

Although the end is slightly predictable, the book really lived up to my expectations.

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