Pages - 253
Published in 1986 by Marshall Cavandish
Challenges - 1% Well Read Challenge and Fall Into Reading.
When I was a teenager in the throes of my A levels and really studying hard for my English Literature exam, my wonderful mother began to purchase a weekly magazine called The Great Writers; with each magazine devoted to a different author, you also received a hard bound book by the author. Nearly twenty years on and owning the full the set of books, this is the first one I have read. I think that is atrocious and I aim to read a lot more of them. So the cover shown here, is not the one I actually own, but I couldn't find a picture of it. Does anyone else own the Great Writers series of books? I would imagine it was only available in England.
For anyone not familiar with the story of Dorian Gray, here is a quick run down. Dorian is beautiful, absolutely stunning , so stunning that the artist Basil Hallward, begs him to model for him. Basil creates a wonderful portrait of Dorian, which shows how lovely Dorian is. However the portrait leaves Dorian miserable. He wishes that the portrait would age and show the sins of his life and that he would remain young. Little did he know that his wish would come true. Dorian never ages, but the years passing and the sins of his life appear in the portrait.
The first thing I noticed about this book whilst reading it, was that Oscar Wilde found the transition from playwright to novelist very tricky. I understand that this was his only venture into novels and I can see why. This book is full to the brim of dialogue. There is hardly any descriptions within the book and after a while I became quite exhausted by all these long and drawn out conversations. I love descriptive passages where I can lose myself in the atmosphere of the book and this just didn't have any.
The characters were very two dimensional and I didn't warm to any of them. Dorian was a very vain character who ended up leading a very questionable life. I did not feel sorry for his character at all.
I found the book very sexist towards women. I could feel myself getting angrier with each passage I read. Here is a piece of dialogue where Lord Henry is discussing women.
' I am afraid that women appreciate cruelty, downright cruelty, more than anything else. They have wonderfully primitive instincts. We have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all the same. They love being dominated.'
Doesn't that just make you so angry. I know women were treated less equally during Oscar Wilde's years, but this is ridiculous.
Did I enjoy this book? Not really. I loved the story and I would like to see it re written, so that it appears less like a play. I actually feel bad, criticising such a legendary figure in the literary world, but I am afraid this book left me cold and underwhelmed.