Some novels are forgotten within a decade of their publishing while others are still discussed over a century later. Playwright and poet Oscar Wilde’s only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of those novels that are still getting movie adaptions even though it was published before the turn of the 20th century.
The Picture of Dorian Grey: Summary
One a nice summer day in Victorian England, friends Lord Henry Cotton, painter Basil Hallward and Dorian are chatting. Hallward is painting a portrait of Dorian Gray who has been gifted with beauty. The conversation turns towards beauty and Gray wishes that the painting would age instead of him.
The conversation makes Dorian bolder and outgoing. Thus, he decides to pursue Sibyl Vane, actress at a working-class theatre. The relationship moves quick and Gray proposes to her. But a poor performance by Sibyl leaves Dorian embarrassed and he calls the wedding off.
When Dorian checks upon his self potrait, he realizes that the portrait has changed. All of the consequences of his actions were suffered by his painting and not him. Dorian’s wish of never aging has come true. That makes him pursue all the vices that are in a novel given to him Lord Cotton.
With not repercussions for his actions, Gray loses his sense of morality and empathy and hurts anyone that crosses him while deflecting blame on everyone but him. But his past catches up to him and now he is being hunted so he can pay for his actions and the people he has hurt.
When the novel was first published in 1890, it was very controversial. And that was the censored version! Now, a novel like this doesn’t turn heads but back then, this was unheard of. Which is sad because the novel is brilliant and a great read.
The fact that this is still in distribution and getting its own book review on my blog says a lot. Time will ultimately decide what will survive and what won’t. I am glad that this novel was published and would have liked more novels from Wilde.
This is definitely a novel that I would recommend for a good short read. It is thought-provoking and entertaining. Not many novels can juggle those two well but Wilde makes it look effortless.