Weekly Reads: The Picture of Dorian Gray

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“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

—Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a classic from 1890 and the only novel written by Oscar Wilde. While classic literature has earned a bit of a reputation (unfairly, I’d argue) for being stuffy and difficult to understand, many people have found that “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is an easier read for them than some other works. I appreciated that the wording was understandable and flowed like a collection of conversations between close friends.

“Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.”

—Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

In this book, a young man named Dorian Gray essentially sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. As he indulges in a life of sin, a painted portrait of him slowly turns into a record of all the evil he’s done, serving as a mirror of his soul.

Whether you realize it or not, you may already be familiar with some of this book. Many famous quotes come from it, and for good reason. The author does an excellent job incorporating multiple social issues into the text, which he also does in his other plays and poems. The whole book is filled with wit, romanticism and over-dramatic characters whose dialogue and descriptions are a joy to read, like the below:

“She was a curious woman, whose dresses always looked as if they’d been designed in a rage and put on in a tempest. She was usually in love with somebody, and, as her passion was never returned, she had kept all her illusions. She tried to look picturesque but only succeeded in being untidy. Her name was Victoria, and she had a perfect mania for going to church.”

—Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”