SparkNotes Blog

One Year, 100 Books: The Picture of Dorian Gray

We’ve never felt the need to read this classic, but Lonks’ rave review gave us a reason enough to check it out!—Sparkitors

Book #9: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

Quote: I am so glad you have never done anything, never carved a statue, or painted a picture, or produced anything outside yourself! Life has been your art, Dorian Gray. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.

Copyright Date: 1890

Genre: Gothic

Length: 178

Rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Summary: I honestly couldn’t figure out how to summarize this book, so here’s the blurb from B&N.com: ”A dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. This dandy, who remains forever unchanged—petulant, hedonistic, vain, and amoral—while a painting of him ages and grows increasingly hideous with the years, has been horrifying, enchanting, obsessing, even corrupting readers for more than a hundred years.”

This book was suggested to me by nutterbutterfly on my first post, and it’s one of my friend’s absolute favorite books, so I decided to try it out. And, oh boy, am I glad I did. The Picture of Dorian Gray is honestly a pretty messed-up story, but it contains a lot of truth about human nature. It is also very eloquently written, and the words, as I often say about older novels, are Godiva chocolate for the reader. I am now considering Oscar Wilde as second on my personal “greatest writers of all time” list (the first being Charles Dickens).

The only remotely negative thing I can think of for Dorian Gray is that a lot of the characters really annoying. Lord Henry Wotton is the biggest sexist I’ve ever encountered. Sybil Vane is pathetic. Dorian Gray is insanely vain and egotistical. Basil Hallward is… awesome. But, for once, these infuriating characters actually made the story more effective. I believe that if you had liked most of the characters, the novel wouldn’t have nearly as good.

Recommendation: First of all, The Picture of Dorian Gray was written in the 1800s, so it’s not an easy read, and some people might rather  watch the movie than try to tackle it by themselves. But I’m confident that most Sparklers could handle it. Second, it’s creepy. Like Jekyll and Hyde creepy. And finally, I don’t really feel it’s appropriate for anyone younger than about 14. If none of that scared you away, READ IT! It’s a phenomenal book.

Do you love The Picture of Dorian Gray? Do you have any book recommendations for Lonks?

Related post: One Year, 100 Books