Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

PAPERBACK; 369 P.
TRANS. JAANA KAPARI-JATTA
OTAVA, 2011/1890
SOURCE: FROM A BOOKSWAP

From Goodreads:

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was a succes de scandale. Early readers were shocked by its hints at unspeakable sins, and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895.

To live a life of pleasure without taking responsibilities. Seduced by his own looks and youth, Dorian Gray unknowningly makes a pact that lets him stay young whilst his portrait carries the burden of age. As his friends invite him to explore the seduction of senses, Dorian Gray disregards all sense of proportion and immerses himself to all kinds of pleasures. However, the transforming portrait still haunts him. While he stays forever young, the portrait reveals the state of his rotting soul.

From the very beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, I was torn between liking and disliking the main character. At times I felt for him, wanting things to get better, but on others I despised his selfishness. It’s no wonder that the duality of his persona and the deeds hinted at the book raised an uproar in 1890. Although the book does not completely deny the religious values, it’s moral is questionable. However, I think it’s the contrast of  morals and sin as well as the seduction of language that has made this book a much loved classic. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray turned out to be a very interesting classic. It explores the elements of purity and sin as well as our perception on truth. Do our actions transform us or just our soul? Can these two be separated? Oscar Wilde’s writing is flawless and kept me reading page after page. The Finnish translation was well-executed, fluent and easy to read. However, I do hope to read this book also in English during the summer just to get a better sense of Wilde’s writing. All in all, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gripping and suspenseful story with a thoughtful take on the concept of good and bad. I’d definitely recommend you all to read it. 

5/5

–What are you?
-To define is to limit.

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One thought on “Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

  1. This is one of my top five desert island books, but I have to ask, what did you think of the chapter about all of Dorian’s stuff? Like the twenty page catalogue of his trinkets and rugs and shit? I was like, “only Oscar Wilde would interupt the flow of his work to talk about peacock feathers.” I hated the chapter but found it really humorous of Wilde, almost a middle finger to his foes to say that he lived better than they did.

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