NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!

Lezlie



Sunday, March 23, 2008

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

by Oscar Wilde



"What the worm was to the corpse, his sins would be to the painted image on the canvas. They would mar its beauty, and eat away its grace. They would defile it, and make it shameful. And yet the thing would still live on. It would be always alive."
I thought it would be a bit unnerving to read this book as I pass into the early stages of middle age. I see my hair slowly graying, my skin beginning to loosen ever so slightly. My eyes are not as sharp as they once were and my knees and ankles pop. And I am surrounded by a society that worships youth and beauty. What would I give to the stop the decaying hands of time and stay forever young?

Those were my thoughts as I began the novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of those books that has been in my consciousness for so long that I thought I knew what it was about. How wrong I was! No devil shows up to bargain for Dorian’s soul in exchange for immortality. Dorian’s wish to remain forever young turns out to be merely a passing whim stated out loud then all but forgotten. But something or someone heard, and his eternal youth becomes a beautiful mask to polite society while his originally somewhat naive soul plunges into duplicitous immorality, and the mutating painting becomes a constant reminder of the ugliness beneath the flawless skin.

There is so much going on, so many messages in this book that it is difficult to choose a single aspect to spotlight for a short review. Because most of Dorian’s debaucheries are never explicitly stated, each individual will most likely see a different monster in this tale that is still so relevant today in a society where image seems to be everything. Said Wilde himself, "Each man sees his own sin in Dorian Gray. What Dorian Gray’s sins are, no one knows. He who finds them has brought them."

Lezlie

13 comments:

j.c. montgomery said...

This has to be one of the best reviews I have read about this story. I remember discussing this in a lit class, and basically we came to the same conclusion.

It all comes down to interpretation, as it is up to each reader to discern what Wilde was trying to convey. As you so aptly note, "Because most of Dorian’s debaucheries are never explicitly stated, each individual will most likely see a different monster in this tale that is still so relevant today in a society where image seems to be everything."

Lezlie said...

J.C. ~ Thank you so much!

Lezlie

Jeane said...

What an interesting point about how each reader sees his own sins in Dorian. It's been so long since I read this that I had forgotten that detail. It really does make the book relevant in any age; and timeless.

Lezlie said...

Jeane ~ I was surprised at how much this book made me think about current views of society. And anybody who has had a friend that was constantly tempting them into misbehaving will see that person in Lord Harry! :-)

Lezlie

Teddy Rose said...

I read this book a couple of years ago with my Classics book club. It's one that I loved and has stayed with me. It's so true Lezlie, there are so many ways to look at it.

joanna said...

What a great review Lezlie! I haven't read this one yet, but, like you, I thought I knew what it was about anyway. I stand corrected and will get to it quicker than I thought, I imagine!

Lezlie said...

Teddy Rose ~ I think it will stick in my mind for quite a while also.

Joanna ~ Thanks! I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts when you do get to it.

Lezlie

raych said...

I loved this book SO much! I think I need to go re-read it. Thanks for the reminder!

PS. Your dogs are GORgeous.

Lezlie said...

Raych ~ Happy to help! :-) And thanks about the dogs! They're good boys. There will be more on them in a post soon as we have an agility trial coming up the first weekend in April.

Lezlie

Bunny B said...

I've always loved this story, Lezlie! Oscar Wilde rocks!

Lezlie said...

Bunny B ~ I agree! I was very taken in by his writing.

Lezlie

Charley said...

I linked here from your Spring Reading Challenge Wrap-Up post. I love linking! I read this book in college and have been meaning to re-read it. I remember being unnerved by it, but not in the way I expected. I enjoyed your review. If it makes you feel any better, my knees and ankles pop, too, and I've still got a while to go before middle age.

Lezlie said...

Charley ~ Me, too! I like to be able to find reviews for things easily on other blogs, so I wanted to make sure I linked everything on my own. Takes forever, but it's worth it!

Yeah, I'm just not sure about this aging thing. I didn't sound like a bad idea before the actual manifestations started up. . . ;-)

L.