Malak Alrashed's Reviews > The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
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's review
Jun 26, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites

I could literally spend hours and hours, if not days, talking about this book, and how much it changed my perspectives on so many levels. But since I am bound by words and not capable of grabbing your neck and slapping you so hard for not reading this one yet, I will try my best to convince you to do so in written words.

Oscar Wilde is not just a brilliant writer, he's a philosopher, a poet, and a very very very interesting human being. He wrote so many works about Aestheticism, children short stories, and hilarious plays. His writing style has some sort of magical profoundness in it. He plays with words, makes music with them and pretty much everything he writes is witty and powerful. He can build layers and layers of beauty in his writing and the world he creates. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, for example, I could swear that there is, at least, a line you can quote and talk about in every.single. page! The dialogues are smart, and extraordinary deep. Now allow me to throw quotes of absolute brilliance below:

“We are punished for our refusals…The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.”

“What of Art?
-It is a malady.
-An Illusion.
-The fashionable substitute for Belief.
--You are a sceptic.
-Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.
--What are you?
-To define is to limit.

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.
Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

“Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever. It is a meaningless word, too. The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.”

If you have not fainted by now, I advise you to stop living, really if these quotes did not marvel you, I don't know what will.

Major Themes are Revealed. Read On Your Responsibility! the story has themes of Faustian. Selling one's soul, but this time not for a woman heart, but rather for the beauty and youth that Dorian posses. He first becomes a subject in one of Basil's paintings and while that happens, he meets Lord Henry who sort of pulls him into his views of world; telling him that beauty is the most important thing one has:

"To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. . . . Yes, Mr. Gray, the gods have been good to you. But what the gods give they quickly take away. You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you, or have to content yourself with those mean triumphs that the memory of your past will make more bitter than defeats. Every month as it wanes brings you nearer to something dreadful. Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses. You will become sallow, and hollow-cheeked, and dull-eyed. You will suffer horribly.... Ah! realize your youth while you have it. Don't squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing. . . . A new Hedonism -- that is what our century wants. You might be its visible symbol"

Dorian, then in-deliberately wishes for eternal youth, and eternal youth he gets. After that we follow Dorian's experiencing his new world. What it means to be forever young, and how Dorian falls in temptations, losing his innocence as well as life's meaning. I think the genius in this novel lies in, along with the beauty of words and philosophy, the idea of the painting being a container of Dorian's sins, it -the painting- being affected and taking the features of Dorian's life decisions is an idea I shall always be haunted by.

Wilde had lived an unhappy life, he was prisoned and exiled from society for his sexual orientation and this book, his only novel, was, according to The Biography of Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellman, used against him in court. As he referred to the relationship b\w Basil and Dorian; "The Love that dare not speak its name".

I think that Wilde is one of the best writers that I will ever come across. He can write in no way I have experienced before, with him I realized how powerful words can be. Dorian Gray is a book you would never regret reading. The prose, the ideas, the views on art, and the whole journey of innocence to debauchery is just a spiritual and not an easily forgotten story. Do yourself a favor and read it.
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Quotes Malak Liked

Oscar Wilde
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.
Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
June 26, 2010 – Shelved
January 21, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites

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