Witty Writing: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

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

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Oh my goodness. After reading The Picture of Dorian Gray I don’t really know what to write… Compared to Wilde’s beautifully clever, witty, eloquent words my own don’t seem to do this book any justice. But, I will try my best!

I was first introduced to Wilde in my English class (we’ve read A Woman of No Importance as one of our drama texts for our course) which gave me every excuse to read this book – I wanted to read it anyway, but it counts as further contextual reading! There are some big similarities between the play and this novel, especially Wilde’s writing style.

The plot was rather interesting: a young man gradually corrupted by the views of the hedonistic Lord Henry. It’s very obvious why it was such a controversial piece of writing at the time. Wilde didn’t even try to hide the homosexual aspects of the relationship between Dorian, Basil and Lord Henry. I found the plot easy to follow but still gripping and interesting, with moments that took me by surprise (and make me think “oh Dorian, what have you done?”).

Naturally, the one element that has stuck in my mind the most since I finished is Wilde’s writing. It is just FULL of epigrams! Wilde is a fantastic writer; he captures the complications and hypocrisies of life in such a clear way. Even though it is his only novel , so it’s hard to compare to his other works, I would say that it is as good, if not better, than his plays. Plus, there were just so many good quotes I had to stop and write them down nearly every page! (In fact, I also noticed bits of dialogue that I had already seen before in A Woman of No Importance – he’s so controversial… is it possible to plagiarise yourself??).

I just thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It’s definitely one I will read again in the future.

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